Daily Tax Update - September 25, 2013: Senate Advances Short-Term Spending Bill

Senate Advances Short-Term Spending Bill:  Today, the Senate voted 100 to 0 to end debate on a motion to proceed to the House-passed government spending bill, which includes language to prioritize debt payments if Congress fails to raise the debt limit this fall.  The vote sets the stage for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to offer an amendment to strip the language defunding the Affordable Care Act.  The Senate bill would fund the government for only 45 days – until November 15.  There are likely enough Democrats in the Senate to pass Reid’s version, which would be sent back to the House for a vote.  Reid’s bill adopts the level set by the House, $986.3 billion, which continues current funding levels.  The continuing resolution passed last week by the House lasts until December 15.  The Senate must vote again on the actual motion to proceed to the stopgap spending measure.  A second cloture vote in the Senate could occur Friday. 

Reid said earlier, “They [Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA)] believe that a funding measure that runs through November 15 would provide a greater opportunity for appropriations bills to pass the Senate and I agree with them.  The amendment that I file in the next day or so will prevent a shutdown through November 15.”  Reid’s amended version would also strip out the language in the House that defunds the Affordable Care Act.  Reid added, “If we finish this on Sunday, send it back to the House, the House is talking about changing it again.  And that is a sure-fire way to shut down the government.”

Miscellaneous Guidance:
Notice 2013-65 announces the special per diem rates effective October 1, 2013, which taxpayers may use to substantiate the amount of expenses for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses when traveling away from home.  The rates are the special transportation industry rate, the rate for the incidental expenses only deduction, and the rates and list of high-cost localities for purposes of the high-low substantiation method. 

Notice 2013-61 provides guidance to employers and employees to make claims for refund or adjustments of overpayments of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes and Federal income tax withholding (employment taxes) resulting from the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 265 (2013) and the holdings of Rev. Rul. 2013-17, 2013-38 I.R.B. 201.  The notice also provides special administrative procedures that can be used by employers to claim refunds or make adjustments of overpayments of employment taxes paid with respect to same-sex spouse benefits for 2013, and also a special administrative procedure that can be used with respect to overpayments of FICA taxes for years before 2013. The special administrative procedures provided in the notice are optional,

Notice 2013-60 clarifies Notice 2013-29 regarding (i) the determination of whether a taxpayer satisfies either of those methods with respect to a facility, (ii) the applicability of the “master contract” provision in that notice, and (iii) the effect of a transfer of a facility after construction has begun.  (Notice 2013-29 provided two methods to determine when construction has begun on a qualified energy facility.)