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Proposed Regs Address State and Local Tax Payments by Partnerships, S Corporations

The IRS intends to issue proposed regulations to clarify that state and local income taxes imposed on and paid by a partnership or an S corporation are deductible by the partnership or S corporation in computing non-separately stated taxable income for the year of the payment. The proposed regulations are intended to provide certainty to individual partners and S corporation shareholders in calculating their state and local tax (SALT) deduction limitations.

The proposed regs described in the notice apply to specified income tax payments made on or after November 9, 2020. Taxpayers can also apply these rules to specified income tax payments made in tax years ending after December 31, 2017, and before the proposed regulations are published in the Federal Register.

SALT Deduction
For tax years beginning after 2017 and before 2026, an individual’s federal SALT deduction is generally limited to $10,000 ($5,000 for married individuals who file separate returns). The SALT deduction includes real property taxes, personal property taxes, income, war profits, and excess profits taxes, and general sales taxes.

However, legislative history indicates that this limit should not apply to taxes imposed at the entity level, such as a business tax imposed on pass-through entities, that are reflected in a partner’s or S corporation shareholder’s distributive or pro-rata share of income or loss on a Schedule K-1 or similar form. Instead, these taxes should continue to reduce the partner’s or shareholder’s distributive or pro-rata share of income.

New Entity-Level Taxes
Some state and local jurisdictions have enacted or are considering entity-level income tax on partnerships and S corporations, sometimes with a corresponding credit, deduction or exclusion for the owners. There is uncertainty as to whether the entity’s payment of such taxes must be taken into account in applying an owner’s SALT deduction limit.

The proposed regs will clarify that specified income tax payments are deductible by partnerships and S corporations in computing their non-separately stated income or loss.

Specified Income Tax Payments
A “specified income tax payment” is any amount paid by a partnership or an S corporation to satisfy the entity’s liability for income taxes imposed by and paid to a state, a state’s political subdivision, or the District of Columbia. This definition applies regardless of whether the tax results from an election by the entity, or whether an owner receives any deduction, exclusion or credit for the payment. Specified income tax payments do not include income taxes imposed by U.S. territories or their political subdivisions.

The partnership or S corporation can deduct specified income tax payments in computing taxable income for the year the payment is made. The specified income tax payments will be reflected in a partner’s or a shareholder’s distributive or pro-rata share of non-separately stated income or loss. Thus:

  • a specified income tax payment is not an item of deduction that a partner or shareholder takes into account separately in determining its own federal income tax liability; and
  • a specified income tax payment is not taken into account in applying the SALT deduction limitation to any individual partner or shareholder.

Life Expectancy and Distribution Period Tables for RMDs Updated

The IRS has issued final regulations to update the life expectancy and distribution period tables under the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules. The tables reflect the general increase in life expectancy. The tables would apply for distribution calendar years beginning on or after January 1, 2022, with transition relief.

RMDs apply to qualified plans, including 401(k) plans and profit sharing plans. They also apply to IRAs (including SEP and SIMPLE IRAs), inherited Roth IRAs, Tax Sheltered Annuity plans, and eligible deferred compensation plans. In general, RMDs must begin for the year the individual reaches age 72. An RMD for a calendar year is determined by dividing the participant’s account balance by the applicable distribution period.

Distribution periods are based on life expectancies and are found in one of three tables, depending on the circumstances:

  • During the employee’s lifetime (including year of death), the applicable distribution period is determined by the Uniform Lifetime Table. The figures in that table are the joint and last survivor life expectancy for the employee and a hypothetical beneficiary 10 years younger.
  • If an employee’s sole beneficiary is the employee’s surviving spouse and the spouse is more than 10 years younger than the employee, then the applicable distribution period is the joint and last survivor life expectancy of the employee and spouse under the Joint and Last Survivor Table.
  • After the employee’s death, the distribution period is generally based on the designated beneficiary’s age using the Single Life Expectancy Table.

Updated Tables
Distribution periods under the new rules would generally increase between one and two years. For example, a 72-year-old IRA owner who applied the prior Uniform Lifetime Table to calculate RMDs used a life expectancy of 25.6 years. Applying the new Uniform Lifetime Table, a 72-year-old IRA owner will use a life expectancy of 27.4 years to calculate RMDs. As another example, a 75-year-old surviving spouse who is the employee’s sole beneficiary and applied the prior Single Life Table to compute RMDs used a life expectancy of 13.4 years. Under these regulations, a 75-year-old surviving spouse will use a life expectancy of 14.8 years.

Retirees and beneficiaries would be able to withdraw slightly smaller amounts from their plans each year. They could leave amounts in tax-favored retirement accounts for a slightly longer period of time, to account for the possibility that they may live longer.

Applicability Date
The life expectancy tables and Uniform Lifetime Table under these regulations apply for distribution calendar years beginning on or after January 1, 2022. Thus, for an IRA owner who attained age 70.5 in February of 2020 (so that the individual attains age 72 in August of 2021 and the individual’s required beginning date is April 1, 2022), these regulations do not apply to the RMD for the individual’s 2021 distribution calendar year (which is due April 1, 2022) but will apply to the RMD for the individual’s 2022 distribution calendar year (which is due December 31, 2022).

These regulations include a transition rule that applies if an employee died before January 1, 2022, and, under the rules of Reg. §1.401(a)(9)-5, the distribution period that applies for calendar years following the calendar year of the employee’s death is equal to a single life expectancy calculated as of the calendar year of the employee’s death (or if applicable, the year after the employee’s death), reduced by one for each subsequent year.

IRS Releases 2021 Inflation-Adjusted Tax Tables, Standard Deduction, AMT and Other Amounts

The IRS has released the annual inflation adjustments for 2021 for the income tax rate tables, and for over 50 other tax provisions. The IRS makes these cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) each year to reflect inflation.

2021 Income Tax Brackets
For 2021, the highest income tax bracket of 37 percent applies when taxable income hits:

  • $628,300 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses,
  • $523,600 for single individuals and heads of households,
  • $314,150 for married individuals filing separately, and
  • $13,050 for estates and trusts.

2021 Standard Deduction
The standard deduction for 2021 is:

  • $25,100 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses,
  • $18,800 for heads of households, and
  • $12,550 for single individuals and married individuals filing separately.

The standard deduction for a dependent is limited to the greater of:

  • $1,100 or
  • the sum of $350 plus the dependent’s earned income.

Individuals who are blind or at least 65 years old get an additional standard deduction of:

  • $1,350 for married taxpayers and surviving spouses, or
  • $1,700 for other taxpayers.

AMT Exemption for 2021
The alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption for 2021 is:

  • $114,600 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses,
  • $73,600 for single individuals and heads of households,
  • $57,300 for married individuals filing separately, and
  • $25,700 for estates and trusts.

The exemption amounts begin to phase out when alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI) exceeds:

  • $1,047,200 for married individuals filing jointly and surviving spouses,
  • $523,600 for single individuals, heads of households, and married individuals filing separately, and
  • $85,650 for estates and trusts.

Expensing Section 179 Property in 2021
For tax years beginning in 2021, taxpayers can expense up to $1,050,000 in Code Sec. 179 property. However, this dollar limit is reduced when the Section 179 property placed in service during the year exceeds $2,620,000.

Estate and Gift Tax Adjustments for 2021
The following inflation adjustments apply to federal estate and gift taxes in 2021:

  • the gift tax exclusion is $15,000 per donee, or $159,000 for gifts to spouses who are not U.S. citizens;
  • the federal estate tax exclusion is $11,700,000; and
  • the maximum reduction for real property under the special valuation method is $1,190,000.

2021 Inflation Adjustments for Other Tax Items

The maximum foreign earned income exclusion amount in 2021 is $108,700.

The IRS also provided inflation-adjusted amounts for the:

  • adoption credit,
  • lifetime learning credit,
  • earned income credit,
  • excludable interest on U.S. savings bonds used for education,
  • various penalties, and
  • many other provisions.

Effective Date
These inflation adjustments generally apply to tax years beginning in 2021, so they affect most returns that will be filed in 2022. However, some specified figures apply to transactions or events in calendar year 2021.