Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Congress Passes Extenders; Awaiting President's Signature

As detailed below, extenders have passed Congress and are awaiting the President's signature, as expected. 

The IRS will be evaluating the impact of the legislation to forms, instructions, and the start of tax season.  As soon as we have guidance from the IRS, we will be sure to let our customers know the timeline. There is no published start date for efile yet. 

Within our tax software, we anticipated the passage of the extenders and approached implementation with that expectation, so significant changes are not expected to the software. However, we will be modifying the compliance modules for the extenders as well as any forms and instruction changes that come down from the IRS as quickly as possible. 

We will focus on implementing changes as we receive guidance; ensuring our customers are prepared for the start of season is our number one priority.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

IRS Business e-file Deadline

IRS business e-file shutdown/cut-over schedule

 Dec 23rd-
At 5pm EST, the EFC will stop sending business e-files to the IRS and state agencies. This allows us ample time for state return processing and ack retrieval.


Dec 24th- 

We will continue requesting acks from IRS until close-of-business (2pm EST) Wednesday December 24th.

Dec 26th-

The IRS officially shuts down efile at 1:30pm Friday December 26th (this includes 2013, 2012, 2011 efiles)

Acks not received by the ERO are unavailable for retrieval from 2pm EST Dec 24th until efile opens again in 2015


Business efile will reopen in January/February (IRS official start date has not been announced)—this will include 2014, 2013, and 2012 efiles

Tax Extenders Still Awaiting Senate Action

(Dec. 16, 2014)
As of today, IRS has not published the start date for individual and business efile in 2015.

Tax Extenders Still Awaiting Senate Action

The Senate on December 16 failed to act on a package of some 54 expired tax provisions (the Tax Increase Prevention Bill (HR 5771)), instead focusing on presidential appointees. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., initially expressed optimism that the Senate could wrap up its business in one day, but warned that the chamber could be in session for the remainder of the week in order to clear up unfinished business, including the tax extenders legislation.

"We can complete everything we wanted to today," said Reid in his opening remarks. "Everything is scheduled now for moving forward, we could finish it today. So I hope that everyone understands we can move forward." Reid remarked that he was prepared to keep the Senate in session for as long as it takes.
"But we're going to have to be here until we finish our work, whether that's Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday," Reid said. "So everyone should understand you can't be leaving."

HR 5771 would extend the now-expired incentives through 2014. The package includes provisions that would extend for another year the local sales tax deduction, the research tax credit, New Markets Tax Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. In addition, the measure would also extend bonus depreciation at 50 percent, a 15-year, straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant buildings and improvements, and qualified retail improvements. The cost of the bill is $44.7 billion over 10 years.


(Dec. 15, 2014)

There was a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill as Congress prepared to recess for the holidays. Outgoing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., formerly introduced his Tax Reform Bill of 2014, as well as legislation that would prevent foreign diplomats from receiving subsidized health coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148) and provide taxpayers with protections against the inappropriate application of civil forfeiture laws. The House failed to pass a measure that would have made permanent the tax deduction for charitable contributions by individuals and corporations of real property interests for conservation purposes, and tax-free distributions from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for charitable purposes. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen delivered remarks on the limited IRS budget and also noted that, if Congress approves tax extenders legislation before mid-December, the IRS should be able to handle the changes to the tax laws.

Congress

Eight Senate Democrats on December 5 called on House leadership to include the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) in omnibus legislation (TAXDAY, 2014/12/09, C.1). The legislation was approved by the House on December 11 minus the HCTC credit. In a letter dated December 5, the lawmakers said that the HCTC serves as a "critical lifeline" to help retired United Steelworkers and Delphi salaried retirees maintain affordable health care. The HCTC expired at the end of 2013.

As lawmakers rushed to pass another end-of-the-year bill extending billions of dollars in tax breaks commonly referred to as "extenders," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on December 9 issued a new report highlighting over $900 billion of "giveaways" throughout the tax code (TAXDAY, 2014/12/10, C.2). More than 165 tax expenditures worth over $900 billion in 2014 and more than $5 trillion over the next five years are revealed in the "Tax Decoder."

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., on December 10 introduced two pieces of legislation that would prevent foreign diplomats from receiving subsidized health coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148) and provide taxpayers with protections against the inappropriate application of civil forfeiture laws, respectively (TAXDAY, 2014/12/11, C.3). House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., is the co-sponsor of the No Healthcare Subsidies for Diplomats Bill (HR 5825) and ranking member Sander Levin is the co-sponsor of the Taxpayer Protections Against Abusive Seizures Bill.

Former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa said on December 10 that President Obama's veto threat of a proposed tax extender package heavily geared toward business left the Senate having to vote on "something that's barely better than nothing for some industries." Grassley cited small business owners and farmers who want to know whether the enhanced expensing rules under Code Sec. 179 will be extended so they can invest in new machinery. He also pointed to retirees who want to know whether they can make a charitable donation from their IRA to meet their required minimum distribution. In addition, the renewable energy sector wants to know what investments they should make to increase production, he said.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 Quick Refund Estimator Available

Refunds Today is proud to announce the release of the 2014 Quick Refund Estimator.  This time saving tool will allow you to prepare an estimate of your client’s anticipated refund in just seconds!!!! 

This product is included with all Plus and Premier software packages and is available NOW. For those in the Basic or Standard packages, a trial version is also available.  To download the 2014 Quick Refund Estimator, full or trial version, login to the Refunds Today website at www.refundstoday.com and click on the Downloads section. You’ll find the appropriate download link in the Other Module Updates section in the Left pane.
Below are a few outstanding features of the Refunds Today Quick Refund Estimator:
  • Simply enter: filing status, number of dependents, and W-2 information
  • Updated to reflect current tax law changes
  • Calculates 2014 estimated Federal Tax, Child Care Credit, Child Tax Credit, EIC, Additional Child Tax Credit, Estimated Federal Refund and even EIC Combat pay
  • Estimates Health Insurance Penalty for households without health insurance coverage for 2014, 2015, and 2016
  • Provides a client letter concerning the estimated federal tax and includes a liability disclaimer to be signed by the client or prospective client
  • Good for computing estimates and for double-checking the accuracy of tax return entries in the Refunds Today Software
If you don’t have the Plus or Premier package, you can purchase the 2014 Quick Refund Estimator for as little as $50.  Better yet, we’ll let you “Try it before you buy it” with our Trial Version download (see above). Once you reach the maximum number of trial estimates, you will be provided with a link that will allow you to purchase and download the FULL unlimited version of the Refunds Today Quick Refund Estimator. Or, at any time, you can logon to the Refunds Today website at www.refundstoday.com and click on 2014 Catalog to purchase.  

If you have any questions or any issues with downloading the 2014 Refunds Today Tax Estimator, please do not hesitate to contact Refunds Today at 323-261-0240.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Deadline Approaching for Voluntary IRS Registration

As you already know, the IRS has launched a new program that promotes the importance of education and filing season preparedness. The Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) has had a HUGE response from the Tax Professional community regarding this education and certification, much more than originally expected. Those who complete the required amount of continuing education credits, covering such topics as ethics, tax law updates, federal tax law, and tax filing issues, and pass a comprehensive test, will receive a "Record of Completion" AND be listed in a database on the IRS website.  The deadline to complete this course is 12/31/2014.  Don't be the only preparer in your area not to be listed on the IRS website! 
Tax Professionals who elect to participate in the program would receive the following benefits:
  • The IRS will issue a "Record of Completion" once all requirements are fulfilled.
  • Inclusion in the "Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications" on the IRS.gov website that will be available in January 2015 to help taxpayers determine return preparer qualifications.
  • Beginning January, 2016, only non-credentialed tax return preparers who have a record of completion under the Annual Filing Season Program will be permitted to represent taxpayers before the IRS during an examination of a return that they signed or prepared.
Refunds Today has created an IRS approved AFSP course which covers all required topics to comply with the new IRS education platform.  Simply login to the Refunds Today website at www.refundstoday.com, click on the 2014 Catalog tab and select IRS AFSP Continuing Education under the Tax Education section. Our Full IRS AFSP Continuing Education Course is only $69. 
For more information regarding this new program, please click on the following link that will direct you to the IRS website.
http://www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Annual-Filing-Season-Program

Special Pricing on The Tax Book

In your business, time is money.  To make sure you don't waste time looking for those tough tax answers, Refunds Today has solidified a partnership with The TaxBook™ - the industry leading tax resource assistance tool which was voted the #1 Tax & Accounting Research System by the CPA Practice Advisors Reader's Choice Awards.  The TaxBook is a printed, spiral bound notebook that puts all the tax answers you need right at your fingertips.  This comprehensive resource tool will help you spend less time researching complex tax scenarios by providing clear answers in easy to find tabs, indices, and Table of Contents.
The TaxBook 1040 Edition - includes comprehensive 1040 tax subjects.

The TaxBook Deluxe Edition - includes comprehensive 1040 tax subjects, as well as: C Corporations , S Corporations-1120S, Partnerships and LLCs-1065, Estates, Trusts, and Fiduciaries-1041, 706, 709, Financial Planning, Social Security, Exempt Orgs, Payroll and Labor Laws-940, 941 and Business Tools and Worksheets.

Simply click on the following link and login to be redirected to the "Tax Assistance Tools" page on the Refunds Today website. www.refundstoday.com

Senate Will Pass Extenders Before End of Week

Senate Will Pass Extenders Before End of Week, Says McConnell,(Dec. 10, 2014)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on December 9 declared that the Senate will pass the Tax Increase Prevention Bill (HR 5771), a package of some 54 tax provisions, before it adjourns at the end of the week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was less sanguine, saying that the upper chamber will turn to tax extenders after Senate lawmakers approve a defense spending bill, legislation to keep the government operating beyond December 12 and an omnibus appropriations bill.

"There are three things we’re going to do," McConnell said, speaking to reporters following the weekly caucus luncheons. "We’re going to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, we’re going to pass the omnibus/CR (continuous resolution) and we’re going to pass the tax extender bill before we leave here this week."

HR 5771 extends individual, business and energy tax incentives through 2014 and makes technical corrections to existing tax laws. It also includes the House-approved Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Bill of 2014 (HR 647). The ABLE Bill would create tax-favored accounts for individuals challenged by disabilities.

The timing could leave the Senate working into the weekend as the House has yet to produce an omnibus appropriations bill and a CR necessary to keep the government from shutting down. Because of House rules, a bill must be made public for 48 hours before a vote can be held. As of press time, the House had not produced an omnibus bill, which means that chamber cannot vote on the measure before late in the evening of December 12 at the earliest, which will put a squeeze on Senate lawmakers and likely bump their adjournment date into the weekend.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., have also been engaged in talks in the hope that they can make the charitable giving tax credits permanent, but Reid was skeptical. He said that, with the Senate’s full plate, it was hard to imagine that lawmakers could tackle any new legislation. "I think it will be hard to get any new legislation up," he noted. "We have stuff we have to work through. Wyden made a presentation to the caucus. If we can get it up we will."

By Jeff Carlson, CCH News Staff