Weekly Report from Washington, D.C.

The White House and GOP leaders in Congress released a framework for tax reform. Disaster relief legislation headed to the White House. The IRS announced the special per diem rates for 2017-2018, provided relief to drought-stricken farmers and ranchers and released final regulations on certain gambling winnings.

Congress

President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress unveiled a framework for tax reform on September 27. The nine-page framework broadly describes tax proposals ranging from lower rates for individuals and businesses to repeal of certain tax preferences, but it leaves actual legislative language to congressional taxwriting committees (TAXDAY, 2017/09/28, C.1).

The House and Senate passed a revised disaster tax relief bill for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The legislation eliminates the 10-percent casualty loss floor and the requirement for taxpayers to itemize to access this relief. The legislation also provides an exception to the 10-percent early retirement plan withdrawal penalty for qualified hurricane relief distributions, among other measures (TAXDAY, 2017/09/29, C.1).

Treasury

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recommended that the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program be broadened to cover more taxpayers (Ref. No. 2017-40-088; TAXDAY, 2017/09/26, T.1).

IRS

Per Diem Rates. The IRS announced the 2017-2018 special per diem rates for taxpayers to use in substantiating the amount of ordinary and necessary business expenses incurred while traveling away from home, including the list of high-cost localities for purposes of the high-low substantiation method. The new rates are effective October 1, 2017 (Notice 2017-54; TAXDAY, 2017/09/26, I.2).

Private Activity Bonds. The IRS released proposed regulations intended to update and streamline approval requirements for tax-exempt private activity bonds issued by state and local governments (NPRM REG-128841-07; TAXDAY, 2017/09/28, I.1).

Drought Relief. The IRS announced an extension of the replacement period for farmers and ranchers who were forced to sell livestock due to drought. Affected taxpayers have until the first tax year ending after a drought-free year for the applicable region to replace their livestock, the IRS explained (IR-2017-164, Notice 2017-53; TAXDAY, 2017/09/28, I.4).

APAs. The IRS requested comments on a proposed revision to the template used in drafting Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs). The revision is intended to enable quicker and more accurate drafting of APAs, the agency reported (TAXDAY, 2017/09/27, I.3).

Gambling Winnings. The IRS issued final regulations for withholding from, and reporting on, certain gambling winnings from horse races, dog races, and jai alai and on certain other payments of gambling winnings (T.D. 9824; TAXDAY, 2017/09/26, I.4).

By Jessica Jeane, George Jones and George L. Yaksick, Jr., Wolters Kluwer News Staff

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