Dean Clayton T. Woo, C.P.A., Inc.

What Entities Will the IRS Target for 2014 and 2015 Audits?  
The GAO says that since FY 2010, the IRS has lost 10,000 employees and had its budget cut by $900 million. More cuts are proposed for the 2015 IRS budget. Identity theft issues, foreign asset reporting, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) responsibilities will continue to absorb personnel and resources. This budget reality will hamper IRS audit goals, but there are still many audit targets that you will want to discuss with your business clients in the next few months.
The rich and their entities. High-income taxpayers will continue to receive audit attention (at about a 9% rate for those reporting income of $1 million to $5 million). Since these taxpayers often have complex tax returns with income and losses from many flow-through entities, the audit of the owner will often lead to an expansion of the IRS examination into the various entities.
Partnership returns. Partnerships are the fastest-growing segment of all tax returns filed. The IRS hopes to expand its audits of partnership and LLC returns. Flow-through losses from developers and real estate investors will get special attention. The audit rate of partnerships and LLCs was a dismal .42% for FY 2013. The IRS did special training this year to increase the number of auditors with a specialized knowledge in partnership law.
Employment taxes. Employment taxes are a focus this year, and this includes a continuing look by the IRS at:

  1. Employee versus independent contractor,
  2. Form 1099 compliance, and
  3. S corporation reasonable compensation issues.

Remember that when the ACA’s employer mandate takes effect in 2015 and 2016, the employee versus independent contractor determination will become more important. Employer ACA penalties can be up to $3,000 for each misclassified employee.
Cash businesses. The tax gap remains a hot item, so cash-intensive businesses will receive a little more attention from the IRS. The IRS is using Form 1099-K to help it select some of these businesses for audit.
One more item of news on business audits. Ninety-four percent of small businesses use QuickBooks software for their accounting records, but the IRS does not have the budget to update its QuickBooks software yearly. Thus, it is unable to accept electronic records from many of the small businesses it is auditing. Without access to electronic records, the audit will be less efficient. Is that good or bad news for the taxpayer and/or the tax practitioner? We will talk about this at our fall Federal & California Tax Update classes.

Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

President Trump on February 9 signed the Bipartisan Budget Act into law after a brief government shutdown occurred overnight. The legislation contains tax provisions in addition to a continuing resolution to fund the government and federal agencies through March 23. The House approved this new law in the early morning hours of February 9, by a 240-to-186 vote. The Senate approved the bipartisan measure a few hours earlier, by a 71-to-28 vote.

The Treasury Department has proposed repealing 298 regulations. According to the Treasury, the targeted rules are unnecessary, duplicative or obsolete. In addition, the Treasury proposed to amend another 79 regulations to reflect the repeal.

The Trump administration on February 12 released its much-anticipated fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request, "Efficient, Effective, Accountable An American Budget." The administration’s proposal calls for IRS funding that focuses additional resources on enforcement and cybersecurity. Coming off passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this year’s budget recommendations contain only a handful of additional tax proposals when compared to some prior-year budget requests.

The Treasury and IRS have released their second quarter update to the 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan. The updated 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan now reflects 29 additional projects, including 18 projects that have become near term priorities as a result of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.

New proposed regulations under the centralized partnership audit regime address how and when partnerships and their partners adjust tax attributes to take into account partnerships’ payment adjustments. They also provide, among other additions and clarifications to earlier proposed regs, rules to adjust basis and capital accounts if the partnership adjustment is a change to an item of gain, loss, amortization or depreciation.

The IRS has issued guidance for certain specified foreign corporations owned by U.S. shareholders subject to the Code Sec. 965 transition tax that are requesting a change in accounting period. The IRS will not approve a request to change the annual accounting period under either the existing automatic or general change of accounting period procedures if the change could result in the avoidance, reduction, or delay of the transition tax. This guidance applies to any request to change an annual accounting period that ends on December 31, 2017, regardless of when such request was filed.

The IRS has posted best practices for return preparers addressing the Affordable Care Act’s individual shared responsibility requirement, also known as the individual mandate. The Service reminded preparers that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not eliminate the individual shared responsibility requirement for 2017.