Do you run your business from home? You might be eligible for home office deductions
Posted March 20, 2020
If you’re self-employed and work out of an office in your home, you may be entitled to home office deductions. However, you must satisfy strict rules. If you qualify, you can deduct the “direct expenses” of the home office. This includes the costs of painting or repairing the home office and depreciation deductions for furniture and fixtures used there. You can also deduct the “indirect” expenses of maintaining the office. This includes the allocable share of utility costs, depreciation and insurance for your home, as well as the allocable share of mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses. In addition, if your home office is your “principal place of business,” the costs of traveling between your home office and other work locations are deductible transportation expenses, rather than nondeductible commuting costs. And, generally, you can deduct the cost (reduced by the percentage of non-business use) of computers and related
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If you own a home, the interest you pay on your home mortgage may provide a tax break. However, many people believe that any interest paid on their home mortgage loans and home equity loans is deductible. Unfortunately, that’s not true. First, keep in mind that you must itemize deductions in order to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction. Deduction and limits for “acquisition debt” A personal interest deduction generally isn’t allowed, but one kind of interest that is deductible is interest on mortgage “acquisition debt.” This means debt that’s: 1) secured by your principal home and/or a second home, and 2) incurred in acquiring, constructing or substantially improving the home. You can deduct interest on acquisition debt on up to two qualified residences: your primary home and one vacation home or similar property. The deduction for acquisition debt comes with a stipulation. From 2018 through 2025, you can’t deduct the
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If you’re getting ready to file your 2019 tax return, and your tax bill is higher than you’d like, there may still be an opportunity to lower it. If you qualify, you can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA right up until the Wednesday, April 15, 2020, filing date and benefit from the resulting tax savings on your 2019 return. Do you qualify? You can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA if: You (and your spouse) aren’t an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, or You (or your spouse) are an active participant in an employer plan, and your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) doesn’t exceed certain levels that vary from year-to-year by filing status. For 2019, if you’re a joint tax return filer covered by an employer plan, your deductible IRA contribution phases out over $103,000 to $123,000 of modified AGI. If you’re single
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If you made large gifts to your children, grandchildren or other heirs last year, it’s important to determine whether you’re required to file a 2019 gift tax return. And in some cases, even if it’s not required to file one, it may be beneficial to do so anyway. Who must file? Generally, you must file a gift tax return for 2019 if, during the tax year, you made gifts: That exceeded the $15,000-per-recipient gift tax annual exclusion (other than to your U.S. citizen spouse), That you wish to split with your spouse to take advantage of your combined $30,000 annual exclusion, That exceeded the $155,000 annual exclusion for gifts to a noncitizen spouse, To a Section 529 college savings plan and wish to accelerate up to five years’ worth of annual exclusions ($75,000) into 2019, Of future interests — such as remainder interests in a trust — regardless of the amount, or
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Do you have a side gig? Make sure you understand your tax obligations.
Posted March 12, 2020
The number of people engaged in the “gig” or sharing economy has grown in recent years. And there are tax consequences for the people who perform these jobs, such as providing car rides, renting spare rooms, delivering food and walking dogs. Generally, if you receive income from these gigs, it’s taxable. That’s true even if the income comes from a side job and if you don’t receive a 1099-MISC or 1099-K form reporting the money you made. You may need to make quarterly estimated tax payments because your income isn’t subject to withholding. Some or all of your business expenses may be deductible on your tax return, subject to the normal tax limitations and rules. Contact us to learn more.
Conflict-of-interest policies are too important for nonprofits to neglect
Posted March 4, 2020
Not-for-profit board directors, trustees and key employees must not have a direct or indirect financial interest in a transaction or arrangement that might benefit them personally. This is why nonprofits are required to have a written conflict-of-interest policy. To stress the importance of this requirement, the IRS asks you to acknowledge the existence of a policy on your annual Form 990. Your policy should define all potential conflicts and provide procedures for avoiding them. It’s also critical to outline the steps you’ll take if a possible conflict arises. Contact us for help crafting a thorough policy.
4 new law changes that may affect your retirement plan
Posted February 26, 2020
If you save for retirement with an IRA or other plan, be aware there’s a new law that makes several changes to these accounts. For example, the SECURE Act repealed the maximum age for making traditional IRA contributions. Before 2020, traditional IRA contributions weren’t allowed once you reached age 70½. Starting in 2020, an individual of any age can make contributions, as long as he or she has compensation. The required minimum distribution age was also raised from 70½ to 72. In addition, penalty-free withdrawals up to $5,000 are now allowed from a retirement plan for birth or adoption expenses. These are only some of the new law changes. Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us.
Congress rolls back burdensome UBIT on transportation benefits
Posted February 19, 2020
A much-hated tax on not-for-profit organizations is on the way out. At the end of 2019, Congress repealed a provision of 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that triggered the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) of 21% on nonprofit employers that provide employees with transportation fringe benefits. Unequipped to handle the additional administrative burdens and compliance costs, thousands of nonprofits had complained — and legislators apparently listened. Same benefits, new costs At issue is the TCJA provision saying that nonprofits must count disallowed deduction amounts paid for transportation fringe benefits such as transit passes and parking in their UBIT calculations. UBIT applies to business income that isn’t related to the organization’s tax-exempt function. Thus, simply by continuing to provide some of the same transportation benefits they’ve always provided employees, nonprofits were liable for additional tax. For example, employers were forced to assign a value to parking spaces provided to
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Nonprofits: Are you ready for the new contribution guidance?
Posted February 12, 2020
Many nonprofits are unsure how to account for grants and similar contracts, especially when they come with donor-imposed conditions. Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2018-08 provides much-needed clarity on contributions made and received. Effective for calendar-year 2019, the ASU will help nonprofits determine whether a grant or similar contract is indeed a contribution. And, if it is, the ASU will guide when they should recognize the revenue associated with it. The new guidance is expected to cause nonprofits to classify more grants and similar contracts as contributions than they did under the previous guidance. Contact us to evaluate what that means for your organization.
Wayfair revisited — It’s time to review your sales tax obligations
Posted January 27, 2020
In a 2018 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the power of states to collect sales tax from remote sellers. Today, nearly every state with a sales tax has enacted a similar law. So if your company does business across state lines, it’s a good idea to reexamine your sales tax obligations. If you make online, telephone or mail-order sales in states where you lack a physical presence, it’s critical to find out whether those states have economic nexus laws and determine whether your activities are enough to trigger them. If you have nexus with a state, you must register and collect state and applicable local taxes on your taxable sales there. If you need assistance, contact us.