As the Tax Extenders bill languishes in Congress, another band-aid bill, the short term extension of the mass transit and highway funding bill, quickly made its way through the red tape. The bill was introduced in the House on July 28, 2105 and passed on July 29, 2015. The bill passed in the Senate without amendment on July 30, 2015, before heading to the President for signature on July 31, 2015.
The purpose of the bill, referred to as the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, was to grant additional infrastructure spending. Transportation funds were slated to run out on Friday but were extended, as a result of the new law, through October 29, 2015. Failed ideas for boosting funding ranged from raising the gas tax to selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; the eventual result was a short term spending bill.
With highway transportation expenses as the focus of the bill, it, of course, made sense that Congress would take advantage of the opportunity to change many tax return due dates, tax extension lengths and statutes of limitations. Okay, maybe it didn’t make sense. But Congress did it anyway. Tucked into the new law are a number of significant revenue provisions. Here are the highlights (in the order they appear):
Modification of Mortgage Reporting Requirements. Section 6050H of the Tax Code is amended to require new information on forms 1098 (you’ll recognize these as the forms lenders are required to send to borrowers who pay more than $600 in mortgage interest in a tax year). Those forms will now be required to report the amount of the outstanding principal on the mortgage at the beginning of the calendar year, the date the mortgage originated, and the address of the property securing the mortgage. These changes will show up in 2017: the due date applies to statements furnished after December 31, 2016.
Consistent Basis Reporting Between Estate and Person Acquiring Property From Decedent. To resolve differences between cost basis as reported by estates and beneficiaries, the new law requires that inherited property cannot have a higher basis than the basis reported by the estate for estate tax purposes (those of you familiar with alternate valuation dates, or AVD, could easily see how this might happen). To make sure that an accurate basis is easily ascertainable, the law also adds a new section, Section 6035, which requires the executor of an estate responsible for filing an estate tax return to also provide information returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to those persons receiving the inherited property. The new changes apply to any estate tax return filed after the date of the new law.
Clarification of 6 Year Statute Of Limitations In Cases Of Overstatement Of Basis. The IRS lost in U.S. v. Home Concrete & Supply, LLC, 132 S. Ct. 1836 (2012) when the Supreme Court held that the three year statute of limitations applied in matters of capital gains and overstatement of basis. The question was raised at the Supreme Court level because of an ambiguity in the statute with the government taking the position that overstatement of basis constituted an understatement of income sufficient to extend the statute; the Court disagreed. To fix this, three years later, the statute has been amended to make it clear that an understatement related to unrecovered cost or other basis “is an omission from gross income.” The change applies to returns filed after the date of the new law and any other returns for which the statute has not yet run.