While some businesses have closed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, many new ventures have launched. Entrepreneurs have cited a number of reasons why they decided to start a business in the midst of a pandemic. For example, they had more time, wanted to take advantage of new opportunities or they needed money due to being laid off. Whatever the reason, if you’ve recently started a new business, or you’re contemplating starting one, be aware of the tax implications.
As you know, before you even open the doors in a start-up business, you generally have to spend a lot of money. You may have to train workers and pay for rent, utilities, marketing and more.
Entrepreneurs are often unaware that many expenses incurred by start-ups can’t be deducted right away. Keep in mind that the way you handle some of your initial expenses can make a large difference in your tax bill.
Essential tax points
When starting or planning a new enterprise, keep these factors in mind:
Types of expenses
Start-up expenses generally include all expenses that are incurred to:
To be eligible for the election, an expense also must be one that would be deductible if it were incurred after a business began. One example would be the money you spend analyzing potential markets for a new product or service.
To qualify as an “organization expense,” the outlay must be related to the creation of a corporation or partnership. Some examples of organization expenses are legal and accounting fees for services related to organizing the new business and filing fees paid to the state of incorporation.
An important decision
Time may be of the essence if you have start-up expenses that you’d like to deduct for this year. You need to decide whether to take the election described above. Recordkeeping is important. Contact us about your business start-up plans. We can help with the tax and other aspects of your new venture.
Note: Congress is considering proposals that could expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for certain qualified groups. We will monitor this development and communicate updates as necessary.
As a business, tax planning can help create increased cash flow that allows management to expand, increase wages, bring in new inventory, and achieve other goals that require more financial flexibility. Business owners often go to tax credits involved with normal business operations but sometimes overlook human resource tax credits. One such tax credit is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).
This hiring-based tax credit was recently extended until Dec. 31, 2025, by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Keep reading to learn how to use the WOTC.
What is the WOTC?
The WOTC is an employment-based tax credit the federal government offers to employers who hire from qualified groups and is based on wages paid to qualified employees.
While there is an extensive list of qualified groups a new employee may come from, they most often include groups that otherwise would be overlooked, including veterans, ex-felons, those graduating from rehabilitation programs, and individuals on certain state or federal government assistance programs. You can view the extended list here.
What credits can be taken?
The WOTC allows employers who hire from qualified groups to receive a tax credit for wages paid up to the specified maximum amounts, as shown below.
|Employee Category||Credit Amount||Maximum Wages|
|Qualified employees working 120+ hours a year||25% of first-year wages||$6,000 maximum wages used in calculation of credit|
|Qualified employees working 400+ hours per year||40% of first-year wages||$6,000 maximum wages used in calculation of credit|
|Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients working 400+ hours per year||40% of first-year wages
50% of second-year wages
|$6,000 maximum wages used in calculation of credit|
|Qualified veterans||25% of first-year wages for employees working 120+ hours a year; 40% of first-year wages for employees working 400+ hours per year||$24,000 maximum wages used in calculation of credit|
|Rehires||0%||Rehires are not eligible for the WOTC|
Claiming the WOTC
There are several steps businesses need to take to claim the WOTC. Both employer and applicant must complete Form 8850 before or on the date an employment offer is made. That form must then be filed with the appropriate state workforce agency within 28 days of the start of work.
The state workforce agency will confirm whether the employee is considered part of a qualified group for the WOTC. If so, the employee can then submit Form 5884 and Form 3800 with their income tax returns to take the appropriate credit amount.
For assistance understanding the WOTC and the nuances involved in calculating the appropriate credit amounts, reach out to our team of tax professionals.
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.
Becoming a partner at a law firm is a goal many lawyers spend their careers striving to reach. Once you’re there, however, you must re-evaluate your personal financial and tax strategies as you shift from employee to owner. If you recently were promoted to partner and have reviewed your personal financial strategy, keep reading.
Personal financial considerations for new partners
Many of the personal financial decisions partners need to make depend on two things: the partnership agreement and whether you became an equity (owner) or non-equity partner. The partnership agreement will detail a lot of information about compensation and benefit structures, as well as equity structures and required capital contributions. Factors include:
Tax considerations for partners
Switching from an employee to an owner of a law firm also provides additional tax considerations. You’ll most likely see a change from a Form W-2 employee to a Form K-1 owner when it comes time to file your taxes. Keep the following in mind:
Once you’ve thoroughly reviewed your new partnership agreement, meeting with your tax planner and financial advisor can help you outline a new plan for managing your finances moving forward. Contact us today to get started!
After two years of no increases, the optional standard mileage rate used to calculate the deductible cost of operating an automobile for business will be going up in 2022 by 2.5 cents per mile. The IRS recently announced that the cents-per-mile rate for the business use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be 58.5 cents (up from 56 cents for 2021).
The increased tax deduction partly reflects the price of gasoline. On December 21, 2021, the national average price of a gallon of regular gas was $3.29, compared with $2.22 a year earlier, according to AAA Gas Prices.
Don’t want to keep track of actual expenses?
Businesses can generally deduct the actual expenses attributable to business use of vehicles. This includes gas, oil, tires, insurance, repairs, licenses and vehicle registration fees. In addition, you can claim a depreciation allowance for the vehicle. However, in many cases, certain limits apply to depreciation write-offs on vehicles that don’t apply to other types of business assets.
The cents-per-mile rate is beneficial if you don’t want to keep track of actual vehicle-related expenses. With this method, you don’t have to account for all your actual expenses. However, you still must record certain information, such as the mileage for each business trip, the date and the destination.
Using the cents-per-mile rate is also popular with businesses that reimburse employees for business use of their personal vehicles. These reimbursements can help attract and retain employees who drive their personal vehicles a great deal for business purposes. Why? Under current law, employees can’t deduct unreimbursed employee business expenses, such as business mileage, on their own income tax returns.
If you do use the cents-per-mile rate, keep in mind that you must comply with various rules. If you don’t comply, the reimbursements could be considered taxable wages to the employees.
How is the rate calculated?
The business cents-per-mile rate is adjusted annually. It’s based on an annual study commissioned by the IRS about the fixed and variable costs of operating a vehicle, such as gas, maintenance, repair and depreciation. Occasionally, if there’s a substantial change in average gas prices, the IRS will change the cents-per-mile rate midyear.
When can the cents-per-mile method not be used?
There are some cases when you can’t use the cents-per-mile rate. It partly depends on how you’ve claimed deductions for the same vehicle in the past. In other situations, it depends on if the vehicle is new to your business this year or whether you want to take advantage of certain first-year depreciation tax breaks on it.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider in deciding whether to use the standard mileage rate to deduct vehicle expenses. We can help if you have questions about tracking and claiming such expenses in 2022 — or claiming 2021 expenses on your 2021 income tax return.
Do you want to sell commercial or investment real estate that has appreciated significantly? One way to defer a tax bill on the gain is with a Section 1031 “like-kind” exchange where you exchange the property rather than sell it. With real estate prices up in some markets (and higher resulting tax bills), the like-kind exchange strategy may be attractive.
A like-kind exchange is any exchange of real property held for investment or for productive use in your trade or business (relinquished property) for like-kind investment, trade or business real property (replacement property).
For these purposes, like-kind is 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.
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, tax-deferred Section 1031 treatment is no longer allowed for exchanges of personal property — such as equipment and certain personal property building components — that are completed after December 31, 2017.
If you’re unsure if the property involved in your exchange is eligible for like-kind treatment, please contact us to discuss the matter.
Assuming the exchange qualifies, 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 must report it on Form 8824, “Like-Kind Exchanges.”
Frequently, however, the properties aren’t equal in value, so some cash or other property is tossed 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.
An example to illustrate
Let’s say you exchange land (business property) with a basis of $100,000 for a building (business 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. That’s the amount of cash (boot) you received. Your basis in your new building (the replacement property) will be $100,000: 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 that 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 the person 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).
Great tax-deferral vehicle
Like-kind exchanges can be a great tax-deferred way to dispose of investment, trade or business real property. Contact us if you have questions or would like to discuss the strategy further.
Many tax limits that affect businesses are annually indexed for inflation, and a number of them have increased for 2022. Here’s a rundown of those that may be important to you and your business.
Social Security tax
The amount of an employee’s earnings that is subject to Social Security tax is capped for 2022 at $147,000 (up from $142,800 in 2021).
In 2022 and 2021, the deduction for eligible business-related food and beverage expenses provided by a restaurant is 100% (up from 50% in 2020).
Other employee benefits
These are only some of the tax limits that may affect your business and additional rules may apply. Contact us if you have questions.
If you’re an employer with a business where tipping is customary for providing food and beverages, you may qualify for a federal tax credit involving the Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes that you pay on your employees’ tip income.
Basics of the credit
The FICA credit applies with respect to tips that your employees receive from customers in connection with the provision of food or beverages, regardless of whether the food or beverages are for consumption on or off the premises. Although these tips are paid by customers, they’re treated for FICA tax purposes as if you paid them to your employees. Your employees are required to report their tips to you. You must withhold and remit the employee’s share of FICA taxes, and you must also pay the employer’s share of those taxes.
You claim the credit as part of the general business credit. It’s equal to the employer’s share of FICA taxes paid on tip income in excess of what’s needed to bring your employee’s wages up to $5.15 per hour. In other words, no credit is available to the extent the tip income just brings the employee up to the $5.15-per-hour level, calculated monthly. If you pay each employee at least $5.15 an hour (excluding tips), you don’t have to be concerned with this calculation.
Note: A 2007 tax law froze the per-hour amount at $5.15, which was the amount of the federal minimum wage at that time. The minimum wage is now $7.25 per hour but the amount for credit computation purposes remains $5.15.
An example to illustrate
Example: Let’s say a waiter works at your restaurant. He’s paid $2 an hour plus tips. During the month, he works 160 hours for $320 and receives $2,000 in cash tips which he reports to you.
The waiter’s $2-an-hour rate is below the $5.15 rate by $3.15 an hour. Thus, for the 160 hours worked, he is below the $5.15 rate by $504 (160 times $3.15). For the waiter, therefore, the first $504 of tip income just brings him up to the minimum rate. The rest of the tip income is $1,496 ($2,000 minus $504). The waiter’s employer pays FICA taxes at the rate of 7.65% for him. Therefore, the employer’s credit is $114.44 for the month: $1,496 times 7.65%.
While the employer’s share of FICA taxes is generally deductible, the FICA taxes paid with respect to tip income used to determine the credit can’t be deducted, because that would amount to a double benefit. However, you can elect not to take the credit, in which case you can claim the deduction.
Claim your credit
If your business pays FICA taxes on tip income paid to your employees, the tip tax credit may be valuable to you. Other rules may apply. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the first 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.
January 17 (The usual deadline of January 15 is a Saturday)
The use of a company vehicle is a valuable fringe benefit for owners and employees of small businesses. This perk results in tax deductions for the employer as well as tax breaks for the owners and employees using the cars. (And of course, they get the nontax benefit of getting a company car.) Plus, current tax law and IRS rules make the benefit even better than it was in the past.
The rules in action
Let’s say you’re the owner-employee of a corporation that’s going to provide you with a company car. You need the car to visit customers, meet with vendors and check on suppliers. You expect to drive the car 8,500 miles a year for business. You also expect to use the car for about 7,000 miles of personal driving, including commuting, running errands and weekend trips. Therefore, your usage of the vehicle will be approximately 55% for business and 45% for personal purposes. You want a nice car to reflect positively on your business, so the corporation buys a new $55,000 luxury sedan.
Your cost for personal use of the vehicle is equal to the tax you pay on the fringe benefit value of your 45% personal mileage. By contrast, if you bought the car yourself to be able to drive the personal miles, you’d be out-of-pocket for the entire purchase cost of the car.
Your personal use will be treated as fringe benefit income. For tax purposes, your corporation will treat the car much the same way it would any other business asset, subject to depreciation deduction restrictions if the auto is purchased. Out-of-pocket expenses related to the car (including insurance, gas, oil and maintenance) are deductible, including the portion that relates to your personal use. If the corporation finances the car, the interest it pays on the loan would be deductible as a business expense (unless the business is subject to the business interest expense deduction limitation under the tax code).
In contrast, if you bought the auto yourself, you wouldn’t be entitled to any deductions. Your outlays for the business-related portion of your driving would be unreimbursed employee business expenses that are nondeductible from 2018 to 2025 due to the suspension of miscellaneous itemized deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. And if you financed the car yourself, the interest payments would be nondeductible.
And finally, the purchase of the car by your corporation will have no effect on your credit rating.
Providing an auto for an owner’s or key employee’s business and personal use comes with complications and paperwork. Personal use will have to be tracked and valued under the fringe benefit tax rules and treated as income. This article only explains the basics.
Despite the necessary valuation and paperwork, a company-provided car is still a valuable fringe benefit for business owners and key employees. It can provide them with the use of a vehicle at a low tax cost while generating tax deductions for their businesses. We can help you stay in compliance with the rules and explain more about this prized perk.
Has your company switched to a remote work or hybrid environment for employees? Government mandates and other health-related concerns at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic caused much of the workforce to transition from an office setting to a remote or hybrid work environment. As the pandemic stretched on and companies extended their remote work options, many employees started spreading out to find new locations to work from.
While many employers have researched return-to-work strategies, they’ve decided to allow employees to continue to work remotely either full-time or part-time based on their roles and responsibilities. The benefit is considerable for employees who wish for more flexibility or less time spent commuting to the office, but it may pose tax-withholding complications for companies.
Tax implications of remote workers
Most state and local sales-and-use taxes and payroll taxes are triggered by what’s considered a nexus event, which establishes a presence in a particular state. While a physical building or warehouse is the most widely known nexus, meeting a sales threshold for sales in that state or having an employee residing in the state can also trigger the tax withholding requirements for that state.
This means, if a remote worker moves to another state, it can complicate your organization’s tax situation immensely. For companies who are located near state borders, employees who previously commuted across state lines but are now working from home can change payroll and sales tax liabilities.
During COVID, many states granted exceptions for nexus events, while others loosened requirements. However, those requirements vary by state, sometimes overlap, and some are even coming to an end. This further complicates whether taxes should be withheld and filed in each state, and whether companies should collect and file sales-and-use taxes.
If you have remote workers, consider implementing a policy that includes (at minimum):
Remote workers who move without notifying their employer could open the company up to the consequences of misfiling tax payments.
Consequences of misfiling tax payments
Whether a remote worker moved without the company’s knowledge, or the company was unaware of the laws in place in the new state, the company remains liable for the payments and potential penalties. When payments are missed or misfiled, state and local jurisdictions may have fines and penalties in place.
For companies that have a worker in a new state where they previously did not have to file sales-and-use taxes, their system may be set up to waive sales-and-use taxes for that state or local jurisdiction. In that case, they may find themselves paying out of their revenue for these taxes that were not collected from their customers.
Solutions to manage taxes related to remote workers
Companies should consider several approaches to minimize the risk of misfiling sales-and-use taxes, as well as payroll and income taxes with a remote workforce.
Our team of accounting professionals can help you navigate the tax complexities associated with remote workers! Reach out to set up a consultation.
Don’t let the holiday rush keep you from considering some important steps to reduce your 2021 tax liability. You still have time to execute a few strategies.
Thinking about buying new or used equipment, machinery or office equipment in the new year? Buy them and place them in service by December 31, and you can deduct 100% of the cost as bonus depreciation. Contact us for details on the 100% bonus depreciation break and exactly what types of assets qualify.
Bonus depreciation is also available for certain building improvements. Before the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), bonus depreciation was available for two types of real property: land improvements other than buildings (for example fencing and parking lots), and “qualified improvement property,” a broad category of internal improvements made to nonresidential buildings after the buildings are placed in service. The TCJA inadvertently eliminated bonus depreciation for qualified improvement property. However, the 2020 CARES Act made a retroactive technical correction to the TCJA. The correction makes qualified improvement property placed in service after December 31, 2017, eligible for bonus depreciation.
Keep in mind that 100% bonus depreciation has reduced the importance of Section 179 expensing. If you’re a small business, you’ve probably benefited from Sec. 179. It’s an elective benefit that, subject to dollar limits, allows an immediate deduction of the cost of equipment, machinery, “off-the-shelf” computer software and some building improvements. Sec. 179 expensing was enhanced by the TCJA, but the availability of 100% bonus depreciation is economically equivalent and thus has greatly reduced the cases in which Sec. 179 expensing is useful.
Write off a heavy vehicle
The 100% bonus depreciation deal can have a major tax-saving impact on first-year depreciation deductions for new or used heavy vehicles used over 50% for business. That’s because heavy SUVs, pickups and vans are treated for federal income tax purposes as transportation equipment. In turn, that means they qualify for 100% bonus depreciation.
Specifically, 100% bonus depreciation is available when the SUV, pickup or van has a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating above 6,000 pounds. You can verify a vehicle’s weight by looking at the manufacturer’s label, which is usually found on the inside edge of the driver’s side door. If you’re considering buying an eligible vehicle, placing one in service before year end could deliver a significant write-off on this year’s return.
Time deductions and income
If your business operates on a cash basis, you can significantly affect your amount of taxable income by accelerating your deductions into 2021 and deferring income into 2022 (assuming you expect to be taxed at the same or a lower rate next year).
For example, you could put recurring expenses normally paid early in the year on your credit card before January 1 — that way, you can claim the deduction for 2021 even though you don’t pay the credit card bill until 2022. In certain circumstances, you also can prepay some expenses, such as rent or insurance and claim them in 2021.
As for income, wait until close to year-end to send out invoices to customers with reliable payment histories. Accrual-basis businesses can take a similar approach, holding off on the delivery of goods and services until next year.
Consider all angles
Bear in mind that some of these tactics could adversely impact other factors affecting your tax liability, such as the qualified business income deduction. Contact us to make the most of your tax planning opportunities.
The sheer amount of student loan debt individuals are graduating from higher education with has been increasingly covered in the news. While the government has been working to forgive student loan debt for certain people, there is something employers can do to help take the burden off employees and their tax liability. In addition to decreasing employee stress, it can also be used as an employee retention incentive.
The CARES Act and student loan repayment
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 and its extensions include a provision that allows employers to provide relief to employees with outstanding student loan debt. This program allows employers to pay up to $5,250 toward the student loan debt for eligible employees. All monies paid are to be excluded from income and payroll taxes for both the employee and employer portion.
This could be a significant principal decrease for employees with a national student loan average of more than $30,000.
What student loan debit is qualified?
Any amount an employer pays to a student loan held by an employee up to $5,250 is qualified for the income and payroll tax exclusion, if the payments are made before Dec. 31, 2025. This includes federal and private student loans and payments made directly to the employee or the loan servicer.
It’s not too late to provide this benefit and take advantage of the tax incentives for the 2021 tax year. For assistance creating an education assistance program and establishing benefits with appropriate tax documentation steps in place, contact our team of knowledgeable tax professionals today.
The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) was a valuable tax credit that helped employers survive the COVID-19 pandemic. A new law has retroactively terminated it before it was scheduled to end. It now only applies through September 30, 2021 (rather than through December 31, 2021) — unless the employer is a “recovery startup business.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed by President Biden on November 15, doesn’t have many tax provisions but this one is important for some businesses.
If you anticipated receiving the ERC based on payroll taxes after September 30 and retained payroll taxes, consult with us to determine how and when to repay those taxes and address any other compliance issues.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is asking Congress to direct the IRS to waive payroll tax penalties imposed as a result of the ERC sunsetting. Some employers may face penalties because they retained payroll taxes believing they would receive the credit. Affected businesses will need to pay back the payroll taxes they retained for wages paid after September 30, the AICPA explained. Those employers may also be subject to a 10% penalty for failure to deposit payroll taxes withheld from employees unless the IRS waives the penalties.
The IRS is expected to issue guidance to assist employers in handling any compliance issues.
The ERC was originally enacted in March of 2020 as part of the CARES Act. The goal was to encourage employers to retain employees during the pandemic. Later, Congress passed other laws to extend and modify the credit and make it apply to wages paid before January 1, 2022.
An eligible employer could claim the refundable credit against its share of Medicare taxes (1.45% rate) equal to 70% of the qualified wages paid to each employee (up to a limit of $10,000 of qualified wages per employee per calendar quarter) in the third and fourth calendar quarters of 2021.
For the third and fourth quarters of 2021, a recovery startup business is an employer eligible to claim the ERC. Under previous law, a recovery startup business was defined as a business that:
However, recovery startup businesses are subject to a maximum total credit of $50,000 per quarter for a maximum credit of $100,000 for 2021.
The ERC was retroactively terminated by the new law to apply only to wages paid before October 1, 2021, unless the employer is a recovery startup business. Therefore, for wages paid in the fourth quarter of 2021, other employers can’t claim the credit.
In terms of the availability of the ERC for recovery startup businesses in the fourth quarter, the new law also modifies the recovery startup business definition. Now, a recovery startup business is one that began operating after February 15, 2020, and has average annual gross receipts of less than $1 million. Other changes to recovery startup businesses may also apply.
What to do now?
If you have questions about how to proceed now to minimize penalties, contact us. We can explain the options.
The long-awaited $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) received the U.S. House of Representatives’ approval Friday, November 5, 2021, to provide funding for improvements to highways, bridges, and other road safety measures. The bill also offers plans to reconnect communities previously divided by highway building and expand national broadband networks.
According to White House projections, investments outlined in the infrastructure act will add approximately 2 million jobs per year over the next decade.
A portion of the original bill was held back, and there were not as many tax provisions as originally expected, which could mean additional changes may be coming in a fiscal year 2022 budget reconciliation.
What’s in the $1T Infrastructure Act?
There are several key tax provisions found in the IIJA.
Other Tax Provisions
What Else is Included?
Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
Where does the Build Back Better plan stand?
The BBB is set to be the largest social policy bill brought to a vote in recent years, bringing funding to address issues such as climate change, health, education, and paid family and medical leave.
House leaders hope to pass the Build Back Better plan later when they return November 15 after a weeklong recess.
The Build Back Better plan and IIJA have many intricate details. We’ll continue to provide more information as it becomes available.
If you need help understanding how the changes will impact your individual or business tax strategy, please reach out to our team of experts. We’ll help you navigate these changes and make any necessary adjustments to your plan.
Are you planning to launch a business or thinking about changing your business entity? If so, you need to determine which entity will work best for you — a C corporation or a pass-through entity such as a sole-proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC) or S corporation. There are many factors to consider and proposed federal tax law changes being considered by Congress may affect your decision.
The corporate federal income tax is currently imposed at a flat 21% rate, while the current individual federal income tax rates begin at 10% and go up to 37%. The difference in rates can be mitigated by the qualified business income (QBI) deduction that’s available to eligible pass-through entity owners that are individuals, estates and trusts.
Note that noncorporate taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income above certain levels are subject to an additional 3.8% tax on net investment income.
Organizing a business as a C corporation instead of as a pass-through entity can reduce the current federal income tax on the business’s income. The corporation can still pay reasonable compensation to the shareholders and pay interest on loans from the shareholders. That income will be taxed at higher individual rates, but the overall rate on the corporation’s income can be lower than if the business was operated as a pass-through entity.
Other tax-related factors should also be considered. For example:
These are only some of the many factors involved in operating a business as a certain type of legal entity. For details about how to proceed in your situation, consult with us.
With the increasing cost of employee health care benefits, your business may be interested in providing some of these benefits 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 important tax benefits:
To be eligible for an HSA, an individual must be covered by a “high deductible health plan.” For 2021, a “high deductible health plan” is one with an annual deductible of at least $1,400 for self-only coverage, or at least $2,800 for family coverage. (These amounts will remain the same for 2022.) For self-only coverage, the 2021 limit on deductible contributions is $3,600 (increasing to $3,650 for 2022). For family coverage, the 2021 limit on deductible contributions is $7,200 (increasing to $7,300 for 2022). Additionally, annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits for 2021 cannot exceed $7,000 for self-only coverage or $14,000 for family coverage (increasing to $7,050 and $14,100, respectively, for 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 2021 and 2022 of up to $1,000.
Contributions from an employer
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 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’d like to discuss offering HSAs to your employees.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many families to rethink their child care situation. Nannies became a popular choice for many, as they decreased the risk of sending children to child care centers and provided the benefit of helping those same children through online schooling while their parents worked. As the pandemic has ebbed and flowed, nannies have remained a popular option. Many families, however, were unprepared with how to transition to a household employer.
As a household employer, you’re responsible for paying your employee’s Social Security and Medicare taxes (i.e., the nanny), even if that person works part-time or on a seasonable basis. If you miss the payments or misfile the forms, you could be subject to fines or, worse, tax evasion.
Do you need to pay taxes?
As long as you pay the nanny directly, whether through cash, check, money transfer, etc., you’re considered the employer. If the payments exceed $2,300 for the year (as of 2021), the nanny cannot be considered a contractor, and you can’t use a Form 1099 to report wages.
As a household employer, you must pay Medicare and Social Security taxes (also known as Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA) that are split evenly between your household funds and those the nanny/household employee receives. However, those younger than 18 are exempt from FICA. You may also potentially claim an exemption if the employee is your child and younger than 21 or a parent or spouse who is providing the care.
Household employers should also remember they are not required to withhold federal income taxes unless they and their employee agree to it. Even still, some states will not allow them to withhold state income taxes. Reach out to a knowledgeable tax professional to determine your state’s withholding rules.
Important forms, filings for household employers
Once you confirm you’re considered a household employer, understanding which forms you must file is important. Keep these forms in mind:
Tax credits, deductions
Families with children younger than 13 in child care may be eligible for tax credits and deductions. For starters, if an employer offers a Dependent Care FSA, they can contribute up to $10,500 in 2021 before deducting taxes from their pay. Those funds must be used to cover eligible dependent care expenses.
Any funds not paid for by the FSA may be eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Qualifying taxpayers are eligible to take a credit for a portion of the cost of care for a qualifying dependent that enables the taxpayer to work or actively look for work, up to $2,100. Click here for more information on the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
Outsourcing payments to mitigate risk
Several options are available for household employers who are new to employing care staff or may not have the time to handle all tax payments and filings properly. Outsourcing a part or all of the process can be done through:
For more information on the nanny tax and how it could affect your household, reach out to our team of tax professionals today.
Tax compliance is an essential aspect of any business, with sales and use tax making up a large portion of overall tax requirements. However, sales and use tax can get complicated very quickly as each state and local tax has its own rules and nuances.
With increased connectivity and remote capabilities, it has become easier than ever for a business to conduct interstate commerce. When a business’ operations expand across state lines, this opens the company to potential tax filing requirements in other cities and states.
Keep reading to understand why sales and use tax compliance is important, how to determine if you have a presence in another state, and solutions for increasing your company’s compliance.
Why is sales and use tax compliance important
There is a heavy administrative burden to sales and use tax compliance. Consider every type of transaction to ensure you use the proper tax categories when calculating sales and use tax liabilities. In addition, you must meet deadlines when filing forms and paying taxes. Your company can be subject to additional filings, penalties, and interest on any underpaid amounts that could total an extra 40% paid on the tax liability.
The costs associated with noncompliance can eat into your profits and affect your ability to pay additional obligations. All of the filings and tax calculations can get even more convoluted if your company has a presence, or nexus, in another state or locality. These days, a nexus is even easier to achieve than in the past.
How to determine if you owe taxes in another state
You may find your business has tax responsibilities in other states without even realizing it. Businesses that have a nexus because of a presence in the state or local region are subject to certain sales and use taxes for that region. This can be established through a remote worker or affiliates living in the state or region, or because of a physical or economic presence in the state.
Keeping track of where your workers live and who your business partners are is important to determine tax liabilities.
Solutions for managing sales and use tax compliance
Keeping abreast of the changing sales and use tax landscape can be time-consuming. While it may seem like hiring an individual internally to manage this process is a better plan, outsourcing the process to a knowledgeable tax professional can be cost-effective.
Firms handling sales and use tax filings for other organizations can take advantage of several benefits
Reach out today if your company would like to chat with our knowledgeable tax professionals to help your organization, whether through an audit of existing processes or by outsourcing your tax handling altogether.
Employers offer 401(k) plans for many reasons, including to attract and retain talent. These plans help an employee accumulate a retirement nest egg on a tax-advantaged basis. If you’re thinking about participating in a plan at work, here are some of the features.
Under a 401(k) plan, you have the option of setting aside a certain amount of your wages in a qualified retirement plan. By electing to set cash aside in a 401(k) plan, you’ll reduce your gross income, and defer tax on the amount until the cash (adjusted by earnings) is distributed to you. It will either be distributed from the plan or from an IRA or other plan that you roll your proceeds into after leaving your job.
Your wages or other compensation will be reduced by the amount of pre-tax contributions that you make — saving you current income taxes. But the amounts will still be subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. If your employer’s plan allows, you may instead make all, or some, contributions on an after-tax basis (these are Roth 401(k) contributions). With Roth 401(k) contributions, the amounts will be subject to current income taxation, but if you leave these funds in the plan for a required time, distributions (including earnings) will be tax-free.
Your elective contributions — either pre-tax or after-tax — are subject to annual IRS limits. For 2021, the maximum amount permitted is $19,500. When you reach age 50, if your employer’s plan allows, you can make additional “catch-up” contributions. For 2021, that additional amount is $6,500. So if you’re 50 or older, the total that you can contribute to all 401(k) plans in 2021 is $26,000. Total employer contributions, including your elective deferrals (but not catch-up contributions), can’t exceed 100% of compensation or, for 2021, $58,000, whichever is less.
Typically, you’ll be permitted to invest the amount of your contributions (and any employer matching or other contributions) among available investment options that your employer has selected. Periodically review your plan investment performance to determine that each investment remains appropriate for your retirement planning goals and your risk specifications.
Getting money out
Another important aspect of these plans is the limitation on distributions while you’re working. First, amounts in the plan attributable to elective contributions aren’t available to you before one of the following events: retirement (or other separation from service), disability, reaching age 59½, hardship, or plan termination. And eligibility rules for a hardship withdrawal are very stringent. A hardship distribution must be necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need.
As an alternative to taking a hardship or other plan withdrawal while employed, your employer’s 401(k) plan may allow you to receive a plan loan, which you pay back to your account, with interest. Any distribution that you do take can be rolled into another employer’s plan (if that plan permits) or to an IRA. This allows you to continue deferral of tax on the amount rolled over. Taxable distributions are generally subject to 20% federal tax withholding, if not rolled over.
Employers may opt to match contributions up to a certain amount. If your employer matches contributions, you should make sure to contribute enough to receive the full match. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on free money!
These are just the basics of 401(k) plans for employees. For more information, contact your employer. Of course, we can answer any tax questions you may have.
The Social Security Administration recently announced that the wage base for computing Social Security tax will increase to $147,000 for 2022 (up from $142,800 for 2021). 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 for Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, which is commonly known as the Social Security tax, and the other for Hospital Insurance, which is commonly known as the Medicare tax.
There’s a maximum amount of compensation subject to the Social Security tax, but no maximum for Medicare tax. For 2022, the FICA tax rate for employers is 7.65% — 6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare (the same as in 2021).
For 2022, an employee will pay:
For 2022, the self-employment tax imposed on self-employed people is:
More than one employer
What happens if an employee 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.
We can help
Contact us if you have questions about payroll tax filing or payments. We can help ensure you stay in compliance.
If your business is depreciating over a 30-year period the entire cost of constructing the building that houses your operation, you should consider a cost segregation study. It might allow you to accelerate depreciation deductions on certain items, thereby reducing taxes and boosting cash flow. And under current law, the potential benefits of a cost segregation study are now even greater than they were a few years ago due to enhancements to certain depreciation-related tax breaks.
Fundamentals of depreciation
Generally, business buildings have a 39-year depreciation period (27.5 years for residential rental properties). Usually, you depreciate a building’s structural components, including walls, windows, HVAC systems, elevators, plumbing and wiring, along with the building. Personal property — such as equipment, machinery, furniture and fixtures — is eligible for accelerated depreciation, usually over five or seven years. And land improvements, such as fences, outdoor lighting and parking lots, are depreciable over 15 years.
Often, businesses allocate all or most of their buildings’ acquisition or construction costs to real property, overlooking opportunities to allocate costs to shorter-lived personal property or land improvements. In some cases — computers or furniture, for example — the distinction between real and personal property is obvious. But the line between the two is frequently less clear. Items that appear to be “part of a building” may in fact be personal property, like removable wall and floor coverings, removable partitions, awnings and canopies, window treatments, signs and decorative lighting.
In addition, certain items that otherwise would be treated as real property may qualify as personal property if they serve more of a business function than a structural purpose. This includes reinforced flooring to support heavy manufacturing equipment, electrical or plumbing installations required to operate specialized equipment, or dedicated cooling systems for data processing rooms.
Classify property into the appropriate asset classes
A cost segregation study combines accounting and engineering techniques to identify building costs that are properly allocable to tangible personal property rather than real property. Although the relative costs and benefits of a cost segregation study depend on your particular facts and circumstances, it can be a valuable investment.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enhances certain depreciation-related tax breaks, which may also enhance the benefits of a cost segregation study. Among other things, the act permanently increased limits on Section 179 expensing, which allows you to immediately deduct the entire cost of qualifying equipment or other fixed assets up to specified thresholds.
The TCJA also expanded 15-year-property treatment to apply to qualified improvement property. Previously this break was limited to qualified leasehold improvement, retail improvement and restaurant property. And it temporarily increased first-year bonus depreciation to 100% (from 50%).
The savings can be substantial
Fortunately, it isn’t too late to get the benefit of speedier depreciation for items that were incorrectly assumed to be part of your building for depreciation purposes. You don’t have to amend your past returns (or meet a deadline for claiming tax refunds) to claim the depreciation that you could have already claimed. Instead, you can claim that depreciation by following procedures, in connection with the next tax return that you file, that will result in “automatic” IRS consent to a change in your accounting for depreciation.
Cost segregation studies can yield substantial benefits, but they’re not right for every business. We can judge whether a study will result in overall tax savings greater than the costs of the study itself. Contact us to find out whether this would be worthwhile for you.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS expanded its electronic signatures program to include many more forms that historically needed a wet signature. The expansion is intended to make things easier for tax professionals and their clients, while in-person interactions may cause unnecessary risk.
The IRS has recently extended the ability to accept e-signatures on many documents through December 2021, simplifying the process for tax professionals.
What types of signatures are accepted?
The IRS has provided the following acceptable types of electronic signatures:
While there are additional ways to provide an e-signature, taxpayers are advised to stick to the outlined methods to prevent the possibility of the forms being returned or delayed during processing.
What forms are included in the recent extension?
While some forms can be electronically filed, others must be sent by mail and manually processed by the IRS. The forms in this electronic signature program all require the latter – a hardcopy sent to the IRS for processing. This includes:
Our firm continues to monitor the ability to electronically sign and submit IRS forms. If you have any questions about tax filings, please reach out to our team of tax professionals for help.
Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the fourth quarter of 2021. 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 a business in federally declared disaster areas.
Friday, October 15
Monday, November 1
Wednesday, November 10
Wednesday, December 15
Contact us if you’d like more information about the filing requirements and to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines.
If you use an automobile in your trade or business, you may wonder how depreciation tax deductions are determined. The rules are complicated, and special limitations that apply to vehicles classified as passenger autos (which include many pickups and SUVs) can result in it taking longer than expected to fully depreciate a vehicle.
Cents-per-mile vs. actual expenses
First, note that separate depreciation calculations for a passenger auto only come into play if you choose to use the actual expense method to calculate deductions. If, instead, you use the standard mileage rate (56 cents per business mile driven for 2021), a depreciation allowance is built into the rate.
If you use the actual expense method to determine your allowable deductions for a passenger auto, you must make a separate depreciation calculation for each year until the vehicle is fully depreciated. According to the general rule, you calculate depreciation over a six-year span as follows: Year 1, 20% of the cost; Year 2, 32%; Year 3, 19.2%; Years 4 and 5, 11.52%; and Year 6, 5.76%. If a vehicle is used 50% or less for business purposes, you must use the straight-line method to calculate depreciation deductions instead of the percentages listed above.
For a passenger auto that costs more than the applicable amount for the year the vehicle is placed in service, you’re limited to specified annual depreciation ceilings. These are indexed for inflation and may change annually.
Heavy SUVs, pickups, and vans
Much more favorable depreciation rules apply to heavy SUVs, pickups, and vans used over 50% for business, because they’re treated as transportation equipment for depreciation purposes. This means a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) above 6,000 pounds. Quite a few SUVs and pickups pass this test. You can usually find the GVWR on a label on the inside edge of the driver-side door.
After-tax cost is what counts
What’s the impact of these depreciation limits on your business vehicle decisions? They change the after-tax cost of passenger autos used for business. That is, the true cost of a business asset is reduced by the tax savings from related depreciation deductions. To the extent depreciation deductions are reduced, and thereby deferred to future years, the value of the related tax savings is also reduced due to time-value-of-money considerations, and the true cost of the asset is therefore that much higher.
The rules are different if you lease an expensive passenger auto used for business. Contact us if you have questions or want more information.
The week of September 13-17 has been declared National Small Business Week by the Small Business Administration. To commemorate the week, here are three tax breaks to consider.
1. Claim bonus depreciation or a Section 179 deduction for asset additions
Under current law, 100% first-year bonus depreciation is available for qualified new and used property that’s acquired and placed in service in calendar year 2021. That means your business might be able to write off the entire cost of some or all asset additions on this year’s return. Consider making acquisitions between now and December 31.
Note: It doesn’t always make sense to claim a 100% bonus depreciation deduction in the first year that qualifying property is placed in service. For example, if you think that tax rates will increase in the future — either due to tax law changes or a change in your income — it might be better to forgo bonus depreciation and instead depreciate your 2021 asset acquisitions over time.
There’s also a Section 179 deduction for eligible asset purchases. The maximum Section 179 deduction is $1.05 million for qualifying property placed in service in 2021. Recent tax laws have enhanced Section 179 and bonus depreciation but most businesses benefit more by claiming bonus depreciation. We can explain the details of these tax breaks and which is right for your business. You don’t have to decide until you file your tax return.
2. Claim bonus depreciation for a heavy vehicle
The 100% first-year bonus depreciation provision can have a sizable, beneficial impact on first-year depreciation deductions for new and used heavy SUVs, pickups and vans used over 50% for business. For federal tax purposes, heavy vehicles are treated as transportation equipment so they qualify for 100% bonus depreciation.
This option is available only when the manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is above 6,000 pounds. You can verify a vehicle’s GVWR by looking at the manufacturer’s label, usually found on the inside edge of the driver’s side door.
Buying an eligible vehicle and placing it in service before the end of the year can deliver a big write-off on this year’s return. Before signing a sales contract, we can help evaluate what’s right for your business.
3. Maximize the QBI deduction for pass-through businesses
A valuable deduction is the one based on qualified business income (QBI) from pass-through entities. For tax years through 2025, the deduction can be up to 20% of a pass-through entity owner’s QBI. This deduction is subject to restrictions that can apply at higher income levels and based on the owner’s taxable income.
For QBI deduction purposes, pass-through entities are defined as sole proprietorships, single-member LLCs that are treated as sole proprietorships for tax purposes, partnerships, LLCs that are treated as partnerships for tax purposes and S corporations. For these taxpayers, the deduction can also be claimed for up to 20% of income from qualified real estate investment trust dividends and 20% of qualified income from publicly traded partnerships.
Because of various limitations on the QBI deduction, tax planning moves can unexpectedly increase or decrease it. For example, strategies that reduce this year’s taxable income can have the negative side-effect of reducing your QBI deduction.
These are only a few of the tax breaks your small business may be able to claim. Contact us to help evaluate your planning options and optimize your tax results.
A business may be able to claim a federal income tax deduction for a theft loss. But does embezzlement count as theft? In most cases it does but you’ll have to substantiate the loss. A recent U.S. Tax Court decision illustrates how that’s sometimes difficult to do.
Basic rules for theft losses
The tax code allows a deduction for losses sustained during the taxable year and not compensated by insurance or other means. The term “theft” is broadly defined to include larceny, embezzlement and robbery. In general, a loss is regarded as arising from theft only if there’s a criminal element to the appropriation of a taxpayer’s property.
In order to claim a theft loss deduction, a taxpayer must prove:
Facts of the recent court case
Years ago, the taxpayer cofounded an S corporation with another shareholder. At the time of the alleged embezzlement, the other original shareholder was no longer a shareholder, and she wasn’t supposed to be compensated by the business. However, according to court records, she continued to manage the S corporation’s books and records.
The taxpayer suffered an illness that prevented him from working for most of the year in question. During this time, the former shareholder paid herself $166,494. Later, the taxpayer filed a civil suit in a California court alleging that the woman had misappropriated funds from the business.
On an amended tax return, the corporation reported a $166,494 theft loss due to the embezzlement. The IRS denied the deduction. After looking at the embezzlement definition under California state law, the Tax Court agreed with the IRS.
The Tax Court stated that the taxpayer didn’t offer evidence that the former shareholder “acted with the intent to defraud,” and the taxpayer didn’t show that the corporation “experienced a theft meeting the elements of embezzlement under California law.”
The IRS and the court also denied the taxpayer’s alternate argument that the corporation should be allowed to claim a compensation deduction for the amount of money the former shareholder paid herself. The court stated that the taxpayer didn’t provide evidence that the woman was entitled to be paid compensation from the corporation and therefore, the corporation wasn’t entitled to a compensation deduction. (TC Memo 2021-66)
How to proceed if you’re victimized
If your business is victimized by theft, embezzlement or internal fraud, you may be able to claim a tax deduction for the loss. Keep in mind that a deductible loss can only be claimed for the year in which the loss is discovered, and that you must meet other tax-law requirements. Keep records to substantiate the claimed theft loss, including when you discovered the loss. If you receive an insurance payment or other reimbursement for the loss, that amount must be subtracted when computing the deductible loss for tax purposes. Contact us with any questions you may have about theft and casualty loss deductions.
In order to prepare for a business audit, an IRS examiner generally does research about the specific industry and issues on the taxpayer’s return. Examiners may use IRS “Audit Techniques Guides (ATGs).” A little-known secret is that these guides are available to the public on the IRS website. In other words, your business can use the same guides to gain insight into what the IRS is looking for in terms of compliance with tax laws and regulations.
Many ATGs target specific industries or businesses, such as construction, aerospace, art galleries, architecture and veterinary medicine. Others address issues that frequently arise in audits, such as executive compensation, passive activity losses and capitalization of tangible property.
IRS auditors need to examine different types of businesses, as well as individual taxpayers and tax-exempt organizations. Each type of return might have unique industry issues, business practices and terminology. Before meeting with taxpayers and their advisors, auditors do their homework to understand various industries or issues, the accounting methods commonly used, how income is received, and areas where taxpayers might not be in compliance.
By using a specific ATG, an auditor may be able to reconcile discrepancies when reported income or expenses aren’t consistent with what’s normal for the industry or to identify anomalies within the geographic area in which the business is located.
Updates and revisions
Some guides were written several years ago and others are relatively new. There is not a guide for every industry. Here are some of the guide titles that have been revised or added this year:
Although ATGs were created to help IRS examiners uncover common methods of hiding income and inflating deductions, they also can help businesses ensure they aren’t engaging in practices that could raise audit red flags. For a complete list of ATGs, visit the IRS website here: https://www.checkpointmarketing.net/newsletter/linkShimRadar.cfm?key=89521691G3971J9396851&l=72457
If you’re a business owner and you’re getting a divorce, tax issues can complicate matters. 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.
Tax-free property transfers
You can generally 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).
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 periods 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:
More tax issues
Later on, 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 that 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.
Plan ahead to avoid surprises
Like many major life events, divorce can have major 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. We can help you minimize the adverse tax consequences of settling your divorce.
Note: We are closely monitoring H.R. 3684, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Senate has approved the infrastructure bill and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration as of the publication. The infrastructure bill would terminate the employee retention credit early, making wages paid after September 30, 2021, ineligible for the credit.
The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) was introduced in 2020 to help businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its release, it has been expanded and modified to help more businesses. Despite all of this, many businesses that are eligible for the credit haven’t filed for it. Did the pandemic impact your business? Don’t assume your business is ineligible. Keep reading to learn more.
What is the Employee Retention Credit?
The ERC allows businesses to claim a refundable credit for qualified employee wages and related expenses if there was a significant disruption to business because of the pandemic. That disruption is measured in a quarterly reduction of gross revenues – 50% reduction in 2020 vs. 2019; and only 20% reduction in 2021 vs. 2019. In addition, there is a “safe harbor” test that allows you to look back a quarter. For example, if your 4th quarter 2020 revenues were down 20% compared to the 4th quarter 2019, you are eligible for the first quarter of 2021, regardless of the first quarter test outcome.
The second disruption is a government shutdown – complete or temporary. For example, a restaurant limited to 75% seating capacity by the governor’s mandate has experienced a partial shutdown.
If you experienced EITHER one of these disruptions, you might be eligible for the employee retention credit.
Eligibility for 2020 includes businesses with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees in 2019, in which all wages qualify whether the business was open or (partially) closed because of governmental orders. For businesses with more than 100 employees, only wages paid to employees when they weren’t providing services because the pandemic are eligible.
For 2021 the full-time equivalent threshold increased to 500 employees in 2019.
For 2020 the credit is 50% of the first $10,000 of eligible employees’ earnings for the year – up to $5,000 per employee for the year.
For 2021 the credit is 70% of the first $10,000 of eligible employee earnings per QUARTER – up to $28,000 per employee for the year.
What new guidance was released?
The IRS released Notice 2021-49 on August 4, 2021, which provided additional ERC guidance.
Keep in mind, the ERC is a complex tax credit with ever-changing guidelines and requires interpretation. Reach out to our professional tax team, who are familiar with the credit and most up-to-date guidelines.
What if I missed filing for the ERC?
While some of the newer guidelines are retroactive, others only apply to wages paid more recently. In most cases, employers can file a correction to their quarterly tax documents to receive appropriate credit for qualified wages paid. Keep in mind that wages included in Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) forgiveness are not qualified (no double-dipping).
We have noted a longer processing time for amended returns. This means you’ll see benefits of the credit faster by filing for it with your quarterly returns; however, it could take 90 to 120 days for amended returns.
How can my business receive help?
If you’re like many businesses and need help understanding the ERC and the recent changes, reach out to our team of qualified professionals for help! We can help you:
We look forward to helping you!
What if 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 consequences. 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 blindsided.
Business vs. nonbusiness
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 tends to show 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 have a legal duty to make the guaranty payment, although there’s no requirement that a legal action be brought against you;
- The guaranty agreement was entered into before the debt becomes worthless; and
- You received reasonable consideration (not necessarily cash or property) for entering into the guaranty agreement.
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 a few of the possible tax consequences of guaranteeing a loan to your closely held corporation. Contact us to learn all the implications in your situation.
If your business receives large amounts of cash or cash equivalents, you may be required to report these transactions to the IRS.
What are the requirements?
Each person who, in the course of operating a trade or business, receives more than $10,000 in cash in one transaction (or two or more related transactions), must file Form 8300. What is considered a “related transaction?” Any transactions conducted in a 24-hour period. Transactions can also be considered related even if they occur over a period of more than 24 hours if the recipient knows, or has reason to know, that each transaction is one of a series of connected transactions.
To complete a Form 8300, you’ll need personal information about the person making the cash payment, including a Social Security or taxpayer identification number.
Why does the government require reporting?
Although many cash transactions are legitimate, the IRS explains that “information reported on (Form 8300) can help stop those who evade taxes, profit from the drug trade, engage in terrorist financing and conduct other criminal activities. The government can often trace money from these illegal activities through the payments reported on Form 8300 and other cash reporting forms.”
You should keep a copy of each Form 8300 for five years from the date you file it, according to the IRS.
What’s considered “cash” and “cash equivalents?”
For Form 8300 reporting purposes, cash includes U.S. currency and coins, as well as foreign money. It also includes cash equivalents such as cashier’s checks (sometimes called bank checks), bank drafts, traveler’s checks and money orders.
Money orders and cashier’s checks under $10,000, when used in combination with other forms of cash for a single transaction that exceeds $10,000, are defined as cash for Form 8300 reporting purposes.
Note: Under a separate reporting requirement, banks and other financial institutions report cash purchases of cashier’s checks, treasurer’s checks and/or bank checks, bank drafts, traveler’s checks and money orders with a face value of more than $10,000 by filing currency transaction reports.
Can the forms be filed electronically?
Businesses required to file reports of large cash transactions on Form 8300 should know that in addition to filing on paper, e-filing is an option. The form is due 15 days after a transaction and there’s no charge for the e-file option. Businesses that file electronically get an automatic acknowledgment of receipt when they file.
The IRS also reminds businesses that they can “batch file” their reports, which is especially helpful to those required to file many forms.
How can we set up an electronic account?
To file Form 8300 electronically, a business must set up an account with FinCEN’s Bank Secrecy Act E-Filing System. For more information, visit: https://bsaefiling.fincen.treas.gov/AboutBsa.html. Interested businesses can also call the BSA E-Filing Help Desk at 866-346-9478 (Monday through Friday from 8 am to 6 pm EST). Contact us with any questions or for assistance.
Perhaps you operate your small business as a sole proprietorship and want to form a limited liability company (LLC) to protect your assets. Or maybe you are 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 appropriate for your business.
An LLC is somewhat 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.
Personal asset protection
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 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.
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 important 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 are taxed only once.
To the extent the income passed through to you is qualified business income, you’ll be eligible to take the Code 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 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.
Review your situation
In summary, an LLC can give you corporate-like protection from creditors while providing the benefits of taxation as a partnership. For these reasons, you should consider operating your business as an LLC. Contact us to discuss in more detail how an LLC might benefit you and the other owners.
The California Governor signed Assembly Bill 150 on July 16, 2021. The AB150 budget trailer bill creates an elective pass-through entity tax, revises and expands the small business hiring credit (also known as the Main Street Small Business Tax Credit), creates a homeless hiring tax credit, extends the taxable years for which the credits for rehabilitating certified historic structures and for donating fresh fruit or vegetables to a food bank may be claimed, and increases the amount of California Competes Tax Credits that may be allocated during fiscal year 2021-22.
California joins several other states, such as New York and New Jersey, that have created a PTE tax, providing individual pass-through entity owners a workaround of the federal $10,000 limit on state and local taxes deductions.
Elective Pass-Through Entity Tax
The PTE tax is effective for electing qualifying entities for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2025. Qualifying entities are partnerships or S corporations with owners that are exclusively corporations, individuals, fiduciaries, estates, and trusts. AB150 allows a qualified entity doing business in California and that is required to file an S corporation return, a limited liability company return, or a partnership return to elect annually to pay an elective tax according to or measured by its qualified net income, computed at the rate of 9.3% for the taxable year for which the election is made. The “qualified net income” of a qualified entity means the sum of the pro rata share or distributive share of income subject to tax under the personal income tax law for the taxable year of each qualified taxpayer. “Qualified entity” means an entity that meets both of the following requirements for the taxable year: (1) the entity is taxed as a partnership or an S corporation; and (2) the entity’s partners, shareholders or members in that taxable year are exclusively corporations or taxpayers, as defined in Cal. Rev. & Tax. Cd. § 17004 , excluding partnerships, i.e., individuals, fiduciaries, estates, or trusts, but a quailed entity does not include a publicly traded partnership or an entity that is permitted or required to be in a combined reporting group.
The PTE tax requires an annual election on an original, timely filed return, which is irrevocable for that year and is binding on all owners of the PTE. Partnership or S corporations eligible to be considered as an electing qualifying entity should consider whether making the election and paying the elective tax on or before the original due date of these 2021 tax returns would help maximize the qualified taxpayer’s federal deduction for state and local taxes. Consider whether highly compensated California employees may benefit by restructuring their wages as pass-through entity income and electing California PTE tax.
Main Street Small Business Tax Credit
AB150 expands and revises the Main Street Small Business Tax Credit, which is a credit against California’s personal and corporate income taxes (for taxable years beginning in 2020) or sales and use taxes (for reporting periods commencing on January 1, 2021, and until April 30, 2026, as specified) for qualified small business employers (employers that, as of December 31, 2019, employed 100 or fewer employees and experienced a 50% decrease in gross receipts as compared to a base period) that received a tentative credit reservation from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), which could allocate, on a first-come, first-served basis, up to cumulatively $100 million in credits but not more than $100,000 to any qualified small business employer. A150 authorizes a credit against the personal and corporate income taxes for each taxable year beginning on or after January 1, 2021, and before January 1, 2022, to a qualified small business employer (a taxpayer that as of December 31, 2020, employed a total of 500 or fewer qualified employees and has a decrease of 20% or more in gross receipts as compared to a base period) that receives a tentative credit reservation, in an amount equal to $1,000 for each net increase in qualified employees, not to exceed $150,000 for any qualified small business employer.
Homeless Hiring Credit
A150 allows a credit under the personal income and corporation tax laws for each taxable year beginning on or after January 1, 2022, and before January 1, 2027, to a qualified taxpayer that employs an eligible individual during the taxable year, in an amount between $2,500 and $10,000 per eligible individual, not to exceed $30,000 per taxpayer per taxable year, depending on the amount of hours worked by the eligible individual, and subject to specified conditions and limitations. A “qualified taxpayer” is an eligible employer that pays California wages subject to withholding under the unemployment insurance code to an eligible individual; an “eligible employer” is a taxpayer that pays wages subject to withholding under the unemployment insurance code, pays at least 120% of the minimum wage, and provides to the FTB, upon request, a copy of the certification for each eligible individual for each taxable year the credit is claimed for that eligible individual; and an “eligible individual” is a person who: (1) is homeless on the date of hire or anytime during the 180-day period before the date of hire, or someone who is receiving supportive services from a homeless services provider; and (2) has been issued a certification that has not expired. The total aggregate amount of the credit that may be allocated by credit reservations per calendar year to all qualified taxpayers is limited to $30 million. A continuum of care, as defined, or a community-based service provider that is connected to a specified local information system, is required to issue certifications to eligible individuals and eligible employers, so that they may be eligible for the credit.
Credit for Rehabilitating Historic Structures
A150 extends by one year the taxable years for which the credit under the personal income and corporation tax laws for rehabilitating certified historic structures may be claimed (from taxable years ending before January 1, 2026, to taxable years ending before January 1, 2027).
New Donated Fresh Fruits or Vegetable Credit
A150 extends by five years the taxable years for which the credit under the personal income and corporation tax laws for donating fresh fruits and vegetables to a food bank may be claimed (from taxable years ending before January 1, 2022, to taxable years ending before January 1, 2027).
Do you play a major role in a closely held corporation and sometimes spend money on corporate expenses personally? These costs may wind up being nondeductible both by an officer and the corporation unless proper steps are taken. This issue is more likely to arise in connection with a financially troubled corporation.
Deductible vs. nondeductible expenses
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.
What’s more, 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.
When expenses may be deductible
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 for 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.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, government officials are seeing a large increase in the number of new businesses being launched. From June 2020 through June 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that business applications are up 18.6%. The Bureau measures this by the number of businesses applying for an Employer Identification Number.
Entrepreneurs often don’t know that many of the expenses incurred by start-ups can’t be currently deducted. You should be aware that the way you handle some of your initial expenses can make a large difference in your federal tax bill.
How to treat expenses for tax purposes
If you’re starting or planning to launch a new business, keep these three rules in mind:
In general, start-up expenses are those you make to:
To qualify for the election, an expense also must be one that would be deductible if it were incurred after a business began. One example is money you spend analyzing potential markets for a new product or service.
To be eligible as an “organization expense,” an expense must be related to establishing a corporation or partnership. Some examples of organization expenses are legal and accounting fees for services related to organizing a new business and filing fees paid to the state of incorporation.
If you have start-up expenses that you’d like to deduct this year, you need to decide whether to take the election described above. Recordkeeping is critical. Contact us about your start-up plans. We can help with the tax and other aspects of your new business.
Are you eligible to take the deduction for qualified business income (QBI)? Here are 10 facts about this valuable tax break, referred to as the pass-through deduction, QBI deduction or Section 199A deduction.
As you can see, this substantial deduction is complex, especially if your taxable income exceeds the thresholds discussed above. Other rules apply. Contact us if you have questions about your situation.
The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is a valuable tax break that was extended and modified by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), enacted in March of 2021. Here’s a rundown of the rules.
Back in March of 2020, Congress originally enacted the ERTC in the CARES Act to encourage employers to hire and retain employees during the pandemic. At that time, the ERTC applied to wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. However, Congress later modified and extended the ERTC to apply to wages paid before July 1, 2021.
The ARPA again extended and modified the ERTC to apply to wages paid after June 30, 2021, and before January 1, 2022. Thus, an eligible employer can claim the refundable ERTC against “applicable employment taxes” equal to 70% of the qualified wages it pays to employees in the third and fourth quarters of 2021. Except as discussed below, qualified wages are generally limited to $10,000 per employee per 2021 calendar quarter. Thus, the maximum ERTC amount available is generally $7,000 per employee per calendar quarter or $28,000 per employee in 2021.
For purposes of the ERTC, a qualified employer is eligible if it experiences a significant decline in gross receipts or a full or partial suspension of business due to a government order. Employers with up to 500 full-time employees can claim the credit without regard to whether the employees for whom the credit is claimed actually perform services. But, except as explained below, employers with more than 500 full-time employees can only claim the ERTC with respect to employees that don’t perform services.
Employers who got a Payroll Protection Program loan in 2020 can still claim the ERTC. But the same wages can’t be used both for seeking loan forgiveness or satisfying conditions of other COVID relief programs (such as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund program) in calculating the ERTC.
Beginning in the third quarter of 2021, the following modifications apply to the ERTC:
Contact us if you have any questions related to your business claiming the ERTC.
Earlier this year, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) was announced, including some temporary updates to the child tax credits available for many parents. Under the ARP, eligible parents of dependent children can take a tax deduction of up to $3,600 per child, depending on the child’s age and household income.
Part of this tax deduction is currently planned to be distributed to parents in the form of monthly payments from the IRS. For every child under the age of 6, parents will receive $300 per month starting on July 15 and ending on December 15. For children age 6 to 17, parents will receive $250 per month. Any remaining amount on the child tax credits will be eligible to be taken during the regular tax filing season.
The child tax credit update portal
The IRS has released a website where parents, including eligible non-filer parents, may make their designations concerning the child tax credits and scheduled deposits. This includes updating bank account information for direct deposits, even if previous economic stimulus payments were sent via check.
For parents that want to forego the advance payments and take their child tax credit in one lump sum during their tax filings, you may opt-out using this portal. The deadline to opt-out for the first payment was June 28. If you opt-out after that deadline, you will still receive the first payment if you qualify. In addition to personal preference, filers may want to opt-out of these payments because:
Now would be a good time to discuss with a tax professional any benefits or drawbacks to accepting the monthly advance payments to the child tax credit.
Note: Parents who are married couples filing jointly must BOTH opt-out of receiving the payments, or you may still receive a partial payment.
Who will receive monthly payments?
Payments will be received by eligible parties starting around July 15, 2021. You can check your eligibility using this tool created by the IRS. Currently, the IRS is using 2019 and 2020 tax filings to decide who may be eligible. If you are a non-filer and have registered for the Economic Impact Payments online previously, you should not need to register for the child tax credit advance payments at this time. If you have not previously registered, you may do so at the Non-filer Sign Up Tool here.
You can also find more about the temporary increase for the child tax credit and the upcoming advance payments here.
Be sure to speak with your tax professional to determine the best course of action moving forward with these advance tax credit payments. Our team of experts is available to assist you.
As we continue to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be traveling again for business. Under tax law, there are a number of rules for deducting the cost of your out-of-town business travel within the United States. These rules apply if the business conducted out of town reasonably requires an overnight stay.
Note that under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employees can’t deduct their unreimbursed travel expenses through 2025 on their own tax returns. 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.
Here are some of the rules that come into play.
Transportation and meals
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. The Consolidated Appropriations Act includes a provision that removes the 50% limit on deducting eligible business meals for 2021 and 2022. The law allows a 100% deduction for food and beverages provided by a restaurant. Takeout and delivery meals provided by a restaurant are also fully deductible.
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.
Combining business and pleasure
Some allocations may be required if the trip is a combined business/pleasure trip, for example, if you fly to a location for five days of business meetings and stay on for an additional period of vacation. Only the cost 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 they aren’t vacations 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, the cost of boarding a pet while you’re away isn’t deductible. Contact us if you have questions about your small business deductions.
Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the third quarter of 2021. 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.
Monday, August 2
Tuesday, August 10
Wednesday, September 15
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.
Facts of the case
In the case, the taxpayer ran a notary and paralegal business. She deducted business meals and vehicle expenses that she allegedly incurred in connection with her business.
The deductions were denied by the IRS and the court. Tax law “establishes higher substantiation requirements” for these and certain other expenses, the court noted. No deduction is generally allowed “unless the taxpayer substantiates the amount, time and place, business purpose, and business relationship to the taxpayer of the person receiving the benefit” for each expense with adequate records or sufficient evidence.
The taxpayer in this case didn’t provide adequate records or other sufficient evidence to prove the business purpose of her meal expenses. She gave vague testimony that she deducted expenses for meals where she “talked strategies” with people who “wanted her to do some work.” The court found this was insufficient to show the connection between the meals and her business.
When it came to the taxpayer’s vehicle expense deductions, she failed to offer credible evidence showing where she drove her vehicle, the purpose of each trip and her business relationship to the places visited. She also conceded that she used her car for both business and personal activities. (TC Memo 2021-50)
Best practices for business expenses
This case is an example of why it’s critical to maintain meticulous records to support business expenses for meals and vehicle 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. Meal and auto expenses are a magnet for attention. Be prepared for a challenge.
With organization and guidance from us, your tax records can stand up to scrutiny 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 (“the Cohan rule”), if your records are lost due to a fire, theft, flood or other disaster.
In 2020, there was record-breaking new business growth in the United States. The sheer number of new businesses was 24 percent higher than the prior year, with new employee identification number (EIN) applications breaking records in Quarter 3. This all took place despite the pandemic that has swept around the world. In the 1930s, an Austrian economist described this phenomenon of new business growth in times of uncertainty as “creative destruction.” In short, this creative destruction happens as people come up with new ways to overcome challenges – like the inability to shop in person due to lockdowns or health concerns.
However exciting or successful your new business may be at marketing and sales, it’s hard to know what you don’t know about the finance functions and find the time to manage the books and your other priorities. Brushing important accounting and record-keeping tasks to the side can hurt your bottom line and create stress when tax payments are due. So how do you tackle this problem? Keep reading to find out.
Your business will thrive when the finance functions are in working order. Business owners quickly realize they will either need to carve out the necessary time to manage their organization’s finances or hire someone else to do it.
Hiring a CFO is one option. However, most new businesses do not have forty hours of work for a qualified individual. This is when outsourcing CFO services can be a practical solution.
The benefits of working with an outsourced CFO:
Outsourcing services from your organization can help you operate more effectively. With our requisite knowledge of different organizational structures, we can help you create innovative changes in your organization. If you would like to learn more, please call our office to speak with one of our professionals and learn how our outsourced CFO services can help enhance the success of your business.
Most industries came to a halt last year when the pandemic shut down businesses around the world. When manufacturers adjusted operations, taking necessary precautions to protect employees, it created a ripple effect of shortages in other areas, including lumbar, tile, and other supplies used to build houses. Amidst all the uncertainty, it may seem easier to ignore performance metrics. In this climate, however, they are more important than ever before.
Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) can help business owners keep their operations running smoothly. KPIs are essentially prioritized metrics that owners and managers need regular access to make decisions. When determining which KPIs are important to track, know that it varies by industry. Keep reading to discover some key metrics to help leaders in the construction industry understand your firm’s performance.
Here are a few KPIs to consider:
In addition to these more traditional KPIs, the following also impact profitability.
While there are many other KPIs that construction firms can choose from, we find that these are often the top indicators of financial health and areas of opportunity. If you would like a second look at your KPIs or help establish some, give our team of professionals a call today.
The last few years have afforded quite a few changes in how the IRS allows businesses to handle meal and entertainment costs in relation to their taxes. The 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) eliminated deductions for most business-related entertainment expenses. Since the pandemic, the IRS has temporarily changed the tax-deductible amount allowed for some business meals to encourage increased sales at restaurants. With the easing of restrictions, businesses may be considering company picnics for employee appreciation or starting up business lunches with clients again.
With all of these changes, putting a system in place to accurately track business food and entertainment expenses becomes essential. Best practices should include requesting detailed receipts and separately tracking which costs fall under the 50 percent deduction, 100 percent deduction, or not deductible categories.
In addition to keeping excellent records, below are some additional things to keep in mind about the business meal and entertainment deduction rules, including a helpful chart highlighting the deduction category particular meal and entertainment expenses fall under.
Meal and entertainment expense changes
Under the TCJA, the IRS no longer allows businesses to deduct most entertainment expenses even if they were a cost of doing business. Food and beverage related to entertainment venues are only covered with detailed receipts separately stating the cost of the meal.
Another change from the TCJA is that spouse or guest meals are not covered from travel unless the business employs the person. So, if your spouse accompanies you on a work trip, their meals are not deductible for the business.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA) has temporarily increased the deduction for business meals provided by restaurants to 100 percent for tax years 2021 and 2022. Not all meals are created equal, however. The 100 percent deduction is only available for meals provided by restaurants, which the IRS defines 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.” Prepackaged food from a grocery, specialty, or convenience store is not eligible for the 100% deduction and would be limited to a 50% deduction.
Also, note that the expenses must be considered ordinary (common and accepted for your business) or necessary (helpful and appropriate) and cannot be considered lavish or extravagant. An employee of the business or the taxpayer must be present during the meal, as well.
A quick guide to business meal deductions
|Expense Category||Deductible Amount||Tax Code Reference|
|Company social events and facilities for employees (e.g., holiday parties, team-building events)||100%||IRC Secs. 274(e)(4) and 274(n)(2)(A)|
|Meals and entertainment included in employee or non-employee compensation||100%||IRC Secs. 274(e)(2) and (9)|
|Reimbursed expenses under an accountable plan||100%||IRC Sec. 274(e)(3)|
|Meals and entertainment made available to the public||100%||IRC Sec. 274(e)(7)|
|Meals and entertainment sold to customers||100%||IRC Sec. 274(e)(8)|
|Business travel meals||50%
100% (1/1/2021 to 12/31/2022)*
|IRC Secs. 274(e)(3) and 274(e)(9)
|Client/customer business meals||50%
100% (1/1/2021 to 12/31/2022)*
|Business meeting meals||50%
100% (1/1/2021 to 12/31/2022)*
|IRC Secs 274(e)(5), 274(k)(1), and 274(e)(6)|
|De minimis food and beverages provided in the workplace (e.g., bottled water, coffee, snacks)||50%
|IRC Sec 274(e)(1)|
|Meals provided for the convenience of the employer||50% (through 12/31/2025)
0% (on or after 1/1/2026)
|IRC Sec. 274(n) and 274(o)|
|Employer-operated eating facilities||50% (through 12/31/2025)
0% (on or after 1/1/2026)
|IRC Sec. 274(n) and 274(o)|
|Meals/beverages associated with entertainment activities when not separated stated on the receipt||0%||Notice 2018-76|
|Personal, lavish, or extravagant meals/beverages in relation to the activity||0%||IRC Secs. 274(k)(1) and 274(k)(2)|
|Entertainment without exception||0%||IRC Secs. 274(a)(1) and 274(e)|
*Meals are only deductible in the 2021 and 2022 tax years if provided by a restaurant, as defined by the IRS in the above article.
If you need help establishing a system to better track expenses or seek clarification on whether certain expenses are tax-deductible, give our team of CPAs a call today.
Cryptocurrency, a type of virtual currency that utilizes cryptography to validate and secure transactions digitally recorded on a distributed ledger, such as a blockchain, has been on the rise over the past several years. ‘ Approximately 14 percent of Americans own at least one share of virtual currency. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the tax implications associated with receiving, buying, and selling these currencies, mainly because the IRS is starting to crack down on reporting for capital gains and losses associated with them.
Keep reading to learn more about the tax implications associated with cryptocurrency and what the IRS is doing to sharpen its focus on crypto transactions.
What you need to know about virtual currency tax reporting:
Much like when you hold investment accounts, cryptocurrency owners must recognize gains and losses when filing their taxes. While gains are typically subject to capital gains taxes, losses can sometimes be used to counteract those gains.
Here are some important details:
What about using virtual currency as a form of payment?
Whether you’re using virtual currency to pay someone or receiving virtual currency as payment for something, there can be tax implications. When reporting virtual currency received, use the fair market value on the day you received payment. Here are a few popular reasons virtual currency can be exchanged between two parties:
While it may seem tedious to track every single purchase, exchange, trade, or receipt of virtual currencies, there are online platforms available that analyze the transactions and report to you when you have gains or losses to recognize.
What the IRS is doing with cryptocurrency reporting:
The IRS is partnering with TaxBit to help verify cryptocurrency tax calculations during an audit. This tax automation company is automating the cryptocurrency transaction analysis process for the IRS to understand how much money was made or lost from transactions. When the IRS is auditing a tax filing with cryptocurrency, they’ll request the report from TaxBit, who will then provide it to the IRS and the taxpayer.
In addition to these reports, which some taxpayers may see beginning next year, the IRS has also added a question to Form 1040 asking if the taxpayer has sold, exchanged, sent, received, or otherwise acquired any financial interest in virtual currency. With the IRS requiring taxpayers to treat virtual currency as property for Federal income tax purposes, it shows they recognize virtual currencies aren’t going away any time soon.
The Treasury is currently exploring the possibility of requiring reporting on any virtual currency transfers over $10,000. We’re monitoring this and will keep you posted as more information comes to light.
For help reporting virtual currencies on your tax filings, reach out to our team of tax professionals today. Establishing a system to track purchases, sales, and transfers before the end of the year will help ease the burden of preparing for tax season.
If your business is organized as a sole proprietorship or as a wholly owned limited liability company (LLC), you’re subject to both income tax and self-employment tax. There may be a way to cut your tax bill by conducting business as an S corporation.
Fundamentals of self-employment tax
The self-employment tax is imposed on 92.35% of self-employment income at a 12.4% rate for Social Security up to a certain maximum ($142,800 for 2021) and at a 2.9% rate for Medicare. No maximum tax limit applies to the Medicare tax. An additional 0.9% Medicare tax is imposed on income exceeding $250,000 for married couples ($125,000 for married persons filing separately) and $200,000 in all other cases.
What if you conduct your business as a partnership in which you’re a general partner? In that case, in addition to income tax, you’re subject to the self-employment tax on your distributive share of the partnership’s income. On the other hand, if you conduct your business as an S corporation, you’ll be subject to income tax, but not self-employment tax, on your share of the S corporation’s income.
An S corporation isn’t subject to tax at the corporate level. Instead, the corporation’s items of income, gain, loss and deduction are passed through to the shareholders. However, the income passed through to the shareholder isn’t treated as self-employment income. Thus, by using an S corporation, you may be able to avoid self-employment income tax.
Keep your salary “reasonable”
Be aware that the IRS requires that the S corporation pay you reasonable compensation for your services to the business. The compensation is treated as wages subject to employment tax (split evenly between the corporation and the employee), which is equivalent to the self-employment tax. If the S corporation doesn’t pay you reasonable compensation for your services, the IRS may treat a portion of the S corporation’s distributions to you as wages and impose Social Security taxes on the amount it considers wages.
There’s no simple formula regarding what’s considered reasonable compensation. Presumably, reasonable compensation is the amount that unrelated employers would pay for comparable services under similar circumstances. There are many factors that should be taken into account in making this determination.
Converting from a C corporation
There may be complications if you convert a C corporation to an S corporation. A “built-in gains tax” may apply when you dispose of appreciated assets held by the C corporation at the time of the conversion. However, there may be ways to minimize its impact.
Many factors to consider
Contact us if you’d like to discuss the factors involved in conducting your business as an S corporation, and how much the business should pay you as compensation.
If you are in possession of business or investment property, or looking to exchange real property for others, you might want to get acquainted with “like-kind exchanges,” also known as a 1031 exchange. As with all tax code, changes are consistently made to clarify previous unclear areas or adjust the language based on new policy. In 2020, there were some larger changes noted to section 1031 of the tax code, which deals with like-kind exchanges of real property.
Here are some of the bigger changes.
1. Defining “Real Property.” In the past, the definition of real property held more ambiguity, and there was little deference to the state and local definitions. The new language allows real property to be defined by local and state guidelines in addition to the list included in the final regulations, and property that passes a facts and circumstances test. The final regulations include categories such as “land and improvements to land, unsevered natural products of land, and water and airspace superjacent to land.” Note that property previously excluded prior to the 2017 TCJA is still excluded.
2. Inherently Permanent. The “purpose or use test” that was previously required to determine whether the property contributed to unrelated income is no longer applicable. Instead, the final rules state that if the tangible property is both permanently affixed and will remain affixed to the real property indefinitely, it’s considered inherently permanent and a part of the real property. Note, this does not automatically include installed appliances, sheds, carports, Wi-Fi systems, and trade fixtures. In addition, if interconnected assets serve an inherently permanent structure together, they are now analyzed as one distinct asset. (e.g., a gas line powering a heating unit would qualify as part of the heating unit. However, if the gas line solely powered a stove or oven, it would not qualify).
3. Facts and Circumstances Test. For fixtures and assets not automatically included by the Inherently Permanent rule, use the facts and circumstances test to determine if it’s eligible to be considered a part of the real property. For each fixture, ask:
While there is still some room for improvement, the facts and circumstances test are a vast improvement, as the previous rule may have led to costly and inefficient cost segregation studies.
4. Incidental Property. In the past, non-real property that could be transferred as part of an exchange could potentially violate the escrow rules allowing for a Qualified Intermediary to facilitate an exchange not made in real-time (a third-party exchange). The new regulations now allow some leeway, defining that if the fixtures or non-real property is deemed as typical for the type of property transfer, or if the aggravate value does not exceed 15 percent of the fair market value of the real property, it is considered incidental and will not be in violation of the escrow rules. Keep in mind, the real property is still considered a separate transaction and not included in the gains deferment of the exchanged real property.
5. Qualified Intermediaries. The new regulations maintain the transaction must be structured as an exchange and that the seller cannot receive funds from the sale before taking ownership of the new property. Qualified intermediaries can hold the properties or funds in an escrow within the time limit, so that the transaction looks like an exchange.
Most of the time, the sale of any investment property, which is property not considered your primary residence, can result in capital gains tax. Using a 1031 like-kind exchange can help defer that tax until later and possibly result in a lower tax liability down the road.
On April 28, 2021, President Biden introduced a new economic plan that would impact 1031 exchanges. The Biden proposal would abolish 1031 exchanges on real-estate profits of more than $500,000. As we move further into 2021, we will continue to monitor the impact.
If you would like to discuss tax strategies in business or investment properties, give us a call. Our team can help you understand if the decision you are making falls in line with applicable tax laws and if it’s the best strategy for your real property investments.
Many businesses provide education fringe benefits so their employees can improve their skills and gain additional knowledge. An employee can receive, on a tax-free basis, up to $5,250 each year from his or her employer for educational assistance under a “qualified educational assistance program.”
For this purpose, “education” means any form of instruction or training that improves or develops an individual’s capabilities. It doesn’t matter if it’s job-related or part of a degree program. This includes employer-provided education assistance for graduate-level courses, including those normally taken by an individual pursuing a program leading to a business, medical, law or other advanced academic or professional degree.
The educational assistance must be provided under a separate written plan that’s publicized to your employees, and must meet a number of conditions, including nondiscrimination requirements. In other words, it can’t discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees. In addition, not more than 5% of the amounts paid or incurred by the employer for educational assistance during the year may be provided for individuals who (including their spouses or dependents) who own 5% or more of the business.
No deduction or credit can be taken by the employee for any amount excluded from the employee’s income as an education assistance benefit.
If you pay more than $5,250 for educational benefits for an employee during the year, he or she must generally pay tax on the amount over $5,250. Your business should include the amount in income in the employee’s wages. However, in addition to, or instead of applying, the $5,250 exclusion, an employer can satisfy an employee’s educational expenses, on a nontaxable basis, if the educational assistance is job-related. To qualify as job-related, the educational assistance must:
“Job-related” employer educational assistance isn’t subject to a dollar limit. To be job-related, the education can’t qualify the employee to meet the minimum educational requirements for qualification in his or her employment or other trade or business.
Educational assistance meeting the above “job-related” rules is excludable from an employee’s income as a working condition fringe benefit.
In addition to education assistance, some employers offer student loan repayment assistance as a recruitment and retention tool. Recent COVID-19 relief laws may provide your employees with tax-free benefits. Contact us to learn more about setting up an education assistance or student loan repayment plan at your business.
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 IRS and Treasury Department provided new information regarding the tax credits available through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The ARP was created to help small businesses through the pandemic. This new guidance provides information on how eligible businesses can claim the credit for providing paid time off to employees receiving or recovering from the vaccine. Below, we’ve outlined which employers are eligible for the credits and when and how the credits can be taken.
Who is eligible?
Any business with fewer than 500 employees is eligible to take the tax credit. This includes tax-exempt organizations and governmental employers who are not the federal government or not outlined in section 501(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code. Self-employed individuals are eligible for similar credits.
What are the paid leave qualifications?
In order to qualify for the tax credit, employers/employees must meet the following guidelines:
For more information on the credits, including how they’re calculated, view the IRS Fact Sheet or reach out to our team of professionals.
Owners of incorporated businesses know that 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. Thus, 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.
Determining reasonable compensation
There’s no easy way to determine what’s reasonable. In an audit, the IRS examines 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 some steps you can take to make it more likely that the compensation you earn will be considered “reasonable,” and therefore deductible by your corporation. For example, you can:
You can avoid problems and challenges by planning ahead. If you have questions or concerns about your situation, contact us.
As a business owner, you should be aware that you can save family income and payroll taxes by putting your child on the payroll.
Here are some considerations.
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 $12,550 standard deduction for 2021 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 $1,100 for 2021 (and includes more than $350 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 isn’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 $58,000 for 2021).
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.
Are you thinking about launching 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’s an explanation of the reasons why.
The biggest advantage 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 the corporation be adequately financed, that the existence of the corporation as a separate entity be maintained and that various formalities required by your state be observed (for example, filing articles of incorporation, adopting by-laws, electing a board of directors and holding organizational meetings).
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 these losses on your personal tax returns to the extent of your basis in the stock and in any loans you make to the entity. Losses that can’t be deducted because they exceed your basis are carried forward and can be deducted by you 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. To the extent the income is passed through to you as qualified business income, you’ll be eligible to take the 20% pass-through deduction, subject to various limitations. 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.
Are you planning to provide fringe benefits such as health and life insurance? If so, 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 transfers stock to an ineligible shareholder such as another corporation, a partnership or a nonresident alien. If the S election were 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 you against this risk, it’s a good idea for each of you to sign an agreement promising not to make any transfers that would jeopardize the S election.
Consult with us before finalizing your choice of entity. We can answer any questions you have and assist in launching your new venture.
President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) on March 11. While the new law is best known for the provisions providing relief to individuals, there are also several tax breaks and financial benefits for businesses.
Here are some of the tax highlights of the ARPA.
The Employee Retention Credit (ERC). This valuable tax credit is extended from June 30 until December 31, 2021. The ARPA continues the ERC rate of credit at 70% for this extended period of time. It also continues to allow for up to $10,000 in qualified wages for any calendar quarter. Taking into account the Consolidated Appropriations Act extension and the ARPA extension, this means an employer can potentially have up to $40,000 in qualified wages per employee through 2021.
Employer-Provided Dependent Care Assistance. In general, an eligible employee’s gross income doesn’t include amounts paid or incurred by an employer for dependent care assistance provided to the employee under a qualified dependent care assistance program (DCAP).
Previously, the amount that could be excluded from an employee’s gross income under a DCAP during a tax year wasn’t more than $5,000 ($2,500 for married individuals filing separately), subject to certain limitations. However, any contribution made by an employer to a DCAP can’t exceed the employee’s earned income or, if married, the lesser of employee’s or spouse’s earned income.
Under the ARPA, for 2021 only, the exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance is increased from $5,000 to $10,500 (from $2,500 to $5,250 for married individuals filing separately).
This provision is effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2020.
Paid Sick and Family Leave Credits. Changes under the ARPA apply to amounts paid with respect to calendar quarters beginning after March 31, 2021. Among other changes, the law extends the paid sick time and paid family leave credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act from March 31, 2021, through September 30, 2021. It also provides that paid sick and paid family leave credits may each be increased by the employer’s share of Social Security tax (6.2%) and employer’s share of Medicare tax (1.45%) on qualified leave wages.
Grants to restaurants. Under the ARPA, eligible restaurants, food trucks, and similar businesses that provide food and drinks may receive restaurant revitalization grants from the Small Business Administration. For tax purposes, amounts received as restaurant revitalization grants aren’t included in the gross income of the person who receives the money.
These are only some of the provisions in the ARPA. There are many others that may be beneficial to your business. Contact us for more information about your situation.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has been signed into law by President Biden and makes significant updates to several tax provisions to alleviate some of the pandemic’s financial burdens for individual taxpayers and businesses. Updates include expansions and extensions of various tax credits such as the employee retention credit (ERC), COBRA continuation coverage, Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies, and more. The bill also includes $1.46 billion for the IRS to manage the additional responsibilities on top of the annual tax filing season. Here are the critical tax updates.
Significant updates were made for individual taxpayers to deal with the financial ramifications of the pandemic.
COBRA continuation coverage credit expanded – Health care premiums will be subsidized at 100% for those who are eligible for COBRA from the date of enactment to Sep. 21, 2021.
ACA marketplace subsidies expanded – Health insurance premium cost savings for all marketplace exchange users are included in the bill.
Applicable extra subsidies can be claimed immediately or on the 2021 tax return. A special enrollment period is available until May 15, 2021, for most states.
Child tax credit increased – The child tax credit can now be claimed in advance of filing your return and increases to $3,000 per child (now including 17-year-olds) and $3,600 for children under six years of age. It phases out for married-filing-joint taxpayers with incomes over $150,000, $112,500 for heads of household, and $75,000 for all others. The credit will be paid monthly in cash up to $300 per month by the IRS from July through December.
Earned income credit expanded – The bill introduces rules for individual taxpayers with no children for 2021:
Student loan forgiveness – Any student loan forgiveness passed between Dec. 31, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2026, would be tax-free rather than the forgiven debt treated as taxable income.
Business tax provisions were also extended and expanded to help businesses with the financial challenges of the pandemic.
ERC extended – The ERC is extended through Dec. 31, 2021, and expands the eligibility to new startups established after Feb. 15, 2020 (capped at $50,000 per calendar quarter), and companies with a 90% revenue decline compared to the same calendar quarter of the previous year.
Child and dependent care credit expanded – The credit is refundable for 2021. It increases the employer-provided dependent care assistance exclusion to $10,500. The maximum allowable expenses increase to $8,000 (from $3,000) for one dependent and $16,000 (from $6,000) for two or more and allow the credit to cover 50% of expenses.
Family and sick leave credit extended – The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) credits are extended to Sept. 30, 2021, and include:
Executive compensation deduction expanded – The executive compensation deduction for publicly traded employers expands to include the 8 highest compensated employees other than the CEO and CFO by 2027. Currently, a deduction is available on the first $1 million paid to the CEO, CFO, and next three highest compensated officers.
For questions and assistance with any of the programs related to ARPA, contact us.
The IRS has released additional guidance in Notice 2021-20 on the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERC) with clarifications on the retroactive changes for expanded eligibility applicable to 2020. Employers who received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan have been waiting on guidance on claiming the credit in combination with forgiveness of their loan. The provisions outlined here apply to retroactive claims for 2020 as well as providing a plan for those yet to seek forgiveness.
As a reminder, eligibility to claim the 2020 ERC requires a business to have experienced a significant decline in revenues during 2020. Specifically, gross receipts for a calendar quarter during 2020 must have declined by 50% or more when compared to the same calendar quarter in 2019. Additionally, a company is eligible during any period where operations were suspended due to a government order.
The notice clarifies when and how PPP borrowers can claim the ERC on 2020 wages.
The ERC requires specific documentation and support of facts and circumstances in order to qualify and receive the credit. For assistance with claiming the ERC, contact us.
Merger and acquisition activity in many industries slowed during 2020 due to COVID-19. But analysts expect it to improve in 2021 as the country comes out of the pandemic. If you are considering buying or selling another 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. Reasons: 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 law’s reduced 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, current individual rate cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of 2025, and, depending on actions taken in Washington, they could be eliminated earlier.
Keep in mind that President Biden has proposed increasing the tax rate on corporations to 28%. He has also proposed increasing the top individual income tax rate from 37% to 39.6%. With Democrats in control of the White House and Congress, business and individual tax changes are likely in the next year or two.
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.
Preferences of buyers
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 (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.
Preferences of sellers
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).
Obtain professional advice
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. After a transaction is complete, it may be too late to get the best tax results. Contact us about how to proceed.
Last spring, the CARES Act created the ERC for businesses that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the CARES Act disallowed the credit for businesses that received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. Fast forward to December 2020, when Congress declared that businesses that had obtained PPP loans could also qualify for the ERC. In addition, Congress extended the availability of the ERC into the first two quarters of 2021, with a few new favorable provisions. The credit is refundable, which means that qualified businesses are able to get cash to the extent that the credit exceeds the payroll tax liabilities. The chart below outlines the terms of the ERC for both the original and extended filing periods:
As I previously noted, a business cannot “double dip,” or utilize the same wages to obtain PPP loan forgiveness while still benefiting from the ERC. However, the ERC was not available to PPP recipients prior to December 27, 2020. Accordingly, those businesses that applied for loan forgiveness would have included all eligible payroll costs paid or incurred during the covered period pursuant to the instructions in the loan forgiveness applications. Certainly, those businesses shouldn’t be penalized for already receiving forgiveness prior to this change in the law; however, this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen something like that with the evolution of the PPP.
On January 15, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) sought clarification on this matter. In a letter to the IRS, the AICPA “recommends that the IRS and Treasury provide guidance stating that the filing of a PPP loan forgiveness application does not constitute an election to forgo the ERC with respect to the amount of wages reported on the application exceeding the amount of wages necessary for loan forgiveness.” It is clear — additional guidance is imminent.
As we await clarification from the IRS, businesses who have already received forgiveness on their PPP loans should first evaluate their eligibility for the ERC. After concluding their eligibility, businesses should begin gathering payroll reports, government shutdown orders and financial statements to calculate and claim their credits.
Borrowers of PPP loans who have yet to apply for loan forgiveness have an alternative path; those businesses looking to leverage the ERC now have an additional element to consider in their evolving journey to loan forgiveness. This change in guidance further emphasizes the importance of an intentional strategy to maximize the benefits of both programs, but also leaves questions unanswered for borrowers who have already received forgiveness on their PPP loans.
The Internal Revenue Service recently issued the 2021 optional standard mileage rates. These rates, which adjust every year to account for inflation of fuel costs, vehicle cost and maintenance, and insurance rate increases, will once again affect the way a company reimburses their mobile workers. Specifically, the IRS mileage rate is a guideline that businesses use to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes. Beyond announcing the rate change, we have a few reminders and tips surrounding this reimbursement allowance.
As of January 1, 2021, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) are:
Have you considered…
The IRS rate was intended to function as a reimbursement cap. Today, the rate holds businesses accountable, but it doesn’t account for fluctuations in vehicle prices across city, county, and state lines. For companies whose employees use their vehicles for work, there is an alternative to the standard mileage rate. The Fixed and Variable Rate (FAVR) allowance preserves reimbursement equity and helps businesses avoid over- or underpayment to employees. To find out more about this IRS recommended reimbursement methodology or if you have any questions about the IRS Standard Mileage Rate, please contact one of our professionals today.
The employee retention tax credit (ERTC) is intended to provide liquidity to employers during the pandemic and was greatly expanded in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 thanks to Sections 206 and 207 of the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act portion, opening the doors to more businesses to be able to qualify for and receive this credit who are facing significant hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Many changes from the original credit were enacted including an expansion in the amount of credit and business eligibility, and how it plays with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Here’s what you need to know about this credit, how it works, and how to apply. Note that when a provision is designated as effective Jan. 1, 2021, it does not apply to any retroactive credit claims.
The following businesses and organizations engaged in a trade or business are eligible to qualify for the ERTC:
An eligible organization can qualify for the ERTC if:
The gross receipts test is Effective Jan. 1, 2021, this is an increase from the previous law and expands the threshold for eligible businesses.
Effective Jan. 1, 2021, businesses with 500 employees or less are eligible to claim the credit even if an employee is working during the first two quarters of 2021 (an increase in the threshold from 100 employees in the original law). For affiliated companies sharing more than 50% common ownership, the 500 count is aggregated.
The passage of the bill at the end of December extended the availability of the ERTC through the first two quarters of 2021, allowing for more relief as the pandemic continues on. Qualified wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before July 1, 2021, are eligible for the credit.
Additionally, the new law will allow for an advanced credit for companies with 500 or fewer employees, allowing these companies to monetize the credit before wages are paid. The amount is based on 70% of the average quarterly payroll for the same quarter in 2019, and if there is excess advance payment, companies will need to repay the credit to the government.
Effective Jan. 2021, 70% of qualified wages are eligible for the ERTC including the cost to continue providing health benefits (such as if an employee is on furlough). This is an increase from the 50% provided in the previous stimulus bill. The qualified wage limit was increased to $10,000 per quarter per employee for the first 2 quarters of 2020. Previously was $10,000 per employee for the entirety of 2020.
Also, effective Jan. 1, 2021, the credit maxes out at an aggregate $14,000 per employee, or $7,000 for the first two quarters of 2021, and is available even if the employer received the maximum credit for wages paid to the same employee in 2020. This is an increase from the $5,000 max in the previous bill.
Additionally, the credit is now available for certain pay raises including hazardous duty pay increases (previously not allowed and is retroactive).
First and foremost, companies with PPP loans can now also claim the ERTC, and the change is retroactive to the effective date of the original law (March 12, 2020). Key to note is that the ERTC cannot be applied toward wages covered by the PPP.
If, for example, your business received a PPP loan in 2020 and paid qualified wages in excess of the PPP loan amount, you could qualify and apply for the ERTC through an amended employment tax return (Forms 941X). This also applies to affiliate companies related to a PPP borrower. Furthermore, if your PPP payroll costs are not forgiven, those same payroll costs can be applied toward ERTC qualified wages. Your accountant can help you calculate and designate these costs.
Claiming the ERTC, with or without a PPP loan, requires careful calculation and documentation. Contact us for assistance with this credit.
The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have passed the Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, and President Trump is expected to sign the bill immediately. The agreement comes after weeks of negotiations and two funding extensions to keep Congress open until a bill was passed with a $1.4 trillion government-wide funding plan. The $900 billion coronavirus relief portion includes another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, extended unemployment benefits, and direct payments to taxpayers. Here’s an overview of the key provisions in the bill.
The Act designates $267.5 billion for this round of PPP funding, and the program specifically sets aside $25 billion for businesses with 10 employees or less as of Feb. 15, 2020. Regulations for this round of PPP funding are required to be released within 10 days of enactment.
Borrowers who received PPP funding in the first round following the CARES Act will receive some additional updates to their existing PPP loans. Borrowers who would like to adjust their requested loan amount based on these updated regulations may do so, provided they have not yet received forgiveness. Here are the key updates:
The second round of funding provided by this Act has a few key differences from the first round in the CARES Act. Key to note is that borrowers can apply for a second PPP loan through this program if they have fully used their first PPP loan and meet the employer size and gross revenue criteria listed below. PPP loans in this round are capped at $2 million. Here are the key differences:
As with the first round of PPP loans, 60% of the funds must be spent on payroll over the covered period (8 or 24 weeks).
Further guidance and regulations are expected in various components of the bill and are due in periods of 10 to 45 days depending on the issue and reporting agency. Not included in the bill was aid for state and local governments, an agreement on liability protections for businesses, nor a continued freeze on payments and interest for federal student loans set to expire for many in February. Lawmakers have indicated they expect to pass another stimulus bill addressing some of these issues in early 2021.
More guidance and updates are expected on the Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Stay tuned for more details in the days and weeks to come.
Please note that information and guidance on the PPP loan program is changing on a daily basis. The information provided in this article is current as of December 22, 2020. It is intended for general informational purposes only. Consult with your financial advisor about your specific situation.
The pandemic created by the novel coronavirus has drastically changed the way we live and work. As more businesses are forced to send their employees home, work-from-home life has become a mainstay especially in knowledge-based jobs (jobs that do not require physical labor), and many of these industries are not going back to the workplace anytime soon. This can create wrinkles for both employers and employees when it comes to their tax situations.
Here’s what employers and employees need to know about remote work and the impact it can have on taxes.
Nexus – Employers who have transitioned their workforce to be remote must be conscious of potential nexus implications due to any employees now working from another state. Working out of state from the employer can create physical nexus which means the employer will be responsible for the taxes imposed from the employee’s location. This could include taxes on income, gross receipts, and sales and use from both the city and county level.
Some states have waived these nexus rules or have adjusted in light of COVID-19 including Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and the District of Columbia. Check with your CPA to ensure you’re following your state’s remote worker nexus law.
Labor and employment law – Changes in an employee’s location across state lines can result in new wage and hour rules, termination of employment considerations, noncompetition agreements, trade secrets protections, and paid sick and family leave rules. Employers will want to be mindful of worker’s compensation insurance as states usually require employers to register and obtain premiums to cover the employee in that state. Additionally, unemployment insurance is also required by states for employees even if the employer operates in a different state.
Remote worker supplies – Employers who purchased items and provided them to workers in order to move operations remotely may deduct those expenses on their tax return. As these supplies are usually purchased for non-compensatory business reasons, employees do not need to pay taxes on them. Employers who reimbursed employees for purchased supplies deemed “ordinary and necessary” should have accountability plans and policies in place to protect the employee from taxation.
Consistent and accurate communication with employees during this time is key in order to avoid employer and employee tax violations as tax updates continue to be released regarding nexus and tax responsibilities. Be mindful that employee tax obligations are not the employer’s responsibility, so remind your employees to stay vigilant about their personal tax situation.
Double-taxation – Double-taxation can be a large burden for employees living in one state and working in another. Double-taxation occurs when the resident state doesn’t provide and employee with a credit on their return for taxes paid to their employer’s state. States where this can occur include New York, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.
Home office deductions – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 removed the itemized home office deduction for unreimbursed expenses exceeding 2% of AGI. This means that even though new remote employees have had to procure supplies during the pandemic and they were not either directly purchased by the employer or the employee was not reimbursed, those expenses are not tax-deductible.
Self-employed individuals are still eligible for the home office deduction if they are purchasing their own supplies. If a contracting client purchases supplies for them, those would be tax-deductible for the client, but not the self-employed individual.
Relocation – If you’ve permanently relocated across state lines during the pandemic, you will need to file tax returns for both states in 2021. Even temporary relocations of six months or longer may require tax returns to be filed in two states. It is likely states will be monitoring these moves closely in order to recover lost revenue.
Employers who have never operated with remote workers prior to the pandemic could face significant headaches come tax time. Likewise, employees who are working in one state and living in another could face large tax bills in 2021. For assistance with your obligations as an employer or individual taxpayer, reach out to us.
On November 18, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service issued Revenue Ruling 2020-27 which provides needed clarity on a taxpayers’ ability to deduct eligible expenses for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness.
The Ruling notes that a taxpayer that received a covered loan guaranteed under the PPP and paid or incurred certain otherwise deductible expenses listed in section 1106(b) of the CARES Act may not deduct those expenses in the taxable year in which the expenses were paid or incurred if, at the end of such taxable year, the taxpayer reasonably expects to receive forgiveness of the covered loan on the basis of the expenses it paid or accrued during the covered period, even if the taxpayer has not submitted an application for forgiveness of the covered loan by the end of such taxable year.
What if forgiveness is denied, in whole or part, or not requested?
In conjunction with the Ruling, the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2020-51 to outline the steps for when:
1.) The eligible expenses are paid or incurred during the taxpayer’s 2020 taxable year,
2.) The taxpayer receives a covered loan guaranteed under the PPP, which at the end of the taxpayer’s 2020 taxable year the taxpayer expects to be forgiven in a subsequent taxable year, and
3.) In a subsequent taxable year, the taxpayer’s request for forgiveness of the covered loan is denied, in whole or in part, or the taxpayer decides never to request forgiveness of the covered loan.
The Rev Procedure provides for two safe harbors for taxpayers in the event forgiveness is denied, in whole or in part, or otherwise not requested that would allow for the deduction of expenses in either the 2020 or a subsequent tax year.
Questions we still have
While the Ruling provides information on the deductibility of expenses and the tactical approach for borrowers whose forgiveness is denied or not requested, additional clarification is still needed. This guidance does not address the order in which the eligible expenses (payroll, rent, utilities and mortgage interest) lose the ability to be deducted.
Further, the guidance does not address other matters that could have significant tax implications including, but not limited to, the impact on the following:
Need Assistance in Choosing the Right PPP Loan Forgiveness Application?
We have put together a flowchart that can help: How to Select the Right Loan Forgiveness Application
This year has been unique and beyond comparison in many ways, and tax planning is just one of the implications of current events. Both individual and business taxes have the potential to be significantly impacted by the various legislation that has passed like the FFCRA and the CARES Act, the loan programs made available like the PPP and the EIDL, and the unemployment/stimulus programs that touched many Americans.
It’s imperative that we take into account all these potential factors when implementing your tax plan for 2020. In this article, we’ll take a look at the main areas to consider, both common and pandemic-related, when planning for 2020 year-end taxes.
As mentioned in our previous article – Tax planning considerations: Election results, sunset provisions – changes to the tax code in the next two to four years may still be imminent depending on the finalizations of certain Senate elections. If those changes become a likely scenario, some adjustments may still be possible in this year’s tax plan to account for those potential tax code changes. Work with your CPA to have a plan for all scenarios.
According to news outlets, as of this writing, Joe Biden will be the president-elect of the U.S. following the Electoral College vote on Dec. 14. Vote counting is still ongoing and election results have not yet been certified, but this news may have some taxpayers wondering what changes, if any, they should make in their tax planning to close out an eventful tax year.
The likelihood of a major tax overhaul in the next two years is up in the air as the Senate is not yet decided and may not be until two Georgia run-off elections in January 2021. If Republicans retain the majority, it’s likely there won’t be many changes, but that doesn’t completely lock out any potential adjustments that could come in the next two to four years. Items of agreement on tax policy exist between both parties such as increasing the child tax credit. However, with provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) set to sunset in 2026, updates to the tax code will be on the horizon by the next election.
Additionally, if the Republican Party indeed holds onto a 51-vote majority in the Senate, it is not unreasonable to imagine a legislative vote in which 2 republican senators vote against the majority of the Republican party to push a tax legislation bill through to the President. Accordingly, between the possibility of a loss of Republican control in 2 to 4 years, the possibility of 2 Republicans voting for a tax reform bill, and the 2026 TCJA sunset, it is highly unlikely tax laws will become more favorable to taxpayers in the in future; thus, we believe there is an urgency to plan carefully and diligently in the last weeks of 2020.
In this article, we’ll examine the key points of the President-elect‘s tax plan, the sunsetting TCJA provisions, and what to keep in mind as you execute your tax plan to close out the year.
President-elect Biden has laid out several of his tax plans the past year on the campaign trail. Here’s what we know based on what he’s shared.
In addition to the President-elect’s plans, the TCJA is still in the spotlight. The TCJA was the most significant tax overhaul in decades when it was passed in 2017. However, as is the nature when dealing with budgetary constraints, many of the provisions of the TJCA are scheduled to sunset by 2026. Below we’ve highlighted a few of the anticipated changes.
For businesses, approximately $4 trillion is expected in new taxes over the next 10 years as provisions begin to sunset including changes to:
For individuals, changes are coming for:
It’s important to note that the above considerations are not an exhaustive list of tax items to review as we close 2020. Work with us to have a proactive plan in place that takes into account various potential scenarios that could manifest in the coming weeks and months. In our follow-up article – 2020 tax planning considerations for businesses, individuals – we’ve laid out some of the key provisions to take into account as you work with us on your end–of–year tax planning.
With all of the curveballs 2020 has thrown at the nation, the economy, and businesses, there’s never been a better time to get an early jump on year-end planning for your business. While all the usual year-end tasks are still on the docket, you’ll want to consider implications related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), any disaster loan assistance you received, and changes made by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
We’ve put together a checklist of what you need to do now to prepare for a great year-end that includes annual tasks as well as 2020-specific tasks. Keep reading for assistance getting your financials organized, reviewing your tax strategy, and preparing for next year.
1. Bring order to your books – Now is the time to collect, organize, and file all of your receipts for the year if you haven’t been staying on top of it. Get with your CPA to ensure everything is clean and in order before the end of the year to help avoid surprises come tax time.
2. Examine your finances – This includes having your balance sheet, income statement, and cash-flow statements prepared and up to date. Reviewing this information allows you to see where your money went for the year so you can properly prepare for next year.
3. Work with your CPA on your PPP loan forgiveness application – We are currently awaiting further guidance on the PPP’s impact to taxes, but it’s important to work with your CPA on your PPP loan forgiveness application. Knowing where your PPP loan lies can help determine how to spread out your cash flow for the remainder of the year.
4. Organize all disaster loan assistance documentation – This includes your Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) documentation if you received an advance grant. EIDL advances must be added to your taxable income (unless different guidance is released), but you’ll be able to deduct any expenses paid with this grant.
5. Review your taxes with your CPA – Do not put off your tax planning meeting with your CPA. Especially after the year you’ve had and any potential federal state aid your business received, your tax plan needs a review. Getting a jump on this early, well before the new year, can help you plan for what’s to come on Tax Day. It’s even more imperative to plan early for any tax obligations you may have at tax time as it’s likely the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to create a volatile environment for many industries’ revenue projections.
6. Execute on year-end tax strategy adjustments such as:
7. Prepare your tax documents – Once you’ve met with your CPA, it’s time to line up all the info you need to prepare your final tax documents or have your CPA take care of it. Be sure not to put this off to the last minute as it will be a complicated year for everyone.
8. Automate your tax function – Instead of spending valuable time and energy on manual tasks and repetitive processes this year, consider investing in data analytics and automation tools to optimize and streamline your in-house accounting and tax functions. There’s never been a better time to invest in technology that will help you become more efficient and accurate.
9. Evaluate your goals – There’s no doubt that 2020 likely threw a wrench in many of your goals for the year. However, you should still review the goals you set last year and see if you’ve met or made progress on any of them. This will help with 2021 business planning.
10. Set goals for the new year – No one knows how 2021 will play out, and it’s unlikely the market or business will return to normal in the first part of the year. Take into consideration the challenges you’ve faced so far in the pandemic as you plan for 2021. Work with your trusted advisor to determine several back-up plans for what if scenarios in case of any state or national lockdowns.
In a year like no other, it’s crucial to prepare like no other so you’re not met with any surprises or devastating fees. Contact us today to set up your tax and business planning appointment.
The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 made many significant changes for business tax deductions including the disallowing of the business deductions for most entertainment expenses. After a period of comments and proposed regulations, the IRS has released long-awaited final regulations for the treatment of meals and entertainment deductions, and businesses should apprise themselves of these changes.
The main change with the TCJA was the removal of certain entertainment expenses as tax deductible for a business. Prior to the TCJA, entertainment expenses were eligible for an up to 50% deduction in expenses directly related to the active conduct of a trade or business or for expenses incurred before or after a bona fide business discussion. The TCJA eliminated this deduction for activities considered to be entertainment, amusement, or recreation as well as removed the reference to entertainment as part of the 50% limitation of deductibility for food or beverages.
The final rules clarify that taxpayers may continue to deduct 50% of business meals if the taxpayer or an employee of the taxpayer is present, as long as the meal is not considered extravagant. Meals for current or potential business customers, clients, consultants, or similar business contacts are eligible. Food and beverages provided during entertainment events must be purchased separately from the event to qualify, otherwise they are considered part of the entertainment.
Note that the TCJA did not repeal the exception for certain recreational activities that benefit employees, reimbursed expenses, entertainment treated as employee compensation, or includable gross income of a nonemployee as compensation or as a prize or award, which must be properly reported by the taxpayer.
Separating meals and entertainment and aligning them in the right buckets for deduction can be tricky. Contact us for assistance in determining what qualifies.
If a relative needs financial help, offering an intrafamily loan might seem like a good idea because they allow you to take advantage of low interest rates for wealth transfer purposes. But if not properly executed, such loans can carry negative tax consequences — such as unexpected taxable income, gift tax or both. Here are five tips to help avoid any unwelcome tax surprises:
1. Create a paper trail. In general, to avoid undesirable tax consequences, you need to be able to show that the loan was bona fide. To do so, document evidence of:
Be sure to make your intentions clear — and help avoid loan-related misunderstandings — by also documenting the loan payments received.
2. Demonstrate an intention to collect. Even if you think you may eventually forgive the loan, ensure the borrower makes at least a few payments. By having some repayment history, you’ll make it harder for the IRS to argue that the loan was really an outright gift. And if a would-be borrower has no realistic chance of repaying a loan, don’t make it. If you’re audited, the IRS is sure to treat such a loan as a gift.
3. Charge interest if the loan exceeds $10,000. If you lend more than $10,000 to a relative, charge at least the applicable federal interest rate (AFR). Be aware that interest on the loan will be taxable income to you. If no or below-AFR interest is charged, taxable interest is calculated under the complicated below-market-rate loan rules. In addition, all of the forgone interest over the term of the loan may have to be treated as a gift in the year the loan is made. This will increase your chances of having to use some of your lifetime exemption.
4. Use the annual gift tax exclusion. If you want to, say, help your daughter buy a house but don’t want to use up any of your lifetime gift and estate tax exemption, you can make the loan and charge interest and then forgive the interest, the principal payments or both each year under the annual gift tax exclusion. For 2020, you can forgive up to $15,000 per borrower ($30,000 if your spouse joins in the gift) without paying gift taxes or using any of your lifetime exemption. But you will still have interest income in the year of forgiveness.
Here is an example of how an intrafamily loan can save on taxes:
A $2 million interest-only loan is made from parent to child at an interest rate of 0.38%. If the loan proceeds are invested and grow at a rate of 5%, after repayment of interest and principal in year 5, the child is left with approximately $510,000 estate and gift tax-free. This arrangement also offers the flexibility to utilize the gift tax exemption at any time.
5. Forgive or file suit. If an intrafamily loan that you intended to collect is in default, don’t let it sit too long. To prove this was a legitimate loan that soured, you’ll need to take appropriate legal steps toward collection. If you know you’ll never collect and don’t want to file suit, begin forgiving the loan using the annual gift tax exclusion, if possible.
The unprecedented global pandemic and record unemployment has resulted in a dramatic drop in interest rates. Many people focus on the Fed rate and mortgage rates, and rightfully so, but for some, the focal point should be on the historically low IRS interest rates.
The IRS posts various interest rates, generally on a monthly basis. The Applicable Federal Rate (“AFR”) and the Internal Revenue Code Section 7520 Rate (“7520 Rate”) are among the most important. Many tax strategies are a function of calculations driven by the AFR and 7520 rates. Some strategies work best in high rate environments while other work best in low rate environments. Accordingly, any time the IRS rates dramatically rise or fall, we should take notice and consider tax planning.
The May 2020 IRS Rates include:
Short-Term AFR: 0.25%
Mid-Term AFR: 0.58%
Long-Term AFR: 1.15%
7520 Rate: 0.80%
These rates are exceptionally low. To provide some context for comparison, the May 2019 Rates were: Short-Term AFR 2.39%, Mid-Term AFR 2.37%, and Long Term AFR 2.74%. Viewing this from a historical perspective, the May 2019 rates were low in their own right, but clearly the rates today, just one year later, are materially lower.
The remainder of this paper outlines three strategies that work particularly well in low interest rate environments. Although we have elected to highlight three strategies specifically, low interest rate tax strategies are not limited to just these three. Accordingly, we encourage you to contact our office to discuss your specific set of circumstances.
A Charitable Lead Trust (“CLT”) is a split interest trust, meaning there are two categories of beneficiaries: (1) a current beneficiary and (2) a remainder beneficiary. The current beneficiary receives distributions from the CLT for a period of time (the “Term”) and must be a charitable organization, such as a public charity, a church, most schools and universities, and even a private foundation operated by the donor. The remainder beneficiary receives all the assets remaining in the CLT after the Term expires and is generally the donor or the donor’s children. Depending on the design of the CLT, the donor may receive an income tax deduction in the tax year the CLT is established in an amount equal to the present value of all payments that will go to charity during the CLT’s term. Accordingly, it can generate a substantial income tax deduction for gifts that have not yet gone to the charity. This gives the donor the ability to continue investing and growing the CLT assets, thereby ultimately benefiting the donor who will receive the assets back upon expiration of the CLT term.
Why CLTs during low interest rates?
The donor’s income tax deduction is a present-value calculation. We take the sum of all scheduled future charitable distributions and discount that number to present value using a calculation based on the 7520 Rate. The lower the 7520 Rate, the lower the discount. The lower the discount, the greater the deduction. Accordingly, in today’s environment, all other factors being exactly the same (i.e. same growth rate, same amount to charity, etc.), a CLT today will generate a significantly higher income tax deduction, than the same CLT when interest rates are higher.
Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (“GRATs”) are estate planning trusts that provide a tremendous opportunity to transfer wealth from one generation (“Generation 1”) to the next (“Generation 2”), often without incurring gift or estate taxes. GRATs are established with Generation 1 assets for a period of time (the “Term”). During the Term, the GRAT makes distributions to Generation 1. At the end of the Term, if designed properly, the assets remaining in the GRAT transfer to Generation 2 free of gift, estate, or transfer taxes. Many individuals will establish a series of GRATs in order to provide necessary lifetime cash flow to Generation 1.
Why GRATs during low interest rates?
Payments made from the GRAT to Generation 1 are based on the IRS rates. The donor makes the “bet” that the assets inside the GRAT will grow at a rate higher than the IRS rates. Lower rates mean a lower hurdle, a lower hurdle means more wealth can transfer to Generation 2 tax-free.
Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (“IDGTs”), are irrevocable estate planning trusts that are generally utilized by high net worth business owners and those with assets likely to significantly increase in value (such as stock and real estate). The IDGT will purchase the asset from the individual primarily in exchange for a promissory note (there are no income taxes due on the sale because the IDGT is disregarded for income tax purposes). The IDGT will make installment payments to the individual for the term of the promissory note. The assets in the IDGT are outside of the individual’s estate, therefore any growth in the asset from the time it is sold remains outside of the individual’s estate for estate tax purposes.
Why IDGTs during low interest rates?
Similar to any traditional lending arrangement, the IDGT promissory note must yield interest. Because this is a related-party transaction, the IRS mandates a certain minimum interest rate, which is based on the AFR. The lower the AFR, the lower the required monthly payments, and thus more taxable wealth remains outside of the Grantor’s estate.
Don’t let this exceptionally low interest rate environment get away. Please contact your Heritage financial advisor, CPA, or attorney to schedule a planning session.
This article has been edited by Hamilton Tharp LLP. This article originally appeared on the HWM newsletter.
As consumers become more conscious of their environmental footprint, and look for ways to save money, more and more electric vehicles can be seen on the roads today stretching from coast to coast. At this point, most taxpayers know or have heard of an electric vehicle tax credit program, but what they may not know is that there are specific conditions and limitations that must be met, and that some vehicles have actually phased out of the program. So, before you consider an electric vehicle for your next purchase, make sure it qualifies.
Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about the electric vehicle tax credit, how it works, and what qualifies.
The new car or truck must:
· Have at least four wheels and gross vehicle weight of less than 14,000 pounds
· Draw energy from a battery with at least 4 kWh hours and recharged from an external source
· Purchased after 2010 and begun driving in the year claiming the credit
· Be primarily used in the U.S.
Two or three-wheeled vehicles purchased in 2012 or 2013 and used within that year may qualify under section 30D(g) if they draw from a battery with at least 25 kWh and charged from an external source.
The tax credit for an electric vehicle can range from $2,500 to $7,500 depending on the vehicle with higher credit amounts for specific battery capacities and vehicle sizes. For two or three-wheeled vehicles, the credit is 10% of the purchase price up to $2,500.
The non-refundable tax credit is filed on your federal tax return (for individuals on your 1040), and your liability determines how much credit you qualify for. The non-refundable caveat means that in order to receive the full $7,500 credit, your tax liability must be at least that much. If your liability is only $3,000, you’ll only receive $3,000. You won’t receive the difference in a refund check.
Unfortunately, the answer is no to both of those circumstances. The credit only applies to the new purchase and the person who actually owns it. Used vehicle purchases, even transfers to family members don’t qualify, and if you lease, the credit actually goes to the manufacturer
offering the lease. Some manufacturer dealers offer lower prices on leased electric vehicles as a result of the incentive, but are not forced to do so.
As sales of electric vehicles increase, the tax credit will phase out. Once a manufacturer reaches 200,000 qualified vehicles, the credit begins to phase out with a step-down process over the course of a year. No tax credits are available for Tesla vehicles sold after Dec. 31, 2019, as they hit their mark in July 2018, and no credits are available for GM vehicles after March 31, 2020, as they hit their mark as well. You can see a list of the vehicles available for credits at fueleconomy.gov.
Some states and regions do offer tax credits for electric vehicles and alternative-fuel vehicles, but these often apply to businesses. Individuals may receive incentives such as carpool lane access or free parking. Some states offer rebates for retail buyers. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a chart of state incentives.
For Californians, a $2,000 or $1,000 rebate is available depending on which type of electric car you purchase. Fully electric cards usually receive the higher rebate with hybrids on the lower end. Hydrogen fuel vehicles are eligible for a $4,500 rebate in California. These rebates are in addition to the federal tax credit and can reduce the out of pocket cost for a car by close to $10,000. You can learn more about California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project on their website.
For assistance with the electric vehicle tax credit and determining any extra state or local incentives, reach out to us.
Employers can now defer payroll tax withholding on employee compensation for the last four months of 2020 and then withhold the deferred amounts in the first four months of 2021, confirms a recent update from the IRS. President Trump’s memorandum on Aug. 8 gave employers the ability to defer payroll taxes for employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to provide financial relief.
The guidance directs that employers can defer the withholding, deposit, and payment of the employee portion of the old-age, survivors, and disability insurance (OASDI) tax under Sec. 3102(a) and Railroad Retirement Act Tier 1 under Sec. 3201 from employee wages from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020.
Employers must then withhold and pay the deferred taxes from wages and compensation during the period from Jan. 1, 2021, and April 30, 2021, with interest, penalties, and additions to tax to begin accruing starting May 1, 2021. Included in the notice is a line that indicates, if necessary, employers can “make arrangements to otherwise collect the total Applicable Taxes from the employee,” such as if an employee leaves the company before the end of April 2021, but does not provide details on what that entails.
Employees with pretax wages or compensation during any biweekly pay period totally less than $4,000 qualify for the deferral. Amounts normally excluded from wages or compensation under Secs. 3121(a) or 3231(e) are not included in calculating the applicable wages. The determination of applicable wages should be made on a period-by-period basis.
Companies may choose whether or not to enact the payroll tax deferral. We are closely monitoring updates related this and other presidential executive orders and will communicate if more information becomes available. For questions or assistance with this payroll tax deferral, contact us.
In an effort to help businesses cope with the impact of COVID-19, the CARES Act passed by Congress in March of this year eliminated some of the restrictions on the business interest deduction set in place in 2017 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Now, the IRS has released much-needed guidance and final regulations for business interest expense deductions.
Limiting the business interest deduction was originally a way of helping pay for the TCJA and began with tax years starting after Dec. 31, 2017. The deduction was limited to the sum of:
The final regulations state that the deduction does not apply to:
Taxpayers must use Form 8990 to calculate and report their deduction and the carry-forward amount of disallowed business interest expense.
Additional regulations released by the IRS cleared up some of the remaining questions including issues related to the CARES Act. These additional regulations can be used with limitations until the final regulations are published in the Federal Register.
Additionally, a safe harbor was created in Notice 2020-59 that allows taxpayers engaged in a trade or a business managing or operating qualified residential living facilities to treat that as a real property trade or businesses in order to qualify as an electing real property trade or business.
Reach out for assistance with understanding and reporting your business interest expense.
Economic downturns are an almost inevitable reality for nearly every business owner. Decisions made far away from your community, catastrophic and unpredictable weather events, and even global pandemics as we’ve seen this year can disrupt the health and viability of a business. During these challenging times, business owners have to make difficult decisions about the future of their business that not only affect them but also their employees, vendors, clients, and communities. It’s an enormous responsibility to bear, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Your CPA advisor is your best resource for tackling the challenges of an economic downturn. As an outside party, they can help you make smart business decisions that protect your vision and mission while remaining financially responsible. Your CPA can help you:
Optimize your books
Never underestimate the power of good bookkeeping. By keeping your books in order, your CPA can help you plan and project for the future at each stage of an economic downturn. This includes planning for temporary closures and tiered re-openings (and potentially a back-and-forth of both depending on the state of the country and market). When your books are clean and up to date, you can better project how events and decisions will impact your finances on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Your CPA can help you flex the numbers on fixed and variable expenses to account for increases in costs, decreases in income, and potential changes to payroll. Knowing your numbers intimately can help you make better-informed decisions.
Minimize your tax burden
During times of economic crisis, staying abreast of new and changing tax legislation will be essential to projecting tax burden and uncovering tax savings opportunities. Your CPA is the best person to handle this because they know your business and your industry inside and out and can help you uncover tax savings opportunities that are unique to your circumstances. They do all the research, and you reap the rewards. With a CPA’s assistance, you achieve deductions and credits you may not have realized were available and develop a plan to defer costs where allowed depending on your business, industry, and location. Taxes are not an area you should or need to face alone during an economic downturn. Your CPA has done the homework, so you don’t have to.
Rationalize your decision making
When markets are in flux and your business is facing unprecedented challenges, the decisions you make can make or break your business. But you don’t have to go it alone. Your accountant can help you make data-informed decisions whether that be how to pay vendors, when and how to apply lines of credit, and the best ways to use your capital. Negotiating contracts with vendors that meet your needs and theirs during a downturn will not only achieve cost savings but also preserve relationships – your CPA can help develop a plan that makes sense. Knowing when to engage lines of credit can help you make better moves that you can either afford to pay back later, or maybe prevent you from taking on credit you can’t handle – your CPA can guide you in this process. Knowing where to allocate capital will be key to maintaining operations, and you may need guidance on what expenses to cut and what to keep such as marketing and payroll – your CPA can help you project the ramifications. With your CPA by your side, you don’t have to operate in a silo of decision-making.
Maximize your sense of relief
Most of all, your CPA can provide perspective, alleviate business back-end burden, and help advise you on financially feasible and sound decisions when much of the world feels like it’s in chaos. You have a lot to focus on during a downturn including how to handle your customers and employees in a changing marketplace. Having someone who can help you stay fiscally viable as you work through tough times, and develop a plan for future success, provides a welcome peace of mind.
You don’t have to go through any economic downturn alone. Your CPA can help you shoulder the challenges and weather the storms so you can continue doing what you do best – running your business.
In the midst of the uncertainty and instability that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for businesses and individuals, some relief is available for taxpayers in the form of deductible losses thanks to the preexisting Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 165(i). While the CARES Act and FFCRA have received much of the attention, taxpayers may also find relief thanks to Section 165(i) which allows for losses sustained as a result of the pandemic in 2020 to be claimed on the taxpayer’s 2019 tax return.
This deduction is triggered by a federally declared disaster, like the pandemic which was declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020. In the case of this deduction, losses attributed to federally declared disasters can be deducted on the previous year’s return. While not often used, this deduction comes at the right time for businesses struggling during the pandemic.
In order to claim the Section 165(i) deduction, losses must:
While some taxpayers will fit into this deduction, the rules and procedures are complex.
Examples of deductible losses as a result of COVID-19 vary from costs related to running your business during a pandemic like investments in personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies and services, to the closure of stores and facilities and disposal of unsaleable inventory. Other eligible costs include certain termination payments, losses from property sales or exchanges, abandonment of leasehold improvements, and nonrefundable event payments, to name a few.
To make the Section 165(i) election, taxpayers must include Form 4684, “Casualties and Thefts,” with their return within six months from the due date for filing the taxpayer’s federal income tax return for the disaster year.
We can assist you with identifying your deductible expenses and following the complex rules and procedures for making this election. Reach out for assistance.
With personal income tax representing 61% of California’s total general fund revenue sources, it is no surprise that the California Franchise Tax Board in the last few years has become more aggressive in its enforcement and interpretation of California residency law, using residency audits to do so.
What is California Residency Audit?
According to California’s residency laws, residents must pay state tax on their worldwide income, no matter the source of the income. Meanwhile, part-year residents are only required to pay taxes on income received while a resident of the state. Therefore, a person’s “residence” under California law is the key to understanding their state income tax liability. For this reason, the FTB conducts residency audits that will determine a person’s residency.
The 3 Types of “Residency” According to California Residence Law
When the FTB conducts a residency audit, the outcomes are generally broken down into three different categories. These are resident, nonresident, or part-year resident. The audit is simply meant to help determine which category taxpayers fall into.
According to California residency is defined as an individual who is in the state for anything else other than a temporary or transitory purpose or domiciled in California but physically outside the state for a temporary or transitory purpose. While the above definition might seem very straightforward, in reality the law is broadly written and leaves room for interpretation. As a result, if the FTB says you are a state resident, the burden now lies with you to prove them wrong.
How the FTB Determines Residency Status
California residency law defines the class of persons that are expected to contribute tax revenue to the state. California’s Revenue and Tax Code (R&TC) § 17014 includes every person in the state of California except for those in California for “a temporary or transitory purpose.”
It is important to note that this definition of residency is very broad, and includes everyone currently in the state except for those remaining in the state for a temporary or transitory purpose. It also includes those people domiciled in the state of California but currently outside the state for a temporary or transitory purpose.
Much of the residency determination depends upon the definition of “a temporary or transitory purpose.” California Code of Regulations (CCR) § 17014(b) defines in great detail what “temporary or transitory purpose” means. It states that those domiciled in the state who leave for a short period of time for both business and pleasure are outside the state for “a temporary or transitory purpose,” and as such are to be taxed as California residents.
Those domiciled outside the state, but staying within the state for business, medical or retirement purposes that are long-term and indefinite in time will not be considered in the state for “a temporary or transitory purpose,” and will be subject to the state tax.
Nothing is more important than the health and safety of you and your loved ones as you deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus crisis has had a wide-reaching effect on just about every aspect of our lives. We’ve all been asked to adjust our daily routines. Unfortunately, our health and wellbeing aren’t the only things of which we need to be concerned. The sudden downward shift in our economy has had a devastating effect on employment. The U.S. is currently experiencing a jobless rate unseen since the Great Depression. If you, or someone close to you, lost a job as a result of the economic shutdown caused by COVID-19, we’re sure you’ve got questions. In this article, we’ll address some of those questions, particularly with respect to unemployment benefits.
In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. The CARES Act expands the states’ ability to provide Unemployment Insurance (UI) to those affected by COVID-19. You may be eligible for UI if you are unemployed through no fault of your own, meet certain work and wage requirements, and satisfy any additional state requirements. Under the new law, even self-employed individuals and independent contractors may qualify.
Normally, UI benefits are available for up to 26 weeks. The CARES Act allows states to extend that coverage up to 13 additional weeks. To help provide a little more support, states also are able to increase UI benefits by $600 per week. These extended benefits are available through 12/31/20.
UI benefits are administered at the state level, so each state sets its own eligibility guidelines. To find state-specific information regarding eligibility, benefits, and applications, go to: www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/Find-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx
One very important thing to remember is that UI benefits are taxable income. In order to avoid an unexpected tax bill next April, you may need to make estimated tax payments or have federal income tax withheld from your UI payments. You’ll need to complete Form W-4V to have tax withheld. We can help you determine the best course of action.
Note: By 1/31/21, you should receive Form 1099-G from your state showing the amount of taxable UI benefits paid in 2020. This form will help us prepare your 2020 Form 1040.
Obviously, this information barely scratches the surface of unemployment benefits and how to best handle your exact situation. These are challenging times, to say the least. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being unemployed right now, please know we are here for you. If you’d like to discuss this issue further, please give us a call. We’d love the opportunity to speak with you over the phone, via an online meeting, or in-person if you are comfortable doing so. We can address this issue or anything else you want to discuss. We are here to help!
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into many employer-sponsored health, flexible health, and dependent care plans as employees are seeing increased or decreased need, depending on the impact of the pandemic on their families. In response, the IRS is granting employees the ability to make midyear changes to some employer-sponsored health coverage, health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs), and dependent care assistance programs under Notice 2020-29.
Normally, changes are only allowed at the beginning of the plan year or from a qualifying event like marriage, childbirth, or a drastic change in plan cost. Now, employees can make the following changes according to the notice:
The notice also extends grace periods and carry-overs through year-end. Employees can cover medical expenses incurred through December 31, 2020, using unused funds in health FSAs, and dependent care expenses can be covered for the same period using dependent care assistance funds. Unused FSA or childcare funds as of the end of plan year or grace period may be applied to reimburse medical or dependent care expenses. Additionally, Notice 2020-33 increased the $500 carry-over amount allowed in most plans to $550.
Unlike other changes to employer-related programs and benefits in the FFCRA and CARES Act, employers may make these changes at their discretion, though the IRS encourages implementing them.
Employees should note these changes cannot be applied retroactively, however the notice did clarify that reimbursements for telehealth services for high deductible health plans may be applied retroactively to January 1, 2020.
The CARES Act allows employers to delay the payment of the employer’s share of Social Security payroll tax, which is 6.2% of wages up to the annual wage base ($137,700 in 2020). The deferral also applies to 50% of the equivalent taxes incurred by self-employed persons. This only applies to taxes incurred from March 27, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Employers who opt to delay payment would need to deposit half of that delayed amount by December 31, 2021, and the other half by December 31, 2022. This payment deferral does not apply to the employee’s share of Social Security tax, the employee or employer’s share of Medicare tax, or to the Additional Medicare tax imposed on employees with Medicare wages in excess of $200K.
In addition, filing deadlines for reporting the employee and employer portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes have not been delayed by the Act.
Please note, an employer is ineligible for this payment deferral if it acquires a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, for which all or part of the loan was or will be forgiven.
A reminder that your California property tax is due April 10, 2020. The penalty is a flat 10%. Most counties in California allow property owners to pay property taxes online. Please refer to your previous property tax invoices for further instruction or go to your county treasurer-tax collector website for Property Tax Payments.
For those property tax owners with property in San Diego, please click on the link to be redirected to the San Diego County Tax Collector. PAY HERE
For San Diego property tax payers who will be unable to pay their 2nd installment by the April 10, 2020 deadline due to COVID-19 related issues, the San Diego County Treasurer has recently released a penalty cancellation request. Each request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and requires documentation of how COVID-19 impacted the ability to pay by the deadline. The waiver is to be submitted with payment when the property owner is able to pay. Online application can be found at – https://www.sdttc.com/content/ttc/en/about-us/news/2020-coronavirus-response.html
Most other counties are offering possible late payment options, please check with your specific county tax collector where the property is located.
On Friday March 20, it was announced by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that Tax Day has been postponed from April 15 to July 15 to coincide with the delayed tax payment deadline at the direction of President Trump.
All taxpayers and businesses will have until July 15 to file and make payments without interest or penalties. Taxpayers expecting refunds are still encouraged to file as soon as possible to ensure a timely and maximum refund.
We are awaiting further guidance from the IRS and will keep you informed as this and other legislation continues to unfold over the coming weeks. Please call us if you have questions or concerns.
The April 15 tax payment deadline for individuals and corporations has been extended 90 days in an effort to provide relief by the U.S. government in the wake of COVID-19 for related business closures and self-isolation requests across the country. While tax payments are postponed, the filing deadline remains April 15. Six-month extensions to file can still be requested.
The extension to pay is capped and limited only to Federal income taxes due on April 15, 2020. Individuals, regardless of filing status, who owe $1 million or less and corporations that owe $10 million or less (Applicable Postponed Payment Amount) are eligible for the extended payment deadline. The thresholds cover many pass-through and small businesses. Interest, penalties and additions to tax related to the postponed payments will not begin until July 16, 2020. If an individual or corporation owes in excess of the amounts above, the excess amount of tax is due and penalties, interest and additions can be assessed to amounts above the Applicable Postponed Payment Amount.
Additionally, the IRS clarified that first quarter estimated tax payments due April 15, 2020, for the 2020 taxable year are postponed. However, second quarter payments are still due June 15. The 2019 Applicable Postponed Payment Amount includes both 2019 federal income tax due April 15, 2020 and first quarter 2020 estimated tax payments due April 15, 2020. If the combined amount exceeds the $1 million or $10 million thresholds, the excess amount must be paid.
States are preparing their own responses to this news as they consider their own tax revenues in light of the economic changes from the virus. This federal relief is granted under IRC §7508A, which California conforms to. As a result, we believe California conforms to the July 15 payment extension. We have reached out to the FTB for confirmation. Some states are concerned that, with the federal filing deadline potentially in question, those with July fiscal years will have a challenge with revenue projections and budget estimates.
Not extending the filing deadline has raised some concerns in the CPA profession for clients who are elderly and confined to care facilities and cannot easily complete their returns. We are closely monitoring the situation and await further guidance and clarification from the IRS. We will keep you apprised of any changes that impact you or our services.
The rate of tax returns filed as of March 6, 2020, was less than half of the number expected in a typical year suggesting that relief was needed for millions of Americans. While taxpayers who expect to receive refunds typically file early, those expecting to pay often wait until closer to the April 15 deadline. Those individuals and businesses with cash flow concerns will benefit most from the delay. Please contact our office for any questions on your eligibility to extend your tax payment
When the Tax Cut and Jobs Act went into effect in January 2018, many taxpayers stopped itemizing their returns. The reality, however, is that unique tax situations require a unique approach, and there may be some room for improvement in yours. Now that 2020 is in full focus, it is a great time to look at your giving strategy. If you are not sure you made the most of your charitable deductions in 2019, consider these incentives when setting your charitable contribution plan in 2020.
Although taxpayers that fall just below the standard threshold no longer need to itemize, those who hover around a higher tax bracket or well-exceed the standard deduction threshold should consider their situation with a professional to determine if they could benefit from a better plan. Consider the following incentives,
Deciding which charity to support in 2020?
The key to making your donations count is ensuring the organization you choose is an eligible charity. The Tax-Exempt Organization Search engine and the Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help you choose organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
If you’re worried that making a large gift this year will harm your estate after 2025, you can rest assured. In November 2019, the Treasury Department and IRS issued final regulations confirming that taxpayers who make significant contributions between 2018 and 2025 can take advantage of the increased gift and estate tax exclusion amounts without concern over losing the benefit in 2026 and beyond.
The professionals in our office are well-versed in charitable contribution strategies, call us today to discuss how to make sure your donations count in 2020.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently debuted a new Form W-4 to the public. The new design aims to simplify the withholding system, replacing complicated worksheets with questions designed for the layman. The hope is that the form will help employees report more accurate amounts, allowing the IRS a better assessment of taxes paid.
One thing you might notice on the new Form is the absence of the word, allowance. The title of Form W-4 is now the Employee’s Withholding Certificate.
To help further your understanding of the redesign and its impact on employers, we have provided clarification around frequently asked questions regarding Form W-4 below.
As a reminder, the new forms go into effect in tax year 2020. Additional guidance is expected regarding payroll calculations needed based on the data fields on the new and old forms, as well as guidance surrounding employees that fail to submit a Form W-4 after 2019. If you have any questions about the new form, please give the professionals in our office a call today.
View the new Form W-4.
Many small business owners approach tax season with a can-do attitude. This entrepreneurial spirit is admirable, but when it comes to compliance, it is usually best to leave tax preparation to the experts. Being aware of common mistakes, like failing to comply with tax laws, violating tax codes, or incorrectly filling out forms, will help you avoid errors and unnecessary stress.
Underpayment of Estimated Tax
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires businesses to make estimated federal income tax payments to account for the tax not recouped through a standard paycheck. Depending on how much you owe and your business type, you will need to make payments based on the amount of income you made from the business during the year and the amount of self-employment tax you owe based on that income. Failure to make the appropriate payment will incur accuracy-related penalties. Furthermore, business owners that do not substantiate their tax position or prove reasonable cause for their position will also incur a negligence penalty.
Employment Tax Deposits
What happens when a business owner yields their responsibility to meet employment tax obligations in favor of meeting payroll, debts of nonpayment, or trade obligations? Though it may not seem as important as other financial obligations, failure to comply with employment tax obligations will result in substantial penalties and possible criminal prosecution.
Reporting your total payroll tax liability and determining your payroll deposit schedule depends on running the right report. A good payroll software or outsourced payroll company can help you manage withhold employment taxes and ensure the electronic fund transfers are accurate and timely.
The IRS is a stickler for accurate and on-time payment. The latter is almost a rite of passage for many business owners that need more time to produce a precise return or take advantage of all their deductions. While it is ideal to file your return by the IRS due date when you have all the information, there are many instances that prevent this. Late payments are acceptable so long as the IRS knows it will receive payment via an extension. The critical difference between a late filer and a negligent filer is their intention. Business owners that need to file their taxes after the April deadline should make an extension request with Form 4868 by the tax filing deadline. If you forget to submit the request, you will incur a penalty of 5% of the amount due for every month or partial months your return is late.
Keep in mind that with your tax extension also comes another deadline. If you fail to make the payment again, you will incur the 5% penalty above. And finally, when you pay later, you pay more. Even with the extension, the IRS will collect interest on any amount outstanding after the April deadline. In addition to this interest payment, you may also pay a late-payment penalty of 0.5% per month of the late unpaid tax. If you want to minimize your total bill, consider paying at least 90% of your tax liability when you request the extension. We can help make the right decision around extending versus filing. If you have questions about which is best for you, please contact us.
Failing to Separate Business from Personal Expenses
This step is the year-long headache that reaches maximum tension at tax-time. In an effort to simplify, many business owners will use one credit card, thus making it difficult to distinguish legitimate business expenses from personal ones. Overlooking this critical step results in more than just tax errors. The time an owner needs to spend categorizing expenses is quite costly to the business, and inaccurate financial information will result in inaccurate financial statements. It may feel like it’s too late, but it is never too late. Start categorizing your aging personal and business expenses and take the proper steps to begin tracking them better in 2020.
Working with a reputable tax preparer year-round can mitigate a lot of the stress that comes with tax preparation. If you need assistance or would like to talk to one of the professionals in our firm, give us a call today.
The Internal Revenue Service recently issued the 2020 optional standard mileage rates to be used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.
As of January 1, 2020, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) are:
It is important to remember that a taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle.
Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle, rather than using the standard mileage rates. For more information, please contact one of our professionals today.
The United States saw some of the most sweeping changes in December 2017 with the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Many of the amendments to the Internal Revenue Code are temporary in nature, set to expire at the end of 2025. For example, the basic exclusion amount (BEA), which doubled from $5 million to $10 million prior to being adjusted for inflation, will return to pre-2018 levels when the TCJA is set to expire. One major concern, raised by public comments, is what will happen to individuals taking advantage of the increased gift and estate tax exclusion amounts when the exclusion amounts drop to pre-2018 levels? Will they be adversely impacted?
For example, what would happen if a taxpayer chose to gift their entire $11.4 million (adjusted for inflation) lifetime exclusion amount during the TCJA? Rather than using up their basic exclusion amount at their time of death, a taxpayer may choose to use their basic exclusion amount during their lifetime by making large gifts. Any unused portion would be used to offset or possibly eliminate estate taxes when a taxpayer perishes.
Those concerns were laid to rest last month when the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations confirming that individuals who plan to take advantage of the TCJA-increased basic exclusion amount will not be adversely impacted after 2025 when the exclusion amount is scheduled to drop to pre-2018 levels. The final regulations also provide a special rule that allows the estate to compute its estate tax credit using the higher of the BEA applicable to gifts made during life or the BEA applicable on the date of death.
For 2019, the inflation-adjusted BEA is $11.4 million. If you are considering making a large gift within the next few years it is important to understand how these changes will impact your personal or business operations. The professionals in our office can answer your questions, call us today!
On September 24, 2019, the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2019-38 finalizing safe harbor allowance of rental real estate for the purpose of Section 199A deduction. If all the safe harbor requirements are met, a rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a trade or business and the related rental income will be eligible for the 20% Section 199A deduction, subject to possible limitations.
The Revenue Procedure clarified that the following requirements must all be met by taxpayers or relevant passthrough entities to qualify for safe harbor –
Rental services that count toward the 250 hour requirement include:
Activities that do not qualify as rental services include:
If you have questions about the safe harbor requirements, call us today.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of the Treasury (DOT), Employee Benefits Security Administration (ESA), and Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) recently issued a final ruling on the use of employer-funded health accounts. Effective January 1, 2020, employers of all sizes that do not offer a group coverage plan may use HRAs as a vehicle to help employees pay for health insurance premiums. This ruling extends beyond the current scope of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), which allows businesses to offer employer-funded accounts for employees to apply to out-of-pocket medical expenses and now allows employees to pay for insurance premiums.
The new ruling is expected to affect more than 800,000 employers and 11 million employees, making it a far-reaching update to the current system. Under the guidance, employers may offer two new types of HRAs:
To assist employers, the DOL issued this Individual Coverage HRA Model Notice: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/rules-and-regulations/completed-rulemaking/1210-AB87/individual-coverage-model-notice.pdf .
This notice is not exhaustive. If you would like more information on how your business might benefit from an ICHRA, give the professionals in our office a call. We can go over your options and determine if you satisfy the ACA’s affordability and minimum value requirements.
Whether you are an individual taxpayer or a small business owner, understanding your eligibility for tax credits is an essential facet of income tax planning. Unlike deductions, which only reduce taxes owed by the product of the amount of your deductions multiplied by your marginal tax rate, tax credits provide dollar-for-dollar tax reduction. The following post addresses key tax provisions and tax minimizing strategies to keep on your radar during year-end tax planning for 2019.
Individual Tax Credits
The Child Tax Credit
Thanks to the increase in phaseout thresholds made by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, many taxpayers can look forward to another year of the child tax credit. The child tax credit, which is $2,000 for every eligible child, is available to parents and guardians of children under 17 whose household falls within specified income brackets. In addition, up to $1,400 of the credit amount is refundable. This means that certain taxpayers can claim the credit even after their tax bill is reduced to zero. Households that include dependents over the age of 17 or for children you care for or whose support you provide may be eligible for a nonrefundable $500 family credit. The child tax credit may be taken by taxpayers who claim the qualifying child as a dependent and is fully phased out when the adjusted gross income of a taxpayer reaches the amounts listed below. For this reason, separated or divorced parents should plan for which parent can claim the dependency exemption for an eligible child.
Educational Tax Credits
For taxpayers enrolled in an
undergraduate program, the American Opportunity tax credit pays 100% of
eligible tuition and required fees up to $2,000, plus 25% of the next $2,000,
bringing the full tax credit to $2,500 per year. Partial tax credits are
available to those that fall outside the income threshold. Likewise, the Lifetime Learning tax credit
offers students of graduate programs, vocational schools, and other
nontraditional programs a 20% tax credit on up to $10,000 in qualified
These credits are phased out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes in excess of the above amounts. The number of years the lifetime learning credit may be claimed is not limited.
Retirement Savings Contribution Credit
This little-known tax credit is designed to stimulate private saving for retirement. Depending on filing status and AGI, qualifying taxpayers could be looking at as much as 10%, 20%, or 50%, or as much as $2,000, of your qualified retirement contributions per tax year. Contributions to a Roth/SIMPLE IRA, 401(k), Thrift Savings, SARSEP, 501(c)(18) or governmental 457(b) plans, as well as any voluntary after-tax employee contributions to your qualified retirement, 403(b) plans and ABLE accounts are eligible as long as you are the designated beneficiary.
Business Tax Credits
While businesses cannot feasibly have children, go back to school, or invest in retirement accounts, they do pay taxes. Business owners that want to go beyond deductions to reduce their taxes can claim tax credits. General business tax credits directly decrease taxes but are typically non-refundable, meaning, they can only lower your tax bill to zero. Below we have highlighted some of the most common General Business Tax Credits.
The Rehabilitation, Energy, and Reforestation Investment Credit covers 10% of your expenditures, capped at $10,000 per year. These credits are available to qualified businesses that spent money renovating an old building, restocking existing forest and woodlands, or investing in alternative energy sources. Companies that either use or sell biodiesel, biofuel, or low sulfur diesel can claim Alternative Fuel Credits.
If your business purchased and used a qualified plug-in electric vehicle or a vehicle that runs on alternative fuel, you could claim one or both vehicle credits. The Qualified Plug-in Electric and Electric Vehicle Credit is worth up to $7,500, while the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit is worth up to $8,000. This credit is scheduled to phase out after manufacturers sell 60,000 qualifying vehicles. If you want to take advantage of this credit, keep in mind that this credit must be taken last and is subject to availability.
If you installed solar energy systems in your home or second residence, you may qualify for the Federal Energy Star Program which offers a credit equal to 30 percent of the total equipment cost. There are several implications to consider before taking this credit:
Improvement Tax Credits
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal, employment-based tax credit that is available to employers who hire individuals to begin work before January 1, 2020, from select target groups that might otherwise go untapped. For employees that face significant barriers to employment and work at least 120 hours in a year, businesses can claim 25% of the employee’s first-year wages, up to the maximum credit ($9,000 over two years). For employees who work at least 400 hours in a year, that percentage goes up to 40% of the employee’s first-year wages, up to the maximum credit.
The Empowerment Zone and Renewal Community Employment Credit nets businesses a credit of up to $3,000 for each full or part-time employee who lives and works in an Empowerment Zone. The credit is capped at 20% of the first $15,000 in wages.
Human Resource Tax Credits
The Small Employer Pension Plan Startup Costs Credit is worth up to $500, or 50% of your startup costs incurred to establish or administer an eligible plan or to educate employees about retirement planning. You can claim this credit for the first three years of your plan. Qualified businesses include those that employ fewer than 100 employees that received more than $5,000 in compensation; have not had a 401(k) plan for at least three years, and seriously intend to start a pension plan for employees.
The Family Leave Act Tax Credit expires in 2020, so businesses that want to take advantage of this incentive need to act soon. To qualify, a business that voluntarily offers up to twelve weeks of paid family leave each year to qualifying employees under a written policy may claim a partial tax credit toward wages paid during their leave. As defined, this paid leave goes beyond standard time off (vacation, sick time, other paid time off) and only applies to employees making less than $72,000. Employer eligibility is dependent on several factors. For instance, to receive the credit, the employer must offer at least two weeks of paid family leave each year to qualifying employee, and they must pay out at least 50% of typical wages. To those that do meet the requirements, the government will credit the benefit costs on a sliding scale, starting 12.5%.
Businesses should note that the credit does not apply if paid leave is mandated by state or local law. A qualified employer must claim this credit unless an election out is made. An employer’s deduction for wages and salaries is reduced by the amount of this credit that is claimed.
Research and Development Tax Credit
Businesses that engage in research to either improve a product or their business performance may be eligible for the federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit. This credit allows businesses to take a credit of up to 13 percent of Contract Research Expenses for new and improved products and processes, including payroll. Qualified research must meet specific criteria and must satisfy three tests. (This is an excellent great option for owners looking to advance technology in their businesses.)
Tax credits are a fantastic way to save money, but they are neither easy to track nor simple to disseminate. All of these credits come with limits and qualifications that you must meet to receive the credit.
To find out if you qualify for these individual or business tax credits, contact one of the professionals in our office. We would love the opportunity to help you understand your tax credit eligibility as you prepare for the upcoming tax season.
The Taxpayer First Act (the Act) of 2019 was signed into law on July 1, 2019. The bill, having gone through a few changes on its way to the president’s desk, passed with bipartisan support – a rare thing in Washington these days. The law aims to reform the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by making it more taxpayer-friendly and has been praised by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The summary of the bill, its titles and subtitles signal a much-needed pivot to the way the IRS fits into the 21st-century economic narrative. Among the areas of impact, the main themes include customer service, enforcement procedures, cybersecurity and identity protection, management of information technology, and use of electronic systems. While the following table is not exhaustive, it does highlight the key points of reform.
|Customer Service||The IRS will adopt best practices of private sector customer service providers, starting with a comprehensive training plan. They will officially benchmark and track their endeavors and be responsible for measuring their success.|
|IdentiTy Theft Protection||The IRS is required to work behind the scenes and take their position front and center to assure greater identity protection. By 2024, any taxpayer will be able to request a personal identification number (PIN) to use when filing their tax return. The IRS is also legally bound to notify taxpayers of suspected fraud and point them in the right direction for next steps. Finally, if a taxpayer’s return is adversely affected by identity theft, the IRS must provide a single point of contact to track the case and resolve the issue.|
|Card Payments||Now, taxpayers can skip the third-party service when paying their bill. The new law allows the IRS to accept direct payment as long as the taxpayer agrees to pay the processing fees. The IRS is also tasked with securing contracts with minimal fees.|
|Information Protection||The Act locks down taxpayer information as it relates to contractors, such as outside attorneys, when it is obtained by summons. Furthermore, by 2023, disclosures of tax information for third party income verification must be fully automated and accomplished in real-time.|
|Independent Review||Tax disputes will get a second look under the Act. Taxpayers with a legitimate claim now have legal access to an independent appeals process. The IRS is also required to provide written notice of denial to the taxpayer and Congress and turn over its case files to qualified individual and business taxpayers.|
|Audit Notice||The IRS loves the word “reasonable.” When it comes to audit inquiries, the ambiguity of the term has now come to an end. The Act demands a 45-day notice requirement before contact with a third party can be made.|
|Internet Filing||The IRS has been tasked with creating a secure online user interface that allows taxpayers to prepare and file Forms 1099 electronically. The platform, which must be established by 2023, will also keep a historical record of submitted forms.|
|Seizure limitations||Small business owners that structure their bank deposits can rest a little easier. Legal deposits that fall below the $10,000 threshold are no longer subject to the threat of IRS seizure.|
|Consent||The Act prohibits consent-based disclosures from being used for purposes other than their original intent.|
The Taxpayer First Act is a welcome change. The Act helps protect business owners from IRS seizures and allows them to avoid the expenses and time-consuming process of having to go through the courts to reclaim their assets. Perhaps the most critical component of the new law is the attention to cybersecurity and customer service. Small business owners will still need to interact with the IRS, but if the law accomplishes its goal, the process will be easier and safer.
How will this law impact my payroll compliance?
It is important to note that several of the Taxpayer First Act provisions will directly influence your company’s payroll operations.
If you have questions about the law in its entirety or want to know how this legislation will impact your company’s payroll operation compliance, give the professionals in our office a call today.
For a chart which shows which meals and entertainment are deductible, please click here.
In a Technical Advice Memorandum, the IRS evaluated whether meals and snacks that the taxpayer provided to employees at its headquarters were includible in the employees’ wages. The taxpayer provided:
(1) meals without charge to all employees, contractors, and visitors, without distinction as to the employee’s position, specific job duties, ongoing responsibilities, or other external circumstances; and
(2) unlimited snacks and drinks in designated snack areas that were available to employees, contractors, and escorted guests.
The IRS ruled that generally the value of meals the taxpayer provided to its employees was includible in the employees’ wages because the taxpayer failed to show that the meals were provided for substantial business reasons or for the employer’s convenience. However, it ruled that meals provided to employees on call to handle emergency outages were for a substantial business reason and were therefore excludable from income.
The IRS also concluded that the snacks the taxpayer provided in its designated snack areas were outside of the scope of Sec. 119 because they were not meals prepared for consumption at a meal time, and because quantifying the value of snacks consumed by each employee was administratively impractical, they were excludable from employees’ gross income as a de minimis fringe benefit.
Summertime is a time of year when people rent out their property. In addition to the standard clean up and maintenance, owners need to be aware of the tax implications of residential and vacation home rentals.
Receiving money for the use of a dwelling also used as a taxpayer’s personal residence generally requires reporting the rental income on a tax return. It also means certain expenses become deductible to reduce the total amount of rental income that’s subject to tax.
Here are some basic tax tips that you should be aware of if you rent out a vacation or residential home:
Please contact us if you have any questions regarding vocational rentals.
The Internal Revenue Service recently revised the depreciation limits for business-use passenger vehicles first placed in service during calendar year 2019 and the amounts of income inclusion for lessees of passenger automobiles first leased in 2019. The updated amounts under Revenue Procedure 2019-26 are in table format below.
For passenger automobiles to which the Sec. 168(k) additional (bonus) first-year depreciation deduction applies and that were, and placed in service during calendar year 2019, the depreciation limits are as follows:
Passenger Automobiles (includes trucks and vans)
acquired before September 28, 2017 acquired after September 27, 2017
1st tax year $14,900 1st tax year $18,100
2nd tax year $16,100 2nd tax year $16,100
3rd tax year $9,700 3rd tax year $9,700
Each succeeding tax year $5,760 Each succeeding tax year $5,760
When no Sec. 168(k) additional (bonus) depreciation rules apply, the first-year limitation is $10,100 for the first year. In this case, limitations for subsequent years remain the same. The professionals in our office can answer the questions you may have on the updated auto depreciation limits, call on us today.
The Internal Revenue Service recently unveiled a draft version of Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. The revised form is in response to changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and aims to provide simplicity, accuracy and privacy for employees while minimizing burden for employers and payroll processors. It is open for review and feedback until July 1, 2019.
We want to remind our clients that this is only a draft and the new form will not be used until 2020. However, we are closely following this and will continue to provide updates. Below is a high-level summary of what we know so far.
What’s being proposed? The new form will account for:
The final draft is expected to be released mid-to-late July. We will continue to monitor changes to Form W-4 and keep you abreast. In the meantime, we encourage taxpayers to make sure they have the right amount of tax taken out of their paychecks and thus avoid a larger tax bill next year. Taxpayers with major life changes, including marriage or a new child, should especially check their withholding amounts.
Determining how much to withhold depends on your unique financial situation. The professionals at Hamilton Tharp can help, call us today for a paycheck checkup.
The Qualified Opportunity Zone Program has kept many investors paralyzed in uncertainty due to regulatory confusion. In the update below, we provide an overview of the highly sought-after guidance, which was recently released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Treasury Department… We have put together the following high-level overview of the 169-page guidance and will explain how the new clarifications will impact investors.
First let’s recap: Opportunity Zone Program
The original Opportunity Zone legislation left eager investors with more questions then answers. Below are some of the challenges that the guidance addresses.
Below are a few of the key clarifications giving investors the confidence to move forward:
The IRS also provided several situations where deferred gains may become taxable. If an investor transfers their interest in a QOF, e.g., if the transfer is done by gift, the deferred gain may become taxable. However, inheritance by a surviving spouse is not a taxable transfer, nor is a transfer, upon death, of an ownership interest in a QOF to an estate or a revocable trust that becomes irrevocable upon death.
We encourage you to read the update in its entirety as it includes additional guidance on the term “original use,” and addresses all the issues mentioned above. If you are still hesitant about moving forward with this investment opportunity, the professionals in our office can help provide clarity, address your concerns and answer any specific questions you may have.
Americans share at least one dilemma when it comes to retirement planning. From the worker to the employer to the policymaker, everyone is living longer. On May 23, 2019, the House passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. This legislation, receiving almost unanimous bipartisan support, offers the most significant shift to retirement plans and opportunities since the Pension Protection Act of 2006. In the bill, there are over 25 changes and provisions that expressly aim to encourage retirement savings among all workers. This bill, along with the Senate’s Retirement Enhancement Securities Act (RESA), addresses the apparent need for a worker’s wealth to run (and finish) the race with them. These documents may face modification before being signed into law, but one thing is clear: change is coming. Below we have prepared a synopsis of the changes that present the most opportunity.
Pooled Employer Plans
Many businesses are without affiliation and are too small to offer a savings retirement plan on their own. The new bill will reduce fiduciary responsibility and lower the overall costs associated with providing 401(k) plans by expanding the option to run multi-employer plans through a plan administrator. Sec. 106 goes a step further to incentivize smaller businesses to offer a retirement savings plan. The Act introduces a $500 tax credit for automatic enrollment into their retirement plan.
The SECURE Act eases the liability concern over offering annuities. Most businesses have shied away from annuity providers because of their inherent risk. Section 204 updates safe harbor provisions, thus opening the door for employees to take advantage of converting their 401(k) balances to a pension-like payout plan. Another provision of the bill will allow workers to transfer a defunct annuity contract to an IRA while maintaining contributions. The only criticism on this update is the broad guidelines surrounding annuity providers. Some fear that ambiguity will lead to insurance companies offering shoddy plans.
Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Age
The current law requires that most individuals begin withdrawing a minimum distribution from their retirement savings at the age of 70.5. Six-months-past-70 has invited an unnecessary amount of confusion since its inception in the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The SECURE Act seeks to simplify matters by raising the RMD age to 72. If the RESA Act passes in the Senate, the age requirement will be raised even higher to 75.
One of the most confounding retirement rules is the age limitation on IRA contributions, currently set at 70.5. The SECURE Act repeals the age limitation for traditional IRA contributions.
Benefit to Parents
Section 113 removes the 10 percent penalty tax from qualified early retirement plan withdrawals. Parents will be able to take an aggregate amount of $5,000 within one year of the adoption or birth of a child, penalty free. Section 302 expands section 529 plans by allowing withdrawals of as much as $10,000 for repayments of some student loans.
Currently, beneficiaries of inherited retirement plans like 401(k), traditional IRAs, and Roth IRAs can spread the distributions until their dying breath. The new revenue provisions (Section 401) changes the rules, requiring most beneficiaries to distribute the account over a 10-year period and pay any taxes due. The tax-generating change will accelerate the depletion of many inherited accounts but will not affect surviving spouses and minor children.
Another administrative improvement provided in the Act requires employers to provide a lifetime income disclosure once every 12 months. The disclosures are meant to show the amount of monthly payments the participant or beneficiary would receive based on the total accrued benefit.
Under the current law, the unearned income of children would be taxed at their parent’s marginal tax rate. Section 501 repeals the “kiddie tax” measures that were added by the 2017 Tax Act. The new provision states that unearned income of children would not be taxed at trust rates. Taxpayers can retroactively elect to not pay the taxes. The bill benefits many Americans, including families of deceased active-duty service members, survivors of first responders, children who receive certain tribal payments, and college students receiving scholarships.
Other changes proposed in bill include increased penalties for failures to file and the portability of lifetime income options. The SECURE Act is as likely to pass as it is to undergo slight modifications. We will keep an eye on the state of the bill and keep you abreast of its status. In the meantime, our professionals are standing by to answer your questions and address your concerns.
Payroll fraud can put a huge dent in your bottom line – costing companies billions of dollars annually. Unfortunately, companies are often unaware that a corrupt employee is in their midst. According to data from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiner’s (ACFE) 2016 global fraud study, Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, payroll fraud is an especially high risk for small organizations. In the United States, 131 cases of payroll fraud, representing 12.6% of all asset misappropriation schemes, were reported in 2016. While most fraud is uncovered within one fiscal year, payroll fraud tends to fly under the radar for an average of two years before detection and on average costs companies $90,000 per occurrence.
As business advisors, we stress the importance of internal controls to prevent fraud and theft and to ensure the accuracy of accounting data. However, many situations still exist in which organizations fail to establish adequate control systems to reduce transaction costs for many reasons. Whether it is a lack of information or a lack of personnel, the fact of the matter is that payroll fraud is usually perpetrated by a single or multiple insiders. The following strategies can help prevent and detect payroll fraud in your organization.
This is one of the most effective strategies, and if you do not already have one, we strongly recommend implementing processes that regularly check for schemes. Consider specialized software that combats ghost employee tactics by looking for red flags such as duplicate Social Security numbers, addresses or direct-deposit accounts. Another step is to be transparent with your audit plan. Making employees aware that you conduct such audits may be enough to deter them.
Compare payroll numbers against output. A spike in overtime hours during a slow month, for example, should prompt further investigation. We can help you analyze your data and identify any red flags.
This will prevent incompatible functions from being performed by the same individual, especially in the accounting department. Ask your payroll company if they allow multiple people to be in the authorization chain of command. Most payroll companies allow for multiple recipients of payroll reports; be sure you send final reports to an outside accountant and the owner. If one employee handles payroll, we recommend hiring an outside person to input the information into the accounting system, acting as the internal control.
Check documents such as timecards and any other payroll documentation. You should be on the lookout for employees who are claiming excess hours and overtime as well as any other items that seem suspect. If employees know you are regularly checking time cards, they will be less likely to test the waters.
These are often overlooked. Make sure you collect the right documentation when adding new employees. Equally important is following protocol for terminated employees. While failure to remove a terminated employee from payroll is not fraud, controls will help you avoid the embarrassment of paying an employee after termination.
If you have concerns about payroll fraud in your organization, please call one of our professionals today.
What does your tax return say about your financial situation? The fact is, the paperwork you file each year offers excellent information about how you are managing your money—and highlights areas where it might be wise to make changes in your financial habits. If you have questions about your financial situation, we can help. Our firm is made up of highly qualified and educated professionals who serve as trusted business advisors to clients all year long.
Whether you are concerned about budgeting; saving for college, retirement or another goal; understanding your investments, cutting your tax bite, starting a business, or managing your debt, you can turn to us for objective answers to all your tax and financial questions.
We Can Help You Address the Issues that Keep You Up at Night
Where will your business be in five years? Would strategic budget cuts improve your company’s health? Are there ways you can boost revenue? If you are nearing retirement, do you have a buyer or successor in the wings? These are the kinds of questions that keep many business owners up at night. Fortunately, we can help you find financial peace.
Be Confident that You’re Making Tax-Advantageous Decisions
It’s tough to be proactive when tax laws are constantly changing. But it can be done! Our experienced team of CPAs can help you navigate the tax complexities affecting your business.
We review financial situations and develop creative strategies to minimize tax liabilities so you can meet your financial goals. Contact one of our professionals today.
Opportunity Zones allow Americans to combine their patriotism with their love of tax breaks. The Opportunity Zone Provision gives taxpayers who have invested in the sale or exchange of a property in a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund (QOZF) the opportunity to elect or defer paying taxes on the capital gains until they sell their investment.
The Opportunity Zones provision is based on the bipartisan Investing in Opportunity Act, which defines Opportunity Zones (OZ) as low-income census tracts that have been nominated by governors and certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. This stimulus program invites investors to put their capital to work in areas that have struggled to bounce back from The Great Recession or have never had the opportunity to grow. This article will define Opportunity Funding and offer guidance on how to target qualified OZ investments.
Investor Benefits from Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund Investments
The innovative approach to spurring long-term private sector investments in low-income communities is available in over 8,700 Opportunity Zones in every state and territory. Investors can claim the QOZF tax advantage in the following ways:
The IRS states that all types of capital gains are eligible for the Opportunity Zones tax incentives through the use of Opportunity Funds, which invests at least ninety percent of its assets in Qualified Opportunity Zone Property. It is important to note that ordinary gains do not meet the qualification test. Furthermore, while a partnership may elect to defer part of all of a capital gain, the deferred portions of the gain will not be included in the distributed shares.
Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds (QOZF) are subject to specific regulations as set forth by the IRS, namely the types of gains that may be deferred, the timeline by which the amounts by invested, and how investors may elect to defer specified gains. Here is a snapshot to get you started:
The IRS defines eligible Opportunity Zone Property as QOZF stock, QOZF partnership interest, or QOZF business property. Besides being located and operated in a QOZF, qualified opportunity property must also be new to the entity and abide by the following requirements:
It is important to note that specific trades and businesses cannot qualify as opportunity zone businesses, including, any private or commercial golf course, country club, massage parlor, hot tub facility, suntan facility, racetrack or other facility used for gambling, or any store the principal business of which is the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises.
Targeting Qualified Opportunity Zone Investments
To be able to invest in a QOZF, you must have a qualified gain (as noted above) from a previous sale to an unrelated party. A taxpayer then has 180 days from the date of the previous sale to invest in a QOZF. The investment must be made through a cash contribution and may consist of both tax-deferred (the previous gain) and non-tax deferred funds (additional amounts you wish to invest). Any cash contribution made of non-tax deferred funds will not receive the tax benefits noted above.
If you have allocated a gain from an asset sold within a pass-through entity, your 180-day investment window defaults to starting on the date of the pass-through entity’s tax year-end. Alternatively, taxpayers can elect to have their 180-day window begin on the actual date the partnership recognized the gain.
If you’ve decided to invest in a QOZF, understanding the landscape of the opportunity zone will help you assess the trajectory of growth for that area. Steve Glickman, the co-founder of the Economic Innovation Group thinktank that designed Opportunity Zones, developed an Opportunity Zone Index to help anxious investors take the next step.
Taxpayers must act soon to take advantage of this opportunity. According to the TCJA, investors have until 2020 to reap the full tax benefits of investing in a QOZF. If you’d like to learn more about investing in a QOZF, give us a call. We can help you better understand your options!