Everything but the Kitchen Sink

  • This just in: IRS today issued the 2019 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Business use rates are up 3.5 cents per mile, to 58 cents/mile. IRS helpfully reminds taxpayers that the miscellaneous itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee expenses is no more.

    We’re getting close to GO time for gift giving, and because NAEA wants to be part of your problem-solving team, E@lert offers these ideas for the gents in your life and these ideas for the ladies in your life—not that rocks glasses (particularly these) and iPhone cases don’t transcend gender. Oh, and we cannot help but be distracted by any list of must-read books (btw, a shelf full of not-yet-read books should not prevent the addition of one more), plus this gem (click, you won’t be disappointed). And finally, and perhaps we should have started with this, PBR (no, not a tax acronym but a beer acronym) is off of life support.

    Otherwise, aside from the widely leaked Wednesday evening meeting between Sens. Warren and Sanders at Warren’s DC condo, we offer a slew of tax-related items, pulled especially for America’s Tax Experts®:

    • OMG! The San Jose Mercury News (and others) are reporting California state regulators are “ginning up a scheme to charge a fee for text messaging on mobile phones to help support programs that make phone service available to the poor.”

    • CMS is extending its Affordable Care Act deadline for Marketplace Call Center customers.

    • Accounting Today writes FASB revises leasing standard for lessors (registration required).

    • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch presided over his last hearing, to consider the Tax Court nomination of Courtney Dunbar Jones. Ms. Jones currently serves as a senior attorney in IRS’ Office of Chief Counsel.

    • Leslie Book, in Procedurally Taxing, writes about the digital divide—which is a thing (for instance, in New Jersey)—and tax administration.

    • This just in from the department of redundancy department: don’t forget your RMD requirement! IRS’ reminder is useful, even if we’re already reminded readers.

    • National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson has blogged twice recently on IRS’ revenue protection efforts. In part 1, she asserts the agency’s refund fraud false positive rate is too high and the Service takes too long to process returns it should not have selected for review. In part 2, she rolls up her sleeves and does more math. There’s much to unpack in the pieces, which are both interesting and worth reading (if for this general tidbit: “in the government and private sectors, a false positive rate of around 50 percent is generally accepted”).

    • Grant Thornton offers 10 year-end tax-planning tips for individual clients.

    • The Tax Policy Center doesn’t generally ask what summer means—but in this case the question may be as good as any when unraveling what middle class really means. 

    • Looking into 2019:

    o Incoming Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) appears to be interested in immediately revisiting extenders, which are unlikely to make it out of Congress in 2018 (though this joint letter opposing extenders warmed E@lert’s heart).

    o Incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) in a Wednesday floor speechexpressed his interest in bringing IRS into the 21st century (an interest NAEA shares) and providing nonprofit oversight, among other things.

    • Speaking of Congress, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that for the 116th Congress, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) will be joining the Senate Committee on Finance.

    • With apologies to Irving Berlin, you’d be surprised: NAEA is offering a webinar entitled “You’d be Surprised: What is Fraud?”