Weekly Report from Washington, D.C.

During the week of July 23, the House cleared two bipartisan health care-related tax packages. The packages, combining several bills, aim to expand health savings accounts (HSAs) and the health insurance premium tax credit, as well as delay the so-called “health insurance tax,” among other things, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/27, C.1).

Congress

The Senate Finance Taxation and IRS Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing examining IRS administration. Congress is currently working on bipartisan IRS reform proposals, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/27, C.2).

The House’s top tax writer unveiled Republicans’ “Tax Reform 2.0” framework. The framework outlined three key focus areas namely making permanent the individual and small business tax cuts enacted under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA); promoting family savings by streamlining retirement savings accounts and creating a new Universal Savings Account; and spurring business innovation by allowing new businesses to write off more initial start-up costs, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/25, C.1).

The House on July 24 approved several tax bills. The tax bills covered areas related to health care, IRS administration, and water infrastructure, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/25, C.2).

The Senate was no longer expected to vote this week on Charles “Chuck” Rettig’s nomination for IRS Commissioner. The vote was reportedly delayed because many Democrats were unwilling to support Rettig’s confirmation in protest of certain IRS guidance, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/25, C.3).

The House approved a government spending package, which would increase IRS funding by $186 million. The House-approved package would provide the IRS close to $11.6 billion for fiscal year (2019), (TAXDAY, 2018/07/23, C.1).

The Senate Finance Committee’s (SFC) leadership introduced a bipartisan bill to reform certain IRS administrative policies. The measure aimed to increase taxpayer rights protections, reform laws governing IRS employees, and prevent identify theft and refund fraud, among other things, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/23, C.2).

Treasury

TIGTA Report. The remediation of configuration weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the Integrated Enterprise Portal (IEP)–Registered User Portal (RUP) needed improvement, according to a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). TIGTA initiated this audit to determine whether the IEP-RUP offering external web services to the public was timely patched and remediated when vulnerabilities or misconfigurations were identified, (Ref. No. 2018-20-036; TAXDAY, 2018/07/24, T.1).

IRS

Tax Tip. Tax Reform Guidance Available on IRS Website, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/27, I.1).

Truck Drivers. The IRS reminded owners of most heavy highway vehicles that the filing period for Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return, began July 1, 2018. Returns should be filed by August 31, 2018, for vehicles used on the road during July, (IR-2018-153; TAXDAY, 2018/07/26, I.1).

Conflict of Interest. The IRS’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) censured a tax practitioner for violating conflict of interest rules under Treasury Department Circular No. 230, or “Circular 230.” The practitioner was retained by a client to take specific actions in accordance with a settlement agreement executed between the client and a third party (IR-2018-154; TAXDAY, 2018/07/26, I.2).

Misconduct. The IRS announced that its Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) had reached a settlement agreement including a monetary penalty with a tax practitioner who violated professional rules of conduct set forth in Circular 230. The tax practitioner’s debt-relief firm also accepted responsibility for knowing that he engaged in misconduct in attracting clients with outstanding collection issues, (IR-2018-155; TAXDAY, 2018/07/26, I.3).

Tax Tip. The IRS has information and tools to help reporters through its Multimedia Center, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/26, I.4).

Security Summit. The IRS, along with Security Summit partners, urged tax professionals to use strong passwords to protect accounts from cyberthieves and to consider encryption for all sensitive data. This data protection measure is the third in a series called “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself: Tax Security 101”, (IR-2018-151; TAXDAY, 2018/07/25, I.1).

Tax Forum. The IRS yet again reminded tax professionals who wish to attend the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum in Chicago that they can save $115 by registering by August 7, 2018. The forum will take place August 21-23, (IR-2018-152; TAXDAY, 2018/07/25, I.2).

FEMA Notices. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had announced that the president on July 6, 2018, determined that certain areas in Texas and New Jersey were eligible for assistance from the federal government under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 USC 5121), (TAXDAY, 2018/07/25, I.3).

Tax Tip. The IRS reminded taxpayers of this year’s dirty dozen tax scams, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/25, I.4).

Tax Tip. The IRS provided tips to extension filers on filing accurate returns, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/24, I.1).

Announcement. The IRS had issued an announcement to provide notification to all consumers of the Internal Revenue Bulletin, that there were no articles submitted for publication in I.R.B. 2018-30, dated Monday, July 23, 2018, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/23, I.1).

IRB. The IRS has released I.R.B. 2018-30, dated July 23, 2018 (TAXDAY, 2018/07/23, I.2).

Audit Techniques Guide. The IRS had updated an Audit Techniques Guide (ATG) to its website that addresses examination techniques for valuation of conservation easements. An ATG focuses on developing highly trained examiners for particular market segments by presenting examination techniques, common and unique industry issues, business practices, industry terminology and other information, (TAXDAY, 2018/07/23, I.3).

FEMA Notices. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had announced that the president on June 29, 2018, determined that certain areas in Nebraska and Maryland were eligible for assistance from the federal government under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 USC 5121), (TAXDAY, 2018/07/23, I.4).

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CCHTaxGroup

All stories by: CCHTaxGroup