IRS LEAVES HSA RATES IN PLACE

Washington, D.C. - The Internal Revenue Service has left the 2011 inflation-adjusted amounts for health savings accounts unchanged from 2010, citing the Consumer Price Index.

In Revenue Procedure 2010-22, the IRS said that for calendar year 2011, the annual limitation for deductions for an individual with self-only coverage under a high-deductible health plan would remain $3,050. The annual limitation on deductions for an individual with family coverage would remain $6,150 in 2011.

For calendar year 2011, a high-deductible health plan is defined as a health plan with an annual deductible that is not less than $1,200 for self-only coverage or $2,400 for family coverage, and where the annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments and other amounts, but not premiums) do not exceed $5,950 for self-only coverage or $11,900 for family coverage.

TAX DEPARTMENTS FOCUSING MORE ON COMPLIANCE

Chicago - An overwhelming majority of senior financial executives say that their tax department's top priority is not tax savings or their effective rate, but timely and accurate tax return and financial reporting, according to a new survey by Grant Thornton.

Both Congress and the IRS have recently taken steps to beef up compliance tools for what they see as too much aggressive tax planning. The IRS is currently developing a tax return schedule that will force large corporations to list and disclose detailed information on any tax position that meets the IRS definition of "uncertain." And Congress just passed legislation that changes the rules and dramatically increases penalties for transactions that "lack economic substance."

But Grant Thornton's survey found that financial executives want their tax departments focused on compliance, not aggressive tax planning. Nearly two thirds (62 percent) said that their top priority is either timely and accurate financial reporting, or timely and accurate tax return preparation and compliance. Another 10 percent listed accurate tax risk assessment and appropriate management as the top priority. Just 12 percent ranked overall effective tax rate as the top priority and just 16 percent said that it was actual tax savings or deferrals.

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