Do you and your spouse together operate a profitable unincorporated small business? If so, you face some challenging tax issues.
An unincorporated business with your spouse is classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes, unless you can avoid that treatment. Otherwise, you must file an annual partnership return, on Form 1065. In addition, you and your spouse must be issued separate Schedule K-1s, which allocate the partnership’s taxable income, deductions and credits between the two of you. This is only the beginning of the unwelcome tax compliance tasks.
The SE tax is how the government collects Social Security and Medicare taxes from self-employed individuals. For 2023, the SE tax consists of 12.4% Social Security tax on the first $160,200 of net SE income plus 2.9% Medicare tax. Once your 2023 net SE income surpasses the $160,200 ceiling, the Social Security tax component of the SE tax ends. But the 2.9% Medicare tax component continues before increasing to 3.8% — thanks to the 0.9% additional Medicare tax — if the combined net SE income of a married joint-filing couple exceeds $250,000.
With your joint Form 1040, you must include a Schedule SE to calculate SE tax on your share of the net SE income passed through to you by your spousal partnership. The return must also include a Schedule SE for your spouse to calculate the tax on your spouse’s share of net SE income passed through to him or her. This can result in a big SE tax bill.
For example, let’s say you and your spouse each have net 2023 SE income of $150,000 ($300,000 total) from your profitable 50/50 partnership business. The SE tax on your joint tax return is a whopping $45,900 ($150,000 x 15.3% x 2). That’s on top of regular federal income tax.
Strategy 1: Use an IRS-approved method to minimize SE tax in a community property state
Under IRS Revenue Procedure 2002-69, for federal tax purposes, you can treat an unincorporated spousal business in a community property state as a sole proprietorship operated by one of the spouses. By effectively allocating all the net SE income to the proprietor spouse, only the first $160,200 of net SE income is hit with the 12.4% Social Security tax. That can cut your SE tax bill.
Strategy 2: Convert a spousal partnership into an S corporation and pay modest salaries
If you and your unincorporated spousal business aren’t in a community property state, consider converting the business to S corporation status to reduce Social Security and Medicare taxes. That way, only the salaries paid to you and your spouse get hit with the Social Security and Medicare tax, collectively called FICA tax. You can then pay modest, but reasonable, salaries to you and your spouse as shareholder-employees while paying out most or all remaining corporate cash flow to yourselves as FICA-tax-free cash distributions.
Strategy 3: Disband your partnership and hire your spouse as an employee
You can disband the existing spousal partnership and start running the operation as a sole proprietorship operated by one spouse. Then hire the other spouse as an employee of the proprietorship. Pay that spouse a modest cash salary. You must withhold 7.65% from the salary to cover the employee-spouse’s share of the Social Security and Medicare taxes. The proprietorship must also pay 7.65% as the employer’s half of the taxes. However, since the employee-spouse’s salary is modest, the FICA tax will also be modest.
With this strategy, you file only one Schedule SE — for the spouse treated as the proprietor — with your joint tax return. That minimizes the SE tax, because no more than $160,200 (for 2023) is exposed to the 12.4% Social Security portion of the SE tax.
Having a profitable unincorporated business with your spouse that’s classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes can lead to compliance headaches and high SE tax bills. Work with us to identify appropriate tax-saving strategies.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act liberalized the rules for depreciating business assets. However, the amounts change every year due to inflation adjustments. And due to high inflation, the adjustments for 2023 were big. Here are the numbers that small business owners need to know.
For qualifying assets placed in service in tax years beginning in 2023, the maximum Sec. 179 deduction is $1.16 million. But if your business puts in service more than $2.89 million of qualified assets, the maximum Sec. 179 deduction begins to be phased out.
Eligible assets include depreciable personal property such as equipment, computer hardware and peripherals, vehicles and commercially available software.
Sec. 179 deductions can also be claimed for real estate qualified improvement property (QIP), up to the maximum allowance of $1.16 million. QIP is defined as an improvement to an interior portion of a nonresidential building placed in service after the date the building was placed in service. However, expenditures attributable to the enlargement of a building, elevators or escalators, or the internal structural framework of a building don’t count as QIP and usually must be depreciated over 39 years. There’s no separate Sec. 179 deduction limit for QIP, so deductions reduce your maximum allowance dollar for dollar.
For nonresidential real property, Sec. 179 deductions are also allowed for qualified expenditures for roofs, HVAC equipment, fire protection and alarm systems, and security systems.
Finally, eligible assets include depreciable personal property used predominantly in connection with furnishing lodging, such as furniture and appliances in a property rented to transients.
There’s a special limitation on Sec. 179 deductions for heavy SUVs, meaning those with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) between 6,001 and 14,000 pounds. For tax years beginning in 2023, the maximum Sec. 179 deduction for heavy SUVs is $28,900.
For qualified new and used assets that were placed in service in calendar year 2022, 100% first-year bonus depreciation percentage could be claimed.
However, for qualified assets placed in service in 2023, the first-year bonus depreciation percentage dropped to 80%. In 2024, it’s scheduled to drop to 60% (40% in 2025, 20% in 2026 and 0% in 2027 and beyond).
Eligible assets include depreciable personal property such as equipment, computer hardware and peripherals, vehicles and commercially available software. First-year bonus depreciation can also be claimed for real estate QIP.
Exception: For certain assets with longer production periods, these percentage cutbacks are delayed by one year. For example, the 80% depreciation rate will apply to long-production-period property placed in service in 2024.
For federal income tax depreciation purposes, passenger autos are defined as cars, light trucks and light vans. These vehicles are subject to special depreciation limits under the so-called luxury auto depreciation rules. For new and used passenger autos placed in service in 2023, the maximum luxury auto deductions are as follows:
These allowances assume 100% business use. They’ll be further adjusted for inflation in future years.
Heavy SUVs, pickups, and vans (those with GVWRs above 6,000 pounds) are exempt from the luxury auto depreciation limitations because they’re considered transportation equipment. As such, heavy vehicles are eligible for Sec. 179 deductions (subject to the special deduction limit explained earlier) and first-year bonus depreciation.
Here’s the catch: Heavy vehicles must be used over 50% for business. Otherwise, the business-use percentage of the vehicle’s cost must be depreciated using the straight-line method and it’ll take six tax years to fully depreciate the cost.
Consult with us for the maximum depreciation tax breaks in your situation.
California State Law requires employers who reported having an average of 5 or more employees in 2022 to register for CalSavers unless they meet one of the conditions for exemption:
Employers will start receiving their official registration information by US mail and email. If you believe your company is exempt from the mandate, submit an exemption request.
Registration/Exemption Deadline: December 31, 2023 for 5 or more employees.
In 2022, California passed legislation (SB 1126) to expand the CalSavers mandate to employers with at least one employee. Starting on January 1, 2023, employers with 1-4 employees (as reported to the EDD in the preceding calendar year) who are not otherwise exempt from participation can register with CalSavers.
Registration/Exemption Deadline: December 31, 2025 for 1-4 employees
In business, where every decision can tip the scales of success or failure, a robust financial strategy is imperative. Enter Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) – an often underappreciated yet pivotal function that can revolutionize how businesses plan, analyze, and project their financial future.
What exactly is FP&A? At its core, FP&A serves as the bridge between strategic planning and its execution. It’s the analytical arm of the finance department, scrutinizing past performances and forecasting future trends. While traditional accounting looks backward, detailing where a company has been, FP&A looks forward, charting where it’s headed. It complements the accounting function by bringing an analytical and predictive dimension to the table. Together, they provide a holistic view of a company’s financial health.
FP&A is more than a tool reserved for accountants or financial experts. It’s an invaluable financial guide that acts as a compass for every entrepreneur and project manager. This financial guide offers:
By analyzing financial trends, FP&A drives strategic direction, ensures profitable revenues, and assists in budgeting and forecasting. It’s no wonder that businesses integrating FP&A report a 30% increase in forecast accuracy.
The business world is in constant flux. The days of static annual reviews have been left behind. With rapidly changing market dynamics, agility in financial planning isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. This fluid approach ensures that businesses remain proactive, ready to seize opportunities or avoid impending challenges.
Steps to Seamlessly Integrate FP&A in Project Planning
By understanding the nuances of FP&A and weaving it into business processes, companies can make informed decisions, minimize risks, and amplify profitability. In the unpredictable world of modern commerce, FP&A stands as a trusted compass, guiding firms towards a brighter future.
If you’re getting a divorce, you know the process is generally filled with stress. But if you’re a business owner, tax issues can complicate matters even more. Your business ownership interest is one of your biggest personal assets and in many cases, your marital property will include all or part of it.
In general, you can divide most assets, including cash and business ownership interests, between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse without any federal income or gift tax consequences. When an asset falls under this tax-free transfer rule, the spouse who receives the asset takes over its existing tax basis (for tax gain or loss purposes) and its existing holding period (for short-term or long-term holding period purposes).
For example, let’s say that under the terms of your divorce agreement, you give your house to your spouse in exchange for keeping 100% of the stock in your business. That asset swap would be tax-free. And the existing basis and holding period for the home and the stock would carry over to the person who receives them.
Tax-free transfers can occur before a divorce or at the time it becomes final. Tax-free treatment also applies to post-divorce transfers as long as they’re made “incident to divorce.” This means transfers that occur within:
Eventually, there will be tax implications for assets received tax-free in a divorce settlement. The ex-spouse who winds up owning an appreciated asset — when the fair market value exceeds the tax basis — generally must recognize taxable gain when it’s sold (unless an exception applies).
What if your ex-spouse receives 49% of your highly appreciated small business stock? Thanks to the tax-free transfer rule, there’s no tax impact when the shares are transferred. Your ex will continue to apply the same tax rules as if you had continued to own the shares, including carryover basis and carryover holding period. When your ex-spouse ultimately sells the shares, he or she will owe any capital gains taxes. You will owe nothing.
Note: The person who winds up owning appreciated assets must pay the built-in tax liability that comes with them. From a net-of-tax perspective, appreciated assets are worth less than an equal amount of cash or other assets that haven’t appreciated. That’s why you should always take taxes into account when negotiating your divorce agreement.
In addition, the beneficial tax-free transfer rule is now extended to ordinary-income assets, not just to capital-gains assets. For example, if you transfer business receivables or inventory to your ex-spouse in a divorce, these types of ordinary-income assets can also be transferred tax-free. When the asset is later sold, converted to cash or exercised (in the case of nonqualified stock options), the person who owns the asset at that time must recognize the income and pay the tax liability.
Like many major life events, divorce can have significant tax implications. For example, you may receive an unexpected tax bill if you don’t carefully handle the splitting up of qualified retirement plan accounts (such as a 401(k) plan) and IRAs. And if you own a business, the stakes are higher. Contact us. We can help you minimize the adverse tax consequences of settling your divorce.
Let’s say you decide to, or are asked to, guarantee a loan to your corporation. Before agreeing to act as a guarantor, endorser or indemnitor of a debt obligation of your closely held corporation, be aware of the possible tax implications. If your corporation defaults on the loan and you’re required to pay principal or interest under the guarantee agreement, you don’t want to be caught unaware.
If you’re compelled to make good on the obligation, the payment of principal or interest in discharge of the obligation generally results in a bad debt deduction. This may be either a business or a nonbusiness bad debt deduction. If it’s a business bad debt, it’s deductible against ordinary income. A business bad debt can be either totally or partly worthless. If it’s a nonbusiness bad debt, it’s deductible as a short-term capital loss, which is subject to certain limitations on deductions of capital losses. A nonbusiness bad debt is deductible only if it’s totally worthless.
In order to be treated as a business bad debt, the guarantee must be closely related to your trade or business. If the reason for guaranteeing the corporation loan is to protect your job, the guarantee is considered closely related to your trade or business as an employee. But employment must be the dominant motive. If your annual salary exceeds your investment in the corporation, this generally shows that the dominant motive for the guarantee was to protect your job. On the other hand, if your investment in the corporation substantially exceeds your annual salary, that’s evidence that the guarantee was primarily to protect your investment rather than your job.
Except in the case of job guarantees, it may be difficult to show the guarantee was closely related to your trade or business. You’d have to show that the guarantee was related to your business as a promoter, or that the guarantee was related to some other trade or business separately carried on by you.
If the reason for guaranteeing your corporation’s loan isn’t closely related to your trade or business and you’re required to pay off the loan, you can take a nonbusiness bad debt deduction if you show that your reason for the guarantee was to protect your investment, or you entered the guarantee transaction with a profit motive.
In addition to satisfying the above requirements, a business or nonbusiness bad debt is deductible only if you meet these three requirements:
Any payment you make on a loan you guaranteed is deductible as a bad debt in the year you make it, unless the agreement (or local law) provides for a right of subrogation against the corporation. If you have this right, or some other right to demand payment from the corporation, you can’t take a bad debt deduction until the rights become partly or totally worthless.
These are only some of the possible tax consequences of guaranteeing a loan to your closely held corporation. To learn all the implications in your situation, consult with us.
The SECURE 2.0 law, which was enacted last year, contains wide-ranging changes to retirement plans. One provision in the law is that eligible employers will soon be able to provide more help to staff members facing emergencies. This will be done through what the law calls “pension-linked emergency savings accounts.”
Effective for plan years beginning January 1, 2024, SECURE 2.0 permits a plan sponsor to amend its 401(k), 403(b) or government 457(b) plan to offer emergency savings accounts that are connected to the plan.
If a retirement plan participant withdraws money from an employer plan before reaching age 59½, a 10% additional tax or penalty generally applies unless an exception exists. This is on top of the ordinary tax that may be due.
The goal of these emergency accounts is to encourage employees to save for retirement while still providing access to their savings if emergencies arise. Under current law, there are specific exceptions when employees can withdraw money from their accounts without paying the additional 10% penalty but they don’t include all of the emergencies that an individual may face. For example, while participants can take penalty-free distributions to pay eligible medical expenses, they can’t take them for car repairs.
Here are some features of pension-linked emergency savings accounts:
In addition to these accounts, SECURE 2.0 adds a new exception for certain retirement plan distributions used for emergency expenses, which are defined as unforeseeable or immediate financial needs relating to personal or family emergencies. Only one distribution of up to $1,000 is permitted a year, and a taxpayer has the option to repay the distribution within three years. This provision is effective for distributions beginning January 1, 2024.
In addition to what is outlined here, other rules apply to pension-linked emergency savings accounts. The IRS is likely to issue additional guidance in the next few months. Be aware that plan sponsors don’t have to offer these accounts and many employers may find that they need more time to establish them before 2024. Or they may decide there are too many administrative hurdles to clear. Contact us with questions.
If you operate your small business as a sole proprietorship, you may have thought about forming a limited liability company (LLC) to protect your assets. Or maybe you’re launching a new business and want to know your options for setting it up. Here are the basics of operating as an LLC and why it might be a good choice for your business.
An LLC is a bit of a hybrid entity because it can be structured to resemble a corporation for owner liability purposes and a partnership for federal tax purposes. This duality may provide the owners with the best of both worlds.
Like the shareholders of a corporation, the owners of an LLC (called “members” rather than shareholders or partners) generally aren’t liable for the debts of the business except to the extent of their investment. Thus, the owners can operate the business with the security of knowing that their personal assets are protected from the entity’s creditors. This protection is much greater than that afforded by partnerships. In a partnership, the general partners are personally liable for the debts of the business. Even limited partners, if they actively participate in managing the business, can have personal liability.
The owners of an LLC can elect under the “check-the-box” rules to have the entity treated as a partnership for federal tax purposes. This can provide a number of benefits to the owners. For example, partnership earnings aren’t subject to an entity-level tax. Instead, they “flow through” to the owners, in proportion to the owners’ respective interests in profits, and are reported on the owners’ individual returns and taxed only once.
To the extent the income passed through to you is qualified business income, you’ll be eligible to take the Section 199A pass-through deduction, subject to various limitations. (However, keep in mind that the pass-through deduction is temporary. It’s available through 2025, unless Congress acts to extend it.)
In addition, since you’re actively managing the business, you can deduct on your individual tax return your ratable shares of any losses the business generates. This, in effect, allows you to shelter other income that you (and your spouse, if you’re married) may have.
An LLC that’s taxable as a partnership can provide special allocations of tax benefits to specific partners. This can be a notable reason for using an LLC over an S corporation (a form of business that provides tax treatment that’s similar to a partnership). Another reason for using an LLC over an S corp is that LLCs aren’t subject to the restrictions the federal tax code imposes on S corps regarding the number of owners and the types of ownership interests that may be issued.
In conclusion, an LLC can give you corporate-like protection from creditors while providing the benefits of taxation as a partnership. For these reasons, you may want to consider operating your business as an LLC. Contact us to discuss in more detail how an LLC might be an appropriate choice for you and the other owners.
If you play a major role in a closely held corporation, you may sometimes spend money on corporate expenses personally. These costs may end up being nondeductible both by an officer and the corporation unless the correct steps are taken. This issue is more likely to happen with a financially troubled corporation.
In general, you can’t deduct an expense you incur on behalf of your corporation, even if it’s a legitimate “trade or business” expense and even if the corporation is financially troubled. This is because a taxpayer can only deduct expenses that are his own. And since your corporation’s legal existence as a separate entity must be respected, the corporation’s costs aren’t yours and thus can’t be deducted even if you pay them.
To make matters worse, the corporation won’t generally be able to deduct them either because it didn’t pay them itself. Accordingly, be advised that it shouldn’t be a practice of your corporation’s officers or major shareholders to cover corporate costs.
On the other hand, if a corporate executive incurs costs that relate to an essential part of his or her duties as an executive, they may be deductible as ordinary and necessary expenses related to his or her “trade or business” of being an executive. If you wish to set up an arrangement providing payments to you and safeguarding their deductibility, a provision should be included in your employment contract with the corporation stating the types of expenses which are part of your duties and authorizing you to incur them. For example, you may be authorized to attend out-of-town business conferences on the corporation’s behalf at your personal expense.
Alternatively, to avoid the complete loss of any deductions by both yourself and the corporation, an arrangement should be in place under which the corporation reimburses you for the expenses you incur. Turn the receipts over to the corporation and use an expense reimbursement claim form or system. This will at least allow the corporation to deduct the amount of the reimbursement.
Contact us if you’d like assistance or would like to discuss these issues further.
If you own an unincorporated small business, you probably don’t like the size of your self-employment (SE) tax bills. No wonder!
For 2023, the SE tax is imposed at the painfully high rate of 15.3% on the first $160,200 of net SE income. This includes 12.4% for Social Security tax and 2.9% for Medicare tax. The $160,200 Social Security tax ceiling is up from the $147,000 ceiling for 2022, and it’s only going to get worse in future years, thanks to inflation. Above the Social Security tax ceiling, the Medicare tax component of the SE tax continues at a 2.9% rate before increasing to 3.8% at higher levels of net SE income thanks to the 0.9% additional Medicare tax, on all income.
For wages paid in 2023 to an S corporation employee, including an employee who also happens to be a shareholder, the FICA tax wage withholding rate is 7.65% on the first $160,200 of wages: 6.2% for Social Security tax and 1.45% for Medicare tax. Above $160,200, the FICA tax wage withholding rate drops to 1.45% because the Social Security tax component is no longer imposed. But the 1.45% Medicare tax wage withholding hits compensation no matter how much you earn, and the rate increases to 2.35% at higher compensation levels thanks to the 0.9% additional Medicare tax.
An S corporation employer makes matching payments except for the 0.9% Additional Medicare tax, which only falls on the employee. Therefore, the combined employee and employer FICA tax rate for the Social Security tax is 12.4%, and the combined rate for the Medicare tax is 2.9%, increasing to 3.8% at higher compensation levels — same as the corresponding SE tax rates.
Note: In this article, we’ll refer to the Social Security and Medicare taxes collectively as federal employment taxes whether paid as SE tax for self-employed folks or FICA tax for employees.
While wages paid to an S corporation shareholder-employee get hit with federal employment taxes, any remaining S corp taxable income that’s passed through to the employee-shareholder is exempt from federal employment taxes. The same is true for cash distributions paid out to a shareholder-employee. Since passed-through S corporation taxable income increases the tax basis of a shareholder-employee’s stock, distributions of corporate cash flow are usually free from federal income tax.
In appropriate circumstances, an S corp can follow the tax-saving strategy of paying modest, but justifiable, salaries to shareholder-employees. At the same time, it can pay out most or all of the remaining corporate cash flow in the form of federal-employment-tax-free shareholder distributions. In contrast, an owner’s share of net taxable income from a sole proprietorship, partnership and LLC (treated as a partnership for tax purposes) is generally subject to the full ravages of the SE tax.
Running your business as an S corporation and paying modest salaries to the shareholder-employee(s) may mean reduced capacity to make deductible contributions to tax-favored retirement accounts. For example, if an S corporation maintains a SEP, the maximum annual deductible contribution for a shareholder-employee is limited to 25% of salary. So the lower the salary, the lower the maximum contribution. However, if the S corp sets up a 401(k) plan, paying modest salaries generally won’t preclude generous contributions.
Converting an unincorporated business into an S corporation has other legal and tax implications. It’s a big decision. We can explain all the issues.
As we increasingly embrace the post-pandemic era, the world of work has undergone a significant shift. Many companies have opted for remote work models, dispersing employees across various states and countries. However, while beneficial in many respects, this transition carries complex tax implications for businesses. Understanding and adapting these implications has become vital to business planning and decision-making.
To navigate the labyrinth of tax consequences linked with remote work, it’s crucial first to understand the term ‘nexus.’ In tax language, ‘nexus’ indicates a sufficient connection between a taxpayer and a jurisdiction that establishes tax obligations in that jurisdiction. Generally, there are two types of nexus tests – physical and economic.
One primary concern for remote workers and businesses is the potential risk of double taxation. Double taxation occurs when an employee works remotely in one state for a company located in another, resulting in tax obligations in both states. This can occur due to conflicting tax laws among states or the lack of coordination regarding the taxation rights of remote workers.
As such, the convenience of remote work might sometimes lead to the inconvenience of grappling with multiple state tax obligations. Understanding each state’s tax laws is essential and discussing with your financial advisor how to mitigate the risk of double taxation.
The location of your employees can impact your business’s tax obligations significantly. As a business owner, you may need to register with each state where you have employees and comply with all tax obligations, including corporate income tax, gross receipts tax, franchise tax, and sales and use tax.
In addition, employment tax requirements such as income tax withholding, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance need to be addressed in each jurisdiction where a remote employee is located. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in penalties, affecting your business’s financial health.
Given the complexity of these tax issues, it’s important to conduct thorough research and consult with a financial advisor or tax professional. This can help you develop a comprehensive understanding of the relevant concepts, conduct regular reviews of the factors impacting your business, and, ultimately, avoid unwelcome surprises.
While navigating this new tax landscape can be challenging, it’s crucial to remember that being proactive in understanding these changes can help your business adapt more effectively to the evolving world of work. Through an informed approach and consistent monitoring, business owners can ensure compliance and take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the remote work model.
If you own or manage a business with employees, there’s a harsh tax penalty that you could be at risk for paying personally. The Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (TFRP) applies to Social Security and income taxes that are withheld by a business from its employees’ wages.
The TFRP is dangerous because it applies to a broad range of actions and to a wide range of people involved in a business.
Here are some answers to questions about the penalty:
What actions are penalized? The TFRP applies to any willful failure to collect, or truthfully account for, and pay over taxes required to be withheld from employees’ wages.
Why is it so harsh? Taxes are considered the government’s property. The IRS explains that Social Security and income taxes “are called trust fund taxes because you actually hold the employee’s money in trust until you make a federal tax deposit in that amount.”
The penalty is sometimes called the “100% penalty” because the person found liable is personally penalized 100% of the taxes due. The amounts the IRS seeks are usually substantial and the IRS is aggressive in enforcing the penalty.
Who’s at risk? The penalty can be imposed on anyone “responsible” for collecting and paying tax. This has been broadly defined to include a corporation’s officers, directors and shareholders, a partnership’s partners and any employee with related duties. In some circumstances, voluntary board members of tax-exempt organizations have been subject to this penalty. In other cases, responsibility has been extended to professional advisors and family members close to the business.
According to the IRS, responsibility is a matter of status, duty and authority. Anyone with the power to see that taxes are (or aren’t) paid may be responsible. There’s often more than one responsible person in a business, but each is at risk for the entire penalty. You may not be directly involved with the payroll tax withholding process in your business. But if you learn of a failure to pay withheld taxes and have the power to pay them, you become a responsible person. Although taxpayers held liable can sue other responsible people for contribution, this action must be taken entirely on their own after the TFRP is paid.
What’s considered willful? There doesn’t have to be an overt intent to evade taxes. Simply paying bills or obtaining supplies instead of paying over withheld taxes is willful behavior. And just because you delegate responsibilities to someone else doesn’t necessarily mean you’re off the hook. Failing to do the job yourself can be treated as willful.
Here are two cases that illustrate the risks.
Under no circumstances should you “borrow” from withheld amounts. All funds withheld should be paid over to the government on time. Contact us with any questions.
As a small business owner, every decision you make can significantly impact your business’s financial health and profitability. Among your numerous choices, selecting the right accounting method for your business stands out for its importance. The accounting method you opt for shapes your business’s bookkeeping practices, affects your financial reporting, tax liabilities, and profitability, and influences your future decisions. This article aims to demystify the two primary accounting methods – cash and accrual accounting, helping you understand their implications and selecting the most appropriate one for your business’s needs.
At the core of accounting lie two main methods: cash-based and accrual-based accounting. Each approach has pros and cons and varies in suitability depending on your business’s size, scale, and nature.
Cash-Based Accounting: This method, characterized by simplicity and straightforwardness, records transactions only when cash is received or paid. It provides a clear picture of your actual cash flow, making it an ideal choice for small businesses, sole proprietors, or companies operating without inventory or on a purely cash basis. However, it’s worth noting that while this method helps you monitor your cash inflows and outflows closely, it might not offer a comprehensive overview of your financial health since it doesn’t account for outstanding receivables or payables.
Accrual-Based Accounting: Though more complex, this method provides a comprehensive picture of your financial status. Accrual-based accounting records income and expenses as earned or incurred, regardless of the actual cash transaction’s timing. It accounts for receivables, payables, assets, and liabilities, offering a real-time snapshot of your business’s financial status. This method benefits larger companies dealing with inventory, credit transactions, or businesses that are required to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). However, it may seem overwhelming for small businesses due to its complexity and the resources required to maintain detailed records.
Deciding between cash-based and accrual-based accounting requires careful consideration of several key factors:
Remember, choosing an accounting method is not merely about understanding numbers; it’s about using this understanding to make informed decisions that align with your business’s financial goals. By selecting the right accounting method – cash or accrual – you can gain valuable insights into your business’s financial health and make decisions that steer your business toward a profitable future. The right choice will empower you, equipping you with the financial clarity necessary to successfully navigate your business’s financial landscape.
If you and your employees are traveling for business this summer, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Under tax law, in order to claim deductions, you must meet certain requirements for out-of-town business travel within the United States. The rules apply if the business conducted reasonably requires an overnight stay.
Note: Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employees can’t deduct their unreimbursed travel expenses on their own tax returns through 2025. That’s because unreimbursed employee business expenses are “miscellaneous itemized deductions” that aren’t deductible through 2025.
However, self-employed individuals can continue to deduct business expenses, including away-from-home travel expenses.
The actual costs of travel (for example, plane fare and cabs to the airport) are deductible for out-of-town business trips. You’re also allowed to deduct the cost of meals and lodging. Your meals are deductible even if they’re not connected to a business conversation or other business function. Although there was a temporary 100% deduction in 2021 and 2022 for business food and beverages provided by a restaurant, it was not extended to 2023. Therefore, there’s once again a 50% limit on deducting eligible business meals this year.
Keep in mind that no deduction is allowed for meal or lodging expenses that are “lavish or extravagant,” a term that’s been interpreted to mean “unreasonable.”
Personal entertainment costs on the trip aren’t deductible, but business-related costs such as those for dry cleaning, phone calls and computer rentals can be written off.
Some allocations may be required if the trip is a combined business/pleasure trip, for example, if you fly to a location for four days of business meetings and stay on for an additional three days of vacation. Only the costs of meals, lodging, etc., incurred for the business days are deductible — not those incurred for the personal vacation days.
On the other hand, with respect to the cost of the travel itself (plane fare, etc.), if the trip is primarily business, the travel cost can be deducted in its entirety and no allocation is required. Conversely, if the trip is primarily personal, none of the travel costs are deductible. An important factor in determining if the trip is primarily business or personal is the amount of time spent on each (although this isn’t the sole factor).
If the trip doesn’t involve the actual conduct of business but is for the purpose of attending a convention, seminar, etc., the IRS may check the nature of the meetings carefully to make sure it isn’t a vacation in disguise. Retain all material helpful in establishing the business or professional nature of this travel.
The rules for deducting the costs of a spouse who accompanies you on a business trip are very restrictive. No deduction is allowed unless the spouse is an employee of you or your company, and the spouse’s travel is also for a business purpose.
Finally, note that personal expenses you incur at home as a result of taking the trip aren’t deductible. For example, let’s say you have to board a pet while you’re away. The cost isn’t deductible. Contact us if you have questions about your small business deductions.
If you’re claiming deductions for business meals or auto expenses, expect the IRS to closely review them. In some cases, taxpayers have incomplete documentation or try to create records months (or years) later. In doing so, they fail to meet the strict substantiation requirements set forth under tax law. Tax auditors are adept at rooting out inconsistencies, omissions and errors in taxpayers’ records, as illustrated by one recent U.S. Tax Court case.
In the case, a married couple claimed $13,596 in car and truck expenses, supported only by mileage logs that weren’t kept contemporaneously and were made using estimates rather than odometer readings. The court disallowed the entire deduction, stating that “subsequently prepared mileage records do not have the same high degree of credibility as those made at or near the time the vehicle was used and supported by documentary evidence.”
The court noted that it appeared the taxpayers attempted to deduct their commuting costs. However, it stated that “expenses a taxpayer incurs traveling between his or her home and place of business generally constitute commuting expenses, which … are nondeductible.”
A taxpayer isn’t relieved of the obligation to substantiate business mileage, even if he or she opts to use the standard mileage rate (65.5 cents per business mile in 2023), rather than keep track of actual expenses.
The court also ruled the couple wasn’t entitled to deduct $5,233 of travel, meal and entertainment expenses because they didn’t meet the strict substantiation requirements of the tax code. (TC Memo 2022-113)
This case is an example of why it’s critical to maintain meticulous records to support business expenses for vehicle and meal deductions. Here’s a list of “DOs and DON’Ts” to help meet the strict IRS and tax law substantiation requirements for these items:
DO keep detailed, accurate records. For each expense, record the amount, the time and place, the business purpose, and the business relationship of any person to whom you provided a meal. If you have employees who you reimburse for meals and auto expenses, make sure they’re complying with all the rules.
DON’T reconstruct expense logs at year end or wait until you receive a notice from the IRS. Take a moment to record the details in a log or diary or on a receipt at the time of the event or soon after. Require employees to submit monthly expense reports.
DO respect the fine line between personal and business expenses. Be careful about combining business and pleasure. Your business checking account shouldn’t be used for personal expenses.
DON’T be surprised if the IRS asks you to prove your deductions. Vehicle and meal expenses are a magnet for attention. Be prepared for a challenge.
With organization and guidance from us, your tax records can stand up to inspection from the IRS. There may be ways to substantiate your deductions that you haven’t thought of, and there may be a way to estimate certain deductions (called “the Cohan rule”), if your records are lost due to a fire, theft, flood or other disaster.
The IRS recently released guidance providing the 2024 inflation-adjusted amounts for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
An HSA is a trust created or organized exclusively for the purpose of paying the “qualified medical expenses” of an “account beneficiary.” An HSA can only be established for the benefit of an “eligible individual” who is covered under a “high-deductible health plan.” In addition, a participant can’t be enrolled in Medicare or have other health coverage (exceptions include dental, vision, long-term care, accident and specific disease insurance).
Within specified dollar limits, an above-the-line tax deduction is allowed for an individual’s contributions to an HSA. This annual contribution limitation and the annual deductible and out-of-pocket expenses under the tax code are adjusted annually for inflation.
In Revenue Procedure 2023-23, the IRS released the 2024 inflation-adjusted figures for contributions to HSAs, which are as follows:
Annual contribution limitation. For calendar year 2024, the annual contribution limitation for an individual with self-only coverage under an HDHP will be $4,150. For an individual with family coverage, the amount will be $8,300. This is up from $3,850 and $7,750, respectively, in 2023.
There is an additional $1,000 “catch-up” contribution amount for those age 55 and older in 2024 (and 2023).
High-deductible health plan defined. For calendar year 2024, an HDHP will be a health plan with an annual deductible that isn’t less than $1,600 for self-only coverage or $3,200 for family coverage (up from $1,500 and $3,000, respectively, in 2023). In addition, annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums) won’t be able to exceed $8,050 for self-only coverage or $16,100 for family coverage (up from $7,500 and $15,000, respectively, in 2023).
There are a variety of benefits to HSAs. Contributions to the accounts are made on a pre-tax basis. The money can accumulate tax-free year after year and can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for a variety of medical expenses such as doctor visits, prescriptions, chiropractic care and premiums for long-term care insurance. In addition, an HSA is “portable.” It stays with an account holder if he or she changes employers or leaves the workforce. Contact your employee benefits and tax advisors if you have questions about HSAs at your business.
Many businesses use independent contractors to help keep their costs down — especially in these times of staff shortages and inflationary pressures. If you’re among them, be careful that these workers are properly classified for federal tax purposes. If the IRS reclassifies them as employees, it can be an expensive mistake.
The question of whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee for federal income and employment tax purposes is a complex one. If a worker is an employee, your company must withhold federal income and payroll taxes and pay the employer’s share of FICA taxes on the wages, plus FUTA tax. A business may also provide the worker with fringe benefits if it makes them available to other employees. In addition, there may be state tax obligations.
On the other hand, if a worker is an independent contractor, these obligations don’t apply. In that case, the business simply sends the contractor a Form 1099-NEC for the year showing the amount paid (if it’s $600 or more).
Who’s an “employee?” Unfortunately, there’s no uniform definition of the term.
The IRS and courts have generally ruled that individuals are employees if the organization they work for has the right to control and direct them in the jobs they’re performing. Otherwise, the individuals are generally independent contractors. But other factors are also taken into account including who provides tools and who pays expenses.
Some employers that have misclassified workers as independent contractors may get some relief from employment tax liabilities under Section 530. This protection generally applies only if an employer meets certain requirements. For example, the employer must file all federal returns consistent with its treatment of a worker as a contractor and it must treat all similarly situated workers as contractors.
Note: Section 530 doesn’t apply to certain types of workers.
Be aware that you can ask the IRS (on Form SS-8) to rule on whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee. However, you should also be aware that the IRS has a history of classifying workers as employees rather than independent contractors.
Businesses should consult with us before filing Form SS-8 because it may alert the IRS that your business has worker classification issues — and it may unintentionally trigger an employment tax audit.
It may be better to properly set up a relationship with workers to treat them as independent contractors so that your business complies with the tax rules.
Workers who want an official determination of their status can also file Form SS-8. Dissatisfied independent contractors may do so because they feel entitled to employee benefits and want to eliminate their self-employment tax liabilities.
If a worker files Form SS-8, the IRS will notify the business with a letter. It identifies the worker and includes a blank Form SS-8. The business is asked to complete and return the form to the IRS, which will render a classification decision.
These are the basic tax rules. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how to classify workers at your business. We can help make sure that your workers are properly classified.
Whether you’re operating a new company or an established business, losses can happen. The federal tax code may help soften the blow by allowing businesses to apply losses to offset taxable income in future years, subject to certain limitations.
The net operating loss (NOL) deduction addresses the tax inequities that can exist between businesses with stable income and those with fluctuating income. It essentially lets the latter average out their income and losses over the years and pay tax accordingly.
You may be eligible for the NOL deduction if your deductions for the tax year are greater than your income. The loss generally must be caused by deductions related to your:
The following generally aren’t allowed when determining your NOL:
Individuals and C corporations are eligible to claim the NOL deduction. Partnerships and S corporations generally aren’t eligible, but partners and shareholders can use their separate shares of the business’s income and deductions to calculate individual NOLs.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made significant changes to the NOL rules. Previously, taxpayers could carry back NOLs for two years, and carry forward the losses 20 years. They also could apply NOLs against 100% of their taxable income.
The TCJA limits the NOL deduction to 80% of taxable income for the year and eliminates the carryback of NOLs (except for certain farming losses). However, it does allow NOLs to be carried forward indefinitely.
A COVID-19 relief law temporarily loosened the TCJA restrictions. It allowed NOLs arising in 2018, 2019 or 2020 to be carried back five years and removed the taxable income limitation for years beginning before 2021. As a result, NOLs could completely offset income. However, these provisions have expired.
If your NOL carryforward is more than your taxable income for the year to which you carry it, you may have an NOL carryover. The carryover will be the excess of the NOL deduction over your modified taxable income for the carryforward year. If your NOL deduction includes multiple NOLs, you must apply them against your modified taxable income in the same order you incurred them, beginning with the earliest.
The TCJA established an “excess business loss” limitation, which took effect in 2021. For partnerships or S corporations, this limitation is applied at the partner or shareholder level, after the outside basis, at-risk and passive activity loss limitations have been applied.
Under the rule, noncorporate taxpayers’ business losses can offset only business-related income or gain, plus an inflation-adjusted threshold. For 2023, that threshold is $289,000 ($578,000 if married filing jointly). Remaining losses are treated as an NOL carryforward to the next tax year. In other words, you can’t fully deduct them because they become subject to the 80% income limitation on NOLs, reducing their tax value.
Important: Under the Inflation Reduction Act, the excess business loss limitation applies to tax years beginning before January 1, 2029. Under the TCJA, it had been scheduled to expire after December 31, 2026.
The tax rules regarding business losses are complex, especially when accounting for how NOLs can interact with other potential tax breaks. We can help you chart the best course forward.
As a business owner, you understand the importance of making the right decisions and keeping your finances to survive. When you want to thrive, however, you need the kind of insight and experience that will drive strategy and deliver results. The sharp financial perspective of a CFO can make a world of difference in a company’s success, but hiring one isn’t always feasible or affordable. Enter the Chief Financial Officer consultant. A CFO consultant can assess your financial situation, market nuances, and industry outlook to bring the big picture into focus. Keep reading to learn how the perspective of a CFO can benefit your business.
While you may think of a CFO as another accountant or finance-focused person, the reality is much more complex. The best CFOs are responsible for many essential business tasks and decisions, which business owners may need more time or knowledge to focus on. The role of the CFO means looking at the past to find the best ways to drive the present into the future the organization wants. They work with budgets, forecasts, vendor relationships, tax strategy, compliance, succession planning, and more to guide other leaders toward a unified goal.
When you bring a CFO on full-time, they look for ways to save costs and drive additional financial growth for the organization. Some of the ways they do this are by working with the following:
Working with an outsourced Chief Financial Officer provides a level of expertise based on experience with other clients who are either within your industry or have been through similar situations. This experience allows them to provide scalable knowledge and assistance without the hours of research a business owner or manager may have to complete for the same results. The CFO is focused on the larger picture and understands which details will make a difference in the future of the business.
The cost of bringing on a full-time CFO is unrealistic for many businesses, but that doesn’t mean they need to go without a CFO perspective. CFO consultants, or outsourced CFOs, provide the value of a CFO without being cost-prohibitive. Many businesses that work with an outsourced CFO experience cost-savings or revenue growth that either makes up for or outpaces the outlay for the consulting service.
Whether you’ve hit a wall or feel like your business could be doing so much more, there are many reasons to seek an outsider’s perspective. Don’t leave this critical task to just anyone; work with someone who has experience directing businesses through important decisions. They can help you face strategic challenges, deliberate on new avenues of growth, or convert decisions into action.
If you’re ready to bring in the expertise of a CFO, contact our professionals here.
If you’re the owner of an incorporated business, you know there’s a tax advantage to taking money out of a C corporation as compensation rather than as dividends. The reason: A corporation can deduct the salaries and bonuses that it pays executives, but not dividend payments. Therefore, if funds are paid as dividends, they’re taxed twice, once to the corporation and once to the recipient. Money paid out as compensation is only taxed once — to the employee who receives it.
However, there are limits to how much money you can take out of the corporation this way. Under tax law, compensation can be deducted only to the extent that it’s reasonable. Any unreasonable portion isn’t deductible and, if paid to a shareholder, may be taxed as if it were a dividend. Keep in mind that the IRS is generally more interested in unreasonable compensation payments made to someone “related” to a corporation, such as a shareholder-employee or a member of a shareholder’s family.
There’s no simple way to determine what’s reasonable. If the IRS audits your tax return, it will examine the amount that similar companies would pay for comparable services under similar circumstances. Factors that are taken into account include the employee’s duties and the amount of time spent on those duties, as well as the employee’s skills, expertise and compensation history. Other factors that may be reviewed are the complexities of the business and its gross and net income.
There are four steps you can take to make it more likely that the compensation you earn will be considered “reasonable,” and therefore deductible by your corporation:
You can avoid problems and challenges by planning ahead. Contact us if you have questions or concerns about your situation.
If your business occupies substantial space and needs to increase or move from that space in the future, you should keep the rehabilitation tax credit in mind. This is especially true if you favor historic buildings.
The credit is equal to 20% of the qualified rehabilitation expenditures (QREs) for a qualified rehabilitated building that’s also a certified historic structure. A qualified rehabilitated building is a depreciable building that has been placed in service before the beginning of the rehabilitation and is used, after rehabilitation, in business or for the production of income (and not held primarily for sale). Additionally, the building must be “substantially” rehabilitated, which generally requires that the QREs for the rehabilitation exceed the greater of $5,000 or the adjusted basis of the existing building.
A QRE is any amount chargeable to capital and incurred in connection with the rehabilitation (including reconstruction) of a qualified rehabilitated building. QREs must be for real property (but not land) and can’t include building enlargement or acquisition costs.
The 20% credit is allocated ratably to each year in the five-year period beginning in the tax year in which the qualified rehabilitated building is placed in service. Thus, the credit allowed in each year of the five-year period is 4% (20% divided by 5) of the QREs with respect to the building. The credit is allowed against both regular federal income tax and alternative minimum tax.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed at the end of 2017, made some changes to the credit. Specifically, the law:
Contact us to discuss the technical aspects of the rehabilitation credit. There may also be other federal tax benefits available for the space you’re contemplating. For example, various tax benefits might be available depending on your preferences as to how a building’s energy needs will be met and where the building is located. In addition, there may be state or local tax and non-tax subsidies available.
Getting beyond these preliminary considerations, we can work with you and construction professionals to determine whether a specific available “old” building can be the subject of a rehabilitation that’s both tax-credit-compliant and practical to use. And, if you do find a building that you decide you’ll buy (or lease) and rehabilitate, we can help you monitor project costs and substantiate the compliance of the project with the requirements of the credit and any other tax benefits.
If you’re thinking about setting up a retirement plan for yourself and your employees, but you’re worried about the financial commitment and administrative burdens involved, there are a couple of options to consider. Let’s take a look at a “simplified employee pension” (SEP) or a “savings incentive match plan for employees” (SIMPLE).
SEPs are intended as an attractive alternative to “qualified” retirement plans, particularly for small businesses. The features that are appealing include the relative ease of administration and the discretion that you, as the employer, are permitted in deciding whether or not to make annual contributions.
If you don’t already have a qualified retirement plan, you can set up a SEP simply by using the IRS model SEP, Form 5305-SEP. By adopting and implementing this model SEP, which doesn’t have to be filed with the IRS, you’ll have satisfied the SEP requirements. This means that as the employer, you’ll get a current income tax deduction for contributions you make on behalf of your employees. Your employees won’t be taxed when the contributions are made but will be taxed later when distributions are made, usually at retirement. Depending on your needs, an individually-designed SEP — instead of the model SEP — may be appropriate for you.
When you set up a SEP for yourself and your employees, you’ll make deductible contributions to each employee’s IRA, called a SEP-IRA, which must be IRS-approved. The maximum amount of deductible contributions that you can make to an employee’s SEP-IRA, and that he or she can exclude from income, is the lesser of: 25% of compensation and $66,000 for 2023. The deduction for your contributions to employees’ SEP-IRAs isn’t limited by the deduction ceiling applicable to an individual’s own contribution to a regular IRA. Your employees control their individual IRAs and IRA investments, the earnings on which are tax-free.
There are other requirements you’ll have to meet to be eligible to set up a SEP. Essentially, all regular employees must elect to participate in the program, and contributions can’t discriminate in favor of the highly compensated employees. But these requirements are minor compared to the bookkeeping and other administrative burdens connected with traditional qualified pension and profit-sharing plans.
The detailed records that traditional plans must maintain to comply with the complex nondiscrimination regulations aren’t required for SEPs. And employers aren’t required to file annual reports with IRS, which, for a pension plan, could require the services of an actuary. The required recordkeeping can be done by a trustee of the SEP-IRAs — usually a bank or mutual fund.
Another option for a business with 100 or fewer employees is a “savings incentive match plan for employees” (SIMPLE). Under these plans, a “SIMPLE IRA” is established for each eligible employee, with the employer making matching contributions based on contributions elected by participating employees under a qualified salary reduction arrangement. The SIMPLE plan is also subject to much less stringent requirements than traditional qualified retirement plans. Or, an employer can adopt a “simple” 401(k) plan, with similar features to a SIMPLE plan, and automatic passage of the otherwise complex nondiscrimination test for 401(k) plans.
For 2023, SIMPLE deferrals are up to $15,500 plus an additional $3,500 catch-up contributions for employees ages 50 and older.
Contact us for more information or to discuss any other aspect of your retirement planning.
Summer is around the corner so you may be thinking about hiring young people at your small business. At the same time, you may have children looking to earn extra spending money. You can save family income and payroll taxes by putting your child on the payroll. It’s a win-win!
Here are four tax advantages.
You can turn some of your high-taxed income into tax-free or low-taxed income by shifting some business earnings to a child as wages for services performed. In order for your business to deduct the wages as a business expense, the work done by the child must be legitimate and the child’s salary must be reasonable.
For example, suppose you’re a sole proprietor in the 37% tax bracket. You hire your 16-year-old son to help with office work full-time in the summer and part-time in the fall. He earns $10,000 during the year (and doesn’t have other earnings). You can save $3,700 (37% of $10,000) in income taxes at no tax cost to your son, who can use his $13,850 standard deduction for 2023 to shelter his earnings.
Family taxes are cut even if your son’s earnings exceed his standard deduction. That’s because the unsheltered earnings will be taxed to him beginning at a 10% rate, instead of being taxed at your higher rate.
Your business likely will have to withhold federal income taxes on your child’s wages. Usually, an employee can claim exempt status if he or she had no federal income tax liability for last year and expects to have none this year.
However, exemption from withholding can’t be claimed if: 1) the employee’s income exceeds $1,250 for 2023 (and includes more than $400 of unearned income), and 2) the employee can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return.
Keep in mind that your child probably will get a refund for part or all of the withheld tax when filing a return for the year.
If your business isn’t incorporated, you can also save some Social Security tax by shifting some of your earnings to your child. That’s because services performed by a child under age 18 while employed by a parent aren’t considered employment for FICA tax purposes.
A similar but more liberal exemption applies for FUTA (unemployment) tax, which exempts earnings paid to a child under age 21 employed by a parent. The FICA and FUTA exemptions also apply if a child is employed by a partnership consisting only of his or her parents.
Note: There’s no FICA or FUTA exemption for employing a child if your business is incorporated or is a partnership that includes non-parent partners. However, there’s no extra cost to your business if you’re paying a child for work you’d pay someone else to do.
Your business also may be able to provide your child with retirement savings, depending on your plan and how it defines qualifying employees. For example, if you have a SEP plan, a contribution can be made for the child up to 25% of his or her earnings (not to exceed $66,000 for 2023).
Contact us if you have any questions about these rules in your situation. Keep in mind that some of the rules about employing children may change from year to year and may require your income-shifting strategies to change too.
If you’re starting a business with some partners and wondering what type of entity to form, an S corporation may be the most suitable form of business for your new venture. Here are some of the reasons why.
A big benefit of an S corporation over a partnership is that as S corporation shareholders, you won’t be personally liable for corporate debts. In order to receive this protection, it’s important that:
If you expect that the business will incur losses in its early years, an S corporation is preferable to a C corporation from a tax standpoint. Shareholders in a C corporation generally get no tax benefit from such losses. In contrast, as S corporation shareholders, each of you can deduct your percentage share of losses on your personal tax return to the extent of your basis in the stock and in any loans you made to the entity. Losses that can’t be deducted because they exceed your basis are carried forward and can be deducted by you in the future when there’s sufficient basis.
Once the S corporation begins to earn profits, the income will be taxed directly to you whether or not it’s distributed. It will be reported on your individual tax return and be aggregated with income from other sources. Your share of the S corporation’s income won’t be subject to self-employment tax, but your wages will be subject to Social Security taxes. To the extent the income is passed through to you as qualified business income (QBI), you’ll be eligible to take the 20% pass-through deduction, subject to various limitations.
Note: Unless Congress acts to extend it, the QBI deduction is scheduled to expire after 2025.
If you’re planning to provide fringe benefits such as health and life insurance, you should be aware that the costs of providing such benefits to a more than 2% shareholder are deductible by the entity but are taxable to the recipient.
Also, be aware that the S corporation could inadvertently lose its S status if you or your partners transfer stock to an ineligible shareholder, such as another corporation, a partnership, or a nonresident alien. If the S election was terminated, the corporation would become a taxable entity. You would not be able to deduct any losses, and earnings could be subject to double taxation — once at the corporate level and again when distributed to you. In order to protect against this risk, it’s a good idea for each shareholder to sign an agreement promising not to make any transfers that would jeopardize the S election.
Before finalizing your choice of entity, consult with us. We can answer any questions you have and assist in launching your new venture.
It’s been years since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 was signed into law, but it’s still having an impact. Several provisions in the law have expired or will expire in the next few years. One provision that took effect last year was the end of current deductibility for research and experimental (R&E) expenses.
The TCJA has affected many businesses, including manufacturers, that have significant R&E costs. Starting in 2022, Internal Revenue Code Section 174 R&E expenditures must be capitalized and amortized over five years (15 years for research conducted outside the United States). Previously, businesses had the option of deducting these costs immediately as current expenses.
The TCJA also expanded the types of activities that are considered R&E for purposes of IRC Sec. 174. For example, software development costs are now considered R&E expenses subject to the amortization requirement.
Businesses should consider the following strategies for minimizing the impact of these changes:
For 2022 tax returns, the IRS recently released guidance for taxpayers to change the treatment of R&E expenses (Revenue Procedure 2023-11). The guidance provides a way to obtain automatic consent under the tax code to change methods of accounting for specified research or experimental expenditures under Sec. 174, as amended by the TCJA. This is important because unless there’s an exception provided under tax law, a taxpayer must secure the consent of the IRS before changing a method of accounting for federal income tax purposes.
The recent revenue procedure also provides a transition rule for taxpayers who filed a tax return on or before January 17, 2023.
We can advise you how to proceed. There have also been proposals in Congress that would eliminate the amortization requirements. However, so far, they’ve been unsuccessful. We’re monitoring legislative developments and can help adjust your tax strategies if there’s a change in the law.
With a recession on the horizon – or already here, depending on who you talk to – employees are feeling the sting of inflation, and employers are feeling the financial pinch from decreased consumer buying power and increased caution in spending. Traditionally, layoffs are one of the first options to save money, which harms productivity and employee morale in the long run. In today’s economic climate and tight labor market, CFOs have much to consider and a unique opportunity.
Americans are awful at using vacation hours. Even with lucrative time off policies, paid time off (PTO) hours can sit in a bank waiting to be used or cashed in when an employee leaves the company. The standard has been a tiered benefits package based on years of service with the organization. While the quality depends on the package, what’s true across the board is not every person will use every benefit. According to recent studies, women and persons of color are far less likely to use all their PTO. Furthermore, female team members are more likely to value an emergency fund than their male counterparts. Translation: your company is probably paying for benefits your employees may not use or value.
More and more companies are using convertible benefits to create flexibility and increase utilization, maximizing the employees’ value and balancing company’s cost.
Convertible benefits increase employee satisfaction. Approximately 80% of employees are not actively engaged, costing the company funds in productivity waste and increasing the likelihood of turnover.
Convertible benefits create an inclusive and attractive work culture. When recruiting new team members, studies show a diverse workforce is a key factor for many job seekers. A flexible benefits package can help attract talent from a range of backgrounds.
A convertible benefit program does not have to be complex. Employees should be able to use their PTO or trade it in for cash contributed to a retirement account or money to create an emergency fund. Younger team members may want to convert unused PTO into payments toward their student loans. The goal is to give the team options, listen to their feedback, and adjust where you can. For assistance reviewing your human capital costs and ideas on avoiding layoffs and salary reductions, please get in touch with our trusted team of professionals.
Many people began working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic — and many still work from their home offices either all the time or on a hybrid basis. If you’re self-employed and run your business from home or perform certain functions there, you might be able to claim deductions for home office expenses against your business income. There are two methods for claiming this tax break: the actual expense method and the simplified method.
In general, you qualify for home office deductions if part of your home is used “regularly and exclusively” as your principal place of business.
If your home isn’t your principal place of business, you may still be able to deduct home office expenses if:
Many eligible taxpayers deduct actual expenses when they claim home office deductions. Deductible home office expenses may include:
But keeping track of actual expenses can take time and it requires organized recordkeeping.
Fortunately, there’s a simplified method: You can deduct $5 for each square foot of home office space, up to a maximum of $1,500.
The cap can make the simplified method less valuable for larger home office spaces. Even for small spaces, taxpayers may qualify for bigger deductions using the actual expense method. So, tracking your actual expenses can be worth it.
When claiming home office deductions, you’re not stuck with a particular method. For instance, you might choose the actual expense method on your 2022 return, use the simplified method when you file your 2023 return next year and then switch back to the actual expense method for 2024. The choice is yours.
If you sell — at a profit — a home on which you claimed home office deductions, there may be tax implications. We can explain them to you.
Also be aware that the amount of your home office deductions is subject to limitations based on the income attributable to your use of the office. Other rules and limitations may apply. But any home office expenses that can’t be deducted because of these limitations can be carried over and deducted in later years.
Unfortunately, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the business use of home office deductions from 2018 through 2025 for employees. Those who receive paychecks or Form W-2s aren’t eligible for deductions, even if they’re currently working from home because their employers closed their offices due to COVID-19.
We can help you determine if you’re eligible for home office deductions and how to proceed in your situation.
Merger and acquisition activity dropped dramatically last year due to rising interest rates and a slowing economy. The total value of M&A transactions in North America in 2022 was down 41.4% from 2021, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
But some analysts expect 2023 to see increased M&A activity in certain industries. If you’re considering buying or selling a business, it’s important to understand the tax implications.
Under current tax law, a transaction can basically be structured in two ways:
1. Stock (or ownership interest). A buyer can directly purchase a seller’s ownership interest if the target business is operated as a C or S corporation, a partnership, or a limited liability company (LLC) that’s treated as a partnership for tax purposes.
The current 21% corporate federal income tax rate makes buying the stock of a C corporation somewhat more attractive. That’s because the corporation will pay less tax and generate more after-tax income. Plus, any built-in gains from appreciated corporate assets will be taxed at a lower rate when they’re eventually sold.
The current individual federal tax rates have also made ownership interests in S corporations, partnerships, and LLCs more attractive. Reason: The passed-through income from these entities also is taxed at lower rates on a buyer’s personal tax return. However, individual rate cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of 2025.
2. Assets. A buyer can also purchase the assets of a business. This may happen if a buyer only wants specific assets or product lines. And it’s the only option if the target business is a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC that’s treated as a sole proprietorship for tax purposes.
What buyers want
For several reasons, buyers usually prefer to buy assets rather than ownership interests. In general, a buyer’s primary goal is to generate enough cash flow from an acquired business to pay any acquisition debt and provide an acceptable return on the investment. Therefore, buyers are concerned about limiting exposure to undisclosed and unknown liabilities and minimizing taxes after a transaction closes.
A buyer can step up (or increase) the tax basis of purchased assets to reflect the purchase price. Stepped-up basis lowers taxable gains when certain assets, such as receivables and inventory, are sold or converted into cash. It also increases depreciation and amortization deductions for qualifying assets.
In general, sellers prefer stock sales for tax and nontax reasons. One of their objectives is to minimize the tax bill from a sale. That can usually be achieved by selling their ownership interests in a business (corporate stock, or partnership or LLC interests) as opposed to selling assets.
With a sale of stock or other ownership interest, liabilities generally transfer to the buyer, and any gain on sale is generally treated as lower-taxed long-term capital gain (assuming the ownership interest has been held for more than one year).
Be aware that other issues, such as employee benefits, can also cause tax issues in M&A transactions. Buying or selling a business may be the largest transaction you’ll ever make, so it’s important to seek professional assistance before finalizing a deal. After a transaction is complete, it may be too late to get the best tax results. Contact us about how to proceed.
A business owner’s plate is quite full, if not overflowing, from the day-to-day operations to the background necessities like marketing and financial activities. The reality is it’s difficult to do everything and be everyone for your business. Working with an outsourced Chief Financial Officer, or vCFO, could be the right move for your business in 2023, and here is why.
Time management is crucial to the success of a business. Trying to handle financial risk assessments, financial reporting, record keeping, and even financial planning often diverts time away from other critical tasks. A vCFO will use their expertise and resources to complete financial tasks quickly and accurately, allowing you to redirect hours to other business functions.
As a business owner, you know your product or service and all the nuances inside and out. Customers pay you for your product, service, and expertise. When you outsource a CFO, you will gain access to decision support, new ideas, and an experienced perspective.
A vCFO can help with decision-making, financial ratio, cost-benefit, and pricing analyses. Or they can provide an outside perspective on future business moves you’re considering and ask the hard questions you may be afraid to ask.
Hiring a full-time CFO is either cost prohibitive or unrealistic if there isn’t 40 hours’ worth of work. Outsourcing allows businesses to pay only for the hours and tasks they need allowing the business to save money.
Getting bogged down in the minute details of running a business can cause business owners to miss the bigger picture and make it harder to shift when the winds of change come blowing in. Outsourcing financial tasks to an expert frees up time for the business owner to step back and see what opportunities and roadblocks may lie ahead. They can also be a sounding board and provide insight into the different directions you are considering.
Maybe your business finances need to be straightened out, you need help making heads or tails of the numbers, or your business isn’t bringing in the revenue you’d expect even with new customers and increasing sales. Outsourced CFOs bring a wealth of experience to the table that helps business owners by providing expert guidance through these scenarios. And, if you need to raise capital or investigate business loans, the outsourced CFO can also assist with those tasks.
There will come a time when the right move is moving on from the business. This could mean retirement or finding new opportunities elsewhere. Experienced CFOs can guide you through the various options and help you select the options that align best with your goals.
Are you ready to discuss what an outsourced CFO can do for your business? Reach out to our knowledgeable professionals to set up a time to discuss your goals and how you plan to get there.
Many businesses in certain industries employ individuals who receive tips as part of their compensation. These businesses include restaurants, hotels, and salons.
Tips are optional payments that customers make to employees who perform services. They can be cash or noncash. Cash tips include those received directly from customers, electronically paid tips distributed to employees by employers, and tips received from other employees under tip-sharing arrangements. Generally, workers must report cash tips to their employers. Noncash tips are items of value other than cash. They may include tickets, passes, or other items that customers give employees. Workers don’t have to report noncash tips to employers.
For tax purposes, four factors determine whether a payment qualifies as a tip:
Tips can also be direct or indirect. A direct tip occurs when an employee receives it directly from a customer, even as part of a tip pool. Directly tipped employees include wait staff, bartenders and hairstylists. An indirect tip occurs when an employee who normally doesn’t receive tips receives one. Indirectly tipped employees include bussers, service bartenders, cooks and salon shampooers.
Tipped workers must keep daily records of the cash tips they receive. To keep track of them, they can use Form 4070A, Employee’s Daily Record of Tips. It is found in IRS Publication 1244.
Workers should also keep records of the dates and value of noncash tips. Although the IRS doesn’t require workers to report noncash tips to employers, they must report them on their tax returns.
Employees must report tips to employers by the 10th of the month following the month they were received. The IRS doesn’t require workers to use a particular form to report tips. However, a worker’s tip report generally should include:
Note: Employees whose monthly tips are less than $20 don’t need to report them to their employers but must include them as income on their tax returns.
Employers should send each employee a Form W-2 that includes reported tips. Employers also must:
In addition, “large” food or beverage establishments must file an annual report disclosing receipts and tips on Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips.
If you’re an employer with tipped workers providing food and beverages, you may qualify for a federal tax credit involving the Social Security and Medicare taxes that you pay on employees’ tip income. The tip tax credit may be valuable to you. If you have any questions about the tax implications of tips, don’t hesitate to contact us.
An array of tax-related limits that affect businesses are indexed annually, and due to high inflation, many have increased more than usual for 2023. Here are some that may be important to you and your business.
The amount of employees’ earnings that are subject to Social Security tax is capped for 2023 at $160,200 (up from $147,000 for 2022).
These are only some of the tax limits and deductions that may affect your business and additional rules may apply. Contact us if you have questions.
With the 2023 filing season deadline drawing near, be aware that the deadline for businesses to file information returns for hired workers is even closer. By January 31, 2023, employers must file these forms:
Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. W-2 forms show the wages paid and taxes withheld for the year for each employee. They must be provided to employees and filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The IRS notes that “because employees’ Social Security and Medicare benefits are computed based on information on Form W-2, it’s very important to prepare Form W-2 correctly and timely.”
Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements. Anyone required to file Form W-2 must also file Form W-3 to transmit Copy A of Form W-2 to the SSA. The totals for amounts reported on related employment tax forms (Form 941, Form 943, Form 944 or Schedule H for the year) should agree with the amounts reported on Form W-3.
Failing to timely file or include the correct information on either the information return or statement may result in penalties.
The January 31 deadline also applies to Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation. These forms are provided to recipients and filed with the IRS to report non-employee compensation to independent contractors.
Payers must complete Form 1099-NEC to report any payment of $600 or more to a recipient.
If the following four conditions are met, you must generally report payments as nonemployee compensation:
Your business may also have to file a Form 1099-MISC for each person to whom you made certain payments for rent, medical expenses, prizes and awards, attorney’s services and more.
If you have questions about filing Form W-2, Form 1099-NEC or any tax forms, contact us. We can assist you in staying in compliance with all rules.
If your small business has a retirement plan, and even if it doesn’t, you may see changes and benefits from a new law. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement 2.0 Act (SECURE 2.0) was recently signed into law. Provisions in the law will kick in over several years.
SECURE 2.0 is meant to build on the original SECURE Act, which was signed into law in 2019. Here are some provisions that may affect your business.
Retirement plan automatic enrollment. Under the new law, 401(k) plans will be required to automatically enroll employees when they become eligible, beginning with plan years after December 31, 2024. Employees will be permitted to opt out. The initial automatic enrollment amount would be at least 3% but not more than 10%. Then, the amount would be increased by 1% each year thereafter until it reaches at least 10%, but not more than 15%. All current 401(k) plans are grandfathered. Certain small businesses would be exempt.
Part-time worker coverage. The first SECURE Act requires employers to allow long-term, part-time workers to participate in their 401(k) plans with a dual eligibility requirement (one year of service and at least 1,000 hours worked or three consecutive years of service with at least 500 hours worked). The new law will reduce the three-year rule to two years, beginning after December 31, 2024. This provision would also extend the long-term part-time coverage rules to 403(b) plans that are subject to ERISA.
Employees with student loan debt. The new law will allow an employer to make matching contributions to 401(k) and certain other retirement plans with respect to “qualified student loan payments.” This means that employees who can’t afford to save money for retirement because they’re repaying student loan debt can still receive matching contributions from their employers into retirement plans. This will take effect beginning after December 31, 2023.
“Starter” 401(k) plans. The new law will allow an employer that doesn’t sponsor a retirement plan to offer a starter 401(k) plan (or safe harbor 403(b) plan) that would require all employees to be default enrolled in the plan at a 3% to 15% of compensation deferral rate. The limit on annual deferrals would be the same as the IRA contribution limit with an additional $1,000 in catch-up contributions beginning at age 50. This provision takes effect beginning after December 31, 2023.
Tax credit for small employer pension plan start-up costs. The new law increases and makes several changes to the small employer pension plan start-up cost credit to incentivize businesses to establish retirement plans. This took effect for plan years after December 31, 2022.
Higher catch-up contributions for some participants. Currently, participants in certain retirement plans can make additional catch-up contributions if they’re age 50 or older. The catch-up contribution limit for 401(k) plans is $7,500 for 2023. SECURE 2.0 will increase the 401(k) catch-up contribution limit to the greater of $10,000 or 150% of the regular catch-up amount for individuals ages 60 through 63. The increased amounts will be indexed for inflation after December 31, 2025. This provision will take effect for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2024. (There will also be increased catch-up amounts for SIMPLE plans.)
Retirement savings for military spouses. SECURE 2.0 creates a new tax credit for eligible small employers for each military spouse that begins participating in their eligible defined contribution plan. This became effective in 2023.
These are only some of the provisions in SECURE 2.0. Contact us if you have any questions about your situation.
The IRS recently released the 2023 mileage rates for businesses to use as guidance when reimbursing workers for applicable miles driven within the year. The rates tend to increase yearly to account for rising fuel and vehicle and maintenance costs and insurance rate increases.
Businesses can use the standard mileage rate to calculate the deductible costs of operating qualified automobiles for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes. Keep reading for the updated mileage rates and some reminders for mileage reimbursements and deductions.
Standard mileage rates for cars, vans, and pickups or panel trucks are as follows:
|Use Category||Mileage rate (as of Jan. 1, 2023)||Change from the previous year|
|Business miles driven||$0.655 per mile||$0.03 increase from mid-year 2022|
|Medical or moving miles driven*||$0.22 per mile||$0.00 increase from mid-year 2022|
|Miles driven for charitable organizations||$0.14 per mile||Note: Only congress may adjust the mileage rate for service to a charitable organization by a Congress-passed statute.|
*Moving miles reimbursement for qualified active-duty members of the Armed Forces
When reimbursing employees for miles driven, keep the following in mind:
To review your organization’s mileage reimbursement policy and any alternate methods for calculating appropriate reimbursement amounts, reach out to our team of knowledgeable professionals today.
The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) was a valuable tax credit that helped employers that kept workers on staff during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the credit is no longer available, eligible employers that haven’t yet claimed it might still be able to do so by filing amended payroll returns for tax years 2020 and 2021.
However, the IRS is warning employers to beware of third parties that may be advising them to claim the ERC when they don’t qualify. Some third-party “ERC mills” are promising that they can get businesses a refund without knowing anything about the employers’ situations. They’re sending emails, letters and voice mails as well as advertising on television. When businesses respond, these ERC mills are claiming many improper write-offs related to taxpayer eligibility for — and computation of — the credit.
These third parties often charge large upfront fees or a fee that’s contingent on the amount of the refund. They may not inform taxpayers that wage deductions claimed on the companies’ federal income tax returns must be reduced by the amount of the credit.
According to the IRS, if a business filed an income tax return deducting qualified wages before it filed an employment tax return claiming the credit, the business should file an amended income tax return to correct any overstated wage deduction. Your tax advisor can assist with this.
Businesses are encouraged to be cautious of advertised schemes and direct solicitations promising tax savings that are too good to be true. Taxpayers are always responsible for the information reported on their tax returns. Improperly claiming the ERC could result in taxpayers being required to repay the credit along with penalties and interest.
The ERC is a refundable tax credit designed for businesses that:
Eligible taxpayers could have claimed the ERC on an original employment tax return or they can claim it on an amended return.
To be eligible for the ERC, employers must have:
As a reminder, only recovery startup businesses are eligible for the ERC in the fourth quarter of 2021. Additionally, for any quarter, eligible employers cannot claim the ERC on wages that were reported as payroll costs in obtaining Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness or that were used to claim certain other tax credits.
If you didn’t claim the ERC, and believe you’re eligible, contact us. We can advise you on how to proceed.
The new Secure Act 2.0 legislation expands upon the Secure Act of 2019 with updates to retirement savings plans across the country. Here’s what you need to know.
Plan sponsors of 401(k) and 403(b) plans will be required to automatically enroll eligible employees with a starting contribution of 3% of their salary beginning in 2025. This amount will increase annually by 1% until the deferral amount reaches 10% of their earnings. Employees can opt-out if they do not wish to enroll in the sponsored retirement plan. This goes into effect for all existing defined-contribution plans if the employer has more than 10 employees and has existed for more than three years. Government and churches are excluded.
In addition, unenrolled participant notification requirements have been eliminated except for an annual reminder of plan requirements and their opportunity to participate.
Over the next 10 years, the age when required minimum distributions go into effect will increase. Here are the highlights:
For those who failed to make their required minimum contribution, the Act reduces the penalty from 50% to 25%.
Certain hardships are eligible for penalty-free early withdrawals from retirement accounts, where retirement account owners are only responsible for applicable taxes instead of the early withdrawal fee. Eligible hardships have been expanded to include victims of domestic violence, terminally ill patients, and certain personal financial emergencies. In addition, victims of qualified federal disasters who have experienced significant financial impact may take an early withdrawal without penalty within 180 days of the disaster.
Currently, taxpayers aged 50 or older can make catch-up contributions to eligible retirement plans, like a 401(k) or IRA. Beginning in 2025, The Secure Act 2.0 increases limits to the greater of $10,000 or 50% more than the original catch-up amount for those aged 60, 61, 62, or 63. In addition, IRA catch-up limits will no longer be set to $1,000 per year but will increase with inflation. In 2024, catch-up contributions will also be subject to after-tax (ROTH) rules.
The Secure Act 2.0 permits qualified 403(b) and governmental 457(b) plans to allow employees to designate employer matching, nonelective contributions, and student loan matching contributions as pre- or post-tax contributions. Take note that Roth-designated employer contributions must be 100% vested.
If a part-time worker has worked for an employer for at least three consecutive years and worked a minimum of 500 hours per year for those three years, the plan sponsor must allow them to contribute to qualified 401(k) plans. Effective for 401(k) and 403 (b) plans beginning after December 31, 2024, the three-year requirement has been reduced to two years.
Beginning in 2023, businesses with 50 employees or fewer can take a credit of up to 100% of the startup costs for workplace retirement plans, up to the annual cap of $5,000. This is an increase from the 50% credit previously offered.
To review how your tax strategy is affected by the Secure Act 2.0, reach out to our team of knowledgeable professionals.
If you’re considering converting your C corporation to an S corporation, be aware that there may be tax implications if you’ve been using the last in, first out (LIFO) inventory method. That’s because of the LIFO recapture income that will be triggered by converting to S corporation status. We can meet to compute what the tax on this recapture would be and to see what planning steps might be taken to minimize it.
As you’re aware, your corporation has been reporting a lower amount of taxable income under LIFO than it would have under the first in, first out (FIFO) method. The reason: The inventory taken into account in calculating the cost of goods sold under LIFO reflects current costs, which are usually higher.
This benefit of LIFO over FIFO is equal to the difference between the LIFO value of inventory and the higher value it would have had if the FIFO method had been used. In effect, the tax law treats this difference as though it were profit earned while the corporation was a C corporation. To make sure there’s a corporate-level tax on this amount, it must be “recaptured” into income when the corporation converts from a C corporation to an S corporation. Also, the recapture amount will increase the corporation’s earnings and profits, which can have adverse tax consequences down the road.
There are a couple of rules that soften the blow of this recapture tax to some degree.
We can help you gauge your exposure to the LIFO recapture tax and can suggest strategies for reducing it. Contact us to discuss these issues in detail.
Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the first quarter of 2023. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. If you have questions about filing requirements, contact us. We can ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines.
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2022. You can use the appropriate version of Form 1099 or other information return. Form 1099 can be issued electronically with the consent of the recipient. This due date applies only to the following types of payments:
If you own a business, you may wonder if you’re eligible to take the qualified business income (QBI) deduction. Sometimes this is referred to as the pass-through deduction or the Section 199A deduction.
The QBI deduction is:
Taxpayers other than corporations may be entitled to a deduction of up to 20% of their QBI. For 2022, if taxable income exceeds $170,050 for single taxpayers, or $340,100 for a married couple filing jointly, the QBI deduction may be limited based on different scenarios. For 2023, these amounts are $182,100 and $364,200, respectively.
The situations in which the QBI deduction may be limited include whether the taxpayer is engaged in a service-type of trade or business (such as law, accounting, health or consulting), the amount of W-2 wages paid by the trade or business, and/or the unadjusted basis of qualified property (such as machinery and equipment) held by the trade or business. The limitations are phased in.
Some taxpayers may be able to achieve significant savings with respect to this deduction (or be subject to a smaller phaseout of the deduction), by deferring income or accelerating deductions at year-end so that they come under the dollar thresholds for 2022. Depending on your business model, you also may be able to increase the deduction by increasing W-2 wages before year-end. The rules are quite complex, so contact us with questions and consult with us before taking the next steps.
These days, most businesses have some intangible assets. The tax treatment of these assets can be complex.
IRS regulations require the capitalization of costs to:
Capitalized costs can’t be deducted in the year paid or incurred. If they’re deductible at all, they must be ratably deducted over the life of the asset (or, for some assets, over periods specified by the tax code or under regulations). However, capitalization generally isn’t required for costs not exceeding $5,000 and for amounts paid to create or facilitate the creation of any right or benefit that doesn’t extend beyond the earlier of 1) 12 months after the first date on which the taxpayer realizes the right or benefit or 2) the end of the tax year following the tax year in which the payment is made.
The term “intangibles” covers many items. It may not always be simple to determine whether an intangible asset or benefit has been acquired or created. Intangibles include debt instruments, prepaid expenses, non-functional currencies, financial derivatives (including, but not limited to options, forward or futures contracts, and foreign currency contracts), leases, licenses, memberships, patents, copyrights, franchises, trademarks, trade names, goodwill, annuity contracts, insurance contracts, endowment contracts, customer lists, ownership interests in any business entity (for example, corporations, partnerships, LLCs, trusts, and estates) and other rights, assets, instruments and agreements.
Here are just a few examples of expenses to acquire or create intangibles that are subject to the capitalization rules:
The IRS regulations generally characterize an amount as paid to “facilitate” the acquisition or creation of an intangible if it is paid in the process of investigating or pursuing a transaction. The facilitation rules can affect any type of business, and many ordinary business transactions. Examples of costs that facilitate acquisition or creation of an intangible include payments to:
Like most tax rules, these capitalization rules have exceptions. There are also certain elections taxpayers can make to capitalize items that aren’t ordinarily required to be capitalized. The above examples aren’t all-inclusive, and given the length and complexity of the regulations, any transaction involving intangibles and related costs should be analyzed to determine the tax implications.
Contact us to discuss the capitalization rules to see if any costs you’ve paid or incurred must be capitalized or whether your business has entered into transactions that may trigger these rules. You can also contact us if you have any questions.
How much can you and your employees contribute to your 401(k)s next year — or other retirement plans? In Notice 2022-55, the IRS recently announced cost-of-living adjustments that apply to the dollar limitations for pensions, as well as other qualified retirement plans for 2023. The amounts increased more than they have in recent years due to inflation.
The 2023 contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k) plans will increase to $22,500 (up from $20,500 in 2022). This contribution amount also applies to 403(b) plans, most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan.
The catch-up contribution limit for employees age 50 and over who participate in 401(k) plans and the other plans mentioned above will increase to $7,500 (up from $6,500 in 2022). Therefore, participants in 401(k) plans (and the others listed above) who are 50 and older can contribute up to $30,000 in 2023.
The limitation for defined contribution plans, including a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan, will increase from $61,000 to $66,000. To participate in a SEP, an eligible employee must receive at least a certain amount of compensation for the year. That amount will increase in 2023 to $750 (from $650 for 2022).
Deferrals to a SIMPLE plan will increase to $15,500 in 2023 (up from $14,000 in 2022). The catch-up contribution limit for employees age 50 and over who participate in SIMPLE plans will increase to $3,500 in 2023, up from $3,000.
The IRS also announced that in 2023:
The 2023 limit on annual contributions to an individual IRA will increase to $6,500 (up from $6,000 for 2022). The IRA catch-up contribution limit for individuals age 50 and older isn’t subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and will remain $1,000.
Current high inflation rates will make it easier for you and your employees to save much more in your retirement plans in 2023. The contribution amounts will be a great deal higher next year than they’ve been in recent years. Contact us if you have questions about your tax-advantaged retirement plan or if you want to explore other retirement plan options.
Companies that wish to reduce their tax bills or increase their refunds shouldn’t overlook the fuel tax credit. It’s available for federal tax paid on fuel used for nontaxable purposes.
The federal fuel tax, which is used to fund highway and road maintenance programs, is collected from buyers of gasoline, undyed diesel fuel, and undyed kerosene. (Dyed fuels, which are limited to off-road use, are exempt from the tax.)
But purchasers of taxable fuel may use it for nontaxable purposes. For example, construction businesses often use gasoline, undyed diesel fuel or undyed kerosene to run off-road vehicles and construction equipment, such as front loaders, bulldozers, cranes, power saws, air compressors, generators and heaters.
As of this writing, a federal fuel tax holiday has been proposed. But even if it’s signed into law (check with your tax advisor for the latest information), businesses can benefit from the fuel tax credit for months the holiday isn’t in effect.
Currently, the federal tax on gasoline is $0.184 per gallon, and the federal tax on diesel fuel and kerosene is $0.244 per gallon. Calculating the fuel tax credit is simply a matter of multiplying the number of gallons used for nontaxable purposes during the year by the applicable rate.
So, for instance, a company that uses 7,500 gallons of gasoline and 15,000 gallons of undyed diesel fuel to operate off-road vehicles and equipment is entitled to a $5,040 credit (7,500 x $0.184) + (15,000 x $0.244).
This may not seem like a large number, but it can add up over the years. And remember, a tax credit reduces your tax liability dollar for dollar. That’s much more valuable than a deduction, which reduces only your taxable income.
Keep in mind, though, that fuel tax credits are includable in your company’s taxable income. That’s because the full amount of the fuel purchases was previously deducted as business expenses, and you can’t claim a deduction and a credit on the same expense.
You can claim the credit by filing Form 4136, “Credit for Federal Tax Paid on Fuels,” with your tax return. If you don’t want to wait until the end of the year to recoup fuel taxes, you can file Form 8849, “Claim for Refund of Excise Taxes,” to obtain periodic refunds.
Alternatively, if your business files Form 720, “Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return,” you can claim fuel tax credits against your excise tax liability.
No one likes to pay taxes they don’t owe, but if you forgo fuel tax credits, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Given the minimal burden involved in claiming these credits — it’s just a matter of tracking your nontaxable fuel uses and filing a form — there’s really no reason not to do so.
Many companies are eligible for tax write-offs for certain equipment purchases and building improvements. These write-offs can do wonders for a business’s cash flow, but whether to claim them isn’t always an easy decision. In some cases, there are advantages to following the regular depreciation rules. So it’s critical to look at the big picture and develop a strategy that aligns with your company’s overall tax-planning objectives.
Taxpayers can elect to claim 100% bonus depreciation or Section 179 expensing to deduct the full cost of eligible property up front in the year it’s placed in service. Alternatively, they may spread depreciation deductions over several years or decades, depending on how the tax code classifies the property.
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), 100% bonus depreciation is available for property placed in service through 2022. Without further legislation, bonus depreciation will be phased down to 80% for property placed in service in 2023, 60% in 2024, 40% in 2025, and 20% in 2026; then, after 2026, bonus depreciation will no longer be available. (For certain property with longer production periods, these reductions are delayed by one year. For example, 80% bonus depreciation will apply to long-production-period property placed in service in 2024.)
In March 2020, a technical correction made by the CARES Act expanded the availability of bonus depreciation. Under the correction, qualified improvement property (QIP), which includes many interior improvements to commercial buildings, is eligible for 100% bonus depreciation not only following the phaseout schedule through 2026 but also retroactively to 2018. So, taxpayers that placed QIP in service in 2018 and 2019 may have an opportunity to claim bonus depreciation by amending their returns for those years. If bonus depreciation isn’t claimed, QIP is generally depreciable on a straight-line basis over 15 years.
Sec. 179 also allows taxpayers to fully deduct the cost of eligible property, but the maximum deduction in a given year is $1 million (adjusted for inflation to $1.08 million for 2022), and the deduction is gradually phased out once a taxpayer’s qualifying expenditures exceed $2.5 million (adjusted for inflation to $2.7 million for 2022).
While 100% first-year bonus depreciation or Sec. 179 expensing can significantly lower your company’s taxable income, it’s not always a smart move. Here are three examples of situations where it may be preferable to forgo bonus depreciation or Sec. 179 expensing:
You’re planning to sell QIP. If you’ve invested heavily in building improvements that are eligible for bonus depreciation as QIP and you plan to sell the building in the near future, you may be stepping into a tax trap by claiming the QIP write-off. That’s because your gain on the sale — up to the amount of bonus depreciation or Sec. 179 deductions you’ve claimed — will be treated as “recaptured” depreciation that’s taxable at ordinary-income tax rates as high as 37%. On the other hand, if you deduct the cost of QIP under regular depreciation rules (generally, over 15 years), any long-term gain attributable to those deductions will be taxable at a top rate of 25% upon the building’s sale.
You’re eligible for the Sec. 199A “pass-through” deduction. This deduction allows eligible business owners to deduct up to 20% of their qualified business income (QBI) from certain pass-through entities, such as partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations, as well as sole proprietorships. The deduction, which is available through 2025 under the TCJA, can’t exceed 20% of an owner’s taxable income, excluding net capital gains. (Several other restrictions apply.)
Claiming bonus depreciation or Sec. 179 deductions reduces your QBI, which may deprive you of an opportunity to maximize the 199A deduction. And since the 199A deduction is scheduled to expire in 2025, it makes sense to take advantage of it while you can.
Your depreciation deductions may be more valuable in the future. The value of a deduction is based on its ability to reduce your tax bill. If you think your tax rate will go up in the coming years, either because you believe Congress will increase rates or you expect to be in a higher bracket, depreciation write-offs may be worth more in future years than they are now.
Keep in mind that forgoing bonus depreciation or Sec. 179 deductions only affects the timing of those deductions. You’ll still have an opportunity to write off the full cost of eligible assets; it will just be over a longer time period. Your tax advisor can analyze how these write-offs interact with other tax benefits and help you determine the optimal strategy for your situation.
No one needs to remind business owners that the cost of employee health care benefits keeps going up. One way to provide some of these benefits is through an employer-sponsored Health Savings Account (HSA). For eligible individuals, an HSA offers a tax-advantaged way to set aside funds (or have their employers do so) to meet future medical needs. Here are the key tax benefits:
To be eligible for an HSA, an individual must be covered by a “high deductible health plan.” For 2023, a “high deductible health plan” will be one with an annual deductible of at least $1,500 for self-only coverage or at least $3,000 for family coverage. (These amounts in 2022 were $1,400 and $2,800, respectively.) For self-only coverage, the 2023 limit on deductible contributions will be $3,850 (up from $3,650 in 2022). For family coverage, the 2023 limit on deductible contributions will be $7,750 (up from $7,300 in 2022). Additionally, annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits for 2023 will not be able to exceed $7,500 for self-only coverage or $15,000 for family coverage (up from $7,050 and $14,100, respectively, in 2022).
An individual (and the individual’s covered spouse, as well) who has reached age 55 before the close of the tax year (and is an eligible HSA contributor) may make additional “catch-up” contributions for 2023 of up to $1,000 (unchanged from the 2022 amount).
If an employer contributes to the HSA of an eligible individual, the employer’s contribution is treated as employer-provided coverage for medical expenses under an accident or health plan. It’s also excludable from an employee’s gross income up to the deduction limitation. Funds can be built up for years because there’s no “use-it-or-lose-it” provision. An employer that decides to make contributions on its employees’ behalf must generally make comparable contributions to the HSAs of all comparable participating employees for that calendar year. If the employer doesn’t make comparable contributions, the employer is subject to a 35% tax on the aggregate amount contributed by the employer to HSAs for that period.
HSA withdrawals (or distributions) can be made to pay for qualified medical expenses, which generally means expenses that would qualify for the medical expense itemized deduction. Among these expenses are doctors’ visits, prescriptions, chiropractic care, and premiums for long-term care insurance.
If funds are withdrawn from the HSA for other reasons, the withdrawal is taxable. Additionally, an extra 20% tax will apply to the withdrawal unless it’s made after reaching age 65 or in the event of death or disability.
HSAs offer a flexible option for providing health care coverage, and they may be an attractive benefit for your business. But the rules are somewhat complex. Contact us if you have questions or would like to discuss offering HSAs to your employees.
If you need to hire, be aware of a valuable tax credit for employers hiring individuals from one or more targeted groups. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is generally worth $2,400 for each eligible employee but can be worth more — in some cases, much more.
Generally, an employer is eligible for the credit only for qualified wages paid to members of a targeted group. These groups are:
Employers of all sizes are eligible to claim the WOTC. This includes both taxable and certain tax-exempt employers located in the United States and in some U.S. territories. Taxable employers can claim the WOTC against income taxes. However, eligible tax-exempt employers can claim the WOTC only against payroll taxes and only for wages paid to members of the qualified veteran targeted group.
Many additional conditions must be fulfilled before employers can qualify for the credit. Each employee must have completed a minimum of 120 hours of service for the employer. Also, the credit isn’t available for employees who are related to the employer or who previously worked for the employer.
WOTC amounts differ for specific employees. The maximum credit available for the first year’s wages generally is $2,400 for each employee, or $4,000 for a recipient of long-term family assistance. In addition, for those receiving long-term family assistance, there’s a 50% credit for up to $10,000 of second-year wages. The maximum credit available over two years for these employees is $9,000 ($4,000 for Year 1 and $5,000 for Year 2).
For some veterans, the maximum WOTC is higher: $4,800 for certain disabled veterans, $5,600 for certain unemployed veterans, and $9,600 for certain veterans who are both disabled and unemployed.
For summer youth employees, the wages must be paid for services performed during any 90-day period between May 1 and September 15. The maximum WOTC credit available for summer youth is $1,200 per employee.
Additional rules and requirements apply. For example, you must obtain certification that an employee is a target group member from the appropriate State Workforce Agency before you can claim the credit. The certification generally must be requested within 28 days after the employee begins work. And in limited circumstances, the rules may prohibit the credit or require an allocation of it.
Nevertheless, for most employers that hire from targeted groups, the credit can be valuable. Contact your tax advisor with questions or for more information about your situation.
The Social Security Administration recently announced that the wage base for computing Social Security tax will increase to $160,200 for 2023 (up from $147,000 for 2022). Wages and self-employment income above this threshold aren’t subject to Social Security tax.
The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) imposes two taxes on employers, employees, and self-employed workers. One is for the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program, which is commonly known as Social Security. The other is for the Hospital Insurance program, which is commonly known as Medicare.
There’s a maximum amount of compensation subject to the Social Security tax, but no maximum for Medicare tax. For 2023, the FICA tax rate for employers is 7.65% — 6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare (the same as in 2022).
For 2023, an employee will pay:
For 2023, the self-employment tax imposed on self-employed people is:
What happens if one of your employees works for your business and has a second job? That employee would have taxes withheld from two different employers. Can the employee ask you to stop withholding Social Security tax once he or she reaches the wage base threshold? Unfortunately, no. Each employer must withhold Social Security taxes from the individual’s wages, even if the combined withholding exceeds the maximum amount that can be imposed for the year. Fortunately, the employee will get a credit on his or her tax return for any excess withheld.
Contact us if you have questions about 2023 payroll tax filing or payments. We can help ensure you stay in compliance.
Throughout the year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will designate incidents that adversely affect residents in the affected areas as disasters. This FEMA designation puts relief efforts in motion, both short and long-term.
While immediate needs like food, water, and shelter are at the top of the list, long-term efforts, like relief options through the IRS, aim to help those affected get back on their feet.
In the past, the Senate was required to vote every time the IRS wanted to grant disaster relief provisions to FEMA-designated disaster areas. Now, the IRS can give disaster relief by extending deadlines for “certain time-sensitive acts.” This includes filing returns and paying taxes during the disaster period. For example, affected taxpayers usually receive a tax refund more quickly by “claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year.”
While in some areas of the country, disaster preparedness feels more like a what-if scenario, other parts of the country are all-too-familiar with preparing for floods, wildfires, and tornados. The IRS recommends:
Suppose you or your business have gone through a natural disaster, and you cannot access your original tax documents. In that case, the IRS recommends the following resources for obtaining important financial information when you are ready:
The IRS keeps a list of current and past disaster relief offered on its website. Some of the more recent disaster-related tax relief programs include:
We recommend talking with your tax advisor and visiting the IRS Disaster Relief Website for a comprehensive list.
Even though the overall IRS audit rate is currently low historically, it’s expected to increase as a result of provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law in August. So it’s more important than ever for taxpayers to follow the rules to minimize their chances of being subject to an audit. How can you reduce your audit chances? Watch for these 10 red flags that can trigger IRS scrutiny:
Of course, this isn’t the end of the list. There are many other potential audit triggers, depending on a taxpayer’s particular situation. Also, keep in mind that some audits are done on a random basis. So even if you have no common triggers on your return, you still could be subject to an audit (though the chances are lower).
With proper tax reporting and professional help, you can reduce the likelihood of triggering an audit. And if you still end up being subject to one, proper documentation can help you withstand it with little or no negative consequences.
Do you own commercial or investment real estate that has substantially increased in value? If you sell the property, you may be hit with a huge capital gain tax liability. Possible solution: Consider a Section 1031 exchange (also known as a like-kind exchange) in which you swap qualifying properties while paying zero or little current tax.
Recent legislation has narrowed the availability of Sec. 1031 exchanges, but you can still use this technique for qualified real estate transactions. However, keep in mind that a repeal or modification of the rules has been discussed. So, if you’re interested in an exchange, you may want to act soon.
Under Sec. 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, you can defer tax on the exchange of like-kind real estate properties if specific requirements are met. Previously, this tax break was available for various types of property, such as trade-ins of business vehicles. But as of 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act strictly limits the Sec. 1031 rules to real estate transactions.
Note that the properties — both the one you relinquish and the one you receive — must be business or investment properties. You can’t avoid current tax if you swap personal residences, but you may be able to exchange a vacation home that is treated as a rental property. (There may be other complications, so consult with your tax advisor.)
Normally, a sale of appreciated real estate would result in capital gains tax. For individual property owners, the maximum tax rate is 20% if the property has been owned for longer than one year. Otherwise, the gain for individuals is taxed at ordinary income tax rates currently topping out at 37%.
If you meet the requirements under Sec. 1031, there’s no current tax due on the exchange — except to the extent that you receive “boot” as part of the deal. Boot includes cash needed to “even things out” or other concessions of value (such as a reduction of mortgage debt). In some cases, cash may be combined with a valued benefit.
If you receive boot, you owe current tax on the amount equal to the lesser of:
On the other hand, if you’re the one paying boot, you won’t realize any taxable gain.
For these purposes, “like-kind” refers to the property’s nature or character. The prevailing tax regulations provide a liberal interpretation of what constitutes like-kind properties. For instance, you can exchange improved real estate for raw land, a strip mall for an apartment building or a marina for a golf course. It doesn’t have to be the exact same type of property (for example, a warehouse for a warehouse).
Timing is everything. The following two deadlines must be met for a like-kind exchange to qualify for tax-free treatment:
The 180-day period begins to run on the date of the transfer of legal ownership of the relinquished property. If that period straddles two tax years, it might be shortened by the tax return due date. So, if you give up title to the property in November or December this year, the due date for 2022 returns (April 18, 2023) would arrive before 180 days are up. Keep this in mind as the end of the year approaches.
Also, in the real world, it’s unlikely that you’ll own property that another person wants to acquire while he or she also owns property that you desire. These one-for-one exchanges are rare. The vast majority of Sec. 1031 real estate exchanges involve multiple parties. (See the sidebar, “Multiple-party exchanges.”)
Unless you’re an expert in the field, a Sec. 1031 exchange is not a do-it-yourself proposition. Enlist the services of professionals, including your CPA, who can provide the assistance you need.
Depending on your situation, you might use a “qualified intermediary” to cement a Section 1031 exchange. Essentially, the qualified intermediary is a third party that helps facilitate the deal. The parties create an agreement whereby the qualified intermediary:
Note that the agreement must limit the taxpayer’s rights to receive, pledge, borrow or otherwise obtain benefits of cash or other property held by the intermediary. In addition, specific IRS reporting requirements must be met. Typically, the intermediary charges a fee based on the value of the properties.
Businesses can provide benefits to employees that don’t cost them much or anything at all. However, in some cases, employees may have to pay tax on the value of these benefits.
Here are examples of two types of benefits which employees generally can exclude from income:
However, many fringe benefits are taxable, meaning they’re included in the employees’ wages and reported on Form W-2. Unless an exception applies, these benefits are subject to federal income tax withholding, Social Security (unless the employee has already reached the year’s wage base limit) and Medicare.
The line between taxable and nontaxable fringe benefits may not be clear. As illustrated in one recent case, some taxpayers get into trouble if they cross too far over the line.
A retired airline pilot received free stand-by airline tickets from his former employer for himself, his spouse, his daughter, and two other adult relatives. The value of the tickets provided to the adult relatives was valued $5,478. The airline reported this amount as income paid to the retired pilot on Form 1099-MISC, which it filed with the IRS. The taxpayer and his spouse filed a joint tax return for the year in question but didn’t include the value of the free tickets in gross income.
The IRS determined that the couple was required to include the value of the airline tickets provided to their adult relatives in their gross income. The retired pilot argued the value of the tickets should be excluded as a de minimis fringe.
The U.S. Tax Court agreed with the IRS that the taxpayers were required to include in gross income the value of airline tickets provided to their adult relatives. The value, the court stated, didn’t qualify for exclusion as a no-additional-cost service because the adult relatives weren’t the taxpayers’ dependent children. In addition, the value wasn’t excludable under the tax code as a de minimis fringe benefit “because the tickets had a value high enough that accounting for their provision was not unreasonable or administratively impracticable.” (TC Memo 2022-36)
You may be able to exclude from wages the value of certain fringe benefits that your business provides to employees. But the requirements are strict. If you have questions about the tax implications of fringe benefits, contact us.
You and your small business are likely to incur a variety of local transportation costs each year. There are various tax implications for these expenses.
First, what is “local transportation?” It refers to travel in which you aren’t away from your tax home (the city or general area in which your main place of business is located) long enough to require sleep or rest. Different rules apply if you’re away from your tax home for significantly more than an ordinary workday and you need sleep or rest in order to do your work.
The most important feature of the local transportation rules is that your commuting costs aren’t deductible. In other words, the fare you pay or the miles you drive simply to get to work and home again are personal and not business miles. Therefore, no deduction is available. This is the case even if you work during the commute (for example, via a cell phone, or by performing business-related tasks while on the subway).
An exception applies for commuting to a temporary work location that’s outside of the metropolitan area in which you live and normally work. “Temporary,” for this purpose, means a location where your work is realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) for no more than a year.
On the other hand, once you get to the work location, the cost of any local trips you take for business purposes is a deductible business expense. So, for example, the cost of travel from your office to visit a customer or pick up supplies is deductible. Similarly, if you have two business locations, the costs of traveling between them is deductible.
If your deductible trip is by taxi or public transportation, save a receipt if possible or make a notation of the expense in a logbook. Record the date, amount spent, destination, and business purpose. If you use your own car, note miles driven instead of the amount spent. Note also any tolls paid or parking fees and keep receipts.
You’ll need to allocate your automobile expenses between business and personal use based on miles driven during the year. Proper recordkeeping is crucial in the event the IRS challenges you.
Your deduction can be computed using:
From 2018 – 2025, employees, may not deduct unreimbursed local transportation costs. That’s because “miscellaneous itemized deductions” — a category that includes employee business expenses — are suspended (not allowed) for 2018 through 2025. However, self-employed taxpayers can deduct the expenses discussed in this article. But beginning with 2026, business expenses (including unreimbursed employee auto expenses) of employees are scheduled to be deductible again, as long as the employee’s total miscellaneous itemized deductions exceed 2% of adjusted gross income.
Contact us with any questions or to discuss the matter further.
IRS audit rates are historically low, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, but that’s little consolation if your return is among those selected to be examined. Plus, the IRS recently received additional funding in the Inflation Reduction Act to improve customer service, upgrade technology and increase audits of high-income taxpayers. But with proper preparation and planning, you should fare well.
From tax years 2010 to 2019, audit rates of individual tax returns decreased for all income levels, according to the GAO. On average, the audit rate for all returns decreased from 0.9% to 0.25%. IRS officials attribute this to reduced staffing as a result of decreased funding. Businesses, large corporations, and high-income individuals are more likely to be audited, but overall, all types of audits are being conducted less frequently than they were a decade ago.
There’s no 100% guarantee that you won’t be picked for an audit because some tax returns are chosen randomly. However, the best way to survive an IRS audit is to prepare in advance. On an ongoing basis, you should systematically maintain documentation — invoices, bills, canceled checks, receipts, or other proof — for all items to be reported on your tax returns. Keep all records in one place.
It also helps to know what might catch the attention of the IRS. Certain types of tax-return entries are known to involve inaccuracies, so they may lead to an audit. Here are a few examples:
Certain types of deductions may be questioned by the IRS because there are strict recordkeeping requirements for them — for example, auto and travel expense deductions. In addition, an owner-employee’s salary that’s much higher or lower than those at similar companies in his or her location may catch the IRS’s eye, especially if the business is structured as a corporation.
If you’re selected for an audit, you’ll be notified by letter. Generally, the IRS doesn’t make initial contact by phone. But if there’s no response to the letter, the agency may follow up with a call.
Many audits simply request that you mail in documentation to support certain deductions you’ve claimed. Only the strictest version, the field audit, requires meeting with one or more IRS auditors. (Note: Ignore unsolicited emails or text messages about an audit. The IRS doesn’t contact people in this manner. These are scams.)
The tax agency doesn’t demand an immediate response to a mailed notice. You’ll be informed of the discrepancies in question and given time to prepare. Collect and organize all relevant income and expense records. If anything is missing, you’ll have to reconstruct the information as accurately as possible based on other documentation.
If you’re audited, our firm can help you:
The IRS normally has three years within which to conduct an audit, and an audit probably won’t begin until a year or more after you file a return. Don’t panic if the IRS contacts you. Many audits are routine. By taking a meticulous, proactive approach to tracking, documenting and filing your company’s tax-related information, you’ll make an audit less painful and even decrease the chances you’ll be chosen in the first place.
Does your business need real estate to conduct operations? Or does it otherwise hold property and put the title in the name of the business? You may want to rethink this approach. Any short-term benefits may be outweighed by the tax, liability, and estate planning advantages of separating real estate ownership from the business.
Businesses that are formed as C corporations treat real estate assets as they do equipment, inventory and other business assets. Any expenses related to owning the assets appear as ordinary expenses on their income statements and are generally tax deductible in the year they’re incurred.
However, when the business sells the real estate, the profits are taxed twice — at the corporate level and at the owner’s individual level when a distribution is made. Double taxation is avoidable, though. If ownership of the real estate were transferred to a pass-through entity instead, the profit upon sale would be taxed only at the individual level.
Separating your business ownership from its real estate also provides an effective way to protect it from creditors and other claimants. For example, if your business is sued and found liable, a plaintiff may go after all of its assets, including real estate held in its name. But plaintiffs can’t touch property owned by another entity.
The strategy also can pay off if your business is forced to file for bankruptcy. Creditors generally can’t recover real estate owned separately unless it’s been pledged as collateral for credit taken out by the business.
Separating real estate from a business may give you some estate planning options, too. For example, if the company is a family business but some members of the next generation aren’t interested in actively participating, separating property gives you an extra asset to distribute. You could bequest the business to one heir and the real estate to another family member who doesn’t work in the business.
The business simply transfers ownership of the real estate and the transferee leases it back to the company. Who should own the real estate? One option: The business owner could purchase the real estate from the business and hold title in his or her name. One concern is that it’s not only the property that’ll transfer to the owner, but also any liabilities related to it.
Moreover, any liability related to the property itself could inadvertently put the business at risk. If, for example, a client suffers an injury on the property and a lawsuit ensues, the property owner’s other assets (including the interest in the business) could be in jeopardy.
An alternative is to transfer the property to a separate legal entity formed to hold the title, typically a limited liability company (LLC) or limited liability partnership (LLP). With a pass-through structure, any expenses related to the real estate will flow through to your individual tax return and offset the rental income.
An LLC is more commonly used to transfer real estate. It’s simple to set up and requires only one member. LLPs require at least two partners and aren’t permitted in every state. Some states restrict them to certain types of businesses and impose other restrictions.
Separating the ownership of a business’s real estate isn’t always advisable. If it’s worthwhile, the right approach will depend on your individual circumstances. Contact us to help determine the best approach to minimize your transfer costs and capital gains taxes while maximizing other potential benefits.
In today’s tough job market and economy, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) may help employers. Many business owners are hiring and should be aware that the WOTC is available to employers that hire workers from targeted groups who face significant barriers to employment. The credit is worth as much as $2,400 for each eligible employee ($4,800, $5,600, and $9,600 for certain veterans and $9,000 for “long-term family assistance recipients”). It’s generally limited to eligible employees who begin work for the employer before January 1, 2026.
The IRS recently issued some updated information on the pre-screening and certification processes. To satisfy a requirement to pre-screen a job applicant, a pre-screening notice must be completed by the job applicant and the employer on or before the day a job offer is made. This is done by filing Form 8850, Pre-Screening Notice, and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit.
An employer is eligible for the credit only for qualified wages paid to members of a targeted group. These groups are:
There are a number of requirements to qualify for the credit. For example, there’s a minimum requirement that each employee must have completed at least 120 hours of service for the employer. Also, the credit isn’t available for certain employees who are related to or who previously worked for the employer.
There are different rules and credit amounts for certain employees. The maximum credit available for the first-year wages is $2,400 for each employee, $4,000 for long-term family assistance recipients, and $4,800, $5,600, or $9,600 for certain veterans. Additionally, for long-term family assistance recipients, there’s a 50% credit for up to $10,000 of second-year wages, resulting in a total maximum credit of $9,000 over two years.
For summer youth employees, the wages must be paid for services performed during any 90-day period between May 1 and September 15. The maximum WOTC credit available for summer youth employees is $1,200 per employee.
In some cases, employers may elect not to claim the WOTC. And in limited circumstances, the rules may prohibit the credit or require an allocation of it. However, for most employers hiring from targeted groups, the credit can be beneficial. Contact us with questions or for more information about your situation.
While the new research and development tax credit requirements went into effect on January 10, 2022, which require more detailed proof that claims are valid, many businesses seeking the refund may face extra work when applying for the credit on their next tax return.
Knowing the credit’s specificity requirements will allow businesses to ensure sufficient information is collected and filed with amended tax returns to provide proof for the claim. Putting processes in place to record these requirements throughout the year can help lessen the paperwork burden around tax time.
Any business submitting an R&D tax credit claim must include detailed information about the funds for which they are requesting the credit and the business components related to the claim for the associated tax year.
For each business component, answer the following questions in detail:
The IRS has granted flexibility in how the information is presented, so businesses can use a list, table, or narrative.
In addition to the above questions, the IRS requires a business to provide tax-year totals for:
These expenses are outlined on Form 6765 (Credit for Increasing Research Activities) and must be completed appropriately to qualify for the credit.
The final piece of information the IRS requires is a signed declaration verifying that all facts provided in the report and on the tax forms are accurate.
If the IRS finds information is missing or requires additional clarification, it will request what is needed by letter. Businesses and taxpayers have 45 days from being notified, instead of the traditional 30 days, to remedy the situation.
If the business misses the window or does not provide sufficient information at that point, the IRS can deny the R&D tax credit claim.
After January 9, 2023, the IRS will no longer allow a perfection period. This mean means claims must be complete and accurate when submitted; otherwise, they are considered untimely if corrected after the deadline. The IRS advises that “taxpayers should take extra precaution to substantiate their credit for a refund claim.”
For assistance with the new research and development tax credit requirements as they apply to your business, reach out to our team to set up a time for a consultation.
Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the fourth quarter of 2022. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and to learn more about the filing requirements.
Note: Certain tax-filing and tax-payment deadlines may be postponed for taxpayers who reside in or have businesses in federally declared disaster areas.
The last day you can initially set up a SIMPLE IRA plan, provided you (or any predecessor employer) didn’t previously maintain a SIMPLE IRA plan. If you’re a new employer that comes into existence after October 1 of the year, you can establish a SIMPLE IRA plan as soon as administratively feasible after your business comes into existence.
Contact us if you’d like more information about the filing requirements and to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines.
The business entity you choose can affect your taxes, your personal liability, and other issues. A limited liability company (LLC) is somewhat of a hybrid entity in that it can be structured to resemble a corporation for owner liability purposes and a partnership for federal tax purposes. This duality may provide you with the best of both worlds.
Like the shareholders of a corporation, the owners of an LLC (called “members” rather than shareholders or partners) generally aren’t liable for business debts except to the extent of their investment. Thus, they can operate the business with the security of knowing that their personal assets are protected from the entity’s creditors. This protection is far greater than that afforded by partnerships. In a partnership, the general partners are personally liable for the debts of the business. Even limited partners, if they actively participate in managing the business, can have personal liability.
LLC owners can elect under the check-the-box rules to have the entity treated as a partnership for federal tax purposes. This can provide a number of important benefits to them. For example, partnership earnings aren’t subject to an entity-level tax. Instead, they “flow through” to the owners, in proportion to the owners’ respective interests in profits, and are reported on the owners’ individual returns, and are taxed only once. To the extent the income passed through to you is qualified business income, you’ll be eligible to take the Section 199A pass-through deduction, subject to various limitations.
In addition, since you’re actively managing the business, you can deduct on your individual tax return your ratable shares of any losses the business generates. This, in effect, allows you to shelter other income that you (and your spouse, if you’re married) may have.
An LLC that’s taxable as a partnership can provide special allocations of tax benefits to specific partners. This can be an important reason for using an LLC over an S corporation (a form of business that provides tax treatment that’s similar to a partnership). Another reason for using an LLC over an S corporation is that LLCs aren’t subject to the restrictions the federal tax code imposes on S corporations regarding the number of owners and the types of ownership interests that may be issued.
In summary, an LLC would give you corporate-like protection from creditors while providing you with the benefits of taxation as a partnership. Be aware that the LLC structure is allowed by state statute, and states may use different regulations. Contact us to discuss in more detail how use of an LLC might benefit you and the other owners.
A key provision of the American Rescue Plan Act passed in 2021 includes lowering the thresholds that trigger a Form 1099-K – Payment Card and Third-Party Network Transactions. This means businesses and individuals may receive this form for tax year 2022, something they may not have seen in previous years.
For tax years before January 1, 2022, third-party processors were required to file a Form 1099-K when sales-related transactions exceeded both $20,000 and 200 in number. Beginning in 2023, third-party processors, including Venmo, PayPal, Square, Zelle, and others, must use this form to report when sales-related transactions exceed $600, regardless of how many transactions are involved.
Organizations dealing with credit cards, cash, or checks most likely will not receive a Form 1099-K. However, if an organization uses third-party organizations, which includes many gig-economy jobs such as Uber and Lyft, or online retailers such as eBay and Etsy, there’s a chance they’ll see this form arrive with their tax documents for tax year 2022. Funds sent by friends and family are not included in the $600 threshold.
Businesses and individuals need to pay attention to how they manage their books and transactions from these payment types to make tax filing easier for the next tax season. Correctly logging any income received can help prevent unexpected tax bills in the future.
Form 1099-K is used to report the total amount of transactions received, and the form does not include calculations for credits, discounts, fees, and/or returns. Properly tracking income and debits will help business owners and individuals deduct these business costs come tax time.
If an individual receives Form 1099-K, it may help to file a Schedule C with their Form 1040. Our tax professionals can help identify if this is the best course of action and any additional benefits a Schedule C may offer.
With the new threshold, third-party settlement companies may increase the number of tax document issues, which may lead them to create new infrastructure to help with their reporting accuracy. As with any large change, there may be growing pains, which means potential errors on some of the forms issued.
Some of the expected errors include:
If you receive Form 1099-K and suspect an error, contact the Payment Settlement Entity (third-party settlement company) and request a corrected Form 1099-K. Keep a copy of the original and corrected forms and any communication with your tax documents.
There is no need to panic if you receive a Form 1099-K for the first time. Simply reach out to Hamilton Tharp for more help.
Do you own a successful small business with no employees and want to set up a retirement plan? Or do you want to upgrade from a SIMPLE IRA or Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan? Consider a solo 401(k) if you have healthy self-employment income and want to contribute substantial amounts to a retirement nest egg.
This strategy is geared toward self-employed individuals, including sole proprietors, owners of single-member limited liability companies, and other one-person businesses.
With a solo 401(k) plan, you can potentially make large annual deductible contributions to a retirement account.
For 2022, you can make an “elective deferral contribution” of up to $20,500 of your net self-employment (SE) income to a solo 401(k). The elective deferral contribution limit increases to $27,000 if you’ll be 50 or older as of December 31, 2022. The larger $27,000 figure includes an extra $6,500 catch-up contribution that’s allowed for these older owners.
On top of your elective deferral contribution, an additional contribution of up to 20% of your net SE income is permitted for solo 401(k)s. This is called an “employer contribution,” though there’s technically no employer when you’re self-employed. (The amount for employees is 25%.) For purposes of calculating the employer contribution, your net SE income isn’t reduced by your elective deferral contribution.
For the 2022 tax year, the combined elective deferral and employer contributions can’t exceed:
Net SE income equals the net profit shown on Form 1040 Schedule C, E or F for the business minus the deduction for 50% of self-employment tax attributable to the business.
Besides the ability to make large deductible contributions, another solo 401(k) advantage is that contributions are discretionary. If cash is tight, you can contribute a small amount or nothing.
In addition, you can borrow from your solo 401(k) account, assuming the plan document permits it. The maximum loan amount is 50% of the account balance or $50,000, whichever is less. Some other plan options, including SEPs, don’t allow loans.
The biggest downside to solo 401(k)s is their administrative complexity. Significant upfront paperwork and some ongoing administrative efforts are required, including adopting a written plan document and arranging how and when elective deferral contributions will be collected and paid into the owner’s account. Also, once your account balance exceeds $250,000, you must file Form 5500-EZ with the IRS annually.
If your business has one or more employees, you can’t have a solo 401(k). Instead, you must have a multi-participant 401(k) with all the resulting complications. The tax rules may require you to make contributions for those employees. However, there’s an important loophole: You can exclude employees who are under 21 and employees who haven’t worked at least 1,000 hours during any 12-month period from 401(k) plan coverage.
Bottom line: For a one-person business, a solo 401(k) can be a smart retirement plan choice if:
Before you establish a solo 401(k), weigh the pros and cons of other retirement plans — especially if you’re 50 or older. Solo 401(k)s aren’t simple, but they can allow you to make substantial and deductible contributions to a retirement nest egg. Contact us before signing up to determine what’s best for your situation.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law by President Biden on August 16, contains many provisions related to climate, energy, and taxes. There has been a lot of media coverage about the law’s impact on large corporations. For example, the IRA contains a new 15% alternative minimum tax on large, profitable corporations. And the law adds a 1% excise tax on stock buybacks of more than $1 million by publicly traded U.S. corporations.
But there are also provisions that provide tax relief for small businesses. Here are two:
Under current law, qualified small businesses can elect to claim a portion of their research credit as a payroll tax credit against their employer Social Security tax liability rather than against their income tax liability. This became effective for tax years that begin after December 31, 2015.
Qualified small businesses that elect to claim the research credit as a payroll tax credit do so on IRS Form 8974, “Qualified Small Business Payroll Tax Credit for Increasing Research Activities.” Currently, a qualified small business can claim up to $250,000 of its credit for increasing research activities as a payroll tax credit against the employer’s share of Social Security tax.
The IRA makes changes to the credit beginning next year. It allows for qualified small businesses to apply an additional $250,000 in qualifying research expenses as a payroll tax credit against the employer share of Medicare. The credit can’t exceed the tax imposed for any calendar quarter, with unused amounts of the credit carried forward. This provision will take effect for tax years beginning after December 31, 2022.
A qualified small business must meet certain requirements, including having gross receipts under a certain amount.
Another provision in the new law extends the limit on excess business losses for noncorporate taxpayers. Under prior law, there was a cap set on business loss deductions by noncorporate taxpayers. For 2018 through 2025, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act limited deductions for net business losses from sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations to $250,000 ($500,000 for joint filers). Losses in excess of those amounts (which are adjusted annually for inflation) may be carried forward to future tax years under the net operating loss rules.
Although another law (the CARES Act) suspended the limit for 2018, 2019 and 2020 tax years, it’s now back in force and has been extended through 2028 by the IRA. Businesses with significant losses should consult with us to discuss the impact of this change on their tax planning strategies.
These are only two of the many provisions in the IRA. There may be other tax benefits to your small business if you’re buying electric vehicles or green energy products. Contact us if you have questions about the new law and your situation.
As you’re aware, certain employers are required to report information related to their employees’ health coverage. Does your business have to comply, and if so, what must be done?
Certain employers with 50 or more full-time employees (called “applicable large employers” or ALEs) must use Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report the information about offers of health coverage and enrollment in health coverage for their employees. Specifically, an ALE uses Form 1094-C to report summary information for each employee and to transmit Forms 1095-C to the IRS. A separate Form 1095-C is used to report information about each employee. In addition, Forms 1094-C and 1095-C are used to determine whether an employer owes payments under the employer shared responsibility provisions (sometimes referred to as the “employer mandate”).
Under the mandate, an employer can be subject to a penalty if it doesn’t offer affordable minimum essential coverage that provides minimum value to substantially all full-time employees and their dependents. Form 1095-C is also used in determining eligibility of employees for premium tax credits.
On Form 1095-C, ALEs must report the following for each employee who was a full-time employee for any month of the calendar year:
If an ALE offers health coverage through an employer’s self-insured plan, the ALE also must report more information on Form 1095-C. For this purpose, a self-insured plan also includes one that offers some enrollment options as insured arrangements and other options as self-insured.
If an employer provides health coverage in another manner, such as through an insured health plan or a multiemployer health plan, the insurance issuer or the plan sponsor making the coverage available will provide the information about health coverage to enrolled employees. An employer that provides employer-sponsored self-insured health coverage but isn’t subject to the employer mandate isn’t required to file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C and reports instead on Forms 1094-B and 1095-B for employees who enrolled in the employer-sponsored self-insured health coverage.
On Form 1094-C, an employer can also indicate whether any certifications of eligibility for relief from the employer mandate apply.
Be aware that these reporting requirements may be more complex if your business is a member of an aggregated ALE group or if the coverage is provided through a multiemployer plan.
Note: Employers also report certain information about health coverage on employees’ W-2 forms. But it’s not the same information as what’s reported on 1095-C. The information on either form doesn’t cause excludable employer-provided coverage to become taxable to employees. It’s for informational purposes only.
The above is a simplified explanation of the reporting requirements. Contact us with questions or for assistance in complying with the requirements.
The House of Representatives passed The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Friday, August 12, and President Joe Biden signed into law August 16. The legislation, which is a pared-down version of the proposed Build Back Better plan, was passed through the budget reconciliation process and is expected to pay for itself and decrease the budget deficit.
Key provisions in the IRA include funding for clean energy tax credits, an infusion of funds to the Internal Revenue Service, changes to Medicare prescription drug policies, and new corporate taxes.
Read on to learn about how these provisions could impact your business.
Lawmakers built several new tax provisions into the IRA to fund programs the bill introduces, modifies, or extends. In conjunction with the IRS measures listed below, these taxes are expected to fully fund the program and decrease the budget deficit. The two main taxes are:
Currently, the research tax credit allows for up to $250,000 to be deducted against qualifying payroll taxes which do not include the Medicare portion of FICA taxes. The IRA expands this credit to a $500,000 limit that also includes Medicare payroll taxes.
This goes into effect for tax years beginning after December 31, 2022, and allows for unused credit amounts to be carried forward in certain circumstances.
Much of the funding for the IRA – about $370 billion – is dedicated to green or renewable energy tax deductions. Of that amount, $60 billion is earmarked for growing the renewable energy infrastructure within manufacturing targeted at solar panels and wind turbines.
The IRA also modifies and extends through 2024 tax credits for producing electricity from qualified renewable resources, investments in qualified energy properties, and using alternative fuels and fuel mixtures (including biodiesel and renewable diesel).
New tax credits will be available in the coming years for the production and/or sale of:
With the modifications, businesses that use energy-efficient commercial buildings may see additional tax deduction opportunities. The IRS introduces a new credit for commercial clean vehicles and modifies the refundable tax credit on plug-in electric vehicle purchases.
The IRA provides funds so the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can create a greenhouse gas reduction fund and support existing programs that provide financial incentives to reduce air pollution emissions. These include replacing eligible medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with zero emissions options, identifying and reducing emissions from diesel engines, and monitoring air pollution and greenhouse gases.
The IRA provides additional funding for the IRS to hire more customer service representatives, processors, and auditors to decrease the time it takes to process returns for each tax year, lessen the hold times for taxpayers calling in, and increase audits. Audits are expected to target larger businesses and individuals with higher incomes.
The Inflation Reduction Act is expansive and could affect many business tax strategies. We’ll keep you updated as new information comes to light. In the meantime, consider scheduling your annual tax strategy review with one of our tax professionals to discuss how the IRA could impact your business.
Beginning January 1, 2022, the IRS has updated its 1099-K regulations to require all businesses that process payments to file a 1099-K for all sellers with more than $600 in gross sales in a calendar year. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 requires that sales completed on all e-commerce platforms —including Ticketmaster, StubHub, etc. — are subject to reporting to the IRS as of 01/01/2022. This means that any seller or fan earning more than $600 annually as a result of a sale, or sales, through any U.S. marketplace is required to complete a 1099 form.
In order to generate a complete Form 1099-K as required by state and federal tax laws, many of these sites will need your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Your TIN is typically either your Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) for businesses.
If you meet these reporting requirements, you will receive a 1099-K at the beginning of each year. The same information will be sent to the IRS and state tax agencies where applicable. Be sure to keep track of the expenses as well, since these can be used to offset the income of the 1099-K.
For more information, please visit: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/understanding-your-form-1099-k
With inflation rates reaching historical highs and driving up the cost of doing business, business owners are seeking out creative ways to fight inflation. The Series I Savings Bond is one tool that’s been getting some buzz.
Also known as I Bonds, these low-risk savings products depend on higher inflation to produce better returns. The higher the inflation rate, the more interest you earn, rendering the investment inflation-proof.
And they’re not just available to individuals. Business owners can buy I Bonds for multiple entities, including corporations and partnerships.
There are rules specific to I Bonds, and there are more tax considerations for businesses than for individuals. To take full advantage of I Bonds, business owners must know the compliance and reporting rules.
How I Bonds work
A Series I Savings Bond is a security that earns interest based on both a fixed rate and a variable rate based on inflation. The fixed rate will remain for the life of the bond, whereas the variable changes every six months based on inflation levels measured in the U.S. Consumer Price Index.
I Bonds will earn interest for up to 30 years if they aren’t cashed out before then.
I Bonds vs. inflation
One of the advantages of I Bonds is they shield money from inflation. Based on current rates, the returns on an I bond are slightly outpacing the rate of inflation.
The U.S. inflation rate reached 9.1% in June, a 40-year high for the cost of the nation’s goods and services. By comparison, the current interest rate on new Series I savings bonds is 9.62% where it will remain through October 2022.
It’s worth noting this rate applies to the six months after the bond is purchased. So even if you buy an I Bond in October 2022, the bond will earn 9.62% interest for the next six months.
When leveraged and reported appropriately, I Bonds can generate respectable returns.
How to Buy I Bonds
While individuals can purchase I bonds electronically and in paper form (up to $5,000 each year by using their federal income tax refund), businesses, including corporations, partnerships, and other entities, can only do so in electronic form.
To purchase I bonds electronically, buyers must set up an account on TreasuryDirect, the federal government’s clearinghouse for purchasing and cashing in U.S. savings bonds, where they can purchase up to $10,000 in electronic bonds each year. However, if you own multiple business entities, each one can buy up to the $10,000 maximum, as long as the money is in a separate account for each business.
If you’re buying both personal and business I Bonds, keep them in separate accounts and avoid transferring funds from one account to another if you have purchased the annual maximum for both.
Series I Bonds are not subject to state or local taxes, but federal taxes are required on any interest you earn. You can choose between one of two methods to pay these taxes:
Any interest you earn on an I bond must be reported on Schedule B of Form 1040.
There are considerable differences when it comes to tax breaks for individuals and businesses:
The minimum term of ownership for an I Bond is one year. If you redeem your bond before the five-year mark, you will forfeit the interest from the previous three months. There is no interest penalty after that point.
I Bond compliance and reporting can get complicated, especially when managing a business in a challenging financial climate. If you need help navigating the savings bond landscape, our team of professionals can help you take full advantage of this investment vehicle.
Sometimes, bigger isn’t better: Your small- or medium-sized business may be eligible for some tax breaks that aren’t available to larger businesses. Here are some examples.
For 2018 through 2025, the qualified business income (QBI) deduction is available to eligible individuals, trusts, and estates. But it’s not available to C corporations or their shareholders.
The QBI deduction can be up to 20% of:
Pass-through business entities report tax items to their owners, who then take them into account on their owner-level returns. The QBI deduction rules are complicated, and the deduction can be phased out at higher income levels.
Eligibility for cash-method accounting
Businesses that are eligible to use the cash method of accounting for tax purposes have the ability to fine-tune annual taxable income. This is accomplished by timing the year in which you recognize taxable income and claim deductions.
Under the cash method, you generally don’t have to recognize taxable income until you’re paid in cash. And you can generally write off deductible expenses when you pay them in cash or with a credit card.
Only “small” businesses are potentially eligible for the cash method. For this purpose under current law, a small business includes one that has no more than $25 million of average annual gross receipts, based on the preceding three tax years. This limit is adjusted annually for inflation. For tax years beginning in 2022, the limit is $27 million.
Section 179 deduction
The Sec. 179 first-year depreciation deduction potentially allows you to write off some (or all) of your qualified asset additions in the first year they’re placed in service. It’s available for both new and used property.
For qualified property placed in service in tax years 2018 and beyond, the deduction rules are much more favorable than under prior law. Enhancements include:
Higher deduction. The Sec. 179 deduction has been permanently increased to $1 million with annual inflation adjustments. For qualified assets placed in service in 2022, the maximum is $1.08 million.
Liberalized phase-out. The threshold above which the maximum Sec. 179 deduction begins to be phased out is $2.5 million with annual inflation adjustments. For qualified assets placed in service in 2022, the phase-out begins at $2.7 million.
The phase-out rule kicks in only if your additions of assets that are eligible for the deduction for the year exceed the threshold for that year. If they exceed the threshold, your maximum deduction is reduced dollar-for-dollar by the excess. Sec. 179 deductions are also subject to other limitations.
While Sec. 179 deductions may be limited, those limitations don’t apply to first-year bonus depreciation deductions. For qualified assets placed in service in 2022, 100% first-year bonus depreciation is available. After this year, the first-year bonus depreciation percentages are scheduled to start going down to 80% for qualified assets placed in service in 2023. They will continue to be reduced until they reach 0% for 2028 and later years.
Contact us to determine if you’re taking advantage of all available tax breaks, including those that are available to small and large businesses alike.
A business or individual might be able to dispose of appreciated real property without being taxed on the gain by exchanging it rather than selling it. You can defer tax on your gain through a “like-kind” or Section 1031 exchange.
A like-kind exchange is a swap of real property held for investment or for productive use in your trade or business for like-kind investment real property or business real property. For these purposes, “like-kind” is very broadly defined, and most real property is considered to be like-kind with other real property. However, neither the relinquished property nor the replacement property can be real property held primarily for sale. If you’re unsure whether the property involved in your exchange is eligible for a like-kind exchange, contact us to discuss the matter.
Here’s how the tax rules work
If it’s a straight asset-for-asset exchange, you won’t have to recognize any gain from the exchange. You’ll take the same “basis” (your cost for tax purposes) in the replacement property that you had in the relinquished property. Even if you don’t have to recognize any gain on the exchange, you still have to report the exchange on a form that is attached to your tax return.
However, the properties often aren’t equal in value, so some cash or other (non-like-kind) property is thrown into the deal. This cash or other property is known as “boot.” If boot is involved, you’ll have to recognize your gain, but only up to the amount of boot you receive in the exchange. In these situations, the basis you get in the like-kind replacement property you receive is equal to the basis you had in the relinquished property you gave up reduced by the amount of boot you received but increased by the amount of any gain recognized.
Here’s an example
Let’s say you exchange land (investment property) with a basis of $100,000 for a building (investment property) valued at $120,000 plus $15,000 in cash. Your realized gain on the exchange is $35,000: You received $135,000 in value for an asset with a basis of $100,000. However, since it’s a like-kind exchange, you only have to recognize $15,000 of your gain: the amount of cash (boot) you received. Your basis in the new building (the replacement property) will be $100,000, which is your original basis in the relinquished property you gave up ($100,000) plus the $15,000 gain recognized, minus the $15,000 boot received.
Note: No matter how much boot is received, you’ll never recognize more than your actual (“realized”) gain on the exchange.
If the property you’re exchanging is subject to debt from which you’re being relieved, the amount of the debt is treated as boot. The theory is that if someone takes over your debt, it’s equivalent to him or her giving you cash. Of course, if the replacement property is also subject to debt, then you’re only treated as receiving boot to the extent of your “net debt relief” (the amount by which the debt you become free of exceeds the debt you pick up).
Like-kind exchanges can be complex, but they’re a good tax-deferred way to dispose of investment or trade or business assets. We can answer any additional questions you have or assist with the transaction.
Sadly, many businesses have been forced to shut down recently due to the pandemic and the economy. If this is your situation, we can assist you, including taking care of the various tax responsibilities that must be met.
Of course, a business must file a final income tax return and some other related forms for the year it closes its doors. The type of return to be filed depends on the type of business you have. Here’s a rundown of the basic requirements.
Sole proprietorships. You’ll need to file the usual Schedule C, “Profit or Loss from Business,” with your individual return for the year you close the business. You may also need to report self-employment tax.
Partnerships. A partnership must file Form 1065, “U.S. Return of Partnership Income,” for the year it closes. You also must report capital gains and losses on Schedule D. Indicate that this is the final return and do the same on Schedule K-1, “Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc.”
All corporations. Form 966, “Corporate Dissolution or Liquidation,” must be filed if you adopt a resolution or plan to dissolve a corporation or liquidate any of its stock.
C corporations. File Form 1120, “U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return,” for the year you close. Report capital gains and losses on Schedule D. Indicate this is the final return.
S corporations. File Form 1120-S, “U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation,” for the year of closing. Report capital gains and losses on Schedule D. The “final return” box must be checked on Schedule K-1.
All businesses. Other forms may need to be filed to report sales of business property and asset acquisitions if you sell your business.
Employees and contract workers
If you have employees, you must pay them final wages and compensation owed, make final federal tax deposits and report employment taxes. Failure to withhold or deposit employee income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes can result in full personal liability for what’s known as the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty.
If you’ve paid any contractors at least $600 during the calendar year in which you close your business, you must report those payments on Form 1099-NEC, “Nonemployee Compensation.”
Other tax issues
If your business has a retirement plan for employees, you’ll want to terminate the plan and distribute benefits to participants. There are detailed notice, funding, timing, and filing requirements that must be met by a terminating plan. There are also complex requirements related to flexible spending accounts, Health Savings Accounts, and other programs for your employees.
We can assist you with many other complicated tax issues related to closing your business, including debt cancellation, use of net operating losses, freeing up any remaining passive activity losses, depreciation recapture, and possible bankruptcy issues.
We can advise you on the length of time you need to keep business records. You also must cancel your Employer Identification Number (EIN) and close your IRS business account.
If your business is unable to pay all the taxes it owes, we can explain the available payment options to you. Contact us to discuss these issues and get answers to any questions.
Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the third quarter of 2022. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and to learn more about the filing requirements.
Creating a budget is a crucial task for any business. It helps owners, executives, and managers estimate revenues and expenses, set goals, and closely monitor costs throughout the year.
Of course, budgets are just that — estimates. The final amounts for revenues and expenses at the end of the month, quarter, or year will almost certainly differ from budget projections. Those differences are called variances and analyzing those variances can give leaders a deeper understanding of a company’s financial well-being.
What is variance analysis?
Variance analysis investigates the differences between budgeted and actual results.
For example, if you budget for $1 million in sales and actual sales are $800,000, your variance is $200,000. Comparing your budget to actual results is a helpful first step but investigating the reason for the difference is essential.
These factors and others can contribute to variances, so taking the time to understand why fluctuations occur can help management know what they need to do to change the situation.
What causes budget variances?
Variances can occur for various reasons. Some of the most common include:
How is a variance analysis created?
Modern accounting software makes creating a variance analysis relatively straightforward. Most solutions include a budget-to-actual report that compares actual results to the budget and finds the difference between the two values as a number and a percentage.
You can then export this report to an Excel or Google spreadsheet, adding a column for explanations for any budget deviations.
The following best practices can make this process more manageable.
How often should you prepare variance reports?
The cadence with which you prepare variance reports will depend on the size of your company and management needs. A small business might only go through the process quarterly or annually.
On the other hand, a larger company or one that is experiencing rapid growth might perform the analysis every month.
At a minimum, you should review your budget to actual numbers every month, looking for unexpected discrepancies. This high-level review can help you quickly spot errors or identify trends so you can take action to keep the business on track.
Do you need help analyzing or setting up your variance reports? Give our team a call today to set up a strategy!
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in South Dakota vs. Wayfair, many states quickly enacted laws resembling South Dakota’s to collect sales tax on remote purchases.
While physical nexus remains the first consideration in whether businesses are legally bound to collect and remit sales taxes on online sales, most states have adopted “economic nexus” rules, stating a business’ tax obligations kick in after it crosses a set level of sales in terms of quantity, dollar amounts, or both.
Receiving an audit notice from a state tax authority is one of the worst feelings a small business can have. Unfortunately, as states pursue tax collection, sales and use tax audits have become a standard part of doing business.
If your business is undergoing a sales tax audit or is worried about dealing with one in the future, here are four tips to navigate, prepare for, and avoid a sales tax audit.
How to reduce the risk of a sales tax audit
Several factors can trigger a sales tax audit. Many states use systematic methods and data analytics to identify businesses at risk for underreporting or underpaying their sales taxes. According to Thomson Reuters, some of the most common triggers for a sales tax audit include:
Your business also might be randomly selected for audit, so there’s no sure-fire way to avoid facing a sales tax audit. However, familiarizing yourself with the sales and use tax laws in the states where you do business, analyzing your nexus exposure, and registering and paying taxes in the proper jurisdictions is a good first step.
How to prepare for a sales tax audit
Time is of the essence once you receive notice you’ve been selected for an audit. Gathering and preparing the appropriate records takes time, so you want to start the process immediately.
Documents requested in the IDR typically include:
If any requested items aren’t available or you don’t believe they apply to the audit, be prepared to explain your reasons for not providing them.
In addition to looking for potential underpayments, look for overpayments, such as using a higher sales tax rate or charging tax on non-taxable items. These can potentially offset any underpayments uncovered during the audit.
Being under the microscope of a sales tax audit is stressful and can take up a lot of time. A professional who is well versed in sales and use taxes and knows how to deal with auditors can be an invaluable member of your team. By crafting a game plan for the audit and managing auditor expectations, they can potentially save your business thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties.
These professionals typically know how to answer the auditor’s questions truthfully without volunteering extra information that can invite additional scrutiny.
Have you received notice that you’re a target for a sale tax audit, or are you worried you may be on the radar? Contact us today to help you prepare for and navigate the process!
There’s a valuable tax deduction available to a C corporation when it receives dividends. The “dividends-received deduction” is designed to reduce or eliminate an extra level of tax on dividends received by a corporation. As a result, a corporation will typically be taxed at a lower rate on dividends than on capital gains.
Ordinarily, the deduction is 50% of the dividend, with the result that only 50% of the dividend received is effectively subject to tax. For example, if your corporation receives a $1,000 dividend, it includes $1,000 in income, but after the $500 dividends-received deduction, its taxable income from the dividend is only $500.
The deductible percentage of a dividend will increase to 65% of the dividend if your corporation owns 20% or more (by vote and value) of the payor’s stock. If the payor is a member of an affiliated group (based on an 80% ownership test), dividends from another group member are 100% deductible. (If one or more members of the group is subject to foreign taxes, a special rule requiring consistency of the treatment of foreign taxes applies.) In applying the 20% and 80% ownership percentages, preferred stock isn’t counted if it’s limited and preferred as to dividends, doesn’t participate in corporate growth to a significant extent, isn’t convertible, and has limited redemption and liquidation rights.
If a dividend on stock that hasn’t been held for more than two years is an “extraordinary dividend,” the basis of the stock on which the dividend is paid is reduced by the amount that effectively goes untaxed because of the dividends-received deduction. If the reduction exceeds the basis of the stock, gain is recognized. (A dividend paid on common stock will be an extraordinary dividend if it exceeds 10% of the stock’s basis, treating dividends with ex-dividend dates within the same 85-day period as one.)
Holding period requirement
The dividends-received deduction is only available if the recipient satisfies a minimum holding period requirement. In general, this requires the recipient to own the stock for at least 46 days during the 91-day period beginning 45 days before the ex-dividend date. For dividends on preferred stock attributable to a period of more than 366 days, the required holding period is extended to 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before the ex-dividend date. Under certain circumstances, periods during which the taxpayer has hedged its risk of loss on the stock are not counted.
Taxable income limitation
The dividends-received deduction is limited to a certain percentage of income. If your corporation owns less than 20% of the paying corporation, the deduction is limited to 50% of your corporation’s taxable income (modified to exclude certain items). However, if allowing the full (50%) dividends-received deduction without the taxable income limitation would result in (or increase) a net operating loss deduction for the year, the limitation doesn’t apply.
Let’s say your corporation receives $50,000 in dividends from a less-than-20% owned corporation and has a $10,000 loss from its regular operations. If there were no loss, the dividends-received deduction would be $25,000 (50% of $50,000). However, since taxable income used in computing the dividends-received deduction is $40,000, the deduction is limited to $20,000 (50% of $40,000).
Other rules apply if the dividend payor is a foreign corporation. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how to take advantage of this deduction.
Technology has long made accounting easier, from the first adding machines to electronic spreadsheets to today’s cloud computing ecosystem. While recent advancements have allowed business owners and their accountants to collaborate efficiently from any location, they also created a growing cybersecurity risk that cyber insurance can help manage.
Cyberattacks Threaten All Organizations
According to a 2022 survey commissioned by CyberCatch, 75% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) could only survive three to seven days if they suffered a cyberattack.
Big businesses are frequent targets, and their security breaches tend to make headlines. But smaller businesses are easier prey for cybercriminals because they lack the complicated security infrastructure that larger businesses maintain.
The cost of a data breach can be devastating for small businesses. A data breach costs SMBs, on average, $101,000, according to Kaspersky’s IT Security Economics Report for 2020. That cost includes detecting and shutting down the attack, recovering lost data, notifying third parties, legal expenses related to the breach, and lost business.
Cloud accounting is more secure than having all your business’ accounting data on a desktop or device because providers typically deploy top-of-the-line security features. However, any system — cloud or otherwise — is only as strong as its weakest link. It only takes one user falling victim to a social engineering attack, using a weak password, or opening a malware-inflected attachment to give cybercriminals access to your payroll records, vendor and customer lists, bank account numbers, and more.
Manage the Risk with Cyber Insurance
Cyber insurance has become an increasingly important risk management tool for businesses. This insurance policy provides businesses with various coverage options to help recover from data breaches and other security issues.
While the exact coverages vary from policy to policy, cyber insurance typically covers two broad categories of losses:
Like any insurance policy, cyber insurance policies have exclusions. Typical cyber policy exclusions include lost future profits, the lost value related to intellectual property theft, and the cost of upgrading security after a data breach.
How to Buy Cyber Insurance
Most major commercial insurance carriers offer cyber insurance coverage, so reach out to your agent or broker to get a quote. But keep in mind while cyber insurance is increasingly essential coverage for most small businesses, it can also be difficult — and expensive — to buy. According to Marsh, a New York City-based insurance broker, and advisor, cyber insurance premiums in the U.S. increased by an average of 96% from 2020 to 2021.
Following a few IT security best practices can reduce your risk and improve your chances of getting coverage at an affordable price. Those best practices include:
As technology evolves, so will your exposure to various types of cyber-risks. While cyber insurance coverage can be a critical part of managing those risks, it doesn’t replace security best practices. Take the necessary steps to protect your business to a better chance of minimizing your exposure.
The Internal Revenue Service will raise the optional standard mileage rate for the final six months of 2022 to help offset the rise in gas prices nationwide.
The new rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and certain other purposes become effective July 1, 2022, and will remain in place through January 1, 2023. Those revised rates are:
Taxpayers should use the following rates for any miles traveled between January 1, 2022, and June 30, 2022:
The 14 cents per mile rate for charitable organizations remains unchanged as it is set by statute.
The IRS, which last made such an increase in 2011, noted it considered depreciation, insurance, and other fixed and variable costs in addition to the rising gas prices when raising the rates mid-year.
Businesses can use the standard mileage rate to calculate the deductible costs of operating qualified automobiles for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes.
Important reminders and considerations
When reimbursing employees for miles driven, keep in mind the following reminders and considerations:
To review your organization’s mileage reimbursement policy and any alternate methods for calculating appropriate reimbursement amounts, reach out to our team of knowledgeable professionals today.
Here’s an interesting option if your small company or start-up business is planning to claim the research tax credit. Subject to limits, you can elect to apply all or some of any research tax credits that you earn against your payroll taxes instead of your income tax. This payroll tax election may influence some businesses to undertake or increase their research activities. On the other hand, if you’re engaged in or are planning to engage in research activities without regard to tax consequences, be aware that some tax relief could be in your future.
Here are some answers to questions about the option.
Why is the election important?
Many new businesses, even if they have some cash flow, or even net positive cash flow and/or a book profit, pay no income taxes and won’t for some time. Therefore, there’s no amount against which business credits, including the research credit, can be applied. On the other hand, a wage-paying business, even a new one, has payroll tax liabilities. The payroll tax election is thus an opportunity to get immediate use out of the research credits that a business earns. Because every dollar of credit-eligible expenditure can result in as much as a 10-cent tax credit, that’s a big help in the start-up phase of a business — the time when help is most needed.
Which businesses are eligible?
To qualify for the election a taxpayer:
In making these determinations, the only gross receipts that an individual taxpayer takes into account are from his or her businesses. An individual’s salary, investment income or other income aren’t taken into account. Also, note that neither an entity nor an individual can make the election for more than six years in a row.
Are there limits on the election?
Research credits for which a taxpayer makes the payroll tax election can be applied only against the employer’s old-age, survivors, and disability liability — the OASDI or Social Security portion of FICA taxes. So the election can’t be used to lower 1) the employer’s liability for the Medicare portion of FICA taxes or 2) any FICA taxes that the employer withholds and remits to the government on behalf of employees.
The amount of research credit for which the election can be made can’t annually exceed $250,000. Note too that an individual or C corporation can make the election only for those research credits which, in the absence of an election, would have to be carried forward. In other words, a C corporation can’t make the election for research credits that the taxpayer can use to reduce current or past income tax liabilities.
The above Q&As just cover the basics about the payroll tax election. And, as you may have already experienced, identifying and substantiating expenses eligible for the research credit itself is a complex area. Contact us for more information about the payroll tax election and the research credit.
Business travel is back.
COVID restrictions have eased, and in-person conferences are back on the calendar. And as more people return to offices, companies are warming to sending their employees on work trips.
For many businesses, it’s been a minute since they’ve had to account for employee travel expenses. So it might be time for a refresher on which expenses are tax-deductible, which aren’t, and what pandemic-related tax incentives are available.
When is it business travel?
A trip is considered business travel when you travel outside what’s known as your “tax home.” The location of your tax home is the city or area of your primary place of business, regardless of where you live. For expenses to count as deductible travel costs, they have to be incurred away from your tax home for longer than a typical workday — but no longer than one year. Anything considered an “ordinary and necessary expense” of doing business would qualify.
As long as the expenses are business-related, most, if not all, expenses from a typical work trip can receive a tax deduction. So what is deductible?
Business Meals, Beverages
Perhaps the most significant change for business travel is a temporary tax incentive to encourage restaurant spending during the pandemic. Through the end of 2022, food and beverages from restaurants are 100% tax-deductible versus the usual 50% deduction for businesses. The 100% deduction applies to any restaurant meals and drinks purchased after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2023.
The IRS defines a restaurant as “a business that prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption, regardless of whether the food or beverages are consumed on the business’s premises.” The deduction includes:
Non-restaurant meals are still eligible for a 50% deduction, but the 100% deduction excludes prepackaged food and drinks from:
That means if you want to purchase a salad to go, buying it from a restaurant would get you a 100% deduction while buying it from a grocery store is only eligible for a 50% deduction.
Other rules for food and beverage deductions include:
Travel and Transportation
You can deduct 100% of the cost of any travel by airplane, train, bus, or car between your home and business destination. That includes car rental expenses. Also deductible is parking fees, tolls, and fares for taxis, shuttles, ferry rides, and other modes of transportation.
Hotels and Lodging
Hotel stays are tax-deductible, as are tips and fees for hotel staff and baggage carriers. Depending on how you schedule your trip, you may even be able to deduct lodging costs for non-workdays.
You can write off costs for shipping baggage or any materials related to business operations.
Business Calls, Communication
Fees for calls, texts, or Wi-Fi usage during business travel are deductible.
Dry Cleaning, Laundry
Costs to launder work clothes on a business trip get a tax break.
Tips for services related to any of these expenses also qualify.
Gifts of up to $25
Gifts for clients or other business associates are included, although you can deduct no more than $25 per gift recipient. So if two clients each receive a $60 fruit basket, for a total of $120 spent on gifts, the company can write off $50 of the expense.
What Isn’t Deductible?
To make the most of your tax deductions, collect receipts and keep detailed records of all travel expenses. Set a standard meal allowance for traveling employees and write off that amount to make meal tracking easier.
Managing business travel expenses and calculating deductions requires attention to detail, and businesses may be out of practice after two years with little to no travel. If you need help figuring out business travel deductions, our team of professionals can assist your business in getting back on track — and ready for takeoff.
The next quarterly estimated tax payment deadline is June 15 for individuals and businesses so it’s a good time to review the rules for computing corporate federal estimated payments. You want your business to pay the minimum amount of estimated taxes without triggering the penalty for underpayment of estimated tax.
The required installment of estimated tax that a corporation must pay to avoid a penalty is the lowest amount determined under each of the following four methods:
Under the current year method, a corporation can avoid the estimated tax underpayment penalty by paying 25% of the tax shown on the current tax year’s return (or, if no return is filed, 25% of the tax for the current year) by each of four installment due dates. The due dates are generally April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15 of the following year.
Under the preceding year method, a corporation can avoid the estimated tax underpayment penalty by paying 25% of the tax shown on the return for the preceding tax year by each of four installment due dates. (Note, however, that for 2022, certain corporations can only use the preceding year method to determine their first required installment payment. This restriction is placed on a corporation with taxable income of $1 million or more in any of the last three tax years.) In addition, this method isn’t available to corporations with a tax return that was for less than 12 months or a corporation that didn’t file a preceding tax year return that showed some tax liability.
Under the annualized income method, a corporation can avoid the estimated tax underpayment penalty if it pays its “annualized tax” in quarterly installments. The annualized tax is computed on the basis of the corporation’s taxable income for the months in the tax year ending before the due date of the installment and assuming income will be received at the same rate over the full year.
Under the seasonal income method, corporations with recurring seasonal patterns of taxable income can annualize income by assuming income earned in the current year is earned in the same pattern as in preceding years. There’s a somewhat complicated mathematical test that corporations must pass in order to establish that their income is earned seasonally and that they therefore qualify to use this method. If you think your corporation might qualify for this method, don’t hesitate to ask for our assistance in determining if it does.
Also, note that a corporation can switch among the four methods during a given tax year.
We can examine whether your corporation’s estimated tax bill can be reduced. Contact us if you’d like to discuss this matter further.
Are you a partner in a business? You may have come across a situation that’s puzzling. In a given year, you may be taxed on more partnership income than was distributed to you from the partnership in which you’re a partner.
Why does this happen? It’s due to the way partnerships and partners are taxed. Unlike C corporations, partnerships aren’t subject to income tax. Instead, each partner is taxed on the partnership’s earnings — whether or not they’re distributed. Similarly, if a partnership has a loss, the loss is passed through to the partners. (However, various rules may prevent a partner from currently using his or her share of a partnership’s loss to offset other income.)
Pass through your share
While a partnership isn’t subject to income tax, it’s treated as a separate entity for purposes of determining its income, gains, losses, deductions, and credits. This makes it possible to pass through to partners their share of these items.
An information return must be filed by a partnership. On Schedule K of Form 1065, the partnership separately identifies income, deductions, credits, and other items. This is so that each partner can properly treat items that are subject to limits or other rules that could affect their correct treatment at the partner’s level. Examples of such items include capital gains and losses, interest expense on investment debts, and charitable contributions. Each partner gets a Schedule K-1 showing his or her share of partnership items.
Basis and distribution rules ensure that partners aren’t taxed twice. A partner’s initial basis in his or her partnership interest (the determination of which varies depending on how the interest was acquired) is increased by his or her share of partnership taxable income. When that income is paid out to partners in cash, they aren’t taxed on the cash if they have sufficient basis. Instead, partners just reduce their basis by the amount of the distribution. If a cash distribution exceeds a partner’s basis, then the excess is taxed to the partner as a gain, which often is a capital gain.
Two people each contribute $10,000 to form a partnership. The partnership has $80,000 of taxable income in the first year, during which it makes no cash distributions to the two partners. Each of them reports $40,000 of taxable income from the partnership as shown on their K-1s. Each has a starting basis of $10,000, which is increased by $40,000 to $50,000. In the second year, the partnership breaks even (has zero taxable income) and distributes $40,000 to each of the two partners. The cash distributed to them is received tax-free. Each of them, however, must reduce the basis in his or her partnership interest from $50,000 to $10,000.
More rules and limits
The example and details above are an overview and, therefore, don’t cover all the rules. For example, many other events require basis adjustments and there are a host of special rules covering noncash distributions, distributions of securities, liquidating distributions, and other matters. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how a partner is taxed.
The State of California now requires businesses with ﬁve or more employees to either offer an employee retirement plan or participate in the CalSavers Retirement Savings Program by June 30, 2022. CalSavers is a state-based payroll withholding savings program using Roth (post-tax) individual retirement accounts. All employers with ﬁve or more employees must either register with CalSavers or offer a qualifying retirement plan.
The CalSavers program has been rolled out in phases, and the state is already issuing penalty notices to businesses that missed the earlier deadlines or failed to allow eligible employees to participate in the retirement savings program. The penalties are significant:
Eligible employers must register with the program via the program website (employer.CalSavers.com) or by calling 855-650-6916.
Employers have the following options:
We can work with you to determine the best retirement solutions to fit your needs. Please contact us at 858.481.7702 for further assistance.
California enacted Assembly Bill 150 (“AB 150”) in late 2021 as a method for deducting state and local taxes in excess of federal deduction limitations. AB 150 allowed passthrough entities (“PTEs”) to have the tax imposed and paid at the entity level rather than at the individual level, which permitted PTE owners to bypass the deduction limitation. For those owners who have elected to participate in this program, PTEs pay the tax on the qualified net income and their owners receive a corresponding credit against the state income tax liability related to their PTE income. Any unused credit at the owner level may be carried forward for up to five years.
Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 113 (“SB 113”) on February 9, 2022, which modified and expanded the passthrough entity elective tax benefits previously established under AB 150. The goal of SB 113 was to add clarity and conformity to the state’s original objectives for establishing the PTE credit.
The PTE election is made annually on the original filed return, including extensions. For tax years 2022 through 2025, the first PTE installment payment is due June 15th of each year, and is equal to the greater of:
The second PTE elective tax installment is due by the entity’s tax return due date (without extensions), which for most partnerships, LLCs, and S corps will be March 15, 2023.
If a payment is not made by June 15th, the election may not be made and the pass-through entity and owners may not participate in the program for that corresponding tax year.
There are many unanswered questions surrounding the PTE program. For example, since many 2021 returns will not be filed by June 15th, taxpayers may not know what 50% of the 2021 tax will actually be. If a good faith estimate is paid on June 15 but ends up being short of the 50% when the 2021 return is filed, the 2022 PTE election is invalid.
Hamilton Tharp is recommending that taxpayers add more funds to ensure that they do not underpay the tax. If the PTE did not participate in the program for 2021, but the owners of the PTE are fairly certain they will want to participate in the PTE program for 2022, we are recommending the payment be made with all available financial information or the $1,000.
If you have any questions, please contact us. In most cases, if you or your firm qualify to participate in this program, we have already reached out and discussed the payments.
As a business owner, your company’s financial statements play a significant role in monitoring your company’s performance and financial standing. However, the information presented in financial statements is susceptible to distortion when certain economic factors come into play — notably inflation.
The cumulative impact of a global pandemic, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions have merged to create the highest inflation rates the United States has seen this century. In fact, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 7.9% between February 2021 and February 2022, representing the most significant annualized growth in CPI inflation since 1982.
While the tangible effects of inflation vary by company and industry, the national and global implications are widespread and generally impact at least some aspects of every business. Even if the obvious effects feel minimal, it’s essential to understand inflation often trickles down to affect the most basic accounting and financial reporting information.
Here are some common ways inflation can affect financial statements and paint a misleading picture of your business.
Inflation can most heavily affect companies’ reported profits with considerable inventories when it comes to financial reporting. Imagine, for example; a widget company reported $100,000 in sales last year with $75,000 in cost of goods sold and a gross profit of $25,000. Since widgets do not expire, the company keeps and sells unsold inventory year after year.
The company sells the same number of widgets the following year, but because of a rising inflation rate, it decides to raise its prices by 5% to offset a 5% increase in its costs of goods. Half of its sales this year were taken from the prior year’s inventory, and the other half comprised the new inventory carrying the 5% production increase.
Because of its 5% increase in both cost of goods sold and widget sales price, the company reports $105,000 in sales and $76,875 in cost of goods sold, totaling $3,750 in gross profits. When you factor in half of the previous year’s inventory, the company still reports an increase of $1,875 in gross profits (because of selling last year’s inventory) even though it sold the same number of widgets as the previous year.
This is called “inflation profit,” meaning the increased profit results from inflation rather than an actual improvement in business performance.
For businesses looking to impress investors or potential purchasers, this is just one example of how inflation could distort financial planning efforts if not properly recognized and considered.
Supply Chain Disruptions
Many businesses rely on a complex network of supply chains to manufacture and deliver goods. These systems become particularly volatile when one or more parts of that supply chain begin raising prices because of factors such as labor shortages, freight costs, increased employee wages, and material costs.
When companies have existing long-term revenue contracts with customers, it may be difficult (or even impossible) to break those contracts and raise prices enough to offset any increase in production costs.
Therefore, companies should consider the monthly implications caused by reduced or negative profitability and the period in which to record the loss, if applicable. Business owners should also be conscientious of the repercussions lost contracts and unstable profits may have on monthly planning and forecasting.
Despite its increased prevalence this past year, inflation always impacts reporting and accounting. Although generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) largely combat the most glaring discrepancies among financial statements, some variations may still occur based on how your particular business accounts for inflation.
Contact our team today if you need help accommodating inflation into your financial statement preparation, reporting, and analysis.
As U.S. companies struggle to recruit, hire, and retain talent, more businesses are turning to independent contractors instead of full-time employees. But understanding the difference between an employee and an independent contractor can be complex.
Getting it right is critical because misclassifying workers – intentionally or not – can result in penalties including, but not limited to, fines and back taxes. If the IRS believes a misclassification was intentional, there’s also the possibility of criminal and civil penalties.
There’s no single test at the federal level to determine a worker’s classification. Studies show that 10% to 20% of employers misclassify at least one employee. At its most basic level, the question boils down to this: Is the worker an employee or an independent contractor?
What the IRS Says
The IRS defines an independent contractor as someone who performs work for someone else while controlling how the work is done. The Internal Revenue Code defines an employee for employment tax purposes as “any individual who, under the usual common-law rules, applicable in determining the employer-employee relationship, has the status of an employee.”
Under this test, an individual is classified in one of the two buckets after examining relevant facts and circumstances and an application of common law principles. The IRS analyzes the evidence of the degree of control and independence through three overarching categories:
No one factor stands alone in making this determination and the relevant factors will vary depending on the facts and circumstances.
If it is still unclear whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor after reviewing the three categories of evidence, file Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding, with the IRS. The form may be filed by either the business or the worker, and the IRS will review the facts and circumstances and officially determine the worker’s status.
The IRS cautions it can take at least six months to get a determination.
Penalties for Misclassifying
If the misclassification was unintentional, the employer faces, at a minimum, the following penalties:
If the IRS suspects fraud or intentional misconduct, it can impose additional fines and penalties. The employer could be subject to criminal penalties of up to $10,000 per misclassified worker and one year in prison. In addition, the person responsible for withholding taxes could also be held personally liable for any uncollected tax.
Tips for Employers
Take pre-emptive steps to avoid worker misclassification issues by:
Remember, a worker’s classification may be different under the Fair Labor Standards Act than under various state laws, the National Labor Relations Act, and/or the Internal Revenue Code. Workers who are properly classified as independent contractors under one state’s test may not be properly classified under another’s.
Employers should ensure proper classification of their workers and remain cognizant of and comply with applicable state and local laws, which may be different from federal law.
Does your organization need help classifying or ensuring your workers are classified correctly? Contact our team today!
Operating as an S corporation may help reduce federal employment taxes for small businesses in the right circumstances. Although S corporations may provide tax advantages over C corporations, there are some potentially costly tax issues that you should assess before making a decision to switch.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most important issues to consider when converting from a C corporation to an S corporation:
Built-in gains tax
Although S corporations generally aren’t subject to tax, those that were formerly C corporations are taxed on built-in gains (such as appreciated property) that the C corporation has when the S election becomes effective if those gains are recognized within 5 years after the corporation becomes an S corporation. This is generally unfavorable, although there are situations where the S election still can produce a better tax result despite the built-in gains tax.
S corporations that were formerly C corporations are subject to a special tax if their passive investment income (such as dividends, interest, rents, royalties, and stock sale gains) exceeds 25% of their gross receipts, and the S corporation has accumulated earnings and profits carried over from its C corporation years. If that tax is owed for three consecutive years, the corporation’s election to be an S corporation terminates. You can avoid the tax by distributing the accumulated earnings and profits, which would be taxable to shareholders. Or you might want to avoid the tax by limiting the amount of passive income.
C corporations that use LIFO inventories have to pay tax on the benefits they derived by using LIFO if they convert to S corporations. The tax can be spread over four years. This cost must be weighed against the potential tax gains from converting to S status.
If your C corporation has unused net operating losses, the losses can’t be used to offset its income as an S corporation and can’t be passed through to shareholders. If the losses can’t be carried back to an earlier C corporation year, it will be necessary to weigh the cost of giving up the losses against the tax savings expected to be generated by the switch to S status.
There are other factors to consider in switching from C to S status. Shareholder-employees of S corporations can’t get the full range of tax-free fringe benefits that are available with a C corporation. And there may be complications for shareholders who have outstanding loans from their qualified plans. All of these factors have to be considered to understand the full effect of converting from C to S status.
There are strategies for eliminating or minimizing some of these tax problems and for avoiding unnecessary pitfalls related to them. But a lot depends upon your company’s particular circumstances. Contact us to discuss the effect of these and other potential problems, along with possible strategies for dealing with them.
The federal government is helping to pick up the tab for certain business meals. Under a provision that’s part of one of the COVID-19 relief laws, the usual deduction for 50% of the cost of business meals is doubled to 100% for food and beverages provided by restaurants in 2022 (and 2021).
So, you can take a customer out for a business meal or order take-out for your team and temporarily write off the entire cost — including the tip, sales tax and any delivery charges.
Despite eliminating deductions for business entertainment expenses in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a business taxpayer could still deduct 50% of the cost of qualified business meals, including meals incurred while traveling away from home on business. (The TCJA generally eliminated the 50% deduction for business entertainment expenses incurred after 2017 on a permanent basis.)
To help struggling restaurants during the pandemic, the Consolidated Appropriations Act doubled the business meal deduction temporarily for 2021 and 2022. Unless Congress acts to extend this tax break, it will expire on December 31, 2022.
Currently, the deduction for business meals is allowed if the following requirements are met:
In the event that food and beverages are provided during an entertainment activity, the food and beverages must be purchased separately from the entertainment. Alternatively, the cost can be stated separately from the cost of the entertainment on one or more bills.
So, if you treat a client to a meal and the expense is properly substantiated, you may qualify for a business meal deduction as long as there’s a business purpose to the meal or a reasonable expectation that a benefit to the business will result.
Provided by a restaurant
IRS Notice 2021-25 explains the main rules for qualifying for the 100% deduction for food and beverages provided by a restaurant. Under this guidance, the deduction is available if the restaurant prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption on or off the premises. As a result, it applies to both on-site dining and take-out and delivery meals.
However, a “restaurant” doesn’t include a business that mainly sells pre-packaged goods not intended for immediate consumption. So, food and beverage sales are excluded from businesses including:
The restriction also applies to an eating facility located on the employer’s business premises that provides meals excluded from an employee’s taxable income. Business meals purchased from such facilities are limited to a 50% deduction. It doesn’t matter if a third party is operating the facility under a contract with the business.
Keep good records
It’s important to keep track of expenses to maximize tax benefits for business meal expenses.
You should record the:
In addition, ask establishments to divvy up the tab between any entertainment costs and food/ beverages. For additional information, contact your tax advisor.
Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines that apply to businesses and other employers during the second quarter of 2022. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and to learn more about the filing requirements.
The start of a new tax filing season often brings with it longer hold times with the IRS, as taxpayers and their tax preparers inundate phone lines with questions and concerns. But the 2022 filing season promises to be particularly challenging.
The IRS continues to work through a backlog of millions of paper-filed returns and correspondence from the 2021 tax filing season. Add staffing challenges and congressional underfunding to the issue and trying to track down a missing refund or deal with an unexpected tax notice is bound to be frustrating.
Roots, Results of the IRS Backlog
As of December 2021, the IRS had a backlog of 6 million unprocessed individual income tax returns, 2.3 million amended returns, and more than 2 million quarterly payroll tax returns, according to a statement from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).
That backlog stems from a combination of COVID-related shutdowns at many of the agency’s processing centers, budget cuts that forced reduced staff sizes, and the IRS overseeing new initiatives, such as stimulus payments and the expanded Child Tax Credit.
Reaching the IRS via phone hasn’t been easy in recent years, and the problem likely will worsen. According to the TAS report, there was a record 282 million taxpayer calls to the IRS in 2021, but the agency answered just 11% of those calls and those who did get through endured long wait times and frequent disconnects.
Understanding what’s going on behind the scenes isn’t much help when you’re facing missing tax refunds, incorrect notices, and other tax troubles. The following tips can help you navigate the IRS backlog and get the answers you need.
Send a complete copy of the correspondence and any other essential documents to your advisor as soon as you receive the notice. Tax professionals have access to a unique IRS customer service line reserved for practitioners, but delays are common there as well, so don’t wait until the last minute to loop them in.
Finally, have patience. The good news is the IRS is working to catch up by fast-tracking hiring, reassigning workers, and scrapping plans to close a tax processing center in Austin, Texas. In the meantime, stay in touch with your tax advisor to be as proactive as possible.
In today’s economy, many small businesses are strapped for cash. They may find it beneficial to barter or trade for goods and services instead of paying cash for them. Bartering is the oldest form of trade and the internet has made it easier to engage with other businesses. But if your business gets involved in bartering, be aware that the fair market value of goods that you receive in bartering is taxable income. And if you exchange services with another business, the transaction results in taxable income for both parties.
How it works
Here are some examples:
In these cases, both parties are taxed on the fair market value of the services received. This is the amount they would normally charge for the same services. If the parties agree to the value of the services in advance, that will be considered the fair market value unless there’s contrary evidence.
In addition, if services are exchanged for property, income is realized. For example,
Many businesses join barter clubs that facilitate barter exchanges. These clubs generally use a system of “credit units,” which are awarded to members who provide goods and services. The credits can be redeemed for goods and services from other members.
In general, bartering is taxable in the year it occurs. But if you participate in a barter club, you may be taxed on the value of credit units at the time they’re added to your account, even if you don’t redeem them for actual goods and services until a later year. For example, let’s say that you earn 2,500 credit units one year and that each unit is redeemable for $2 in goods and services. In that year, you’ll have $5,000 of income. You won’t pay additional tax if you redeem the units the next year, since you’ve already been taxed once on that income.
If you join a barter club, you’ll be asked to provide your Social Security number or Employer Identification Number. You’ll also be asked to certify that you aren’t subject to backup withholding. Unless you make this certification, the club is required to withhold tax from your bartering income at a 24% rate.
Reporting to the IRS
By January 31 of each year, a barter club will send participants a Form 1099-B, “Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions,” which shows the value of cash, property, services and credits that you received from exchanges during the previous year. This information will also be reported to the IRS.
Conserve cash, reap benefits
By bartering, you can trade away excess inventory or provide services during slow times, all while hanging onto your cash. You may also find yourself bartering when a customer doesn’t have the money on hand to complete a transaction. As long as you’re aware of the federal and state tax consequences, these transactions can benefit all parties. If you need assistance or would like more information, contact us.
The credit for increasing research activities, often referred to as the research and development (R&D) credit, is a valuable tax break available to eligible businesses. Claiming the credit involves complex calculations, which we can take care of for you. But in addition to the credit itself, be aware that the credit also has two features that are especially favorable to small businesses:
1. Eligible small businesses ($50 million or less in gross receipts) may claim the credit against alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability.
2. The credit can be used by certain even smaller startup businesses against the employer’s Social Security payroll tax liability.
Let’s take a look at the second feature. Subject to limits, you can elect to apply all or some of any research tax credit that you earn against your payroll taxes instead of your income tax. This payroll tax election may influence you to undertake or increase your research activities. On the other hand, if you’re engaged in — or are planning to undertake — research activities without regard to tax consequences, be aware that you could receive some tax relief.
Why the election is important
Many new businesses, even if they have some cash flow, or even net positive cash flow and/or a book profit, pay no income taxes and won’t for some time. Thus, there’s no amount against which business credits, including the research credit, can be applied. On the other hand, any wage-paying business, even a new one, has payroll tax liabilities. Therefore, the payroll tax election is an opportunity to get immediate use out of the research credits that you earn. Because every dollar of credit-eligible expenditure can result in as much as a 10-cent tax credit, that’s a big help in the start-up phase of a business — the time when help is most needed.
To qualify for the election a taxpayer must:
In making these determinations, the only gross receipts that an individual taxpayer takes into account are from the individual’s businesses. An individual’s salary, investment income or other income aren’t taken into account. Also, note that an entity or individual can’t make the election for more than six years in a row.
Limits on the election
The research credit for which the taxpayer makes the payroll tax election can be applied only against the Social Security portion of FICA taxes. It can’t be used to lower the employer’s liability for the “Medicare” portion of FICA taxes or any FICA taxes that the employer withholds and remits to the government on behalf of employees.
The amount of research credit for which the election can be made can’t annually exceed $250,000. Note, too, that an individual or C corporation can make the election only for those research credits which, in the absence of an election, would have to be carried forward. In other words, a C corporation can’t make the election for the research credit that the taxpayer can use to reduce current or past income tax liabilities.
The above are just the basics of the payroll tax election. Keep in mind that identifying and substantiating expenses eligible for the research credit itself is a complex area. Contact us about whether you can benefit from the payroll tax election and the research tax credit.
The IRS recently released the 2022 mileage rates for businesses to use as guidance when reimbursing workers for applicable miles driven within the year. The rates tend to increase every year to account for rising fuel and vehicle and maintenance costs and insurance rate increases.
Businesses can use the standard mileage rate to calculate the deductible costs of operating qualified automobiles for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes. Keep reading for the updated mileage rates, as well as some reminders for mileage reimbursements and deductions.
Standard mileage rates for cars, vans, pickups and panel trucks are as follows:
|Use Category||Mileage rate
(as of Jan. 1, 2022)
|Change from previous year|
|Business miles driven||$0.585 per mile||$0.025 increase from 2021|
|Medical or moving miles driven*||$0.18 per mile||$0.02 increase from 2021|
|Miles driven for charitable organizations||$0.14 per mile||Note: Only congress may adjust the mileage rate for service to a charitable organization by a Congress-passed statute.|
*Moving miles reimbursement for qualified active-duty members of the Armed Forces
Important reminders and considerations
When reimbursing employees for miles driven, keep in mind the following reminders and considerations:
To review your organization’s mileage reimbursement policy and any alternate methods for calculating appropriate reimbursement amounts, reach out to our team of knowledgeable professionals today.
As a business owner, increasing sales can be a great mood lifter. But what happens if you get a large order and have no way to pay for the supplies? Sales don’t always equal immediate cash in hand, which can put a strain on your business accounts and your ability to deliver on time.
Below, we’ll share what the difference between revenue (sales) and cash flow is, and how it can affect your business.
More revenue, more problems
While the thought of increased revenue causing more problems for a business owner can seem counterintuitive, there are challenges that increased sales can bring forth. But first, let’s talk about what revenue is.
Revenue is the total income generated by business’s sales before expenses are deducted. This is also known as cash inflow. Most often, this is income from your primary operations. Your business may also have non-operating income, which is generated from interest bearing accounts and investments.
When you have sales come in on credit, or terms, it can be weeks or months before you receive the full payment for the order. Additionally, credit card processors can take up to three days to deposit monies from sales, depending on your merchant services provider. Meanwhile, your business still must cover any expenses like building materials, new inventory, or payroll.
That’s where managing your cash flow comes in.
The ins and outs of cash flow
Cash flow is simply how money moves in and out of a business or bank account. Just like you have to budget your paychecks, bills, and expenses in your personal accounts, you have to manage the cash flow for your business.
As stated above, cash inflow is your revenue and your non-operating income. Cash outflow, then, is comprised of anything your business has to pay for (i.e., rent, inventory, supplies, payroll, refunds, and merchant chargebacks).
Creating a forecast for expected expenses and payments, plus when they’re expected to take place, can help you see where any shortages could be expected throughout the month. Keep in mind, the forecast can be affected by delayed sales payments and unexpected expenses.
To create a buffer and give yourself some breathing room in your cash flow, consider:
Managing your cash flow is an essential part of business ownership and can keep your company moving forward while minimizing growing pains. Our team can help you review your cash flow system and identify areas of strength or for improvement; or we can assist you in setting up your cash flow system from scratch. Give us a call to get started today.
Are you wondering whether alternative energy technologies can help you manage energy costs in your business? If so, there’s a valuable federal income tax benefit (the business energy credit) that applies to the acquisition of many types of alternative energy property.
The credit is intended primarily for business users of alternative energy (other energy tax breaks apply if you use alternative energy in your home or produce energy for sale).
The business energy credit equals 30% of the basis of the following:
The credit equals 10% of the basis of the following:
Pluses and minuses
However, there are several restrictions. For example, the credit isn’t available for property acquired with certain non-recourse financing. Additionally, if the credit is allowable for property, the “basis” is reduced by 50% of the allowable credit.
On the other hand, a favorable aspect is that, for the same property, the credit can sometimes be used in combination with other benefits — for example, federal income tax expensing, state tax credits or utility rebates.
There are business considerations unrelated to the tax and non-tax benefits that may influence your decision to use alternative energy. And even if you choose to use it, you might do so without owning the equipment, which would mean forgoing the business energy credit.
As you can see, there are many issues to consider. We can help you address these alternative energy considerations.
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have both unanimously agreed to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by five weeks in an effort to continue providing relief for small businesses hit hard by the pandemic. Applications officially closed for the program on June 30 when the Senate voted for a last-minute extension. President Trump is expected to sign the bill.
This extension would give small businesses until Aug. 8 to apply for a share of the approximately $129 billion in remaining PPP funding through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Thanks to the PPP Flexibility Act passed on June 5, recipients have 24 weeks to use loan funds for payroll and other essential expenses like rent/mortgage and utilities. The Flexibility Act also lowered the threshold for payroll expenses to 60% to achieve full forgiveness with a few safe harbor considerations. Over 4.9 million loans have been approved by the SBA so far, worth more than $520 billion.
Contact us for assistance in compiling information for your PPP forgiveness application to present to your lender.
On June 22, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released the: Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Revisions to Loan Forgiveness Interim Final Rule
This guidance details two noteworthy changes impacting PPP loan borrowers, including:
The updated regulations also make minor updates to existing guidance addressing the extension of the covered period derived from the June 5, 2020 enactment of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H. R. 7010).
Read our blog summary of changes from H.R. 7010 here.
When Can a Borrower Apply for Loan Forgiveness?
A borrower can apply for forgiveness at any time on or before the loan maturity date. However, if the borrower applies for forgiveness before the end of the covered period and has reduced any employee’s salaries or wages by more than 25 percent, the borrower must account for the excess salary reduction for the full 8-week or 24-week covered period.
Expanded Limitations on Owner Compensation
The release of Revisions to the Third and Sixth Interim Final Rules on June 17, 2020, increased the maximum compensation for all employees and owners, which was summarized in our blog here. The new interim rules added that the employer portion of retirement plan funding for owner-employees of S-Corporations and C-Corporations is now capped at 2.5 months’ worth of the 2019 contribution amount. Furthermore, healthcare costs paid on behalf of owner-employees of S-Corporations are not eligible for forgiveness.
HT2 has established a dedicated PPP loan forgiveness team that is constantly monitoring new guidance from the SBA, as well as the Treasury, Congress, and the IRS, to ensure we have the latest information when advising our clients.
On June 16, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released the updated Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application (see link below) which supersedes the application previously released on May 15, 2020. The new application incorporates changes to the PPP per the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H. R. 7010), which was signed into law on June 5, 2020. The latest PPP loan forgiveness application, in conjunction with the June 17, 2020 release of the Revisions to the Third and Sixth Interim Final Rules, addresses some of the previously unanswered questions, including:
The SBA also released the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Form 3508EZ (Form EZ) on June 16, 2020. The Form EZ is a simplified version of the loan forgiveness application and is applicable to PPP loan borrowers who are willing to certify they have met one of the following conditions:
Further guidance and instructions are anticipated, especially as they relate to the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application. The HT2 COVID-19 Task Force is hard at work deciphering new regulations as they are published! Stay tuned for updates and contact us for assistance with your loan forgiveness application.
On June 10, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an updated interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in response to the PPP Flexibility Act passed on June 5, 2020. The updated guidance accounts for revisions made to the covered period, usage of funds changes, extended safe harbors, and more.
Here is a quick rundown of the changes made by the PPP Flexibility Act.
Also of note:
Further guidance and instructions are anticipated, especially as they relate to the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application. The HT2 COVID-19 Task Force is hard at work deciphering new regulations as they are published! Stay tuned for updates and contact us for assistance with your loan forgiveness application.
On May 23, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that included the loan forgiveness application guidance released May 15, as well as other updated guidance.
The rule, Paycheck Protection Program – Requirements – Loan Forgiveness, is the formal guidance that accompanies the forgiveness application and should be used by borrowers and their advisors, as well as lenders, to ensure accurate completion and review of the forgiveness application. Since the passage of the CARES Act on March 25 and the opening of PPP loan applications on April 3, questions, concerns, and clarifications have abounded regarding loan forgiveness on all sides. The release of the interim final rule clarifies many questions, but guidance is still expected for borrowers and lenders.
Clarifications on borrower responsibility
Alternative payroll period – Until the application was released on May 15, the 8-week rule was strict for payroll. The interim rule now allows borrowers to establish the forgiveness period with the start of the first payroll period following loan disbursement, rather than the date of loan disbursement. This allows for greater flexibility for employers with less frequent pay periods and should make meeting forgiveness requirements for some businesses a little easier.
Eligible payroll costs – Payroll costs must make up a hefty 75% of the loan to qualify for forgiveness, but borrowers have questioned what qualifies because employee compensation can be paid in a multitude of ways. The rule clarified that eligible payroll costs include salary, wages, commission, bonuses, hazard pay, cash tips or equivalent, PTO/sick/family/medical leave, separation or dismissals, employee benefits related to group health care coverage and retirement, state and local taxes assessed on payroll, and independent contractor/sole proprietor wages/commissions/income paid by employers to contractors up to the pro-rated amount of a $100,000 annual salary.
Caps on eligible costs for self-employed/owner-employees – For these individuals, guidance on forgiveness was somewhat incomplete and unclear. The rule clarifies that forgiveness is capped at 8/52 of 2019 compensation up to $15,385 across all businesses and that retirement and health insurance contributions are not eligible for forgiveness for self-employed individuals (benefit contributions do qualify for owner-employees) which had been in question prior to guidance issuance.
Costs paid vs costs incurred – The 8-week-from-disbursement rule in the original PPP documentation created some unforeseen restrictions on claiming eligible non-payroll costs for businesses operating on a schedule that did not align with the 8 weeks. The May 15 guidance and the most recent interim rule clarified that non-payroll costs may be paid during the 8-week period or simply incurred as long as they are paid on or before the next billing date. These costs include interest payments on business mortgage on real or personal property, business rent on real or personal property under a lease, and business utility payments, including electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone, or internet, all incurred, in force, or in service before Feb 15., 2020. The rule also clarified that advance payments on interest are not eligible for forgiveness.
Clarification on calculating FTE employees
The interim rule included much-needed clarification on calculating FTE employees considering the many possible changes and circumstances as a result of the crisis, which was a looming question for borrowers, including when and how safe harbors apply.
First, it is important to note that the FTE calculation for PPP forgiveness differs from previous legislation in that 40 hours is considered FTE status rather than 32 hours, like for the Affordable Care Act. FTEs are calculated by the average number of hours paid per week per employee / 40, rounded to nearest tenth. FTEs can be calculated using the formula available on the forgiveness application or contact us for assistance.
Wage reductions must be analyzed on a per employee annualized basis – Employers may reduce wages and still qualify for forgiveness as long as they follow certain restrictions. Salary or hourly calculations should be done on an average annualized basis compared to period of Jan. 1, 2020, to March 31, 2020. If the average for the 8-week period is 25% less than first quarter of 2020, loan forgiveness will be reduced, unless the reduction is restored at equal to or greater levels by June 30, 2020, then forgiveness will not be reduced.
Rehiring employees – Similar to the above, borrowers who rehire employees and/or reverse reductions to salary and wages by June 30 are still eligible for forgiveness. The guidance also clarified that, for hours and wage reductions on the same employee, loan forgiveness will not be reduced.
Employees who reject return – What happens if employees refuse to return to work for reasons such as personal or familial high-risk health concerns or other reasons? The guidance states that employers will not be beholden to employees who reject returning to work in their total FTE count. Key here is that borrowers will be required to demonstrate they made a good faith effort to rehire the employee with a written offer and must receive a written rejection. Employers must also notify the state unemployment office within 30 days following an employee’s rejection to return to work.
Cause or voluntary employee changes – Concessions have also been granted for employers whose reduction in FTE account was out of their control. The rule clarifies that borrowers who fired employees for cause, employees who voluntarily resigned, or voluntarily requested and received reduction in hours will not be counted against forgiveness. All these procedures should be documented in writing.
Clarification on loan forgiveness procedures
When working with lenders and the SBA, borrowers should be aware of additional guidance and clarification on the procedures for loan forgiveness. Most notably, all forgiveness applications must be submitted to the lender, not the SBA or other entity, and your lender will notify you of your forgiveness amount. Other points to note include:
Understanding non-forgiveness – Borrowers concerned about unforgiveable expenses received clarification that they will have 2 years at 1% interest to repay portions of the loans not forgiven by the maturity date. These terms are more generous that most SBA loans.
Factoring in EIDL – Some borrowers also qualified for, applied, and received Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants from the SBA. How this impacts PPP forgiveness has been a hot topic among borrowers and their advisors, but the guidance has clarified that EIDL grants will be factored into forgiveness calculations. If you want to avoid EIDL grants impacting your PPP forgiveness, they may be paid back prior to forgiveness, if applicable to your circumstances.
SBA may review any loan – While earlier guidance indicated that loans under $2 million will not be audited for economic need, the rule clarified that the SBA still has the right to review any loan, regardless of size, to ensure it meets eligibility requirements and is calculated correctly and funds are used properly. A separate ruling is expected on these procedures. Proper documentation will be essential here. Contact us for assistance.
Borrowers may appeal – Even if you feel you have all your ducks in a row, the SBA may still think differently. Fortunately, the interim rule allows borrowers 30 days to appeal SBA determinations. More guidance is expected on this.
Lenders have a deadline – The interim rule also issued clear guidance and deadlines for lenders and the SBA to handle the forgiveness applications. Lenders have 60 days to decide on loan forgiveness from receipt of application (and to notify the borrower of forgiveness amount), followed by 90 days for the SBA to review the application. Borrowers may be asked questions by the lenders and the SBA during these reviews, so they should be prepared with accurate documentation.
The first PPP loans were disbursed on April 3, so early borrowers are closing in the final weeks of the 8-week period. More guidance is expected in the coming days and weeks, but borrowers should begin preparing their documentation now. Contact us for assistance with your loan forgiveness application.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has released its long-awaited Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiveness form for borrowers. The release on May 15 brought with it significant changes to the interpretation of some components of forgiveness that were not previously known.
Clarity is still needed on many of the components of forgiveness. Changes were made to the following components of the program based on the release of the form.
Covered payroll periods – Until this release, the guidance indicated the covered payroll period began immediately after loan disbursement and lasted eight weeks. For those with payroll schedules that did not align with the disbursement and covered period, this generated many questions and concerns. However, this latest guidance indicates that the eight-week period may begin starting with the borrower’s first payroll following disbursement, not necessarily on the day of disbursement. This alternative period only covers payroll costs, not other allowable expenses, although adjustments do exist for other allowable expenses.
Incurred and/or paid expenses – The CARES Act originally indicated that, for costs to be covered under PPP, they would need to be incurred and paid during the eight-week period. The latest guidance, however, forgives costs that are incurred, but not paid, as long as they are paid on or before the regular billing date. This expansion applies to costs such as mortgage interest, rent, utilities, and payroll incurred during the loan period. Payroll costs incurred during the last payroll period but not paid during the covered or alternative periods (mentioned above) may be forgiven if those payroll costs are paid on or before the next regular payroll date.
Full-time equivalent (FTE) employee counts and wages – The guidance also included several clarifications to the FTE employee count and wage calculations necessary for forgiveness including:
Amounts paid to owners (owner-employees, a self-employed individual, or general partners), capped at the lower of:
1) $15,385 (the eight-week equivalent of $100,000 per year) for each individual; or
2) the eight-week equivalent of their applicable compensation in 2019
We expect further guidance to be issued from the SBA on PPP forgiveness beyond the changes outlined above. Borrowers will be required to submit the information in the forgiveness form through their lender, but your CPA can help with calculating and completing your form. Contact us for assistance.
In an update to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) FAQs, the SBA and Treasury have announced that borrowers with an original principal amount less than $2 million “will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.”
Released just ahead of the May 14 repayment deadline, the SBA indicated in FAQ #46 that this safe harbor was introduced because borrowers who requested less than $2 million were less likely to have access to alternative funding options. The access to other capital was the sticking point in FAQ #31, which requested businesses that could not certify in good faith their need for funds to repay them by May 14.
Borrowers with a principal amount greater than $2 million can still meet the good faith certification. Still, the SBA continues to emphasize that they will be reviewing those larger loan applications for compliance with program requirements. See question 47 for update source .
Contact us for assistance with your PPP loan obligations.
For those of our clients who have received their PPP loan and endured the painful application process, we have just one word to share – Congratulations!!!! Now what?
Now, you are on the clock! You have 8-weeks to determine how much of that loan will have to be returned and how much of that loan may be forgiven.
In our opinion, we think most of our clients will be left with some amount of loan. We hope that this article will provide some guidance that can be used to help you through this 8-week time period and to maximize what your loan forgiveness will be. With that said, we must qualify our comments in that there remains many unanswered questions and the SBA still must provide guidance to those answers. Accordingly, some of our comments and observations could be incorrect based on our present interpretations.
Based on our experience with the application process, the banking industry had developed their own due diligence rules and the documents required varied from bank to bank and how they interpreted what was includible costs. Be prepared for potential conflicts once the 8-week time period ends and you enter the “loan forgiveness” stage.
The SBA guidance provides that the PPP loan must be used only for qualified expenditures and if not used properly, the fine print of the loan document has a very heavy statement. “If you knowingly use the funds for unauthorized purposes, you will be subject to additional liability such as charges for fraud”. We know that our clients would never knowingly misuse the funds, but we would be negligent if we did not share that statement with you.
The good news is that the categories of what you can use the loan proceeds for are limited. They are made up of “Payroll Costs” and “Non-Payroll Costs” which are defined as follows:
PAYROLL COSTS- At least 75% of PPP Loan
NON-PAYROLL COSTS – Remaining 25% of PPP Loan
As mentioned above, you have 8-weeks starting from the time your loan hits your bank account. Unlike a tax return, no extensions are allowed.
With respect to documentation, go overboard with organization and expect that you will have to provide your banker with copies of everything. Here are some of the steps we are recommending to our clients:
The computations for purposes of the loan forgiveness creates some traps and could result in a significant portion of the PPP loan not being forgiven. In the mad rush to apply for the PPP Loan, many businesses did not spend a lot of time on the loan forgiveness computations. The following are some of the traps that will limit the forgiveness amount and we will spend time doing a deeper dive into each of the traps.
If you maximized your PPP loan by using your “average monthly payroll” costs from 2019 and then multiplied that by 2.5 to determine your loan it will be difficult to achieve 100% of forgiveness unless everything aligns in your favor. With that said, let us address each of the above items that may limit your forgiveness.
“Full-time Equivalents (FTE)” CALCULATION IS IMPORTANT:
FINALLY, AND MAYBE THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP, IS TO TRACK WHERE YOU ARE AT WITH THE LOAN FORGIVENESS. HERE ARE THE STEPS WE WOULD RECOMMEND:
We understand the PPP Loan Forgiveness step is confusing and we are here to help you and answer any questions you may have. We anticipate additional guidance from the SBA to be released in mid- May and will keep updating the information as it becomes available. As always, visit our dedicated COVID-19 Resource Page for continued updates and alerts.
Over the last several days, there have been some developments and clarifications related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The PPP program loan funds were increased by $310 billion to a total of $659 billion on Friday, April 24, 2020, when the President signed the Paycheck Protection and Healthcare Enhancement Act (PPHE). The PPP program has faced an immense amount of scrutiny and has been wrought with delays, changes, and a lack of clarity. Most small businesses did not receive funding in the initial round. While we have diligently supported our clients in their efforts, the Lenders have generally struggled with the massive amount of applications being submitted. While the law extends the funds, realistically, it will not be enough to fund every small business. Below, we outline some critical provisions from the most recent Act and changes as well as suggestions on what else you could do if you don’t anticipate receiving the PPP or have not applied yet.
For many businesses that have or will receive PPP funds, the forgiveness part of the loan program creates a lot of questions. There are still more questions than answers, and we anticipate the coming days will provide some clarity. The treasury published additional guidance on Thursday related to who qualifies after many large businesses with access to liquidity received PPP funds.
Do businesses owned by large companies with adequate sources of liquidity to support the business’s ongoing operations qualify for a PPP loan?
Answer: All borrowers must assess their economic need for a PPP loan under the standard established by the CARES Act and the PPP regulations at the time of the loan application. Although the CARES Act suspends the ordinary requirement that borrowers must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere (as defined in section 3(h) of the Small Business Act), borrowers still must certify in good faith that their PPP loan request is necessary. Specifically, before submitting a PPP application, all borrowers should review the required certification carefully that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” Borrowers must make this certification in good faith, taking into account their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity sufficient to support their ongoing operations in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business. For example, it is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith, and such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to SBA, upon request, the basis for its certification. Lenders may rely on a borrower’s certification regarding the necessity of the loan request. Any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to the issuance of this guidance and repays the loan in full by May 7, 2020, will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith.
There is still a lot of unknown about how exactly the lenders will evaluate loan forgiveness around the forgiven uses versus approved uses.
Start by evaluating whether you meet the conditions that certify you for the PPP loan in light of the additional guidance issued. This is a decision each business will need to make based on your facts and circumstances. If you don’t feel like you meet the conditions, you should return any funds received by May 7, 2020. If you have already submitted your PPP application, you may contact your lender to rescind your application.
For anyone that has received their PPP loan funds and plans on keeping those funds, you should be focused on documenting your use of funds based on guidance provided by your lender.
For those that don’t qualify for the PPP, there are other options for creating liquidity available. The
PPHE act also increased the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) funding by $10 billion and also added am additional $50 billion in funding for EIDL loans related to COVID-19.
There are also many other considerations companies can explore, such as tax credits, small business loans, and other local grants.
We continue to monitor the PPP and EIDL. All information contained in this article is based on information currently available and is subject to change. Please contact our firm with any questions about the PPP loan as well as other alternatives.
Tina Tharp, Judy Hamilton, Kim Spinardi and Jessica Jordan
Our Team is diligently working to keep abreast of all the changes and assisting clients!
Small businesses are now eligible for up to $2 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) after President Trump called for an additional $50 billion in funding to the SBA’s lending program from Congress in response to COVID-19. While the $50 billion has not yet been approved, the SBA is able to issue an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration thanks to the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act recently signed by the president.
These low-interest loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, and accounts payable that cannot be paid as a result of the virus outbreak at an interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses without available alternate credit, and 2.75% for nonprofits. Businesses with available credit are not eligible. While up to $2 million is available per business, the SBA will determine the amount based on “your actual economic injury and your company’s financial needs, regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.”
Businesses must be located in designated states and territories where ‘substantial economic injury’ has occurred or is occurring as a result of the Coronavirus. The state or territory’s governor must submit a request for the SBA to issue an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration for their area. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have been declared SBA disaster areas due to COVID-19.
Small business owners are reminded that applications will be processed in the order received, so it is best practice to submit as soon as possible as relief will not be immediate. The SBA’s goal is to make decisions on applications within 2 to 3 weeks and, upon approval, issue $25,000 within 5 days. With high demand, however, processing times will likely increase.
To find out if your state is an SBA-declared disaster area and to get a loan application, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. You must be located in an SBA-declared disaster area to be eligible for the SBA disaster loan.
We are available to provide guidance and assistance with your SBA loan application. Call us today.