The sweeping 2017 tax reform measure has brought many new nuances that accountants must address.
Among other changes, the bill cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent beginning in 2018
It did a few other things that firms like Moss Adams LLP, which counts more CPAs than any other firm operating in Oregon, have crunched. We asked Steve Fein, the Portland office’s managing partner (Moss Adams is based in Seattle), to recap some of the new rules, as well as weigh in on the state of local accounting and commerce.
What are some of the things you’re, very early into the process, seeing or hearing about as effects from the bill emerge? There are several impacts we’re seeing. First, there’s a tremendous amount of interest and activity around Opportunity Zones/Funds, both from people who want to defer gains into Opportunity Funds and from developers planning properties inside Opportunity Zones. Second, businesses are wrestling with the impact of the 30 percent business interest limitation, including refinancing efforts to lower interest burden as well as attempting to raise capital to lower total debt burden. Finally, businesses are in the process of working through the changes to deductibility and tax impacts of meals and entertainment and certain fringe benefits such as employer provided parking, among others.
What should Oregon businesses be watching for as you work with them on their taxes this year? An increase in the amount of information they may need to provide us to properly prepare their returns this year compared to prior years. In addition, they should expect to have even deeper conversations going forward, as there are many decisions to be made in the current year to conform with new rules and take advantage of new opportunities.
Besides the 2017 bill, what other new rules should Oregon businesses know about as they prepare their returns? In addition to federal changes, Oregon businesses are dealing with major changes occurring at the state level in 2018 as well. This includes Oregon’s adoption of market-based sourcing of revenue and the biggest change in state law in a long time: the Supreme Court’s decision in the Wayfair case [which ruled that states can charge taxes on purchases made from out-of-state sellers even if those sellers have no physical presence in that state]. We expect Wayfair to have implications not only in the intended area of sales tax collection, but also expect it to have state income tax filing implications over time. Finally, we are closely monitoring the planning process surrounding proposed Oregon income tax reform with next steps likely to come soon.
Moss Adams has long had a strong presence here. How has the Portland business climate changed in the last 20 years? The business community has gone through a revolution of sorts in the last 20 years. We have seen significant growth and strength in organizations that support the community, including Oregon Business & Industry, the Portland Business Alliance, the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and Technology Association of Oregon, to name a few. That additional support has increased the number of startup companies. Those new businesses have added to the fabric of the community and taken their place alongside more established businesses. As support and relationships have broadened, ownership structures and owner profiles have changed dramatically over that time period, driving significant growth and renewed macro-economic relevance of our market and community.
Are you seeing an uptick in clients, revenue, or any other noteworthy marker? Major trends we’re seeing include a broader realization among businesses and individuals on how to utilize CPAs as essential business and personal advisors to reach their broader goals and objectives beyond traditional tax and accounting needs.