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Posts tagged Tax Reform Act of 2014.

BACKGROUND

haircutOn February 21, 2014, then House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Michigan) issued a discussion draft of the “Tax Reform Act of 2014.” The proposed legislation spanned almost 1,000 pages and contained some interesting provisions, including repealing IRC § 1031, thereby prohibiting tax deferral from like-kind exchanges. Not only would taxpayers have been impacted by this proposal, but it would have turned the real estate industry upside down. Qualified intermediaries would have been put out of business. Likewise, title and escrow companies, as well as real estate advisors specializing in exchanges, would have been adversely affected by the proposal.

white house2As reported in my November 2014 blog post, President Obama’s administration wants to limit taxpayers’ ability to defer income under IRC § 1031. In response to former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp’s proposed Tax Reform Act of 2014, which would have eliminated IRC § 1031 altogether, the Obama administration proposed to retain the code section, but limit deferral with regard to real property exchanges to $1 million per taxpayer each tax year. Personal property exchanges, under the President’s proposal, would go unscathed.

In 2015, President Obama expanded his proposal relative to IRC § 1031 to limit personal property exchanges by excluding certain types of property from the definition of “like kind.” The excluded personal property included items such as collectibles and art. The President’s proposed $1 million real property exchange limitation was left intact.

I Stock - San Diego SkylineAs I reported late last year (in my November 25, 2014 blog post), former House Ways & Means Committee Chairman David Camp proposed to repeal IRC § 1031, thereby eliminating a taxpayer’s ability to participate in tax deferred exchanges of property. The provision, a part of Camp’s 1,000+ page proposed “Tax Reform Act of 2014,” was viewed by some lawmakers as necessary to help fund the lowering of corporate income tax rates.

The Obama Administration responded to former Chairman Camp’s proposal, indicating its desire to retain IRC § 1031. The Administration, however, in its 2016 budget proposal, revealed its intent to limit the application of IRC § 1031 to $1 million of tax deferral per taxpayer in any tax year. The proposal was vague in that it was not clear whether the limitation was intended to apply to both real and personal property exchanges.

While it is highly unlikely Santa’s little helpers will deliver to taxpayers a tax reform package by the end of 2014 that is acceptable to the Senate, the House of Representatives and the President, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Dave Camp, made one last attempt to move the ball forward.  On December 11, 2014, shortly before Chairman Camp’s expected retirement, he formally introduced a bill in the House to adopt into law the Tax Reform Act of 2014 which he authored and circulated in proposed form to lawmakers back in February.  Affixed with the label “Fixing Our Broken Tax Code So That It Works For American Families and Job Creators,” the proposal is now formally before Congress.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Michigan) issued a discussion draft of the “Tax Reform Act of 2014” last week.  The proposed legislation spans almost 1,000 pages and contains some interesting provisions, including, without limitation, the following:

Individual Taxpayer Provisions

    • Consolidation and simplification of individual income tax brackets.  The current seven tax brackets would be consolidated into three brackets—namely, a 10% bracket, a 25% bracket and a 35% bracket.  High-income taxpayers would be subject to a phase-out of the tax benefit of the 10% bracket.  In addition, the special rate structure for net capital gains would be repealed.  In its place, non-corporate taxpayers could claim an above-the-line deduction of 40% of adjusted net capital gain.
    • Expand the standard deduction (to $22,000 for joint filers and $11,000 for individuals) and modification of available itemized deductions, including:
    • Repeal of the 2% floor on itemized deductions and the overall limitation on itemized deductions.
    • Reduce the itemized deduction for home mortgage interest to $500,000.
    • Repeal of the deduction for personal casualty losses.
    • Repeal of the deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses.
    • Repeal of the deduction for state and local taxes not paid in connection with business or investment.
    • Simplification of the rules surrounding charitable deductions.
    • Repeal of the exclusion for employee achievement awards.
    • Repeal of the deduction for moving expenses.
    • Reinstating the former provision allowing the cost of over-the-counter medications to be reimbursed through tax-favored health accounts.
    • Consolidation and simplification of tax benefits for higher education.  A single educational tax credit of up to $2,500 annually would be made available that could be used for up to 4 years; however, the current deductions for educational expenses and interest on student loans would be repealed.
    • Elimination of the income limitations on Roth IRAs and prohibiting new contributions to traditional IRAs and non-deductible traditional IRAs—effectively forcing all new IRA contributions to be Roth contributions.
    • Repeal of the exception to the 10% early withdrawal penalty for withdrawals from retirement plans and IRAs used to pay first-time home buyer expenses (capped at $10,000).
    • Elimination of the deduction by the payor for the payment of alimony and elimination of the inclusion in income by the recipient.
    • Repeal of the individual AMT.
    • IRC Section 1031 would be repealed.  Consequently, tax deferral from like-kind exchanges would no longer be permitted.
    • Simplification of rules surrounding in-service distributions, hardship withdrawals and required minimum distributions from retirement plans.
    • Encouraging Roth contributions in 401(k) plans by requiring all 401(k) plans to offer Roth accounts and requiring larger plans to treat all employee contributions as Roth contributions once an employee had contributed one-half of the annual contribution limit.

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Larry J. Brant
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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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