Vernoia, Enterline + Brewer, CPA LLC

Archive for March, 2015

Information provided on Meadowlands regional hotel use assessment

The New Jersey Division of Taxation has issued a notice on legislation that created the New Jersey Meadowlands Tax Relief Act, which imposes a Meadowlands regional hotel use assessment of 3% of the rent charged for the occupancy of every hotel room located in the Meadowlands District, including any hotels located on state-owned land, beginning on or after March 1, 2015. The assessment is imposed on room rentals that are currently subject to the sales tax and is in addition to the sales tax, the state hotel/motel state occupancy fee, and the municipal occupancy tax, as well as any other tax or fee imposed by local ordinance on hotel occupancies. The assessment must be separately stated on any bill, receipt, invoice or similar document that the hotel provides to the occupant.

Taxpayers must report and remit the assessment on a monthly basis. Occupancies prior to March 1, 2015, are not subject to the hotel use assessment. If a taxable occupancy begins before March 1, 2015, only the rent for occupancy for March 1 and after is subject to assessment. The first return, covering the period of March 1, 2015, through March 31, 2015, is due on or before April 10, 2015.

Exemptions to the assessment: The Meadowlands regional hotel use assessment is not imposed on the rental of a room when the purchaser, user, or consumer is a New Jersey or federal agency, instrumentality, or political subdivision, or the United Nations, or any other international organization of which the United States is a member. Other exempt organizations, such as religious, educational, and charitable organizations that may qualify for exemption from New Jersey sales and use tax on purchases (Form ST-5 holders), are not exempt from the hotel use assessment. Notice, New Jersey Division of Taxation, February 27, 2015

 

FAQ: What is new Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement

Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, is a new information return. The IRS requires the Health Insurance Marketplace to report certain information about every individual who receives health insurance coverage through the Marketplace to the agency and also to the enrollee. Form 1095-A reports information about the individual(s) covered by Marketplace coverage, the starting and ending dates of coverage, and the insurer that provided coverage. Form 1095-A also reports the cost of coverage, the plan’s total monthly payment, any advance payment, and more.

Copies to IRS and enrollees

IRS rules require the Marketplace to file Form 1095-A with the agency and provide a copy to individuals on or before January 31, 2015, for coverage in 2014. If an individual did not receive a Form 1095-A in February 2015, he or she should contact the Marketplace and not the IRS. The IRS has cautioned that it is unable to answer questions about the information on Form 1095-A or about missing or lost forms because these forms come from the Marketplace.

Form 1040

Health insurance obtained through the Marketplace satisfies the requirement under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that all individuals carry minimum essential health coverage, unless exempt. On 2014 Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, the IRS has added a new line on which individuals will report if they had minimum essential coverage for 2014 (and on Forms 1040-EZ and 1040A). Individuals who had coverage through the Marketplace for 2014 will check this box on their Form 1040.

Code Sec. 36B credit

According to the IRS, nearly nine out of 10 individuals who obtained health insurance coverage through the Marketplace in 2014 qualified for the Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit. This credit helps to offset the cost of health insurance. Form 1095-A includes information about the credit that individuals will need when they file their returns, such as the second lowest cost Silver Plan.

All individuals who claim the Code Sec. 36B credit must file a return. The IRS has developed a special form (Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit) for individuals to file with their return.

Many enrollees in Marketplace coverage were likely eligible for advance payments of the credit to their insurer. In this case, these individuals must reconcile the amount of the advance payment with the amount of the actual credit when they file their 2014 returns.  Keep in mind that that changes in income, family size or other life events may result in the amount of the actual credit being different from the amount estimated by the Marketplace at the time coverage was obtained.  If an individual’s actual allowable credit is less than the amount of advance credit payments, the difference, subject to certain caps, will be subtracted from any refund or added to any balance due. If the actual allowable credit is more than the advance credit payments, the difference will be added to any refund or subtracted from any balance due.

Errors

In late February, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that some 800,000 Forms 1095-As reporting coverage for 2014 were calculated incorrectly by the Marketplace.  HHS has advised enrollees that they should receive corrected Forms 1095-A in early March. If you have any questions about your Form 1095-A please contact our office.

How do I? Apply for an employer identification number (EIN)

Employers and other organizations must obtain an employer identification number (EIN) to identify themselves for tax administration purposes, such as starting a new business, withholding taxes on wages, or creating a trust. Entities apply for an EIN by filing IRS Form SS-4. Page two of the form advises whether an applicant needs an EIN.

Other entities that need an EIN include corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, state or local governments, and churches and other nonprofit organizations. Unincorporated entities (sole proprietorships) that establish a retirement plan or that file certain tax forms will also need an EIN for filing the relevant forms.

Application process

The IRS does not charge for obtaining an EIN and has sought to simplify the application process. Taxpayers may apply by mail, by fax, or online. International applicants may also apply by phone. In all cases, if the IRS determines that the applicant needs an EIN, the IRS will issue the EIN and transmit it to the taxpayer in the same manner as the application was made.

Applications by mail generally take four weeks, the IRS indicates, once the SS-4 is properly and completely filled out. Entities located in the U.S. or a U.S. territory can apply online. For online applications, the IRS validates the information and issues the EIN immediately. The IRS notes that the principal officer or other relevant party must have a valid taxpayer identification number, such as a Social Security Number, to use the online application process. The IRS will respond to a completed fax application within four business days, if the applicant provides a fax number.

Filing without EIN

The IRS states that it will only issue one EIN per day per responsible party, regardless of the means of applying. If the taxpayer needs to file a return but lacks an EIN because of this limitation, the IRS advises that the taxpayer should attach a completed Form SS-4 to the completed and signed tax return. The IRS will assign an EIN and then process the return.

IRS provides repair regulations relief for small businesses

In Rev. Proc. 2015-20, the IRS substantially simplified the requirements for small businesses to adopt the tangible property regulations (the “repair regulations”) for 2014. The relief allows small businesses to change their accounting methods, to comply with the regulations, without having to apply Code Sec. 481 and without having to file Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method.

The repair regulations are broad and comprehensive, applying to any business that uses tangible property. The regulations totally redo the rules for deducting and capitalizing expenses associated with fixed assets. IRS adopted final regulations in September 2013, effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. Taxpayers also have the option of applying the final regulations in 2012 and/or 2013.

Change of accounting method

Taxpayers ordinarily have to file Form 3115 to request IRS consent to change a method of accounting. The IRS provided automatic consent for taxpayers to change their accounting methods to comply with the repair regulations, but this did not relieve taxpayers of the requirement to file Form 3115. Furthermore, taxpayers changing their accounting method must apply Code Sec. 481(a), which requires them to calculate an adjustment to their accounting treatment of the same items for prior years, as if the new method were used in the prior years.  Code Sec. 481 is designed to prevent any duplication of deductions or omission of income upon a change in accounting method.

Small businesses in particular had complained to the IRS about the burden of implementing the regulations with a full Code Sec. 481 adjustment. Taxpayers would be required to go back in time (as far back as their books allow) and redo their analysis of prior year tangible property costs.

Relief

The IRS has now responded by providing relief from the requirements for changing an accounting method. Small business taxpayers can make the change without filing Form 3115 and without having to make a 481 adjustment. Instead, taxpayers can make the change on a “cutoff” basis, by taking into account only amounts paid or incurred, and dispositions of property, in their 2014 tax year. In effect, small business taxpayers can make the change prospectively.

The relief applies to a taxpayer that has one or more separate and distinct trade(s) or business(es) with either total assets under $10 million at the start of the 2014 tax year, or that has average annual gross receipts of $10 million or less for the prior three years.

Claiming relief

Because the IRS provided automatic consent, taxpayers making the change for 2014 would not have to file Form 3115 until the deadline for their 2014 income tax return, either March 15 or, with an extension, September 15. So taxpayers (and their tax representatives) are right in the middle of the process to comply with the regulations for 2014. The timing of the IRS’s relief, in February 2015, is opportune, and gives small businesses plenty of time to comply with the regulations for 2014.

The relief is elective. Small businesses can follow normal change of accounting procedures, or can use the relief provided in Rev. Proc. 2015-20. There are trade-offs to claiming the relief. For some taxpayers, there may be tax savings from applying Code Sec. 481 to prior years, regardless of the burden involved to make the calculations. Furthermore, taxpayers that do not file Form 3115 will not get audit protection for tax years before 2014. For more information, call our office at (908) 725-4414.

Rev. Proc. 2015-20, IR-2015-29