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Have you noticed in your mailbox any notifications from online vendors from whom you purchased items during 2017 reporting your total purchases from them during the year and wondered why? This is because they did not charge you sales tax on your online purchases. And now the State of Louisiana is requiring these vendors to report to them and to you the purchase amounts so the State can ultimately collect the sales tax (actually termed “use tax” at this point in the transaction).


On December 20, Congress completed passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The new law means substantial changes for individual taxpayers. For example, it reduces tax rates for most brackets, nearly doubles the standard deduction and expands the child tax credit. And it provides alternative minimum tax (AMT) and estate tax relief. But it also reduces or eliminates many tax breaks. Most changes affecting individuals are only temporary, generally applying for 2018 through 2025.


We have compiled a checklist of additional actions based on current tax rules that may help you save tax dollars if you act before year-end. Not all actions will apply in your particular situation, but you (or a family member) will likely benefit from many of them. We can narrow down the specific actions that you can take once we meet with you to tailor a particular plan. In the meantime, please review the following list and contact us at your earliest convenience so that we can advise you on which tax-saving moves to make:


Projecting your business income and expenses for this year and next can allow you to time when you recognize income and incur deductible expenses to your tax advantage. Typically, it’s better to defer tax. This might end up being especially true this year, if tax reform legislation is signed into law.


Did you know that if you’re self-employed you may be able to set up a retirement plan that allows you to contribute much more than you can contribute to an IRA or even an employer-sponsored 401(k)? There’s still time to set up such a plan for 2017, and it generally isn’t hard to do. So whether you’re a “full-time” independent contractor or you’re employed but earn some self-employment income on the side, consider setting up one of the following types of retirement plans this year.  


With kids back in school, it’s a good time for parents (and grandparents) to think about college funding. One option is a Section 529 plan. It offers the opportunity to build up a large college nest egg via tax-deferred compounding and can be particularly powerful if contributions begin when the child is quite young. Contributions aren’t deductible for federal purposes, but distributions used to pay qualified expenses are typically income-tax-free for both federal and state purposes, thus making the tax deferral a permanent savings.


An estate tax repeal is one reform that’s been proposed by Congress, but a repeal may not affect you. Here’s why.


Elementary and secondary school teachers and other eligible educators can deduct up to $250 for qualifying classroom supplies they pay for out of pocket. This is an “above-the-line” deduction, which means you don’t have to itemize. Before this special break became available, such expenditures could be deducted only as unreimbursed business expenses under the miscellaneous itemized deduction, subject to a 2% of adjusted gross income (AGI) floor, which could be a difficult threshold to meet.


If you own a home, be sure to claim all the home-related tax breaks you’re entitled to. But be aware that a couple expired at the end of 2016, and others might disappear in the future as part of tax reform.


If you don’t have “minimum essential” health coverage, beware of potential tax penalties.


The American Opportunity credit can provide valuable tax savings for families with a college student. But sometimes it makes sense for the student, rather than the parent, to claim the credit.


Do you know what individual income tax records are safe to toss? If not and you’d like to clear out your files (whether paper or electronic) of unnecessary documents, here are some guidelines.


The IRS expects to issue guidance on the Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction in July, Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter has said. Kautter outlined the timeline of various guidance proposals at the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Taxation May Meeting in Washington, D.C.


Congressional lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to focus on tax reform. Republicans and Democrats alike have been discussing the effects of tax reform, albeit reaching different conclusions.


The IRS’s "Achilles’ heel" is using outdated software originating from the 1960s, Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter told Senate lawmakers. Kautter and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified in a May 22 Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing.


The Treasury Department and the IRS, along with the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services, issued a notice of clarification to more thoroughly explain their decision not to adopt recommendations made by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and certain other commenters regarding T.D. 9744. The challenged regulations govern the coverage of emergency services by group health plans and health insurance issuers under the ACA’s copayment and coinsurance limitations.


The IRS has issued a new five-year strategic plan to guide its programs and operations and to help meet the changing needs of taxpayers and members of the tax community. "Providing service to taxpayers is a vital part of the IRS mission and the new Strategic Plan lays out a vision of ways to help improve our tax system," remarked IRS Acting Commissioner David Kautter.


The IRS Large Business and International (LB&I) Division has identified and selected six additional compliance campaigns. The IRS previously announced 13 campaigns on January 31, 2017, followed by an additional 11 on November 3, 2017, and five more on March 13, 2018. These campaigns help LB&I move in the direction of issue-based examinations. In addition, a compliance campaign process helps the organization decide which compliance issues present risks and the best way to respond to such risks.


The IRS intends to provide guidance on the new information reporting obligations for certain life insurance contract transactions under Code Sec. 6050Y. The proposed regulations will provide guidance on the modifications to the transfer for valuable consideration rules for life insurance contracts under Code Sec. 101(a). In addition, the IRS has delayed the reporting requirements under Code Sec. 6050Y until the final regulations are issued.