2020 Tax Season
A staff meeting to start another tax season is a smart idea, whether your staff simply includes your spouse and an admin, or rather partners, preparers, reviewers, and bookkeepers. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) included more than 100 changes to our individual and business returns, including the important QBI deduction. Communicating updated information to all staff who deal with returns is crucial. One year, I discovered that my most valuable team member didn’t know what I assumed was a simple “everyone-knows- that” change. Errors resulted from my assumptions, and I quickly understood the necessity of starting the season in near-perfect alignment with my staff.
STAFF MEETING AGENDA – 14 TALKING POINTS
- Review the new and improved 2019 Form 1040 and its attached schedules 1 through 3. The IRS worked on making the 2019 Form 1040 better than its 2018 Form 1040 postcard (just about anything would have been better). Discuss office policy on using the new Form 2019-SR (a short form for seniors).
- Discuss how the review of the final return will change because of changes to 2019 Form 1040.
- Make sure your staff knows that a question on virtual currency transactions has been added by the IRS to the top of Form 1040, schedule 1. And, don’t forget about the foreign asset question on the bottom of the Schedule B.
- Review the new QBI deduction Form 8995 and Form 8995-A (and its four schedules). Take the time to review the IRS FAQs on the QBI deduction.
- Review the “What’s New for 2019″ section of instructions for 2019 Forms 1120S, and 1065, especially noting where the QBI information is reported on the 2019 Form K-1.
- Review the “What’s New for 2019″ section of the tax software manual and discuss problem input forms from the prior year, especially noting how the 2019 QBI information is input to the software.
- Review required elections and locate the software input sheet for each. Important elections include, but are not limited to: (1) grouping election for real estate professionals and business activities, (2) $2,500 de minimis election for business and rental property expenditures, (3) small taxpayer, small building 2% election, (4) opt-out election for streamlined audit of partnerships and LLCs, (5) the aggregation election for QBI, (6) the 250-hour safe harbor election for QBI and rental real estate, (7) and more.
- Search for AMT credit carryovers. Since most clients will not be subject to AMT after TCJA, their carryover credits will be valuable. Form 8801 should show any accumulated AMT credits, but prior year returns need to be analyzed carefully to avoid loss of these valuable credits.
- Review ACA provisions including (1) premium tax credit and Forms 8962 and 1095-A, and (2) Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. Especially watch for the “income cliff” that can result in the loss of the entire premium tax credit.
- Review EIC, child tax credit, American Opportunity and head of household filing status due diligence Form 8867. Especially discuss what goes on line 5.
- Clients may need help revising their 2020 Form W-4. Review available office software in order to streamline the preparation of 2020 W-4s.
- Establish and update office rules for seeing documentation on contributions, mortgage interest, and business mileage and meal records.
- Review 2019-2020 engagement letter and update and review record retention policy for the office and for the client.
- Review retroactive extender provisions and pension and IRA reform changes included in new last minute tax legislation. (Comprehensive Webcast here.)
AND… review your notes of important items from the Western CPE tax update class you attended and invite staff to share notes on the classes they took.