Tax News & Views Tech Roundup

February 17, 2020

Confusion Abounds – What is Virtual Currency? Issues for Your 2019 Federal Return – Annette Nellen, 21st Century Taxation

With evolving trends in modern transactions and increased IRS scrutiny, it’s no surprise that virtual currency is like Hansel in ‘Zoolander’…so hot right now.  Despite the fact that many taxpayers and tax professionals are still trying to wrap their heads around what cryptocurrency is, conversations in this realm are buzzing. 

Last week, the IRS website added to the hype when it removed language around certain online games that use virtual currency, which many tech-savvy folks found amusing and an indication that the IRS itself doesn’t entirely understand the concepts involved. 

Nellen summarizes some of the issues in question in her recent post and poses a few questions of her own.

More info on the impact of blockchain and cryptocurrency found here as well!

Facebook Heads to Trial in Tax Dispute That Could Cost $9 Billion – Jeffery Leon, BloombergTax. “Facebook is the latest company involved in a dispute with the IRS about the value of intangible assets sent offshore, following cases that include Inc. and Coca-Cola Co.  These transfers have been seen as methods for tax avoidance, particularly when intangible assets are transferred to jurisdictions with low or no corporate tax rates.”

Ways to work around the end of the stretch IRA – Kay Bell, Don’t Mess With Taxes

The “Stretch IRA” is largely dead, but there are other ways to pass on money to heirs to consider.

A road map for tax function automation – Michael Sala, The Tax Adviser

Big data continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing in-house tax departments.  But as technology advances, so does the opportunity to create efficiencies. It’s important to look for ways to minimize repetitive, low-level tasks that drain the energy of staff who could and should be focusing on the bigger picture.

“Given the obstacles to automating low-volume tasks, a company should begin the process of tax automation by automating a high-volume, high-return-on-investment process, such as automating manual adjustments to monthly sales tax return data for the company's sales tax compliance”

What Do the Sanders-Biden Fights Over Protecting Social Security Mean? – C. Eugene Steurele, Tax Policy Center. “Many recent Congressional proposals are framed around political rhetoric such as “no new taxes” or “no cuts in benefits” with little regard for the need to target future resources more equitably and efficiently as would be done in a true reform effort.”

IRS Urges Tax Professional to Use Multi-Factor Authentication in Addition to Passwords Ed Zollars, Current Federal Tax Developments

Proving you’re a human during tax season may seem humorous as you actually might feel more like a robot!  But selecting which pictures have cars for CAPTCHA and jumping through other ID hoops is not only necessary but required.

“Now that the IRS has specifically told tax professionals they should be using MFA, a failure to implement such a requirement may expose the firm to disciplinary action and professional liability if a problem arises that regulators and/or clients note could have been prevented by the use of MFA.”

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