A few items of TP BUZZ.
+ Professor Annette Nellen helps us with the task of “Catching Up After Filing Season" at the AICPA’s TAX INSIDER.
“During the first four months of 2015, about 125 Tax Court decisions, 17 sets of IRS regulations, 37 IRS notices, 30 revenue procedures, eight revenue rulings, a few hundred private IRS letter rulings, and several tax reports from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Joint Committee on Taxation were issued. All of these developments occurred while many tax practitioners were too swamped with return filings to keep up.”
Check out the items for “egg donation”, “mortgage interest without legal title”, and “charitable contributions”.
Prof Nellen also tells us that the IRS is seeking comments (by June 1) on an optional “safe harbor” method for reporting slot machine winnings and losses. I discuss this further below.
+ Word from the NATP’s weekly tax update email newsletter –
“It's common practice for small employers to reimburse or pay health insurance premiums for individual policies. If they continue to do so, they may be subject to an excise tax of $100 per day, per employee.
Notice 2015-17 provides transitional relief from the $100 per day per employee excise tax for small employers. The IRS will not assess any penalties for reimbursement arrangements for 2014 through June 30, 2015. After June 30, 2015, the IRS states they may start assessing penalties.
Attend our Relief for Reimbursing Employees for Health Insurance webinar to learn how to determine whether your clients qualify for the relief and how to apply it to your clients.”
This weekly email newsletter is just one of the many benefits of membership in NATP. If you would like to receive membership information email me at email@example.com with NATP MEMBERSHIP INQUIRY in the subject line.
Do you have a blog post or other online item that you would like to share with fellow tax pros as TAXPRO BUZZ? Email the “address” to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with TAXPRO BUZZ in the subject line. This offer should not be used solely to publicize your own blog – I will decide if any submission is appropriate for inclusion.
SPEAK NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE
My buddy (although we have never actually met face-to-face) John Sheeley EA, highly praised and respected tax instructor for Tax Practice Pro, Inc. recently posted the following to a Facebook tax group -
“While speaking last fall, I had LOTS of complaints about ACA and Form 3115 issues. When I asked tax pros where they were during the public comment period, the response was:
WHAT PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD?
The few who knew about public comments admitted they did not send in comments.
We are all 'too busy' making a living and learning the new things which are a FACT -- we don't have time to read the stuff that MIGHT happen, and heaven forbid have even MORE time to write a response.
PLEASE take the time to write a response to the IRS !! YOU CAN E-MAIL THEM.”
It is true – we, myself certainly included, often complain about IRS procedures and regulations. Yet we also often had the opportunity to comment on them before they were finalized – and did not express our opinions then when it would actually be listened to.
TAXPRO BUZZ above refenced Professor Annette Nellen’s summary of what happened in tax law while we were busy preparing 2014 tax returns. One of the items on her list talked about an IRS call for comments on a proposed optional “safe harbor” method for reporting slot machine winnings and losses. In “Tax! Tax! Tax! — IRS Proposal for Taxing Slot Machine Winnings”, an earlier item by Prof Nellen from TAX INSIDER, the IRS proposal is explained -
“Notice 2015-21 (3/3/15) proposes a revenue procedure allowing an optional safe harbor method for individuals to determine a wagering gain or loss from “electronically tracked slot machine play.” Important for this method is “session of play,” defined as:
A session of play begins when a patron places the first wager on a particular type of game and ends when the same patron completes his or her last wager on the same type of game before the end of the same calendar day. … A session of play is always determined with reference to a calendar day (24-hour period from 12:00 a.m. through 11:59 p.m.) and ends no later than the end of that calendar day.
Play that stops and resumes at a single gaming establishment in the same calendar day is considered the same session of play if it is all electronically tracked.
Playing a slot machine from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. is at least two sessions of play because it spans two days. If a player moves from one casino to another, a new session of play begins.
• The safe harbor would apply only to “electronically tracked slot machine play” where the gaming establishment records the gambler’s bets and wins, such as with a player card.
• A session of play results in a wagering gain if the dollar amount of payouts exceeds the dollar amount of the wagers for that session; a wagering loss occurs when total wagers exceed total payouts for the session.
• Gains and losses from separate sessions of play may not be netted.
• The safe harbor must be consistently used for all plays at the same “gaming establishment” throughout the year, or not used for any plays at that establishment for the year.
• The safe harbor would be available to both casual and professional gamblers.
• To adopt this method, a taxpayer must note “Revenue Procedure 2015-X” on line 21 of Form 1040 (different lines apply for nonresident aliens).
• The normal documentation requirements remain.
The IRS seeks comments on the proposed safe harbor method by June 1, 2015. See Notice 2015-21 for eight specific questions for which the IRS seeks input.”
Here is a good chance to let the IRS know what you think about a proposed new procedure.
My initial comment on the gambling proposal is that, because casinos are often open 24-hours a day, the determination of a “day” for “session of play” should be a “24-hour period” and not a “calendar day” of 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM.
A “session of play” should be any 24-hour period of time that begins when one enters the casino playing area and ends when one stops play and leaves. It is not unusual for a “casual” gambler to enter the casino and begin slot play at 10:00 PM and leave the casino to retire for the night at 1:00 AM. Why should that gambler have to stop and take count at 11:59 PM and then begin a new record going forward till 1:00 AM?
If a gambler enters the casino at 3:00 PM, leaves to have dinner at 6:00 PM and returns to the same casino at 10:00PM, playing till 1:00 AM, that would be two (2) separate “sessions of play” – 3-6PM and 10PM-1AM.
I plan on submitting this comment, and any others that come to me after some thought, to the IRS.
What do you think? In addition to sharing your thoughts with the IRS also email them to me at email@example.com with GAMBLING PROPOSAL THOUGHTS in the subject line.