Special Services, Inc Since 1979
Tax Alerts
April 19, 2021
Tax Briefing(s)

The IRS and the Treasury Department have automatically extended the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year, from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.


On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Some of the tax-related provisions include the following:


The IRS needs to issue new rules and guidance to implement the American Rescue Plan, experts said on March 11 as President Joe Biden signed his COVID-19 relief measure.


Strengthening tax breaks to promote manufacturing received strong bipartisan support at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on March 16.


IRS Commissioner Charles "Chuck" Rettig told Congress on February 23 that the backlog of 20 million unopened pieces of mail is gone.


The Tax Court ruled that rewards dollars that a married couple acquired for using their American Express credit cards to purchase debit cards and money orders—but not to purchase gift cards—were included in the taxpayers’ income. The court stated that its holdings were based on the unique circumstances of the case.


The IRS Office of Chief Counsel has embarked on its most far-reaching Settlement Days program by declaring the month of March 2021 as National Settlement Month. This program builds upon the success achieved from last year's many settlement day events while being shifted to virtual format due to the pandemic. Virtual Settlement Day (VSD) events will be conducted across the country and will serve taxpayers in all 50 states and the District of Colombia.


An individual who owned a limited liability company (LLC) with her former spouse was not entitled to relief from joint and several liability under Code Sec. 6015(b). The taxpayer argued that she did not know or have reason to know of the understated tax when she signed and filed the joint return for the tax year at issue. Further, she claimed to be an unsophisticated taxpayer who could not have understood the extent to which receipts, expenses, depreciation, capital items, earnings and profits, deemed or actual dividend distributions, and the proper treatment of the LLC resulted in tax deficiencies. The taxpayer also asserted that she did not meaningfully participate in the functioning of the LLC other than to provide some bookkeeping and office work.


A married couple’s civil fraud penalty was not timely approved by the supervisor of an IRS Revenue Agent (RA) as required under Code Sec. 6751(b)(1). The taxpayers’ joint return was examined by the IRS, after which the RA had sent them a summons requiring their attendance at an in-person closing conference. The RA provided the taxpayers with a completed, signed Form 4549, Income Tax Examination Changes, reflecting a Code Sec. 6663(a) civil fraud penalty. The taxpayers declined to consent to the assessment of the civil fraud penalty or sign Form 872, Consent to Extend the Time to Assess Tax, to extend the limitations period.


The Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008 (2008 Housing Act) gave a boost to individuals purchasing a home for the first time with a $7,500 first-time homebuyer tax credit. The credit was enhanced from $7,500 to $8,000 and extended for certain purchases under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (2009 Recovery Act). This article explains how to determine the credit for eligible first-time homebuyers.

If you've made, or are planning to make, a big gift before the end of 2009, you may be wondering what your gift tax liability, if any, may be. You may have to file a federal tax return even if you do not owe any gift tax. Read on to learn more about when to file a federal gift tax return.

Falling interest rates and the current slowdown in the U.S. economy are having a widespread affect on today's economy and individuals' financial resources, from savings accounts to personal loans and credit card debt. The drop in interest rates that has occurred over the course of the last few months has also produced strategic tax planning opportunities for individuals contemplating certain types of asset transfers.

No. Even though trash pickup and neighborhood oversight provided by a governmental entity such as a town or county can be figured into the amount of deductible property taxes paid by a homeowner, a payment to a nongovernmental entity is not a deductible tax.

The business incentives in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (2009 Recovery Act) are much anticipated and valuable. Three significant business incentives in the 2009 Recovery Act are an extended net operating loss (NOL) carryback provision, extended and enhanced Code Sec. 179 expensing, and extended bonus depreciation for 2009.

Like the Internet itself, the correct deductibility of a business's website development costs is still in its formative stages. What is fairly clear, however, is that it is highly unlikely that any single tax treatment will apply to all of the costs incurred in designing an internet site because the process encompasses many different types of expenses.

An accuracy-related penalty applies to a tax underpayment due to "negligence or disregard of the rules and regulations." "Negligence" for this purpose includes any failure to make a reasonable attempt to comply with the Tax Code, to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in preparing your tax return, to keep adequate books and records, or to properly substantiate items on your return. A return position that has a reasonable basis is not negligent. A taxpayer can also qualify for relief by showing reasonable cause and good faith.

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.

Only "qualified moving expenses" under the tax law are generally deductible. Qualified moving expenses are incurred to move the taxpayer, members of the taxpayer's household, and their personal belongings. For moving expenses to be deductible, however, a move must:

The amount of interest required to be paid for underpayment of tax is compounded daily. In order to calculate compound interest, you divide the Code Sec. 6621 interest rate by the number of days in the year, 365 (or 366 in a leap year, such as 2008) and then compound the daily interest rate each day.

The small business corporation (S corp) is one of the most popular business entities today, offering its shareholders the flow-through tax treatment of a partnership and the limited liability of a corporation. The S corp has become an even more prominent entity in the small business community, in part, because the IRS has relaxed certain requirements for electing S corp status. A small business corporation does not need to elect to be treated as an S corp each year to maintain S corp status.

Employees who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can elect to receive the credit in advance payments from their employer along with their regular pay during the year. Advance earned income tax credit (AETIC) payments result in the employee's receipt of larger paychecks throughout the year, but still provide for a tax refund after the employee files his or her Federal income tax return. However, the IRS reports that few eligible workers know about, or take advantage of, of the EITC and the AEITC. Employers should understand their processing and reporting obligations as they relate to the payment of an AEITC to an employee. Letting your employees know about the AEITC can provide them with what they will consider a valuable benefit at no tax cost and very little administrative expense to your business.

With the holidays quickly approaching, you as an employer may not only be wondering what type of gift to give your employees this season, but the tax consequences of the particular gift you choose. The form of gift that you give this holiday season not only has tax consequences for your employees, but for your business as well. If you plan on giving your employees a gift that can be basted or baked this holiday season, such as a traditional turkey or ham, you should understand how that gift will be treated by the IRS for tax purposes.


If you use your car for business purposes, you may have learned that keeping track and properly logging the variety of expenses you incur for tax purposes is not always easy. Practically speaking, how often and how you choose to track expenses associated with the business use of your car depends on your personality; whether you are a meticulous note-taker or you simply abhor recordkeeping. However, by taking a few minutes each day in your car to log your expenses, you may be able to write-off a larger percentage of your business-related automobile costs.

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Long-term care premiums are deductible up to certain amounts as itemized medical expense deductions. The amount is based upon your age. Unfortunately, most taxpayers do not have enough other medical expense deductions to exceed the non-deductible portion equal to the first 7 ½ percent of adjusted gross income (10 percent if you are subject to alternative minimum tax (AMT)). Furthermore, more taxpayers now take the standard deduction rather than itemize, making even those medical expenses useless as a tax deduction.

Under the so-called "kiddie tax," a minor under the age of 19 (or a student under the age of 24) who has certain unearned income exceeding a threshold amount will have the excess taxed at his or her parents' highest marginal tax rate. The "kiddie tax" is intended to prevent parents from sheltering income through their children.

A taxpayer's expenses incurred due to travel outside of the United States for business activities are deductible, but under a stricter set of rules than domestic travel. Foreign travel expenses may be subject to special allocation rules if a taxpayer engages in personal activities while traveling on business. Expenses subject to allocation include travel fares, meals, lodging, and other expenses incident to travel.

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is imposed on corporations in an amount by which the tentative minimum tax exceeds the regular income tax for the taxable year. The purpose of the AMT is to prevent taxpayers with substantial economic income from avoiding all tax liability through the use of exclusions, deductions and credits. Without the AMT, corporate taxpayers could significantly reduce their tax income through tax benefits under the regular tax structure, to the point of such reduction being unfair and unintended by Congress.

With the subprime mortgage mess wreaking havoc across the country, many homeowners who over-extended themselves with creative financing arrangements and exotic loan terms are now faced with some grim tax realities. Not only are they confronted with the overwhelming possibility of losing their homes either voluntarily through selling at a loss or involuntarily through foreclosure, but they must accept certain tax consequences for which they are totally unprepared.

These days, both individuals and businesses buy goods, services, even food on-line. Credit card payments and other bills are paid over the internet, from the comfort of one's home or office and without any trip to the mailbox or post office.

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.


A lump-sum of social security benefits is usually included in gross income for the year in which it is received. However, a recipient may choose to include in gross income the total amount of benefits that would have been included in gross income in the appropriate year if the payments had been received when due.

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.

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