|TAX ADMINISTRATION NEWS
NAEA protects, promotes, and provides for the enrolled agent profession. One of our first jobs in that realm is not only to remind IRS that enrolled agents are America's Tax Experts® but also to remind the agency it is the sole governmental agency tasked with promoting this to the public. Two weeks ago, our eagle-eyed membership spotted a disturbing omission in an agency tax tip release. While citing one of our brethren Circular 230 competitors and IRS Free File as means to avoid errors in filing, the IRS had unfortunately omitted enrolled agents.
After our government relations team pointed out this omission to IRS, the Service not only acknowledged its omission but also moved expeditiously to remedy the oversight (and, as a bonus, both dropped a reference to IRS Free File and added a hyperlink to the IRS web page promoting EAs).
We thank our members for the catch and thank IRS for responding quickly to our contact.
End-of-Year Tax Changes Become Less and Less Likely
While last-minute agreements are always possible, time is running out for 2019 tax law changes. The House Ways and Means Committee (or at least W&M Dems) is pushing for a markup of a SALT package as early as next week. We do not see any solutions on how pay for/offset any changes or how to draft language so changes do not disproportionately help wealthier taxpayers (which would be awkward for the Dems). Piling on to those troubles, the Senate has shown little inclination toward moving the legislation, which makes sense given the GOP-controlled Senate not-too-long ago supported the TCJA that included the provision.
Three other areas of interest continue to be tax extenders, tax law technical corrections, and the retirement security bill. All three have strong supporters on both sides of the Capitol; unfortunately for them, there does not seem to be the political will to compromise. Hope is a wonderful thing and the final Congressional Record — the, well, official record of the Congress — of the legislative year is usually stuffed full of lost hopes and dreams. Should the prevailing winds change, we will let you know.
Interestingly, E@lert chatted with a Finance Committee member earlier in the week, and the senator suggested, privately, pure politics is preventing the SECURE Act from passage, and laid low odds on any extenders or technical corrections action.
Speaking of Offsets...
The Democratically-controlled House brought back the rule that all legislation passing the chamber be paid for. As a result, we are likely to start seeing a return of tax compliance changes that are, on one hand, politically palatable revenue enhancements yet on the other, are tax administration nightmares. Along those lines, a Senate committee earlier this week passed a higher education funding bill, including an offset that would allow IRS to share tax information with the Department of Education (scored to save $3 billion over 10 years).
As a general rule, sharing tax information outside of IRS at the very least erodes trust in the tax system and at the extreme, erodes tax compliance. We, of course, attempt to stay on top of these tax compliance offsets, they are often done late at night behind closed doors with little or no vetting before being enacted.
Well Begun Is Half Done
With apologies to P.L. Travers, two EA housekeeping issues:
- EAs with Social Security numbers terminating in 4, 5, or 6 are more
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