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    Principal

    Steve assists clients with business and tax planning matters, including business entity formation and ownership transfers, tax and compensation planning (including executive compensation matters), worker classification ...

A Succinct Summary of the Key Tax Provisions

CavalryOn March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (colloquially, the “CARES Act” or the “Act”).  The CARES Act is a historic $2.2 trillion relief package enacted by lawmakers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Act is more than 880 pages in length and contains a multitude of provisions, all of which are intended to support individuals and businesses during these horrific times.

We have attempted to provide our readers with a broad overview of the most significant tax provisions of the Act.  If a provision is potentially applicable to a given situation, please read the entire provision of the Act to affirm its application.

CautionYesterday, like other commentators, we reported that, in accordance with its terms, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Act”) is effective on April 2, 2020.  Please be aware, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) posted on its website a statement that the Act is effective on April 1, 2020.  We assume this is not a premature April Fool’s joke.  Accordingly, since DOL is the agency enforcing the non-tax aspects of the Act, we advise employers to ready themselves for the new law one day earlier than expected.  It is better to be safe than sorry!    

FamilyPresident Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) on March 18, 2020.  The Act becomes effective April 2, 2020, and contains a number of tax provisions that fund the Act’s mandatory paid leave provisions. 

This blog post summarizes the Act’s paid leave and associated employer tax-related benefits.  The Act is broad in application, creating complexity.  In general, it applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.  We have attempted to dissect the Act in bite-sized, easily understandable chunks, removing the complexities whenever possible.

magicianEarlier this week, a local tax practitioner asked us whether it was true that the City of Portland no longer allows depreciation deductions resulting from an election under Section 754 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), for purposes of computing tax under the City of Portland Business License Tax (“BLT”) and the Multnomah County Business Income Tax (“BIT”).  The answer we gave was “yes.”  Of course, the response we received from the practitioner was “why.”  That question is more difficult to answer than the original question.  Nevertheless, we present this blog post to remind tax practitioners of the City’s position on this issue and to discuss the implications of the City’s new position.

Capitol in Salem, OregonWe are taking a break from our multi-post coverage of Opportunity Zones to address a recent, significant piece of Oregon tax legislation. 

On May 16, 2019, Governor Kate Brown signed into law legislation imposing a new “corporate activity tax” (“CAT”) on certain Oregon businesses.  The new law expressly provides that the tax revenue generated from the legislation will be used to fund public school education. 

Although the new tax is called a “corporate” activity tax, it is imposed on individuals, corporations, and numerous other business entities.  The CAT applies for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2020. 

To help defray the expected increased costs of goods and services purchased from taxpayers subject to the CAT that will assuredly be passed along to consumers, the Oregon Legislative Assembly modestly reduced personal income tax rates at the lower income brackets.

BACKGROUND

Grand CanyonSections 1400Z-1 and 1400Z-2 were added to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”) by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These new provisions to the Code introduce a multitude of new terms, complexities and traps for the unwary.

The first new term we need to add to our already robust tax vocabulary is the phrase “Qualified Opportunity Zones” (“QOZs”). The Code generally defines QOZs as real property located in low-income communities within the US and possessions of the US. Additionally, to qualify as a QOZ, the property must be nominated by the states or possessions where the property is located and be approved by the Secretary of Treasury.

monkey wrenchThe Service issued proposed regulations corresponding to IRC § 199A today.  As discussed in a prior blog post, IRC § 199A potentially allows individuals, trusts and estates to deduct up to 20% of qualified business income (“QBI”) received from a pass-through trade or business, such as an S corporation, partnership (including an LLC taxed as a partnership) or sole proprietorship.

BACKGROUND

Deduction

The deduction effectively reduces the new top 37% marginal income tax rate for business owners to approximately 29.6% (i.e., 80% of 37%) in order to put owners of pass-through entities on a more level playing field with owners of C corporations who now have the benefit of the greatly reduced 21% top corporate marginal tax rate under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”). The concept sounds simple, but the application is complex. The new Code provision contains complex definitions and limitations, requires esoteric calculations, and is accompanied by many traps and pitfalls.

Online purchases deliveryOn June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed half a century of legal precedent in a landmark 5-4 decision, South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. Under prior law, a state was forbidden from collecting sales tax against out-of-state sellers unless the sellers had physical presence within the state (such as a business location, employees, or property). 

The physical presence standard arose from a decision in a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case, National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue of Illinois. In that case, the Court held that a mail-order company, whose only connection with customers in Illinois was by common carrier or U.S. mail, did not have sufficient connection with the state to warrant allowing it to tax the company. In 1992, the Court affirmed that holding in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. The physical presence standard established by the Court in Bellas Hess and Quill has been a bright-line rule that presided over the rise of Internet commerce. That rule has now changed!

disconnectedAs we have been discussing these past several weeks, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) drastically changed the Federal income tax landscape. The TCJA also triggered a sea of change in the income tax laws of states like Oregon that partially base their own income tax regimes on the Federal tax regime. When the Federal tax laws change, some changes are automatically adopted by the states, while other changes may require local legislative action. In either case, state legislatures must decide which parts of the Federal law to adopt (in whole or part) and which parts to reject, all while keeping an eye on their fiscal purse.

INTRODUCTION[1]

M&A dealThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) will significantly impact merger and acquisition (“M&A”) activity. Although billed as tax reform, the TCJA did not reform or simplify the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”).

Virtually none of the provisions of the TCJA directly impact M&A transactions. Rather, the TCJA added or modified several sections of the Code that indirectly impact transaction structuring, pricing, negotiations and due diligence. Making matters more complex, some of these provisions of the TCJA are temporary.

This blog post briefly highlights several key provisions of the TCJA and the impact on M&A.

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Larry J. Brant
Editor

Larry J. Brant is a Shareholder in Foster Garvey, a law firm based out of the Pacific Northwest, with offices in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; New York, New York, Spokane, Washington; and Beijing, China. Mr. Brant practices in the Portland office. His practice focuses on tax, tax controversy and transactions. Mr. Brant is a past Chair of the Oregon State Bar Taxation Section. He was the long-term Chair of the Oregon Tax Institute, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Portland Tax Forum. Mr. Brant has served as an adjunct professor, teaching corporate taxation, at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College. He is an Expert Contributor to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst. Mr. Brant is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel. He publishes articles on numerous income tax issues, including Taxation of S Corporations, Reasonable Compensation, Circular 230, Worker Classification, IRC § 1031 Exchanges, Choice of Entity, Entity Tax Classification, and State and Local Taxation. Mr. Brant is a frequent lecturer at local, regional and national tax and business conferences for CPAs and attorneys. He was the 2015 Recipient of the Oregon State Bar Tax Section Award of Merit.

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