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Will the Sale of Your Home be Taxable? April 7, 2021

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Business consulting, Depreciation options, General, Section 168, Section 179, tax changes, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Preparation, Tax Rules, Tax Tip, Taxes , add a comment

We all expect that no tax will be due some day when we sell our homes. At least, that is what all of our friends and family tell us. And, there is a good chance that they will be correct at least under today’s rules which are always subject to change. The below article gives us the story from the 30,000 foot view. And, as long as you have lived in your home for at least two (2) years out of the last five (5) years and your gain is below $250,000 – single / $500,000 – married filing jointly; then, you may not even need to report the transaction on your return, much less pay any taxes. 

But when the transaction involves anything out of the ordinary such as a gain in excess of $250,000 / $500,000; the property was formerly a rental; was used as your business property; used as an office in the home; you or your spouse are in the military or an involuntary conversion occurs – just to mention a few, things can get complicated very quickly and a lot of tax money may be potentially due. So do your homework BEFORE you sell your home to help avoid any unpleasant surprises.

The article below was written by Mr. Geoff Williams. It takes a deeper dive into some tax consequences of selling your home. 

– Mark Bradstreet

The IRS is often more benevolent than you would think in these matters.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, here’s what you need to know about the taxes you may owe.

YOU MAY HAVE THOUGHT about the tax benefits of buying a home, but you probably haven’t thought much about the taxes you’ll pay when you sell your home. As you can imagine, the taxes on a home sale could theoretically be a small fortune, enough to almost scare you away from selling at all.

So, if you’re looking to be proactive and prepared, here are answers to some questions you may have.

Can I Avoid Paying Taxes on a Sale of a Home?

Yes. There is a very good chance that you won’t pay taxes on your home sale. In fact, if you’ve been worrying about this, it may be for nothing.

When you make money from the sale of your home, the IRS typically lets home sellers keep the first $250,000 they earn from the sale of the house. (That’s $250,000 if you’re single; if you’re married and filing jointly, you get to keep $500,000 of capital gains.)

So, What Happens if the Capital Gains Are Higher Than the $250,000 or $500,000 Thresholds?

In that case, you may be subject to capital gains taxes.

Here’s a hypothetical scenario to give you a sense of how much you might pay if you sell a home for well over $500,000 as a married couple filing jointly.

According to David Reyes, financial advisor and CEO of Reyes Financial Architecture in San Diego, if you bought a house 10 years ago for $350,000 and sell it now for $1 million (a relatively reasonable hypothetical in California), “you would owe taxes on any amount over the $500,000 – which would be $150,000.”

As in, you would owe taxes on that $150,000 (rather than having a $150,000 tax bill).

That said, you can probably get that $150,000 number to shrink a bit. “The IRS allows you to deduct certain closing costs such as title insurance and attorney fees. You can also deduct the commission that you pay your real estate agent. You may also deduct any home improvements that you made to the property. This figure becomes your cost basis,” Reyes says.

Those home improvements, incidentally, could add up to a lot. Did you replace the roof recently? Did you add a swimming pool to your backyard, or perhaps renovate the kitchen or add a room to the house? Hopefully you saved the receipts.

Reyes says that after all these deductions, you would pay taxes on the net proceeds.

“Let’s say that your total of all eligible deductions is $50,000. You would pay capital gains taxes on the (remaining) $100,000,” Reyes says. “Depending on your tax bracket, you could pay taxes of up to 20% federal income taxes, plus state taxes. This would be a tax of $20,000, plus state income tax.”

State Income Tax?

Yes, you may have to pay state income tax with the sale of your home – but you shouldn’t when the federal taxes are exempt. Still, check with your tax preparer just to be sure. “Every state is different,” Reyes says.

How Do I Report the Sale of My Home on My Income Taxes?

You may not have to. Says Reyes: “If you have a gain on your home that is under the exclusion, you do not have to report this on your tax return. If you do have a gain that is above the exclusion, you must report it on the Schedule D of your 1040.” For most people, yes, but there may be some complications to consider. We’ll run through some of the bigger ones.

The home is a rental. Is this a house that you don’t live in? Or maybe you did 10 years ago and then you rented it out, and now you’re selling the home? Even if you are making less than $250,000 or $500,000, you will be paying taxes on the sale. But keep in mind: If you lived in the house for a minimum of two years within the last five years, and you rented it out for the remainder of that period, you will avoid paying taxes if the profits are under the $250,000 or $500,000 thresholds.

The home is a vacation home or a second home. Again, you’ll be paying taxes on the house. It needs to be your primary residence.

Within the last two years, you sold a home – and claimed the $250,000 or $500,000 exclusion. So, you sold a house and didn’t have to pay the taxes on it? Awesome. But you did that 20 months ago? You will probably have to pay taxes.

Did You Say Probably?

You might be able to get an exclusion, or at least a partial one. This is one of those cases where it wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk to a tax preparer. In fact, whenever you are selling or buying, it’s generally a good idea to talk to a tax preparer to see how the home will affect your taxes. But if you sold a house 20 months ago and bought a new house with your spouse, and now you’re divorcing and selling the home to one or the other, you might be able to get an exclusion.

You may also be able to get an exclusion if your spouse died, and now you’re forced to sell the house.

If you lost your job and are now receiving unemployment benefits, you can probably get an exclusion.

But getting a partial or full exclusion doesn’t have to involve a tragic reason. For instance, if you and your spouse are having twins, triplets or even more kids, and you have suddenly outgrown the house, you may be able to get an exclusion. If that’s the case, you’ll want to talk to a tax preparer, and along with all of the parenting and baby books you’re buying, consult the IRS’s “Publication 523 (2019), Selling Your Home.”

Credit given to: Geoff Williams, Contributor for US News published May 20, 2020.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We also welcome and appreciate anyone who wishes to write a Tax Tip of the Week for our consideration. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This Week’s Author, Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Choice of Business Entity March 10, 2021

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Business consulting, Depreciation options, General, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Preparation, Tax Rules, Tax Tip, Taxes , add a comment

Entity choice is one of my favorite topics. It reminds me of a chess game. The choice of your business entity is the cornerstone of your tax and legal foundations. Not all entities are taxed in the same fashion, others treat the taxation of a sale of its assets differently, and still others will have varying types of owner’s compensation just to mention a few of the different entity attributes. Other entity choices make switching from one entity to another very expensive. For example, switching a C corporation to an LLC may be a very expensive proposition. But, going the other direction by switching an LLC to a C corporation is usually painless. Nellie Akalp in the following article does an excellent job of discussing more of the pros and cons of entity choice.
                                                                    -Mark Bradstreet

A lot is riding on the business entity type you choose. The business structure you decide on affects your legal liability as an owner, tax obligations, growth potential, and compliance requirements you’ll need to satisfy on an ongoing basis. To make matters more complex, the entity type that’s right at the beginning of a business’s existence may not continue to be the ideal choice as the company grows and evolves.

So, what’s an entrepreneur to do? First and foremost, I encourage business owners to consult with a licensed attorney and accountant or tax advisor to get professional guidance. Every situation is unique, so it’s critical to have expert advice before making the crucial decisions of choosing a business entity and assessing when it’s time for a change.

To help you prepare for your all-important discussions with your legal and financial advisors, the following is food for thought about some of the most popular business entity types.

Business entity basics

1. Sole proprietorship and general partnership

Many small businesses start as either a sole proprietorship (one owner or a married couple) or general partnership (multiple owners). When business owners don’t formally register their companies with the state, they are, by default, considered either a sole proprietorship or general partnership. There is no legal or financial separation between the business and its owners.

Pros of sole proprietorships and general partnerships:

Cons of sole proprietorships and general partnerships:

2. Limited liability company (LLC)

The LLC business structure may be described as a bit of a cross between a sole proprietorship or partnership and a corporation. By default, an LLC is considered the same tax-paying entity as its owners (“members”). However, the LLC is regarded as a separate legal entity from its members. Articles of Organization must be filed with the state to form an LLC. 

Pros of limited liability companies

Cons of LLCs

3. C Corporation

A C Corporation is regarded as a separate taxpayer and legal entity from its owners. Business income and expenses are tied to the business, and the corporate entity reports and pays taxes. Ownership of a C Corp is through purchasing shares of stock.

Incorporating as a C Corp involves filing Articles of Incorporation (sometimes called Certificate of Incorporation) with the state. Other state requirements must also be met to start a corporation.

Pros of C Corporations

Most legal protection for owners—The C Corp structure provides the highest degree of liability protection for business owners. Under most circumstances, shareholders, directors, and employees have protection from lawsuits and debts of the corporation. 

Growth potential—C Corporations can have an unlimited number of shareholders and may issue multiple classes of stock. Typically, investors will be more interested in funding companies organized as corporations rather than those operating as other entity types.  

Tax flexibility—Eligible corporations may choose to be taxed as an S Corporation (see more about that in the next section). Often, corporations are eligible for more tax deductions than businesses operating as other business structures. 

Perpetual life—Ownership interests in a corporation may be transferred to others. Shareholders can sell, gift, or bequeath their shares of company stock, and the corporation continues to exist. Only when a C Corp is formally dissolved is its life ended. 

Cons of C Corporations

More compliance complexity and costs—In most states, it costs more to incorporate a business than to form an LLC. There are more internal and external rules to start and operate a C Corp, such as appointing a board of directors, drafting bylaws, filing an initial report, filing annual reports, etc.

Double taxation—A C Corporation’s profits get taxed at the federal corporate income tax rate. Then they are again taxed to shareholders when the corporation distributes those profits as dividends. This creates a double tax because the dividends paid do not qualify as tax deductions for the corporation. Another potential disadvantage from a shareholder’s individual tax perspective, is that they may not deduct any loss of the corporation on their personal tax returns.  

Overview of the S Corporation election for LLCs and corporations

The S Corporation is a tax election that qualifying LLCs and corporations can choose.

The benefit for LLCs is that S Corp election can reduce the amount of self-employment tax business owners must pay. An LLC taxed as an S Corp still gets pass-through tax treatment (tax obligations pass-through to the owners’ returns), but only the wages and salaries of business owners on the company’s payroll are subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. Any profit distributions paid to owners do not have those taxes levied on them.

To request S Corporation election, an LLC must file IRS Form 8832 (to be taxed as a corporation) and IRS Form 2553 (to choose S Corporation election).

S Corp tax treatment allows corporations to avoid the sting of double taxation. As an S Corporation, a corporation’s profits and losses flow through to shareholders’ personal tax returns. The corporate entity does not pay income tax. Shareholders who are employed by the corporation pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on their wages or salaries from the company, but the dividend income paid to shareholders is not subject to those taxes.

Note that S Corporations may not exceed 100 shareholders. Therefore, corporations with more than that are not eligible for S Corp election.

Is your business entity type still the right one for you?

Business owners operating as a sole proprietor, general partnership, or LLC may find that their business is outgrowing the limitations of their entity type. A few things that might drive entrepreneurs to consider changing their business structure include:

The process to switch from one business entity type to another will vary by business structure and in which state the business is operating. An attorney and accountant can help determine whether a change may be beneficial. Also, a lawyer can advise on the correct steps to take to change business entities. Details are often available on states’ Secretary of State websites, as well. 

Ideally, when starting your business, it’s helpful to think both short-term and long-term about what structure will best serve your needs and vision. With some research, reaching out to the right resources for guidance, you will be empowered to make an informed decision. 

Credit Given to:  Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, business expert, professional speaker, author, and mother of four. She is the Founder and CEO of CorpNet.com, a trusted resource and service provider for business incorporation, LLC filings, and corporate compliance services in all 50 states. Nellie and her team recently launched a partner program for legal, tax and business professionals to help them streamline the business incorporation and compliance process for their clients.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We also welcome and appreciate anyone who wishes to write a Tax Tip of the Week for our consideration. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This Week’s Author, Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Bonus Depreciation: A Simple Guide for Businesses February 17, 2021

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Business consulting, Depreciation options, General, Section 168, Section 179, tax changes, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Rules, Tax Tip, Taxes , add a comment

In our tax and business planning meetings, we tend to drone on forever about the use of accelerated depreciation methods. Not that long ago, our first choice was Section 179; and, Section 168 (bonus depreciation) was our second choice. Reason being that, unlike Section 179, Section 168 was originally for NEW property only. That has changed in the last few years and now qualifying property for Section 168 may be NEW OR USED. Also, unlike Section 179, Section 168 does not have a ceiling on qualifying purchases. The business plan is a fundamental tool and is necessary for a startup that needs a sense of direction. The business plan also typically includes a brief look at the industry within which the business will operate and how the business will differentiate itself from the competition. If you are looking for professional Business Plans Writers make sure to check out this url https://wimgo.com/s/usa/business-plan-writers/.

Who doesn’t love a bonus? If you purchase fixed assets for your business, one bonus you want to get familiar with is bonus depreciation. Here’s a look at what you need to know about this valuable tax-saving tool.

What is bonus depreciation?

Depreciation allows a business to write off the cost of an asset over its useful life, or the number of years the asset will be used in the business. For example, if you purchase a $10,000 piece of machinery that you’ll use for ten years, rather than expense the full $10,000 in year one, you might write off $1,000 per year for ten years.

That $1,000 write-off is nice, but it might not be enough of an incentive to encourage you to reinvest in your business–and Congress wants business owners to stimulate the economy by purchasing assets. That’s why they invented bonus depreciation.

Bonus depreciation is a way to accelerate depreciation. It allows a business to write off more of the cost of an asset in the year the company starts using it.

Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), a business can now write off up to 100% of the cost of eligible property purchased after September 27, 2017 and before January 1, 2023, up from 50% under the prior law. However, that 100% limit will begin to phase down after 2022. Starting in 2023, the rate for bonus depreciation will be:

To take advantage of bonus depreciation:

Step 1: Purchase qualified business property.

Qualified business property includes:

Step 2: Place the property in service

Placing property in service means you have to start using the asset in your business. For example, if you purchase a piece of machinery in December of 2020, but don’t install it or start using it until January of 2021, you would have to wait until you file your 2021 tax return to claim bonus depreciation on the machinery.

Step 3: Claim bonus depreciation on your tax return

You can write off up to 100% of the cost of the asset on Form 4562, which gets filed along with your business tax return.

Frequently asked questions about bonus depreciation

Depreciation is complicated, so many business owners have questions about when and how bonus depreciation applies to their business. Here are some common ones.

Do I have to take bonus depreciation?

If you purchase depreciable property in your business, depreciating the property isn’t optional–it’s required.
But bonus depreciation isn’t mandatory. If you purchase property that qualifies for bonus depreciation, and for whatever reason don’t want to write off 100% of the cost, you can elect not to take it. Instead, you can use the applicable MACRS depreciation method instead.

Is bonus depreciation the same as Section 179?

Business owners often confuse bonus depreciation with the Section 179 deduction because they both allow a business to write off the cost of qualified property immediately. While these two tax breaks serve a similar purpose, they aren’t the same.

A business can’t claim Section 179 unless it has a taxable profit. For example, if your business has $5,000 of taxable income before taking the Section 179 deduction into account, and you purchase a $10,000 piece of machinery, your Section 179 deduction is limited to $5,000. At that point, you can opt to claim regular depreciation on the remaining $5,000 or carry your unused Section 179 deduction forward and deduct it in a future tax year.

On the other hand, bonus depreciation isn’t limited by the business’ taxable income. Returning to the previous example, you could take a Section 179 deduction of $5,000 to reduce your taxable income to zero, then take bonus depreciation for the remaining $5,000.

Are there different bonus depreciation rules for vehicles?

Depending on the type and size of the vehicle, there may be different bonus depreciation limits. The IRS sets different limits for vehicles to keep people from claiming large tax deductions on luxury cars or ones that are used mainly for personal driving.

For example, vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating of 6,000 pounds or less are limited to $8,000 of bonus depreciation in the first year they’re placed in service.

On the other hand, heavy vehicles with a GVW rating above 6,000 pounds that are used more than 50% for business can deduct 100% of the cost.

Can I claim bonus depreciation on used property?

The TCJA expanded the definition of qualified property to include used property. Previously, only new assets were eligible for bonus depreciation.

However, to be eligible for bonus depreciation, the property must meet the following requirements:

Bonus depreciation can be a valuable tax break for businesses that purchase furniture, equipment, and other fixed assets. However, depreciation laws and limits are always changing.

Before you decide to buy property, it’s a good idea to talk to your tax professional to be sure you’re making the right move for your business.

Credit Given to:   Janet Berry-Johnson, CPA. This article was published on November 3, 2020.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We also welcome and appreciate anyone who wishes to write a Tax Tip of the Week for our consideration. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This Week’s Author, Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Small Business Tax Deduction Checklist February 3, 2021

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Business consulting, Deductions, Depreciation options, General, tax changes, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Preparation, Tax Rules, Tax Tip, Taxes , add a comment

We receive a ton of questions regarding what is tax deductible. If the expense is associated with your business then it is most likely deductible. As a side note, many people are unaware that upon starting a new business, your personal assets that are now used in the new business may be deducted as an expense or as depreciation expense. Those personal assets have now been converted to from personal use to business use. They may be deducted at their fair market value at the time they were placed into service. Fair market value is typically defined as “garage sale” value. These assets may include computers, faxes, phones, copiers, printers, desks, chairs, tables, etc. The article that follows drills down further with a list of some common business tax deductions.

The not-so-good news? Every business needs to file taxes. The great news? There are many expenses you can apply to your income to help alleviate your tax burden. These deductions will reduce your profits, meaning that you will pay lower overall taxes. While the IRS does not specifically list what you can claim, they do state that if a cost you’ve incurred is “ordinary and necessary” to running your business, then you can deduct it.

We’ve created a checklist below of most of the deductions you can claim for your small business. As always, check with your accountant or tax preparer if you have any questions or need clarification. Note that some of the expenses listed below will need to be “depreciated” or expensed over several years. Speak to your tax preparer for more information.

Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Tax Deductions

These tax deductions include costs associated with renting a building for business, using part of your home as an office, utility bills, and other factors. 

Rent and Mortgage Expenses

Utility Bills Expenses

You cannot claim a telephone landline unless it is specifically dedicated to your business. You can claim a percentage of your mobile phone bill depending on how much you use your mobile phone for business.

Office Expenses and Tax Deductions

You can take additional deductions on money you spend for your business office.

Office Furniture Expenses

Office Computer Expenses

Office Software Expenses

Office Equipment Expenses

Office Supplies and Sundries Expenses

Office Maintenance and Repairs Expenses

Employee Expenses and Tax Deductions

If you pay a salary to employees, then you can deduct some of those costs from your business revenue. Employee expenses and taxes can be complex, so we recommend speaking to an accountant or tax preparer to understand what you can deduct.

Freelance, Contractor, and Professional Tax Deductions

You can claim costs for professional services like tax preparation or legal fees, and for paying freelancers or other contractors to complete work for your business.

Accountancy Expenses

Legal Expenses

Freelance and Contractor Expenses

Car and Vehicle Tax Deductions

If you use a vehicle in part or exclusively for your business, you can deduct those costs. You can either track everything individually, or use the IRS mileage rates.

Advertising and Marketing Tax Deductions

You can deduct any money you spend on promoting your business.

Travel and Accommodation Tax Deductions

If you travel or stay away from home for business, those costs are deductible.

Loan Interest and Bad Debt Tax Deductions

If you have taken out loans for your business, you can deduct the interest.

Education and Training Tax Deductions

When you provide training to yourself or your staff, those costs can be deducted.

Payment and Bank Fee Tax Deductions

Your bank is likely to charge you for business services, and you’ll also pay a fee for accepting charge, credit, or debit cards.

Insurance Tax Deductions

You can deduct insurance premiums incurred by your business:

Qualified Business Income Tax Deductions

Depending on the type of business you run, and subject to certain limits, you can claim up to 20% of your profits as a tax deduction. Speak to your accountant about this, as it can be a complex area.

Miscellaneous Tax Deductions

Depending on the type of business you run, there are potentially dozens of other areas you can expense. 

We hope you’ve found this small business tax deductions checklist useful. This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you a good starting point for your expenses. As always, talk to a professional tax preparer or accountant about your unique tax circumstances to ensure you’re claiming expenses correctly.

Credit given to Lisa Xiong and published on March 6, 2020.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We also welcome and appreciate anyone who wishes to write a Tax Tip of the Week for our consideration. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This Week’s Author, Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

What You Need to File your Taxes January 20, 2021

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Business consulting, Deductions, Depreciation options, General, tax changes, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Preparation, Tax Rules, Tax Tip, Taxes , add a comment

Our job includes minimizing your income tax liability both in the short-term and long-term. Our ability to do so is closely tied to the accuracy and completeness of the information given us. Our client tax organizer and checklist are designed to help you report your income and deductions to us.  When your tax organizer and checklist are not completed, we may not know what we don’t know. Always, a good idea to call, mail, text or email any new events or questions during the year so we may either give you immediate suggestions and/or be on the alert during your tax preparation.

The following article by the Taxslayer Blog Team is written from the 30,000 feet view. Our tax organizer and checklist are more comprehensive. But the article will give you a starting point for gathering your tax information. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                -Mark Bradstreet

Tax Prep Checklist: Everything You Need to File Your Taxes

If you’d rather do something – anything – other than filing your taxes, remember that the sooner you file, the sooner you’ll get your refund. To make the e-filing process quicker, gather your forms and documents before you begin. Below is a checklist of the basic forms and records you’ll need to make slaying your taxes a cinch. 

Personal Information 

Income and Investment Information 

Self-Employment and Business Records (where applicable) 

Medical Expense Receipts and Records 

Charitable Donations 

Other Homeownership Info 

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We also welcome and appreciate anyone who wishes to write a Tax Tip of the Week for our consideration. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This Week’s Author, Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

A Checklist of Business Deductions January 6, 2021

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Business consulting, Deductions, Depreciation options, General, Section 168, Section 179, tax changes, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Preparation, Tax Rules, Tax Tip, Taxes, Taxes , add a comment

Sara Sugar has created a list of small business deductions as shown below.  It is a great list to scan through and see if you have been overlooking any tax deductions.  Always fine to call us with any questions or comments you may have.

                                 -Mark Bradstreet

THE ULTIMATE LIST OF SMALL BUSINESS TAX DEDUCTIONS

Every small business owner wants to save money — and small business tax deductions are one way to do exactly that.

This list of 37 deductions will take you from “Ugh, taxes” to “Taxes? I got this.”

1. Vehicle Expenses.
Keep records during the year to prove the use of your car, truck or van, for business, especially if you also use the vehicle for personal reasons. When it’s time to pay taxes, you can choose to deduct your actual expenses (including gasoline, maintenance, parking, and tolls), or you can take the more straightforward route of using the IRS standard mileage rate — 58 cents per mile in 2019.

Whether you’re running errands in your own car or making deliveries in your bakery van, track the mileage and run some numbers to see which method gives you the higher deduction. If you drive a lot of miles each year, it makes more sense to use the standard mileage deduction when filing taxes. However, if you have an older vehicle that regularly needs maintenance, or isn’t fuel efficient, you might be able to get a larger deduction by using your actual expenses vs. the IRS mileage rate.

Either way, we all know that gas, repairs, parking, and mileage add up, so taking advantage of the standard mileage rate, or deducting your actual expenses, is a no-brainer way to put some of that money back in your pocket. Just make sure you keep records diligently to avoid mixing personal expenses with business ones.

2. Home Office.
Do you run part of your small business out of your home, maybe doing the books in the evenings after you’ve parked your food truck for the night? Or perhaps you run an entirely home-based business. For many self-employed individuals and sole proprietors, it’s pretty standard to have a space at home that’s devoted to your work. The key here is the word devoted. Sometimes doing work on at the kitchen table while your kids do their homework doesn’t count as a home office. You must have a specific room that’s dedicated to being your office in order for it to be tax deductible.

Calculating the size of your deduction is primarily related to the amount of your home that’s used as an office. For example:

Total square footage of your home / divided into square footage used as an office = the percentage of direct and indirect expenses (rent, utilities, insurance, repairs, etc.) that can be deducted.

We highly recommend that you read the IRS’ literature on this particular tax deduction, and/or speak with a tax professional before filing taxes with this deduction. It’s one of the more complicated ones available to small business owners, and there have been numerous court cases and controversies over the years. When dealing with the potential for a costly audit, it pays to be safe by consulting a professional tax preparer rather than sorry.

3. Bonus Depreciation.
If you buy new capital equipment, such as a new oven for your pizzeria, you get a depreciation tax break that lets you deduct 100 percent of your costs upon purchase. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 100% bonus depreciation only pertains to equipment purchased and placed in use between September 27, 2017 and January 1, 2023 — something to keep in mind as you plan for new equipment purchases in the next few years.

It’s important to note that according to the IRS, the asset you purchase must meet the following three requirements:

A few things that don’t count as assets include:

4. Professional Services.
As a small business, you don’t have in-house accountants or attorneys, but that doesn’t mean you can’t deduct their services. If you hire a consultant to help you grow your gift shop’s outreach, the fees and overall expense you pay for those services are deductible. Make sure the fees you’re paying are reasonable and necessary for the deduction to count by checking with the appropriate IRS publication or a tax professional. But you’d do that anyway, wouldn’t you?

5. Salaries and Wages.
If you’re a sole proprietor or your company is an LLC, you may not be able to deduct draws and income that you take from your business. However, salaries and wages that you pay to those faithful part-time and full-time employees behind the cash register are indeed deductible.

However, this doesn’t just stop at standard salaries and wages. Other payments like bonuses, meals, lodging, per diem, allowances, and some employer-paid taxes are also deductible. You can even deduct the cost of payroll software and systems in many cases.

6. Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
Have you hired military veterans or other long-term unemployed people to work behind your counter? If so, you may be eligible to take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit of 40 percent of your first $6,000 in wages.

7. Office Supplies and Expenses.
If you’re running a frozen yogurt shop, when you hear the word “supplies,” you probably think of plastic spoons. However, even if your business doesn’t have a traditional office, you can still deduct conventional business supplies and office expenses, as long as they are used within the year they’re purchased, so set up a file for your receipts. Many times, you can also deduct the cost of postage, shipping, and delivery services so if mail-order is a part of your business, be sure to keep track of this cost.

8. Client and Employee Entertainment.
Yes, you can take small business deductions for schmoozing your clients, as long as you do indeed discuss business with them, and as long as the entertainment occurs in a business setting and for business purposes. In some cases, you can’t deduct the full amount of your entertainment expenses, but every bit helps.

Here are some tips to guide when and what you can deduct:

(Please note:  the TCJA affected Meals & Entertainment deductions beginning in 2018.)

9. Freelance/Independent Contractor Labor.
If you bring in independent contractors to keep your checkout lines moving during the holidays or to create new marketing materials for your shop, you can deduct your costs. Make sure you issue Form 1099-NEC to anyone who earned $600 or more from you during the tax year.

10. Furniture and Equipment.
Did you buy new chairs for your eat-in bakery or new juicing blenders for your juice bar this year? You have a choice regarding how you take your small business tax deduction for furniture and equipment. You can either deduct the entire cost for the tax year in which it was purchased, or you can depreciate the purchases over a seven-year period. The IRS has specific regulations that govern your choices here, so make sure you’re following the rules and make the right choice between depreciation and full deduction.

11. Employee Benefits.
The benefits that businesses like yours offer to employees do more than attract high-quality talent to your team. They also have tax benefits. Keep track of all contributions you make to your employees’ health plans, life insurance, pensions, profit-sharing, education reimbursement programs, and more. They’re all tax-deductible.

12. Computer Software.
You can now deduct the full cost of business software as a small business tax deduction, rather than depreciating it as in years past. This includes your POS software and all software you use to run your business.

13. Rent on Your Business Location.
You undoubtedly pay rent for your pet store or candy shop. Make sure you deduct it.

14. Startup Expenses.
If you’ve just opened your gift shop or convenience store, you may be able to deduct up to $5,000 in start-up costs and expenses that you incurred before you opened your doors for business. These can include marketing and advertising costs, travel, and employee pay for training.

15. Utilities.
Don’t miss the small business tax deductions for your electricity, mobile phone, and other utilities. If you use the home office deduction, your landline must be dedicated to your business to be deductible.

16. Travel Expenses.
Most industries offer some form of trade show or professional event where similar businesses can gather to discuss trends, meet with vendors, sell goods and discuss industry news. If you’re traveling to a trade show, you can take a small business deduction for all your expenses, including airfare, hotels, meals on the road, automobile expenses – whether you use the IRS standard mileage rate or actual expenses – and even tipping your cab driver.

There are also deductions for expenses that might not immediately come to mind, like:

In order for your trip to qualify for a travel deduction, it must meet the following criteria:

As with all deductions, it’s imperative that you keep receipts and records of all business travel expenses you plan to deduct in case of an audit.

17. Taxes.
Deducting taxes is a little tricky because the small business deduction depends on the type of tax. Deduct all licenses and fees, as well as taxes on any real estate your business owns. You should also deduct all sales taxes that you have collected from the customers at your deli. You can also deduct your share of the FICA, FUTA, and state unemployment taxes that you pay on behalf of your employees.

18. Commissions.
If you have salespeople working on commission, those payments are tax-deductible. You can also take a small business tax deduction for third-party commissions, such as those you might pay in an affiliate marketing set-up.

19. Machinery and Equipment Rental.
Sometimes renting equipment for your coffee shop or concession stand is beneficial to your bottom line, since you can deduct these business expenses in the year they occur with no depreciation.

20. Interest on Loans.
If you take out a business line of credit, the interest you pay is completely deductible as a small business tax deduction. If you take out a personal loan and funnel some of the proceeds into your business, however, the tax application becomes somewhat more complicated.

21. Inventory for Service-Based Businesses.
Inventory normally isn’t deductible. However, if you’re a service-based business and you use the cash method of accounting (instead of the standard accrual method typically used for businesses with inventory), you can treat some inventory as supplies and deduct them. For instance, if you’re an ice cream shop but you sell your special hot fudge sauce as a product, your inventory may be deductible. Consult a tax professional to see if you qualify.

22. Bad Debts.
Did you advance money to an employee or vendor, and then not receive repayment or the goods or services you thought you were contracting for? If so, you may be able to treat this bad business debt as a small business deduction.

23. Employee Education and Child Care Assistance.
If you go above and beyond with your employee benefits, you may be able to take small business tax deductions for education assistance and dependent care assistance. The IRS is pretty much rewarding you here for being a great employer. So, take a bow, and the deduction.

24. Mortgage Interest.
If your business owns its own building, even if it’s just a hot dog stand, you can deduct all your mortgage interest.

25. Bank Charges.
Don’t forget to deduct the fees your bank charges you for your business accounts. Even any ATM fees are deductible.

26. Disaster and Theft Losses.
If your business is unfortunate enough to suffer theft or to be the victim of a natural disaster during the year, you may be able to turn any losses that your insurance company didn’t reimburse into a small business tax deduction.

27. Carryovers From Previous Years.
Some small business tax deductions carry over from year to year. For instance, if you had a capital loss in a previous year, you may be able to take it in the current year. Specifics often change from year to year, so make sure you’re up to date on the latest IRS regulations.

28. Insurance.
The insurance premiums you pay for coverage on your business is all tax-deductible. To qualify, your insurance must provide coverage that is “ordinary and necessary.”

This could include coverage for:

There are a few insurance types that you can’t deduct, the most common being life insurance. If you’re not sure whether you can deduct a certain type of insurance, and that deduction is an important factor in your decision, please speak with a tax professional first and save yourself any unnecessary expenses.

29. Home Renovations and Insurance.
Did you take a deduction for a home office already? If so, business expenses related to any renovations to that part of your home are also deductible, and so is the percentage of your homeowner’s insurance that covers that part of your home. Remember, all small business deductions related to home offices only apply if you use part of your home exclusively for business.

30. Tools.
The IRS distinguishes between tools and equipment. While you may have to capitalize on equipment rather than deducting it in one year, you can deduct tools that aren’t expensive or that have a life of only a year or less. And for the IRS, “tools” doesn’t just refer to hammers or screwdrivers; your spatulas and cookie sheets are tools as well.

31. Unpaid Goods.
If your business produces goods rather than providing a service, you can deduct the cost of any goods that you haven’t been paid for yet.

32. Education.
Did you attend any seminars, workshops or classes in the past year that were designed to help you improve your job skills? Your work-related educational expenses may be deductible, especially if they’re required to keep up or renew a professional license. Remember, they have to be work-related. If you own a bar or cafe, you won’t be able to deduct skiing lessons.

33. Advertising and Marketing.
You already know that providing amazing goods and services isn’t enough to make your business succeed. You also need to advertise so your potential customers can find you. Advertising and marketing dollars can add up fast, but fortunately, they are all tax-deductible.

This is great news since advertising and marketing are often of the biggest business expenses that small businesses need to deal with as they get off the ground. Rest assured, you can deduct everything from flyers to billboards to business cards, and even a new website. Political advertising is the biggest exception to this rule. Those expenses are not deductible.

34. Charitable Deductions.
Yes, your small business can donate to charity and take a deduction for it. It can donate supplies, money, or property to a recognized charity, but pay attention to the rules before you go crazy giving stuff away. Donations of your time don’t count, and you can’t wipe out your business income with donations. Also, check with the IRS before you make a charitable deduction to make sure the organization you want to support qualifies for the deduction.

35. Cleaning and Janitorial Expenses.
You know all too well that the workday isn’t over when you flip the sign on the door to say “Closed.” If you hire any type of cleaning service, make sure you take your small business tax deduction.

36. Moving Expenses.
Did you need to move to start your business? If you’re a sole proprietor or self-employed worker and you had to move more than 50 miles for business, you may be able to deduct some of your moving expenses from your taxes. Specifically, you may be able to deduct packing and transportation costs, utility and service connection fees, and travel costs. However, you can’t deduct the cost of any meals or security deposits you’ve had to pay.

Lastly, to qualify for these deductions, you will need to remain a full-time employee of the business that required you to move for at least 78 weeks out of the following two years.

37. Intangibles like Licenses, Trademarks, and other Intellectual Property.
Most of the time, expenses related to the registering or protection of intellectual property are deductible. However, the process you go about it can differ depending on what you’re trying to deduct. Some costs must be depreciated over multiple years, while others can be fully deducted within the year in which they were incurred. For example, licensing fees are typically considered capital expenses that must be depreciated. However, trademarks can often be deducted in the same tax year. If you’re uncertain, we recommend working with a tax professional to ensure you’re in compliance with the regulations governing your specific situation.

No matter what type of small business entity you have, you have to pay quarterly estimated taxes if the business owes income taxes of $1,000 or more. Corporations only have to pay quarterly estimated taxes if they expect to owe $500 or more in tax for the year.

Before you owned a business, filing taxes was a one-time thing. But as a small business owner, you’ll have to pay the IRS four times per year. On one hand, that’s four more tax deadlines you might miss. But on the bright side, by the time your yearly tax deadline comes around, you’ll have already paid three-quarters of your tax return.

To make things even more complicated, businesses must deposit federal income tax withheld from employees, federal unemployment taxes, and both the employer and employee social security and Medicare taxes. Depositing can be on a semi-weekly or monthly schedule.

Whether you’re filing your taxes quarterly or holding off for the next annual deadline, you should begin preparing for your taxes by keeping records of your expenses as of January of each year. Make sure to document each of these small business tax deductions by keeping physical receipts and writing down the business reason for the expense on your receipts as soon as you receive it.

With this comprehensive list of small business tax deductions, you’ll be well on your way to saving on your taxes this year. However, deductions can be tricky, it’s always best to consult a tax expert for any questions that might arise to ensure you are complying with all regulation and avoid any penalties.

Credit given to Sara Sugar. Published in MONEY & PROFITS on Jan 21, 2020.  

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We also welcome and appreciate anyone who wishes to write a Tax Tip of the Week for our consideration. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This Week’s Author, Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Special Holiday Edition December 23, 2020

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Business consulting, Depreciation options, General, Retirement, tax changes, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Rules, Tax Tip, Taxes, Uncategorized , add a comment

Enjoy the Holidays!

We are going to take a break from our tax and business tips this week.  Instead, the family of Bradstreet & Company would like to wish you and your family the most joyous holiday season and best wishes for 2021.

We hope you enjoy the Tax Tip of The Week.  As always, your topic suggestions and questions are always appreciated.

Is the Tax Tip of the Week real?

While your kids are questioning if Santa is real, we continue to receive some interesting feedback that some of you don’t realize this is really Bradstreet CPAs reaching out each week (… some suspect this is a “packaged” communication to which we add our logo.) Well, rest assured it’s us and we love to hear from you.
Enjoy the week and, “Yes Virgina, there is a Santa Claus”.

Wishing you all great things,

The Staff at Bradstreet & Company

Tax Loss – Harvesting December 16, 2020

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Business consulting, Depreciation options, General, tax changes, Tax Rules, Tax Tip , add a comment

I am not a financial planner nor a stockbroker. And, as we have heard a million times over, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Having gotten these typical disclaimers out of the way, let’s discuss what tax-loss harvesting is all about.

The long story short is that tax-loss harvesting is often referred to as selling securities at a loss to offset a capital gains tax liability. Usually, the end goal is to limit the taxation of short-term capital gains. This is important since higher federal income taxes are imposed on short-term capital gains as opposed to long-term gains.

Some cautions –

  1. Wash rule – some investors may sell a security for harvesting purposes but later wish to add it back to their investment portfolio. That is fine BUT wait 31 days for the purchase or the original loss will be disallowed by the IRS. 
  2. Harvesting tax losses will defer paying the capital gain tax. When you die the tax basis on your stocks (current tax law) will be “stepped-up” to their fair market value. Thusly, the untaxed capital gains will go untaxed. 
  3. Capital losses are limited to an annual $3,000 deduction. The good news is that unlike many other carryforwards, capital loss carryforwards never expire during one’s life. However, they do not survive your death.  In the year that a spouse dies and a return is filed jointly, the losses from one spouse’s brokerage account may be used to offset the other spouse’s gains. 

Ideas and excerpts above came from a WSJ article, 2020 Was Perfect for Tax-Loss Harvesting. It was written by Mr. Neal Templin and published in the WSJ on November 9, 2020. It contains additional planning points and offers greater in-depth explanations. This article is reprinted below for further reading.

                                   -Mark Bradstreet



This is the kind of year that was made for tax-loss harvesting.

The tactic, used to legally reduce or avoid altogether capital-gains taxes, is especially useful in years when a jarring market slide is followed by a strong rebound. That’s why this year, with the market’s plunge in March and subsequent recovery to record highs, was ideal for this strategy.

In January and February, New York money manager David Frisch sold winning stock positions in the brokerage account of client Mike Soffer, generating $20,000 in capital gains. In March, as the market plummeted, Mr. Frisch sold losing positions in Mr. Soffer’s account, creating tax losses to offset the gain. Plus, he banked an additional $15,000 in tax losses that Mr. Soffer can use in the future to offset gains.

Mr. Soffer, a commercial mortgage broker in Old Bethpage, N.Y., can also use the banked tax losses to offset up to $3,000 a year in ordinary income. “It’s money earned by not paying taxes,” he says.

If you didn’t sell stocks during the March market slide, it’s too late to create tax losses from it now. But fret not. There will be more opportunities in the future. Even in up years for the market, there are dips where investors can book tax losses.

When those opportunities come around, here are a few things to keep in mind about harvesting tax losses.

1. Don’t run afoul of the wash rule.

If you sell something and repurchase it or a substantially similar security within 30 days, the Internal Revenue Service won’t allow you to count it as a tax loss. That’s called the wash rule.

Money managers typically don’t want to spend 30 days out of the market when they create a tax loss for a client. They could miss out on upswings, like April of this year. So as soon as they sell an investment to create a tax loss, they buy an equivalent investment that is different enough to satisfy the wash rule.

When money manager Joseph Favorito of Melville, N.Y., sold S&P 500 index funds in March to create a tax loss for clients, he frequently bought Russell 1000 index funds. Both types of funds own large-cap stocks and they perform similarly.

The switch allowed his clients to stay invested in the market. “After the market bottomed out in March, we had the 50 best days in market history,” Mr. Favorito says. “If you missed that, you missed a lot.”

2. Try to accomplish other goals as you create tax losses.

It’s a good practice to rebalance your holdings regularly, selling stocks or funds that have climbed and buying ones that have lagged behind. That’s a great time to create tax losses. To do this efficiently, you need to know the cost basis of your holdings (generally the price at which you bought a security), so you know if you’re creating a loss or a gain when you sell them. If you bought shares of a certain company at various times, you will create a greater tax loss by selling the shares you acquired at the highest price.

If you’ve spent years working for a single company, your portfolio may be concentrated in a single stock. That’s risky. Advisers would tell you to sell at least part of your holdings and replace it with a diversified portfolio of stocks. If you do this during a downturn, you may be able to create a tax loss that you can use to offset gains for years to come.

3. Harvesting tax losses can allow you to defer paying capital-gains taxes, and in some cases to never pay them.

Suppose you buy shares in Mutual Fund A for $100,000 and their value falls to $50,000. You sell the shares and buy $50,000 of Mutual Fund B and book a $50,000 tax loss. You use it to offset a $50,000 gain on the sale of a second home.

Five years later, the value of your Mutual Fund B shares has climbed to $100,000. You sell them. Your cost basis is $50,000, because that’s what you paid for Mutual Fund B. If you sell it for $100,000, you will owe taxes on a $50,000 capital gain. What you’ve done is to defer the capital-gains tax you avoided five years earlier when you sold the home.

Even better is finding new opportunities to create tax losses during those five years to offset your $50,000 gain on Mutual Fund B so that it, too, is untaxed.

When you die, under current law your heirs will inherit your assets with a “stepped up” cost basis, meaning that any untaxed capital gains have been erased as far as the IRS is concerned. That’s another reason why avoiding taxation on capital gains during your life is a smart strategy. That tax may never be paid.

4. When you expire, so do your tax losses.

A tax loss can be used anytime over the lifetime of the account holder, but not beyond. But there is an important wrinkle in the tax law that married couples should keep in mind. During the final year that a couple files jointly after one spouse dies, the losses from one spouse’s brokerage account can be used to offset gains by the other spouse.

5. Will the election change the calculus?

President-elect Joe Biden has said he supports raising the top capital-gains tax rate to 39.6% and taxing appreciated assets at the time of death. Both would mean big tax increases over the current regimen, where the top capital-gains rate is 23.8% and appreciated assets are passed tax-free to heirs. Some investors may sell winners, figuring they’re better off biting the bullet before tax rates rise.

Marianela Collado, a Plantation, Fla., money manager, says she won’t tell her clients to take gains based on a Biden win. Even if the law changes under Mr. Biden, it could change back under the next president, she says.

For now, Ms. Collado is making hay under the current rules. She has a client who sold a building in January, generating a $1 million capital gain. She told her client to set aside $238,000 to cover taxes.

Then, in March, she sold mutual funds owned by the client and immediately bought different funds with similar aims. In doing so she created a $500,000 tax loss, which will offset half of her client’s capital gain from the building sale.

“What we did in those few weeks is going to save him about half that tax,” she says.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We also welcome and appreciate anyone who wishes to write a Tax Tip of the Week for our consideration. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This Week’s Author, Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Home Ownership – Unmarried Partners December 9, 2020

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Depreciation options, General, Section 168, Section 179, tax changes, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Rules, Tax Tip , add a comment

Owning a home may be difficult under the best of conditions. Added complexities occur when buying a residence with an unmarried partner.  Home purchases are nearing a 14 year high in the USA. And, the number of unmarried partners living together has almost tripled in the last twenty (20) years.

Many of the concerns of purchasing a home with another individual may best be solved by viewing this transaction as a business venture (which it really is).  Partnership agreements are best addressed by a real estate and business attorney. The attorney will address an operating agreement that includes what happens if the partnership breaks up or someone dies. Also, included will be in whose name will the home be titled, credit scores, who has and deducts the mortgage interest expense, how you and your partner are going to share ongoing expenses including repairs and real estate taxes. As in any business – having a joint banking account solely for the home expenses is a great idea.

Many of the above ideas were taken from the following article, How to Buy a Home Together When You’re Not Married, by Veronica Dagher which was published in the WSJ on November 4, 2020. 

                                         -Mark Bradstreet


As U.S. home sales rise to a 14-year high and families search for larger spaces in quarantine, more unmarried couples may be considering buying a house together. For them, there is a different set of risks, both financial and practical, to consider.

The number of unmarried partners living together nearly tripled in the past two decades to 17 million, with a notable increase among those aged 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In turn, some financial advisers are getting more requests for advice from couples of all ages who want to buy a home together but have no interest in getting married.

For example, Andrew Feldman, a financial planner in Chicago, recently received a call from one of his clients who is living with her boyfriend and his two children. They are running out of space and she intends to buy a house within a few weeks and have him pay rent to help cover the mortgage.

While this would work out well for everyone in the short-term, it is risky because, on her current budget, it would be very difficult for her to keep the house without his help.

“The upside is easy but the downside is a big unknown,” said Mr. Feldman.

Here’s a guide for what to consider before you buy a place together.

How do you know if you and your partner are financially ready to buy a house?

If you haven’t discussed how you and your partner share money and expenses, you’ll want to do that first before committing to buying a house, said Mark Reyes, a financial planner at Albert, a financial-planning app.

Make sure you discuss your finances with full transparency, including any debts or income that the other partner isn’t aware of. You’ll also need to decide if and to what extent you’ll share finances going forward, he said.

It will be important to discuss how repairs, property taxes and other home expenses will be shared or handled. Having a joint bank account dedicated to house expenses such as repairs may be a good idea, he said.

Who should apply for the mortgage?

Unmarried couples buying a home together can benefit from greater flexibility when applying for a mortgage, said Bill Banfield, executive vice president of capital markets at Rocket Mortgage.

They have the opportunity to put their “best foot forward” by having the individual with the most income, best FICO and best debt-to-income go through the application process, he said.

The buyer who is more qualified can be the only one on the mortgage and this could result in a favorable interest rate and mortgage terms if the other partner has a low credit score, for example.

The mortgage holder will be solely responsible for the entire debt, so if you break up and you hold the mortgage, you’ll owe all the money, he said.

Lenders also let both partners apply for the mortgage together—allowing incomes and debts to be combined. The lowest of the two FICO scores, however, will be used. Applying together could allow the couple to borrow more, depending on their financial situation.

Who should hold the title to the house?

How the house is titled is crucial.

Depending on your situation, you’ll want to make sure that you and your partner discuss the legality of homeownership with your respective, independent lawyers, said Mr. Reyes, the financial planner at Albert. Titling options include sole ownership, joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, or tenants in common.

Titling can play a crucial role during a breakup or when one partner dies. It will also determine who gets how much equity in the house. For example, if the higher earner in the relationship is listed as the sole owner of the house, the other partner is basically “renting” to live there and has no ownership stake in the house if they break up, he said.

If the couple own property as tenants in common and the deceased partner doesn’t name the surviving partner as the beneficiary of the house, the survivor could become a co-owner with their late partner’s relatives or heirs, said Tom McLean, a financial planner in Olympia, Wash.

For younger couples, tenants in common tends to be the most common form of titling, as each often wants to have an ownership stake but may not want the other person to inherit that stake (as would be the case if they owned the home in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship), said Avi Kestenbaum, a partner at Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone.

What if we break up?

If the relationship doesn’t work out, there are some key questions the couple will need to answer, Mr. Kestenbaum said, such as will there be a forced sale (where the couple is forced to sell the home even though one party may not wish to), or can one partner buy out the other and for what price, and how will the proceeds be split?

Mr. Kestenbaum recommends a written and signed legal agreement, such as a simple partnership agreement solely dealing with the home, to answer these questions and to also spell out each of the parties’ rights and obligations, even if the relationship continues.

What are the tax benefits?

One of the benefits to buying a home as an unmarried couple is the ability to bunch itemized deductions on one person’s tax return and take the standard deduction on the partner’s tax return, said Alexandra Demosthenes, a certified public accountant and financial planner in Boca Raton, Fla.

If the couple were married but filing separate tax returns, they’d have to either both itemize or both take the standard deduction. However, when the couple isn’t married, one individual can itemize their deductions (if the total is higher than the standard), claiming the mortgage interest, property taxes and all other allowable deductions, while their partner can choose to take the standard deduction.

This could maximize deductions for the couple over and above what they could claim as a married couple, resulting in maximum tax savings, she said.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We also welcome and appreciate anyone who wishes to write a Tax Tip of the Week for our consideration. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This Week’s Author, Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

9 Best Practices for Small Business Taxes December 2, 2020

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Business consulting, Depreciation options, General, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Preparation, Tax Rules, Tax Tip , add a comment

Not sure there are only 9 “best practices” for small businesses as the below article suggest.  But, the 9 “best practices” that follow are valid points and a decent start your tax preparation.

                                -Mark Bradstreet

Running a business is hard enough without adding the complexity of filing taxes each year. The key, experts say, is to work with your accountant throughout the year, not just when you prepare your tax return. Making financial decisions without consulting an accountant or financial adviser can put you at risk and cost you more money in the long run, says John Blake, CPA, in Hamilton, N.J.

Here are nine best practices for small business when it comes to tax preparation and small business accounting, and working with an accountant or financial professional.

1. Hire the right accountant

Your accountant should offer to do more than just prepare financial statements and do your taxes, says Chandra Bhansali, co-founder and CEO of Accountants World. If that’s all they offer to do, then they aren’t the right accountant for a small business, Bhansali says.

Your accountant should work with you throughout the year to track income and spending, to make sure you don’t have a cash flow problem, and to monitor your gross and net profits, Bhansali says. Work with your accountant from day one of opening your business, not just in March and April for tax season. “Most small businesses don’t understand the importance of accounting for the survival and growth of their businesses,” he says.

2. Claim all income that is reported to the IRS

The IRS gets a copy of the 1099-MISC forms you receive so they can match the income you’ve reported against what they know you’ve received. Make sure the income you report to the IRS matches the amount of income reported in the 1099s you received, Blake says. Not doing so is a red flag for the IRS. Even if a client doesn’t send out a 1099, you still need to report that income. The same rules apply with state taxes, he says.

3. Keep adequate records

Keeping thorough and accurate records throughout the year will ensure your tax return is correct. With inadequate record keeping, Blake says, you could be leaving deductions on the table or, worse, you could be putting yourself at risk for an audit. Blake recommends every business invest in a basic version of an accounting software because it is user friendly, inexpensive, and helps you keep track of all your income and expenses.

4. Separate business from personal expenses

If the IRS audits your business and finds personal expenses mixed with business expenses, regardless of whether you reported business expenses correctly, the IRS could start looking at your personal accounts because of commingled money, Blake says. Always get a separate bank account and credit card for your business and run only business expenses through those accounts.

5. Understand the difference between net and gross income

If your product costs more money to make than you charge for it, you will lose money regardless of how many units you sell. Small business owners often forget to take into account the difference between their net and gross income, Bhansali says. 

For instance, if it costs $100 to make your product and you sell it for $150, your gross income is $50. But, he says, after you deduct your expenses, your net income might drop to $10. “It’s important to know what your gross and net profits are so you can be more profitable and grow your business,” Bhansali says.

6. Correctly classify your business

Failing to properly classify your business could result in overpaying taxes, Blake says. Deciding whether to classify your company as either a C Corporation, S Corporation, Limited Liability Partnership, Limited Liability Company, Single Member LLC or Sole Proprietor will have a different effect on your taxes. It’s important that small businesses consult with an attorney and accountant to determine how their businesses should be classified.

7. Manage payroll

Blake recommends hiring a company to assist with payroll – but be sure that the company is reputable. To save money, some business owners will hire a lesser-known payroll service, only to find out later the service wasn’t remitting payroll taxes for the company. If that happens, Blake says, the business owners are on the hook for the payroll taxes. The IRS typically checks every quarter to see if payroll taxes have been paid.

8. Seek your accountant’s advice on your business plan

A good accountant gives you advice on how to grow your business, Bhansali says. Seek their advice to determine how much to contribute to your retirement fund and whether you should take a bonus or delay it a year. Your accountant can tell you if buying a small space for your store or business – rather than renting – could save you money.

9. Take advantage of capitalization rules

If you acquire a tangible piece of property or equipment for your business, you may be able to take a significant deduction. Make sure your accountant understands the rules around capitalization.

Credit given to: Conning, 2014; Conning Strategic Study: The Small Business Sector for Property-Casualty Insurance: Market Shift Coming.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We also welcome and appreciate anyone who wishes to write a Tax Tip of the Week for our consideration. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This Week’s Author, Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.