Tax News & Views Brown Bags and Billionaires Roundup

May 25, 2022

SECURE 2.0 Hits Snag on Refundable Savers Credit, Auto-IRAs - Doug Sword, Tax Notes ($):

Two members of the committee said a refundable savers credit and a requirement for all businesses with 10 or more employees to offer a workplace retirement plan still needed to be worked out before what they hope will be a committee markup in June.


Asked if those two provisions — the refundable savers credit and the small business mandate — were the sticking points in negotiations, Finance Committee ranking member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said they were. 

Ranking minority member of Senate Finance is quoted as predicting the bill being passed at year-end.

Related: Retirement legislation that sailed through tax-writing committee faces rockier path on passing Congress..


Sophisticated Hiding Shows Indicted Billionaire Competent - Nathan Richman, Tax Notes ($):

The former software company CEO facing what the government has called the biggest ever tax evasion indictment has been found competent to stand trial based on his “past sophisticated furtive behavior” and likely malingering.


Facing what the government has called “the largest-ever tax charge against an individual,” Brockman has claimed incompetence to stand trial, citing diagnoses of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. He’s also disputing an IRS jeopardy assessment.

Billionaire Robert Brockman ruled competent to stand trial in biggest individual tax fraud case - Irina Ivanova, CBS News:

Billionaire Robert Brockman, who faces multiple charges of tax evasion, wire fraud and money laundering, is mentally competent to stand trial, according to a decision issued Monday by Judge George Hanks, Jr., in the Southern District of Texas. 


Hanks outlined discrepancies between what Brockman's attorneys claimed about his mental functions and Brockman's own actions. Brockman was diagnosed with dementia in late 2018, but in 2019 he testified in two complex antitrust cases, during which time no lawyers or doctors raised concerns about his mental abilities, according to the judge's ruling. 

Brockman Found Competent to Stand Trial - Jack Townsend, Federal Tax Crimes. "In the gorilla of tax crimes cases, United States v. Brockman (S.D. Tex. Crim  4:21-CR-9), CL Docket Entries here, the Court yesterday denied Brockman’s attempt to avoid trial by feigning, so the Court found, incompetence."


Minn. Tax Compromise In Limbo As Legislature Adjourns - Sanjay Talwani, Law360 Tax Authority ($):

A conference committee missed a midnight deadline Sunday to approve changes to H.B. 3669, a tax omnibus bill, despite a bipartisan announcement Saturday that lawmakers had reached agreement on the measure. After midnight early Monday, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz indicated he would call a special session.


The proposed tax package included dropping the state's income tax rate for its lowest bracket by one-quarter of a percentage point, from 5.35% to 5.1%, a cut valued in a fiscal analysis at about $276 million per year. The bill as passed by the Senate on May 11 would have cut the lowest tax rate to 2.8%.

Minnesota's top rate is 9.85% on taxable income starting at $171,220 for single filers. Among neighboring states, Iowa recently passed legislation to enact a flat 3.9% individual tax rate, and South Dakota has no income tax.  


Alliantgroup’s Houston Office Raided by IRS CI - Jonathan Curry, Tax Notes:

Agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation division swooped down on the Houston office of national tax consulting firm Alliantgroup LP May 20.

“We are currently conducting a court-authorized operation,” said Christian Venhuizen, spokesman for the CI field office in Houston.

IRS raids alliantgroup offices - Michael Cohn, Accounting Today:

The nature of the investigation is unknown, but is thought to be related to the firm’s work in securing tax credits and other incentives for clients, some of which have been challenged by the IRS, leading to lawsuits after the IRS denied the claims and clients refused to pay the firm, according to the Going Concern blog. Even though employees were allowed to return on Tuesday, IRS agents returned to the Galleria building where the firm is based and continued to search other floors Tuesday, according to the Houston Press.

A spokesperson for the firm confirmed the search in a statement to Accounting Today, saying, “IRS employees issued an inquiry at our building Friday morning. We look forward to understanding the government’s queries and we are fully cooperating with them. We expect when the complete facts are known, this matter will be amicably resolved. Meanwhile, our offices are open and fully operational.”


Iowa close to making bonuses tax-free for teachers, police officers and child care workers - Ian Richardson, Des Moines Register. "Iowans won't have to pay state taxes on the bonuses that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds awarded to teachers, correctional officers, police officers and child care workers under a bill headed to her desk.  The same bill also eliminates sales tax on feminine hygiene products and the tax on child and adult diapers. The wide-ranging tax legislation won unanimous support in both the House and Senate on Monday."

States are battling to bring Hollywood to Main Street — and paying big - Joseph Spector, Politico. "The debate over film-tax breaks is one of the few issues that often unify conservative and liberal advocacy groups in state capitals: They both usually deride the programs as giveaways that aren’t worth the bang for the buck."

Finance chair asks accounting firm why it disavowed Trump Org financial documents - Zach Schonfeld, The Hill. "Wyden wrote in the letter that Mazars had not provided information as to why the documents should no longer be relied upon, asking the firm if the retractions were the result of errors by Mazars personnel or if the Trump Organization provided misleading or inaccurate information."


With gas prices spiking this Memorial Day, Capitol Hill awaits IRS action on tax deductible mileage rate requests - Kay Bell, Don't Mess With Taxes. "For 2022, the deductible travel rates are 58.5 cents per mile (cpm) for business travel; 18 cpm for medical-related travel; and 18 cpm to move possessions if you're a military member who is reposted. The IRS also allows claims of 14 cpm for charitable travel, but that rate is set by statute and is not annually adjusted."

Tax Advantage Employer Leave-Based Donation Programs for Ukraine Relief Authorized Through End of 2022 - Ed Zollars, Current Federal Tax Developments. "In Notice 2022-28 the IRS announced that employers can establish tax advantaged programs where employees donate some or all of their unused paid leave for certain relief for victims of the further Russian invasion of Ukraine."

Benefits of an Employer Provided Retirement Plan - FinPowered Female. "For many of us, we will not be able to rely on pensions or perhaps not even Social Security during our retirement so our retirement lifestyle is going to be solely dependent on our own ability to save and invest for our future – with a little help from our employers."

IRS Proposed Regs Change RMD Requirements for Some Inherited IRAs and Qualified Plans - Tax Warrior Chronicles. "Under the proposed regulations, if the death of the account owner occurred before the RBD, then there are still NO annual RMD requirements alongside the 10-year rule. However, if the death of the original owner occurred on or after the account owner’s RBD, then annual RMDs in years 1-9 are based upon calculations under the stretch IRA rules by utilizing the IRS Uniform Lifetime Table and based on the oldest beneficiary’s age."


Free for a Fee: Intuit's TurboTax Scandal - David Stewart, Paul Jones, and Nathan Richman, Tax Notes Opinions. "Some of the allegations against Intuit included that it had literally worked to ensure that its IRS Free File software wouldn't even come up in internet search results and that the company's own website made it virtually impossible to navigate to the IRS free filing program. Meanwhile, it was steering people towards using this paid software that had the free option that many people wouldn't qualify for."

Two Dozen States Show Why the Kansas Critique of Income Tax Cuts Is Mistaken - Jared Walczak, Tax Policy Blog. "The Kansas experience is so infamous that 'what about Kansas?' is almost guaranteed to be a question—sometimes as a retort, but often a genuine expression of concern—any time any state explores tax relief. So here’s a question: what about the other two dozen states that have cut their income taxes since then?"

How much are Republicans and Democrats polarized really? - Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution. "Republicans and Democrats may say that they feel differently about income redistribution, but those differences disappear when facing real, high-stakes choices."

Will IRS Tax On Wildfire Settlements Be Blocked By Congress? - Robert Wood, Forbes. "Most legal settlements are taxable, even for a devastating fire loss. That grim fact can be an unpleasant surprise to fire victims, and seems particularly unfair. There are federal and California tax bills pending that if passed, could make certain fire lawsuit recoveries nontaxable."


Virginia Beach Woman Sentenced for Lottery Scheme Defrauding Elderly Victims - U.S. Department of Justice. "In those schemes, victims would be falsely told they had won millions of dollars but needed to first pay thousands of dollars in taxes and fees to receive their winnings."

That's not how lotteries, or taxes, work. 


The bag of discretion. It's National Brown-Bag It Day! "The invention of the brown paper bag has been attributed to many innovators such as Francis Wolle, Margaret Knight, and Walter Deubener. These people endeavored to make it the best version of itself, be it through adapting the design, functionality, or pricing." 

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