New IRS resources on IRS.gov help businesses understand tax reform

Last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made significant changes to the tax law that affect small businesses. The IRS posted two new resources on IRS.gov to help taxpayers understand how these changes affect their bottom line.

Here are some details about these resources:

New publicationTax reform: What’s new for your business 
This electronic publication covers many of the TCJA provisions that are important for small and medium-sized businesses, their owners, and tax professionals to understand. This concise publication includes sections about:

  • Corporate tax provisions
  • Qualified business income deduction
  • Depreciation: Section 168 and 179 modifications
  • Business-related losses, exclusions and deductions
  • Business credits
  • S corporations
  • Farm provisions

New webpage: Tax Reform for Small Business
This one-stop shop highlights important tax reform topics for small businesses. Users can link to several resources, which are grouped by topic:

  • New deduction for qualified businesses
  • Withholding
  • Deductions, depreciation and expensing
  • Employer deduction for certain fringe benefits
  • Like-kind exchanges
  • Real estate rehabilitation tax credit
  • Changes in accounting periods and methods of accounting
  • Corporate methods of accounting
  • Blended federal income tax
  • Employer credit for paid family and medical leave
  • Farmers and ranchers

More information:
Tax Reform Small Business Initiative

Businesses can visit IRS.gov to find out how tax reform affects their bottom line

Business may find they have questions about how 2017’s tax reform legislation affects their organization and their bottom line. IRS.gov is a great place to find answers. Here are several pages on the IRS website that address tax reform. Businesses can bookmark these pages and check back often, as the IRS regularly updates them with new information.

Tax reform provisions that affect businesses
This is the main page for businesses. Users can link from this page out to more resources with additional information, which is organized in sections by topic. These sections include a plain language description and links to news releases, notices and other technical guidance. Here are a few of the main tax topics on this page and the subtopics highlighted in each section:

  • Income: taxation of foreign income, carried interest, and like-kind exchanges
  • Deductions and depreciation: fringe benefits, moving expenses, standard mileage rates, deduction for passthrough businesses, and business interest expenses
  • Credits: employer credit for paid family and medical leave, and the rehabilitation tax credit
  • Taxes: blended federal income tax and withholding
  • Accounting method changes
  • Opportunity zones

This page also includes information for specific industries, such as farming, insurance companies, and aircraft management services.

Tax reform resources
From this page, people can link to helpful products including news releases, tax reform tax tips, revenue procedures, fact sheets, FAQs and drop-in articles. Organizations can share these materials including the drop-in articles with employees, customers and volunteers to help them better understand tax reform.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: A comparison for businesses
This side-by-side comparison can help businesses understand the changes the new law made to previous law. It will help businesses then make decisions and plan accordingly. It covers changes to deductions, depreciation, expensing, tax credits, and other tax items that affect businesses.

Best Practices for Design Patents- Conclusion

By Debby Winters

We have discussed various aspects of design patents in this series of blog posts. In short, design patents should be considered to provide an alternative or additional means of protection for an invention, and generally have a lower cost, higher allowance rate, and faster timeline than utility applications. The guidelines outlined in this series should be considered when preparing an application for an ornamental design. However, you should always consult with a licensed patent attorney before moving forward with your application. We would be happy to serve as your patent attorney. Good luck!

Best Practices for Design Patents- Include Additional Embodiments

By Debby Winters

To continue our series of blog posts on design patents, in this post we will discuss including additional embodiments.  Similar concepts with slightly different modifications, such as certain features being shown in solid and broken lines, are considered additional embodiments and could be filed in the same application. The potential outcome of including additional embodiments in a design application that does not exist in a utility application is the potential for receiving a restriction requirement.  The Patent Office may or may not issue a restriction requirement, depending on how closely related the designs are. The subjectivity will also depend upon the particular Examiner assigned to your application. Including different embodiments allows different levels of protection for the same invention. There is no downside to including embodiments of different scope in the same application. The Patent Office will issue a restriction if warranted, and subsequent divisional applications can be filed that are directed to the restricted embodiments.

Alternatively, an Appendix including additional or related embodiments may be filed in the application. The Appendix will serve as support for future drawing amendments or continuation applications and should be canceled by the Examiner upon allowance of the application.

Best Practices for Design Patents- Use of Solid vs. Broken (Phantom) Lines

By Debby Winters

As we already discussed in this series of blog posts about design patents, the solid lines in the figures of a design patent application function to define the scope of the invention. Broken (sometimes called phantom) lines may be used to show the environment in which the article is used, but do not form a part of the invention. Therefore, if a product includes all the features shown in solid lines in a design patent, but not the features shown in broken lines, that product still infringes that design patent. Similarly, if a prior art reference shows the features in solid lines but not the broken lines of a design, that prior art reference can still anticipate the design patent application. An application that includes broken lines should include a paragraph in the specification indicating that the broken lines are for illustrative purposes only and form no part of the claimed design.

In addition, broken lines may be used to broaden the scope of the design patent in a continuation application. For example, a continuation application may convert originally disclosed solid line structure to broken lines. Since it is the solid lines that function to define the scope of the invention, replacing solid lines with broken lines necessarily broadens the scope of the design patent. Again, the importance of using an experienced draftsperson cannot be overemphasized.

Best Practices for Design Patents- Figure Views Should be Consistent

By Debby Winters

Many rejections received by applicants during the prosecution of a design patent application involve inconsistencies in the drawings. Design patents require a sufficient number of views to completely disclose the appearance of the invention. Most design patents require seven (7) views of the invention – front, rear, top, bottom, right side, left side, and at least one perspective view. These views must be consistent with each other so a full understanding of the design can be reached. Elements shown in each figure should be shown in all others, assuming that the element can be seen in that particular view. Solid and broken lines should be consistent as well. This is one reason it is critical to have a draftsperson who is experienced at design patent drawings.

Best Practices for Design Patents-Drawing Quality is Key

By Debby Winters

As mentioned last time, design patents protect only the ornamental characteristics of the design, which are the features shown in solid lines in the figures of the design patent application. Therefore, good quality drawings are essential, as they define the bounds of what exactly is protected. The design patent Examiner will require good quality drawings in order to grant the patent, but the quality of the drawings will also be important down the road if and when the scope of the patent is determined and the particular design being protected is interpreted. Use of a draftsperson that is familiar with the drawing requirements associated with design applications is essential. I often have engineers ask if they can prepare their own drawings. I allow this with utility applications but I required an experienced design patent draftsperson who has experience with design patents.