New Decisions are being made regarding online shopping sales tax.

“The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last month in the case South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., allows states to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax from customers, even if they don’t have a physical store or warehouse in the state, clearing the way for more sales tax revenue from internet purchases.”

Read more about this new Supreme Court decision
Read more here

Tax Season is here!

You can organize your tax papers and information by completing the Tax Organizer located on our “Info Center” tab and collecting tax papers into one manila folder. Be sure to add your signed Tax Return Engagement Letter you received in the mail last month. Drop off your paperwork or schedule an appointment with one of our partners and check “file tax return” off your to-do list!

Estimated tax: Getting it right

Estimated tax is used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding or if not enough tax is being withheld from a person’s salary, pension or other income. Income not subject to withholding can include dividends, capital gains, prizes, awards, interest, self-employment income, and alimony, among other income items. Generally, individuals who do not pay at least 90 percent of their tax through withholding must estimate their income tax liability and make equal quarterly payments of the “required annual payment” liability during the year.

Basic rules

The “basic” rules governing estimated tax payments are not always synonymous with “straightforward” rules. The following addresses some basic rules regarding estimated tax payments by corporations and individuals:

Corporations. For calendar-year corporations, estimated tax installments are due on April 15, June 15, September 15, and December 15. If any due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the payment is due on the first following business day. To avoid a penalty, each installment must equal at least 25 percent of the lesser of:

— 100 percent of the tax shown on the corporation’s current year’s tax return (or of the actual tax, if no return is filed); or

— 100 percent of the tax shown on the corporation’s return for the preceding tax year, provided a positive tax liability was shown and the preceding tax year consisted of 12 months.

A lower installment amount may be paid if it is shown that use of an annualized income method, or for corporations with seasonal incomes, an adjusted seasonal method, would result in a lower required installment.

Individuals. For individuals (including sole proprietors, partners, self-employeds, and S corporation shareholders who expect to owe tax of more than $1,000), estimated tax payments are due on April 15 (April 18 for 2011), June 15, and September 15 of 2011, and January 15 of 2012. Individuals who do not pay at least 90 percent of their tax through withholding generally are required to estimate their income tax liability and make equal quarterly payments of the “required annual payment” liability during the year. The required annual payment is generally the lesser of:

— 90 percent of the tax ultimately shown on your return for the 2011 tax year, or 90 percent of the tax due for the year if no return is filed;

— 100 percent of the tax shown on your return for the preceding (2010) tax year if that year was not for a short period of less than 12 months; or

— The annualized income installment.

For higher-income taxpayers whose adjusted gross income (AGI) shown on your 2010 tax return exceeds $150,000 (or $75,000 for a married individual filing separately in 2011), the required annual payment is the lesser of 90 percent of the tax for the current year, or 110 percent of the tax shown on the return for the preceding tax year.

Adjusting estimated tax payments

If you expect an uneven income stream for 2011 your required estimated tax payments may not necessarily be the same for each remaining period, requiring adjustment. The need for, and the extent of, adjustments to your estimated tax payments should be assessed at the end of each installment payment period.

For example, a change in your or your business’s income, deductions, credits, and exemptions may make it necessary to refigure estimated tax payments for the remainder of the year. Likewise for individuals, changes in your exemptions, deductions, and credits may require a change in estimated tax payments. To avoid either a penalty from the IRS or overpaying the IRS interest-free, you may want to increase or decrease the amount of your remaining estimated tax payments.

Refiguring tax payments due

There are some general steps you can take to reconfigure your estimated tax payments. To change your estimated tax payments, refigure your total estimated tax payments due. Then, figure the payment due for each remaining payment period. However, be careful: if an estimated tax payment for a previous period is less than one-fourth of your amended estimated tax, you may be subject to a penalty when you file your return.

If you would like further information about changing your estimated tax payments, please contact our office.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

2011 filing season trending higher in return processing and refunds

April 18, 2011 (the deadline for filing 2010 federal income tax returns) marks the official end for the 2011 filing season. According to the IRS, this year’s filing season has moved along with few problems. Statistics show that return filings of all Form 1040s for individual taxpayers are trending at a slightly higher pace from this time last year, with an increase particularly noticeable in the amount of refunds.  Of course, some individuals will owe money to the IRS and there are options for making payments. At the same time, there are more options for refunds, such as using refunds to purchase U.S. Savings Bonds. The IRS also reports that it expects more individuals than ever to file automatic six-month extensions to file. Although the extension is “automatic,” an extension request must nevertheless be filed by the April 18 deadline or the return will be considered late. Irrespective of an extension, full payment of your 2010 tax liability is due on April 18 in any case, with interest charged on late payments and late-payment penalties usually due.

IRS trends

In fiscal year (FY) 2010, the IRS collected more than $2.3 trillion in taxes, which represents over 90 percent of the federal government’s total receipts. The IRS processed over 140 million individual tax returns in FY 2010 and issued refunds worth $366 billion. The numbers are expected to be similar for FY 2011.

The IRS also reports that returns are coming in earlier. As of March 23, it had processed over 73 million individual income tax returns, an increase of 3.4 percent over the same time last year. Refunds also were up from the same time last year. The IRS issued $193 billion in refunds as of March 23, 2011, representing an increase of 1.6 percent from the same time last year.

Also trending higher are the numbers of tax returns filed electronically. The IRS reported that more than 65 million individual returns had been filed electronically as of March 23, 2011, an increase of 6.3 percent from the same time last year. Contributing to the growth in e-filing may be the IRS’s decision to no longer mail paper form packages to taxpayers. Individuals who want to file on paper returns must locate the returns on their own.

Economic pains

Another reality for the filing season is the economic downturn. The slowly recovering economy has left many individuals hurting financially. They may be unable to pay their federal tax obligations. The most important advice is to file your return. Failure to file a return or filing late can be costly. If taxes are owed, a delay in filing may result in penalty and interest charges that could increase your tax bill by 25 percent or more.

Taxpayers have several options in making payments to the IRS. Payments can be made by several electronic payment options, check, money order, cashier’s check, or cash. Taxpayers can authorize an electronic funds withdrawal when using IRS e-file to file their return, use a credit or debit card, or enroll in the U.S. Treasury’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Some taxpayers may be considering an installment plan. Keep in mind that interest and penalties do not stop with an installment plan. Penalties and interest continue to be charged on the unpaid portion of the debt throughout the duration of the installment agreement/payment plan.

In February, the IRS announced some taxpayer-friendly changes affecting installment agreements. The IRS reported it will withdraw federal tax liens on taxpayers with unpaid assessments of $25,000 who enter into a direct debit installment agreement. The IRS will also withdraw federal tax liens for taxpayers on a regular installment agreement who convert to a direct debit installment agreement. Additionally, the IRS is making streamlined installment agreements available to more small businesses.

Refunds

The IRS is strongly encouraging individuals to have their refunds electronically deposited rather than receiving checks as was common in the past. Every year, many refund checks are returned to the IRS by the postal service as undeliverable because the recipient moved or the address was incorrect. Direct deposit also guards against theft of a refund check.

Taxpayers have several options for receiving their refunds. Among other things, they can:

  • Split a refund with direct deposits into two or three checking or savings accounts;
  • Direct deposit a refund into one checking or savings account; or
  • Buy up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I Savings Bonds with a refund.

Homebuyer credit

One of the most popular tax incentives in recent years was the first-time homebuyer credit. For most taxpayers, eligibility for the credit ended in 2010 (although members of the uniformed services, foreign service and intelligence community generally have an additional year to take advantage of the credit).

The IRS recently reported that it is experiencing delays in processing some returns reporting the credit. The affected returns are ones where taxpayers are reporting repayment of the credit. When Congress first enacted the credit in 2008, it was similar to a no-interest loan and had to be repaid over 15 years. Congress removed the repayment requirement for qualified homes purchased after 2008. The IRS emphasized that the delay is affecting only a small number of taxpayers.

If you have any questions about payments, refunds or any filing season news, please contact our office.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

How Do I? Write Off Bad Business Debts

A business with a significant amount of receivables should evaluate whether some of them may be written off as business bad debts. A business taxpayer may deduct business bad debts if the receivable becomes partially or completely worthless during the tax year.

In general, most business taxpayers must use the specific charge-off method to account for bad debts. The deduction in any case is limited to the taxpayer’s adjusted basis in the receivable.

The deduction allowed for bad debts is an ordinary deduction, which can serve to offset regular business income dollar for dollar. If the taxpayer holds a security, which is a capital asset, and the security becomes worthless during the tax year, the tax law only allows a deduction for a capital loss. However, notes receivable obtained in the ordinary course of business are not capital assets. Therefore, if such notes become partially or completely worthless during the tax year, the taxpayer may claim an ordinary deduction for bad debts.

For a taxpayer to sustain a bad debt deduction, the debt must be bona fide. The IRS looks carefully at a bad debt of a family member.

To be entitled to a business debt write off, the taxpayer must also make a reasonable attempt to collect the debt. However, in a nod to reality, the IRS does not request the taxpayer to turn the debt over to a collection agency or file a lawsuit in an attempt to collect the debt if doing so has little probability of success.

Deadlines for claiming a write off for any past business bad debt must be watched. Taxpayers have until the later of (1) seven years from the date they timely filed their tax return or (2) two years from the time they paid the tax, to claim a refund for a deduction for a wholly worthless debt not deducted on the original return.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

FAQ: What is a limited liability company?

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business entity created under state law. Every state and the District of Columbia have LLC statutes that govern the formation and operation of LLCs.

The main advantage of an LLC is that in general its members are not personally liable for the debts of the business. Members of LLCs enjoy similar protections from personal liability for business obligations as shareholders in a corporation or limited partners in a limited partnership. Unlike the limited partnership form, which requires that there must be at least one general partner who is personally liable for all the debts of the business, no such requirement exists in an LLC.

A second significant advantage is the flexibility of an LLC to choose its federal tax treatment. Under IRS’s “check-the-box rules, an LLC can be taxed as a partnership, C corporation or S corporation for federal income tax purposes. A single-member LLC may elect to be disregarded for federal income tax purposes or taxed as an association (corporation).

LLCs are typically used for entrepreneurial enterprises with small numbers of active participants, family and other closely held businesses, real estate investments, joint ventures, and investment partnerships. However, almost any business that is not contemplating an initial public offering (IPO) in the near future might consider using an LLC as its entity of choice.

Deciding to convert an LLC to a corporation later generally has no federal tax consequences. This is rarely the case when converting a corporation to an LLC. Therefore, when in doubt between forming an LLC or a corporation at the time a business in starting up, it is often wise to opt to form an LLC. As always, exceptions apply. Another alternative from the tax side of planning is electing “S Corporation” tax status under the Internal Revenue Code.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

Next year’s tax return starts with good recordkeeping

As the 2011 tax filing season comes to an end, now is a good time to begin thinking about next year’s returns. While it may seem early to be preparing for 2012, taking some time now to review your recordkeeping will pay off when it comes time to file next year.

Taxpayers are required to keep accurate, permanent books and records so as to be able to determine the various types of income, gains, losses, costs, expenses and other amounts that affect their income tax liability for the year. The IRS generally does not require taxpayers to keep records in a particular way, and recordkeeping does not have to be complicated. However, there are some specific recordkeeping requirements that taxpayers should keep in mind throughout the year.

Business Expense Deductions

A business can choose any recordkeeping system suited to their business that clearly shows income and expenses. The type of business generally affects the type of records a business needs to keep for federal tax purposes. Purchases, sales, payroll, and other transactions that incur in a business generate supporting documents. Supporting documents include sales slips, paid bills, invoices, receipts, deposit slips, and canceled checks. Supporting documents for business expenses should show the amount paid and that the amount was for a business expense. Documents for expenses include canceled checks; cash register tapes; account statements; credit card sales slips; invoices; and petty cash slips for small cash payments.

The Cohan rule. A taxpayer generally has the burden of proving that he is entitled to deduct an amount as a business expense or for any other reason. However, a taxpayer whose records or other proof is not adequate to substantiate a claimed deduction may be allowed to deduct an estimated amount under the so-called Cohan rule. Under this rule, if a taxpayer has no records to provide the amount of a business expense deduction, but a court is satisfied that the taxpayer actually incurred some expenses, the court may make an allowance based on an estimate, if there is some rational basis for doing so.

However, there are special recordkeeping requirements for travel, transportation, entertainment, gifts and listed property, which includes passenger automobiles, entertainment, recreational and amusement property, computers and peripheral equipment, and any other property specified by regulation. The Cohan rule does not apply to those expenses. For those items, taxpayers must substantiate each element of an expenditure or use of property by adequate records or by sufficient evidence corroborating the taxpayer’s own statement.

Individuals

 

  • Record keeping is not just for businesses. The IRS recommends that individuals keep the following records:
  • Copies of Tax Returns. Old tax returns are useful in preparing current returns and are necessary when filing an amended return.
  • Adoption Credit and Adoption Exclusion. Taxpayers should maintain records to support any adoption credit or adoption assistance program exclusion.
  • Employee Expenses. Travel, entertainment and gift expenses must be substantiated through appropriate proof. Receipts should be retained and a log may be kept for items for which there is no receipt. Similarly, written records should be maintained for business mileage driven, business purpose of the trip and car expenses for business use of a car.
  • Business Use of Home. Records must show the part of the taxpayer’s home used for business and that such use is exclusive. Records are also needed to show the depreciation and expenses for the business part of the home.
  • Capital Gains and Losses. Records must be kept showing the cost of acquiring a capital asset, when the asset was acquired, how the asset was used, and, if sold, the date of sale, the selling price and the expenses of the sale.
  • Basis of Property. Homeowners must keep records of the purchase price, any purchase expenses, the cost of home improvements and any basis adjustments, such as depreciation and deductible casualty losses.
  • Basis of Property Received as a Gift. A donee must have a record of the donor’s adjusted basis in the property and the property’s fair market value when it is given as a gift. The donee must also have a record of any gift tax the donor paid.
  • Service Performed for Charitable Organizations. The taxpayer should keep records of out-of-pocket expenses in performing work for charitable organizations to claim a deduction for such expenses.
  • Pay Statements. Taxpayers with deductible expenses withheld from their paychecks should keep their pay statements for a record of the expenses.
  • Divorce Decree. Taxpayers deducting alimony payments should keep canceled checks or financial account statements and a copy of the written separation agreement or the divorce, separate maintenance or support decree.

Don’t forget receipts. In addition, the IRS recommends that the following receipts be kept:

  • Proof of medical and dental expenses;
  • Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and canceled checks showing the amount of estimated tax payments;
  • Statements, notes, canceled checks and, if applicable, Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement, showing interest paid on a mortgage;
  • Canceled checks or receipts showing charitable contributions, and for contributions of $250 or more, an acknowledgment of the contribution from the charity or a pay stub or other acknowledgment from the employer if the contribution was made by deducting $250 or more from a single paycheck;
  • Receipts, canceled checks and other documentary evidence that evidence miscellaneous itemized deductions; and
  • Pay statements that show the amount of union dues paid.

Electronic Records/Electronic Storage Systems

Records maintained in an electronic storage system, if compliant with IRS specifications, constitute records as required by the Code. These rules apply to taxpayers that maintain books and records by using an electronic storage system that either images their hard-copy books and records or transfers their computerized books and records to an electronic storage media, such as an optical disk.

The electronic storage rules apply to all matters under the jurisdiction of the IRS including, but not limited to, income, excise, employment and estate and gift taxes, as well as employee plans and exempt organizations. A taxpayer’s use of a third party, such as a service bureau or time-sharing service, to provide an electronic storage system for its books and records does not relieve the taxpayer of the responsibilities described in these rules. Unless otherwise provided under IRS rules and regulations, all the requirements that apply to hard-copy books and records apply as well to books and records that are stored electronically under these rules.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

Scope of information reporting continues to expand

Information reporting continues to expand as Congress seeks to close the tax gap: the estimated $350 billion difference between what taxpayers owe and what they pay. Despite the recent rollback of expanded information reporting for business payments and rental property expense payments, the trend is for more – not less – information reporting of various transactions to the IRS.

Transactions

A large number of transactions are required to be reported to the IRS on an information return. The most common transaction is the payment of wages to employees. Every year, tens of millions of Forms W-2 are issued to employees. A copy of every Form W-2 is also provided to the IRS. Besides wages, information reporting touches many other transactions. For example, certain agricultural payments are reported on Form 1099-G, certain dividends are reported on Form 1099-DIV, certain IRA distributions are reported on Form 1099-R, certain gambling winnings are reported on Form W-2G, and so on. The IRS receives more than two billion information returns every year.

Valuable to IRS

Information reporting is valuable to the IRS because the agency can match the information reported by the employer, seller or other taxpayer with the information reported by the employee, purchaser or other taxpayer. When information does not match, this raises a red flag at the IRS. Let’s look at an example:

Silvio borrowed funds to pay for college. Silvio’s lender agreed to forgive a percentage of the debt if Silvio agreed to direct debit of his monthly repayments. This forgiveness of debt was reported by the lender to Silvio and the IRS. However, when Silvio filed his federal income tax return, he forgot, in good faith, to report the forgiveness of debt. The IRS was aware of the transaction because the lender filed an information return with the IRS.

Expansion

In recent years, Congress has enacted new information reporting requirements. Among the new requirements are ones for reporting the cost of employer-provided health insurance to employees, broker reporting of certain stock transactions and payment card reporting (all discussed below).

Employer-provided health insurance. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers to advise employees of the cost of employer-provided health insurance. This information will be provided to employees on Form W-2.

This reporting requirement is optional for all employers in 2011, the IRS has explained. There is additional relief for small employers. Employers filing fewer than 250 W-2 forms with the IRS are not required to report this information for 2011and 2012. The IRS may extend this relief beyond 2012. Our office will keep you posted of developments.

Reporting of employer-provided health insurance is for informational purposes only, the IRS has explained. It is intended to show employees the value of their health care benefits so they can be more informed consumers.

Broker reporting. Reporting is required for most stock purchased in 2011 and all stock purchased in 2012 and later years, the IRS has explained. The IRS has expanded Form 1099-B to include the cost or other basis of stock and mutual fund shares sold or exchanged during the year. Stock brokers and mutual fund companies will use this form to make these expanded year-end reports. The expanded form will also be used to report whether gain or loss realized on these transactions is long-term (held more than one year) or short-term (held one year or less), a key factor affecting the tax treatment of gain or loss.

Payment card reporting. Various payment card transactions after 2010 must be reported to the IRS. This reporting does not affect individuals using a credit or debit card to make a purchase, the IRS has explained. Reporting will be made by the payment settlement entities, such as banks. Payment settlement entities are required to report payments made to merchants for goods and services in settlement of payment card and third-party payment network transactions.

Roll back

In 2010, Congress expanded information reporting but this time there was a backlash. The PPACA required businesses and certain other taxpayers to file an information return when they make annual purchases aggregating $600 or more to a single vendor (other than a tax-exempt vendor) for payments made after December 31, 2011. The PPACA also repealed the long-standing reporting exception for payments made to corporations. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 required information reporting by landlords of certain rental property expense payments of $600 or more to a service provider made after December 31, 2011.

Many businesses, especially small businesses, warned that compliance would be costly. After several failed attempts, Congress passed legislation in April 2011 (H.R. 4, the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection Act) to repeal both expanded business information reporting and rental property expense reporting.

The future

In April 2011, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman described his vision for tax collection in the future in a speech in Washington, D.C. Information reporting is at the center of Shulman’s vision.

Shulman explained that the IRS would get all information returns from third parties before taxpayers filed their returns. Taxpayers or their professional return preparers would then access that information, online, and download it into their returns. Taxpayers would then add any self-reported and supplemental information to their returns, and file their returns with the IRS. The IRS would embed this core third-party information into its pre-screening filters, and would immediately reject any return that did not match up with its records.

Shulman acknowledged that this system would take time and resources to develop. But the trend is in favor of more, not less, information reporting.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

New broker-reporting rules: burden to brokers a boon to taxpayers?

As a result of recent changes in the law, many brokerage customers will begin seeing something new when they gaze upon their 1099-B forms early next year.  In the past, of course, brokers were required to report to their clients, and the IRS, those amounts reflecting the gross proceeds of any securities sales taking place during the preceding calendar year.

In keeping with a broader move toward greater information reporting requirements, however, new tax legislation now makes it incumbent upon brokers to provide their clients, and the IRS, with their adjusted basis in the lots of securities they purchase after certain dates, as well. While an onerous new requirement for the brokerage houses, this development ought to simplify the lives of many ordinary taxpayers by relieving them of the often difficult matter of calculating their stock bases.

When calculating gain, or loss, on the sale of stock, all taxpayers must employ a very simple formula. By the terms of this calculus, gain equals amount realized (how much was received in the sale) less adjusted basis (generally, how much was paid to acquire the securities plus commissions). By requiring brokers to provide their clients with both variables in the formula, Congress has lifted a heavy load from the shoulders of many.

FIFO

The new requirements also specify that, if a customer sells some amount of shares less than her entire holding in a given stock, the broker must report the customer’s adjusted basis using the “first in, first out” method, unless the broker receives instructions from the customer directing otherwise. The difference in tax consequences can be significant.

Example.  On January 16, 2011, Laura buys 100 shares of Big Co. common stock for $100 a share. After the purchase, Big Co. stock goes on a tear, quickly rising in price to $200 a share, on April 11, 2011. Believing the best is still ahead for Big Co., Laura buys another 100 shares of Big Co. common on that date, at that price. However, rather than continuing its meteoric rise, the price of Big Co. stock rapidly plummets to $150, on May 8, 2011. At this point, Laura, tired of seeing her money evaporate, sells 100 of her Big Co. shares.

Since Laura paid $100 a share for the first lot of Big Co. stock that she purchased (first in), her basis in those shares is $100 per share (plus any brokerage commissions). Her basis in the second lot, however, is $200 per share (plus any commissions). Unless Laura directs her broker to use an alternate method, the broker will use the first in stock basis of $100 per share in its reporting of this first out sale. Laura, accordingly, will be required to report a short-term capital gain of $50 per share (less brokerage commissions). Had she instructed her broker to use the “last in, first out” method, she would, instead, see a short-term capital loss of $50 per share (plus commissions).

Dividend Reinvestment Plans

As their name would suggest, dividend reinvestment plans (DRPs) allow investors the opportunity to reinvest all, or a portion, of any dividends received back into additional shares, or fractions of shares, of the paying corporation. While offering investors many advantages, one historical drawback to DRPs has been their tendency to obligate participants to keep track of their cost bases for many small purchases of stock, and maintain records of these purchases, sometimes over the course of many years. Going forward, however taxpayers will be able to average the basis of stock held in a DRP acquired on or after January 1, 2011.

Applicability

The types of securities covered by the legislation include virtually every conceivable financial instrument subject to a basis calculation, including stock in a corporation, which become “covered” securities when acquired after a certain date. In the case of corporate stock, for example, the applicability date is January 1, 2011, unless the stock is in a mutual fund or is acquired in connection with a dividend reinvestment program (DRP), in which case the applicable date is January 1, 2012. The applicable date for all other securities is January 1, 2013.

Short Sales

In the past, brokers reported the gross proceeds of short sales in the year in which the short position was opened. The amendments, however, require that brokers report short sales for the year in which the short sale is closed.

The Complex World of Stock Basis

There are, quite literally, as many ways to calculate one’s basis in stock as there are ways to acquire that stock. Many of these calculations can be nuanced and very complex. For any questions concerning the new broker-reporting requirements, or stock basis, in general, please contact our office.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.