The IRS has announced decreases in the standard mileage rates that taxpayers will use for calculating business, medical, and moving expenses in 2017. Use of the standard mileage rate is a popular alternative to using the actual expense method, which requires taxpayers to keep track of specific costs for maintenance, repairs, tires, gas, oil, insurance, etc.
According to the IRS, the standard mileage rate for use in calculating 2017 business travel expenses is 53.5¢, down from 54¢ in 2016. The new rate also applies where the employer maintains an “accountable” plan for reimbursing employees who use their own automobiles for business-related travel. Additionally, if an employee is provided with a company-owned vehicle for personal use, the employer may use the standard mileage rate to value the benefit.
The IRS also announced a reduction in the mileage rate applicable to medical travel. The new rate is 17¢, down from 19¢. Costs of medical travel are potentially deductible on Schedule A of Form 1040 where the taxpayer has had to travel for medical treatment.
The 2¢ reduction also applies to mileage claimed as moving expenses, decreasing this rate to 17¢. Allowable moving expenses may be taken as an “above-the-line” adjustment where the taxpayer has to move for a job that is at least 50 miles farther from his or her prior residence than the prior employment.
No reduction will apply to the rate allowed for any travel related to charitable work, which remains at 14¢ per mile. This rate is set by statute and is not inflation-adjusted.
Generally, the IRS adjusts the standard mileage rate annually, though it sometimes makes a midyear adjustment when gasoline prices have changed significantly.
The new standard mileage rate is in effect for all business, medical, and moving expenses incurred in 2017. If you have any questions about how the standard mileage rates apply in particular (or deducting travel expenses in general), let us know.
The IRS has released new guidance to help taxpayers avoid taxes and penalties for late rollovers of distributions from employer-sponsored retirement plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Ordinarily, such rollovers must be completed within 60 days to be considered valid. The new guidance establishes a process for taxpayers who miss the 60-day rollover window for any one of 11 different reasons to correct the error.
Generally, a taxpayer who wants to roll funds tax free from a workplace retirement plan or IRA into another plan or IRA has two options: (1) Arrange for a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer of the funds (without taking receipt of the money) or (2) take the distribution and deposit it with the new plan or IRA trustee within 60 days.
In the second case, failure to meet the 60-day deadline generally renders the rollover invalid and the distribution taxable. Also, for those under age 59½, an additional 10% penalty will generally apply unless the taxpayer can meet one of a number of narrow exceptions.
Prior to the new guidance, taxpayers had only two avenues of relief for late rollovers. One was an “automatic waiver,” which applies only if the financial institution is at
fault. Alternatively, the taxpayer could apply for a private letter ruling from the IRS, but the application fee for a ruling is $10,000.
New self-certification procedure
The new guidance offers a third avenue. It requires no application fee, but the taxpayer must complete the IRS’s model certification letter (or one substantially similar to it) and forward it to the receiving plan or IRA trustee.
In the letter, the taxpayer must certify that he or she missed the 60-day deadline for one of 11 specified reasons. These include — in addition to error by a financial institution — severe damage to the taxpayer’s principal residence, serious illness of the taxpayer or a family member, postal error, and a misplaced distribution check. In addition, the taxpayer must complete the rollover “as soon as practicable” — usually within 30 days — after the reason for the delay has ceased to apply.
Note that the IRS reserves the right to later challenge the rollover if it determines that the certification was not truthful or that the contribution was not made “as soon as practicable.”
Call us if we can help answer your rollover questions.