A Tax Cut and Jobs Act Call for Guidance on Implementing the 20% Qualified Business Income Deduction

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the Act), enacted December 22, 2017, provided many taxpayer-friendly benefits, including a 20% deduction against flow-through income from certain qualifying businesses.  Much has been discussed and written about the need for additional guidance (see Our Thoughts On article from February 12) necessary to allow taxpayers (and their advisors) to interpret and apply the new rules.  At the same time, the guidance needs to facilitate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administration of the law effectively and efficiently. 

The rules surrounding the new deduction are complex, do not affect all types of business equally, and leave undefined terms and concepts necessary to calculate the deduction.  However, it has been three months since the Act’s signing, and there has been very little substantive guidance issued, leaving taxpayers frustrated.  The IRS has communicated that guidance would be available by the end of June.  Given the task ahead of them, though, query whether that goal is realistic.  

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, in a letter addressed to the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and Principal Deputy Chief Counsel at the IRS and dated February 21, 2018, called for specific detailed guidance on:

  • The definition of Qualified Business Income (QBI);
  • How businesses may be aggregated in the calculation of QBI;
  • The impact of losses from flow-through business on QBI;
  • Whether wages paid by related-party employee leasing companies are utilized in the determination of QBI;
  • The application of the rules to pass-through entities with fiscal years ending in 2018; and
  • The availability of deductions for Electing Small Business Trusts.

On March 19, a coalition called “Parity for Main Street Employers” (the coalition) delivered a letter to the Treasury and IRS calling for similar guidance in certain areas.  The coalition is a group representing a wide range of Trade Groups including the National Automobile Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the S Corporation Association.  They requested that Treasury and IRS use their regulatory authority to adopt reasonable methods for calculating the new 20% pass-through deduction, so businesses are not penalized in how they choose to organize their business operations.  More specifically, the group is requesting guidance for (1) allowing taxpayers to group activities conducted through S corporations and partnerships, and (2) permitting businesses with existing groups under the Passive Activity rules of the Internal Revenue Code to reorganize those groups to reflect the new law. 

Guidance needs to be issued as soon as possible so that taxpayers can plan to utilize, and benefit from, the law as Congress intended.  Until that time, the tax professional community cannot be certain whether the IRS will interpret ambiguous provisions in the law broadly or narrowly and whether those interpretations will be favorable or unfavorable to taxpayers.  However, whether that guidance is ultimately forthcoming or not, the Schneider Downs’ tax professionals will be there to guide you. 

You’ve heard our thoughts… We’d like to hear yours

The Schneider Downs Our Thoughts On blog exists to create a dialogue on issues that are important to organizations and individuals. While we enjoy sharing our ideas and insights, we’re especially interested in what you may have to say. If you have a question or a comment about this article – or any article from the Our Thoughts On blog – we hope you’ll share it with us. After all, a dialogue is an exchange of ideas, and we’d like to hear from you. Email us at contactSD@schneiderdowns.com.

Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.

© 2020 Schneider Downs. All rights-reserved. All content on this site is property of Schneider Downs unless otherwise noted and should not be used without written permission.

our thoughts on

What to Expect During a Sale Transaction
Coronavirus, Tax BY Jacob Clark
Ohio Unemployment Benefits for Self-Employed and 1099-Misc Filers
Individual Tax Planning Under COVID-19
IRS Announces 2019 Marginal Well Credit
Cash Flow and Liquidity Planning Opportunities
Are You Prepared for the Next Stage of Your Business?

Register to receive our weekly newsletter with our most recent columns and insights.

Have a question? Ask us!

We’d love to hear from you. Drop us a note, and we’ll respond to you as quickly as possible.

Ask us

contact us

Map of Pittsburgh Office

One PPG Place, Suite 1700
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

p:412.261.3644     f:412.261.4876

Map of Columbus Office

65 East State Street, Suite 2000
Columbus, OH 43215

p:614.621.4060     f:614.621.4062

Map of Washington Office
Washington, D.C.

1660 International Drive, Suite 600
McLean, VA 22102