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Business Briefs


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: 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