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Energy Credit Incentives for Individuals February 24, 2021

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

The below information regarding home energy credits was taken directly from the IRS website. I was reluctant to pull the same information from a contractor’s website. Not always, but sometimes, they are a bit over-zealous in their interpretation of the tax law when it comes to business. Buyer beware!

Please remember that a tax credit typically reduces your income taxes dollar for dollar. A tax deduction reduces your taxable income. Your federal income tax is based upon your taxable income. So, all things being the same a federal credit is typically worth more than a federal tax deduction.

If you are considering some home energy improvements of some sort, please be sure to do your homework on whether they may qualify. Also, please pay particular attention to the expiration dates below for different types of home energy improvements. 

                                               -Mark Bradstreet

Q. Are there incentives for making your home energy efficient by installing alternative energy equipment?

A. Yes, the residential energy efficient property credit allows for a credit equal to the applicable percent of the cost of qualified property. Qualifying properties are solar electric property, solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines and fuel cell property. Only fuel cell property is subject to a limitation, which is $500 with respect to each half kilowatt of capacity of the qualified fuel cell property. Generally, this credit for alternative energy equipment terminates for property placed in service after December 31, 2021. The applicable percentages are:

  1. In the case of property placed in service after December 31, 2016, and before January 1, 2020, 30 percent.
  2. In the case of property placed in service after December 31, 2019, and before January 1, 2021, 26 percent.
  3. In the case of property placed in service after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2022, 22 percent.

Q. Is a roof eligible for the residential energy efficient property tax credit?

A. In general, traditional roofing materials and structural components do not qualify for the credit. However, some solar roofing tiles and solar roofing shingles serve as solar electric collectors while also performing the function of traditional roofing, serving both the functions of solar electric generation and structural support and such items may qualify for the credit. Components such as a roof’s decking or rafters that serve only a roofing or structural function do not qualify for the credit.

Q. Does any guidance issued for the energy credit under section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code apply to the residential energy efficient property tax credit under section 25D of the Internal Revenue Code?

A. IRS guidance issued with respect to the energy credit under section 48 in publication items such as Notice 2018-59, has no applicability to the residential energy efficient property credit under section 25D.

Q. What improvements qualify for the residential energy property credit for homeowners?

A. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, an individual may claim a credit for (1) 10 percent of the cost of qualified energy efficiency improvements and (2) the amount of the residential energy property expenditures paid or incurred by the taxpayer during the taxable year (subject to the overall credit limit of $500).

Qualified energy efficiency improvements include the following qualifying products:

Residential energy property expenditures include the following qualifying products:

Please note that qualifying property must meet the applicable standards in the law.

The residential energy property credit, which expired at the end of December 2014, was extended for two years through December 2016 by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 extended the credit through December 2017. The nonbusiness energy property credit expired on December 31, 2017 but was retroactively extended for tax years 2018, 2019 and 2020 on December 20, 2019 as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act.  The credit had previously been extended by legislation several times. See Notice 2013-70 PDF for more information on this credit as well as the credit for alternative energy equipment.

Q. Who qualifies to claim a residential energy property credit? Are there limitations?

A. You may be able to take these credits if you made energy saving improvements to your principal residence during the taxable year. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the residential energy property credit is limited to an overall lifetime credit limit of $500 ($200 lifetime limit for windows). There are also other individual credit limitations:

The residential energy property credit is nonrefundable. A nonrefundable tax credit allows taxpayers to lower their tax liability to zero, but not below zero.

Published on the IRS Website – October 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.

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.

Multiple Considerations of Working From Home February 10, 2021

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

Wish I had come across this article in the late spring.  Regardless, I think it is worth exploring in an effort to keep us all on the same page and avoid some of the inevitable surprises.

                                                                                                 -Mark Bradstreet

Millions of employees could be in for a rude surprise in April when they find out their home office isn’t deductible and the states can’t agree on who gets their money. Time to put a tax pro on speed dial?

It’s very likely that you’re reading this from your home—even if you’re working. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the country, many of us are finding that the new normal means not leaving the house, or at least not for work anyway.

How dramatic are the numbers? A Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas report found that of all those employed in May, 35.2% worked entirely from home, compared to just 8.2% in February. Further, a whopping 71.7% of US workers who could work from home did so in May. Some folks who are staying home do so for safety and convenience, while others are required by their employer or the state or local government to remain at home; in Pennsylvania, for example, by Order of the Governor, “Telework Must Continue Where Feasible.”

With big name companies extending work-from-home until the end of the year, next summer, or as an option for a growing number of workers, forever, ad hoc accommodations no longer seem sufficient—on either a personal, or a tax policy level.

Here’s the latest on the sometimes-confusing tax aspects of work-from-home, as well as some practical tips I’ve picked up as a tax lawyer and writer who has long worked from home.

UNDERSTAND THE LEGAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR EMPLOYER

Increasingly, the lines between employees and independent contractors (or freelancers) are becoming blurred. To be clear, you are not self-employed just because you are working from home. If you are receiving a paycheck from an employer, and those wages will be reported to you and to the Internal Revenue Service on a W-2, you are an employee. Working from home is not enough, on its own, to make you an independent contractor receiving a 1099. And while you certainly may receive a Form W-2 and a Form 1099 in the same tax year, you should not receive a Form W-2 and a Form 1099 for the same type of work from the same employer.

Why does it matter? As a result of the Tax Cuts And Jobs Act (TCJA), a.k.a., the Trump tax cuts, for the tax years 2018 through 2025, you cannot deduct home office expenses if you are an employee. There is no hardship exemption or coronavirus waiver. It’s a very bright-line rule: employees who work from home can no longer claim the home office deduction. The reason you are working from home does not matter to the IRS.

However, if you are self-employed – even as a gig worker – you can continue to deduct qualifying home office expenses. (More on that later.)

ASK YOUR EMPLOYER WHAT YOU CAN TAKE FROM THE OFFICE.

Clearly, you can’t take home the snack bar. But if you’re missing out on some of your favorite things – like your office chair or your trusty stapler – ask your employer if you can take them home. That can save you (and your employer) money. The TCJA rules apply to all unreimbursed job expenses for employees, not just to your physical home office.  If you’re an employee and your employer doesn’t reimburse costs, your out-of-pocket expenses – from the cost of a new laptop or printer to copy paper to that fancy new ergonomic chair – are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. But if your employer has already spent the money to buy them for you, simply relocating them to your house means everybody wins.

FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH YOUR BENEFITS

Does your employer offer you a monthly reimbursement for cell phone costs? Is there a stipend for home office expenses available? Is there a discount available for office supplies purchased through a particular vendor? If your costs are going up because you’re working from home, consider your options. Some money-saving measures may already be available through your company’s HR department. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask. An enlightened employer may well find your reasonable requests a lot more economical than finding a replacement for you or finding that without the proper equipment, you’re less productive.

It’s not just the home office deduction that is creating confusion among those working from home. Employees who normally work in an office in one state, but live (and are now working from) another may be facing additional tax-filing complications.

IF YOUR OFFICE AND HOME ARE IN DIFFERENT STATE.  PUT A TAX PRO ON SPEED DIAL.

The messiness of being taxed in multiple states is at least on Congress’ radar; the HEALS Act  proposed by Senate Republicans last month would allow employees who perform employment duties in multiple states to only be subject to income tax in their state of residence and any jurisdiction where the employee is present and working for more than 30 days during the calendar year—or 90 days for frontline health-care workers. (That 90-day provision is designed to protect nurses and doctors from other states who raced to New York in the spring to help out and now worry they’ll owe New York taxes.)  The HEALS provision would only apply through 2024 and wouldn’t cover professional athletes, professional entertainers, qualified approved film, television or other commercial video production employees, or certain public figures. And even that bill, which is going nowhere, would still allow employees working from home during the pandemic to be taxed in their home state and the state where their normal office is.

Bottom line:  there is currently no national standard for the withholding, filing and payment of state income taxes for employees who work in more than one state or work in one state and live in another.  That means you may have tax requirements where you typically work as well as where you live. Usually, you can sort that out via withholding, tax agreements, and credits.

So, what if working at home in one state when your company is in another state means that you’re subject to tax in both places? If either state has a physical presence rule (most states do), figuring the split between the two can be confusing. Typically, you may have too much tax withheld from your paycheck for your nonresident state and not enough for your resident state.

For example, if you live in Connecticut but you normally work in New York, you’ll likely have to file a resident tax return in Connecticut and a nonresident tax return in New York. If you worked in New York all year, it should be relatively easy: only New York withholds taxes and then when you file your Connecticut tax return you get a credit for the taxes paid to New York. But if you worked in New York through March – and then in Connecticut through August – and then back to New York? Not so simple.

And remember the tax credit? To make it work, you have to file in the right order. You first file and report income to the state where you work and then claim the credit on your resident tax return. If you mix up the order, you may end up missing out on the credit and get stuck paying additional state tax, or miss out on a refund you’re otherwise entitled to.

Moreover, that assumes that the states agree on the rules. It gets more complicated when states have differing tax rates and residency rules.

So, you could try to figure it out yourself… but the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) just updated their guidance on state tax filings, and it’s 523 pages long: it’s a lot less stressful to hire a professional. 

KNOW YOUR STATE’S TAX LAWS

I know that I just advised you to hire a tax professional, but you should still be aware now of the basic rules in your state to make sure you don’t get a nasty surprise in April.  During the pandemic, the AICPA developed recommendations that would allow businesses to continue to withhold state income tax from employees based on the employer’s location instead of the employee’s work-from-home location – in other words, under these recommendations, your tax and withholding wouldn’t change at all. To date, 13 states (AL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MD, MN, MS, NE, NJ, PA, RI, and SC) have issued guidance that follows the AICPA’s suggestion on withholding. What that means is that employees in those states should be protected from paying double tax where one state uses the convenience of employer test (like CT, NY, DE, NJ or PA) and the other state uses the physical presence standard (remember, states use different tests). But if you live in a state that has signed on to this recommendation – but work in a state that hasn’t (or vice versa) – you’re out of luck.

In addition,  a slightly different list of 13 states (AL, GA, IA, IN, MA, MD, MN, MS, ND, NJ, PA, RI, and SC), as well as Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia have followed AICPA’s recommendation that an employee working remotely in a state due to Covid-19 restrictions does not create nexus and apportionment for his or her employer for tax purposes. (In other words, by allowing you to work from home, the employer will not create corporate tax problems for itself in your home state.) 

Some states also have individual reciprocity with other states. For example, Pennsylvania has agreements with IN, MD, NJ, OH, VA and WV. Remember, normally, if you earn income in one state and live in another, you file a tax return in both the state where you live and, in the state, where you work. However, if you’re lucky enough to live in a state with a reciprocity agreement with the state where you might work, you file and pay only in your home state: you don’t have to pay taxes – or even file – in the state where you work. So, if you live in Pennsylvania but work in Ohio, your employer would withhold tax for Pennsylvania, while Ohio takes a pass. Easy peasy.  

But if you live and work in states that don’t have reciprocity – and haven’t signed onto the AICPA recommendations – you may have to file tax returns (and possibly pay) in both states. You’ll need to know which rules apply to avoid a surprise—and maybe a big bill- at tax time. 

KEEP A CALENDAR OR A LOG

Sure, there may be a day when you want to look back on all of this with fondness, but there’s a more practical reason for keeping good records: you may need to keep track of your day by day working locations for tax reasons. Proving that you were where you claim to be can be handy if you (or your employer) is audited. Plus, keeping a log could keep you from falling prey to the habit of working seven days a week.

CHECK YOUR WITHHOLDING

Ask now – not later – about withholding. Find out how much is being withheld by your employer for the state where you live (and now work) and whether that will be enough to avoid a tax bill come Tax Day. If not, you may need to make estimated payments to avoid a penalty. 

Warning: If you normally work exclusively from an office in another state, work from home might increase your home state liability for 2020.  But it’s not all gloom and doom: if your home state has a lower tax rate than the rate where your office is located, working at home for much of 2020 could save you taxes. 

DON’T FORGET ABOUT SECURITY

The IRS recently issued a reminder to tax professionals who work from home to secure remote locations by using a virtual private network (VPN) to protect against cyber intruders. That’s good advice for anyone who relies on the internet. A VPN provides a secure, encrypted tunnel to transmit data via the internet between a remote user and the company network. VPNs are critical to protecting and securing internet connections. Failure to use VPNs can result in remote takeovers by cyber thieves, giving criminals access to your entire office network.

DON’T DO ANYTHING DRASTIC

The loss of the home office deduction for employees has some taxpayers wondering whether it makes sense to quit their day jobs and become self-employed. That’s an individual decision, but if you’re focusing simply on the home office piece, the numbers probably don’t support that kind of shift. For more to consider when it comes to business-related decisions in light of tax reform, check out this article.

What if you really are self-employed—meaning you get a 1099 and not a W-2.  Then you would report the home office deduction on federal form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, which is filed along with your Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Your Business, on your 1040.

GET COMFORTABLE

My home office has undergone a transformation since March. With a full house, I found that I needed more soundproofing, so new carpeting and drapes were a must. I also needed better headphones. Don’t be afraid to spend where practical. The TCJA did not change the home office expense rules for self-employed persons and independent contractors. Those expenses are deductible so long as they otherwise meet the home office deduction criteria.

CREATE BOUNDARIES

I’m not just talking about virtual boundaries (like turning off your phone after hours) but actual, real, physical barriers. Being able to shut a door, put up a room divider, or even put on a pair of noise-canceling headphones can be an essential way to create your workspace and signal that you shouldn’t be disturbed.  Moreover, if you’re self-employed and angling for a home office deduction, it’s not only desirable, it’s mandatory: to claim a federal income tax deduction for a home office, you must use a specific area of your home exclusively for your trade or business.

It doesn’t have to be a separate room (like mine), but it must be a separately identifiable space (like my husband’s desk). You do not meet the requirements if you use the area in question for both business and personal purposes: it must be space that is used solely for business and not, say, an office or desk or computer that is also used by your children for their virtual lessons or to play Fortnite. 

I’ve always had a separate home office and I have a separate phone line for my office, which makes it deductible as a business expense. But if my husband uses our primary phone for business, he’s out of luck: the IRS has consistently taken the position that your primary phone land line is never tax deductible even if you don’t use it for anything else. 

Our internet connection is shared, so, like my utilities, I can’t deduct the whole thing as part of my home office deduction; it must be pro-rated. An upgrade in service to make it faster could also be pro-rated. Also, I can confirm that relying on a stable connection with two teleworkers and three students in virtual school can be challenging at best.  

DON’T GO IT ALONE

Even if you – like me – spend time working from home normally, you’re still likely used to seeing a friendly face or two. During the year, I attend conferences and bar functions, meet with clients, and chat with my paralegal. It is, quite frankly, weird to simply stay at home if you’re used to having people around. It helps to have opportunities to meet up – even if it’s virtually – with your colleagues. Take time to engage on social media (I highly recommend #TaxTwitter for those who work in tax) and say yes to virtual events (like a #virtualtaxpro happy hour). Socializing is healthy, and you can learn a lot from your fellow workers who are going through the same thing. We’re all learning as we go.

SET OFFICE HOURS

My hours are very nearly the same as before. I make it a point to get up at the same time every morning and sleep at roughly the same hours each night (though a few late-night drops of thousand-plus page coronavirus stimulus bills have admittedly kept me up reading). But normalcy is important to me. It also helps my kids know when it’s okay to ask questions for school or alert me to the fact that Bayern won the Bundesliga.

Credit given to: Kelly Phillips Erb. Published in Forbes on Aug 12, 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.

IRA and 401(k) Contribution Limits for 2021 January 27, 2021

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

Please find below the 2021 contribution ceilings for IRAs and 401(k) plans.  These ceilings and limitations for contributions to retirement plans are not to be taken lightly.  Penalties (excise taxes) for overfunding some retirement plans are absolutely shocking.  And, the penalties are incurred annually until the excess funds are removed. 
                                                                                                                                                                                               -Mark Bradstreet

Bad News on IRA and 401(k) Contribution Limits for 2021

Retirement savers will be disappointed with the contribution limits for next year, but at least more people will qualify for retirement tax breaks in 2021.

There’s good news and bad news from the IRS for Americans saving for retirement with IRAs, 401(k)s, and other retirement accounts in 2021.

Let’s start with the bad news: Contribution limits won’t go up next year.

And now the good news: The maximum income levels allowed to make deductible contributions to traditional IRAs, contribute to Roth IRAs, and claim the Saver’s Credit all increase for 2021.

Retirement Plan Contribution Limits for 2021

For 2021, employees who are saving for retirement through 401(k)s, 403(b)s, most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan can contribute up to $19,500 to those plans during the year. That’s the same contribution limit in place for 2020.

Income Ranges for 2021

Increased income ranges for the traditional IRA deduction, Roth IRA contributions, and the Saver’s Credit means more Americans will qualify for these tax breaks.

If you’re contributing to a traditional IRA, the deduction allowed for your contribution is gradually phased-out if your income is above a certain amount. For 2021, the phase-out ranges are:

For people saving for retirement with a Roth IRA, the actual amount that you can contribute to the account is based on your income. To be eligible to contribute the maximum for 2021, your modified adjusted gross income must be less than $125,000 if single or $198,000 if married and filing jointly (up from $124,000 and $196,000, respectively, for 2020). Contributions begin to be phased out above those amounts, and you won’t be able to put any money into a Roth IRA in 2021 once your income reaches $140,000 if single or $208,000 if married and filing jointly ($139,000 and $206,000 for 2020). The phase-out range for a married person filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000 for 2021.T

Finally, the 2021 income limit for the Saver’s Credit for low- and moderate-income workers is $66,000 for married couples filing jointly ($65,000 in 2020), $49,500 for head-of-household filers ($48,750 in 2020), and $33,000 for singles and married people filing separately ($32,500 in 2020).

Credit given to: Rocky Mengle. Published on November 5, 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.

Business Planning for a Pandemic January 13, 2021

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

Not sure how to even begin this article. What I believe today I can practically guarantee you will change tomorrow. We have made some good decisions. We have made some bad decisions. We have also been overly reactive at times. But I suppose most of our decisions were sound based upon the information available at that moment. Turns out that a lot of that information was false or speculative. But who knew?

Many of our clients are prospering in this pandemic. Several clients are having a record year. A few clients through absolutely no fault of their own are suffering. A vaccine is on the horizon. I hope that that is a game changer. 

The following article is how some CFOs across the country are dealing with the pandemic. I hope it is of value.

            -Mark Bradstreet

Three experienced finance leaders share what they have learned and what they are doing to deal with turmoil and uncertainty.

The ongoing economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is forcing businesses to re-evaluate their spending, staffing, and structure. Company leaders are looking to their CFOs and management accountants to advise them on how to navigate the unique financial challenges they face as a result of the outbreak.

Three financial leaders with experience guiding companies through times of economic turmoil, including the 2008 recession, say there are specific ways CFOs and other leaders can handle the coronavirus crisis moving forward.

On matters from communications to cash flow, the experts offered advice about how to react quickly, stay calm, focus on what’s important, and be willing to let some things go. The advice is especially important for leaders experiencing their first financial disaster.

Save more cash

“Cash is king. … Never, ever in my career, and I’ve been doing this for 35 years, has that statement been more true than right now,” said Brenda Morris CPA (inactive), CGMA, who lives in the Seattle area and is a partner with CSuite Financial Partners based in Manhattan Beach, Calif. She is on the Association’s Americas Regional Advisory Panel, and also serves as a consultant and coach for several public and private businesses, including Boot Barn and Duluth Trading Company.

Morris works with Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies, some of which “have a lot of cash on the balance sheet”, she said, but fixed costs such as payroll and building rent and mortgages can add up quickly, eating into those reserves.

“It’s pretty amazing how fast companies can burn through what seemed to be a very adequate balance sheet,” she said.

Morris advises companies to create a robust cash sensitivity model and run as many scenarios as possible to see how much money would be needed in a crisis. Some of the models might include the financial impacts of furloughing employees, figuring out ways to quickly drive up sales, getting more aggressive in negotiations, or finding more investors.

“You step it up and figure it out,” Morris said. “React quickly. Don’t languish too long in making some of the hard decisions. Those are the [companies] that’ll make it through.”

Bob Sannerud, CPA, CGMA, the CFO of the air medical company Life Link III, and chair of the Association’s Americas Regional Advisory Panel, knows the stress of not having enough cash on hand. He joined Life Link III during the 2008 financial crisis and found the business “in dire straits.”

“We had four days of cash when I came on board and came in to turn around the company,” he said.

Since then, he has done some financial engineering to correct the company’s cash flow, working with leaders of various departments to discuss business challenges and priorities. Today, the company is stronger financially and will likely survive the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak, Sannerud said.

“If it goes on for a year, well, all bets are off. But in the short term, we feel we can handle it,” he said.

Create a disaster recovery plan

Companies should create disaster recovery plans and select a task force of leaders to discuss the what-ifs, Morris said. If possible, they should test out their plans, but “it’s rare for companies to actually do exercises or dry runs. [Some] companies don’t have the bandwidth to run catastrophic scenarios as exercises and just sort of see what happens,” she said. “That’s an investment.”

Her work with various businesses and boards has allowed her to see how different companies are responding to the coronavirus crisis. That insight has convinced her how important it is for companies to have a team of people investigating what is working and what isn’t before, during, and after an economic crisis.

She is leading a coronavirus crisis response team for one of the boards she sits on and said her goal is to limit distractions for company leaders so they can focus on the priority areas of the business.

Having a disaster plan is essential in the broadcast company says Ralph Bender, CPA, CGMA, who serves as CFO.

“We’ve been through floods, hurricanes, [and] now this,” he said, noting the financial and logistical challenges the media industry is facing during the coronavirus outbreak. Bender is the CFO of Manship Media, a family-owned broadcasting group that runs TV stations in Baton Rouge, La., and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

“Things are going to be dire. … But most people will find ways to get through this,” Bender said. “It’s important to have a disaster recovery plan … to not just have something on paper, but to have tried things out.”

Build trust

Life Link III transports more than 2,000 patients a year by helicopter and airplane ambulance in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Some of the company’s first responders have been on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, leading them to ask questions about their own personal safety when dealing with sick patients, what protective gear they will have access to, and whether their jobs are in jeopardy, according to Sannerud.

The company saw a decreased flight volume in March, partly due to weather but mostly due to the coronavirus outbreak, he said, but there are no plans to let go of staff or close any of the eight bases where they are located.

“For us, the challenge has been really making sure our people are being taken care of and making sure that they’re assured that we’ve got their best interests in mind as we go forward,” Sannerud said.

Providing employees, stakeholders, and customers with timely, transparent communication is vital during tumultuous times like these, Sannerud said. Companies need to establish a central communications hub and make sure the various leaders are speaking with one voice.

“It helps build the trust, because we are able to clearly state what we know, what we don’t know, and what we’re doing,” Sannerud said, noting that communication shouldn’t be too negative or overly optimistic.

Life Link III leaders decided to reach out to employees’ family members as well to assure them that the company cares and to acknowledge the stress they are under. That kind of personal touch can help build credibility and calm any fears spouses or other family members might have, Sannerud said.

Be prepared to pivot, but don’t panic

When Bender and his company, Manship Media, first realized how big the coronavirus outbreak might be, they quickly pivoted to a new plan to prepare for the possibility that staff might need to work from home.

Using some of the company’s cash reserves, they bought 30 Google Chromebooks for employees to take home. The decision paid off as businesses across the country, including news media, moved to more remote work in an effort to stop the coronavirus from spreading.

“It was under a $7,500 investment, and look at the rewards,” Bender said. “People are working. But more importantly, people are working safely.”

CFOs and other financial leaders need to think of themselves as chief strategists and not just tell company leaders not to spend any money during a crisis, according to Bender.

“Be calm and do not panic,” he said. “You calmly look into details. What’s essential? What’s not?”

Sannerud agreed and said it’s crucial that financial leaders “be prepared to pivot.”

“Just because you made a plan yesterday doesn’t mean it’s going to hold water today,” he said. “Be adaptable, and be willing to make a change based on information.”

The best way to get that information is to talk with employees on the front lines of the work, Sannerud said. Take time to ask them what they are seeing and experiencing and use that information to guide your business plans during times of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), according to Sannerud.

Focus on what’s important and what you can control, and forget the rest

Sannerud is used to forecasting long-term operations for Life Link III, but the coronavirus pandemic has made budgeting nearly impossible with the uncertainty his business and others are facing.

“I can’t forecast operations out much more than the next three months, and even that’s not exactly crystal-clear,” he said.

Instead, Sannerud has tried to focus on the limited things he can control, such as providing calm and steady leadership during a crisis, being transparent with employees about the state of the business, and keeping a set routine even while working from home.

He is usually in the office by 6 a.m., so he decided to keep the same hours while working from home. When he is finished with work, he makes sure to exercise, usually by biking or taking a walk with his wife. He also tries to find humor in each day, limit the amount of media he consumes, and focus on his mental and physical health.

“Those are all things you can control,” he said.

Morris’s biggest piece of advice for financial leaders is to determine what’s most important to your business and not get distracted by outside noise. Ask yourself: What is the biggest and most impactful issue facing the company?

“Have a course of action that keeps you focused each day,” she said.

Bender suggested focusing on what your company does well and where it can have the most success. For his company, that meant letting go of a newspaper and radio stations it owned several years ago and focusing on its two TV stations. Downsizing the company caused it to be more profitable and workable, he said.

Now, as he and his company navigate the coronavirus pandemic, they are again looking at what their focus should be to get through this crisis. This time, it has less to do with the bottom line.

“As CPAs, we hate to say, ‘Who cares about the bottom line?’ But right now, that’s not the most important thing to us,” Bender said. “There’s an opportunity for companies to show their employees that their values are not just about a bottom line, but they’re about welfare of employees, stockholders, and customers.”

Bender said he understands some CFOs and leaders don’t have the same financial advantages as his company. To them, he has this message: “Stay focused. Stay safe. For God’s sake, keep a sense of humor. This has all of us on edge.”

Credit given to: Kelly Hinchcliffe is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. Published on June 15, 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.

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.

Happy New Year!! December 30, 2020

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : General, tax changes, Tax Tip , add a comment

And get ready for the tax filing season.

Hopefully, you followed some of the suggestions outlined in Publication 552 to organize your records.  If you did, great!  This will make filing your tax returns a lot easier this year.  It also means that you and your tax advisor can spend more time on tax and financial planning issues for 2021 vs. looking back to 2020.

This week we will look at some of the more common forms that you should be watching for in the coming weeks and months:

W-2:    Employers should mail these by 2/1/21.  If you have moved during the year, make sure former employers are aware of your new address. Some employers provide W-2’s to their employees via a website. Be sure to login and print out your W-2 after it is available.

W-2G:    Casinos, Lottery Commissions and other gambling entities should mail these by 2/1/21 if you have gambling winnings above a certain threshold.  Note:  Some casinos will issue you a W-2G at the time you win a jackpot.  Make sure you have saved those throughout the year.

1096:    Compilation sheet that shows the totals of the information returns that you are physically mailing to the IRS. The check box for Form 1099-H was removed from line 6, while a check box for Form 1098-Q was added to line 6. The spacing for all check boxes on line 6 was expanded. The amounts reported in Box 13 of Form 1099-INT should now be included in box 5 of Form 1096 when filing Form 1099-INT to the IRS.

1098-C:    You might receive this form if you made contributions of motor vehicles, boats, or airplanes to a qualified charitable organization. A donee organization must file a separate Form 1098-C with the IRS for each contribution of a qualified vehicle that has a claimed value of more than $500.  All filers of this form may truncate a donor’s identification number (social security number, individual taxpayer identification number, adoption taxpayer identification number, or employer identification number), on written acknowledgements. Truncation is not allowed, however, on any documents the filer files with the IRS.

1099-NEC:   This form, NEW for 2021, reports the total paid during the year to a single person or entity for services provided. Certain Medicaid waiver payments may be excludable from the income as difficulty of care payments. 

1099-MISC:  This form will be used to report miscellaneous income such as rent or payments to an attorney, legal settlements, or prize or award winnings.

1099-INT:    This form is used to report interest income paid by banks and other financial institutions. Box 13 was added to report bond premium on tax-exempt bonds. All later boxes were renumbered.  A new check box was added to this form to identify a foreign financial institution filing this form to satisfy its Chapter 4 reporting requirement.

1099-DIV:    This form is issued to those who have received dividends from stocks.  A new check box was added to this form to identify a foreign financial institution filing this form to satisfy its Chapter 4 reporting requirement.

1099-B:     This form is issued by a broker or barter exchange that summarizes the proceeds of sales transactions. For a sale of a debt instrument that is a wash sale and has accrued market discount, a code “W” should be displayed in box 1f and the amount of the wash sale loss disallowed in box 1g.

1099-K:    This form is given to those merchants accepting payment card transactions.  Completion of box 1b (Card Not Present transactions) is now mandatory.

K-1s:    If you are a partner, member or shareholder in a partnership or S corporation, your income and expenses will be reported to you on a K-1.  The tax returns for these entities are not due until 3/15/21 (if they have a calendar-year accounting).  Sometimes, you may not receive a K-1 until shortly after the entity’s tax return is filed in March.

If you are a beneficiary of an estate or trust, your share of the income and expenses for the year will also be reported on a K-1.  These returns will be due 4/15/21 so you might not receive your K-1 before the due date of your Form 1040.

NOTE:  Many times corporations, partnerships, estates and trusts will put their tax returns on extension.  If they do, the due date of the return is not until 9/15/21 or later.  We often see client’s receiving K-1s in the third week of September.

If you receive, or expect to receive, a K-1 it is best if you place your personal return on extension.  It is a lot easier to extend your return then it is to amend your return after receiving a K-1 later in the year.

1098:    This form is sent by banks or other lenders to provide the amount of mortgage interest paid on mortgage loans.  The form might also show real estate taxes paid and other useful information related to the loan.

1098-T:    This form is provided by educational institutions and shows the amounts paid or billed for tuition, scholarships received, and other educational information.  These amounts are needed to calculate educational credits that may be taken on your returns.

So start watching your mailbox and put all of these statements you receive in that new file you created!

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. 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.

–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