High-income taxpayers face a 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) that’s imposed in addition to regular income tax. Fortunately, there are some steps you may be able to take to reduce its impact. The NIIT applies to you only if modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds: $250,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and surviving spouses, $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separately, $200,000 for unmarried taxpayers and heads of household. The amount subject to the tax is the lesser of your net investment income or the amount by which your MAGI exceeds the threshold ($250,000, $200,000, or $125,000) that applies to you. Net investment income includes interest, dividend, annuity, royalty, and rental income, unless those items were derived in the ordinary course of an active trade or business. In addition, other gross income from a trade or business that’s a passive activity is subject to the NIIT, as is income from...[ Read More ]
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...[ Read More ]
It takes more than dedication and enthusiasm for your not-for-profit’s cause and programs to make a good board member. The most critical duty for all board members is being a fiduciary. This means, among other things, that they can be trusted to always act in their nonprofit’s best interests, avoid unnecessary risk, make decisions thoughtfully and execute them efficiently. Core duties Not all board members are aware of their duties — and it’s up to your organization to ensure they understand them. In general, a fiduciary has three primary duties: Care. Board members must exercise reasonable care in overseeing the organization’s financial and operational activities. Although disengaged from day-to-day affairs, they should understand the nonprofit’s mission, programs and structure, make informed decisions, and consult others — including outside experts — when appropriate. Loyalty. Board members must act solely in the best interests of the organization and its constituents, and not for personal...[ Read More ]
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...[ Read More ]
As we approach the holidays and the end of the year, many people may want to make gifts of cash or stock to their loved ones. By properly using the annual exclusion, gifts to family members and loved ones can reduce the size of your taxable estate, within generous limits, without triggering any estate or gift tax. The exclusion amount for 2021 is $15,000. The exclusion covers gifts you make to each recipient each year. Therefore, a taxpayer with three children can transfer $45,000 to the children every year free of federal gift taxes. If the only gifts made during a year are excluded in this fashion, there’s no need to file a federal gift tax return. If annual gifts exceed $15,000, the exclusion covers the first $15,000 per recipient, and only the excess is taxable. In addition, even taxable gifts may result in no gift tax liability thanks to the unified...[ Read More ]
As we approach the holidays, many people plan to donate to their favorite charities or give money or assets to their loved ones. Here are the basic tax rules involved in these transactions. Donating to charity Normally, if you take the standard deduction and don’t itemize, you can’t claim a deduction for charitable contributions. But for 2021 under a COVID-19 relief law, you’re allowed to claim a limited deduction on your tax return for cash contributions made to qualifying charitable organizations. You can claim a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made during this year. This deduction increases to $600 for a married couple filing jointly in 2021. What if you want to give gifts of investments to your favorite charities? There are a couple of points to keep in mind. First, don’t give away investments in taxable brokerage accounts that are currently worth less than what you...[ Read More ]
Your not-for-profit may prefer to avoid activities that subject it to unrelated business income tax (UBIT). But if you accept advertising or sponsorships that aren’t substantially related to your tax-exempt purpose, you may unwittingly expose your organization to UBIT liability. The rules governing these types of support are complicated, so it’s important to have a basic understanding of what is and what isn’t potentially taxable. Qualified sponsorship dollars: Not taxable Sponsorship dollars generally aren’t taxed. Qualified sponsorship payments are made by a person (a sponsor) engaged in a trade or business with no arrangement to receive — or expectation of receiving — any substantial benefit from the nonprofit in return for the payment. The IRS allows exempt organizations to use information that’s an established part of a sponsor’s identity, such as logos, slogans, locations, phone numbers and URLs. There are some exceptions. For example, if the payment amount is contingent...[ Read More ]
If your not-for-profit organization accepts contributions of nonfinancial assets, such as land, services and supplies, you should know about Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rules approved last year. Accounting Standards Update (ASU), Not-for-Profit Entities (Topic 958): Presentation and Disclosures by Not-for-Profit Entities for Contributed Nonfinancial Assets is intended to increase transparency around gifts in kind. Inflated values The updated rules were generated in response to concerns about U.S. wholesale market prices being used to determine the value of donated pharmaceuticals that can’t legally be sold in the United States. A donor, for example, could contribute such drugs for use only outside the country. Stakeholders worried that the values will be inflated, which could increase an organization’s revenue and program expenses. The nonprofit might, therefore, appear larger and more efficient than a smaller organization or one with lower values for its gifts-in-kind donations. New procedures and disclosures The most dramatic change from previous...[ Read More ]
The housing market in many parts of the country is strong this spring. If you’re buying or selling a home, you should know how to determine your “basis.” How it works You can claim an itemized deduction on your tax return for real estate taxes and home mortgage interest. Most other home ownership costs can’t be deducted currently. However, these costs may increase your home’s “basis” (your cost for tax purposes). And a higher basis can save taxes when you sell. The law allows an exclusion from income for all or part of the gain realized on the sale of your home. The general exclusion limit is $250,000 ($500,000 for married taxpayers). You may feel the exclusion amount makes keeping track of the basis relatively unimportant. Many homes today sell for less than $500,000. However, that reasoning doesn’t take into account what may happen in the future. If history is...[ Read More ]
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: Start-up costs include those incurred or paid while creating an active trade or business — or investigating the creation or acquisition of one. Under the tax code, taxpayers can elect to deduct up to $5,000 of...[ Read More ]