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S Corporations are Entity of Choice; 68% of S Corps Misreport

A recent IRS study shows that S corporation return filings (Form 1120S) increased dramatically and continue to be the most prevalent type of corporation filing. For Tax Year 2006, almost 2/3rds of all corporations filed a Form 1120S. The total number of returns filed by S corporations for Tax Year 2006 increased to nearly 3.9 million, from nearly 3.2 million reported in Tax Year 2002 and 722,444 in 1985. In 2006, there were 6.7 million S corporation shareholders. S corporations became the most common corporate entity type in 1997.

According to IRS data, about 68% of S corporation returns filed for tax years 2003 and 2004 (the years data were available) misreported at least one item. About 80% of the time, misreporting provided a tax advantage to the corporation and/or shareholder. The most frequent errors involved deducting ineligible expenses. Even though a majority of S corporations used paid preparers, 71% of those that did were noncompliant.

Reasonable compensation still an issue for S corporations – The GAO report also focused attention on the loophole that allows shareholders to reduce payroll taxes by reducing wage compensation. The IRS admitted that their efforts to enforce the adequate compensation rules for S corporation shareholders have been limited. For fiscal years 2006 through 2008, the IRS examined less than half of one percent of S corporations who filed.

Misreporting of shareholder basis is also a common problem, permitting shareholders to claim excess losses averaging $21,600 per taxpayer based on IRS audits for the period 2006 to 2008.

(Note: The above information was excerpted from Vern Hoven’s manual used in CPE Link’s Federal Tax Update: Part 4 webcast.) Webcasts are scheduled November-January. In Part 4, you’ll get an update on all corporate changes, partnership changes, and IRS audit issues.

Top 10 Tax Changes to Know Now

In March 2010, the President approved two huge pieces of tax legislation: the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Numerous tax provisions from these two bills take effect over the next several years. Will you be able to identify the tax changes that may impact your clients’ tax returns? Here’s a quick list of the things you will want to be familiar with.

1. Tax timeline in the health care reform act—when each provision takes effect. These are major tax changes spread over the next 8 years!

2. The additional Medicare Tax on unearned income and wages found in the new Health Bill (the hottest tax topic of the year)

3. How the Gillet case affects the tax return of a same-sex couple. Is filing “Married Filing Joint” permitted?

4. The 5 tests for qualifying a child as a dependent and who can claim the child after a divorce.

5. The new rules for basis reporting starting in 2011 (Form 1099-B).

6. Cancellation of debt (and exceptions to COD Income (Section 108).

7. The myriad adjustments to gross income such as health savings accounts and prepaid tuition accounts.

8. Changes to itemized deductions including the new charitable contribution rules, the home mortgage rules and medical expenses.

9. Features and effective dates for the American Opportunity Tax Credit (Hope Credit) and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

10. The over 60 provisions that expire at the end of 2010; Ordinary income tax rates, capital gains rates, EIC, child tax credit, dependent care credit, limit on itemized deductions and exemptions, etc. will all revert to 2001 law.

Need help pulling all the information together? Get the details on these and other issues related to individual income taxes in Part 1 of CPE Link’s Federal Tax Update webcasts scheduled November-January. Course includes 120 page downloadable manual containing hyperlinks to applicable code sections.