Thursday, July 26, 2018

House passes repeal of medical device tax

The House approved a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s medical device tax, along with a bill that prohibits the IRS from rehiring any employee who was fired for misconduct.
Implementation of the 2.3 percent excise tax has repeatedly been delayed by Congress ever since the passage of the ACA in 2010, in part thanks to lobbying by medical device manufacturers. The Senate isn’t expected to take up the bill before the end of the year, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, the latest moratorium on the tax means it won’t take effect until at least January 2020.

Repeal of the tax was supported across party lines, with a vote Tuesday of 283 to 132. Joining those in favor of repealing the tax were 57 Democrats.
“Minnesota’s innovators can breathe easier since we’re one step closer to ending the medical device tax for good,” said Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., who sponsored the bill, in a statement Tuesday. “Today’s vote shows strong bipartisan support for lifting this burden on innovators in an industry so important to Minnesota. I’m more optimistic than ever we’ll be successful in giving these job creators the certainty and predictability they need to thrive.”
Another bill passed by the House on Tuesday, the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act, would prohibit the IRS from rehiring any employee who was “involuntarily separated” from the agency for misconduct. The bill was passed unanimously by the House. It was sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D. “South Dakota taxpayers shouldn’t have to worry that someone who has already been fired for mismanaging their hard-earned dollars will be hired again,” Noem said in a statement Tuesday. “We need to know there is integrity in the IRS, and when they rehire people who have already mishandled our most sensitive data, that integrity is broken. This bill puts commonsense oversight provisions on the agency handling our personal information and makes sure people who don’t respect taxpayer resources don’t work at the IRS. I am hopeful the Senate will move quickly to put these practical protections in place.”
The House is also expected to take up legislation this week allowing taxpayers to pay for gym memberships, fitness classes, nonprescription over-the-counter drugs and menstrual care products with their health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, as well as roll over money from an FSA from one year to another.

Source: Written by: M. Cohn

Thursday, July 19, 2018

In new round of tax cuts, retirement changes seen as most likely to pass

Republicans are promising a comprehensive second round of tax cuts — but tax changes affecting retirement savings may be the only measures with enough political support to make it through Congress this year.
House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said Wednesday that he plans on releasing an outline of “Tax Reform 2.0” legislation next week to his committee members, which would include making the rate cuts for individuals permanent. Extending those cuts faces slim chances in the Senate, where it would need the support of at least nine Democrats to pass. The 2017 tax law passed without any Democratic votes.
Tweaks to retirement plans, however, are likely to garner bipartisan support, especially those related to small businesses. Brady told reporters he’s including a retirement-related bill in his draft that has the backing of Senators Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

The bill, called the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act, has “tremendous” support in the Senate, Wyden said. Still, he added that’s the only part of the tax cut plan Democrats would likely support, so its best chance of passing would be by carving it out from the broader legislation.
RESA is a bundle of small tax changes that seeks to increase options for workers to voluntarily save. The bill would make it easier for small businesses to join multiple employer plans, which would be a boon for gig workers. The bill also would give employers that sponsor traditional pension plans some relief from tax requirements that have led to the shuttering of those plans.
The 2017 tax law largely left retirement savings untouched despite talk about pushing savers to pay taxes up front and put their money in after-tax Roth retirement vehicles.
An extension of the tax cuts has been viewed as a House effort to score political points ahead of the November election. House Speaker Paul Ryan has pledged to vote on the legislation, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has only said he’ll consider it.
“You have to recognize the reality of the political timeline that we’re under. We’re going into midterm elections,” Representative Tom Reed, a New York Republican, told reporters Wednesday. “We are being the rabble-rousers that we typically are in the House trying to lead on these issues and drag the Senate along.”
Republicans had hoped to make all the tax cuts in their 2017 law permanent, but budget constraints meant the reductions for individuals and pass-through businesses, companies where the owners pay the taxes directly, will expire in 2026. The long runway means that Republicans could have several more opportunities to extend the bill ahead of the sunset date.
Source: via Bloomberg News

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Growth benefits of U.S. tax cuts may be overestimated: Fed study

U.S. growth expectations may be too rosy as analysts overestimate how much tax cuts will boost the economy, according to an economic letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
Analysts have forecast large increases in economic growth over the next two to three years following $1.5 trillion in corporate and personal tax cuts over the next decade. But recent research finds that such fiscal stimulus is less effective when the economy is expanding compared with its benefits when enacted during a recession.
“This suggests these forecasts may be overly optimistic,” economists Tim Mahedy and Daniel Wilson wrote in their note published Monday on the San Francisco Fed’s website. “The predominant research finding is that the fiscal multiplier is smaller during expansions than during recessions.” Wilson is vice president in the economic research department of the San Francisco Fed. Mahedy is a former associate economist in the department who recently joined Bloomberg Economics.

The authors ran down several recent papers that support this point:
• Spending multipliers were much smaller in expansions than recessions in a panel of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations.
• Microeconomic studies show that consumers spend more out of each extra dollar they earn during recessions.
• Marginal propensity to consume was 20 to 30 percent higher in the Great Recession than in other recent years, one paper found.
Source: Bloomberg News

Friday, July 6, 2018

The opportunities and challenges facing your entrepreneur clients

American entrepreneurship is on the rise. Based on a historical analysis of a subset of Paychex clients, in the first quarter of 2018, small business entrepreneurship was near its best pace since the recession. Odds are you’re seeing more entrepreneurs walk through your doors looking for financial guidance as they start and run their business, but are you aware of the current state of entrepreneurship, as well as the opportunities and barriers your clients face?
A new report by Paychex analyzes American entrepreneurship during the past decade and the state of small business today, including today’s business owners’ attitudes and perceptions of the current business environment.
Overall, the majority of business owners feel positively about the state of business as a whole. More than three quarters of small business owners (79 percent) would recommend starting a business today, and 71 percent of business owners describe today’s business environment as either better or the same compared to when they started their business. Most business owners (74 percent) cited the satisfaction of working for themselves as a reason they’d recommend starting a business today. However, the age and size of the business impacts business owners’ outlook:
• Business owners who started their company during or closely following the recession (four to nine years ago) were more likely (57 percent) to say the business environment is better today than when they started, compared to only 32 percent of those who started their companies 20 or more years ago.
• Eighty-one percent of business owners with 100 to 500 employees say the business environment is better today than when they started, compared to 46 percent of owners with one to 19 employees.
• Owners of larger businesses were also more likely to recommend starting a business today. Ninety-four percent of owners with 100 to 500 employees and 91 percent with 20 to 99 employees would recommend starting a business today compared to 78 percent of owners with one to 19 employees.
From an individual standpoint, business owners today also have a positive outlook on their future. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) are optimistic or very optimistic about their ability to make a profit, and 58 percent are optimistic or very optimistic about their prospects for growth. Half of business owners are optimistic or very optimistic about the U.S. economy, but they face some barriers to starting and running a business too:
• Ninety percent of business owners are at least slightly concerned about rising costs and 84 percent of business owners are at least slightly concerned about taxes.
• In today’s tightening labor market, 67 percent of business owners are at least slightly concerned with finding quality employees (30 percent are very concerned).
• Additionally, approximately 25 percent of business owners are at least somewhat pessimistic about their ability to hire and raise wages.
Each business owner seeks different outcomes from their entrepreneurial endeavors. Only 11 percent of business owners say rapid growth is their top priority at this time. The majority are happy to remain comfortably profitable or grow at a moderate rate.
• Remaining “comfortably profitable” was the top choice for male owners, owners in business 10 or more years, and owners age 50 or older.
• Growing at a “manageable rate” was the top response from female business owners, owners in business nine or fewer years, and owners 18 to 34 years old.
Knowing how today’s business owners are feeling and what they’re facing can help you as you advise them in starting and growing their business. Though business owners know that rising costs and taxes are impacting their business success, your expertise can guide them to best manage and plan for the expected and unexpected barriers they face. 
Source:, Written by: F. Fiorille