The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Voluntary Disclosure Program is a program introduced by the Internal Revenue Service in response to certain businesses claiming the ERC improperly or failing to claim it when they were eligible. The ERC was introduced as part of the CARES Act in 2020 and was aimed at providing financial relief to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the ERC, eligible employers could receive a refundable tax credit against employment taxes for qualified wages paid to employees. However, there were specific criteria and limitations for eligibility, and some businesses may have erroneously claimed the credit or failed to claim it when they were eligible.
The Voluntary Disclosure Program allows these businesses to come forward voluntarily to correct any errors or omissions related to claiming the ERC. By participating in the program, businesses could potentially avoid penalties or other enforcement actions that might otherwise be imposed for incorrect claims or noncompliance with ERC requirements. Eligible taxpayers can repay only 80% of the gross amount of the credit erroneously claimed while retaining the remaining 20% (IRS Announcement 2024-3). Taxpayers that repay the 80% of their ERC are deemed to have made a full repayment.
Taxpayers participating in the Voluntary Disclosure Program must file Form 15434 (Application for ERC Voluntary Disclosure Program) on or before March 22, 2024 and be submitted thru the IRS Document Upload Tool: www.irs.gov/help/irs-document-upload-tool
Participation in the program typically involves disclosing the relevant information to the IRS and working to rectify any discrepancies or issues with ERC claims. The specifics of the program, including eligibility criteria and procedures for participation, would be determined by the IRS and outlined in official guidance.
Businesses considering participation in such a program should consult with tax professionals or legal advisors familiar with ERC regulations and IRS procedures to ensure compliance and to understand the potential benefits and implications of voluntary disclosure. For complete information, including eligibility and processing, please visit: www.irs.gov/coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions-about-the-employee-retention-credit-voluntary-disclosure-program
A recent report shows that post-pandemic global business travel is going strong. The market reached $665.3 billion in 2022 and is estimated to hit $928.4 billion by 2030, according to a report from Research and Markets. If you own your own company and travel for business, you may wonder whether you can deduct the costs of having your spouse accompany you on trips.
The rules for deducting a spouse’s travel costs are very restrictive. First of all, to qualify for the deduction, your spouse must be your employee. This means you can’t deduct the travel costs of a spouse, even if his or her presence has a bona fide business purpose, unless the spouse is an employee of your business. This requirement prevents tax deductibility in most cases.
If your spouse is your employee, you can deduct his or her travel costs if his or her presence on the trip serves a bona fide business purpose. Merely having your spouse perform some incidental business service, such as typing up notes from a meeting, isn’t enough to establish a business purpose. In general, it isn’t enough for his or her presence to be “helpful” to your business pursuits — it must be necessary.
In most cases, a spouse’s participation in social functions, for example as a host or hostess, isn’t enough to establish a business purpose. That is, if his or her purpose is to establish general goodwill for customers or associates, this is usually insufficient. Further, if there’s a vacation element to the trip (for example, if your spouse spends time sightseeing), it will be more difficult to establish a business purpose for his or her presence on the trip. On the other hand, a bona fide business purpose exists if your spouse’s presence is necessary to care for a serious medical condition that you have.
If your spouse’s travel satisfies these requirements, the normal deductions for business travel away from home can be claimed. These include the costs of transportation, meals, lodging, and incidental costs such as dry cleaning, phone calls, etc.
Even if your spouse’s travel doesn’t satisfy the requirements, however, you may still be able to deduct a substantial portion of the trip’s costs. This is because the rules don’t require you to allocate 50% of your travel costs to your spouse. You need only allocate any additional costs you incur for him or her. For example, in many hotels the cost of a single room isn’t that much lower than the cost of a double. If a single would cost you $150 a night and a double would cost you and your spouse $200, the disallowed portion of the cost allocable to your spouse would only be $50. In other words, you can write off the cost of what you would have paid traveling alone. To prove your deduction, ask the hotel for a room rate schedule showing single rates for the days you’re staying.
And if you drive your own car or rent one, the whole cost will be fully deductible even if your spouse is along. Of course, if public transportation is used, and for meals, any separate costs incurred by your spouse aren’t deductible.
You want to maximize all the tax breaks you can claim for your small business. Contact us if you have questions or need assistance with this or other tax-related issues.
In the landscape of financial planning and tax optimization, Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) stand out as a powerful mechanism for individuals looking to enhance their philanthropic impact while optimizing their tax situation. This article delves into the core of QCDs, providing insights into how they can serve as a strategic tool in your charitable giving and financial planning.
Qualified Charitable Distributions allow individuals aged 70½ or older to directly donate up to $100,000 from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to a qualified charity, tax-free. This unique provision supports your philanthropic endeavors and offers a tax-efficient way to meet Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs), particularly for those aged 73 and above. QCDs differ from regular IRA distributions, which is typically taxable, by excluding these donations from your taxable income, thus achieving the dual objective of aiding charitable causes and reducing your tax liability.
QCDs embody the essence of strategic giving, allowing you to see the impact of your generosity firsthand. This proactive approach to philanthropy provides a more immediate and gratifying experience compared to traditional legacy giving. With the onset of charity-focused events early in the year, it’s an opportune time to consider QCDs as a key element of your giving strategy.
Effective tax planning is a crucial element of sound financial management. Utilizing QCDs can significantly improve the tax efficiency of your charitable contributions. By transferring funds directly from your IRA to a charity, the donation does not count as taxable income, therefore not only advancing your charitable objectives but also potentially reducing your overall tax burden. This can be especially beneficial in light of increased standard deductions, which may diminish the tax advantages of itemized deductions for many taxpayers.
To fully benefit from QCDs, accurately navigating associated regulations is essential. You must be at least 70½ years old at the time of the distribution and the donation must go directly to a qualifying charity, excluding private foundations and donor-advised funds. The annual limit for QCDs is $100,000 per individual, with recent updates allowing for inflation adjustments. Ensuring that your IRA trustee correctly processes the QCD is required for it to qualify for tax-free treatment.
Opting to donate your RMD through a QCD enables you to embody your philanthropic values, creating a legacy of support and impact. This strategy provides the satisfaction of contributing to worthy causes and smartly aligns with your tax planning, potentially influencing various tax considerations such as Social Security taxation and Medicare premiums.
Leveraging Qualified Charitable Distributions within your philanthropic and financial strategy can offer substantial rewards. QCDs enable impactful contributions to the community and present an intelligent way to manage your tax obligations. Consulting with your financial advisor and tax professional is advised to ensure that your charitable giving initiatives are well integrated with your overall financial objectives. By incorporating QCDs into your planning, you can achieve a fulfilling balance between meaningful giving and prudent financial management.
To ensure that this strategy aligns with your overall financial goals and tax situation, it is crucial to seek the advice of your CPA or certified financial planner. They can provide personalized guidance to determine if QCDs are the right choice for you.
Businesses basically have two accounting methods to figure their taxable income: cash and accrual. Many businesses have a choice of which method to use for tax purposes. The cash method often provides significant tax benefits for eligible businesses, though some may be better off using the accrual method. Thus, it may be prudent for your business to evaluate its method to ensure that it’s the most advantageous approach.
“Small businesses,” as defined by the tax code, are generally eligible to use either cash or accrual accounting for tax purposes. (Some businesses may also be eligible to use various hybrid approaches.) Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) took effect, the gross receipts threshold for classification as a small business varied from $1 million to $10 million depending on how a business was structured, its industry and factors involving inventory.
The TCJA simplified the small business definition by establishing a single gross receipts threshold. It also increased the threshold to $25 million (adjusted for inflation), expanding the benefits of small business status to more companies. For 2024, a small business is one whose average annual gross receipts for the three-year period ending before the 2024 tax year are $30 million or less (up from $29 million for 2023).
In addition to eligibility for the cash accounting method, small businesses can benefit from advantages including:
Note: Some businesses are eligible for cash accounting even if their gross receipts are above the threshold, including S corporations, partnerships without C corporation partners, farming businesses and certain personal service corporations. Tax shelters are ineligible for the cash method, regardless of size.
For most businesses, the cash method provides significant tax advantages. Because cash-basis businesses recognize income when received and deduct expenses when they’re paid, they have greater control over the timing of income and deductions. For example, toward the end of the year, they can defer income by delaying invoices until the following tax year or shift deductions into the current year by accelerating the payment of expenses.
In contrast, accrual-basis businesses recognize income when earned and deduct expenses when incurred, without regard to the timing of cash receipts or payments. Therefore, they have little flexibility to time the recognition of income or expenses for tax purposes.
The cash method also provides cash flow benefits. Because income is taxed in the year received, it helps ensure that a business has the funds needed to pay its tax bill.
However, for some businesses, the accrual method may be preferable. For instance, if a company’s accrued income tends to be lower than its accrued expenses, the accrual method may result in lower tax liability. Other potential advantages of the accrual method include the ability to deduct year-end bonuses paid within the first 2½ months of the following tax year and the option to defer taxes on certain advance payments.
Even if your business would benefit by switching from the accrual method to the cash method, or vice versa, it’s important to consider the administrative costs involved in a change. For example, if your business prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, it’s required to use the accrual method for financial reporting purposes. That doesn’t mean it can’t use the cash method for tax purposes, but it would require maintaining two sets of books.
Changing accounting methods for tax purposes also may require IRS approval. Contact us to learn more about each method.
Understanding and implementing the proper accounting method is a cornerstone for financial clarity and operational success. As a business owner, choosing between cash-basis and accrual accounting methods affects how you report financial transactions. This article delves into the essence of these accounting methods, their significance, and how to discern which is most conducive to your business’s growth and fiscal management.
Accounting methods are the backbone of financial record-keeping, providing a structured approach to tracking financial transactions and maintaining accurate financial records. The primary objective is to depict an organization’s financial performance and position. Understanding the nuances of each accounting method helps business owners make informed decisions, manage tax obligations effectively, and forecast future growth with precision.
Cash-basis accounting, renowned for its simplicity, only records income and expenses when cash is exchanged. This method offers a straightforward perspective on cash flow, allowing small business owners to ascertain their financial standing at any given moment easily. However, its simplicity comes at the cost of a comprehensive view, as it doesn’t account for pending receivables or payables, potentially skewing the real financial health of the business. Small enterprises, particularly those without inventory or complex financial obligations, often find cash-basis accounting advantageous for its direct reflection of cash on hand and ease of management.
In contrast, accrual accounting provides a more detailed financial picture by recording transactions when they are incurred, irrespective of cash movement. This method is essential for businesses that engage in credit transactions, carry inventory, or require a detailed understanding of their financial status for decision-making and strategic planning. Accrual accounting enables business owners to anticipate future revenues and expenses, offering insights into the company’s long-term financial trajectory. While it necessitates a more meticulous record-keeping process, its benefits in providing a complete financial overview are undeniable.
The choice between cash-basis and accrual accounting hinges on several factors, including the size of your business, regulatory requirements, and strategic financial planning needs. The IRS mandates accrual accounting for businesses surpassing $26 million in gross receipts over a three-year average, underscoring its relevance for larger enterprises. Additionally, businesses aiming for growth or those engaging in complex financial activities may find accrual accounting more suitable due to its in-depth financial insights and forecasting capabilities.
For small businesses, particularly those at the threshold of significant growth or with plans to scale, starting with accrual accounting can lay a solid foundation for future financial management needs. Conversely, cash-basis accounting may suffice for businesses with simpler transactions and those seeking straightforward financial tracking.
Businesses looking for a middle ground may consider modified cash-basis accounting, which combines elements of both methods. This hybrid approach allows for recording short-term cash transactions and long-term financial activities, offering flexibility and a balanced view of a business’s financial health.
In choosing the right accounting method for your business, being well-informed cannot be overstated. Whether cash-basis or accrual accounting is better depends on your business’s specific needs, regulatory requirements, and growth aspirations. Remember, this decision is about compliance, strategic financial planning, and management. Given the complexities involved, it’s advisable to seek the guidance of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A CPA can offer personalized advice, ensuring your accounting method aligns with your business goals and paves the way for sustainable growth. Making this critical decision with professional insight allows you to navigate your business toward financial clarity and success.
When launching a small business, many entrepreneurs start out as sole proprietors. If you’re launching a venture as a sole proprietorship, you need to understand the tax issues involved. Here are nine considerations:
Contact us if you want additional information regarding the tax aspects of your business, or if you have questions about reporting or recordkeeping requirements.
The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) was introduced back when COVID-19 temporarily closed many businesses. The credit provided cash that helped enable struggling businesses to retain employees. Even though the ERTC expired for most employers at the end of the third quarter of 2021, it could still be claimed on amended returns after that.
According to the IRS, it began receiving a deluge of “questionable” ERTC claims as some unscrupulous promotors asserted that large tax refunds could easily be obtained — even though there are stringent eligibility requirements. “We saw aggressive marketing around this credit, and well-intentioned businesses were misled into filing claims,” explained IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.
Last year, in a series of actions, the IRS began cracking down on potentially fraudulent claims. They began with a moratorium on processing new ERTC claims submitted after September 14, 2023. Despite this, the IRS reports that it still has more than $1 billion in ETRC claims in process and they are receiving additional scrutiny.
Here’s an update of the other compliance efforts that may help your business if it submitted a problematic claim:
The IRS chose the 80% repayment amount because many of the ERTC promoters charged a percentage fee that they collected at the time (or in advance) of the payment, so the recipients never received the full credit amount.
Employers that are unable to repay the required 80% may be considered for an installment agreement on a case-by-case basis, pending submission and review of an IRS form that requires disclosing a significant amount of financial information.
To be eligible for this program, the employer must provide the IRS with the name, address and phone number of anyone who advised or assisted them with their claims, and details about the services provided.
Commissioner Werfel said the disclosure program “provides a much-needed option for employers who were pulled into these claims and now realize they shouldn’t have applied.”
In addition to the programs described above, the IRS has been sending letters to thousands of taxpayers notifying them their claims have been disallowed. These cases involve entities that didn’t exist or didn’t have employees on the payroll during the eligibility period, “meaning the businesses failed to meet the basic criteria” for the credit, the IRS stated. Another set of letters will soon be mailed to credit recipients who claimed an erroneous or excessive credit. They’ll be informed that the IRS will recapture the payments through normal collection procedures.
There’s an application form that employers must file to participate in the Voluntary Disclosure Program and procedures that must be followed for the withdrawal program. Other rules apply. Contact us for assistance or with questions.
The newly approved Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024, symbolizing a legislative victory for taxpayers, especially small business owners and professionals, deserves a detailed look due to its retroactive provisions and potential to affect the upcoming tax season.
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) sees a notable expansion for individuals. This credit calculates the refundable portion per child once the taxpayer’s earned income exceeds $2,500 by 15%. For tax years 2023 through 2025, the credit increases to $1,800, $1,900, and $2,000, respectively, offering substantial savings for families. Additionally, for the tax years 2024 and 2025, taxpayers can calculate their CTC based on the previous year’s earned income, providing flexibility in fluctuating income.
Several key provisions have been introduced to support business growth and adaptability:
The bill delays the onset of a five-year amortization rule for domestic research and experimental costs to tax years beginning after December 31, 2025, providing an incentive for innovation.
For tax years starting after 2023 and before 2026, businesses can compute adjusted taxable income (ATI) for interest limitation with reinstated depreciation, amortization, and depletion deductions, enhancing cash flow.
The Act extends the 100% bonus depreciation for qualifying property placed in service before January 1, 2026. This extension allows businesses to deduct the full cost of eligible property in the year of service, promoting investment in new assets.
The deduction limit under Section 179 is increased for tax years starting after 2023, allowing businesses to expense up to $1.29 million and phase out thresholds starting at $3.22 million, indexed for inflation thereafter.
The Act introduces stringent measures to curb fraudulent claims, specifically targeting the misuse of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). It shortens the claim period for the ERTC to January 31, 2024, and amplifies penalties for incorrect or fraudulent claims.
In a significant move, the bill extends tax treaty-like benefits to Taiwan to avoid double taxation, which may impact businesses with operations or interests in Taiwan.
Disaster relief provisions from the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 are extended. This includes benefits for those affected by federally declared disasters between January 1, 2020, and 60 days post-enactment of the new bill.
The reporting threshold for Form 1099-NEC and 1099-MISC increases from $600 to $1,000 for payments made after December 31, 2023, easing the administrative load for small businesses.
The bill boosts the 9% low-income housing tax credit ceiling by 12.5% for calendar years 2023 through 2025 and reduces the bond financing threshold to 30% for projects financed by bonds issued before 2026.
This Act presents a mosaic of opportunities and considerations. Small business owners and professionals must promptly assess how these changes impact their operations and tax strategies. As the provisions have retroactive effects, it’s crucial to consult with tax professionals to maximize benefits and navigate the complexities of the new law.
In light of the IRS’s recent announcement regarding tax inflation adjustments for the 2024 tax year, business owners must understand and adapt to these changes. As your experienced accounting advisors, we’re here to guide you through this complex landscape. Our goal is to help you comply with these new regulations and seize opportunities for growth and enhanced profitability.
The standard deduction for the 2024 tax year has increased across all filing statuses. For married couples filing jointly, it’s now $29,200; for single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, it’s $14,600; for heads of households, it’s $21,900.
The marginal tax rates for 2024 have been adjusted. The top tax rate remains at 37% for individuals earning over $609,350 ($731,200 for married couples filing jointly), with graduated rates for lower income brackets.
The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption amount has been raised to $85,700, phasing out at $609,350 for individuals ($133,300 for married couples filing jointly, phasing out at $1,218,700).
The maximum Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for 2024 is $7,830 for taxpayers with three or more qualifying children, an increase from the previous year.
The monthly limit for qualified transportation fringe benefits and parking has increased to $315 for 2024.
For Health Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs), the employee salary reduction contribution limit is now $3,200, with a maximum carryover of $640. The deductible and out-of-pocket limits for Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) have also been adjusted.
The foreign-earned income exclusion has been increased to $126,500 for 2024.
The basic exclusion amount for estate tax has been raised to $13,610,000, and the annual exclusion for gifts is now $18,000.
The maximum adoption credit has been increased to $16,810 for 2024.
Tax adjustments should be viewed as strategic opportunities rather than mere compliance matters. We encourage proactive planning and offer personalized assistance in navigating the complexities of the 2024 tax landscape. Let’s partner together to optimize your tax strategies and position your business for success, maximizing its potential and profitability. Contact us for tailored advice today.
A new year marks a fresh start for businesses, offering a chance to enhance financial management practices and unlock opportunities for growth and success. As a business owner, improving your financial management can open doors to many possibilities. This article will explore essential tips for leveraging accounting software, particularly QuickBooks, to boost your financial oversight and operational efficiency in 2024.
One of the foundational steps in effective financial management is regular account reconciliation. This involves ensuring that your QuickBooks accounts align accurately with your bank statements. Regular reconciliations allow you to identify and rectify any discrepancies that may arise swiftly. This practice maintains the integrity of your financial records and provides you with a clear understanding of your business’s financial health.
QuickBooks’ class and location tracking feature can be a game-changer for businesses with multiple departments or product lines. This tool offers deeper insights into the profitability and expenses of various segments within your business. By categorizing transactions according to classes or locations, you can make more informed decisions and allocate resources more effectively.
Repetitive financial tasks, such as monthly subscriptions or rent payments, can be automated through QuickBooks and other accounting software. Setting up recurring transactions saves time and ensures consistency and accuracy in your financial records. This feature eliminates the risk of missing essential payments and helps you maintain a seamless financial workflow.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, mobility is crucial. Most cloud-based accounting software, including QuickBooks, offers mobile apps that allow you to manage your finances on the go. Whether you need to track expenses, send invoices, or access financial data from anywhere, these mobile apps provide convenience and flexibility. This accessibility ensures that you always stay in control of your finances.
Modern accounting software systems offer advanced reporting capabilities that provide valuable insights into your business finances. QuickBooks, for example, offers customizable reports, including cash flow statements and profit and loss reports. Here are four essential reports to consider running:
Maintaining a healthy cash flow is essential for business sustainability. Regularly monitoring your accounts receivable and payable in QuickBooks, with the help of the reports mentioned earlier, will ensure that you stay on top of overdue payments and effectively manage your bills. This proactive approach is key to maintaining financial stability.
Consider further integrating your accounting software with other business tools to enhance your financial management. Integration can streamline workflows, improve data accuracy, and enhance business efficiency. For example, integrating with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can provide a holistic view of your business operations, helping you better understand customer interactions and needs.
By implementing these features and strategies, you can elevate your financial management practices, gain deeper insights into your business operations, and make well-informed decisions that drive your business forward. As you embark on this journey in 2024, remember that effective financial management is the cornerstone of business success, and with the right tools and practices, you can achieve your growth and profitability goals.
As part of the SECURE 2.0 law, there’s a new benefit option for employees facing emergencies. It’s called a pension-linked emergency savings account (PLESA) and the provision authorizing it became effective for plan years beginning January 1, 2024. The IRS recently released guidance about the accounts (in Notice 2024-22) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published some frequently asked questions to help employers, plan sponsors, participants and others understand them.
The DOL defines PLESAs as “short-term savings accounts established and maintained within a defined contribution plan.” Employers with 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans can opt to offer PLESAs to non-highly compensated employees. For 2024, a participant who earned $150,000 or more in 2023 is a highly compensated employee.
Here are some more details of this new type of account:
A participant in a PLESA doesn’t need to prove that he or she is experiencing an emergency before making a withdrawal from an account. The DOL states that “withdrawals are made at the discretion of the participant.”
These are just the basic details of PLESAs. Contact us if you have questions about these or other fringe benefits and their tax implications.
Operating your small business as a Qualified Small Business Corporation (QSBC) could be a tax-wise idea.
QSBCs are the same as garden-variety C corporations for tax and legal purposes — except QSBC shareholders are potentially eligible to exclude from federal income tax 100% of their stock sale gains. That translates into a 0% federal income tax rate on QSBC stock sale profits! However, you must meet several requirements set forth in Section 1202 of the Internal Revenue Code, and not all shares meet the tax-law description of QSBC stock. Finally, there are limitations on the amount of QSBC stock sale gain that you can exclude in any one tax year (but they’re unlikely to apply).
The 100% federal income tax gain exclusion is only available for sales of QSBC shares that were acquired on or after September 28, 2010.
If you currently operate as a sole proprietorship, single-member LLC treated as a sole proprietorship, partnership or multi-member LLC treated as a partnership, you’ll have to incorporate the business and issue yourself shares to attain QSBC status.
Important: The act of incorporating a business shouldn’t be taken lightly. We can help you evaluate the pros and cons of taking this step.
Here are some more rules and requirements:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made a flat 21% corporate federal income tax rate permanent, assuming no backtracking by Congress. So, if you own shares in a profitable QSBC and you eventually sell them when you’re eligible for the 100% gain exclusion break, the 21% corporate rate could be all the income tax that’s ever owed to Uncle Sam.
Before concluding that you can operate your business as a QSBC, consult with us. We’ve summarized the most important eligibility rules here, but there are more. The 100% federal income tax stock sale gain exclusion break and the flat 21% corporate federal income tax rate are two strong incentives for eligible small businesses to operate as QSBCs.
If you’re an employer with a business where tipping is routine when 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.
The FICA credit applies to tips that your staff members receive from customers when they buy food and beverages. It doesn’t matter if the food and beverages are consumed on or off the premises. Although tips are paid by customers, for FICA purposes, they’re treated as if you paid them to your employees.
As you know, your employees are required to report their tips to you. You must:
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.
Let’s say a server works at your restaurant. She is paid $2.13 an hour plus tips. During the month, she works 160 hours for $340.80 and receives $2,000 in cash tips which she reports to you.
The server’s $2.13-an-hour rate is below the $5.15 rate by $3.02 an hour. Thus, for the 160 hours worked, she is below the $5.15 rate by $483.20 (160 times $3.02). For the server, therefore, the first $483.20 of tip income just brings her up to the minimum rate. The rest of the tip income is $1,516.80 ($2,000 minus $483.20). As the server’s employer, you pay FICA taxes at the rate of 7.65% for her. Therefore, your employer credit is $116.03 for the month: $1,516.80 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.
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. Contact us if you have any questions.
The optional standard mileage rate used to calculate the deductible cost of operating an automobile for business will be going up by 1.5 cents per mile in 2024. The IRS recently announced that the cents-per-mile rate for the business use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be 67 cents (up from 65.5 cents for 2023).
The increased tax deduction partly reflects the price of gasoline, which is about the same as it was a year ago. On December 21, 2023, the national average price of a gallon of regular gas was $3.12, compared with $3.10 a year earlier, according to AAA Gas Prices.
Businesses can generally deduct the actual expenses attributable to business use of vehicles. These include gas, tires, oil, repairs, insurance, 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 helpful if you don’t want to keep track of actual vehicle-related expenses. However, you still must record certain information, such as the mileage for each business trip, the date and the destination.
The standard rate is also used by businesses that reimburse employees for business use of their personal vehicles. These reimbursements can help attract and retain employees who drive their personal vehicles 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 use the cents-per-mile rate, keep in mind that you must comply with various rules. If you don’t comply, reimbursements to employees could be considered taxable wages to them.
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, repairs and depreciation. Occasionally, if there’s a substantial change in average gas prices, the IRS will change the rate midyear.
There are cases when you can’t use the cents-per-mile rate. In some situations, it depends on how you’ve claimed deductions for the same vehicle in the past. In other situations, it hinges 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 business vehicle expenses. We can help if you have questions about tracking and claiming such expenses in 2024 — or claiming 2023 expenses on your 2023 tax return.
If you’re interested in selling 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. With this transaction, you exchange the property rather than sell it. Although the real estate market has been tough recently in some locations, there are still profitable opportunities (with high resulting tax bills) when 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.”
However, in many cases, the properties aren’t equal in value, so some cash or other property is added to 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 reduced by the amount of boot you received but increased by the amount of any gain recognized.
For example, let’s say you exchange business property with a basis of $100,000 for a building 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 the new building (the replacement property) will be $100,000: your original basis in the relinquished property ($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 reason 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).
Like-kind exchanges can be a great tax-deferred way to dispose of investment, trade or business real property. But you have to make sure to meet all the requirements. Contact us if you have questions or would like to discuss the strategy further.