2023 Hot Topics in CPE for Tax Professionals

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Each new year brings various changes to the tax landscape, from laws and regulations to technological advancements, and staying current on the latest developments is critical for providing clients with superior advice and services. With that in mind, let's look at some of the hottest topics in CPE for tax professionals, in 2023. 

Choosing CPE for tax professionals in 2023 

To keep up with business trends and changes in the tax code, CPE courses are an invaluable resource for tax practitioners looking to stay ahead of the curve. To help guide your learning journey in 2023, we've curated a list of some of the most critical continuing education credit topics. 

Taxation for cannabis sellers and investors 

Familiarity with the cannabis industry is becoming increasingly important for tax professionals for two reasons. First, the fast-paced legalization of cannabis across states is leading to a rise in businesses and investors who require specialized tax services. These taxpayers operate in a unique legal environment, where state laws permitting business operations conflict with federal laws that still classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug—although the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recommended that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I narcotic to Schedule III on the Controlled Substances Acti

Second, the cannabis industry faces specific challenges like banking restrictions and complex regulatory frameworks. Understanding these challenges allows tax professionals to provide informed advice and innovative solutions, delivering value to their clients. Whether you practice in one of the 38 statesii that have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal use or not, gaining knowledge about the cannabis industry's operation and its challenges is no longer a niche skill but an essential competency for tax advisers in the current landscape. 

Recommended CPE for tax professionals: Understanding the Tax Implications of the Legal Marijuana Industry 

Reasonable compensation 

Reasonable compensation for S Corporation shareholders is a pressing topic for tax professionals in 2023. With the growing popularity of S Corporation structures due to their distinct tax advantages, the issue of what constitutes 'reasonable compensation' for shareholder-employees has become more complex. 

The IRS scrutinizes the salaries paid to shareholder-employees closely, as underpayment of wages can result in significant tax savings for the corporation and its shareholders. This can lead to audits and disputes between these entities and the IRS. As tax professionals, understanding the factors determining reasonable compensation and the potential implications of non-compliance is crucial. This knowledge allows trusted advisors to provide strategic advice to taxpayers, helping them avoid unnecessary disputes with the IRS and ensuring they comply with the tax laws.

Recommended CPE for tax professionals: S Corporations from A to Z – Getting Ready to Prepare the S Corp Return 

Tax updates 

Staying informed about the annual tax update, including changes to the standard deduction and tax credits, plays a significant role in tax planning and compliance. Each year, the IRS announces inflation adjustments to amounts embedded in federal tax law which can directly impact taxpayers' liability. For instance, reducing the standard deduction could alter a taxpayer's decision to itemize deductions or take the standard deduction. 

It’s especially important to be aware of updates as many changes put into place by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 are due to sunset in 2025iii— just two years from now. Those provisions include: 

  • Individual tax rates reverting to their 2017 levels 
  • The standard deducting being roughly cut in half 
  • The return of the personal exemption 
  • A cut to the Child Tax Credit 
  • A reduced estate tax exemption 
  • Elimination of the 20% tax deduction for pass-through businesses 
  • Removal of the $10,000 cap on the state and local income tax deduction 

Choosing timely CPE ensures improved awareness and understanding these coming changes and provides the knowledge necessary to proactively adapt to changes and maximize tax savings for their clients. 

Recommended CPE for tax professionals: Annual Federal Tax Update 2024 (for the 2023 Filing Season) 

International tax 

International tax has evolved from a niche specialization to one that more professionals need to stay on top of. With globalization rapidly integrating economies worldwide, businesses are expanding their operations beyond national borders more than ever. This expansion brings with it a variety of regulatory and legislative changes, including double taxation, transfer pricing, and compliance with diverse tax laws in various jurisdictions. 

Tax professionals must thoroughly understand withholding rules on payments for foreign workers, U.S. and international transfer pricing rules, passive foreign investment companies, and income sourcing rules. Tax preparers equipped with knowledge of international tax issues are well-positioned to guide taxpayers through the complex landscape of global taxation, ensuring compliance and minimizing potential risks. 

Recommended CPE for tax professionals: Intro to International: Foreign Tax Credit 

Taxation of student loan forgiveness 

Understanding how student loan forgiveness affects their clients tax return is also a hot topic for continuing education credits in 2023. 

Federal tax law generally treats forgiven debt as taxable income, but the American Rescue Plan Act included a measure exempting canceled student loan debt from taxation through 2025iv. However, states have individual rules and guidelines related to whether debt forgiveness is taxed. Understanding these nuances ensures tax preparers can provide accurate and timely advice to clients. Up-to-date and timely CPE can help tax preparers stay informed and prepared as states release guidance on the tax treatment of forgiven student loan debt.

Recommended CPE for tax professionals: Critical coverage of tax provisions in post-CARES COVID-19 legislation

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