6 steps to easing employees’ fears about innovation

Business owners often find the greatest obstacle to innovation isn’t the change itself, but employees’ resistance to it. Their hesitation or outright defiance is frequently driven by fear.

Some workers might worry about how the innovation will alter their jobs — or whether it will even eliminate their positions. Others could reject the concept and believe that the change will hurt, rather than help, the company.

To better ensure the success of your next innovative project, you’ll need to ease the fears and win the support of your employees. Here are six steps that can help:

1. Create a communications strategy. As specifically as possible, describe the innovation’s purpose and expected impact. For example, if you’re implementing a new software platform, let employees know how the innovation will help the business. Will it streamline operations? Open new markets? Bolster the company’s reputation as an innovator?

From there, explain how the innovation will affect and improve employees’ jobs. Going back to our example, this could mean pointing out how the software platform eliminates longstanding redundancies, improves data capture and security, and “upskills” employees’ tech savvy.

Be transparent about how a change could present initial challenges. For instance, suppose a new accounts payable system will simplify invoice processing, but it will also mean employees need to substantially alter their workflows. Let workers know how you’ll revise processes, as well as the steps you’ll take to help them with the transition.

2. Solicit input. Long before rolling out an innovation, ask employees at all levels and departments about the concept and, over time, the details. Doing so might start with issuing an employee survey and then later holding “town hall” meetings to discuss how the project is evolving.

Remember, the more often workers can provide input, the more likely they are to buy in to the change. And the discussions could yield insights that prove invaluable to the innovation’s success.

3. Assemble an implementation team. The team should include a leader, typically a management-level employee, who understands your company culture and can navigate the bureaucratic landscape. It should also include at least one “champion” — ideally, a lower-level worker who can help win the hearts and minds of fellow rank-and-file employees.

4. Provide training. As feasible and relevant, plan to offer training related to the innovation. Be sure to factor this into the budget. Employees often fear a major change because they’re unsure they’ll be able to master a new process or technology. Provide the education and resources they’ll need to successfully adapt.

5. Start small. Many businesses conduct a “beta test” well before the full rollout. This essentially means asking a small group of employees to try the innovation so you can catch oversights and fix glitches. Doing so can not only prevent disappointment or even disaster, but also build excitement about the big change as word spreads about how enjoyable and effective it is.

6. Ask for help. Many small to midsize companies lack the staff and resources to design and implement a major innovation. You might need to allocate some of the project budget to outside consultants. Contact us for help creating that budget, as well as weighing the costs vs. benefits of any innovation you’re considering.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on 6 steps to easing employees’ fears about innovation

The kiddie tax: Does it affect your family?

Many people wonder how they can save taxes by transferring assets into their children’s names. This tax strategy is called income shifting. It seeks to take income out of your higher tax bracket and place it in the lower tax brackets of your children.

While some tax savings are available through this approach, the “kiddie tax” rules impose substantial limitations if:

  1. The child hasn’t reached age 18 before the close of the tax year, or
  2. The child’s earned income doesn’t exceed half of his or her support and the child is age 18 or is a full-time student age 19 to 23.

The kiddie tax rules apply to your children who are under the cutoff age(s) described above, and who have more than a certain amount of unearned (investment) income for the tax year — $2,300 for 2022. While some tax savings on up to this amount can still be achieved by shifting income to children under the cutoff age, the savings aren’t substantial.

If the kiddie tax rules apply to your children and they have over the prescribed amount of unearned income for the tax year ($2,300 for 2022), they’ll be taxed on that excess amount at your (the parents’) tax rates if your rates are higher than the children’s tax rates. This kiddie tax is calculated by computing the “allocable parental tax” and special allocation rules apply if the parents have more than one child subject to the kiddie tax.

Note: Different rules applied for the 2018 and 2019 tax years, when the kiddie tax was computed based on the estates’ and trusts’ ordinary and capital gain rates, instead of the parents’ tax rates.

Be aware that, to transfer income to a child, you must transfer ownership of the asset producing the income. You can’t merely transfer the income itself. Property can be transferred to minor children using custodial accounts under state law.

Possible saving vehicles

The portion of investment income of a child that’s taxed under the kiddie tax rules may be reduced or eliminated if the child invests in vehicles that produce little or no current taxable income. These include:

  • Securities and mutual funds oriented toward capital growth;
  • Vacant land expected to appreciate in value;
  • Stock in a closely held family business, expected to become more valuable as the business expands, but pays little or no cash dividends;
  • Tax-exempt municipal bonds and bond funds;
  • U.S. Series EE bonds, for which recognition of income can be deferred until the bonds mature, the bonds are cashed in or an election to recognize income annually is made.

Investments that produce no taxable income — and which therefore aren’t subject to the kiddie tax — also include tax-advantaged savings vehicles such as:

  • Traditional and Roth IRAs, which can be established or contributed to if the child has earned income;
  • Qualified tuition programs (also known as “529 plans”); and
  • Coverdell education savings accounts.

A child’s earned income (as opposed to investment income) is taxed at the child’s regular tax rates, regardless of the amount. Therefore, to save taxes within the family, consider employing the child at your own business and paying reasonable compensation.

If the kiddie tax applies, it’s computed and reported on Form 8615, which is attached to the child’s tax return.

Two reporting options

Parents can elect to include the child’s income on their own return if certain requirements are satisfied. This is done on Form 8814 and avoids the need for a separate return for the child. Contact us if you have questions about the kiddie tax.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The kiddie tax: Does it affect your family?

Dodge the tumult with a buy-sell agreement

Businesses with multiple owners generally benefit from a variety of viewpoints, diverse experience and strategic areas of specialization. However, there’s a major risk: the company can be thrown into tumult if one of the owners decides, or is compelled by circumstances, to leave.

A logical and usually effective solution is to create and implement a buy-sell agreement. This is a legal document that spells out how an owner’s share in the business will be valued and transferred following a “triggering event” such as voluntary departure, divorce, disability or death.

Buy-sell benefits

A well-designed “buy-sell” (as it’s often called for short) manages risk in various ways. For starters, it helps keep ownership of the business within the family or another select group — for example, people actively involved in the enterprise rather than outsiders. In the case of a divorce, an agreement can prevent an owner’s soon-to-be former spouse from acquiring a business interest.

The death of an owner is a particularly difficult and often complex situation. A buy-sell can establish the value of the business for gift and estate tax purposes so long as certain requirements are met. The agreement is then able to play a role in providing the owner’s family with liquidity to pay estate taxes and other expenses.

Tax impact

Generally, buy-sell agreements are structured as either:

  1. Cross-purchase, under which the remaining owners buy the departing owner’s shares, or
  2. Redemption, under which the business entity itself buys the departing owner’s shares.

From a tax perspective, cross-purchase agreements are generally preferable. The remaining owners receive the equivalent of a “stepped-up basis” in the purchased shares. That is, their basis for those shares will be determined by the price paid, which is the current fair market value.

Having this higher basis will reduce their capital gains if they sell their interests down the road. Also, if the remaining owners fund the purchase with life insurance, the insurance proceeds are generally tax-free.

Redemption agreements, on the other hand, can trigger a variety of unwanted tax consequences. These include corporate alternative minimum tax, accumulated earnings tax or treatment of the purchase price as a taxable dividend.

However, there’s a disadvantage to cross-purchase agreements. That is, the owners, rather than the company, are personally responsible for funding the purchase of a departing owner’s interest. And if they use life insurance as a funding source, each owner will need to maintain policies on the life of each of the other shareholders — a potentially cumbersome and expensive arrangement.

Worth the effort

As you can see, the tax and legal details of a buy-sell agreement can get quite technical. But don’t let that discourage you from establishing one or occasionally reviewing a buy-sell you already have in place. We can help you in either case.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Dodge the tumult with a buy-sell agreement

How disability income benefits are taxed

If you’ve recently begun receiving disability income, you may wonder how it’s taxed. The answer is: It depends.

The key issue is: Who paid for the benefit? If the income is paid directly to you by your employer, it’s taxable to you just as your ordinary salary would be. (Taxable benefits are also subject to federal income tax withholding. However, depending on the employer’s disability plan, in some cases they aren’t subject to Social Security tax.)

Frequently, the payments aren’t made by an employer but by an insurance company under a policy providing disability coverage. In other cases, they’re made under an arrangement having the effect of accident or health insurance. In these cases, the tax treatment depends on who paid for the insurance coverage. If your employer paid for it, then the income is taxed to you just as if it was paid directly to you by the employer. On the other hand, if it’s a policy you paid for, the payments you receive under it aren’t taxable.

Even if your employer arranges for the coverage (in a policy made available to you at work), the benefits aren’t taxed to you if you (and not your employer) pay the premiums. For these purposes, if the premiums are paid by the employer but the amount paid is included as part of your taxable income from work, the premiums will be treated as paid by you. In these cases, the tax treatment of the benefits received depends on the tax treatment of the premiums paid.

Illustrative example

Let’s say Max’s salary is $1,000 a week ($52,000 a year). Additionally, under a disability insurance arrangement made available to him by his employer, $10 a week ($520 annually) is paid on his behalf by his employer to an insurance company. Max includes $52,520 in income as his wages for the year ($52,000 paid to him plus $520 in disability insurance premiums). Under these facts, the insurance is treated as paid for by Max. If he becomes disabled and receives benefits under the policy, the benefits aren’t taxable income to him.

Now assume that Max includes only $52,000 in income as his wages for the year because the amount paid for the insurance coverage qualifies as excludable under the rules for employer-provided health and accident plans. In this case, the insurance is treated as paid for by the employer. If Max becomes disabled and receives benefits under the policy, the benefits are taxable income to him.

There are special rules if there is a permanent loss (or loss of the use) of a member or function of the body or a permanent disfigurement. In these cases, employer disability payments aren’t taxed, as long as they aren’t computed based on amount of time lost from work.

Social Security disability benefits

This discussion doesn’t cover the tax treatment of Social Security disability benefits. They may be taxed to you under the rules that govern Social Security benefits.

Needed coverage

In deciding how much disability coverage you need to protect yourself and your family, take the tax treatment into consideration. If you’re buying the policy yourself, you only have to replace your “after tax” (take-home) income because your benefits won’t be taxed. On the other hand, if your employer is paying for the benefit, keep in mind that you’ll lose a percentage of it to taxes. If your current coverage is insufficient, you may want to supplement the employer benefit with a policy you take out on your own. Contact us if you’d like to discuss this issue.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on How disability income benefits are taxed

Cordasco on CNBC

Check out Rob Cordasco’s latest interview on CNBC https://cnb.cx/3zD6hde 

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

How do taxes factor into an M&A transaction?

Although merger and acquisition activity has been down in 2022, according to various reports, there are still companies being bought and sold. If your business is considering merging with or acquiring another business, it’s important to understand how the transaction will be taxed under current law.

Stocks vs. assets

From a tax standpoint, a transaction can basically be structured in two ways:

1. Stock (or ownership interest). A buyer can directly purchase a seller’s ownership interest if the target business is operated as a C or S corporation, a partnership, or a limited liability company (LLC) that’s treated as a partnership for tax purposes.

The current 21% corporate federal income tax rate makes buying the stock of a C corporation somewhat more attractive. Reasons: The corporation will pay less tax and generate more after-tax income than it would have years ago. Plus, any built-in gains from appreciated corporate assets will be taxed at a lower rate when they’re eventually sold.

Under current law, individual federal tax rates are reduced from years ago and may also make ownership interests in S corporations, partnerships and LLCs more attractive. Reason: The passed-through income from these entities also will be taxed at lower rates on a buyer’s personal tax return. However, individual rate cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of 2025, and, depending on future changes in Washington, they could be eliminated earlier or extended.

2. Assets. A buyer can also purchase the assets of a business. This may happen if a buyer only wants specific assets or product lines. And it’s the only option if the target business is a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC that’s treated as a sole proprietorship for tax purposes.

Note: In some circumstances, a corporate stock purchase can be treated as an asset purchase by making a “Section 338 election.” Ask your tax advisor for details.

What buyers and sellers want

For several reasons, buyers usually prefer to purchase assets rather than ownership interests. Generally, a buyer’s main objective is to generate enough cash flow from an acquired business to pay any acquisition debt and provide an acceptable return on the investment. Therefore, buyers are concerned about limiting exposure to undisclosed and unknown liabilities and minimizing taxes after the deal closes.

A buyer can step up (increase) the tax basis of purchased assets to reflect the purchase price. Stepped-up basis lowers taxable gains when certain assets, such as receivables and inventory, are sold or converted into cash. It also increases depreciation and amortization deductions for qualifying assets.

Meanwhile, sellers generally prefer stock sales for tax and nontax reasons. One of their main objectives is to minimize the tax bill from a sale. That can usually be achieved by selling their ownership interests in a business (corporate stock or partnership or LLC interests) as opposed to selling business assets.

With a sale of stock or other ownership interest, liabilities generally transfer to the buyer and any gain on sale is generally treated as lower-taxed long-term capital gain (assuming the ownership interest has been held for more than one year).

Keep in mind that other issues, such as employee benefits, can also cause unexpected tax issues when merging with, or acquiring, a business.

Get professional advice

Buying or selling a business may be the most important transaction you make during your lifetime, so it’s important to seek professional tax advice as you negotiate. After a deal is done, it may be too late to get the best tax results. Contact us for the best way to proceed in your situation.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on How do taxes factor into an M&A transaction?

Is it a good time for a Roth conversion?

The downturn in the stock market may have caused the value of your retirement account to decrease. But if you have a traditional IRA, this decline may provide a valuable opportunity: It may allow you to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA at a lower tax cost.

Traditional vs. Roth

Here’s what makes a traditional IRA different from a Roth IRA:

Traditional IRA. Contributions to a traditional IRA may be deductible, depending on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and whether you (or your spouse) participate in a qualified retirement plan, such as a 401(k). Funds in the account can grow tax deferred.

On the downside, you generally must pay income tax on withdrawals. In addition, you’ll face a penalty if you withdraw funds before age 59½ — unless you qualify for a handful of exceptions — and you’ll face an even larger penalty if you don’t take your required minimum distributions (RMDs) after age 72.

Roth IRA. Roth IRA contributions are never deductible. But withdrawals — including earnings — are tax free as long as you’re age 59½ or older and the account has been open at least five years. In addition, you’re allowed to withdraw contributions at any time tax- and penalty-free. You also don’t have to begin taking RMDs after you reach age 72.

However, the ability to contribute to a Roth IRA is subject to limits based on your MAGI. Fortunately, no matter how high your income, you’re eligible to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth. The catch? You’ll have to pay income tax on the amount converted.

Your tax hit may be reduced

This is where the “benefit” of a stock market downturn comes in. If your traditional IRA has lost value, converting to a Roth now rather than later will minimize your tax hit. Plus, you’ll avoid tax on future appreciation when the market goes back up.

It’s important to think through the details before you convert. Here are some of the issues to consider when deciding whether to make a conversion:

Having enough money to pay the tax bill. If you don’t have the cash on hand to cover the taxes owed on the conversion, you may have to dip into your retirement funds. This will erode your nest egg. The more money you convert and the higher your tax bracket, the bigger the tax hit.

Your retirement plans. Your stage of life may also affect your decision. Typically, you wouldn’t convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA if you expect to retire soon and start drawing down on the account right away. Usually, the goal is to allow the funds to grow and compound over time without any tax erosion.

Keep in mind that converting a traditional IRA to a Roth isn’t an all-or-nothing deal. You can convert as much or as little of the money from your traditional IRA account as you like. So, you might decide to gradually convert your account to spread out the tax hit over several years.

There are also other issues that need to be considered before executing a Roth IRA conversion. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, contact us to discuss whether a conversion is right for you.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Is it a good time for a Roth conversion?

Weathering the storm of rising inflation


Like a slowly gathering storm, inflation has gone from dark clouds on the horizon to a noticeable downpour on both the U.S. and global economies. Is it time for business owners to panic?

Not at all. As of this writing, a full-blown recession is possible but not an absolute certainty. And the impact of inflation itself will vary depending on your industry and the financial strength of your company. Here are some important points to keep in mind during this difficult time.

Government response

For starters, don’t expect any dramatic moves by the federal government. Some smaller steps, however, have been taken.

For instance, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates to “pump the brakes” on the U.S. economy. And the IRS recently announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rate tax deduction for the last six months of 2022 (July 1 through December 31). The rate for business travel is now 62.5 cents per mile — up from 58.5 cents per mile for the first half of 2022.

This is notable because the IRS usually adjusts mileage rates only once annually at year-end. The tax agency explained: “in recognition of recent gasoline price increases, [we’ve] made this special adjustment for the final months of 2022.”

Otherwise, major tax relief this year is highly unlikely. Some tax breaks are inflation-adjusted — for example, the Section 179 depreciation deduction. However, these amounts were calculated at the end of 2021, so they probably won’t keep up with 2022 inflation. What’s more, many other parts of the tax code aren’t indexed for inflation.

Strategic moves

So, what can you do? First, approach price increases thoughtfully. When inflation strikes, raising your prices might seem unavoidable. After all, if suppliers are charging you more, your profit margin narrows — and the risk of a cash flow crisis goes way up. Just be sure to adjust prices carefully with a close eye on the competition.

Second, take a hard look at your budget and see whether you can reduce or eliminate nonessential expenses. Inflationary times lead many business owners to try to run their companies as leanly as possible. In fact, if you can cut enough costs, you might not need to raise prices much, if at all — a competitive advantage in today’s environment.

Last, consider the bold strategy of taking a growth-oriented approach in response to inflation. That’s right; if you’re in a strong enough cash position, your business could increase its investments in marketing and production to generate more revenue and outpace price escalations. This is a “high risk, high reward” move, however.

Optimal moves

Again, the optimal moves for your company will depend on a multitude of factors related to your industry, size, mission and market. One thing’s for sure: Inflation to some degree is inevitable. Let’s hope it doesn’t get out of control. We can help you generate, organize and analyze the financial information you need to make sound business decisions.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Weathering the storm of rising inflation

Help when needed: Apply the research credit against payroll taxes

Here’s an interesting option if your small company or start-up business is planning to claim the research tax credit. Subject to limits, you can elect to apply all or some of any research tax credits that you earn against your payroll taxes instead of your income tax. This payroll tax election may influence some businesses to undertake or increase their research activities. On the other hand, if you’re engaged in or are planning to engage in research activities without regard to tax consequences, be aware that some tax relief could be in your future.

Here are some answers to questions about the option.

Why is the election important?

Many new businesses, even if they have some cash flow, or even net positive cash flow and/or a book profit, pay no income taxes and won’t for some time. Therefore, there’s no amount against which business credits, including the research credit, can be applied. On the other hand, a wage-paying business, even a new one, has payroll tax liabilities. The payroll tax election is thus an opportunity to get immediate use out of the research credits that a business earns. Because every dollar of credit-eligible expenditure can result in as much as a 10-cent tax credit, that’s a big help in the start-up phase of a business — the time when help is most needed.

Which businesses are eligible?

To qualify for the election a taxpayer:

  • Must have gross receipts for the election year of less than $5 million and
  • Be no more than five years past the period for which it had no receipts (the start-up period).

In making these determinations, the only gross receipts that an individual taxpayer takes into account are from his or her businesses. An individual’s salary, investment income or other income aren’t taken into account. Also, note that neither an entity nor an individual can make the election for more than six years in a row.

Are there limits on the election?

Research credits for which a taxpayer makes the payroll tax election can be applied only against the employer’s old-age, survivors and disability liability — the OASDI or Social Security portion of FICA taxes. So the election can’t be used to lower 1) the employer’s liability for the Medicare portion of FICA taxes or 2) any FICA taxes that the employer withholds and remits to the government on behalf of employees.

The amount of research credit for which the election can be made can’t annually exceed $250,000. Note too that an individual or C corporation can make the election only for those research credits which, in the absence of an election, would have to be carried forward. In other words, a C corporation can’t make the election for research credits that the taxpayer can use to reduce current or past income tax liabilities.

The above Q&As just cover the basics about the payroll tax election. And, as you may have already experienced, identifying and substantiating expenses eligible for the research credit itself is a complex area. Contact us for more information about the payroll tax election and the research credit.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Help when needed: Apply the research credit against payroll taxes

IRA charitable donations: An alternative to taxable required distributions

Are you a charitably minded individual who is also taking distributions from a traditional IRA? You may want to consider the tax advantages of making a cash donation to an IRS-approved charity out of your IRA.

When distributions are taken directly out of traditional IRAs, federal income tax of up to 37% in 2022 will have to be paid. State income taxes may also be owed.

Qualified charitable distributions

One popular way to transfer IRA assets to charity is via a tax provision that allows IRA owners who are age 70½ or older to direct up to $100,000 per year of their IRA distributions to charity. These distributions are known as qualified charitable distributions (QCDs). The money given to charity counts toward your required minimum distributions (RMDs) but doesn’t increase your adjusted gross income (AGI) or generate a tax bill.

Keeping the donation out of your AGI may be important for several reasons. Here are some of them:

  1. It can help you qualify for other tax breaks. For example, having a lower AGI can reduce the threshold for deducting medical expenses, which are only deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5% of AGI.
  2. You can avoid rules that can cause some or all of your Social Security benefits to be taxed and some or all of your investment income to be hit with the 3.8% net investment income tax.
  3. It can help you avoid a high-income surcharge for Medicare Part B and Part D premiums, which kick in if AGI is over certain levels.
  4. The distributions going to the charity won’t be subject to federal estate tax and generally won’t be subject to state death taxes.

Important points: You can’t claim a charitable contribution deduction for a QCD not included in your income. Also keep in mind that the age after which you must begin taking RMDs is 72, but the age you can begin making QCDs is 70½.

To benefit from a QCD for 2022, you must arrange for a distribution to be paid directly from the IRA to a qualified charity by December 31, 2022. You can use QCDs to satisfy all or part of the amount of your RMDs from your IRA. For example, if your 2022 RMDs are $10,000, and you make a $5,000 QCD for 2022, you have to withdraw another $5,000 to satisfy your 2022 RMDs.

Other rules and limits may apply. Want more information? Contact us to see whether this strategy would be beneficial in your situation.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on IRA charitable donations: An alternative to taxable required distributions