With more than 350 combined years of experience in tax and tax-related fields, our experts share their practical insights on the latest topics affecting taxpayers.
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QOTW: Preserve refund when one spouse owes child support?
Question of the Week: Can a spouse file a tax return to preserve a share of a refund that would otherwise go to pay the other spouse’s back child support?
Tax Court: No deductions for marijuana business
The Tax Court upheld the IRS’s denial of all deductions for a medical marijuana business--federal deductions aren’t allowed for marijuana businesses.
Innocent spouse relief and IRS collections
In these four situations, taxpayers facing IRS collection activity can claim innocent spouse relief.
The Earned Income Credit rules, explained
Overview of the rules for the earned income credit (EIC)
ITIN renewal and how to prepare
New rules call for expiration, deactivation, and ITIN renewal for millions of taxpayers. Here's how to prepare for ITIN renewal.
Taxes and flipping houses as a business
Flipping houses as a business has significant tax implications.
TAX in the News
The Tax Institute proudly presents TAX in the News, your source for tax law updates, court cases, and news for tax practitioners.
How to protect one spouse’s share of a joint tax refund when the IRS can take it
The spouse who doesn’t owe a debt may be able to claim his or her share of the tax refund using an injured spouse claim.
Earnings tax survey of local tax systems
Seventeen states and D.C. allow cities, counties, schools, and other municipal entities to levy local earnings tax on individual wages and business income.
When the IRS says taxpayers owe money
What are the options when taxpayers owe the IRS money? Offers in compromise, installment agreements, and changing to uncollectible status could help.
Rental property and the qualified business income deduction
Some rental property owners can claim a qualified business income deduction for their rental property. Find out how to determine when rental income is qualified business income.
Back to basics: Classifying workers as independent contractors or employees can be tricky
How do taxpayers know if they’re self-employed? Often, it comes down to employee versus independent contractor classification.
Putting a Cap Back on the SALT Deduction
The IRS caps state-level SALT deduction limitation workarounds involving charitable donations in exchange for state tax credits.
Back to basics: Family and dependent tax rules, Part One
How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made the rules for family and child tax benefits and credits (even more) challenging.
Tax: The Final Frontier? Foreign earned income exclusion and space travel
Astronauts, taxes, and the foreign earned income exclusion—why NASA space travel doesn’t exempt taxpayers from U.S. taxes
Qualified opportunity funds provide investors long-term tax benefits
Investors consider long-term investments in qualified opportunity funds because of their potential tax benefits: gain deferral and exclusion.
Tax Benefits of Tidying Up: Noncash charitable contributions
Based on Marie Kondo’s decluttering method and Netflix show, people are donating their belongings, but how does donating noncash items save money on taxes?
When is a state refund taxable? The TCJA raises some questions.
State tax refunds can be fully or partially taxable, or not at all. The introduction of the $10,000 SALT deduction limit can affect the results.
Back to basics: U.S. taxes for international students
Learn more about the tax rules for international nonresident students on different visas.
Tales from the Tax Court: The Wayfair decision changes the standard for sales tax on remote sellers
States now have Supreme Court guidance on when they can require sellers to collect sales tax on internet sales.
Back to basics: Education tax benefits help taxpayers pay for college
Tax benefits for students can help families pay and save for college.
Education benefits & tax reform: What’s changed, what hasn’t, and what we don’t know yet
The TCJA changed some of the rules for education tax benefits.
Back to basics: The effects of federal tax changes on state law
How states respond to federal tax law changes depends on several factors
Spoiler alert: Television families demonstrate complex tax situations
How would the fictional families of Modern Family file returns?
Back to basics: Tax for families caring for aging parents
The tax effects of caring for family vary depending on the situation
Tales from the Tax Court: An Ohio sales tax curveball
A recent decision by the Ohio Supreme Court demonstrates how bobblehead dolls led to a pickle of a court case.
The Gift of Knowledge: Tax implications of giving through 529 plans (qualified tuition plans)
Funding a child’s qualified tuition plan for holidays and birthdays can have tax effects
TAX in the News: Qualified Business Income Deduction Digest
All parts of the TAX in the News series on the §199A qualified business income (QBI) deduction.
Back to basics: What small employers need to know when withholding taxes for an employee
A guide to payroll taxes and a helpful checklist for employers.
Revisiting the de minimis safe harbor tangible property regulations
The de minimis safe harbor election allows businesses to expense items which are usually depreciated.
Partnerships, Part III: Partnership Audit Procedures
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 changed partnership audit procedures in several ways.
Tales from the Tax Court: What is reasonable compensation for S corporation employee-shareholders?
“Reasonable” doesn’t always mean what you think it means
Employees and the self-employed – a comparison under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
Employees should weigh the pros and cons of self-employment under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which made favorable tax changes for businesses.
Partnerships, Part II: How the TCJA changed the net operating loss deduction
The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made several changes to the net operating loss deduction
Breaking down the TCJA: The future of personal casualty losses
The TCJA suspended personal casualty and theft losses, except in federally declared disaster areas
Parents of K-12 students face state-tax uncertainties under new 529 plan rules
Not all states have decided how they’ll treat K-12 distributions from education savings plans after tax reform changed federal rules
What happens beyond full retirement age
Many people wait until “full retirement age” or later to start getting Social Security benefits. Here are some points to consider – Social Security, health benefits, taxes – to help with their decision-making.
Tales from the Tax Court: You can’t do that. ‘Frivolous’ tax arguments won’t stand up to IRS scrutiny
Most of these creative arguments are dispelled by a single IRS publication you may not know existed
Partnerships, Part I: Carried interest and the loophole
How carried interest works -- and the rules before and after the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
Tails from the Tax Court: Horse racing and breeding as a business? The IRS says “Whoa, there!”
Deducting losses for horse-related activities can be a divisive topic
How to help taxpayers displaced by Hurricane Maria
Many Puerto Ricans were temporarily or permanently displaced by the natural disaster. Here are the tax implications.
When businesses don’t make federal tax deposits, the IRS will look for ‘responsible persons’
Taxpayers should never use withheld payroll taxes for other reasons. Here’s why.
Tales from the Tax Court: Artwork value is in the eye of the beholder – and the IRS
Owners of artwork should be prepared to prove the value of their pieces before reporting sales and other transfers on their tax returns
Post-death tax planning for the unprepared, Part 3: Who reports post-death income, and for how long?
The personal representative must make determinations and take action on assets before terminating the estate
Health savings accounts win the triple crown of tax benefits
Some investment experts say an HSA can help supplement retirement income, too
Like-kind exchanges and how they work
Follow four rules to make sure that taxable gains are deferred
The best time for tax check-ups – and why they matter
Tax pros can help clients make changes before the end of the year to avoid underwithholding and underpayment penalties
Debunked: Four myths about retirement plans and foreign workers
Workers who temporarily live in the U.S. will owe U.S. taxes when they transfer their retirement funds between foreign and domestic plans
Estates of the rich and famous
A look at David Bowie and Prince -- and the lessons we can all learn about estate planning
A whole new world: Three ways states are looking to collect more sales and use taxes from online retailers
Retailers that sell in multiple states will need to stay up to date on developments
The most common business entity changes and why people make them: Sole proprietorship to LLC
The choice of business entity is not a ‘set it and forget it’ proposition
Post-death tax planning for the unprepared, Part 2: What are the personal representative’s responsibilities?
Tax filing requirements continue after a taxpayer’s death, and it’s the personal representative’s job to make sure those requirements are met.
How to distribute the wealth during retirement
Considerations for individuals with different sources of retirement income
Back to basics: How to understand the differences among tax statutes, regulations, and other official guidance
Making sense of the U.S. Tax Code can be a challenge without a full understanding of these resources
Tales from the Tax Court, Part 1: Tax Court opinions and how to make sense of them
Tax Court decisions help taxpayers and tax professionals shed light on complicated issues
Debts that make tax refunds disappear
The government takes refunds to collect five types of debt. Here’s how it happens.
“Childless” taxpayers and the Earned Income Credit
Taxpayers who were previously excluded from the credit because of their living situations may now be able to claim it
Donor-advised funds: What are they and why are they growing?
Taxpayers get immediate tax deductions for giving cash or property to charities
Share and share alike: When employees get part ownership in a company, they take the bad with the good
Owners don’t always understand what happens when they make employees into partners
Why clergy returns can get complicated
Completing a return for a “minister of the gospel” can be a mess of biblical proportions without a full understanding of how these special taxpayers are treated
Stolen identity refund fraud may be down, but it’s not out
States are getting creative in the fight against SIRF
Back to basics: Tried and true tax savings represent an opportunity for millennials
It doesn’t take advanced tax planning to combine commonly available tax savings to reduce effective tax rates
How taxpayers can tap retirement funds early without penalty
A special method allows early access to funds, but it comes with tight restrictions
Post-death tax planning for the unprepared, Part 1: Who is responsible for managing tax issues?
The personal representative should identify the deceased person’s assets and notify payers
Taxing the gig economy, Part 4: Artists, musicians, and makers who cross borders should be proactive to avoid major tax pitfalls
Multistate and international tax rules could apply to movers and shakers in the gig economy
The trouble with PTPs: These attractive investments can lead to major tax headaches
Get a basic understanding of publicly traded partnerships, and how to spot and plan for potential tax traps
Settlements and court judgments: taxable or not?
How the IRS taxes three types of damage awards, and how to proactively mitigate the tax consequences
Getting multiple Forms 1095 for health insurance isn’t always cause for concern
Taxpayers can receive combinations of A, B, and C versions of the form. Here are some common scenarios.
Taxing the gig economy, Part 3: The unintended consequences of being a small business
More tax responsibilities and potentially … more IRS problems
Taxing the gig economy, Part 2: Nontraditional home rentals aren’t always a perfect fit with the tax law
Defining a rental for tax purposes can be difficult – potentially involving rules for small business, vacation homes, and passive activity losses
Taxing the gig economy, Part 1: ‘Interesting tax situations’ create gray areas for on-demand drivers
Here’s what we know and what we don’t know about business mileage deductions for drivers using ride-sharing apps
Three tax benefits for families making elder care decisions
Families should understand the pros and cons of tax-exempt Medicaid waiver payments, itemized medical expense deductions, and the dependent care credit
Certifying Acceptance Agents can help taxpayers apply for ITINs and keep their original documents
CAAs can attest to taxpayers’ documents and identities, help navigate the application process, and address any IRS issues resulting from the application
IRS tests relaxing of installment agreement rules
People who owe between $50,000 and $100,000 will find it easier to get into a payment plan
When taxpayers see a side hustle, the IRS may see a hobby
The difference matters, because the tax bill can be substantial. Here are the nine factors the IRS uses to determine whether a business is really a hobby.
Here come the private tax debt collectors … again
Seven things taxpayers and their advisors need to know about the IRS program
Income generated from virtual worlds is still taxable in the real world
People who make money on Pokemon Go! or other virtual games might catch a tax bill with the IRS
Deferred compensation for athletes and high earners can be a financial win-win
It’s important to consider federal and state tax implications on payments that could stretch well into the future
Timing is everything: The date taxpayers get an SSN or ITIN now affects whether they’re eligible for refundable tax credits
Learn what happens when taxpayers don’t receive their tax identification numbers quickly, or when they switch to an SSN
Misconceptions abound in the realm of Native American tribal income taxation
Benefits for individual Native Americans are taxable, but some specific and fairly common exclusions can apply
Form 1099-B: The basis is probably wrong for employees who exercised nonqualified stock options
Most of the time, employees will need to adjust their reported basis to avoid being taxed twice
State taxes and the military: What servicemembers and their advisors need to know
Servicemembers and their spouses may owe taxes in one state, multiple states, or no states at all. Avoid common points of confusion by knowing the basic rules.
Look no further: Tax-reduction opportunities start with the return
A mid-year review can reveal countless opportunities for all types of taxpayers and their advisors to plan ahead for next year
Those giving up U.S. citizenship shouldn’t forget tax obligations
There are essential tax rules that covered expatriates and their advisors need to know to stay in compliance before, during, and after an individual exits the U.S.
Green upgrades: Three financial incentives for taxpayers looking to make energy-efficient improvements
Tax breaks, special financing, and private-sector programs can help individuals and businesses make the switch
Annuities are popular, varied – and complicated when it comes to taxes
Determining tax treatment for annuities doesn’t have to be a mystery. Here’s a guide.
When divorce decrees and federal tax law aren’t on the same page, taxpayers can lose dependent benefits
A cautionary tale about how one taxpayer was – and wasn’t – following all the rules
The adoption tax credit – What’s the catch?
There are three “catches.” They involve timing, qualifying, and post-filing activity.
IRS impersonator scams feel real if you don’t understand the real IRS
Taxpayers can avoid phone scams by knowing how the IRS really works
Surfing the SIRF: States are taking measures to keep taxpayers’ refunds afloat in a sea of identity theft
With Stolen Identity Refund Fraud on the rise, states are taking new approaches to help taxpayers stay ahead of the break or recover from a refund wipeout
The ABCs of ACA, Part 2: Forms 1095-B and -C will help taxpayers spell out their insurance coverage
Part 2 of this series explains two forms that are entering onto the scene for the first time in the 2016 tax-filing season
The ABCs of ACA, Part 1: Form 1095-A will help taxpayers spell out their insurance coverage
Part 1 of this series outlines why the Form 1095-A is important for many taxpayers
Can the IRS audit taxpayers year after year?
While the IRS has discretion to audit taxpayer returns for the same issues on subsequent years, taxpayers can invoke an IRS policy to try to suspend the repetition
What taxpayers should do when they inherit something they don’t want
Prevention is best – but taxpayers can take specific steps when inherited assets cause more problems than they’re worth
Cross-border workers sometimes pay into one or more Social Security systems with no future benefit
Some – but not all -- nations are signing special agreements to solve this problem
U.S. taxpayers with foreign investments should be proactive
Taxpayers and their advisors should closely examine how multiple layers of international tax law and new U.S. requirements could affect taxpayers’ investments and tax liabilities
The kiddie tax – not just for kiddies anymore
A 1986 law meant to curb tax avoidance by wealthy parents can cause unintended consequences for college students (and their parents) who don’t know the rules
Collecting and delaying Social Security benefits will no longer be an option for married couples
In light of new law that will eliminate two popular strategies, married couples retiring in the future need to rethink how to maximize payouts
Crowdfunding: One platform with many tax results
Despite lack of IRS guidance in this emerging area, taxpayers and their advisors should be aware that different tax rules apply to various types of income and donations made through online fundraising
Parking space sharing apps create new source of revenue for property owners and the IRS
Individuals who are auctioning or leasing parking spaces should look into the tax implications
Putting stock in the future: How startup employees can navigate their options
Employees with restricted stock should evaluate the company’s outlook – and consult with an experienced tax advisor when deciding on the right tax treatment
The ‘safe harbor’ home office deduction: Easier may not be better
Self-employed taxpayers should run the numbers both ways on how to calculate this popular deduction
Keeping property in the family can get complicated
What a father’s stock portfolio, an aunt’s house, and a mother’s antique collection can teach us about family property transfers
As economy recovers, ‘unlikely landlords’ may be looking to donate rental property to charity
Despite the attractive tax breaks, taxpayers and their advisors should understand three common scenarios that can reduce or negate any benefit
Four things taxpayers need to know before opening an ABLE account
Potential tax consequences, heavy recordkeeping, and complications with other government benefits could surprise some families if they’re not prepared
IRS proposes update to Form W-4 to increase accuracy
Andy Phillips, director with The Tax Institute at H&R Block, emphasizes in this article with the AP that taxpayers should update their Form W-4 information as soon as possible.
Inherited 401(k)s: 6 Questions Heirs Need to Ask
Gil Charney, director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block, explains that a surviving spouse can roll an inherited 401(k) into their own 401(k) plan.