On February 9, President Trump signed the Bipartisan Budget Act into law after a brief government shutdown. 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 early on 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 Bipartisan Budget Act contains a number of tax provisions, including disaster tax relief and the extension of over 30 expired tax breaks, but has received little attention. Most of the tax relief in this legislation applies for the 2017 tax year only, similar to the extender bills we are so used to seeing the past number of years. The full impact of these retroactive changes on the current filing season remains to be fully assessed. The IRS issued a statement on February 9, saying that it was beginning to determine next steps. “The IRS will provide additional information as quickly as possible for affected taxpayers and the tax community,” the Service indicated.
While many argue retroactive tax extenders are unfavorable tax policy, others contend that these tax breaks were included in the Bipartisan Budget Act because they had been relied upon and expected for the 2017 tax year but were squeezed out of year-end consideration by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. Moving forward, the committee is planning hearings to determine how and if tax extenders fit in post-tax reform years.
The following tax extender provisions generally have more widespread impact than some of the other provisions (and are extended only through 2017 unless noted):
The Bipartisan Budget Act also established disaster tax relief for those impacted by California wildfires. Such relief includes but is not limited to allowing certain access to retirement funds, temporarily suspending the limit on charitable contribution deductions, allowing deductions for personal casualty disaster losses and a tax credit for employee retention. The Act also includes changes to the Opportunity Zones rules for Puerto Rico, originally included in the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Additionally, tax relief is extended for areas affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
A number of new tax provisions were included in the legislation, as well as modifications to existing tax provisions. These include modifications of the rules relating to whistleblower awards, user fees on installment agreements, and hardship distributions and withdrawals from deferred accounts. The Act also mandates the creation of a new version of Form 1040, similar to a Form 1040EZ, for seniors, for tax years beginning after February 9, 2018 (the 2019 tax year for calendar year taxpayers). An additional provision of note is the requirement that in order for the excise tax on investment income of private colleges and universities to apply, 500 students must be “tuition-paying.” This requirement was included in the original version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but was removed at the last minute to comply with budget reconciliation rules.
Due to the far reaching effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, determining the overall impact on any particular individual, business or family will depend on a variety of other complex changes made by this new law. While many planning opportunities are now present – there may be just as many pitfalls without the proper guidance and support. To ensure you are accounting for all scenarios and taking advantage of all potential tax planning strategies, we advise that you work closely with your tax advisor to assess your individual situation.
Our team of experts are continually monitoring developments for further guidance from Congress and the IRS on the above tax reform legislation provisions, and will provide updated information and analysis as necessary. Please visit us at taxreform.blumshapiro.com for the latest articles and events related to tax reform.
Disclaimer: Any written tax content, comments, or advice contained in this article is limited to the matters specifically set forth herein. Such content, comments, or advice may be based on tax statutes, regulations, and administrative and judicial interpretations thereof and we have no obligation to update any content, comments or advice for retroactive or prospective changes to such authorities. This communication is not intended to address the potential application of penalties and interest, for which the taxpayer is responsible, that may be imposed for non-compliance with tax law.