Gerald R. Stinnett CPA, P.C.
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House and Senate lawmakers have started their August recess, leaving pending tax legislation for after Labor Day. In past years, September has been a busy month for tax legislation and this year is likely to be the same. Before leaving Capitol Hill, lawmakers took actions in several areas related to tax reform.


The IRS remains focused on an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away: the misclassification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Recently, the IRS issued still another fact sheet “reminding” employers about the importance of correctly classifying workers for purposes of federal employment taxes (FS-2017-9). Generally, employers must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay social security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment tax on wages paid to employees. They are lifted of these obligations entirely for independent contractors, with usually the only IRS-related responsibility being information reporting on amounts of $600 or more paid to a contractor.


A recent Tax Court decision and pending tax reform proposals have intersected in highlighting how stock sales can be timed for maximum tax advantage. The taxpayer in the recent case (Turan, TC Memo. 2017-141) failed to convince the Tax Court that he timely made an election with his broker to use the last-in-first-out (LIFO) method to set his cost-per-share cost basis for determining capital gains and losses on his stock trades on shares of the same company. As a result, he was required to calculate the capital gain or loss on his stock trades using the firm’s first-in-first-out (FIFO) “default” method, which, in his case, yielded a significant increase in tax liability for the year.


Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting is part of a larger initiative by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) known as the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. CbC reporting generally impacts large multi-national businesses. Because CbC is part of BEPS it is important to be familiar with the core concepts.


An eligible taxpayer can deduct qualified interest on a qualified student loan for an eligible student's qualified educational expenses at an eligible institution. The amount of the deduction is limited, and it is phased out for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds certain thresholds.


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 tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of August 2017.


Yes. If you received a cash incentive from your employer to help you purchase a hybrid vehicle, the IRS treats it as taxable compensation.

If you're thinking about setting up employees as telecommuters, you're not alone. Businesses ranging from large multi-nationals to small shops know that telecommuting not only can improve worker morale and performance, it can also save you and your employees money. What's not to like about zero commuting costs and no office rent? You can also sell the benefits of telecommuting by alerting employees to some significant tax breaks.

When you receive cash other than the like-kind property in a like-kind exchange, the cash is treated as "boot." Boot does not render the transaction ineligible for non-recognition treatment but it does require you to recognize gain to the extent of the cash received. The same is true for other non-like-kind property. In other words, anything you receive in addition to the like-kind property, such as relief from debt from a mortgage or additional property that is not like-kind will force you to recognize the gain realized.

Three years ago, Congress enhanced small business expensing to encourage businesses to purchase equipment and other assets and help lift the economy out of a slow-down. This valuable tax break was set to expire after 2007. Congress has now extended it two more years as part of the recently enacted Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act. Taxpayers who fully qualify for the expensing deduction get what amounts to a significant up-front reduction in the out-of-pocket cost of business equipment.

Starting in 2010, the $100,000 adjusted gross income cap for converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA is eliminated. All other rules continue to apply, which means that the amount converted to a Roth IRA still will be taxed as income at the individual's marginal tax rate. One exception for 2010 only: you will have a choice of recognizing the conversion income in 2010 or averaging it over 2011 and 2012.

Ordinarily, you can deduct the fair market value (FMV) of property contributed to charity. The FMV is the price in an arm's-length transaction between a willing buyer and seller. If the property's value is less than the price you paid for it, your deduction is limited to FMV. In some cases, you must submit an appraisal with your tax return.

More small businesses get into trouble with the IRS over payroll taxes than any other type of tax. Payroll taxes are a huge source of government revenue and the IRS takes them very seriously. It is actively looking for businesses that have fallen behind in their payroll taxes or aren't depositing them. When the IRS finds a noncompliant business, it hits hard with penalties.

No, parking tickets are not deductible. Internal Revenue Code Sec. 162 (a) provides that no deduction is allowed for fines or penalties paid to a government (U.S. or foreign, federal or local).

The AMT is difficult to apply and the exact computation is very complex. If you owed AMT last year and no unusual deduction or windfall had come your way that year, you're sufficiently at risk this year to apply a detailed set of computations to any AMT assessment. Ballpark estimates just won't work

Q. A promising investment opportunity proved too good to be true and I have incurred some stock losses. I still have faith in the company and don't want to abandon it but can I use some of these losses to offset gains from other stocks? If I sell these shares at a loss and immediately buy them back, what would the tax consequences be?

Q: After what period is my federal tax return safe from audit? A: Generally, the time-frame within which the IRS can examine a federal tax return you have filed is three years. To be more specific, Code Sec. 6501 states that the IRS has three years from the later of the deadline for filing the return (usually April 15th for individuals) or the date you actually filed the return. This means that if you file your return on May 10, 2009, the IRS will have until May 10, 2012 to look at it and "assess a deficiency;" not April 17, 2012.

Given a choice between recognizing income now or in a later year, most people want to be paid now and be taxed in a later year. As a practical matter, however, an employee cannot defer compensation after performing services and becoming entitled to payment. Routine compensation earned over a prescribed pay period -- a week, two weeks, or a month, for example - usually is paid or made available in the same year it was earned. Recognition of the income cannot be put off to a later year.

It's back-to-school time and many families are looking for ways to stretch their education dollars. To help, there are some generous tax breaks. Deductions and credits are available and while they won't lower the cost of education, they can lower the tax bill.

One of the easiest ways for a business to limit liability is to use independent contractors instead of employees. Of course, merely calling employees "independent contractors" will not make those individuals independent contractors.

Whether a parent who employs his or her child in a family business must withhold FICA and pay FUTA taxes will depend on the age of the teenager, the amount of income the teenager earns and the type of business.

Owning a vacation home is a common dream that many people share...a special place to get away from the weekday routine, relax and maybe, after you retire, a new place to call home.

If you pay for domestic-type services in your home, you may be considered a "domestic employer" for purposes of employment taxes. As a domestic employer, you in turn may be required to report, withhold, and pay employment taxes on a calendar-year basis. The reporting rules apply to both FICA and FUTA taxes, as well as to income taxes that domestic employees elect to have withheld from their wages. The FICA tax rate, applied separately to the employer's share and the employee's share, is 7.65 percent.

This is a simple question, but the question does not have a simple answer. Generally speaking the answer is no, closing costs are not deductible when refinancing. However, the answer depends on what you mean by "closing costs" and what is done with the money obtained in the refinancing.

The general rule on business expenses is that you must prove everything in detail to be entitled to a deduction. Logs, preferably made contemporaneously to the business transaction, must show date, amount, and business purpose and you must produce receipts. Fortunately, the tax law has a practical side. Congress, the IRS and the courts each have applied their own brand of practicality in allowing certain exceptions to be made to the business substantiation rule.

So you won the lotto! But before you take that dream vacation, pay off those credit cards, or buy a luxury car, there are some important tax issues to consider.


If you file a joint return and your taxable income is less than that of your spouse, the "spousal" IRA rules may allow you to contribute up to $5,000 in 2009 (or $6,000 if you are 50 or older) to an individual retirement account (IRA) this year. A "spousal IRA" is a term more commonly used to describe an IRA set up for a nonworking, stay-at-home spouse.


Just because you're married doesn't mean you have to file a joint return. This is a common misconception along with thinking that "married filing separately" applies to couples who are separated or seeking a divorce. As a married couple, you have two choices: file a joint return or file separate returns. Naturally, there are benefits and detriments to each and your tax advisor can chart the best course of action for you.

The IRS has some good news for you. Under new rules, you may be able to gain a partial tax break on the full $250,000 capital gain exclusion ($500,000 if you file jointly with your spouse), even if you haven't satisfied the normal "two out of five year test" necessary to gain that tax benefit. You may qualify for an exception.


If you want to withdraw funds from either your company retirement plan or your individual retirement account, there is a 10% additional tax (penalty) if you make withdrawals before the age of 59 ½. There is an exception to this rule if you make withdrawals from your account of a series of "substantially equal periodic payments."


Generally, if you do volunteer work for a charity, you are not entitled to deduct the cost of services you perform for the charity. However, if in connection with the volunteer work you incur out-of-pocket expenses, you may be entitled to deduct some of those expenses.


A pre-tax benefit can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but usually can fit into one of two categories.


New IRS rules substantially simplify the computation of required minimum distributions (RMDs). In addition, Congress has forced the IRS to adopt new life expectancy tables that reflect longer life expectancies, resulting in distributions to be made over a longer time-period and for the RMD to be smaller than would have been required in previous years. You could realize some significant tax savings.

Q. My husband and I have a housekeeper come in to clean once a week; and someone watches our children for about 10 hours over the course of each week to free up our time for chores. Are there any tax problems here that we are missing?


Throughout all of our lives, we have been told that if we don't want to work all of our life, we must plan ahead and save for retirement. We have also been urged to seek professional guidance to help plan our estates so that we can ensure that our loved ones will get the most out of the assets we have accumulated during our lifetime, with the least amount possible going to pay estate taxes.  What many of us likely have not thought about is how these two financial goals -- retirement and estate planning -- work together. 


When it comes to legal separation or divorce, there are many complex situations to address. A divorcing couple faces many important decisions and issues regarding alimony, child support, and the fair division of property. While most courts and judges will not factor in the impact of taxes on a potential property settlement or cash payments, it is important to realize how the value of assets transferred can be materially affected by the tax implications.


Q. I have a professional services firm and am considering hiring my wife to help out with some of the administrative tasks in the office. I don't think we'll have a problem working together but I would like to have more information about the tax aspects of such an arrangement before I make the leap. What are some of the tax advantages of hiring my spouse?


The responsibility for remitting federal tax payments to the IRS in a timely manner can be overwhelming for the small business owner -- the deadlines seem never ending and the penalties for late payments can be stiff. However, many small business owners may find that participating in the IRS's EFTPS program is a convenient, timesaving way to pay their federal taxes.


An attractive benefit package is crucial to attract and retain talented workers. However, the expense of such packages can be cost-prohibitive to a small business. Establishing a tax-advantaged cafeteria plan can be an innovative way to provide employees with additional benefits without significantly adding to the cost of your overall benefit program.


Q. The recent upturn in home values has left me with quite a bit of equity in my home. I would like to tap into this equity to pay off my credit cards and make some major home improvements. If I get a home equity loan, will the interest I pay be fully deductible on my tax return?


As a new business owner, you probably expect to incur many expenses before you even open the doors. What you might not know is how these starting up costs are handled for tax purposes. A little knowledge about how these costs will affect your (or your business') tax return can reduce any unexpected surprises when tax time comes around.


Probably one of the more difficult decisions you will have to make as a consumer is whether to buy or lease your auto. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. leasing a new car or truck before you get to the car dealership can ease the decision-making process and may alleviate unpleasant surprises later.


In addition to decisions that affect the day to day operations of the company, the new business owner will also be faced with accounting and tax related decisions. Whether to use the cash or accrual method of accounting, for example, although not always a matter of choice, is an important decision that must be considered carefully.


The benefits of owning a vacation home can go beyond rest and relaxation. Understanding the special rules related to the tax treatment of vacation homes can not only help you with your tax planning, but may also help you plan your vacation.


Limited liability companies (LLCs) remain one of the most popular choice of business forms in the U.S. today. This form of business entity is a hybrid that features the best characteristics of other forms of business entities, making it a good choice for both new and existing businesses and their owners.


Maintaining good financial records is an important part of running a successful business. Not only will good records help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your business' operations, but they will also help out tremendously if the IRS comes knocking on your door.


After your tax returns have been filed, several questions arise: What do you do with the stack of paperwork? What should you keep? What should you throw away? Will you ever need any of these documents again? Fortunately, recent tax provisions have made it easier for you to part with some of your tax-related clutter.


The decision to start your own business comes with many other important decisions. One of the first tasks you will encounter is choosing the legal form of your new business. There are quite a few choices of legal entities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages that must be taken into consideration along with your own personal tax situation.