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Business Briefs

 

New per diem business travel rates became effective on October 1

Are your company’s employees traveling after months of virtual meetings? The IRS announced the fiscal 2022 “per diem” rates that became effective Oct. 1, 2021. You can use these rates to substantiate the amount of expenses for lodging, meals and incidental expenses when traveling. It’s a simplified alternative to tracking actual business travel expenses. The per diem amounts are based on rates set by the IRS that vary depending on locality. After Sept. 30, 2021, the per diem rate for high-cost areas in the continental U.S. is $296. For other areas, the per diem rate is $202. Some high-cost rates are only available part of the year in certain areas. To see all rates: http://bit.ly/3DYdqVE Read more. 


2021 Q4 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

OCT. 15: If you’re the owner or operator of a calendar-year C corp. which filed an extension, file a 2020 income tax return. NOV. 1: Report income tax withholding and FICA taxes for Q3 2021 (unless you’re eligible for a Nov. 10 deadline because you deposited on time (and in full) all of the associated taxes due). DEC. 15: If a calendar-year C corp., pay the fourth installment of 2021 estimated income taxes. Note: Certain deadlines may be postponed in federally declared disaster areas. Contact us for more about the filing requirements and to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines. Read more. 


M&A transactions: Be careful when reporting to the IRS

Low interest rates and other factors have caused mergers and acquisitions to reach new highs in 2021. If you’re in the process of a transaction, it’s important that both parties report it to the IRS in the same way. Otherwise, you could be audited. If a sale involves business assets (as opposed to stock or ownership interests), the buyer and the seller must generally report the purchase price allocations that both use for specific assets. This is done on IRS Form 8594 attached to each of their federal income tax returns. Both parties use the same allocations. Consider requiring this in your asset purchase agreement. To achieve the best tax results, consult with us before finalizing a deal. Read more.


Tax breaks to consider during National Small Business Week

Sept. 13-17 has been declared National Small Business Week by the SBA. To commemorate, here’s a tax break to consider. Your business may be able to claim 100% bonus depreciation for asset additions. Under current law, first-year bonus depreciation is available for qualified new and used property that’s acquired and placed in service in 2021. That means your business may be able to deduct the entire cost of some or all asset purchases on this year’s return. To take advantage of this, you may want to make acquisitions before Dec. 31. The bonus depreciation tax break can also be used for eligible heavy SUVs, pickups and vans used over 50% for business. Contact us to help evaluate your options. Read more. 


Claiming a theft loss deduction if your business is the victim of embezzlement

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 business theft and casualty loss tax deductions. Read more. 


Want to find out what IRS auditors know about your business industry?

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).” These guides are available on the IRS website. So your business can use them to gain insight into what the IRS is looking for in terms of compliance. Many ATGs target specific industries, such as architecture, art galleries and veterinary medicine. Others address issues that frequently arise in audits, such as executive compensation and passive activity losses. The IRS has revised or added new guides this year, including for construction and retail. For a complete list of ATGs: http://bit.ly/2rh7umD Read more. 


Getting a divorce? Be aware of tax implications if you own a business

If you’re a business owner and getting divorced, tax issues can complicate matters. Your business interests are one of your biggest assets and in many cases, your marital property will include all or part of it. You can generally divide most assets, including 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 the tax-free transfer rule, the spouse who receives the asset takes over its existing tax basis and existing holding period. Later on, there will be tax implications for assets received tax-free in a divorce. Contact us. We can help plan for the best tax outcome in your divorce. Read more. 


Possible tax consequences of guaranteeing a loan to your corporation

What if you guarantee a loan to your closely held corporation? Before agreeing to act as a guarantor of a debt of your corporation, be aware of the possible tax consequences. If the business defaults on the loan, and you make good on the obligation, the payment of principal or interest generally results in 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 (subject to certain limitations). A nonbusiness bad debt is deductible only if it’s totally worthless. Read more. 


Large cash transactions with your business must be reported to the IRS

If your business receives large amounts of cash or cash equivalents, you may be required to report the transactions to the IRS. Each person engaged in a trade or business who receives more than $10,000 in cash in one transaction, or in two or more related transactions, must file Form 8300. Transactions conducted in a 24-hour period are considered related transactions. “Cash equivalents” include cashier’s checks (bank checks), bank drafts, traveler’s checks and money orders. In addition to filing Form 8300 on paper, e-filing is an option. The form is due 15 days after a transaction. Contact us with questions. Read more. 


Is an LLC the right choice for your small business?

Is a limited liability company (LLC) the right choice for your small business? Like the shareholders of a corporation, LLC owners (called members) generally aren’t liable for the debts of the business except to the extent of their investment. So their personal assets are protected from the entity’s creditors. Plus, partnership earnings aren’t subject to an entity-level tax. Instead, they “flow through” to the owners (in proportion to their respective interests), are reported on the owners’ individual returns and taxed only once. To the extent the income passed through to you is qualified business income, you’ll be eligible to take the pass-through deduction, subject to various limitations. Read more. 


The deductibility of corporate expenses covered by officers or shareholders

Do you play a major role in a closely held corporation and sometimes spend money personally on corporate expenses? In general, you can’t deduct an expense you incur on behalf of your corporation even if it’s a legitimate business expense. That’s because you can only deduct expenses that are your own and the corporation is a separate legal entity. What’s more, the corporation won’t generally be able to deduct them either because it didn’t pay them. One solution is to arrange to have the corporation reimburse you for expenses you incur. Turn the receipts over to the corporation and use an expense reimbursement claim form or system. Then, the corporation can deduct the reimbursement amount. Read more. 


Getting a new business off the ground: How start-up expenses are handled on your tax return

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%. Entrepreneurs often don’t know that many start-up expenses can’t be currently deducted. Some likely have to be amortized over time. You might be able to elect to deduct up to $5,000 currently, but the deduction is reduced by the amount by which your total start-up costs exceed $50,000. You can also deduct $5,000 of the organizational costs of creating a corporation or partnership. Contact us if you have tax questions about a start-up business. Read more. 


Who in a small business can be hit with the “Trust Fund Recovery Penalty?”

There’s a harsh tax penalty that you could be at risk for paying personally if you own or manage a business with employees. The Trust Fund Recovery Penalty applies to the Social Security and income taxes required to be withheld by a business from employees' wages. Because taxes are considered government property, the employer holds them in “trust” on the government’s behalf until they’re paid over. The penalty is also sometimes called the “100% penalty” because the people liable and responsible for the taxes will be penalized 100% of the taxes due. The amounts the IRS seeks when the penalty is applied are usually substantial, and the IRS is aggressive in enforcing the penalty. Read more. 


10 facts about the pass-through deduction for qualified business income

Are you eligible to take the deduction for qualified business income (QBI)? This valuable tax break is also referred to as the pass-through or Section 199A deduction. It’s available to owners of sole proprietorships, single member limited liability companies, partnerships and S corps. The deduction is intended to reduce the tax rate on QBI to a rate closer to the corporate tax rate. It’s available regardless of whether you itemize or take the standard deduction. The deduction is complex but is generally equal to 20% of qualified business income. There are two other limitations based on W-2 wages and on some “specified service trades or businesses.” Contact us with questions. Read more. 


Eligible Businesses: Claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is a valuable tax break that was extended and modified by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Originally, the ERTC applied to wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2021. 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 Jan. 1, 2022. The maximum ERTC available is generally $7,000 per employee per calendar quarter or $28,000 per employee in 2021. Other modifications have also been made that may be beneficial to your business. Contact us if you have questions about your business claiming the ERTC. Read more.


Traveling for business again? What can you deduct?

As we continue to come out of the pandemic, you may be traveling again for business. There are a number of rules for deducting your out-of-town business travel expenses within the U.S. These rules apply if the business reasonably requires an overnight stay. The actual costs of travel (plane fare, cabs, etc.) are deductible for out-of-town business trips. You’re also allowed to deduct the cost of lodging. For 2021 and 2022, the law allows a 100% deduction for food and beverages provided by a restaurant. If a trip is a combined business/pleasure trip, only the cost of meals, lodging, etc., incurred for the business days are deductible (not those incurred for personal vacation days). Read more. 


2021 Q3 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are some key tax-related deadlines for businesses and other employers during the third quarter of 2021. AUGUST 2: Employers report income tax withholding and FICA taxes for second quarter 2021 (Form 941) and pay any tax due. File a 2020 calendar-year retirement plan report (Form 5500 or Form 5500-EZ) or request an extension. SEPT. 15: If a calendar-year S corporation or partnership that filed an automatic extension, file a 2020 income tax return. If a calendar-year C corp., pay the third installment of 2021 estimated income taxes. Contact us for more about the filing requirements and to ensure you meet all applicable deadlines. Read more. 


Recordkeeping DOs and DON’Ts for business meal and vehicle expenses

If you’re claiming deductions for business meals or auto expenses, expect the IRS to closely review them. It’s important to comply with the strict 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 anyone 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 an 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. Read more. 


Hiring your minor children this summer? Reap tax and nontax benefits

If you’re a business owner and you hire your child this summer, you can obtain tax breaks and other nontax benefits. Your child can gain on-the-job experience, spend time with you, save for college and learn how to manage money. And you may be able to shift your high-taxed income into tax-free or low-taxed income and realize payroll tax savings (depending on the child’s age and how your business is organized). The child may also be able to contribute to a retirement plan. However, in order for your business to deduct the wages as a business expense, the work performed by the child must be legitimate and the child’s salary must be reasonable. Many other rules apply. Contact us to learn more. Read more. 


The IRS has announced 2022 amounts for Health Savings Accounts

The IRS has released the inflation-adjusted amounts for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) next year. For calendar year 2022, the annual contribution limitation for an individual with self-only coverage under a HDHP will be $3,650. For an individual with family coverage, the amount will be $7,300. This is up from $3,600 and $7,200, respectively, for 2021. For calendar year 2022, an HDHP will be a health plan with an annual deductible that isn’t less than $1,400 for self-only coverage or $2,800 for family coverage. And annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums) won’t be able to exceed $7,050 for self-only coverage or $14,100 for family coverage. Read more. 


An S corporation could cut your self-employment tax

If your business is organized as a sole proprietorship or a wholly owned limited liability company, you’re subject to both income tax and self-employment (SE) tax. There may be a way to cut your tax bill by operating as an S corporation. SE tax is imposed on 92.35% of SE income at a 12.4% rate for Social Security up to $142,800 for 2021 and at a 2.9% rate for Medicare. An extra 0.9% Medicare tax is imposed on income exceeding $250,000 for married filers and $200,000 for singles. If you conduct business as an S corp, you’re subject to income tax, but not SE tax, on your share of business income. But the S corp must pay you a reasonable salary. Contact us if you want to discuss these issues. Read more. 


Help ensure the IRS doesn’t reclassify independent contractors as employees

Many businesses use independent contractors to help keep costs down. If you’re among them, make sure workers are properly classified for federal tax purposes. If the IRS reclassifies them as employees, it can be a costly error. It can be complex to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee for federal income and employment tax purposes. The IRS and courts have generally ruled that individuals are employees if the businesses they work for have the right to control and direct them in their jobs. Otherwise, they’re generally contractors. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how the rules apply to your business. We can help ensure your workers are properly classified. Read more. 


Providing education assistance to employees? Follow these rules

Many businesses provide education fringe benefits so their employees can improve their skills and gain knowledge. An employee can receive, on a tax-free basis, up to $5,250 each year from an employer for education under a “qualified educational assistance program.” For this purpose, education means any 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. Different rules apply if the education is job-related. In addition to education assistance, some employers offer student loan repayment assistance. Contact us to learn more about setting up an education assistance or student loan repayment plan. Read more. 


Claiming the business energy credit for using alternative energy

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 available for the construction of certain property including equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity for heating and cooling and certain small wind energy property. The credit amount is limited and based on when construction begins. Of course, there are business considerations unrelated to the tax benefits that may influence your decision to use alternative energy. We can help assess your options. Read more. 


Know the ins and outs of “reasonable compensation” for a corporate business owner

Corporate business owners know that it’s generally better to take money out of a C corporation as compensation rather than as dividends. That’s because a corporation can deduct the salaries and bonuses that it pays, but not dividends. 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 receiving it. But there are limits to how much money you can take out this way. Compensation can be deducted only to the extent that it’s reasonable. Unreasonable portions aren’t deductible and may be deemed dividends. Need help determining a reasonable salary? Contact us. Read more. 


Simple retirement savings options for your small business

Are you thinking about setting up a retirement plan for yourself and your employees, but you’re worried about the administrative burdens involved in providing a traditional pension plan? Two relatively easy options are a SEP or a SIMPLE plan. When you set up a SEP for yourself and your employees, you’ll make deductible contributions to each employee’s SEP-IRA. The maximum amount of deductible contributions that you can make to an employee’s SEP-IRA, and that he or she can exclude from income, is the lesser of 25% of compensation and $58,000 for 2021. For 2021, SIMPLE deferrals are up to $13,500 plus an additional $3,000 catch-up contributions for employees age 50 and older. Read more. 


Tax advantages of hiring your child at your small business

As a business owner, you should know that you can save family income and payroll taxes by putting your child on the payroll. You may be able to turn 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. You also may be able to achieve Social Security tax savings (depending on how your business is organized) and even make retirement plan contributions for your child. Contact us if you have any questions about the rules in your situation. Read more. 


Need a new business vehicle? Consider a heavy SUV

Are you considering buying a vehicle that you’ll use in your business? If you choose a heavy sport utility vehicle (SUV), you may be able to benefit from lucrative tax rules for those vehicles. New and used heavy SUVs, pickups and vans acquired and put to business use in 2021 are eligible for 100% first-year bonus depreciation. However, you must use the vehicle more than 50% for business. If your business use is between 51% and 99%, you can deduct that percentage of the cost in the first year the vehicle is placed in service. This tax break is available only if the manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating is above 6,000 pounds. Consult with us to help evaluate if this is the right move for your business. Read more. 


Is an S corporation the best choice of entity for your business?

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. A big advantage of an S corp over a partnership is that as an S corp shareholder, you won’t be personally liable for corporate debts. If you expect the business to incur losses in its early years, an S corp is preferable to a C corp from a tax standpoint. C corp shareholders generally get no tax benefit from such losses but S corp shareholders can deduct their percentage share of the losses on their personal tax returns to the extent of their basis in the stock and in any loans made to the entity. Contact us to learn more. Read more. 


Business highlights in the new American Rescue Plan Act

President Biden signed the 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. For example, the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) 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. This means an employer can potentially have up to $40,000 in qualified wages per employee through 2021. This is only one of the ARPA provisions. Contact us for more information about your situation. Read more. 


Launching a small business? Here are some tax considerations

While many businesses have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some entrepreneurs have started new small businesses. They may start out as sole proprietors. There are many tax considerations involved in operating that way. For example, you may qualify for a deduction on qualified business income. You must pay self-employment taxes and make estimated tax payments on income earned. If you hire employees, you need a taxpayer ID number and must withhold and pay employment taxes. Keep complete records of income and expenses. Also, consider setting up a qualified retirement plan. Contact us if you want more information about the tax aspects of your business. Read more. 


Work Opportunity Tax Credit extended through 2025

Are you a business owner thinking about hiring? Be aware that a recent law extended a credit for hiring individuals from one or more targeted groups. Employers can qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which is worth as much as $2,400 for each eligible employee, including ex-felons and from other groups. The maximum credit amounts are different for some employees ($4,800, $5,600 and $9,600 for certain veterans; $9,000 for long-term family assistance recipients; and $1,200 for summer youth employees). The WOTC was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. But a law passed late last year extends it through Dec. 31, 2025. Contact us with questions or information about your situation. Read more. 


If you run a business from home, you could qualify for home office deductions

During the pandemic, many people are working from home. If you’re self-employed and run your business from home or perform certain functions there, you may be able to claim deductions for home office expenses against your business income. There are two methods for claiming deductions. With the actual expenses method, you claim direct expenses, such as the cost of carpeting and a proportionate share of indirect expenses, such as utilities, insurance and depreciation. With the simplified method, you deduct $5 for each square foot of home office space, up to $1,500. Unfortunately, employees aren’t eligible for home office deductions. We can help you determine if you qualify and how to proceed. Read more. 


What are the tax implications of buying or selling a business?

Merger and acquisition activity in many sectors 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’re considering buying or selling another business, it’s important to understand the tax implications. For tax purposes, a transaction can basically be structured in two ways: stock (or ownership interest) or assets. For tax and nontax reasons, buyers usually prefer to purchase assets, while sellers generally prefer stock sales. Buying or selling a business may be the largest transaction you’ll ever make, so seek professional tax advice. After a deal is done, it may be too late to get the best tax results. Contact us. Read more. 


The new Form 1099-NEC and the revised 1099-MISC are due to recipients soon

There’s a new IRS form for business taxpayers that pay or receive certain types of nonemployee compensation and it must be furnished to most recipients by Feb. 1, 2021. After sending the forms to recipients, taxpayers must file the forms with the IRS by March 1 (March 31 if filing electronically). The requirement begins with forms for tax year 2020. Payers must complete Form 1099-NEC to report any payment of $600 or more to a recipient. February 1 is also the deadline for furnishing Form 1099-MISC to report certain other payments to recipients. There’s no automatic 30-day extension to file 1099-NEC but an extension may be available under certain hardship conditions. Contact us for help. Read more. 


PPP loans have reopened: Let’s review the tax consequences

The Small Business Administration announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) reopened the week of January 11. If you’re fortunate to get a PPP loan to help during the COVID-19 crisis (or you received one last year), you may wonder about the tax consequences. The CARES Act, which passed in March of 2020, didn’t address whether expenses paid with the proceeds of PPP loans could be deducted on tax returns. The IRS took the position that these expenses weren’t deductible. However, the new Consolidated Appropriations Act allows expenses paid from the proceeds of PPP loans to be deducted. Contact us with questions or if you need help with the PPP loan application or forgiveness process.Read more


Can your business benefit from the enhanced Employee Retention Tax Credit?

COVID-19 has caused widespread furloughs and layoffs. Fortunately, employers that keep workers on their payrolls are eligible for a refundable Employee Retention Tax Credit, which was extended and enhanced in the latest law. Under the CARES Act, the credit only covered wages paid between March 13, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. The new law extends the covered wage period to include the first two calendar quarters of 2021. In addition, for the first two quarters of 2021 ending on June 30, the new law increases the overall covered wage ceiling to 70% of qualified wages paid during the applicable quarter (versus 50% under the CARES Act). These are just some of the changes. Contact us with questions. Read more. 


New law doubles business meal deductions and makes favorable PPP loan changes

The COVID-19 relief bill, signed into law on December 27, 2020, contains numerous favorable tax breaks for businesses. For example, the new law includes a provision that removes the 50% limit on deducting business meals provided by restaurants and makes those meals 100% deductible. This rule applies to expenses paid or incurred in calendar years 2021 and 2022. The law also authorizes more money towards the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and extends it to March 31, 2021. In addition, it provides for the deductibility of PPP expenses paid with the loan proceeds. These are just a couple of the business-related provisions in the new law. Contact us if you have questions about your situation. Read more. 


The right entity choice: Should you convert from a C to an S corporation?

The best choice of entity can affect your business in several ways, including the amount of your tax bill. Although S corporations can provide substantial tax advantages over C corporations in some cases, there are potential tax problems to assess before deciding to convert from C to S status. One issue to consider is last-in, first-out (LIFO) inventory. A C corporation that uses LIFO inventory must pay tax on the benefits it derived by using LIFO if it converts to an S corporation. Other issues to consider are the built-in gains tax, passive income tax and unused net operating losses. Contact us if you’re interested in an entity change. We’ll explain your options and the tax implications. Read more. 


2021 Q1 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are a few key tax-related deadlines for businesses during Q1 of 2021. JAN. 15: Pay the final installment of 2020 estimated tax. FEB. 1: File 2020 Forms W-2 with the Social Security Administration and provide copies to employees. Also provide copies of 2020 Forms 1099-MISC to recipients and, if reporting nonemployee compensation in Box 7, file, too. MARCH 1: File 2020 Forms 1099-MISC if not required earlier and paper filing. MARCH 16: If a calendar-year partnership or S corp., file or extend your 2020 tax return. Contact us to learn more about filing requirements and ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines. Read more. 


Drive more savings to your business with the heavy SUV tax break

Are you considering replacing a car that you’re using in your business? Consider a heavy SUV, pickup or van because the caps on annual depreciation and expensing deductions for passenger automobiles don’t apply to them. SUVs rated at more than 6,000 pounds gross (loaded) vehicle weight qualify. In most cases, you can write off the entire cost of a new heavy SUV used entirely for business purposes as 100% bonus depreciation in the year it’s placed in service. Even if you elect out of bonus depreciation for the heavy SUV, you can elect to expense under Section 179 the cost of an SUV up to $25,900 for 2020. The remainder is depreciated under the usual rules. Other limitations may apply. Read more. 


The QBI deduction basics and a year-end tax tip that might help you qualify

Are you eligible to claim the qualified business income (QBI) deduction? Taxpayers other than corporations may be entitled to a deduction of up to 20% of their QBI. For 2020, if taxable income exceeds $163,300 for single taxpayers, or $326,600 for a married couple filing jointly, the QBI deduction may be limited in certain cases. Taxpayers may be able to save taxes with this deduction by deferring income or accelerating deductions at year end so that they come under the dollar thresholds (or be subject to a smaller phaseout of the deduction). You also may be able to increase the deduction by increasing W-2 wages before year end. The rules are complex so consult with us before taking steps. Read more.


Small businesses: Cash in on depreciation tax savers

The Section 179 deduction provides a tax benefit to businesses, enabling them to claim immediate deductions for qualified assets, instead of depreciating them over time. For 2020, the maximum deduction is $1.04 million, subject to a phaseout rule if more than $2.59 million of eligible property is placed in service during the tax year. Even better, the Sec. 179 deduction isn’t the only avenue for immediate tax write-offs for assets such as machinery and equipment. Under the 100% bonus depreciation tax break, the entire cost of eligible assets placed in service in 2020 can be written off this year. Contact us if you want more details about how your business can make the most of the deductions. Read more. 


The importance of S corporation basis and distribution elections

S corporations may provide tax advantages over C corporations. This can be true if you expect the business to incur losses because C corp. shareholders generally get no tax benefit from losses. Conversely, S corp. shareholders can deduct their share of these losses on personal tax returns to the extent of their basis in the stock and any loans they make to the entity. So the ability to use losses that pass through from an S corp. depends on your basis in the corporation's stock and debt. Be aware that there are some elections available to an S corp. or its shareholders that can affect the basis adjustments caused by distributions and other events. Contact us if you’d like more information. Read more. 


Health Savings Accounts for your small business

Business owners know employee health care benefits are expensive. Therefore, your business may want to provide some of these benefits through an employer-sponsored Health Savings Account (HSA). For eligible individuals, HSAs are a tax-advantaged way to set aside funds (or have their employers do so) to meet future medical needs. An eligible employee must be covered by a “high deductible health plan.” For 2020 and 2021, a high deductible health plan has an annual deductible of at least $1,400 for self-only coverage, or $2,800 for family coverage. For 2020, an individual can contribute $3,550 in ($7,100 for a family) to an HSA. This is increasing to $3,600 and $7,200, respectively, for 2021. Read more 


Do you want to withdraw cash from your closely held corporation at a low tax cost?

Owners of closely held corporations often want to withdraw money from their businesses at a low tax cost. The simplest way is to distribute cash as a dividend. However, a dividend distribution isn’t tax-efficient, since it’s taxable to you to the extent of your corporation’s “earnings and profits.” And it’s not deductible by the corporation. But there are alternatives that may allow you to withdraw cash and avoid dividend treatment. For example, you might be able to receive capital repayments, or obtain reasonable compensation for you, as well as certain fringe benefits. Contact us if you’d like to discuss these or other ideas to tax-efficiently get cash out of your corporation. Read more. 


Tax responsibilities if your business is closing amid the pandemic

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced many businesses to shut down. If this is your situation, we’re here to assist you in any way we can, including taking care of various tax obligations. A business must file a final income tax return and some other related forms for the year it closes. If you have employees, you must pay them final wages and compensation owed, make final federal tax deposits and report employment taxes. Failure to withhold or deposit employee income, Social Security and Medicare taxes can result in personal liability for what’s known as the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty. There may be other responsibilities. Contact us to discuss these issues and to get answers to any questions. Read more. 


New business? It’s a good time to start a retirement plan

If you recently launched a business, you may want to set up a tax-favored retirement plan for yourself and your employees. There are several types of qualified plans that are eligible for these tax advantages: A current deduction from income to the employer for plan contributions, tax-free buildup of the value of plan investments, and the deferral of income (augmented by investment earnings) to employees until funds are distributed. The two basic types of plans are defined benefit pensions and defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans. There are also SEPs and SIMPLEs, which are easy to set up and maintain. Contact us to discuss the types of retirement plans available to you. Read more. 


The 2021 “Social Security wage base” is increasing

If your small business is planning for payroll next year, be aware that the “Social Security wage base” is increasing. The Social Security Administration recently announced that the maximum earnings subject to Social Security tax will increase from $137,700 in 2020 to $142,800 in 2021. Wages and self-employment income above this threshold aren’t subject to Social Security tax. For 2021, an employer must withhold: 6.2% Social Security tax on the first $142,800 of employee wages, plus 1.45% Medicare tax. In addition, there’s a 0.9% additional Medicare tax on all employee wages in excess of $200,000. Contact us with questions. We can keep you in compliance with payroll laws and regulations. Read more. 


Understanding the passive activity loss rules

The passive activity loss rules affect business ventures you’re engaged in or might engage in. If the ventures are passive activities, the passive activity loss rules prevent you from deducting expenses that are generated by them in excess of their income. You can’t deduct the excess expenses (losses) against earned income or against other nonpassive income. Nonpassive income for this purpose includes interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, gains and losses from most property dispositions, and income from certain oil and gas property interests. There are different rules for rental activities. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how these rules apply to your business. Read more. 


The easiest way to survive an IRS audit is to get ready in advance

IRS audit rates are historically low, according to the latest data, but that’s little consolation if your return is selected. But with proper preparation and planning, you should fare well. But it helps to know what might catch the attention of the IRS. For example, some audit “red flags” are unusually high deductions, major inconsistencies between previous years’ tax returns and the current one, profit margins and expenses markedly different from those of similar businesses. The IRS normally has three years within which to conduct an audit. If the IRS selects you for an audit, we can help you understand the issues, gather the needed documents and respond to the inquiries effectively. Read more. 


The tax rules for deducting the computer software costs of your business

Do you buy or lease computer software to use in your business? Do you develop software for use in your business, or for sale or lease to others? You should be aware there are complex rules that may apply to determine the tax treatment of the expenses. The rules depend on whether the software is purchased, leased or developed by your business. For example, you must deduct amounts you pay to rent leased software in the tax year they’re paid, if you’re a cash-method taxpayer, or the tax year for which the rentals are accrued, if you’re an accrual-method taxpayer. We can assist you in applying the tax rules for treating computer software costs in the way that is most advantageous for you. Read more. 


Business website costs: How to handle them for tax purposes

The business use of websites is widespread. But determining the proper tax treatment for the costs involved in developing a website can be difficult. The IRS hasn’t yet released formal guidance on when website costs can be deducted, so you must apply existing guidance that’s available on other costs to the issue of website development costs. The exact treatment of website design costs depends on whether they’re software or hardware and whether they’re part of a start-up business. If you hire third parties to set up and run your website, payments are currently deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses. Contact us if you have questions or want to plan for website costs. Read more. 


2020 Q4 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers 

Here are a few key tax-related deadlines for businesses and other employers during Quarter 4 of 2020. OCT. 15: If you’re the owner or operator of a calendar-year C corp. which filed an extension, file a 2019 income tax return. NOV. 2: Report income tax withholding and FICA taxes for Q3 2020 (unless you’re eligible for a Nov. 10 deadline because you deposited on time (and in full) all of the associated taxes due). DEC. 15: If a calendar-year C corp., pay the fourth installment of 2020 estimated income taxes. Contact us for more about the filing requirements and to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines. Read more. 


Employers have questions and concerns about deferring employees’ Social Security taxes 

The IRS has issued guidance to employers about the presidential action to allow employers to defer certain payroll taxes. Notice 2020-65 was issued to implement President Trump’s executive memo signed Aug. 8. The deferral involves wages or compensation paid to an employee beginning Sept. 1, 2020, and ending Dec. 31, 2020, but only if the amount paid for a biweekly pay period is less than $4,000, or an equivalent amount in other pay periods. The guidance postpones the withholding and remittance of the employee share of Social Security tax until the period beginning Jan. 1, 2021, and ending April 30, 2021. Penalties, interest and additions to tax will begin to accrue on May 1, 2021. Read more.


5 key points about bonus depreciation 

You’re probably aware of the 100% bonus depreciation tax break that’s available for a wide variety of qualifying property. There are some important points to be aware of when it comes to this powerful tax-saving tool. For example, bonus depreciation is available for new and most used property. And it’s scheduled to phase out. Under current law, 100% bonus depreciation will generally be phased out in steps. An 80% rate will apply to property placed in service in 2023, 60% in 2024, 40% in 2025, and 20% in 2026, and a 0% rate will apply in 2027 and later years. Asset depreciation can be a complex area of tax law. Contact us with questions about your situation. Read more. 


CARES Act made changes to excess business losses 

The CARES Act made changes to excess business losses that affect those who hold an interest in a business (or may do so in the future). This includes changes that are retroactive and there may be opportunities to file amended tax returns. The CARES Act made several retroactive corrections to the excess business loss rules as they were originally stated in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Most importantly, the law clarified that deductions, gross income or gain attributable to employment aren’t taken into account in calculating an excess business loss. This means that excess business losses can’t shelter either net taxable investment income or net taxable employment income. Read more. 


The President’s action to defer payroll taxes: What does it mean for your business? 

President Trump has signed a Presidential Memorandum to defer the employee portion of Social Security taxes for some people. The action only defers the taxes, which means they must be paid in the future. However, the action directs the U.S. Treasury Secretary to explore ways to eliminate the obligation to pay the taxes deferred. Employers have questions and concerns. For example, will employers have to withhold more taxes from employees’ paychecks in the future to pay the taxes back? Without a law to forgive the taxes, will employers be liable to pay them? What if employers can’t change their software by the Sept. 1 start of the deferral? Is the deferral required? Contact us with questions. Read more. 


The possible tax consequences of PPP loans 

If your business got a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan taken out due to the COVID-19 crisis, there are potential tax implications. The PPP allows eligible businesses to receive loans that will be forgiven if they spend the proceeds on certain items within a certain period of time. In general, the reduction or cancellation of non-PPP debt results in cancellation of debt (COD) income to the debtor. However, forgiveness of PPP debt is excluded from gross income. The IRS has stated that expenses paid with PPP proceeds can’t be deducted, because the loans are forgiven without having taxable COD income and are tax-exempt income. Deducting the expenses would result in a double tax benefit. Read more. 


File cash transaction reports for your business — on paper or electronically 

Does your business receive large amounts of cash or cash equivalents such as bank checks? You may be required to submit forms to the IRS to report these transactions. Each person engaged in a trade or business who receives more than $10,000 in cash in one transaction, or in two or more related transactions, must file Form 8300. Any transactions conducted in a 24-hour period are considered related transactions. Businesses required to file 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. Businesses that file electronically get an automatic acknowledgment of receipt when they file. Contact us with questions. Read more. 


Even if no money changes hands, bartering is a taxable transaction 

During the COVID-19 crisis, many small businesses are strapped for cash. They may find it beneficial to barter for goods and services instead of paying cash for them. If your business engages in bartering, remember that the fair market value of goods you receive is taxable income. And if you exchange services with another business, the transaction results in taxable income for both parties. Some businesses join barter clubs that facilitate barter exchanges. If you join such a club, you’ll be asked to provide your Social Security number or employer identification number. You may receive a form that reports barter transactions. Contact us if you need assistance or would like more information. Read more


Businesses: Get ready for the new Form 1099-NEC 

There’s a new IRS form for business taxpayers who pay or receive nonemployee compensation. Beginning with tax year 2020, payers must complete Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation, to report any payment of $600 or more to a payee. (Prior to 2020, Form 1099-MISC was filed to report payments of at least $600 in a calendar year for services performed in a business by someone who isn’t treated as an employee.) Generally, payers must file Form 1099-NEC by Jan. 31. For 2020 tax returns, the due date will be Feb. 1, 2021, because Jan. 31 is a Sunday. There’s no automatic 30-day extension to file Form 1099-NEC. However, an extension to file may be available under certain hardship conditions. Read more. 


Steer clear of the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty 

If you own or manage a business with employees, you may be at risk for a severe tax penalty. It’s called the “Trust Fund Recovery Penalty” because it applies to the Social Security and income taxes required to be withheld by a business from employees’ wages. Because the taxes are considered government property, the employer holds them in “trust” on the government’s behalf until they’re paid over. The penalty is also sometimes called the “100% penalty” because the person liable and responsible for the taxes will be penalized 100% of the taxes due. Accordingly, the amounts IRS seeks when the penalty is applied are usually substantial, and IRS is very aggressive in enforcing this penalty. Read more. 


Haven’t filed your 2019 business tax return yet? There may be ways to chip away at your bill 

The extended federal income tax deadline is approaching. The IRS postponed until July 15 many payment and filing deadlines. The CARES Act, which passed in 2020, includes some retroactive tax relief for businesses. Some provisions may affect a still-unfiled tax return or you may be able to take advantage of them on an amended return. For example, net operating losses (NOLs) that arise in tax years 2018 through 2020 can be carried back 5 years. So an NOL reported on an unfiled return may be carried back to an earlier year and allow you to recover tax paid in the carry-back year. Because tax rates were generally higher in years before 2018, NOLs carried back to those years can be beneficial. Read more. 


Launching a business? How to treat start-up expenses on your tax return 

While the COVID-19 crisis has devastated many businesses, the pandemic has also created opportunities to launch new businesses. For example, some businesses are being started online to provide products and services to people staying at home. Entrepreneurs often don’t know that many start-up expenses can’t be currently deducted. Some probably must be amortized over time. You might be able to elect to deduct up to $5,000 currently, but the deduction is reduced by the amount by which your total start-up costs exceed $50,000. You can also deduct $5,000 of the organizational costs of creating a corporation or partnership. Contact us to help you maximize deductions for a start-up business. Read more. 


Good records are the key to tax deductions and trouble-free IRS audits 

If you operate a small business, you need to keep records of your income and expenses. You should carefully record them in order to claim the full amount of tax deductions to which you’re entitled. You also want to make sure you can defend the amounts on your tax returns if you’re ever audited by the IRS. Certain expenses, such as automobile, travel, meals and office-at-home expenses, require special attention because they’re subject to special recordkeeping requirements or limits on deductibility. Contact us if you need assistance retaining adequate business records. Taking a meticulous approach to how you keep records can protect your deductions and help make an audit much less painful. Read more. 


Rioting damage at your business? You may be able to claim casualty loss deductions 

The recent riots around the country have resulted in many storefronts, office buildings and business properties being destroyed. In the case of stores and businesses with inventory, looters stole products after ransacking property. A commercial insurance property policy should generally cover some, or all, of the losses. But a business may also be able to claim casualty property loss or theft deductions on its tax return. Here’s how a loss is figured for tax purposes: Your adjusted basis in the property MINUS any salvage value MINUS any insurance or reimbursement you receive or expect to receive. It’s important to have proof of losses. Contact us for more information about your situation. Read more.


Business meal deductions: The current rules amid proposed changes

One tax break that President Trump has proposed to help restaurants and entertainment venues is an increase in business meal and entertainment deductions. We’ll let you know if a law passes that enhances deductions. In the meantime, let’s review the rules. Before the pandemic hit, many businesses spent money “wining and dining” customers, employees and others. Under current law, entertainment expenses aren’t deductible. However, you can deduct 50% of the cost of business-related food and beverages, if you meet certain requirements. If you buy food and beverages at an entertainment event, you can deduct 50% of the cost, but only if business was conducted right before, during or afterwards. Read more. 


IRS releases 2021 amounts for Health Savings Accounts

The IRS recently released the 2021 inflation-adjusted amounts for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). For calendar year 2021, the annual contribution limitation for an individual with self-only coverage under a HDHP is $3,600. For an individual with family coverage, the amount is $7,200. This is up from $3,550 and $7,100, respectively, for 2020. For calendar year 2021, an HDHP is a health plan with an annual deductible that isn’t less than $1,400 for self-only coverage or $2,800 for family coverage. In addition, annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums) can’t exceed $7,000 for self-only coverage or $14,000 for family coverage. Read more. 


Fortunate enough to get a PPP loan? Forgiven expenses aren’t deductible

The IRS has issued guidance clarifying that certain deductions aren’t allowed if a business has received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. Specifically, an expense isn’t deductible if both: 1) the payment of the expense results in forgiveness of a loan made under the PPP, and 2) the income associated with the forgiveness is excluded from gross income under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. IRS Notice 2020-32 states that “this treatment prevents a double tax benefit.” However, two members of Congress say they’re opposed to the IRS stand on this issue. They say they’ll seek legislation to make certain expenses deductible. Stay tuned. Read more. 


Business charitable contribution rules have changed under the CARES Act

Many businesses are donating to charity in light of the pandemic. In order to encourage giving, the CARES Act made some changes to the rules. Under one change, the limit on charitable deductions for corporations (generally 10% of modified taxable income) doesn’t apply to qualifying contributions made in 2020. Instead, a corporation’s contributions, reduced by other gifts, can be as much as 25% of modified taxable income. No connection between contributions and COVID-19 is required. In another change, for food inventory contributions made in 2020, the deduction limit increases from 15% to 25% of taxable income for C corporations and 15% to 25% of the net aggregate income for other businesses. Read more. 


The CARES Act liberalizes net operating losses

The CARES Act includes favorable changes to the rules for deducting net operating losses (NOLs) to provide businesses with relief from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. It permanently eases the taxable income limitation on deductions. For tax years beginning before 2021, the CARES Act removes a taxable income limitation on deductions for prior-year NOLs carried over into those years. So NOL carryovers into tax years beginning before 2021 can be used to fully offset taxable income for those years. These changes may affect prior tax years for which you’ve already filed tax returns. To benefit from the changes, you may need to file an amended tax return. Contact us to learn more. Read more. 


Hiring independent contractors? Make sure they’re properly classified

As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, your business may be using independent contractors to keep costs low. But be careful that these workers are properly classified for federal tax purposes. If the IRS reclassifies them as employees, it can be costly. The question of whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee is a complex one. The IRS and courts have generally ruled that individuals are employees if the businesses they work for have the right to control and direct them in their jobs. Otherwise, they’re generally contractors. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how the rules apply to your business. We can help ensure that none of your workers are misclassified. Read more. 


New COVID-19 law makes favorable changes to “qualified improvement property”

A law providing relief due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis contains a valuable change in the tax rules for improvements to interior parts of nonresidential buildings. You may recall that under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, any qualified improvement property (QIP) placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017 wasn’t eligible for 100% bonus depreciation. The cost had to be deducted over 39 years rather than entirely in the year the QIP was placed in service. This was due to a drafting error by Congress. But the new CARES Act now allows most businesses to claim 100% bonus depreciation for QIP as long as requirements are met. The correction is retroactive to QIP placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017. Read more. 


Relief from not making employment tax deposits due to COVID-19 tax credits

The IRS has issued guidance providing relief from failure to make employment tax deposits for employers entitled to refundable tax credits provided under two laws. The two laws are the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Under the laws, the penalty for failure to deposit the employer share of Social Security tax is waived in anticipation of the allowance of the refundable tax credits. IRS Notice 2020-22 provides that an employer won’t be penalized for failing to deposit employment taxes related to qualified leave or qualified retention wages in a calendar quarter if certain requirements are met. Contact us for more information. Read more. 


Answers to questions about the CARES Act employee retention tax credit

The recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The employee retention credit is available to employers, including nonprofits, with operations that have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings. The credit is also provided to employers who have experienced a greater than 50% reduction in quarterly receipts, measured on a year-over-year basis. The IRS released FAQs about the credit. Here’s a link: https://bit.ly/2R8syZx . Contact us if you need assistance. Read more. 


The new COVID-19 law provides businesses with more relief 

On March 27, President Trump signed into law another coronavirus (COVID-19) bill, which provides extensive relief for businesses and employers. The new law provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the crisis. It also allows eligible taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of Social Security taxes through Dec. 31, 2020. Instead, employers can pay 50% of the amounts by Dec. 31, 2021 and the remaining 50% by Dec. 31, 2022. In addition, there are changes to net operating losses, the business interest expense deduction and more. Other rules and limits may apply. Contact us if you have questions about your situation. Read more. 


Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tax relief for small businesses 

Is your business affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19)? Fortunately, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act recently became law. It includes paid leave benefits to employees; employer and self-employed tax credits; and FICA tax relief for employers. The IRS also issued guidance allowing taxpayers to defer some federal income tax payments and estimated tax payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. “There is no limitation on the amount of the payment that may be postponed,” the IRS stated in Notice 2020-18. Plus, the IRS announced the 2019 income tax FILING deadline will be moved to July 15, 2020 from April 15, 2020. Questions? Contact us. Read more. 


Small business owners still have time to set up a SEP plan for last year

If you own a business and don’t have a tax-advantaged retirement plan, it’s not too late to establish one and reduce your 2019 tax bill. A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) can be set up for 2019 as long as you do it before your 2019 income tax return filing deadline. You have until the same deadline to make 2019 contributions and claim a potentially substantial deduction on your 2019 return. Contributions are discretionary and may be as large as $56,000 for 2019 ($57,000 for 2020). SEPs generally are much easier to administer and less expensive than other retirement plans. Contact us with questions and to discuss whether it makes sense for you to set up a SEP for 2019. Read more. 


Determine a reasonable salary for a corporate business owner

If you’re a C corporation owner, you probably know there’s a tax advantage to taking money out as compensation rather than as dividends. The reason: A corporation can deduct executive salaries and bonuses, but not dividend payments. So funds withdrawn as dividends are taxed twice, once to the corporation and once to the recipient. Compensation is taxed only once to the employee who receives it. However, there’s a limit on how much money you can take out as compensation. Compensation can be deducted only to the extent that it’s reasonable. Any unreasonable amount isn’t deductible and, if paid to a shareholder, may be taxed as a dividend. Contact us for help determining a reasonable salary. Read more. 


Work Opportunity Tax Credit extended through 2020

A recent tax law extended a credit for hiring people from targeted groups. Employers can qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which is worth as much as $2,400 for each eligible employee, including ex-felons and from other groups. The credit amounts are different for some employees ($4,800, $5,600 and $9,600 for certain veterans; $9,000 for long-term family assistance recipients; and $1,200 for summer youth employees). The WOTC was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2019. But a law passed late last year extends it through Dec. 31, 2020. Contact us with questions or information about your situation. Read more. Read more.


Do you run your business from home? You might be eligible for home office deductions

If you’re self-employed and work from home, you may be entitled to home office deductions. However, you must satisfy strict rules. Eligible taxpayers can deduct direct expenses such as the costs of home office repairs. You can also deduct the indirect expenses of maintaining the office such as the allocable share of utility costs, depreciation, insurance, mortgage interest and real estate taxes. In general, you qualify for home office deductions if part of your home is used “regularly and exclusively” as your principal place of business. If your home isn’t your principal place of business, you may still be able to deduct home office expenses. Questions? We can explain more about the rules. Read more. 


How business owners may be able to reduce tax by using an S corporation

Do you conduct your business as a sole proprietorship, wholly owned LLC or partnership? If so, there may be a way to cut your tax bill by using an S corporation. The self-employment (SE) tax is imposed on 92.35% of SE income at a 12.4% rate for Social Security up to $137,700 for 2020 and at a 2.9% rate for Medicare. An extra 0.9% Medicare tax is imposed on income exceeding $250,000 for married filers and $200,000 for singles. But if you conduct your business as an S corp, you’ll be subject to income tax, but not SE tax, on your share of the business income. But the S corp must pay you a reasonable salary. Contact us if you’d like to discuss conducting your business as an S corporation. Read more. 


Do you want to go into business for yourself?

Many people who launch small businesses start out as sole proprietors. There are many tax rules and considerations involved in operating that way. For example, you may qualify for the pass-through deduction on qualified business income. You must pay self-employment taxes and make estimated tax payments on income earned. If you hire employees, you need a taxpayer ID number and must withhold and pay employment taxes. Keep complete records of income and expenses. Also, consider setting up a qualified retirement plan. Contact us if you want more information about the tax aspects of your business, or if you have questions about reporting or recordkeeping requirements. Read more 


Do your employees receive tips? You may be eligible for a tax credit

If you’re an employer who owns a business where tipping is customary, for you may qualify for a valuable tax credit involving the Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes that you pay on your employees’ tip income. 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 $5.15 per hour, calculated monthly. Other rules may apply. Contact us if you have any questions. Read more.


Numerous tax limits affecting businesses have increased for 2020

An array of tax-related limits affecting businesses are annually indexed for inflation, and many have increased for 2020. For example, the Section 179 expensing limit has gone up to $1.04 million from $1.02 million. Also up are the income-based phase-ins for certain limits on the Sec. 199A qualified business income deduction for owners of pass-through entities. And most limits related to employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, are higher this year. This includes employee contributions to 401(k) plans, which are up $500 this year to $19,500. If you have questions about the tax limits that will affect your business in 2020, contact us. Read more. 


Cents-per-mile rate for business miles decreases slightly for 2020

A slightly lower IRS mileage rate means smaller tax deductions for business miles in 2020. The optional standard mileage rate used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an auto for business has decreased by by one-half cent to 57.5 cents per mile. It was 58 cents for 2019 and 54.5 cents for 2018. This mileage rate comes into play if you don’t want to keep track of actual vehicle-related expenses. But you still must record certain information, such as the mileage, date and destination for each trip. The mileage rate can also be used for reimbursing employees. Many rules and limits apply. Contact us for details. Read more. 


New rules will soon require employers to annually disclose retirement income to employees

The recently enacted SECURE Act includes a new requirement for employers that sponsor tax-favored defined contribution retirement plans that are subject to ERISA. Specifically, the law will require that benefit statements sent to plan participants include a lifetime income disclosure at least once during any 12-month period. It will need to illustrate the monthly payments that an employee would receive if the total account balance were used to provide lifetime income streams, including a single life annuity and a qualified joint and survivor annuity for the participant and his or her surviving spouse. The requirement won’t go into effect until 12 months after the DOL issues a final rule. Read more. 


New law helps businesses make their employees’ retirement secure

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act) was recently signed into law as part of a larger spending bill. There are several provisions of interest to small businesses that have a retirement plan for employees or are thinking of adding one. For example, unrelated employers will be able to join together to create a retirement plan. Beginning in 2021, new rules will make it easier to create and maintain a multiple employer plan. In addition, there’s an increased tax credit for small employer retirement plan startup costs. And there’s a new small employer automatic plan enrollment credit. These are only some of the provisions in the law. Contact us to learn more. Read more. 


New law provides a variety of tax breaks to businesses and employers

While you were celebrating the holidays, you may have missed a law that passed with a grab bag of provisions providing tax relief to businesses and employers. It makes many changes to the tax code, including an extension (generally through 2020) of provisions that were set to expire or already expired. For example, the law extended the employer tax credit for paid family and medical leave through 2020, as well as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring individuals who are members of targeted groups. It also repealed the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage. These are only a few provisions of the new law. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Read more. 


Wayfair revisited — It’s time to review your sales tax obligations

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. Read more. 


Small Businesses: It may not be not too late to cut your 2019 taxes

Don’t let the holiday rush keep you from taking some important steps to reduce your 2019 tax liability. You still have time to execute a few strategies. For example, are you thinking about purchasing new or used heavy vehicles, heavy 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. Or you can put recurring expenses normally paid early in the year on your credit card before Jan. 1. That way, you can claim the deduction for 2019 even though you don’t pay the bill until 2020. Finally, before year-end, contribute to a SEP or 401(k) if you haven’t reached the contribution limit. Read more.


2020 Q1 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are a few key tax-related deadlines for businesses during Q1 of 2020. JAN. 31: File 2019 Forms W-2 with the Social Security Administration and provide copies to employees. Also provide copies of 2019 Forms 1099-MISC to recipients and, if reporting nonemployee compensation in Box 7, file, too. FEB. 28: File 2019 Forms 1099-MISC if not required earlier and paper filing. MAR. 16: If a calendar-year partnership or S corp., file or extend your 2019 tax return. Contact us to learn more about filing requirements and ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines. Read more. 


Holiday parties and gifts can help show your appreciation and provide tax breaks

The holiday season is in full swing. Your business may want to show its gratitude to employees and customers by giving them gifts or hosting parties. It’s a good idea to understand the tax rules involved. Are they tax deductible by your business and taxable to the recipients? Gifts to customers are generally deductible up to $25 per recipient per year. De minimis, noncash gifts to employees (such as a holiday turkey) aren’t included in their taxable income yet are deductible by you. Holiday parties are 100% deductible if they’re primarily for the benefit of non-highly-paid employees and their families. If customers attend, parties may be partially deductible. Contact us with questions. Read more. 


2 valuable year-end tax-saving tools for your business

Under current law, there are two valuable depreciation-related tools that may help your business reduce its 2019 tax liability. To benefit from the Sec. 179 and bonus depreciation deductions, you must buy eligible machinery, equipment, furniture or other assets and place them into service by the end of the tax year. In other words, you can claim a full deduction for 2019 (up to certain limits) even if you acquire assets and place them in service during the last days of the year. It’s important to note that these deductions may also be used for business vehicles. But, depending on the type of vehicle, additional limits may apply. Please contact us to learn more. Read more. 


The tax implications if your business engages in environmental cleanup

If your company needs to “remediate” or clean up environmental contamination, the expenses involved can be tax deductible. Unfortunately, every type of environmental cleanup expense cannot be currently deducted. Some cleanup costs must be capitalized. For example, remediation costs generally have to be capitalized if the remediation adds significantly to the value of the cleaned-up property; prolongs the useful life of the property; or adapts it to a new or different use. In addition to federal tax deductions, there may be state or local tax incentives involved in cleaning up contaminated property. If you have environmental cleanup expenses, we can help maximize the deductions available. Read more.


Small businesses: Get ready for your 1099-MISC reporting requirements

Early next year, your business may be required to comply with Form 1099 rules. You may have to send forms to independent contractors, vendors and others whom you pay nonemployee compensation, as well as file them with the IRS. There are penalties for noncompliance. Employers must provide a Form 1099-MISC for nonemployee compensation by Jan. 31, 2020, to each noncorporate service provider who was paid at least $600 for services during 2019. (1099-MISCs generally don’t have to be provided to corporate service providers.) A copy of each Form 1099-MISC with payments listed in box 7 must also be filed with the IRS by Jan. 31. If you have questions about your reporting requirements, contact us. Read more.


Small businesses: Stay clear of a severe payroll tax penalty

Managing payroll is a laborious task for small businesses. But it’s critical to withhold the right amount of taxes from employees and pay them over to the federal government on time. If you don’t, you could be hit with the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty, also known as the 100% penalty. It applies to the Social Security and income taxes required to be withheld by a business from its employees’ wages. It’s called the 100% penalty because people liable or responsible for the taxes can be personally penalized 100% of the taxes due. Absolutely no failure to withhold and no “borrowing” from withheld amounts should ever be allowed in your business. Contact us for more information. Read more. 


Thinking about converting from a C corporation to an S corporation?

The right entity choice can make a difference in the taxes you owe for your business. Although S corporations can provide substantial tax advantages over C corporations in some situations, there are potential tax problems you should assess before deciding to convert from C to S status. One of the issues to consider is last-in, first-out (LIFO) inventory. A C corporation that uses LIFO inventory must pay tax on the benefits it derived by using LIFO if it converts to an S corporation. Other issues to understand are the built-in gains tax, passive income tax and unused net operating losses. We can explain how these factors will affect your company and develop strategies to minimize taxes. Read more. 


Accelerate depreciation deductions with a cost segregation study

Is your business depreciating over 30 years the entire cost of constructing the building that houses your operation? If so, consider a cost segregation study. It may allow you to accelerate depreciation deductions on certain items, thereby reducing taxes and boosting cash flow. And under current law, the potential benefits are now even greater than they were a few years ago due to enhancements to certain depreciation tax breaks. You may even be able to get the benefit of speedier depreciation for items that were incorrectly claimed. Cost segregation studies can yield substantial benefits, but they’re not right for every business. To find out whether this would be worthwhile, contact us. Read more. 


Setting up a Health Savings Account for your small business

Given the escalating cost of employee health care benefits, your business may be interested in setting up an employer-sponsored Health Savings Account (HSA). For eligible individuals, HSAs offer a tax-advantaged way to set aside funds (or have their employers do so) to meet future medical needs. To be eligible, an individual must be covered by a “high deductible health plan.” For 2019, a “high deductible health plan” is one with an annual deductible of at least $1,350 for self-only coverage, or at least $2,700 for family coverage. An HSA provides a number of tax benefits for your business and its employees. Contact us if you have questions or you’re interested in setting one up. Read more. 


Understanding and controlling the unemployment tax costs of your business

Employers must pay federal unemployment tax on amounts up to $7,000 paid to each employee as wages during the year. The tax rate is 6% but it can be reduced by a credit for contributions paid into state unemployment funds. Typically, the more claims made against a business, the higher the unemployment tax bill. But there may be ways to control costs. Don’t hire employees to fill short-term jobs. To avoid layoffs, use temps. If you must hire, do so carefully to increase the chance that employees will work out. And if you terminate someone, provide severance and outplacement services, which may delay the start of unemployment benefits and cause them to end sooner. Contact us for more ideas. Read more. 


The chances of an IRS audit are low, but business owners should be prepared

As a business owner, are you worried about an IRS audit? The good news is that the odds against being audited are in your favor. The IRS audited 0.6% of individuals in fiscal year 2018. Businesses and high-income people are more likely to be audited, but audit rates are historically low. However, some tax return items may raise red flags with the IRS, such as major inconsistencies between previous years’ filings and the current one, profit margins or expenses markedly different from those of similar businesses, and unusually high deductions. If the IRS selects you for an audit, we can help you understand what it’s disputing, gather the needed documents, and respond to the inquiries effectively. Read more. 


How to treat your business website costs for tax purposes

Most businesses have a website. But determining the proper tax treatment for the costs involved in developing a website isn’t easy. The IRS hasn’t yet released official guidance, so you must apply existing guidance that’s available on other costs to the issue of website development costs. The exact treatment of website design costs depends on whether they’re software or hardware and whether they’re part of a start-up business. If you hire third parties to set up and run your website, payments are currently deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses. Contact us if you have questions or want more information about planning for website costs. Read more. 


5 ways to withdraw cash from your corporation while avoiding dividend treatment

Do you want to withdraw cash from your closely held corporation at a low tax cost? The easiest way is to distribute cash as a dividend. However, a dividend distribution is taxable to you as a shareholder but it’s not deductible by the corporation. But there are several alternatives that may allow you to withdraw cash from a corporation and avoid dividend treatment. For example, you might be able to receive capital repayments, or obtain reasonable compensation for you (or family members), as well as certain fringe benefits. If you’re interested in discussing these or other ideas, contact us. We can help you get the maximum out of your corporation at a minimum tax cost. Read more. 


2019 Q4 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are a few key tax-related deadlines for businesses and other employers during Quarter 4 of 2019. OCT. 15: If a calendar-year C corp. that filed an extension, file a 2018 income tax return. OCT. 31: Report income tax withholding and FICA taxes for Q3 2019 (unless eligible for Nov. 12 deadline). DEC. 16: If a calendar-year C corp., pay the fourth installment of 2019 estimated income taxes. Contact us for more about the filing requirements and to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines. Read more. 


The key to retirement security is picking the right plan for your business

If you’re a small business owner, you may want to set up a retirement plan for yourself and any employees. Several types of plans are eligible for tax advantages, including 401(k)s, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plans and SIMPLE IRAs. For 2019, the maximum amount you can contribute to a 401(k) and exclude from income is $19,000, plus a $6,000 “catch-up” amount for those age 50 or older. For a SEP plan, the 2019 maximum amount is 25% of compensation or $56,000. And for a SIMPLE IRA, the maximum 2019 amount is $13,000, plus $3,000 if you’re age 50 or older. These are only some of the options that may be available to your business. We can help find the best choice for your situation. Read more. 


The tax implications of a company car

The use of a company car is a valuable fringe benefit for business owners and key employees. This perk results in tax deductions for the employer and tax breaks for the owners and employees using the cars. (And of course, they get the nontax benefits of driving the cars!) For tax deduction purposes, a business will treat the car much the same way it would any other business asset. Providing an auto for an owner or key employee comes with complications and paperwork. Personal use will have to be tracked and valued under the fringe benefit tax rules and treated as income. We can help you stay in compliance with the rules and explain more about this prized perk. Read more.


Should you elect S corporation status?

Operating a business as an S corporation may provide advantages, including limited liability and no double taxation (at least at the federal level). Self-employed people may also be able to lower their exposure to Social Security and Medicare taxes. But not all businesses are eligible and, with tax law changes, S corps may not be as appealing as they once were. Double taxation may be less of a concern due to the 21% flat income tax rate that now applies to C corporations, while the top individual rate is 37%. On the other hand, S corp owners may benefit from the new qualified business income (QBI) deduction, which can equal as much as 20% of QBI. Contact us for more information. Read more. 


What to do if your business receives a “no-match” letter

In recent months, many businesses and employers have received “no-match” letters from the Social Security Administration (SSA). These letters alert employers if employees’ names and Social Security numbers (SSNs) don’t match the data reported on W-2 forms, which are given to employees and filed with the IRS. If you receive a no-match letter, check to see if your information matches the name and SSN on the employee’s Social Security card. If the information matches, ask him or her to check with the local Social Security office to resolve the issue. If you have questions, contact us or check out these frequently asked questions from the SSA: https://bit.ly/2Yv87M6. Read more


The IRS is targeting business transactions in bitcoin and other virtual currencies

More businesses are accepting bitcoin and other virtual currency payments, and the IRS is taking notice. The agency just announced it is sending letters to taxpayers who potentially failed to report income and pay tax on virtual currency transactions or didn’t report them properly. The letters urge taxpayers to review their tax filings and, if appropriate, amend past returns to pay back taxes, interest and penalties. By the end of August, more than 10,000 taxpayers will receive these letters. The names of the taxpayers were obtained through IRS compliance efforts. Contact us if you have questions about virtual currency or if you receive a letter from the IRS about possible noncompliance. Read More. 


 

How entrepreneurs must treat expenses on their tax returns


Have you recently started a new business or are you contemplating starting one? Keep in mind that not all start-up expenses can be deducted on your federal tax return right away. Some expenses probably must be amortized over time. You might be able to make an election to deduct up to $5,000 currently, but the deduction is reduced by the amount by which your total start-up costs exceed $50,000. You can also deduct $5,000 of the organizational costs of creating a corporation or partnership. Contact us. We can help you maximize deductions for a start-up business. Read more

 


Take a closer look at home office deductions

Working from home has its perks. You can skip the commute and you might be eligible to deduct home office expenses on your tax return. But you must meet the tax law qualifications. Under current law, employees can no longer claim home office deductions. But if you’re self-employed and run a business from your home, deductions may still be available. You might qualify if part of your home is used exclusively and regularly for administrative or management activities and you don’t have another fixed location where you conduct the activities. You also might qualify if you physically meet with clients/customers there or you use a storage area in your home for business. Read more


It’s a good time to buy business equipment and other depreciable property

The Section 179 deduction has long provided a tax windfall to businesses, enabling them to claim immediate deductions for qualified assets, instead of depreciating them over time. For 2019, the maximum deduction is $1.02 million, subject to a phaseout rule if more than $2.55 million of eligible property is placed in service during the tax year. Even better, the Sec. 179 deduction isn’t the only avenue for immediate tax write-offs for assets such as machinery and equipment. Under the 100% bonus depreciation tax break, the entire cost of eligible assets placed in service in 2019 can be written off this year. Contact us to learn how your business can maximize the deductions. Read More


M&A transactions: Avoid surprises from the IRS

If you’re in the process of a merger or acquisition, it’s important that both parties report the transaction to the IRS in the same way. Otherwise, you could increase your chances of being audited. If a sale involves business assets (as opposed to stock or ownership interests), the buyer and the seller must generally report the purchase price allocations that both use for specific assets. This is done by attaching IRS Form 8594 to each of their federal income tax returns. Both parties use the same allocations. Consider requiring this in your asset purchase agreement at the time of the sale. To lock in the best postacquisition results, consult with us before finalizing any transaction.Read More


6 last-minute tax moves for your business

Tax planning is a year-round activity, but there are still some year-end strategies you can use to lower your 2018 tax bill. Here are six last-minute tax moves business owners should consider: 1) Postpone invoices. 2) Prepay expenses. 3) Buy equipment. 4) Use credit cards. 5) Contribute to retirement plans. 6) Qualify for the new “pass-through” deduction. These strategies are subject to various limitations and restrictions, so consult us before you implement them. We can also offer more ideas for reducing your taxes this year and next. Read More


When holiday gifts and parties are deductible or taxable

The holiday season is a great time for businesses to show their appreciation for employees and customers by giving them gifts or hosting holiday parties. Before you begin shopping or sending out invitations, though, it’s a good idea to find out whether the expense is tax deductible and whether it’s taxable to the recipient. Here’s a brief review of the rules. Read More.


Buy business assets before year end to reduce your 2018 tax liability

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has enhanced two depreciation-related breaks that are popular year-end tax planning tools for businesses. To take advantage of these breaks, you must purchase qualifying assets and place them in service by the end of the tax year. That means there’s still time to reduce your 2018 tax liability with these breaks, but you need to act soon. Read More


Selling your business? Defer — and possibly reduce — tax with an installment sale

You’ve spent years building your company and now are ready to move on to something else, whether launching a new business, taking advantage of another career opportunity or retiring. Whatever your plans, you want to get the return from your business that you’ve earned from all of the time and money you’ve put into it. Read More


Could a cost segregation study help you accelerate depreciation deductions?

Too often, businesses allocate all or most of a building’s acquisition or construction costs to real property, overlooking opportunities to allocate costs to shorter-lived personal property or land improvements and boost current tax deductions. The solution may be a cost segregation study... Read More


Businesses aren’t immune to tax identity theft

Tax identity theft may seem like a problem only for individual taxpayers. But, according to the IRS, increasingly businesses are also becoming victims. And identity thieves have become more sophisticated, knowing filing practices, the tax code and the best ways to get valuable data... Read More