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Congress Adjourns After Passing Tax Credit Extensions



Two-Week Extension of Some Tax Credits

The 113th Congress adjourned in the late hours of December 16 after approving a handful of judicial appointments and several pending bills. The bill, H.R. 5771, was approved by a vote of 76 – 16.

Bills passed include a two-week extension of $42 billion in tax credits that included the extension of the production tax credit for wind energy; accelerated depreciation for motorsports tracks; three charitable contributions; as well as guidance on the establishment of ABLE long-term care accounts by parents of disabled children.  The extension was only until December 31, setting up another battle over the credits next year.

Left without consideration was the terrorism risk insurance bill, which will now be taken up by the next Congress.  The program provides federal assurances for insurance companies, enabling the insurers to cover major venues, such as the Super Bowl, against acts of terrorism.

Congress now stands adjourned until Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015.

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Post-Appeals Mediation For Offers in Compromise Available Nationwide



WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is releasing a revenue procedure today providing rules for the nationwide rollout of post-Appeals mediation for Offer in Compromise (OIC) and Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (TFRP) cases. The IRS Office of Appeals originally launched post-Appeals mediation for OIC and TFRP cases as a pilot program available in certain cities in December 2008.

Post-Appeals mediation is available to help resolve disputes after unsuccessful negotiations with the IRS Office of Appeals and is available for both factual and legal issues. The mediator’s role is to assist the parties in reaching their own agreement collaboratively, but the mediator does not have settlement authority over any issue. Appeals Officers trained in mediation techniques will serve as mediators at no cost to taxpayers. Taxpayers also have the option of paying for a qualified non-IRS co-mediator.

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New IRS Notices and Forms



  • A new revision of the Form 656-B booklet, with forms and instructions for submitting an Offer in Compromise (OIC), will be available on IRS.gov in January. The use of earlier versions after Jan. 1 will delay the processing of OIC applications.
  • Notice 2014-78 provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates, and the 24-month average segment rates.  In addition, this notice provides guidance as to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury securities.
  • Notice 2014-81 establishes the Section 48B Phase III program of the qualifying gasification project program to reallocate the Section 48B Phase I credits that are available for allocation after the conclusion of the Section 48B Phase I program.

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Press Release: Camp, Levin Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Taxpayers from Inappropriate Civil Asset Forfeitures



Washington, DC – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) introduced the ​Taxpayer Protections Against Abusive Seizures Act, legislation that provides taxpayers with protections against the inappropriate application of civil forfeiture laws.  These laws were enacted to curtail money laundering and terrorist activities, but a recent report in the New York Times indicates that they have also been used to seize funds from some small businesses, in some cases leaving them with no working capital to make payroll and maintain needed inventory.

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TIGTA Report Says IRS Hires Critical Executives At Salaries Higher Than Typical



WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) appropriately used its legislative authority to temporarily hire employees at salaries higher than those typically given to Federal Government senior executives, according to a new report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98) authorized the IRS to hire up to 40 individuals (at any one time) into positions it deemed to require extremely high-level expertise in an administrative, technical, or professional field that is critical to the IRS’s success. Appointments were limited to four years. Employees hired under the Streamlined Critical Pay (SCP) program received base salaries ranging from $130,000 to $227,300. The base pay for members of the Senior Executive Service in 2010-2013 ranged from $177,000 to $179,700.

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Illinois Moves To Regulated Tax Return Preparers



Public Accounting Act Determines Qualifications for Illinois Tax Preparers

The Illinois House of Representatives and Senate have now approved legislation that will set the foundation for a program to regulate professional tax return preparers in that state.

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NYS Tax Department Launches NY’s First Tax Preparer Continuing Education Program



Consumer Protection Initiative Aims to Train Tax Preparers

Continuing education is phase two of New York’s first tax preparer regulations; training is vital because 70% of New Yorkers hire tax preparers each year.

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today launched the continuing education component of New York’s historic regulations to protect consumers who hire tax preparers.   The training program builds on the first phase of the regulations – tax preparer registration, which began in 2010 and impacts 40,000 preparers annually.

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House Passes ABLE Act



Legislation to Provide Opportunity for Americans with Disabilities

The US House of Representatives has passed H.R. 647, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act’.  The Act is designed to provide individuals and families with the opportunity to save for the purpose of supporting individuals with disabilities in maintaining their health, independence, and quality of life.

The measure, which passed by a vote of 404 to 17, was the first major legislative act for disabled persons since the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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New Standard Mileage Rates Now Available; Business Rate to Rise in 2015



WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2015 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be:

  • 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, up from 56 cents in 2014
  • 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down half a cent from 2014
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile, including depreciation, insurance, repairs, tires, maintenance, gas and oil. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs, such as gas and oil. The charitable rate is set by law.

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Press Release: Republican Senators Vote to Treat Congress Equally Under Obamacare



Vitter will continue to push for a full vote on his No Washington Exemption legislation

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

(Washington, D.C.) – The Senate Republican Conference accepted a rule proposed by U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) to designate their staff as “official” so they cannot be exempted from entering the Obamacare Exchange. Some Members of Congress created a loophole out of the statute in Obamacare that states that Congress and official staff must enter the Obamacare Exchange by designating their staff as “non-official,” allowing them to avoid entering Obamacare. The resolution today did not specifically address the health care subsidies allowed by the Washington Exemption.

“Republican senators made a strong, principled statement today in passing my resolution. Washington should have to live under Obamacare just like everybody else until we repeal it. And we won’t be complicit in Obama’s illegal rule designed to protect Washington insiders,” Vitter said.

Below is the text of Vitter’s resolution adopted today:

Member and Staff Health Care:

Resolved, that it is the policy of the Republican Conference that all Members shall designate all staff they employ as official for purposes of healthcare when filling out the Annual Designation of “Official Office” staff or otherwise complying with the section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act regardless of whether they work in a member’s personal office, committee office, leadership office, the cloakroom or any other office.

Challenge to Democrats:

The Republican Conference calls upon the Senate Democrats to adopt a policy that all Democrat members shall designate all staff they employ as official for purposes of healthcare when filling out the Annual Designation of “Official Office” staff or otherwise complying with the section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act regardless of whether they work in the member’s personal office, committee office, leadership office, the cloakroom or other any other office.

OPM’s Regulations states: “individual Members or their designees are in the best position to determine which staff work in “official office” of each member. Accordingly, OPM will leave those determinations to the Members or their designees and will not interfere in the process… Nothing in this Regulation limits a Member’s authority to delegate to the House or Senate Administrative Offices the Member’s decision about the proper designation of his or her staff.”

Vitter has been pushing legislation that would require all Members of Congress, all Congressional staff, the President, Vice-President, and all political appointees within the administration to purchase their health insurance on the Obamacare Exchange and receive the same amount of financial support from tax credits or subsidies as any American would outside of Washington. Vitter has designated all of his staff, including committee staff, as official as the law requires.

Last fall Vitter fought to get a vote on his legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked his attempts. Vitter also introduced his legislation in April, but Reid pulled the legislation from the floor before it could get a vote. However, Reid did agree to give Vitter a vote in the future. Click here to read some of Vitter’s efforts to pass his “No Washington Exemption from Obamacare.”

Currently members of Congress and their staff members are still eligible to receive taxpayer funded subsidies ($5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a family) to pay for their health care. Those same subsidies are not available to any other American.

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Source:  Sen. David Vitter (R-la) news release at http://www.vitter.senate.gov/newsroom/press/vitter-republican-senators-vote-to-treat-congress-equally-under-obamacare-