Tax Updates from Washington (October 2018)

State and local tax deduction workarounds rejected. The workarounds to the new federal cap on deductions for state and local taxes (“SALT”) are not likely to be effective, according to proposed regulations issued by the IRS in late August. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Trump in December 2017, capped the SALT deduction at $10,000 for taxpayers who itemize their deductions. As a workaround, several states (including New Jersey and New York) have permitted municipalities to establish charitable foundations to collect property taxes, thus allowing residents to claim a charitable deduction for the property taxes paid, and the states have enacted state tax credits for such charitable donations. However, the IRS has indicated that these strategies will not work to the full extent envisioned by state and local leaders. The proposed regulations provide that taxpayers who itemize deductions shall be eligible for a federal deduction that equals only a small fraction of the state tax credits for such charitable donations. Local leaders have vowed to challenge these new regulations.

Income tax deductions for trusts and estates confirmed. The Treasury stated in Notice 2018-61 (issued on July 13, 2018) that trusts and estates are entitled to income tax deductions for administration expenses paid solely as a result of being an estate or trust. This guidance was necessary to explain the impact on trusts and estates of Internal Revenue Code Section 67(g), which was added as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The new Code section suspends miscellaneous itemized deductions for individuals for tax years 2018 through 2025. Notice 2018-61 clarifies that trusts and estates may continue to deduct certain administration expenses, and states that Treasury intends to issue regulations confirming this position. Regulations will also be issued regarding the deductibility of such expenses for the individual beneficiaries of trusts and estates in the final year of administration, when deductions are typically passed through to the beneficiaries.

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