2019 Tax Changes That May Impact You

23 04 2019

There were a number of important tax developments in the first quarter of 2019, that may affect you, your family, your investments, and your livelihood, including:

  • Estimated Tax Penalty Relief
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Electric Car Credit Declines
  • Deduction for Back Alimony
  • Qualified Business Income Deduction
  • Qualified Business Income Deduction: Calculating W-2 Wages
  • Qualified Business Income Deduction: Rental Real Estate Safe Harbor
  • Options for Those Unable to Pay the Taxman

Estimated Tax Penalty Relief

The IRS announced that it is waiving the estimated tax penalty for many taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year. This waiver covers taxpayers whose total withholding and estimated tax payments are equal to or greater than 80 percent of their taxes owed, rather than the usual statutory percentage threshold of 90 percent. This relief expanded that initially offered by IRS; the earlier relief pertained to taxpayers who had paid 85 percent of their taxes owed. The relief was prompted by changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA; P.L. 115-97, 12/22/2017), some of the which might impact withholding (e.g., the repeal of the personal exemptions and many itemized deductions and the capping the state and local income tax deduction at $10,000). A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report estimated that nearly 30 million taxpayers could be underwithheld in 2018. IRS also provided procedures for requesting the waiver and procedures under which taxpayers who have already paid underpayment penalties but who now qualify for relief may request a refund.

For more information, view this Forbes article “IRS Expands Tax Underpayment Penalty Relief.” Then give us a call to discuss its potential impact.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

As part of its ongoing security review, the IRS announced that, starting May 13, only individuals with tax identification numbers may request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) as the “responsible party” on the application. Individuals named as responsible party must have either a Social Security number (SSN) or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Under Code Sec. 6109(a)(1), persons are required to include taxpayer identifying numbers on returns, statements, or other documents filed with the IRS. One of the principal types of taxpayer identifying numbers is an EIN. IRS generally assigns an EIN for use by employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, nonprofit associations, trusts, estates, government agencies, certain individuals, and other business entities for tax filing and reporting purposes. A person required to furnish an EIN must apply for one with the IRS on a Form SS-4 (Application for Employer Identification Number). The new change will prohibit entities from using their own EINs to obtain additional EINs. The requirement will apply to both the paper Form SS-4 and online EIN application.

For more information, view the IRS site here; then contact us about its impact on you and your business.

Electric Car Credit Declines

IRS announced that, during the fourth quarter of 2018, General Motors (GM) reached a total of more than 200,000 sales of vehicles eligible for the plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit under Code Sec. 30D(a). Accordingly, the credit for all new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicles sold by GM will begin to phase out Apr. 1, 2019. Qualifying vehicles from GM purchased for use or lease are eligible for a $7,500 credit if acquired before Apr. 1, 2019. Beginning Apr. 1, 2019, the credit will be $3,750 for GM’s eligible vehicles. Beginning Oct. 1, 2019, the credit will be reduced to $1,875. After Mar. 31, 2019, no credit will be available.

For more information, see IRS announces phase-out of credit for GM plug-in electric drive motor vehicles.

Deduction for Back Alimony

The Tax Court held that an ex-husband’s payment of alimony arrearages resulted from a contempt order by a Family Court was not a “money judgment”, and so qualified as deductible alimony. With respect to divorce instruments executed before Jan. 1, 2019, amounts received as alimony or separate maintenance payments are taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payor in the year paid. An alimony payment is one that meets the certain specific requirements, such as it must be made under a divorce or separation instrument and the payor’s obligation to make the payment must end at the death of the payee spouse. On the other hand, a money judgment is a document issued by a court stating that the creditor (or other plaintiff) has won a lawsuit and is entitled to a certain amount of money. A NY court found a taxpayer to be in contempt due to his failure to make his alimony payments and sentenced him to 150 days in jail unless he paid $225,000 to his former spouse. The taxpayer paid the $225,000 at issue and claimed an alimony deduction. The Tax Court found that the court’s order was not a money judgment, but rather a contempt order to achieve the payment of alimony arrearages which retained their character as alimony.

For more information, see the IRS’s tax treatment of alimony webpage. Then, contact us with questions about how this change may impact your taxes.

Qualified Business Income Deduction: Final Regulations

The IRS issued final Code Sec. 199A regulations for determining the amount of the deduction of up to 20% of income from a domestic business operated as a sole proprietorship or through a partnership, S corporation, trust, or estate (the qualified business income deduction). The regulations cover a wide range of topics and discuss the operational rules, including definitions, computational rules, special rules, and reporting requirements; the determination of W-2 wages and unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition of qualified property; the computation of qualified business income, qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends, and qualified publicly traded partnership income; the optional aggregation of trades or businesses; the treatment of specified services trades or businesses and the trade or business of being an employee; and the rules for relevant passthrough entities, publicly traded partnerships, beneficiaries, trusts, and estates.

For more information, see IRS issues final Sec. 199A qualified business income deduction regs; Final Sec. 199A qualified business income deduction regs: Qualified business income; and Final Sec. 199A regs explain specified service trade/business and trade/business of being an employee.

Qualified Business Income Deduction: Calculating W-2 Wages

IRS provided three methods for calculating W-2 wages under Code Sec. 199A, the qualified business income deduction, for purposes of the deduction limitation based on W-2 wages and for purposes of the deduction reduction for certain specified agricultural and horticultural cooperative patrons. Under Code Sec. 199A, W-2 wages include:

  • The total amount of wages as defined in Code Sec. 3401(a) (dealing with income tax withholding);
  • The total amount of elective deferrals (within the meaning of Code Sec. 402(g)(3));
  • Compensation deferred under Code Sec. 457; and
  • The amount of designated Roth contributions.

For any taxable year, a taxpayer must calculate W-2 wages for purposes of Code Sec. 199A using one of the three methods provided by IRS. The first method (the unmodified Box method) allows for a simplified calculation, while the second and third methods (the modified Box 1 method and the tracking wages method) provide greater accuracy. The Box numbers referenced under each method refers to those on the Forms W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement).

For more information, see Rev Proc provides methods for calculating W-2 wages for Sec. 199A purposes.

Qualified Business Income Deduction: Rental Real Estate Safe Harbor

The IRS provided a safe harbor under which a rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the qualified business income deduction under Code Sec. 199A. That Code provision provides a deduction to non-corporate taxpayers of up to 20% of the taxpayer’s qualified business income from each of the taxpayer’s qualified trades or businesses, including those operated through a partnership, S corporation, or sole proprietorship, as well as a deduction of up to 20% of aggregate qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership income. Solely for this purpose, a rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a trade or business if:

  • Separate books and records are maintained to reflect income and expenses for each rental real estate enterprise;
  • For tax years beginning prior to Jan. 1, 2023, 250 or more hours of rental services were performed per year with respect to the rental enterprise; and
  • The taxpayer maintains contemporaneous records on the hours of all services performed; a description of all services performed; the dates on which such services were performed; and who performed the services. (This contemporaneous records requirement doesn’t apply to tax years beginning before Jan. 1, 2019).

For more information, see this Forbes article Understanding the 199A Deduction After the New IRS Final Regulations.

Options for Those Unable to Pay the Taxman

The April 15th deadline for filing 2018 income tax returns (for most taxpayers, at least; April 17 for Maine, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia) has recently passed. The IRS advised taxpayers who don’t have cash to pay the balance due on their returns, that taxpayers can avoid penalties but not interest if they can get an extension of time to pay from the IRS. However, such extensions merely postpone the day of reckoning for the period of the extension (generally, six months). The IRS outlined other ways in which financially distressed clients may be able to defer paying their income taxes, including installment agreements (a short-term 120-day payment plan and a long-term payment plan) and an offer in compromise with the IRS.

For more information, see the IRS’ information for tax payment options.

Foreign Accounts Call for Specific Reporting Requirements

14 05 2018

Foreign Accounts Call for Specific Reporting Requirements

In an increasingly globalized society, many people choose to open offshore accounts to deposit a portion of their wealth. When doing so, it’s important to follow the IRS’s strict foreign accounts reporting requirements. In a nutshell, if you have a financial interest in or signature authority over any foreign accounts, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts, mutual funds or trusts, you must disclose those accounts to the IRS and you may have additional reporting requirements.

To do so, your tax preparer will check the box on line 7a of Schedule B (“Interest and Ordinary Dividends”) of Form 1040 — regardless of the account value. If the total value of your foreign financial assets exceeds $50,000 ($100,000 for joint filers) at the end of the tax year or exceeds $75,000 ($150,000 for joint filers) at any time during the tax year, you must provide account details on Form 8938 (“Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets”) and attach it to your tax return.

Finally, if the aggregate value of your foreign accounts is $10,000 or more during the calendar year, file FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) Form 114 — “Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).” The current deadline for filing the form electronically with FinCEN is April 15, 2018, with an automatic extension to October 15.

Failure to disclose an offshore account could result in substantial IRS penalties, including collecting three to six years’ worth of back taxes, interest, a 20% to 40% accuracy-related penalty and, in some cases, a 75% fraud penalty. For further information, contact us.

Get an Early Tax “Refund” by Adjusting Your Withholding

14 05 2018

Get an Early Tax "Refund" by Adjusting Your Withholding

Each year, millions of taxpayers claim an income tax refund. To be sure, receiving a payment from the IRS for a few thousand dollars can be a pleasant influx of cash. But it means you were essentially giving the government an interest-free loan for close to a year, which isn’t the best use of your money.

Fortunately, there’s a way to begin collecting your 2018 refund now: You can review the amounts you’re having withheld and/or what estimated tax payments you’re making, and adjust them to keep more money in your pocket during the year.

Choosing to adjust

It’s particularly important to check your withholding and/or estimated tax payments if:

  • You received an especially large 2017 refund,
  • You’ve gotten married or divorced or added a dependent,
  • You’ve bought a home,
  • You’ve started or lost a job, or
  • Your investment income has changed significantly.

Even if you haven’t encountered any major life changes during the past year, changes in the tax law may affect withholding levels, making it worthwhile to double-check your withholding or estimated tax payments.

Making a change

You can modify your withholding at any time during the year, or even more than once within a year. To do so, you simply submit a new Form W-4 to your employer. Changes typically will go into effect several weeks after the new Form W-4 is submitted. For estimated tax payments, you can make adjustments each time quarterly payments are due.

While reducing withholdings or estimated tax payments will, indeed, put more money in your pocket now, you also need to be careful that you don’t reduce them too much. If you don’t pay enough tax throughout the year on a timely basis, you could end up owing interest and penalties when you file your return, even if you pay your outstanding tax liability by the April 2019 deadline.

Getting help

One timely reason to consider adjusting your withholding is the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act late last year. In fact, the IRS had to revise its withholding tables to account for the increase to the standard deduction, suspension of personal exemptions, and changes in tax rates and brackets. If you’d like help determining what your withholding or estimated tax payments should be for the rest of the year, please contact us.

Equifax Data Breach – 7 Ways to Protect Yourself

4 10 2017

There has been quite a bit written about the Equifax data breach – why it happened; how it happened; and what you can do about it.


The most important thing for our clients is the what you can do about it. We’ve listed several steps you can take to help protect your credit report, as well as put some measures into place that may protect it in the future.


Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) Video Playback

17 07 2017

HRA video coverGroup plans don’t always fit small businesses.  We have a better solution.

A Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) commonly referred to as a health reimbursement account, is an IRS-approved, employer-funded, tax-advantaged employer health benefit plan that reimburses employees for out-of-pocket medical expenses and individual health insurance premiums.

We recently hosted a one-hour event sharing insights into how these plans could save you money on your taxes.

Complete this form to receive an email with the session playback link.

Free HRA Event – June 28th

22 06 2017


A Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) commonly referred to as a health reimbursement account, is an IRS-approved, employer-funded, tax-advantaged employer health benefit plan that reimburses employees for out-of-pocket medical expenses and individual health insurance premiums.

Group plans don’t always fit small businesses. We have a better solution.

find out more

Join us, and our partners, TASC, on June 28th for an HRA Event. Learn more about how these plans could save you money on your taxes.


Register today!


Event to Take Place:

Wed, June 28, 2017

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. EDT


RBSK Partners PC

224 N Broadway Street

Greensburg, IN 47240


RBSK partners with Chamber for “Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime Final Rule” Seminar

26 10 2016

Thursday, October 20th, RBSK Partners PC had the pleasure of partnering with the Greensburg Decatur County Chamber of Commerce to host a presentation on the “Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime Final Rule” to more than 30 local Chamber members.

Mr. Steve Garrett, Senior Investigator with the United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, served as our presenter. Mr. Garrett is currently assigned a temporary duty station in the Indianapolis District Office with 20+ years with the US Department of Labor. Mr. Garrett delivered an informative presentation allowing for questions to be answered throughout. He also allowed for more personal one-on-one questions following the presentation.

A big thank you to the Decatur County Schools Administration for the use of their facilities. And a big shout out to Corner Store Deli & Catering for providing the lunch and snacks during the event.


Tressler Receives Health Care Reform Certification

30 06 2016

RBSK Partners is pleased to announce that Lisa Tressler, CPA, a partner at RBSK, recently received a Health Care Reform Certification, by successfully completing nearly 30 hours of continuing professional education focused solely on the Affordable Care Act.

The program provides in-depth knowledge and helps practitioners develop expertise related to the legislative and tax implications of health care reform. This program arms practitioners with the knowledge and tools they need to ensure client compliance with health care reform legislation.

The passage of ACA has created new mandates for individuals and businesses. Tax practitioners face an obligation to provide their clients with information and advice on complying with the new mandates.

Applicable large employers are now required to offer affordable health coverage that provides minimum value to their full-time employees and their dependents. They need to know how to calculate which employees are included in their employee count, the options for the state exchanges, and the penalties that are assessed if they do not comply.  All of this information, including how to fill out the related tax forms, is fully covered by the Checkpoint Learning Health Care Reform Certificate Program.

“2015 was a key year for health care reform, with regulations taking effect for the first time and requiring strict attention from both businesses and individuals,” said Ken Koskay, CPA, CFP, and senior vice president of learning solutions with the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters. “Participants in this certificate program are better suited to serve clients that need assistance with the Affordable Care Act.”

This certification provides practitioners with the expertise necessary to provide guidance to their clients on the Affordable Care Act, including employer and individual mandates, the net investment income tax, reporting requirements, understanding compliance, completion of forms and calculations, and health insurance marketplaces. It prepares professionals to consult with clients on health care reform issues – both tax and non-tax.

If you need assistance with any of the complexities introduced by the ACA, please call Lisa at 812-222-1510, or toll free at 800-676-7567.


Work Opportunity Tax Credit

25 05 2016

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is available for wages paid by employers who hire individuals from certain targeted groups of hard-to-employ individuals. The targeted groups are:

  1. Qualified members of the families receiving assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program,
  2. Qualified veterans,
  3. Qualified ex-felons,
  4. Designated community residents,
  5. Vocational rehabilitation referrals,
  6. Qualified summer youth employees,
  7. Qualified members of families in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP),
  8. Qualified Supplemental Security Income recipients,
  9. Long-term family assistance recipients, and
  10. Beginning January 1, 2016, long-term unemployed individuals.

An employer must obtain certification that an individual is a member of a targeted group before the employer may claim the credit. An eligible employer must file IRS Form 8850 along with ETA Form 9061 with their respective state workforce agency within 28 days after the eligible worker begins work.

For each group listed above, there are specific criteria that must be met in order to be certified as a member of that targeted group. The second page of the instructions to Form 8850 include these criteria. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i8850.pdf

Recently enacted legislation extends the time for employers to submit these forms for various targeted groups who began working during various time periods as follows:

  1. An employer who hired or hires a member of a targeted group other than qualified long-term unemployment recipients (groups 1 through 9 above) and who began or begins work between January 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016 has until June 29, 2016 to file Form 8850 with their state workforce agency.
  2. An employer who hired or hires an individual who is a long-term unemployment recipient (group 10 above) who began or begins work between January 1, 2016 and May 31, 2016 has until June 29, 2016 to file Form 8850 with their state workforce agency.
  3. An employer who hires a member of any of the targeted groups who begins work after June 1, 2016 is not eligible for the transition relief and must file Form 8850 with their state workforce agency within 28 days after the eligible worker begins work.


If you have any questions concerning the WOTC, or if you feel that you may have an employee who qualifies for the credit especially during the transition relief period, we encourage you to give us a call.

Holiday Schedule

25 11 2015

The Holiday Season is quickly approaching.  RBSK Partners’ offices will be closed as follows:

Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 26th; Friday, November 27th.

Christmas – Thursday, December 24th; Friday, December 25th.

New Year – Noon on Thursday, December 31st; Friday, January 1st

RBSK Partners would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!