Officials said the rules would allow millions of businesses to file their 2018 taxes with certainty over whether they qualify for the break. A companion regulation issued Friday would affect owners of rental properties and some people who rent out rooms.
WASHINGTON — Shrugging off the limitations of the partial government shutdown, the Trump administration finalized rules Friday governing who can claim a new 20 percent tax deduction for business owners.
Officials said the rules will allow millions of businesses to file their 2018 taxes with certainty over whether they qualify for the break.
The deduction for pass-through businesses was a central feature of the sweeping tax-cut legislation that President Donald Trump signed at the end of 2017. The vast majority of American small businesses are organized as pass-throughs, whose profits are divided up among owners and taxed as individual income. Many financial firms and real estate companies — including hundreds that are under the umbrella of the Trump Organization — are also set up as pass-throughs.
The regulation includes several changes from a proposal the Treasury Department issued in August. It now allows certain mutual-fund holders to benefit from the deduction if they have holdings in a real estate trust. It also provides far greater detail on the type of service businesses that are excluded from claiming the deduction above a certain income threshold. The law’s drafters have said that limitation was meant to prevent certain high-earning individuals, such as lawyers, from reclassifying individual income as pass-through income, in order to reduce their tax bills.
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Some of those details appear likely to disappoint business leaders who urged the Treasury Department to broaden the definition of what sorts of companies qualify for the full deduction. Major League Baseball owners, for example, had pushed to be eligible after the draft regulations excluded them.
A companion regulation issued Friday would allow owners of rental properties to claim the deduction provided they keep certain records and perform 250 hours a year of “rental services” on the property — either by themselves or by hiring someone to do it. Those guidelines would appear to allow some Americans who rent rooms or other property through sites such as Airbnb to qualify.
Treasury is one of the agencies where funding has lapsed during the government shutdown, meaning its employees are either furloughed or working without pay. The department has recalled tens of thousands of workers to process tax refunds and aid taxpayers during tax filing season, which is scheduled to open at month’s end.