Three Tax Takeaways for Friday

There are reasons to file your taxes on time even if you have a refund coming. The 2017 extended deadline passed on October 15. If you had a refund coming, and knew that nothing would happen if you filed after the deadline, would you still procrastinate? Did you know that as long as you pay and file on time for three years in a row, that you qualify for first-time AUTOMATIC late penalty abatement just for the asking? Why miss a chance to beef up your get-out-of-penalty-free-card? File on time whenever you can.

Businesses can no longer write-off entertainment as an expense; meals are still OK though. The TCJA denied business expenses for entertainment, amusement, or recreation, but failed to specifically mention business meals. Interim guidance from the IRS says that until further guidance is forthcoming, business meals are still deductible. The TCJA goes further in not allowing a deduction for any food or beverages unless (1) the expense is not lavish or extravagant under the circumstances, and (2) that taxpayer (or an employee of the taxpayer) is present when the food or beverages are furnished.

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a Tax Court decision and held that the economic benefits enjoyed by a taxpayer when their S corporation payed the premiums for split-dollar life insurance were taxable to them. In addition to the premium payments no longer being a business expense but a taxable distribution instead, the increase in value of the policy was also deemed to be taxable income to the owners. S Corporations are pass-through entities. Anything that belongs to the S Corporation ultimately passes-through back into the pocket of the shareholders. Therefore the life insurance for the owners, that was paid for with profits from the business they own, turns out to be taxable to – well, them.

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