California Tax Law Blog

Good News for the Cannabis Industry?

As recently discussed here, the current state of the law allows business owners in the cannabis industry to take certain deductions on their state income tax returns, but not on their federal tax returns. That may soon change. The House Judiciary Committee approved the MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) yesterday; now the bill will be reviewed by the House. If passed, marijuana will be removed from the list of federally controlled substances allowing business deductions for California cannabis business owners at the federal level. The bill provides for a 5% tax on marijuana products to fund programs to help people impacted by the "war on drugs."

OTA Reverses FTB Assessment of Out-of-State Contractor Income

The California Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) recently reversed a Franchise Tax Board (FTB) proposed assessment of a Texas-based independent contractor working for a California-based company. The OTA found that income reported to the contractor on a Form 1099-MISC did not have a California source because the end clients were located out-of-state, and therefore the contractor had no requirement to file a nonresident California return. To read the decision in full, click here.

How Will California's AB 5 Affect My Business?

Following the California Supreme Court decision in Dynamex Operations v. Superior Court, 4 Cal. 5th 903 (2018), which identified the "ABC Test" for worker classification for the purposes of California's wage and hour determinations under the IWC Wage Orders, and now with the passage and signing into law of Assembly Bill 5 (Gonzales) (2019 Cal ALS 296, 2018 Cal AB 5, 2019 Cal Stats. ch. 296.), which extended the Dynamex ABC Test to apply in workers' compensation insurance and EDD payroll tax determinations of status, we have been inundated with questions and issues arising out of these significant changes to California worker classification law. I have also noticed that California businesses and some experienced California practitioners are misinformed, or simply mistaken, about some elements of AB 5 and its potential effects on California businesses, independent contractors, and employees.

IRS Announces 2020 Annual Inflation Adjustments For Over 60 Tax Provisions

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced changes to tax rate schedules and certain tax provisions to adjust for inflation in tax year 2020. The standard deduction for taxpayers who are married filing jointly will increase to $24,800; for taxpayers who are single or married filing separately, the deduction will increase to $12,400; and for taxpayers who are heads of households, the deduction will increase to $18,650. The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2020 will increase to $72,900 and begin to phase out at $518,400 (for married couples filing jointly, these amounts increase to $113,400 and $1,036,800, respectively).

FTB Top Tax Debtors Owe California Over $581 Million

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently published its updated lists of California's top 500 individual and top 500 business tax debtors, who now collectively owe the state more than $581 million in income tax. Since October 2007, this list is updated twice annually. Taxpayers who receive notice of the FTB's intent to include them on the list and then make arrangements to pay their tax debt are removed from the publication.

California Establishes Individual Healthcare Mandate Penalty Beginning January 1, 2020

While the federal penalty for failure by individuals to access health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) was eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, several states, including California, have instituted similar penalties. In California, Assembly Bill 414 (AB 414) (Bonta, Chaptered October 12, 2019) which takes effect on January 1, 2020, requires Californians to have qualifying health insurance coverage throughout the year.

Cannabis Businesses Can Now Deduct Expenses on California Tax Returns

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed AB 37 into law, which legalizes licensed state cannabis businesses including marijuana growers, processors, and sellers to take deductions for their business expenses on state income tax returns. It exempts these businesses from federal law section 280E, which categorizes cannabis sales under the "illegal sale of drugs" and therefore prohibits these businesses from writing off expenses as any other business would. To read AB 37 in full, click here.

Californian Sentenced to Nearly 2 Years in Prison for Failing to Report Offshore Accounts on Federal Tax Returns

Teymour Khoubian, a businessman based in Southern California, was recently sentenced to 21 months in prison for filing false tax returns that failed to report his offshore accounts in Germany and Israel from 2005 through 2011, representing a total tax loss to the U.S. of about $1.2 million. In addition to the prison sentence, Khoubian was ordered to pay over $600,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and penalties of over $7 million.

IRS Issues Guidance on Taxation of Virtual Currency Blockchain Transactions

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued guidance for taxpayers who transact in virtual currency. Revenue Ruling 2019-24 (available here) addresses when distributions of new currency following a soft or hard fork will be a taxable event to the holder of the currency. The IRS also expanded its FAQ page on virtual currency transactions (here).

CDTFA to Hold Interested Parties Meeting on the Marketplace Facilitator Act

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) recently released its Initial Discussion Paper for the Interested Parties Meeting it is hosting on October 15, 2019, in Sacramento to discuss and clarify the Marketplace Facilitator Act established in April by Assembly Bill 147. The main goal of the meeting is to determine what, if any, regulations may be adopted to make new registration requirements clear for business owners.

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For more information about our tax law services, or to discuss your tax matter, call our Sacramento office at (916) 488-8501 or toll free at (800) 684-7147. You may also send us an inquiry via email.

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