Many industry publications indicate that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) is high on CPAs’ concern list, especially now that the new tax season has arrived. Not surprisingly, TCJA materials are more likely to be available on subscription research services than openly accessible on the Internet, although many accountants make great use of free options to assist with tax research. As tax practitioners move from reading about and planning for the TCJA to applying it on 2018 tax forms, this month’s focus is on useful free tools and resources from respected commercial and professional society providers, along with some tax calculators in the sidebar.
Thomson Reuters’s “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Accounting Firm Toolkit” is available to the general public after free registration (https://tmsnrt.rs/2Q8TjKh). It offers a good collection of resources, most of which are retrievable after initial registration, although a few materials do require a separate—but still free—sign-up. Handy tools include checklists, practice aids, summary tables, and short videos.
For individual income taxation, the toolkit contains a downloadable three-page checklist to help tax preparers raise issues covering life events, tax rates and income exclusions, standard and itemized deductions, estate and gift taxation, and the qualified business income (QBI) deduction. A seven-page reference table on key individual tax provisions summarizes topics such as income tax rates and exemptions, standard and itemized deductions, income and losses, and several other areas, and includes the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section number reference, effective date, a brief description of the new law, and the pre-TCJA provisions. The final page inserts the individual income tax rate schedules. The toolkit also presents 10 short videos that generally run one to three minutes and include five tax planning ideas, and with particular emphasis on standard and itemized deductions. Rounding out the individual materials is a three-page client letter addressing the general changes affecting personal income taxes.
Several summary tables are available for business-related TCJA issues. Key general business tax provisions are a good starting point for information on expensing and depreciating property; general deductions, exclusions, and credits; and accounting method changes. Key entity-specific tax provisions include C corporations, S corporations, partnerships, nonprofit organizations, and trusts and estates, along with the trust and estate income tax rates. Summary tables are also available for international tax provisions, IRC section 179 and bonus depreciation, and fringe benefits.
The QBI deduction (IRC section 199A) materials are particularly helpful and include a checklist, a deductibility limitation flowchart, and a summary table of specified service business categories. The registration e-mail response also contains a link to an eight-page special report on the section 199A deduction with easy-to-follow examples.
Several Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting Blog articles are linked from the toolkit, including a few that address IRC section 199A QBI deductions. For example, “Brace for New Reporting and Disclosure Burdens Under the Section 199A Qualified Business Income Deduction” (Oct. 22, 2018, https://tmsnrt.rs/2rTnKKG) covers the requirements that each trade or business owned by a taxpayer must be treated as a separate entity for purposes of applying QBI limitations; however, recent proposed regulations would allow individuals to aggregate the businesses for QBI purposes. In exchange, tax returns must include statements with detailed information that will probably require substantial additional recordkeeping. A related post, “Aggregation Option–Maximizing the Qualified Business Income Deduction” (Oct. 31, 2018, https://tmsnrt.rs/2LGe5QQ), discusses the benefits and costs of aggregating multiple entities in more detail and provides a simple example of two related businesses.
Wolters Kluwer (CCH)
Wolters Kluwer’s News & Insights webpage (https://taxna.wolterskluwer.com/news) is the gateway to three very practical sets of materials: Whole Ball of Tax, Federal Tax Legislation, and CCH’s Tax and Accounting Blog. Whole Ball of Tax (http://bit.ly/2TfylLl) offers a large number of free articles and other useful materials grouped under Tax News; Data, Stats & Graphs; and Additional Resources. The Tax News article “What’s New with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?” (January 2018, http://bit.ly/2QRcDkr) provides a quick overview of the new law. “2017–2018 Tax Brackets” presents a handy listing of tax rates on a single webpage (http://bit.ly/2CCxcIg). Best of all is the “Whole Ball of Tax Digital Kit,” linked under Additional Resources (http://bit.ly/2AePJsI). This is a must-see 75-page book that combines the contents of the Whole Ball web pages into one document.
The Federal Tax Legislation webpage (https://taxna.wolterskluwer.com/federal-tax-legislation) opens with a focus on commercial products, but persistently scrolling down to the Recent Legislation tab yields a collection of free resources, including some of the great CCH Tax Briefings. “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Guidance” (Aug. 14, 2018, http://bit.ly/2EV0KTS) runs 10 pages and covers three topics that are bending many CPAs’ brain cells: the IRC section 965 transition tax, the section 199A QBI Deduction, and the latest version of the bonus depreciation deduction. “2018 Year-End Tax Planning” (Nov. 2018, http://bit.ly/2LCowVf) addresses highlights of the TCJA for individuals and businesses, suggestions for timing acceleration or deferral, and an always-helpful coverage of extenders.
Westlaw is a more popular resource with attorneys rather than CPAs; however, its Practical Law legal research tool for Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Service provides a free TCJA Toolkit with a useful collection of fringe benefit–focused materials, including an overview with handy pop-up glossaries of related topical descriptions, practice notes, standard documents, checklists, and legal updates (http://bit.ly/2BFdPg0). Most of the resources require a subscription (available as a free trial), but the legal updates are completely free and include extensive discussions with links to underlying authorities. For example, “IRS Addresses Entertainment and Business Meal Expenses in Latest TCJA Guidance” (October 4, 2018, http://bit.ly/2AhAqQe) discusses the pre-TCJA law, transitional guidance, and practical impact.
New York State Society of CPAs
The NYSSCPA’s Professional Resources webpage for the TCJA (http://bit.ly/2SnspAb) is a great place to locate professional articles, New York tax law resources, continuing professional education training, and (scroll to the bottom) an “at-a-glance” summary of TCJA highlights. The News section includes links to more than 40 TCJA articles, including several from The CPA Journal, such as “First Look at the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017: Impact on Individuals” (Sidney Kess, January 2018, http://bit.ly/2QQ2F2B). New York resources include materials pulled from official state sources, as well as several practitioner articles.
AICPA Tax Reform Resource Center
The AICPA Tax Resource Library (http://bit.ly/2MCXQaT) and the Tax Reform Resource Center (http://bit.ly/2ERaHRr) offer a collection of AICPA and other materials related to the TCJA. Most of the resources are restricted to AICPA members, or to AICPA plus Tax or Personal Financial Planning members; however, some of the podcasts and shorter (non-CPE) webcasts are available to the general public. The Tax Reform Podcast from July 3, 2018 runs approximately 11 minutes and provides an overview of the impact of tax reform on individual taxpayers (http://bit.ly/2AlMBLH).
The “Tax Reform Quick Reference Guide” (November 2018, http://bit.ly/2VdGFxe, membership required) is a seven-page summary of individual tax rates, standard and itemized deductions, and tax credits. Business facts include deduction changes and the new corporate income tax rate. The booklet concludes with several tax planning suggestions. “A Special Report on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” is a 24-page guidebook available to tax section members and covers provisions related to individuals and businesses (http://bit.ly/2CCTWIn). Not to be overlooked, the Impact of Tax Reform on Planning Toolkit, under the Personal Financial Planning section, includes links to several interesting materials, including videos and articles (http://bit.ly/2T9gfuy).
Tax Foundation Tax Reform Calculator https://taxfoundation.org/2018-tax-reform-calculator/
Tax Policy Center Calculator http://tpc-tax-calculator.urban.org/
Mortgage Calculator: 1040 Calculator https://www.mortgagecalculator.org/calcs/1040-calculator.php
Tax Plan Calculator http://taxplancalculator.com/
Calc XML Calculator https://www.calcxml.com/calculators/trump-tax-reform-calculator