Year-end tax planning ideas for your small business





Now that Labor Day has passed, it’s a good time to think about making moves that may help lower your small business taxes for this year and next. The standard year-end approach of deferring income and accelerating deductions to minimize taxes will likely produce the best results for most businesses, as will bunching deductible expenses into this year or next to maximize their tax value.

If you expect to be in a higher tax bracket next year, opposite strategies may produce better results. For example, you could pull income into 2022 to be taxed at lower rates, and defer deductible expenses until 2023, when they can be claimed to offset higher-taxed income.

Here are some other ideas that may help you save tax dollars if you act before year-end.

QBI deduction

Taxpayers other than corporations may be entitled to a deduction of up to 20% of their qualified business income (QBI). For 2022, if taxable income exceeds $340,100 for married couples filing jointly (half that amount for others), the deduction may be limited based on: whether the taxpayer is engaged in a service-type business (such as law, health or consulting), the amount of W-2 wages paid by the business, and/or the unadjusted basis of qualified property (such as machinery and equipment) held by the business. The limitations are phased in.

Taxpayers may be able to salvage some or all of the QBI deduction by deferring income or accelerating deductions to keep income under the dollar thresholds (or be subject to a smaller deduction phaseout). You also may be able increase the deduction by increasing W-2 wages before year-end. The rules are complex, so consult us before acting.

Cash vs. accrual accounting

More small businesses are able to use the cash (rather than the accrual) method of accounting for federal tax purposes than were allowed to do so in previous years. To qualify as a small business under current law, a taxpayer must (among other requirements) satisfy a gross receipts test. For 2022, it’s satisfied if, during a three-year testing period, average annual gross receipts don’t exceed $27 million. Not that long ago, it was only $5 million. Cash method taxpayers may find it easier to defer income by holding off billings until next year, paying bills early or making certain prepayments.

Section 179 deduction

Consider making expenditures that qualify for the Section 179 expensing option. For 2022, the expensing limit is $1.08 million, and the investment ceiling limit is $2.7 million. Expensing is generally available for most depreciable property (other than buildings) including equipment, off-the-shelf computer software, interior improvements to a building, HVAC and security systems.

The high dollar ceilings mean that many small- and medium-sized businesses will be able to currently deduct most or all of their outlays for machinery and equipment. What’s more, the deduction isn’t prorated for the time an asset is in service during the year. Just place eligible property in service by the last days of 2022 and you can claim a full deduction for the year.

Bonus depreciation

Businesses also can generally claim a 100% bonus first year depreciation deduction for qualified improvement property and machinery and equipment bought new or used, if purchased and placed in service this year. Again, the full write-off is available even if qualifying assets are in service for only a few days in 2022.

Consult with us for more ideas

These are just some year-end strategies that may help you save taxes. Contact us to tailor a plan that works for you.

© 2022


Now that Labor Day has passed, it’s a good time to think about making moves that may help lower your small business taxes for this year and next. The standard year-end approach of deferring income and accelerating deductions to minimize taxes will likely produce the best results for most businesses, as will bunching deductible expenses into this year or next to maximize their tax value.

If you expect to be in a higher tax bracket next year, opposite strategies may produce better results. For example, you could pull income into 2022 to be taxed at lower rates, and defer deductible expenses until 2023, when they can be claimed to offset higher-taxed income.

Here are some other ideas that may help you save tax dollars if you act before year-end.

QBI deduction

Taxpayers other than corporations may be entitled to a deduction of up to 20% of their qualified business income (QBI). For 2022, if taxable income exceeds $340,100 for married couples filing jointly (half that amount for others), the deduction may be limited based on: whether the taxpayer is engaged in a service-type business (such as law, health or consulting), the amount of W-2 wages paid by the business, and/or the unadjusted basis of qualified property (such as machinery and equipment) held by the business. The limitations are phased in.

Taxpayers may be able to salvage some or all of the QBI deduction by deferring income or accelerating deductions to keep income under the dollar thresholds (or be subject to a smaller deduction phaseout). You also may be able increase the deduction by increasing W-2 wages before year-end. The rules are complex, so consult us before acting.

Cash vs. accrual accounting

More small businesses are able to use the cash (rather than the accrual) method of accounting for federal tax purposes than were allowed to do so in previous years. To qualify as a small business under current law, a taxpayer must (among other requirements) satisfy a gross receipts test. For 2022, it’s satisfied if, during a three-year testing period, average annual gross receipts don’t exceed $27 million. Not that long ago, it was only $5 million. Cash method taxpayers may find it easier to defer income by holding off billings until next year, paying bills early or making certain prepayments.

Section 179 deduction

Consider making expenditures that qualify for the Section 179 expensing option. For 2022, the expensing limit is $1.08 million, and the investment ceiling limit is $2.7 million. Expensing is generally available for most depreciable property (other than buildings) including equipment, off-the-shelf computer software, interior improvements to a building, HVAC and security systems.

The high dollar ceilings mean that many small- and medium-sized businesses will be able to currently deduct most or all of their outlays for machinery and equipment. What’s more, the deduction isn’t prorated for the time an asset is in service during the year. Just place eligible property in service by the last days of 2022 and you can claim a full deduction for the year.

Bonus depreciation

Businesses also can generally claim a 100% bonus first year depreciation deduction for qualified improvement property and machinery and equipment bought new or used, if purchased and placed in service this year. Again, the full write-off is available even if qualifying assets are in service for only a few days in 2022.

Consult with us for more ideas

These are just some year-end strategies that may help you save taxes. Contact us to tailor a plan that works for you.

© 2022

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Year-end tax planning ideas for your small business

What do the 2023 cost-of-living adjustment numbers mean for you?

The IRS recently issued its 2023 cost-of-living adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions. With inflation up significantly this year, many amounts increased considerably over 2022 amounts. As you implement 2022 year-end tax planning strategies, be sure to take these 2023 adjustments into account.

Also, keep in mind that, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), annual inflation adjustments are calculated using the chained consumer price index (also known as C-CPI-U). This increases tax-bracket thresholds, the standard deduction, certain exemptions and other figures at a slower rate than was the case with the consumer price index previously used, potentially pushing taxpayers into higher tax brackets and making various breaks worth less over time. The TCJA adopts the C-CPI-U on a permanent basis.

Individual income taxes

Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status but, because they’re based on percentages, they increase more significantly for the higher brackets. For example, the top of the 10% bracket increases by $725, to $1,450, depending on filing status, but the top of the 35% bracket increases by $22,950 to $45,900, again depending on filing status.

The TCJA suspended personal exemptions through 2025. However, it nearly doubled the standard deduction, indexed annually for inflation through 2025. For 2023, the standard deduction will be $27,700 (married couples filing jointly), $20,800 (heads of households), and $13,850 (singles and married couples filing separately). After 2025, standard deduction amounts are scheduled to drop back to the amounts under pre-TCJA law unless Congress extends the current rules or revises them.

Changes to the standard deduction could help some taxpayers make up for the loss of personal exemptions. But it might not help taxpayers who typically used to itemize deductions.

AMT

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is a separate tax system that limits some deductions, doesn’t permit others and treats certain income items differently. If your AMT liability is greater than your regular tax liability, you must pay the AMT.

Like the regular tax brackets, the AMT brackets are annually indexed for inflation. For 2023, the threshold for the 28% bracket will increase by $14,600 for all filing statuses except married filing separately, which increased by half that amount.

The AMT exemptions and exemption phaseouts are also indexed. The exemption amounts for 2023 will be $81,300 for singles and $126,500 for joint filers, increasing by $5,400 and $8,400, respectively, over 2022 amounts. The inflation-adjusted phaseout ranges for 2023 will be $578,150–$903,350 (singles) and $1,156,300–$1,662,300 (joint filers). Amounts for married couples filing separately are half of those for joint filers.

Education and child-related breaks

The maximum benefits of certain education and child-related breaks generally remain the same for 2023. But most of these breaks are limited based on a taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). Taxpayers whose MAGIs are within an applicable phaseout range are eligible for a partial break — and breaks are eliminated for those whose MAGIs exceed the top of the range.

The MAGI phaseout ranges will generally remain the same or increase modestly for 2023, depending on the break. For example:

The American Opportunity credit. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2020, the MAGI amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the American Opportunity credit isn’t adjusted for inflation. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with MAGI in excess of $80,000 ($160,000 for joint returns). The maximum credit per eligible student is $2,500.

The Lifetime Learning credit. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2020, the MAGI amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning credit isn’t adjusted for inflation. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with MAGI in excess of $80,000 ($160,000 for joint returns). The maximum credit is $2,000 per tax return.

The adoption credit. The phaseout ranges for eligible taxpayers adopting a child will also increase for 2023 — by $15,820, to $239,230–$279,230 for joint, head-of-household and single filers. The maximum credit will increase by $1,060, to $15,950 for 2023.

(Note: Married couples filing separately generally aren’t eligible for these credits.)

These are only some of the education and child-related breaks that may benefit you. Keep in mind that, if your MAGI is too high for you to qualify for a break for your child’s education, your child might be eligible to claim one on his or her tax return.

Gift and estate taxes

The unified gift and estate tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption are both adjusted annually for inflation. For 2023, the amounts will be $12.92 million (up from $12.06 million for 2022).

The annual gift tax exclusion will increase by $1,000 to $17,000 for 2023.

Retirement plans

Nearly all retirement-plan-related limits will increase for 2023. Thus, depending on the type of plan you have, you may have limited opportunities to increase your retirement savings if you’ve already been contributing the maximum amount allowed:

Your MAGI may reduce or even eliminate your ability to take advantage of IRAs. Fortunately, IRA-related MAGI phaseout range limits all will increase for 2023:

Traditional IRAs. MAGI phaseout ranges apply to the deductibility of contributions if a taxpayer (or his or her spouse) participates in an employer-sponsored retirement plan:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly, the phaseout range is specific to each spouse based on whether he or she is a participant in an employer-sponsored plan:
    • For a spouse who participates, the 2023 phaseout range limits will increase by $7,000, to $116,000–$136,000.
    • For a spouse who doesn’t participate, the 2023 phaseout range limits will increase by $14,000, to $218,000–$228,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers participating in an employer-sponsored plan, the 2023 phaseout range limits will increase by $5,000, to $73,000–$83,000.

Taxpayers with MAGIs in the applicable range can deduct a partial contribution; those with MAGIs exceeding the applicable range can’t deduct any IRA contribution.

But a taxpayer whose deduction is reduced or eliminated can make nondeductible traditional IRA contributions. The $6,500 contribution limit for 2023 (plus $1,000 catch-up, if applicable, and reduced by any Roth IRA contributions) still applies. Nondeductible traditional IRA contributions may be beneficial if your MAGI is also too high for you to contribute (or fully contribute) to a Roth IRA.

Roth IRAs. Whether you participate in an employer-sponsored plan doesn’t affect your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA, but MAGI limits may reduce or eliminate your ability to contribute:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly, the 2023 phaseout range limits will increase by $14,000, to $218,000–$228,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers, the 2023 phaseout range limits will increase by $9,000, to $138,000–$153,000.

You can make a partial contribution if your MAGI falls within the applicable range, but no contribution if it exceeds the top of the range.

(Note: Married taxpayers filing separately are subject to much lower phaseout ranges for both traditional and Roth IRAs.)

Crunching the numbers

With the 2023 cost-of-living adjustment amounts soaring higher than 2022 amounts, it’s important to understand how they might affect your tax and financial situation. We’d be happy to help crunch the numbers and explain the best tax-saving strategies to implement based on the 2023 numbers.

© 2022


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Employers: In 2023, the Social Security wage base is going up





The Social Security Administration recently announced that the wage base for computing Social Security tax will increase to $160,200 for 2023 (up from $147,000 for 2022). Wages and self-employment income above this threshold aren’t subject to Social Security tax.

Basics about Social Security

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) imposes two taxes on employers, employees and self-employed workers. One is for the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance program, which is commonly known as Social Security. The other is for the Hospital Insurance program, which is commonly known as Medicare.

There’s a maximum amount of compensation subject to the Social Security tax, but no maximum for Medicare tax. For 2023, the FICA tax rate for employers is 7.65% — 6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare (the same as in 2022).

2023 updates

For 2023, an employee will pay:

  • 6.2% Social Security tax on the first $160,200 of wages (6.2% of $160,200 makes the maximum tax $9,932.40), plus
  • 1.45% Medicare tax on the first $200,000 of wages ($250,000 for joint returns; $125,000 for married taxpayers filing a separate return), plus
  • 2.35% Medicare tax (regular 1.45% Medicare tax plus 0.9% additional Medicare tax) on all wages in excess of $200,000 ($250,000 for joint returns; $125,000 for married taxpayers filing a separate return).

For 2023, the self-employment tax imposed on self-employed people is:

  • 12.4% Social Security tax on the first $160,200 of self-employment income, for a maximum tax of $19,864.80 (12.4% of $160,200), plus
  • 2.9% Medicare tax on the first $200,000 of self-employment income ($250,000 of combined self-employment income on a joint return, $125,000 on a return of a married individual filing separately), plus
  • 3.8% (2.9% regular Medicare tax plus 0.9% additional Medicare tax) on all self-employment income in excess of $200,000 ($250,000 of combined self-employment income on a joint return, $125,000 for married taxpayers filing a separate return).

Employees with more than one employer

What happens if one of your employees works for your business and has a second job? That employee would have taxes withheld from two different employers. Can the employee ask you to stop withholding Social Security tax once he or she reaches the wage base threshold? Unfortunately, no. Each employer must withhold Social Security taxes from the individual’s wages, even if the combined withholding exceeds the maximum amount that can be imposed for the year. Fortunately, the employee will get a credit on his or her tax return for any excess withheld.

Looking forward

Contact us if you have questions about 2023 payroll tax filing or payments. We can help ensure you stay in compliance.

© 2022


The Social Security Administration recently announced that the wage base for computing Social Security tax will increase to $160,200 for 2023 (up from $147,000 for 2022). Wages and self-employment income above this threshold aren’t subject to Social Security tax.

Basics about Social Security

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) imposes two taxes on employers, employees and self-employed workers. One is for the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance program, which is commonly known as Social Security. The other is for the Hospital Insurance program, which is commonly known as Medicare.

There’s a maximum amount of compensation subject to the Social Security tax, but no maximum for Medicare tax. For 2023, the FICA tax rate for employers is 7.65% — 6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare (the same as in 2022).

2023 updates

For 2023, an employee will pay:

  • 6.2% Social Security tax on the first $160,200 of wages (6.2% of $160,200 makes the maximum tax $9,932.40), plus
  • 1.45% Medicare tax on the first $200,000 of wages ($250,000 for joint returns; $125,000 for married taxpayers filing a separate return), plus
  • 2.35% Medicare tax (regular 1.45% Medicare tax plus 0.9% additional Medicare tax) on all wages in excess of $200,000 ($250,000 for joint returns; $125,000 for married taxpayers filing a separate return).

For 2023, the self-employment tax imposed on self-employed people is:

  • 12.4% Social Security tax on the first $160,200 of self-employment income, for a maximum tax of $19,864.80 (12.4% of $160,200), plus
  • 2.9% Medicare tax on the first $200,000 of self-employment income ($250,000 of combined self-employment income on a joint return, $125,000 on a return of a married individual filing separately), plus
  • 3.8% (2.9% regular Medicare tax plus 0.9% additional Medicare tax) on all self-employment income in excess of $200,000 ($250,000 of combined self-employment income on a joint return, $125,000 for married taxpayers filing a separate return).

Employees with more than one employer

What happens if one of your employees works for your business and has a second job? That employee would have taxes withheld from two different employers. Can the employee ask you to stop withholding Social Security tax once he or she reaches the wage base threshold? Unfortunately, no. Each employer must withhold Social Security taxes from the individual’s wages, even if the combined withholding exceeds the maximum amount that can be imposed for the year. Fortunately, the employee will get a credit on his or her tax return for any excess withheld.

Looking forward

Contact us if you have questions about 2023 payroll tax filing or payments. We can help ensure you stay in compliance.

© 2022

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Employers: In 2023, the Social Security wage base is going up

Year-end tax planning ideas for individuals

Now that fall is officially here, it’s a good time to start taking steps that may lower your tax bill for this year and next.

One of the first planning steps is to ascertain whether you’ll take the standard deduction or itemize deductions for 2022. Many taxpayers won’t itemize because of the high 2022 standard deduction amounts ($25,900 for joint filers, $12,950 for singles and married couples filing separately and $19,400 for heads of household). Also, many itemized deductions have been reduced or abolished under current law.

If you do itemize, you can deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI), state and local taxes up to $10,000, charitable contributions, and mortgage interest on a restricted amount of debt, but these deductions won’t save taxes unless they’re more than your standard deduction.

Bunching, pushing, pulling

Some taxpayers may be able to work around these deduction restrictions by applying a “bunching” strategy to pull or push discretionary medical expenses and charitable contributions into the year where they’ll do some tax good. For example, if you’ll be able to itemize deductions this year but not next, you may want to make two years’ worth of charitable contributions this year.

Here are some other ideas to consider:

  • Postpone income until 2023 and accelerate deductions into 2022 if doing so enables you to claim larger tax breaks for 2022 that are phased out over various levels of AGI. These include deductible IRA contributions, child tax credits, education tax credits and student loan interest deductions. Postponing income also is desirable for taxpayers who anticipate being in a lower tax bracket next year due to changed financial circumstances. However, in some cases, it may pay to accelerate income into 2022. For example, that may be the case if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket next year.
  • If you’re eligible, consider converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA by year end. This is beneficial if your IRA invested in stocks (or mutual funds) that have lost value. Keep in mind that the conversion will increase your income for 2022, possibly reducing tax breaks subject to phaseout at higher AGI levels.
  • High-income individuals must be careful of the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) on certain unearned income. The surtax is 3.8% of the lesser of: 1) net investment income (NII), or 2) the excess of modified AGI (MAGI) over a threshold amount. That amount is $250,000 for joint filers or surviving spouses, $125,000 for married individuals filing separately and $200,000 for others. As year-end nears, the approach taken to minimize or eliminate the 3.8% surtax depends on your estimated MAGI and NII for the year. Keep in mind that NII doesn’t include distributions from IRAs or most retirement plans.
  • It may be advantageous to arrange with your employer to defer, until early 2023, a bonus that may be coming your way.
  • If you’re age 70½ or older by the end of 2022, consider making 2022 charitable donations via qualified charitable distributions from a traditional IRA — especially if you don’t itemize deductions. These distributions are made directly to charities from your IRA and the contribution amount isn’t included in your gross income or deductible on your return.
  • Make gifts sheltered by the annual gift tax exclusion before year end. In 2022, the exclusion applies to gifts of up to $16,000 made to each recipient. These transfers may save your family taxes if income-earning property is given to relatives in lower income tax brackets who aren’t subject to the kiddie tax.

These are just some of the year-end steps that may save taxes. Contact us to tailor a plan that will work best for you.

© 2022


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M&A on the way? Consider a QOE report

Whether you’re considering selling your business or acquiring another one, due diligence is a must. In many mergers and acquisitions (M&A), prospective buyers obtain a quality of earnings (QOE) report to evaluate the accuracy and sustainability of the seller’s reported earnings. Sometimes sellers get their own QOE reports to spot potential problems that might derail a transaction and identify ways to preserve or even increase the company’s value. Here’s what you should know about this critical document.

Different from an audit

QOE reports are not the same as audits. An audit yields an opinion on whether the financial statements of a business fairly present its financial position in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). It’s based on historical results as of the company’s fiscal year end.

In contrast, a QOE report determines whether a business’s earnings are accurate and sustainable, and whether its forecasts of future performance are achievable. It typically evaluates performance over the most recent interim 12-month period.

EBITDA effects

Generally, the starting point for a QOE report is the company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). Many buyers and sellers believe this metric provides a better indicator of a business’s ability to generate cash flow than net income does. In addition, EBITDA helps filter out the effects of capital structure, tax status, accounting policies and other strategic decisions that may vary depending on who’s managing the company.

The next step is to “normalize” EBITDA by:

  • Eliminating certain nonrecurring revenues and expenses,
  • Adjusting owners’ compensation to market rates, and
  • Adding back other discretionary expenses.

Additional adjustments are sometimes needed to reflect industry-based accounting conventions. Examples include valuing inventory using the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method rather than the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method, or recognizing revenue based on the percentage-of-completion method rather than the completed-contract method.

Continued viability

A QOE report identifies factors that bear on the business’s continued viability as a going concern, such as operating cash flow, working capital adequacy, related-party transactions, customer concentrations, management quality and supply chain stability. It’s also critical to scrutinize trends to determine whether they reflect improvements in earnings quality or potential red flags.

For example, an upward trend in EBITDA could be caused by a positive indicator of future growth, such as increasing sales, or a sign of fiscally responsible management, such as effective cost-cutting. Alternatively, higher earnings could be the result of deferred spending on plant and equipment, a sign that the company isn’t reinvesting in its future capacity. In some cases, changes in accounting methods can give the appearance of higher earnings when no real financial improvements were made.

A powerful tool

If an M&A transaction is on your agenda, a QOE report can be a powerful tool no matter which side of the table you’re on. When done right, it goes beyond financials to provide insights into the factors that really drive value. Let us help you explore the feasibility of a deal.

© 2022


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Plan now to make tax-smart year-end gifts to loved ones

Are you feeling generous at year end? Taxpayers can transfer substantial amounts free of gift taxes to their children or other recipients each year through the proper use of the annual exclusion.

The exclusion amount is adjusted for inflation annually, and for 2022, the amount is $16,000.

The exclusion covers gifts that an individual makes to each recipient each year. So a taxpayer with three children can transfer a total of $48,000 to the children this year free of federal gift taxes. If the only gifts during a year are made this way, there’s no need to file a federal gift tax return. If annual gifts exceed $16,000, the exclusion covers the first $16,000 and only the excess is taxable.

Note: This discussion isn’t relevant to gifts made to a spouse because they’re gift tax-free under separate marital deduction rules.

Gift splitting by married taxpayers

If you’re married, gifts made during a year can be treated as split between the spouses, even if the cash or asset is actually given to an individual by only one of you. Therefore, by gift splitting, up to $32,000 a year can be transferred to each recipient by a married couple because two exclusions are available. So for example, a married couple with three married children can transfer a total of $192,000 each year to their children and the children’s spouses ($32,000 times six).

If gift splitting is involved, both spouses must consent to it. This is indicated on the gift tax return (or returns) the spouses file. (If more than $16,000 is being transferred by a spouse, a gift tax return must be filed, even if the $32,000 exclusion covers total gifts.)

The “present interest” requirement

For a gift to qualify for the annual exclusion, it must be a “present interest” gift, meaning the recipient’s enjoyment of the gift can’t be postponed to the future. For example, let’s say you put cash into a trust and provide that your adult child is to receive income from it while your child is alive and your grandchild is to receive the principal at your child’s death. Your grandchild’s interest is a “future interest.” Special valuation tables determine the value of the separate interests you set up for each recipient. The gift of the income interest qualifies for the annual exclusion because enjoyment of it isn’t deferred, so the first $16,000 of its total value won’t be taxed. However, the “remainder” interest is a taxable gift in its entirety.

If the gift recipient is a minor and the terms of the trust provide that the income may be spent by or for the minor before he or she reaches age 21, and that any amount left is to go to the minor at age 21, then the annual exclusion is available. The present interest rule won’t apply.

“Unified” credit for taxable gifts

Even gifts that aren’t covered by the exclusion, and are therefore taxable, may not result in a tax liability. That’s because a tax credit wipes out the federal gift tax liability on the first taxable gifts that you make in your lifetime, up to $12.06 million for 2022. However, to the extent you use this credit against a gift tax liability, it reduces or eliminates the credit available for use against the federal estate tax at your death.

Questions? Contact us. We can also prepare a gift tax return for you if more than $16,000 is given to a single person this year.

© 2022


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Trust in a trust to keep assets secure

Whether the economic climate is stable or volatile, one thing never changes: the need to protect your assets from risk. Hazards may occur as a result of factors entirely outside of your control, such as the stock market or the economy. It’s even possible that dangers lie closer to home, including the behavior of your heirs and creditors. In any case, it’s wise to consider taking steps to mitigate potential peril. One such step is to set up a trust.

Make sure it’s irrevocable

A trust can be a great way to protect your assets — but it must become the owner of the assets and be irrevocable. That is, you as the grantor can’t modify or terminate the trust after it has been set up. This is the opposite of a revocable trust, which allows the grantor to modify the trust.

Once you transfer assets into an irrevocable trust, you’ve effectively removed all of your rights of ownership to the assets and the trust. The benefit is that, because the property is no longer yours, it’s unavailable to satisfy claims against you.

Placing assets in a trust won’t allow you to sidestep responsibility for any debts or claims that are already outstanding at the time you fund the trust. There may also be a substantial “look-back” period that could negate the protection that would otherwise be provided.

Consider a spendthrift trust

If you’re concerned about what will happen to your assets after they pass to the next generation, you may want to consider a “spendthrift” trust. Despite the name, a spendthrift trust does more than just protect your heirs from themselves. It can protect your family’s assets against dishonest business partners or unscrupulous creditors.

The trust also protects loved ones in the event of relationship changes. For example, if your son divorces, his spouse generally won’t be able to claim a share of the trust property in the divorce settlement.

Several trust types can be designated as a spendthrift trust — you just need to add a spendthrift clause to the trust document. This type of clause restricts a beneficiary’s ability to assign or transfer his or her interests in the trust, and it restricts the rights of creditors to reach the trust assets. But a spendthrift trust won’t avoid claims from your own creditors unless you relinquish any interest in the trust assets.

Bear in mind that the protection offered by a spendthrift trust isn’t absolute. Depending on applicable law, it’s possible for government agencies to reach the trust assets to, for example, satisfy a delinquent tax debt.

You can gain greater protection against creditors’ claims if you give your trustee more discretion over trust distributions. If the trust requires the trustee to make distributions for a beneficiary’s support, for example, a court may rule that a creditor can reach the trust assets to satisfy support-related debts. For increased protection, give the trustee full discretion over whether and when to make distributions. You’ll need to balance the potentially competing objectives of having the access you want and preventing others from having access against your wishes.

Secure your assets

Obviously, you can choose from many types of trusts, depending on your particular circumstances. Talk to us to help you determine which type of trust is best for you going forward.

© 2022


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Inflation Reduction Act expands deductions for energy-efficient construction

Mitigating the adverse effects of climate change is one of the primary targets of the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). To that end, the legislation is packed with tax incentives, including the significant expansion and extension of two tax deductions for energy-efficient construction. The changes to the Section 179D deduction for commercial buildings and the Section 45L credit for residential homes increase their potential value and make them available to more taxpayers than ever before.

Sec. 179D deduction

The Sec. 179D deduction has been around since 2006 but was made permanent only recently, by the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The IRA adds changes that substantially boost the size of the potential deduction and expand the pool of eligible taxpayers.

Pre-IRA, the deduction generally was limited to the owners of commercial properties or residential properties that are four stories or higher. The deduction also could be assigned to “designers” (including architects and engineers) of buildings owned by government entities.

To claim the deduction, a taxpayer was required to show a 50% reduction in energy and power costs. The deduction amount was up to 63 cents per square foot for each of three eligible systems (HVAC and hot water, interior lighting and building envelope). The maximum deduction was $1.88 per square foot (adjusted for inflation). Taxpayers could get a partial deduction if they couldn’t show the requisite savings in all three systems and the deduction could be claimed only once per property.

The IRA keeps these requirements intact for the remainder of 2022 but makes some major changes starting on January 1, 2023. For starters, the qualification threshold drops to 25% energy savings, with a base deduction of 50 cents per square foot.

If, however, the project satisfies prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements for laborers and mechanics, you can qualify for the so-called “bonus” deduction of up to $2.50 per square foot. This deduction amount increases on a sliding scale:

  • If you qualify for the bonus, your deduction increases by 10 cents for each percentage point of energy savings above 25%, up to a 50% reduction, maxing out at $5 per square foot.
  • If you don’t qualify for the bonus, your deduction increases by 2 cents for each percentage point of energy savings beyond 25%, again up to 50%, for a maximum deduction of $1 per square foot.

The IRA brings other changes, too. For example, it eliminates the availability of partial deductions, and it allows all tax-exempt entities — not just government entities — to assign their deductions to designers.

The law also revises the standard for determining the amount of energy savings. Currently, the determination is made using the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard in effect two years prior to the start of the construction. Under the IRA, energy savings will be evaluated under the ASHRAE standard from four years prior to completion of construction.

In addition, the deduction is no longer “one and out.” You can claim it again every three tax years (four years for buildings that are owned by government or tax-exempt entities) for subsequent energy-efficient improvements.

And the IRA creates a new alternative deduction path for renovation projects. To be eligible, you must have a qualified retrofit plan and reduce the building’s energy use “intensity” by at least 25% (as opposed to annual energy and power costs) compared to before the retrofit. Qualifying taxpayers can claim the retrofit credit in the qualifying final certification year. The deduction amount can’t exceed the total adjusted basis of the retrofit property placed in service.

Sec. 45L credit

The Sec. 45L credit also first became available in 2006, but it expired at the end of 2021. The credit applied to “eligible contractors” that built energy-efficient single-family, manufactured and low-rise multifamily residences. To qualify, the residences had to be 50% more energy-efficient than a standard dwelling unit that complies with the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code standards. The maximum credit was $2,000 per unit, with no partial credit permitted.

The IRA revived the Sec. 45L credit, extending it in its original form for qualifying buildings placed in service in 2022, with the same eligibility requirements and credit amount. Beginning in 2023 and running through 2032, though, the credit will be available for residential properties of any size, including those that exceed three floors. This means that multifamily properties that are four or more floors will be able to qualify for both 179D and 45L.

However, the IRA imposes more stringent standards for determining energy savings. Properties must satisfy the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star Manufactured New Homes Program or Energy Star Residential New Construction Program requirements.

The base credit amount changes in 2023, too. It increases to $2,500 per unit for single-family Energy Star homes and falls to only $500 per unit for Energy Star multifamily homes. But taxpayers might qualify for much larger credits by fulfilling additional criteria.

If a property meets the requirements for the even stricter Zero Energy Ready Home program, the credit jumps to $5,000 per single-family unit and $1,000 per unit for multifamily homes. The credit for an Energy Star multifamily property goes up to $2,500 per unit if the property satisfies prevailing wage requirements, or $5,000 per unit if it’s also Zero Energy Ready.

Make the most of the IRA

The Sec. 179D and 45L incentives are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the IRA’s energy-related tax provisions affecting both personal and business property. We can help you leverage all of the applicable opportunities to minimize your federal tax liability.

© 2022


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Businesses: Act now to make the most out of bonus depreciation

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) significantly boosted the potential value of bonus depreciation for taxpayers — but only for a limited duration. The amount of first-year depreciation available as a so-called bonus will begin to drop from 100% after 2022, and businesses should plan accordingly.

Bonus depreciation in a nutshell

Bonus depreciation has been available in varying amounts for some time. Immediately prior to the passage of the TCJA, for example, taxpayers generally could claim a depreciation deduction for 50% of the purchase price of qualified property in the first year — as opposed to deducting smaller amounts over the useful life of the property under the modified accelerated cost recovery system (MACRS).

The TCJA expanded the deduction to 100% in the year qualified property is placed in service through 2022, with the amount dropping each subsequent year by 20%, until bonus depreciation sunsets in 2027, unless Congress acts to extend it. Special rules apply to property with longer recovery periods.

Businesses can take advantage of the deduction by purchasing, among other things, property with a useful life of 20 years or less. That includes computer systems, software, certain vehicles, machinery, equipment and office furniture.

Both new and used property can qualify. Used property generally qualifies if it wasn’t:

  • Used by the taxpayer or a predecessor before acquiring it,
  • Acquired from a related party, and
  • Acquired as part of a tax-free transaction.

Qualified improvement property (generally, interior improvements to nonresidential property, excluding elevators, escalators, interior structural framework and building expansion) also qualify for bonus depreciation. A drafting error in the TCJA indicated otherwise, but the CARES Act, enacted in 2020, retroactively made such property eligible for bonus depreciation. Taxpayers that placed qualified improvement property in service in 2018, 2019 or 2020 may, generally, now claim any related deductions not claimed then — subject to certain restrictions.

Buildings themselves aren’t eligible for bonus depreciation, with their useful life of 27.5 (residential) or 39 (commercial) years — but cost segregation studies can help businesses identify components that might be. These studies identify parts of real property that are actually tangible personal property. Such property has shorter depreciation recovery periods and therefore qualifies for bonus depreciation in the year placed in service.

The placed-in-service requirement is particularly critical for those wishing to claim 100% bonus depreciation before the maximum deduction amount falls to 80% in 2023. With the continuing shipping delays and shortages in labor, materials and supplies, taxpayers should place their orders promptly to increase the odds of being able to deploy qualifying property in their businesses before year-end.

Note, too, that bonus depreciation is automatically applied by the IRS unless a taxpayer opts out. Elections apply to all qualified property in the same class of property that is placed in service in the same tax year (for example, all five-year MACRS property).

Bonus depreciation vs. Section 179 expensing

Taxpayers sometimes confuse bonus depreciation with Sec. 179 expensing. The two tax breaks are similar, but distinct.

Like bonus deprecation, Sec. 179 allows a taxpayer to deduct 100% of the purchase price of new and used eligible assets. Eligible assets include software, computer and office equipment, certain vehicles and machinery, as well as qualified improvement property.

But Sec. 179 is subject to some limits that don’t apply to bonus depreciation. For example, the maximum allowable deduction for 2022 is $1.08 million.

In addition, the deduction is intended to benefit small- and medium-sized businesses so it begins phasing out on a dollar-for-dollar basis when qualifying property purchases exceed $2.7 million. In other words, the deduction isn’t available if the cost of Sec. 179 property placed in service this year is $3.78 million or more.

The Sec. 179 deduction also is limited by the amount of a business’s taxable income; applying the deduction can’t create a loss for the business. Any cost not deductible in the first year can be carried over to the next year for an unlimited number of years. Such carried-over costs must be deducted according to age — for example, costs carried over from 2019 must be deducted before those carried over from 2020.

Alternatively, the business can claim the excess as bonus depreciation in the first year. For example, say you purchase machinery that costs $20,000 but, exclusive of that amount, have only $15,000 in income for the year it’s placed in service. Presuming you’re otherwise eligible, you can deduct $15,000 under Sec. 179 and the remaining $5,000 as bonus depreciation.

Also in contrast to bonus depreciation, the Sec. 179 deduction isn’t automatic. You must claim it on a property-by-property basis.

Some caveats

At first glance, bonus depreciation can seem like a no-brainer. However, it’s not necessarily advisable in every situation.

For example, taxpayers who claim the qualified business income (QBI) deduction for pass-through businesses could find that bonus depreciation backfires. The amount of your QBI deduction is limited by your taxable income, and bonus depreciation will reduce this income. Like bonus depreciation, the QBI deduction is scheduled to expire in 2026, so you might want to maximize it before then.

The QBI deduction isn’t the only tax break that depends on taxable income. Increasing your depreciation deduction also could affect the value of expiring net operating losses and charitable contribution and credit carryforwards.

And deduction acceleration strategies always should take into account tax bracket expectations going forward. The value of any deduction is higher when you’re subject to higher tax rates. Newer businesses that currently have relatively low incomes might prefer to spread out depreciation, for example. With bonus depreciation, though, you’ll also need to account for the coming declines in the maximum deduction amounts.

Buy now, decide later

If you plan on purchasing bonus depreciation qualifying property, it may be wise to do so and place it in service before year end to maximize your options. We can help you chart the most advantageous course of action based on your specific circumstances and the upcoming changes in tax law.

© 2022


Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Businesses: Act now to make the most out of bonus depreciation

Separating your business from its real estate





Does your business need real estate to conduct operations? Or does it otherwise hold property and put the title in the name of the business? You may want to rethink this approach. Any short-term benefits may be outweighed by the tax, liability and estate planning advantages of separating real estate ownership from the business.

Tax implications

Businesses that are formed as C corporations treat real estate assets as they do equipment, inventory and other business assets. Any expenses related to owning the assets appear as ordinary expenses on their income statements and are generally tax deductible in the year they’re incurred.

However, when the business sells the real estate, the profits are taxed twice — at the corporate level and at the owner’s individual level when a distribution is made. Double taxation is avoidable, though. If ownership of the real estate were transferred to a pass-through entity instead, the profit upon sale would be taxed only at the individual level.

Protecting assets

Separating your business ownership from its real estate also provides an effective way to protect it from creditors and other claimants. For example, if your business is sued and found liable, a plaintiff may go after all of its assets, including real estate held in its name. But plaintiffs can’t touch property owned by another entity.

The strategy also can pay off if your business is forced to file for bankruptcy. Creditors generally can’t recover real estate owned separately unless it’s been pledged as collateral for credit taken out by the business.

Estate planning options

Separating real estate from a business may give you some estate planning options, too. For example, if the company is a family business but some members of the next generation aren’t interested in actively participating, separating property gives you an extra asset to distribute. You could bequest the business to one heir and the real estate to another family member who doesn’t work in the business.

Handling the transaction

The business simply transfers ownership of the real estate and the transferee leases it back to the company. Who should own the real estate? One option: The business owner could purchase the real estate from the business and hold title in his or her name. One concern is that it’s not only the property that’ll transfer to the owner, but also any liabilities related to it.

Moreover, any liability related to the property itself could inadvertently put the business at risk. If, for example, a client suffers an injury on the property and a lawsuit ensues, the property owner’s other assets (including the interest in the business) could be in jeopardy.

An alternative is to transfer the property to a separate legal entity formed to hold the title, typically a limited liability company (LLC) or limited liability partnership (LLP). With a pass-through structure, any expenses related to the real estate will flow through to your individual tax return and offset the rental income.

An LLC is more commonly used to transfer real estate. It’s simple to set up and requires only one member. LLPs require at least two partners and aren’t permitted in every state. Some states restrict them to certain types of businesses and impose other restrictions.

Proceed cautiously

Separating the ownership of a business’s real estate isn’t always advisable. If it’s worthwhile, the right approach will depend on your individual circumstances. Contact us to help determine the best approach to minimize your transfer costs and capital gains taxes while maximizing other potential benefits.

© 2022


Does your business need real estate to conduct operations? Or does it otherwise hold property and put the title in the name of the business? You may want to rethink this approach. Any short-term benefits may be outweighed by the tax, liability and estate planning advantages of separating real estate ownership from the business.


Tax implications

Businesses that are formed as C corporations treat real estate assets as they do equipment, inventory and other business assets. Any expenses related to owning the assets appear as ordinary expenses on their income statements and are generally tax deductible in the year they’re incurred.

However, when the business sells the real estate, the profits are taxed twice — at the corporate level and at the owner’s individual level when a distribution is made. Double taxation is avoidable, though. If ownership of the real estate were transferred to a pass-through entity instead, the profit upon sale would be taxed only at the individual level.


Protecting assets

Separating your business ownership from its real estate also provides an effective way to protect it from creditors and other claimants. For example, if your business is sued and found liable, a plaintiff may go after all of its assets, including real estate held in its name. But plaintiffs can’t touch property owned by another entity.

The strategy also can pay off if your business is forced to file for bankruptcy. Creditors generally can’t recover real estate owned separately unless it’s been pledged as collateral for credit taken out by the business.


Estate planning options

Separating real estate from a business may give you some estate planning options, too. For example, if the company is a family business but some members of the next generation aren’t interested in actively participating, separating property gives you an extra asset to distribute. You could bequest the business to one heir and the real estate to another family member who doesn’t work in the business.


Handling the transaction

The business simply transfers ownership of the real estate and the transferee leases it back to the company. Who should own the real estate? One option: The business owner could purchase the real estate from the business and hold title in his or her name. One concern is that it’s not only the property that’ll transfer to the owner, but also any liabilities related to it.

Moreover, any liability related to the property itself could inadvertently put the business at risk. If, for example, a client suffers an injury on the property and a lawsuit ensues, the property owner’s other assets (including the interest in the business) could be in jeopardy.

An alternative is to transfer the property to a separate legal entity formed to hold the title, typically a limited liability company (LLC) or limited liability partnership (LLP). With a pass-through structure, any expenses related to the real estate will flow through to your individual tax return and offset the rental income.

An LLC is more commonly used to transfer real estate. It’s simple to set up and requires only one member. LLPs require at least two partners and aren’t permitted in every state. Some states restrict them to certain types of businesses and impose other restrictions.


Proceed cautiously

Separating the ownership of a business’s real estate isn’t always advisable. If it’s worthwhile, the right approach will depend on your individual circumstances. Contact us to help determine the best approach to minimize your transfer costs and capital gains taxes while maximizing other potential benefits.


© 2022

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Separating your business from its real estate