The dawning of 2019 means the 2018 income tax filing season will soon be upon us. After year end, it’s generally too late to take action to reduce 2018 taxes. Business owners may, therefore, want to shift their focus to assessing whether they’ll likely owe taxes or get a refund when they file their returns this spring, so they can plan accordingly. With the biggest tax law changes in decades — under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) — generally going into effect beginning in 2018, most businesses and their owners will be significantly impacted. So, refreshing yourself on the major changes is a good idea. Taxation of pass-through entities These changes generally affect owners of S corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies (LLCs) treated as partnerships, as well as sole proprietors: Drops of individual income tax rates ranging from 0 to 4 percentage points (depending on the bracket)...[ Read More ]
A tried-and-true year end tax strategy is to make charitable donations. As long as you itemize and your gift qualifies, you can claim a charitable deduction. But did you know that you can enjoy an additional tax benefit if you donate long-term appreciated stock instead of cash? 2 benefits from 1 gift Appreciated publicly traded stock you’ve held more than one year is long-term capital gains property. If you donate it to a qualified charity, you may be able to enjoy two tax benefits: If you itemize deductions, you can claim a charitable deduction equal to the stock’s fair market value, and You can avoid the capital gains tax you’d pay if you sold the stock. Donating appreciated stock can be especially beneficial to taxpayers facing the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) or the top 20% long-term capital gains rate this year. Stock vs. cash Let’s say you donate...[ Read More ]

2018 Year End Planning

Posted December 17, 2018

Year-end planning for 2018 takes place against the backdrop of a new tax law-the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act-that makes major changes in the tax rules for individuals and businesses. We have compiled a checklist of actions that may help you save tax dollars if you act before year end. Not all actions will apply in your particular situation; however, you (or a family member will likely benefit from some of them. Please review the following list and contact us if you have any questions. Businesses & Business Owners: Pass-through Income Deduction Businesses (other than C corporations) may be entitled to a deduction of up to 20% of their qualified business income. Expensing vs. Capitalizing A 100% bonus first year depreciation deduction for machinery and equipment bought used (with some exceptions) or new, if purchased and placed in service in 2018. For 2018, the expensing limit is $1,000,000, and the...[ Read More ]
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) provides a valuable new tax break to noncorporate owners of pass-through entities: a deduction for a portion of qualified business income (QBI). The deduction generally applies to income from sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations and, typically, limited liability companies (LLCs). It can equal as much as 20% of QBI. But once taxable income exceeds $315,000 for married couples filing jointly or $157,500 for other filers, a wage limit begins to phase in. Full vs. partial phase-in When the wage limit is fully phased in, at $415,000 for joint filers and $207,500 for other filers, the QBI deduction generally can’t exceed the greater of the owner’s share of: 50% of the amount of W-2 wages paid to employees during the tax year, or The sum of 25% of W-2 wages plus 2.5% of the cost of qualified business property (QBP). When the wage limit...[ Read More ]
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) liberalized the eligibility rules for using the cash method of accounting, making this method — which is simpler than the accrual method — available to more businesses. Now the IRS has provided procedures a small business taxpayer can use to obtain automatic consent to change its method of accounting under the TCJA. If you have the option to use either accounting method, it pays to consider whether switching methods would be beneficial. Cash vs. accrual Generally, cash-basis businesses recognize income when it’s received and deduct expenses when they’re paid. Accrual-basis businesses, on the other hand, recognize income when it’s earned and deduct expenses when they’re incurred, without regard to the timing of cash receipts or payments. In most cases, a business is permitted to use the cash method of accounting for tax purposes unless it’s: 1. Expressly prohibited from using the cash method,...[ Read More ]
Meal, vehicle and travel expenses are common deductions for businesses. But if you don’t properly document these expenses, you could find your deductions denied by the IRS. A critical requirement Subject to various rules and limits, business meal (generally 50%), vehicle and travel expenses may be deductible, whether you pay for the expenses directly or reimburse employees for them. Deductibility depends on a variety of factors, but generally the expenses must be “ordinary and necessary” and directly related to the business. Proper documentation, however, is one of the most critical requirements. And all too often, when the IRS scrutinizes these deductions, taxpayers don’t have the necessary documentation. What you need to do Following some simple steps can help ensure you have documentation that will pass muster with the IRS: Keep receipts or similar documentation. You generally must have receipts, canceled checks or bills that show amounts and dates of business...[ Read More ]

Assessing The S Corp

Posted November 20, 2018

The S corporation business structure offers many advantages, including limited liability for owners and no double taxation (at least at the federal level). But not all businesses are eligible - and, with the new 21% flat income tax rate that now applies to C corporations, S corps may not be quite as attractive as they once were. Tax comparison The primary reason for electing S status is the combination of the limited liability of a corporation and the ability to pass corporate income, losses, deductions and credits through to shareholders. In other words, S corps generally avoid double taxation of corporate income — once at the corporate level and again when distributed to the shareholder. Instead, S corp tax items pass through to the shareholders’ personal returns and the shareholders pay tax at their individual income tax rates. But now that the C corp rate is only 21% and the...[ Read More ]
One of the biggest concerns for family business owners is succession planning — transferring ownership and control of the company to the next generation. Often, the best time tax-wise to start transferring ownership is long before the owner is ready to give up control of the business. A family limited partnership (FLP) can help owners enjoy the tax benefits of gradually transferring ownership yet allow them to retain control of the business. How it works To establish an FLP, you transfer your ownership interests to a partnership in exchange for both general and limited partnership interests. You then transfer limited partnership interests to your children. You retain the general partnership interest, which may be as little as 1% of the assets. But as general partner, you can still run day-to-day operations and make business decisions. Tax benefits As you transfer the FLP interests, their value is removed from your taxable...[ Read More ]
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employees can no longer claim the home office deduction. If, however, you run a business from your home or are otherwise self-employed and use part of your home for business purposes, the home office deduction may still be available to you. Home-related expenses Homeowners know that they can claim itemized deductions for property tax and mortgage interest on their principal residences, subject to certain limits. Most other home-related expenses, such as utilities, insurance and repairs, aren’t deductible. But if you use part of your home for business purposes, you may be entitled to deduct a portion of these expenses, as well as depreciation. Or you might be able to claim the simplified home office deduction of $5 per square foot, up to 300 square feet ($1,500). Regular and exclusive use You might qualify for the home office deduction if part of your home...[ Read More ]
If you gamble, be sure you understand the tax consequences. Both wins and losses can affect your income tax bill. And changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) could also have an impact. Wins and taxable income You must report 100% of your gambling winnings as taxable income. The value of complimentary goodies (“comps”) provided by gambling establishments must also be included in taxable income as winnings. Winnings are subject to your regular federal income tax rate. You might pay a lower rate on gambling winnings this year because of rate reductions under the TCJA. Amounts you win may be reported to you on IRS Form W-2G (“Certain Gambling Winnings”). In some cases, federal income tax may be withheld, too. Anytime a Form W-2G is issued, the IRS gets a copy. So if you’ve received such a form, remember that the IRS will expect to see the winnings...[ Read More ]