Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Interpretation of Stock Vesting Rule

January 5, 2014

Compensation in stock and optionsThe Tax Court recently rejected an IRS attempt to treat stock as vested based on a provision in the regulations dealing with termination for cause. The court found that the employment agreement used the word “cause” with a different meaning than in the regulation.

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Clergy Housing Allowance Exemption Unconstitutional

December 30, 2013

Court rulingsSection 107 of the Internal Revenue Code provides a tax exemption for a housing allowance provided to a “minister of the gospel.” In a decision virtually certain to be overturned, a federal judge has found the exemption unconstitutional.

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IRS Announces Tax Season Start Date

December 22, 2013

Filing your taxesThe IRS has announced that it will begin accepting 2013 income tax returns on January 31, 2014. Here’s what’s strange about that particular date.

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Standard Mileage Rates for 2014

December 6, 2013

The IRS is out with the standard mileage rates for 2014. Here are the main points, quoted from the IRS announcement:

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 56 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The business, medical, and moving expense rates decrease one-half cent from the 2013 rates.  The charitable rate is based on statute.

Waiting for Regs on Net Investment Income Tax

November 7, 2013

This is the first year of the Medicare tax on net investment income, and we’re still waiting for final regulations, which are promised by the end of the year. This tax will cause taxpayers with income above a threshold amount to pay an additional 3.8% tax, on top of regular income tax and/or alternative minimum tax (AMT), on net investment income, including dividends, interest and capital gains. Recent remarks by a Treasury official indicate that the final regs will fix a glitch in the taxation of traders that appeared in the proposed regs, but the official declined to specify how that fix would work. Meanwhile, the IRS has posted a draft of Form 8960, Net Investment Tax (PDF), but don’t expect to learn much by reviewing it. Nearly every line of the form includes the words, “see instructions,” but instructions are not included in the draft. Reason? IRS can’t issue instructions indicating what the regs say until the regs are issued.

Extenders: Baucus Balks

September 23, 2013

Senator Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, says he’s had it with extenders. These are tax benefits that have expiration dates but regularly get renewed, usually for a period of just a year or two. Individuals rely on a number of these, such as the itemized deductions for state and local sales tax and private mortgage insurance (PMI). Several of them are important to businesses as well.

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Key Tax Question on Gay Marriage

August 5, 2013
By Kaye A. Thomas

Update: The IRS has issued a ruling that addresses the most important issues discussed in this post. We’ll have detailed guidance in the near future but for now here are the main points:

  • For federal tax purposes, the IRS will treat same-sex couples as married if the marriage occurred in a state or country where such marriages are legal, even if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize such marriages.
  • IRS will not require couples to amend prior year returns, but couples are permitted to do so if an amended return would produce a refund for a year when they were married but required to file single, provided that year is still open under the statute of limitations.
  • Civil unions, domestic partners and similar relationships will not be treated as marriages.

More to come.


The Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act raises many complicated tax issues. One of the most important is whether the marital status of same-sex couples will be determined based on the state of celebration or the state of residence. What happens if a couple has been married in a state where same sex-marriage is legal but now resides in a state where such marriages are not recognized? (more…)

Self-Directed IRA Implodes

May 20, 2013
By Kaye A. Thomas

Individual retirement accounts typically hold conventional investments such as publicly traded stocks, bonds, mutual funds and certificates of deposit. If you want it to hold something unusual, such as real estate or an interest in a business that isn’t publicly traded, you have to establish a self-directed IRA at a financial institution that will accept these entities. I’m not a fan of the idea, and a recent Tax Court case illustrates one of the dangers.

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IRS to Shut Down Nationwide

May 18, 2013

No joke: all offices of the IRS throughout the country are going to shut down. But don’t get excited, it will be just for a day: May 24. And then for three other days: June 14, July 5 and August 30. IRS employees will be on unpaid furlough those days due to what the agency calls “the current budget situation, including the sequester.” Filing deadlines will not be affected, but on these days you won’t be able to reach the IRS by telephone, and the Service won’t be accepting or acknowledging electronically filed returns or conducting any compliance activities.

  • There’s no word on how the shutdown might affect the feverish pace at which the IRS has been working to process exemption applications from conservative groups.

Obama to Propose Retirement Account Cap

April 9, 2013
By Kaye A. Thomas

The Obama administration has revealed that the budget proposal to be published later this week will include a $3 million cap on retirement accounts.

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