Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It’s Just About Tax School Time


Next week begins the first of the fall tax schools that I will be a part of this fall.  The schools start in western Kansas and cover the state with eight two-day schools sponsored by Kansas State University.  I also participate in two schools in North Dakota sponsored by the University of North Dakota.     

What’s Covered?

Of course, what’s happening on the legislative front in D.C. will be discussed.  As of right now, that discussion will be rather short.  Talk of tax reform started in August of 2016 with the release of the “House Blueprint” and many of the reforms enumerated in that document continue to be discussed under the banner of “tax reform.”  However, in my view, prospects for something coming into form and passing the Congress by the end of the year look slim.  If there are any developments, I will be covering those at the schools.

Of course, detailed coverage and analysis will be provided on numerous topics.  Included in the coverage will be tax issues associated with employment, including the tax difference between an employee and an independent contractor; Section 530 relief; taxation of fringe benefits; household employees and foreign workers.  Also on the agenda are investment tax issues (information reporting; covered and noncovered securities; associated IRS forms; interest on loans; and issues associated with puts, calls, options, and short sales of securities. 

A full update of what’s happening within the IRS will be provided.  On that note, I observed earlier this week that IRS listed in its Priority Guidance List that it plans on finalizing regulations associated with I.R.C. §469(h)(2).  That’s the code provision that deals with material participation by a limited partner.  The IRS lost several cases a few years ago on the issue and I suspect it will take a position in the final regulations that sets forth the IRS position that the courts disagreed with. 

Of course, a full update on ag tax issues will be provided with a specific look at audit issues, C corporation penalty taxes, cash method issues, indirect production costs, depreciation strategies and planning opportunities, loss issues, farm income averaging and tax issues associated with financial distress. 

The latest significant IRS rulings and court cases will be addressed and their relevance to tax practice explained.  Also, an in-depth discussion of installment sales will occur getting into associated issues such as electing out, handling the receipt of payments, escrow arrangements, depreciation recapture, like-kind exchanges, sale of a business, disposition of the obligation, repossession and SCINS.  Other issues that will be discussed include crowdfunding, self-directed IRAs, fantasy sports and legal fees. 

Particular issues associated with small businesses will also be covered, including: small business stock; health plans; bonus depreciation; recapture on sale of business assets; correcting depreciation errors and how to handle the sale of an asset that is acquired in a like-kind exchange. 

Partners and partnership tax issues will be discussed in detail.  The tricky issue of inside and outside basis will be covered as will distributions and guaranteed payments and self-employment taxes.  Also, loans by partners and income from the discharge of debt and the disposition of a partnership interest.  As for partnership issues, the key issues will be addressed – electing out of partnership taxation; capital accounts; liabilities; the I.R.C. §754 election; allocations; and distributions, dispositions and terminations. 

Tax issues associated with estates and beneficiaries will also be covered.  The discussion of these issues will also include pointers on estate planning under the current transfer tax system.  Of course, estate planning could change significantly if the estate tax is eliminated and/or the stepped-up basis rule is modified or eliminated. 

On the whole, each of the two-day seminars is packed with information that can be used by practitioners in preparing returns for the upcoming tax season after the start of the year.    The educational information will also include a state income tax update for the respective state. 


A separate ethics session is provided after the first day of each of the North Dakota schools, and after the last of the Kansas schools.  I will participate in the ethics session in Kansas with Prof. Lori McMillan who is also of Washburn Law School. 


The North Dakota school in Fargo will also be webcast live on November 14 and 15.  The last of the Kansas schools, in Pittsburg, will also be simulcast over the web on December 13-14, as will the ethics session on December 15.  For those interested in attending in-person from further away, flights into Kansas City will put you within an hour of the Topeka tax school on November 27-28 and about 40 minutes from the Overland Park tax school on November 20 and 21, as well as about a two-hour drive from the Pittsburg tax school on December 13-14.  Also, Fargo and Mandan are easily accessible by flights from Minneapolis, MN. 

Additional School

For those in Iowa, I will be opening the Iowa Bar Bloethe Tax School on December 6 in Des Moines with an hour session providing an update on federal tax issues.  The tax manual for that school is also an excellent set of materials that can be used during tax season and beyond.

More Information

All told, the tax seminars that are about to begin provide excellent opportunities for tax practitioners and their staff to get prepared for the next tax season that will soon be upon us.  For more information on the schools, the teaching teams, dates and locations, and accommodations you can find more at the following links:

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