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The House has approved two tax bills that are part of Republicans’ three-pronged "Tax Reform 2.0" package. The two measures, approved by the House on September 27, focus on retirement savings and business innovation.


The House has approved a tax bill that would make permanent tax reform’s individual and small business tax cuts enacted last December. The controversial bill is part of Republican’s three-bill "Tax Reform 2.0" package, two of which cleared the House on September 27 (see the previous story in this Issue).


Stakeholders are urging the IRS to clarify its guidance on tax reform’s new passthrough deduction. The IRS held an October 16 public hearing on proposed rules for the new Code Sec. 199Apassthrough deduction at its headquarters in Washington D.C. The IRS released the proposed regulations, REG-107892-18, on August 8.


Top Senate tax writers have introduced a bipartisan bill to prevent duplicative taxation on digital goods and services. The bill aims to establish a framework across multiple jurisdictions for taxation of digital goods and services, including electronic music, literature, and mobile apps, among other things.


The IRS has released Draft Instructions for the 2018 Form 1040. Additionally, the IRS has cautioned taxpayers that the draft instructions are subject to change. The IRS released a draft of the 2018 Form 1040 and six accompanying schedules last June.


The IRS’s new Commissioner was officially sworn in on October 1 by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. IRS Commissioner Charles "Chuck" P. Rettig will lead the implementation of tax reform enacted last December under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97).


The Senate Small Business Committee held an October 3 hearing on expanding opportunities for small businesses through the tax code. Senate lawmakers examined tax reform’s effect on small businesses and discussed witnesses’ proposals to address ambiguity in the new tax code.


A taxpayer changing its method of accounting must either request advance IRS consent or apply for automatic IRS consent on Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method, to make the change. Automatic consent is more favorable because the taxpayer can request the change on its return filed after the year it makes the change. A taxpayer requesting automatic consent must submit Form 3115 by the due date of the return for the year of the change. Recent IRS actions indicate that a taxpayer who fails to make a timely request for a change of accounting method may qualify for an extension of time to request the change.


Responding to growing concerns over the scope of tax-related identity theft, the House has approved legislation to give victims more information about the crime. The House also took up a bill expanding disclosure of taxpayer information in cases involving missing children and the Ways and Means Committee approved a bill impacting disclosures by exempt organizations.


Passage of the “Tax Extenders” undeniably provided one of the major headlines – and tax benefits – to come out of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), signed into law on December 18, 2015. Although these tax extenders (over 50 of them in all) were largely made retroactive to January 1, 2015, valuable enhancements to some of these tax benefits were not made retroactive. Rather, these enhancements were made effective only starting January 1, 2016. As a result, individuals and businesses alike should treat these enhancements as brand-new tax breaks, taking a close look at whether one or several of them may apply. Here’s a list to consider as 2016 tax planning gets underway now that tax filing-season has ended.


Under Code Sec. 1031, a taxpayer can make a tax-free exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment. The exchange must be made for other property that the taxpayer will continue to use in a trade or business or for investment. Ordinarily, the exchange is made directly with another taxpayer who holds like-kind property. For example, an investor in real estate may exchange a building with another person who also owns real estate for use in a trade or business or for investment.


The IRS always urges taxpayers to pay their current tax liabilities when due, to avoid interest and penalties. Taxpayers who can’t pay the full amount are urged to pay as much as they can, for the same reason. But some taxpayers cannot pay their full tax liability by the normal April 15 deadline (April 18th in 2016 because of the intersection of a weekend and a District of Columbia holiday).


Under Code Sec. 469, passive losses can only be used to offset passive income. Taxpayers who have losses from a passive activity cannot use losses from a passive activity to offset nonpassive income, such as wages. A passive activity generally is an activity in which a taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Passive losses that cannot be deducted must be carried over to a future year, where they can offset newly generated passive income.


An S election is made by a small business corporation with the consent of its shareholders. Both the corporation and its shareholders must precisely follow the S election requirements or the election will not be valid.


The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), enacted in 2010, requires certain U.S. taxpayers to report their interests in specified foreign financial assets.  The reporting requirement may apply if the assets have an aggregate value exceeding certain thresholds. The IRS has released Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, for this reporting requirement under FATCA.