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The current likelihood that your business will become involved in an employment tax audit or an employment-related income tax audit has increased: the IRS is aggressively attempting to reduce the "tax gap" of uncollected revenues in a time of increasing budget austerity. Employment tax noncompliance is estimated by the IRS to account for approximately $54 billion of the tax gap. Under-reporting of FICA makes up $14 billion; under-reporting of self-employment tax accounts for $39 billion; and under-reporting of unemployment tax accounts for $1 billion in lost revenue. Add to that total amount over $50 billion in estimated employment-associated income tax lost that are the result of missteps in withholding obligations, tip reporting, and proper fringe benefit classification . . . and employers are forewarned. The IRS is stepping up its auditing in these areas and has been conducting studies to maximize the best use of its agents' time to do so.

Tax reform, frequently discussed in Washington, got a boost from two recent proposals, one from the chair of the House tax writing committee and another from the White House. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, released a massive tax reform bill in late February. In early March, President Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget proposals, detailing over 160 tax proposals. Both proposals share some similarities but also key differences.

In January, the U.S. Tax Court threw a curve ball in many retirement planning strategies. The court held that a taxpayer could make only one nontaxable rollover contribution within each one-year period regardless of how many IRAs the taxpayer has. The court found that the one-year limitation under Code Sec. 408(d)(3)(B) is not specific to any single IRA owned by an individual but instead applies to all IRAs owned by a taxpayer. The court's decision was a departure from a long-time understanding of IRS rules and publications and, for several weeks after, it was unclear what approach the IRS would take. Now, the IRS has announced that it will follow the court's decision and revise its rules and publications. Everyone contemplating an IRA rollover needs to be aware of this important development.

One of the most complex, if not the most complex, provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the employer shared responsibility requirement (the so-called "employer mandate") and related reporting of health insurance coverage. Since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the Obama administration has twice delayed the employer mandate and reporting. The employer mandate and reporting will generally apply to applicable large employers (ALE) starting in 2015 and to mid-size employers starting in 2016. Employers with fewer than 50 employees, have never been required, and continue to be exempt, from the employer mandate and reporting.

When an IRS is conducting a detailed audit of a taxpayer, it may want to see documents and records retained by the taxpayer. The examiner will ask the taxpayer what type of documents are maintained, and will request that the taxpayer produce particular documents for inspection.

As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important federal tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of April 2014.


Under the new health care law, starting in 2014, "large" employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be subject to stiff monetary penalties if they do not provide affordable and minimum essential health coverage. With less than eleven months before this "play or pay" provision is fully effective, the IRS continues to release critical details on what constitutes an "applicable large employer," "full-time employee," "affordable coverage," and "minimum health coverage."  Most recently, the IRS issued proposed reliance regulations that provide employers with the most comprehensive explanation of their obligations and options to date.


Individuals who have been "involuntarily terminated" from employment may be eligible for a temporary subsidy to help pay for COBRA continuation coverage. The temporary assistance is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (2009 Recovery Act), and is aimed at helping individuals who have lost their jobs in our troubled economy. However, not every individual who has lost his or her job qualifies for the COBRA subsidy. This article discusses what qualifies as "involuntary termination" for purposes of the temporary COBRA subsidy.

Many businesses are foregoing salary increases this year because of the economic downturn. How does a business find and retain employees, as well as keep up morale, in the face of this reality? The combined use of fringe benefits and the tax law can help. Some attractive fringe benefits may be provided tax-free to employees and at little cost to employers.

Many taxpayers are looking for additional sources of cash during these tough economic times. For many individuals, their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is one source of cash. You can withdraw ("borrow") money from your IRA, tax and penalty free, for up to 60 days. However, the ability to take a short-term "loan" from your IRA should only be taken in dire financial situations in light of the serious tax consequences that can result from an improper withdrawal or untimely rollover of the funds back into an IRA.

You have carefully considered the multitude of complex tax and financial factors, run the numbers, meet the eligibility requirements, and are ready to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The question now remains, however, how do you convert your IRA?

To ease the pain of the ever-escalating costs of healthcare, many employers provide certain tax-driven health benefits and plans to their employees. To help employers understand the differences and similarities among three popular medical savings vehicles - health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) - here's an overview.

The IRS allows taxpayers with a charitable inclination to take a deduction for a wide range of donated items. However, the IRS does provide specific guidelines for those taxpayers contributing non-cash items, from the type of charity you can donate to in order to take a deduction to the quality of the goods you contribute and how to value them for deduction purposes. If your summer cleaning has led, or may lead, you to set aside clothes and other items for charity, and you would like to know how to value these items for tax purposes, read on.

On December 18, 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 (Mortgage Debt Relief Act), providing some major assistance to certain homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments. The centerpiece of the new law is a three-year exception to the long-standing rule under the Tax Code that mortgage debt forgiven by a lender constitutes taxable income to the borrower. However, the new law does not alleviate all the pain of all troubled homeowners but, in conjunction with a mortgage relief plan recently announced by the Treasury Department, the Act provides assistance to many subprime borrowers.

If you own a vacation home, you may be considering whether renting the property for some of the time could come with big tax breaks. More and more vacation homeowners are renting their property. But while renting your vacation home can help defray costs and provide certain tax benefits, it also may raise some complex tax issues.

Fringe benefits have not only become an important component of employee compensation, they also have a large financial impact on an employer's business. Fringe benefits are non-compensation benefits provided by an employer to employees. Unless they fall within one of the specific categories of tax-exempt fringe benefits, however, are taxable to employees.

In order to be tax deductible, compensation must be a reasonable payment for services. Smaller companies, whose employees frequently hold significant ownership interests, are particularly vulnerable to IRS attack on their compensation deductions.

Non-cash incentive awards, such as merchandise from a local retailer given to its employees or vacation trips offered to the employee team member who contributes the most to a special project, are a form of supplemental wages and are subject to most of the reporting and withholding requirements of other forms of compensation that employees receive. There are, however, special rules for calculating and timing withholding, as well as exceptions for de minimis awards and "length of service" awards.

If someone told you that you could exchange an apartment house for a store building without recognizing a taxable gain or loss, you might not believe him or her. You might already know about a very valuable business planning and tax tool: a like-kind exchange. In some cases, if you trade business property for other business property of the same asset class, you do not need to recognize a taxable gain or loss.