The short-term highway funding extension passed by the Senate on Thursday contains several important tax provisions (H.R. 3236). The bill was passed by the House of Representatives, 385–34, on Wednesday, and it now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. [Update: The president signed the bill into law on Friday, July 31.] The bill modifies the due dates for several common tax returns, overrules the Supreme Court’s Home Concrete decision, requires that additional information be reported on mortgage information statements, and requires consistent basis reporting between estates and beneficiaries.
Due date modifications
The act sets new due dates for partnership and C corporation returns, as well as FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), and several other IRS information returns.
For partnership returns, the new due date is March 15 (for calendar-year partnerships) and the 15th day of the third month following the close of the fiscal year (for fiscal-year partnerships). (Currently, these returns are due on April 15, for calendar-year partnerships.) The act directs the IRS to allow a maximum extension of six months for Forms 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income.
For C corporations, the new due date is the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the corporation’s year. (Currently, these returns are due on the 15th day of the third month following the close of the corporation’s year.)
Corporations will be allowed a six-month extension, except that calendar-year corporations would get a five-month extension until 2026 and corporations with a June 30 year end would get a seven-month extension until 2026.
The new due dates will apply to returns for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015. However, for C corporations with fiscal years ending on June 30, the new due dates will not apply until tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2025.
These new due dates are generally ones that the AICPA and state CPA societies have been advocating for several years to create a more logical flow of information and help taxpayers and tax professionals in filing timely and accurate tax returns. Under the current due dates, taxpayers and practitioners often have insufficient time to prepare returns because required information from a flowthrough business is not available before the taxpayer’s income tax return is due. AICPA President and CEO Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, expressed the Institute’s support for due date changes in the act.
The act directs the IRS to modify its regulations to allow a maximum extension of 51/2 months on Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts; 31/2 months on Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan; and six months on Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, Form 4720, Return of Certain Excise Taxes Under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code, Form 5227, Split-Interest Trust Information Return, Form 6069, Return of Excise Tax on Excess Contributions to Black Lung Benefit Trust Under Section 4953 and Computation of Section 192 Deduction, Form 8870, Information Return for Transfers Associated With Certain Personal Benefit Contracts, and Form 3520-A, Annual Information Return of a Foreign Trust With a U.S. Owner.
The due date for FinCEN Form 114 is changed from June 30 to April 15, and for the first time taxpayers will be allowed a six-month extension.
The due date for Form 3520, Annual Return to Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts, will be April 15 for calendar-year filers, with a maximum six-month extension.
Additional information on returns relating to mortgage interest
Sec. 6050H is amended to require new information on the mortgage information statements that are required to be sent to individuals who pay more than $600 in mortgage interest in a year. These statements will now be required to report the outstanding principal on the mortgage at the beginning of the calendar year, the address of the property securing the mortgage, and the mortgage origination date. This change applies to returns and statements due after Dec. 31, 2016.
Consistent basis reporting between estate and beneficiaries
The act amends Sec. 1014 to mandate that anyone inheriting property from a decedent cannot treat the property as having a higher basis than the basis reported by the estate for estate tax purposes. It also creates a new Sec. 6035, which requires executors of estates that are required to file an estate tax return to furnish information returns to the IRS and payee statements to any person acquiring an interest in property from the estate.
These statements will identify the value of each interest in property acquired from the estate as reported on the estate tax return. The new basis reporting provisions apply to property with respect to which an estate tax return is filed after the date of enactment.
Overruling Home Concrete in cases of overstated basis
In Home Concrete & Supply, LLC, 132 S. Ct. 1836 (2012), the Supreme Court held that the extended six-year statute of limitation under Sec. 6501(e)(1)(A), which applies when a taxpayer “omits from gross income an amount properly includible” in excess of 25% of gross income, does not apply when a taxpayer overstates its basis in property it has sold.
In response to this decision, the act amends Sec. 6501(e)(1)(B) to add this language: “An understatement of gross income by reason of an overstatement of unrecovered cost or other basis is an omission from gross income.” The change applies to returns filed after the date of enactment as well as previously filed returns that are still open under Sec. 6501 (determined without regard to the amendments made by the act).
—Alistair M. Nevius (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the JofA’s editor-in-chief, tax.