Stan DiLiberto, CPA, CFP
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On December 20, President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan, year-end government spending and tax package, just hours before federal funding was set to expire. Trump's signature on the over 2,000-page spending package avoided a government shutdown.


The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) ( P.L. 111-148) individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power. However, the central question of whether the rest of the ACA remains valid after Congress removed the penalty for not having health insurance remained unanswered. Instead, the case was sent back to the district court to reconsider how much of the ACA could survive without the individual mandate penalty.


Proposed qualified opportunity zone regulations issued on October 29, 2018 ( REG-115420-18) and May 1, 2019 ( REG-120186-18) under Code Sec. 1400Z-2 have been finalized with modifications. The regulations. which were issued in a 550 page document, are comprehensive.


The IRS has issued final regulations that provide guidance on transfers of appreciated property by U.S. persons to partnerships with foreign partners related to the transferor. Specifically, the regulations override the general nonrecognition rule under Code Sec. 721(a) unless the partnership adopts the remedial allocation method and certain other requirements are satisfied. The regulations affect U.S. partners in domestic or foreign partnerships.


The IRS has released Publication 5382, "Internal Revenue Service Progress Update / Fiscal Year 2019—Putting Taxpayers First." This new annual report describes accomplishments across the agency, and highlights the work of IRS employees during the past year. It covers a variety of taxpayer service efforts, including development of the new Taxpayer Withholding Estimator, as well as operations support efforts on areas involving information technology modernization, human capital office initiatives, and others.


Bridget Roberts, the Acting National Taxpayer Advocate, released her 2019 Annual Report to Congress. The report discusses the key challenges facing the IRS regarding the implementation of the Taxpayer First Act, inadequate taxpayer service and limited funding of the agency. Further, Roberts released the third edition of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s "Purple Book," which presents 58 legislative recommendations designed to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration.


The IRS has modified the applicability dates for proposed regulations under Code Sec. 382 that were issued with NPRM REG-125710-18, September 10, 2019 (2019 proposed regulations). The IRS is withdrawing the text of the proposed applicability dates, and proposing revised applicability dates. The newly issued proposed rules would also provide transition relief.


The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations on the due diligence and reporting rules for persons making certain U.S. source payments to foreign persons. Guidance is also provided on reporting by foreign financial institutions on U.S. accounts. The regulations are effective on the date the regulations are published in the Federal Register.


Taxpayers have been provided with additional guidance for complying with the Code Sec. 871(m) regulations on dividend equivalent payments for 2021, 2022, and 2023. The Treasury Department and the IRS intend to amend the regulations to delay the effective/applicability date of certain rules. Further, the phase-in period provided in Notice 2018-762, I.R.B. 2018-40, 522, has been extended.


Whether for a day, a week or longer, many of the costs associated with business trips may be tax-deductible. The tax code includes a myriad of rules designed to prevent abuses of tax-deductible business travel. One concern is that taxpayers will disguise personal trips as business trips. However, there are times when taxpayers can include some personal activities along with business travel and not run afoul of the IRS.

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?

In a period of declining stock prices, tax benefits may not be foremost in your mind. Nevertheless, you may be able to salvage some benefits from the drop in values. Not only can you reduce your taxable income, but you may be able to move out of unfavorable investments and shift your portfolio to investments that you are more comfortable with.

Nonbusiness creditors may deduct bad debts when they become totally worthless (i.e. there is no chance of its repayment). The proper year for the deduction can generally be established by showing that an insolvent debtor has not timely serviced a debt and has either refused to pay any part of the debt in the future, gone through bankruptcy, or disappeared. Thus, if you have loaned money to a friend or family member that you are unable to collect, you may have a bad debt that is deductible on your personal income tax return.

Contributions to political campaigns are nondeductible. Nondeductible campaign contributions include, for example, contributions to pay for campaign expenses as well as contributions to pay for a candidate's personal expenses while the candidate is campaigning. The line sometimes gets gray, however, when a contribution is being made for a charitable purpose that is being sponsored by a political candidate or is being made to a charity that also appears to be endorsing a political candidate as opposed to a particular position within the public discourse.

Education continues to become increasingly expensive. The Tax Code provides a variety of significant tax breaks to help pay for the rising costs of education, from elementary and secondary school to college. Some people are surprised at what is available these days, as the dust settles on tax rules that have been in transition now for a number of years. A good place to start educating yourself on these education-related tax incentives - to help yourself or a member of your family better tackle the rising expense of education - is right here.


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 flagging state of the economy has left many individuals and families to cope with rising gas prices and food costs, struggle with their mortgage and rent payments, and manage credit card debt and other common monthly bills. Whether individuals are contemplating how to pay off their credit card or obtain a mortgage amid the "credit crunch" and "economic downturn," many people may be considering alternative sources of financing to reach their goals, including the tapping of a retirement account.

No. Generally, payments that qualify as alimony are included in the recipient's gross income and are deducted from the payor's gross income. However, not all payments between spouses qualify as alimony.

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

When trying to maximize retirement savings contributions, you may find you have contributed too much to your IRA. Typically, you either have too much income to qualify for a certain IRA or you can't recall what contributions you made until they are added up at tax time and you discover they were too much. There are steps you can take to correct an excess contribution.

Q. My company recently downsized its workforce and eliminated my position. I thought this would be a good opportunity to start my own consulting business in the same industry. What are some of the things I should consider before my last day on the job?


Q. My family and I have always led a full life, enjoying vacations, dinners out, and new cars. While many of these items have been paid for by credit cards, we've never felt uncomfortable with our level of indebtedness. However, things have been slowing down at work lately, and I suddenly realized that I would be in big trouble if I lost my job. We are just paying the minimum on our credit cards and I'm starting to feel like we're in way over our heads. What should our next step be?


You're 57 years old and as part of an early retirement package, you've just been offered a large cash bonus and salary continuation, along with a lump sum payment from the company retirement plan and continuing medical benefits. Is this a dream come true or a potential financial nightmare?


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.


Do you know where your 401(k) plan funds are? Errors can and do occur, sometimes with devastating results. By taking an active role in the management of your account, you can quickly uncover any errors, make good investment choices, and ascertain a secure, comfortable retirement. Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of your 401(k) plan.


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.


With home values across the country at the highest levels seen in years, you may find that you could actually have a gain from the sale of your home in excess of the new IRS exclusion amount of $500,000 ($250,000 for single and married filing separately taxpayers). In order to determine your potential gain or loss from the sale, you will first need to know the basis of your personal residence.


What do amounts paid for new swimming pools, Lamaze classes, lunches with friends, massages, and America Online fees have in common? All of these costs have been found to be legitimate tax deductions under certain circumstances. As you gather your information for the preparation of your tax return, it may pay to take a closer look at the items you spent money on during the year.


The Internet has taken investing to a whole different level: inexpensive online trading and real-time stock market data have made many of us 'armchair investors'. As you actively manage your investments, you will no doubt incur additional expenses. Many of these expenses are deductible investment expenses.

Owning property (real or tangible) and leasing it to your business can give you very favorable tax results, not to mention good long-term benefits. There are some drawbacks, however, and you should consider all factors before structuring such an arrangement.

Biweekly mortgage prepayment plans are popular in the mortgage lending industry. These plans tout substantial interest savings and shortened loan terms by making two smaller mortgage payments each month instead of one large payment. Is this type of program right for you? Is a formal plan necessary?

I have a car that I would like to donate to my church. Can I just claim the amount shown as the value of the car per the Kelly Blue Book (about $6,500) on Schedule A of Form 1040?

Below is a list of questions and answers to some of the basic topics you come across when reporting the sale of stock. Stock basis, holding periods, wash sale rules and sales of mutual funds are just a few of the items clarified.