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Tax Reform Resource Center
President Trump and Republican lawmakers currently are considering a second round of tax reform legislation as a follow-up to last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). As of this writing, there’s been no actual bill drafted. However, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) just released a broad outline or framework of what the tax package may contain.
One of the main themes of the proposed legislation is to make permanent certain provisions in the TCJA, including:
These pro-taxpayer changes are scheduled to expire at the end of 2025 along with several other TCJA changes, some of which are not taxpayer-friendly.
The framework released by Brady also would help Americans save more for retirement. It would create a new Universal Savings Account that would allow tax-free withdrawals for a variety of needs and would expand Section 529 education savings plans to allow tax-free withdrawals to pay for apprenticeship fees to learn a trade, cover the cost of home schooling and help pay off student debt. Contributions to Universal Savings Accounts would be made with after-tax dollars, like contributions to Roth IRAs. The framework also proposes to permit families to access their retirement accounts penalty free after a birth or adoption and allow new businesses to write off more of their start-up costs.
President Trump has separately suggested lowering the corporate federal income tax rate from 21% to 20%. The TCJA permanently lowered the corporate rate from a maximum of 35% under prior law to a flat 21% for tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond.
Chairman Brady has indicated that indexing capital gains for inflation is also under consideration for Tax Reform 2.0. Indexing would allow taxpayers to increase the tax basis of capital gains assets — such as stocks, mutual fund shares and real estate — to account for inflation. Indexing would result in lower taxable gains when affected assets are sold for a profit. Some observers have argued that indexing could be achieved without the need for legislation by simply issuing IRS regulations that allow indexing.
No “extenders” in Tax Reform 2.0
Chairman Brady has indicated that any Tax Reform 2.0 package probably won’t include extensions of a number of tax breaks that Congress habitually allows to expire and then retroactively extends. These so-called “extenders” will likely be addressed by separate legislation. For individual taxpayers, the two important extenders are the deduction for up to $4,000 of qualified higher-education tuition and fees and tax-free treatment for up to $2 million of forgiven home mortgage debt. Both of these breaks expired at the end of 2017. Other extenders that expired at that time include several business depreciation and expensing breaks and energy related breaks.
Possible technical corrections legislation
Like most major legislation, the TCJA included some errors, oversights and omissions that Congress didn’t intend. Such glitches are typically fixed retroactively by so-called “technical corrections legislation.” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has indicated that a technical corrections bill, mainly focused on international tax fixes, may be introduced after the November midterm election — when it would hopefully garner some support from congressional Democrats. Any technical corrections bill would probably be separate from the Tax Reform 2.0 bill.
Retirement savings bill
Separate from the Tax Reform 2.0 discussions, bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to help encourage Americans to save more for retirement. The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act contains a number of incentives that include allowing employees to buy an annuity; making it easier for small companies to offer retirement plans; and permitting people older than age 70½ to contribute to traditional IRAs. It’s possible these provisions could be part of a 2.0 bill or they could make up a stand-alone bill.
Chairman Brady is encouraging House Republicans to hold “listening sessions” with their constituents during the upcoming August recess with a view toward a committee vote in September. If all goes well, Republicans are tentatively scheduling a House vote on a Tax Reform 2.0 bill by the end of September. Bear in mind that the November midterm election may play into the final package of legislation, as vulnerable Republicans plead their cases for specific provisions.
Contact H2R CPA at 412-391-2920 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about how the proposed legislation may affect your individual or business tax planning.
by H2R CPA Team
In today’s complex world of mergers and acquisitions (M&As), buyers need to get to know business sellers and their executives, test their representations about asset condition and financial performance, and screen for common fraud schemes. Here’s why.
Whose side are they on?
Without adequate M&A due diligence, unwary buyers could fall victim to false representations by sellers that never pan out after the deal closes. Or they may inherit a hornet’s nest of white collar crime and embezzlement by employees.
Even if a company has internal controls in place, owners and executives can override them. These individuals have access to financial statements, and may have incentives — such as to receive bonuses for exceeding certain growth targets — to falsify them.
So it’s essential to perform background checks on your acquisition target’s owners and C-suite executives. A thorough check can uncover past involvement in criminal embezzlement, theft, forgery and other types of fraud, as well as involvement in civil litigation. It could also reveal falsified items on their resumés and other pertinent personal claims.
How “creative” is the business?
Financial statements should also be scoured for misstatements. Some owners may use “creative” accounting techniques to artificially inflate a company’s value. They might, for example:
Owners might also hide liabilities, falsify transactions with related parties, overvalue receivables and securities, and overstate inventories to boost the selling price.
Tip of the iceberg
Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fraud schemes that could diminish the value of your acquisition. In addition to performing financial and legal due diligence, be sure to tour your target’s facilities and interview management for insight into the company’s culture.
Contact H2R CPA at 412-391-2920 or email@example.com for help conducting due diligence or to learn more about our transaction advisory services.
Recommended Reading: Qualified retirement plans can provide additional tax savings for business owners
by H2R CPA Team
Because qualified retirement plan contributions lower the taxable income of business owners of passthrough entities (sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, and LLCs), increasing contributions can qualify business owners for additional tax deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that they would not otherwise have been eligible to receive, such as the new qualified business income (QBI) deduction (Sec. 199A).
See article below from the AICPA website for details and contact H2R CPA at 412-391-2920 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
Why small business owners should have a qualified retirement plan
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