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Posts by Donnie Cox

Investing in the Future With a 529 Education Plan

If you have a child or grandchild who’s going to attend college in the future, you’ve probably heard about qualified tuition programs, also known as 529 plans. These plans, named for the Internal Revenue Code section that provides for them, allow prepayment of higher education costs on a tax-favored basis.

There are two types of programs:

  1. Prepaid plans, which allow you to buy tuition credits or certificates at present tuition rates, even though the beneficiary (child) won’t be starting college for some time; and
  2. Savings plans, which depend on the investment performance of the fund(s) you place your contributions in.

You don’t get a federal income tax deduction for a contribution, but the earnings on the account aren’t taxed while the funds are in the program. (Contributors are eligible for state tax deductions in some states.) You can change the beneficiary or roll over the funds in the program to another plan for the same or a different beneficiary without income tax consequences.

Distributions from the program are tax-free up to the amount of the student’s “qualified higher education expenses.” These include tuition (including up to $10,000 in tuition for an elementary or secondary public, private or religious school), fees, books, supplies and required equipment. Reasonable room and board is also a qualified expense if the student is enrolled at least half time.

Distributions from a 529 plan can also be used to make tax-free payments of principal or interest on a loan to pay qualified higher education expenses of the beneficiary or a sibling of the beneficiary.

What about distributions in excess of qualified expenses? They’re taxed to the beneficiary to the extent that they represent earnings on the account. A 10% penalty tax is also imposed.

Eligible schools include colleges, universities, vocational schools or other postsecondary schools eligible to participate in a student aid program of the U.S. Department of Education. This includes nearly all accredited public, nonprofit and for-profit postsecondary institutions.

However, “qualified higher education expenses” also include expenses for tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private or religious school.

A school should be able to tell you whether it qualifies.

The contributions you make to the qualified tuition program are treated as gifts to the student, but the contributions qualify for the gift tax exclusion amount ($16,000 for 2022, adjusted for inflation). If your contributions in a year exceed the exclusion amount, you can elect to take the contributions into account ratably over a five-year period starting with the year of the contributions. Thus, assuming you make no other gifts to that beneficiary, you could contribute up to $80,000 per beneficiary in 2022 without gift tax. (In that case, any additional contributions during the next four years would be subject to gift tax, except to the extent that the exclusion amount increases.) You and your spouse together could contribute $160,000 for 2022 per beneficiary, subject to any contribution limits imposed by the plan.

A distribution from a qualified tuition program isn’t subject to gift tax, but a change in beneficiary or rollover to the account of a new beneficiary may be. Contact us with questions about tax-saving ways to save and pay for college.

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Year-End Tax Planning Ideas For Individuals

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

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

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

Bunching, pushing, pulling

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

Here are some other ideas to consider:

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

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

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Seller-Paid Points: Can Homeowners Deduct Them?

In its latest report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced that July 2022 existing home sales were down but prices were up nationwide, compared with last year. “The ongoing sales decline reflects the impact of the mortgage rate peak of 6% in early June,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. However, he added that “home sales may soon stabilize since mortgage rates have fallen to near 5%, thereby giving an additional boost of purchasing power to home buyers.”

If you’re buying a home, or you just bought one, you may wonder if you can deduct mortgage points paid on your behalf by the seller. The answer is “yes,” subject to some important limitations described below.

Basics of points

Points are upfront fees charged by a mortgage lender, expressed as a percentage of the loan principal. Points, which may be deductible if you itemize deductions, are normally the buyer’s obligation. But a seller will sometimes sweeten a deal by agreeing to pay the points on the buyer’s mortgage loan.

In most cases, points that a buyer pays are a deductible interest expense. And seller-paid points may also be deductible.

Suppose, for example, that you bought a home for $600,000. In connection with a $500,000 mortgage loan, your bank charged two points, or $10,000. The seller agreed to pay the points in order to close the sale.

You can deduct the $10,000 in the year of sale. The only disadvantage is that your tax basis is reduced to $590,000, which will mean more gain if — and when — you sell the home for more than that amount. But that may not happen until many years later, and the gain may not be taxable anyway. You may qualify for an exclusion for up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple filing jointly) of gain on the sale of a principal residence.

Important limits

There are some important limitations on the rule allowing a deduction for seller-paid points. The rule doesn’t apply:

  • To points that are allocated to the part of a mortgage above $750,000 ($375,000 for married filing separately) for tax years 2018 through 2025 (above $1 million for tax years before 2018 and after 2025);
  • To points on a loan used to improve (rather than buy) a home;
  • To points on a loan used to buy a vacation or second home, investment property or business property; and
  • To points paid on a refinancing, home equity loan or line of credit.

Tax aspects of the transaction

We can review with you in more detail whether the points in your home purchase are deductible, as well as discuss other tax aspects of your transaction.

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Is Your Income High Enough to Owe Two Extra Taxes?

High-income taxpayers face two special taxes — a 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) and a 0.9% additional Medicare tax on wage and self-employment income. Here’s an overview of the taxes and what they may mean for you.

3.8% NIIT

This tax applies, in addition to income tax, on your net investment income. The NIIT only affects taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeding $250,000 for joint filers, $200,000 for single taxpayers and heads of household, and $125,000 for married individuals filing separately.

If your AGI is above the threshold that applies ($250,000, $200,000 or $125,000), the NIIT applies to the lesser of 1) your net investment income for the tax year or 2) the excess of your AGI for the tax year over your threshold amount.

The “net investment income” that’s subject to the NIIT consists of interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, rents and net gains from property sales. Wage income and income from an active trade or business isn’t included. However, passive business income is subject to the NIIT.

Income that’s exempt from income tax, such as tax-exempt bond interest, is likewise exempt from the NIIT. Thus, switching some taxable investments to tax-exempt bonds can reduce your exposure. Of course, this should be done after taking your income needs and investment considerations into account.

How does the NIIT apply to home sales? If you sell your principal residence, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of gain ($500,000 for joint filers) when figuring your income tax. This excluded gain isn’t subject to the NIIT.

However, gain that exceeds the exclusion limit is subject to the tax. Gain from the sale of a vacation home or other second residence, which doesn’t qualify for the exclusion, is also subject to the NIIT.

Distributions from qualified retirement plans, such as pension plans and IRAs, aren’t subject to the NIIT. However, those distributions may push your AGI over the threshold that would cause other types of income to be subject to the tax.

Additional 0.9% Medicare tax

Some high-wage earners pay an extra 0.9% Medicare tax on part of their wage income, in addition to the 1.45% Medicare tax that all wage earners pay. The 0.9% tax applies to wages in excess of $250,000 for joint filers, $125,000 for a married individuals filing separately and $200,000 for all others. It applies only to employees, not to employers.

Once an employee’s wages reach $200,000 for the year, the employer must begin withholding the additional 0.9% tax. However, this withholding may prove insufficient if the employee has additional wage income from another job or if the employee’s spouse also has wage income. To avoid that result, an employee may request extra income tax withholding by filing a new Form W-4 with the employer.

An extra 0.9% Medicare tax also applies to self-employment income for the tax year in excess of the same amounts for wage earners. This is in addition to the regular 2.9% Medicare tax on all self-employment income. The $250,000, $125,000, and $200,000 thresholds are reduced by the taxpayer’s wage income.

Reduce the impact

As you can see, these two taxes may have a significant effect on your tax bill. Contact us to discuss these taxes and how their impact could be reduced.

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The Inflation Reduction Act: What’s In It For You?

You may have heard that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was signed into law recently. While experts have varying opinions about whether it will reduce inflation in the near future, it contains, extends and modifies many climate and energy-related tax credits that may be of interest to individuals.

Nonbusiness energy property

Before the IRA was enacted, you were allowed a personal tax credit for certain nonbusiness energy property expenses. The credit applied only to property placed in service before January 1, 2022. The credit is now extended for energy-efficient property placed in service before January 1, 2033.

The new law also increases the credit for a tax year to an amount equal to 30% of:

  • The amount paid or incurred by you for qualified energy efficiency improvements installed during the year, and
  • The amount of the residential energy property expenditures paid or incurred during that year.

The credit is further increased for amounts spent for a home energy audit (up to $150).

In addition, the IRA repeals the lifetime credit limitation, and instead limits the credit to $1,200 per taxpayer, per year. There are also annual limits of $600 for credits with respect to residential energy property expenditures, windows, and skylights, and $250 for any exterior door ($500 total for all exterior doors). A $2,000 annual limit applies with respect to amounts paid or incurred for specified heat pumps, heat pump water heaters and biomass stoves/boilers.

The residential clean-energy credit

Prior to the IRA being enacted, you were allowed a personal tax credit, known as the Residential Energy Efficient Property (REEP) Credit, for solar electric, solar hot water, fuel cell, small wind energy, geothermal heat pump and biomass fuel property installed in homes before 2024.

The new law makes the credit available for property installed before 2035. It also makes the credit available for qualified battery storage technology expenses.

New Clean Vehicle Credit

Before the enactment of the law, you could claim a credit for each new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle placed in service during the tax year.

The law renames the credit the Clean Vehicle Credit and eliminates the limitation on the number of vehicles eligible for the credit. Also, final assembly of the vehicle must now take place in North America.

Beginning in 2023, there will be income limitations. No Clean Vehicle Credit is allowed if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for the year of purchase or the preceding year exceeds $300,000 for a married couple filing jointly, $225,000 for a head of household, or $150,000 for others. In addition, no credit is allowed if the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the vehicle is more than $55,000 ($80,000 for pickups, vans, or SUVs).

Finally, the way the credit is calculated is changing. The rules are complicated, but they place more emphasis on where the battery components (and critical minerals used in the battery) are sourced.

The IRS provides more information about the Clean Vehicle Credit here: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/plug-in-electric-vehicle-credit-irc-30-and-irc-30d

Credit for used clean vehicles

A qualified buyer who acquires and places in service a previously owned clean vehicle after 2022 is allowed a tax credit equal to the lesser of $4,000 or 30% of the vehicle’s sale price. No credit is allowed if your MAGI for the year of purchase or the preceding year exceeds $150,000 for married couples filing jointly, $112,500 for a head of household, or $75,000 for others. In addition, the maximum price per vehicle is $25,000.

We can answer your questions

Contact us if you have questions about taking advantage of these new and revised tax credits.

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Self-Employed? Build a Nest Egg With a Solo 401(k) Plan

Do you own a successful small business with no employees and want to set up a retirement plan? Or do you want to upgrade from a SIMPLE IRA or Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan? Consider a solo 401(k) if you have healthy self-employment income and want to contribute substantial amounts to a retirement nest egg.

This strategy is geared toward self-employed individuals including sole proprietors, owners of single-member limited liability companies and other one-person businesses.

Go it alone

With a solo 401(k) plan, you can potentially make large annual deductible contributions to a retirement account.

For 2022, you can make an “elective deferral contribution” of up to $20,500 of your net self-employment (SE) income to a solo 401(k). The elective deferral contribution limit increases to $27,000 if you’ll be 50 or older as of December 31, 2022. The larger $27,000 figure includes an extra $6,500 catch-up contribution that’s allowed for these older owners.

On top of your elective deferral contribution, an additional contribution of up to 20% of your net SE income is permitted for solo 401(k)s. This is called an “employer contribution,” though there’s technically no employer when you’re self-employed. (The amount for employees is 25%.) For purposes of calculating the employer contribution, your net SE income isn’t reduced by your elective deferral contribution.

For the 2022 tax year, the combined elective deferral and employer contributions can’t exceed:

  • $61,000 ($67,500 if you’ll be 50 or older as of December 31, 2022), or
  • 100% of your net SE income.

Net SE income equals the net profit shown on Form 1040 Schedule C, E or F for the business minus the deduction for 50% of self-employment tax attributable to the business.

Pros and cons

Besides the ability to make large deductible contributions, another solo 401(k) advantage is that contributions are discretionary. If cash is tight, you can contribute a small amount or nothing.

In addition, you can borrow from your solo 401(k) account, assuming the plan document permits it. The maximum loan amount is 50% of the account balance or $50,000, whichever is less. Some other plan options, including SEPs, don’t allow loans.

The biggest downside to solo 401(k)s is their administrative complexity. Significant upfront paperwork and some ongoing administrative efforts are required, including adopting a written plan document and arranging how and when elective deferral contributions will be collected and paid into the owner’s account. Also, once your account balance exceeds $250,000, you must file Form 5500-EZ with the IRS annually.

If your business has one or more employees, you can’t have a solo 401(k). Instead, you must have a multi-participant 401(k) with all the resulting complications. The tax rules may require you to make contributions for those employees. However, there’s an important loophole: You can exclude employees who are under 21 and employees who haven’t worked at least 1,000 hours during any 12-month period from 401(k) plan coverage.

Bottom line: For a one-person business, a solo 401(k) can be a smart retirement plan choice if:

  • You want to make large annual deductible contributions and have the money,
  • You have substantial net SE income, and
  • You’re 50 or older and can take advantage of the extra catch-up contribution.

Before you establish a solo 401(k), weigh the pros and cons of other retirement plans — especially if you’re 50 or older. Solo 401(k)s aren’t simple but they can allow you to make substantial and deductible contributions to a retirement nest egg. Contact us before signing up to determine what’s best for your situation.

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An “Innocent Spouse” May Be Able to Escape Tax Liability

When a married couple files a joint tax return, each spouse is “jointly and severally” liable for the full amount of tax on the couple’s combined income. Therefore, the IRS can come after either spouse to collect the entire tax — not just the part that’s attributed to one spouse or the other. This includes any tax deficiency that the IRS assesses after an audit, as well as any penalties and interest. (However, the civil fraud penalty can be imposed only on spouses who’ve actually committed fraud.)

Innocent spouse relief

In some cases, spouses are eligible for “innocent spouse relief.” This generally involves individuals who were unaware of a tax understatement that was attributable to the other spouse.

To qualify, you must show not only that you didn’t know about the understatement, but that there was nothing that should have made you suspicious. In addition, the circumstances must make it inequitable to hold you liable for the tax. This relief is available even if you’re still married and living with your spouse.

In addition, spouses may be able to limit liability for any tax deficiency on a joint return if they’re widowed, divorced, legally separated or have lived apart for at least one year.

Election to limit liability

If you make this election, the tax items that gave rise to the deficiency will be allocated between you and your spouse as if you’d filed separate returns. For example, you’d generally be liable for the tax on any unreported wage income only to the extent that you earned the wages.

The election won’t provide relief from your spouse’s tax items if the IRS proves that you knew about the items when you signed the return — unless you can show that you signed the return under duress. Also, the limitation on your liability is increased by the value of any assets that your spouse transferred to you in order to avoid the tax.

An “injured” spouse

In addition to innocent spouse relief, there’s also relief for “injured” spouses. What’s the difference? An injured spouse claim asks the IRS to allocate part of a joint refund to one spouse. In these cases, an injured spouse has all or part of a refund from a joint return applied against past-due federal tax, state tax, child or spousal support, or a federal nontax debt (such as a student loan) owed by the other spouse. If you’re an injured spouse, you may be entitled to recoup your share of the refund.

Whether, and to what extent, you can take advantage of the above relief depends on the facts of your situation. If you’re interested in trying to obtain relief, there’s paperwork that must be filed and deadlines that must be met. We can assist you with the details.

Also, keep “joint and several liability” in mind when filing future tax returns. Even if a joint return results in less tax, you may choose to file a separate return if you want to be certain of being responsible only for your own tax. Contact us with any questions or concerns.

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The House and Senate Pass the Wide-Ranging Inflation Reduction Act

Congress has passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and President Biden is expected to sign it into law.

The $740 billion bill contains many tax breaks and raises revenue through a new minimum tax on large, profitable corporations and an excise tax on stock buybacks. It’s intended to reduce the U.S. deficit by about $300 billion. Other revenue would come from stricter enforcement of tax compliance by the IRS.

Here are some highlights of the bill.

15% Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax

The IRA imposes a new 15% corporate alternative minimum tax on the adjusted financial statement income of applicable corporations. The minimum tax will apply if it exceeds the taxpayer’s regular tax including its base erosion and anti-abuse tax for the tax year.

The alternative minimum tax can be thought of as a “book minimum tax” because the starting point of the calculation is a corporation’s average annual adjusted financial statement income that includes financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. This is different from the previous calculation of the corporate alternative minimum tax rules, where the starting point was taxable income.

An applicable corporation is any corporation (other than an S corporation, regulated investment company, or a real estate investment trust) that meets an average annual adjusted financial statement income test for one or more earlier tax years that end after December 31, 2021.

A corporation meets the income test if its average annual adjusted financial statement income for the three-tax-year period (determined without regard to loss carryovers) ending with the tax year exceeds $1 billion. Other rules apply.

This provision is effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2022.

How many businesses are affected? In an analysis, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that about 150 taxpayers would be subject to the corporate minimum tax annually.

Excise Tax on Corporate Stock Repurchases

The IRA generally imposes on each “covered corporation” a tax equal to 1% of the fair market value of any stock of the corporation that’s repurchased by the business during the tax year. A “covered corporation” is any domestic corporation with stock traded on an established securities market.

The 1% excise tax applies to repurchases of stock after December 31, 2022.

The CHIPS Act Is Signed into Law

On August 9, President Biden also signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law. This is a semiconductor manufacturing and economic competitiveness package that includes an investment tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing facilities and equipment.

The $280 billion law includes more than $52 billion for U.S. companies producing computer chips, as well as a tax credit for investment in chip manufacturing. Taxpayers can elect to treat the credit as a payment against tax. The credit is provided for property placed in service after December 31, 2022, and for which construction begins before January 1, 2027.

Clean Vehicle Tax Credit

The current tax credit for qualified plug-in electric vehicles is significantly revised in the IRA. Currently, a taxpayer can claim a maximum credit of $7,500 for each new qualified plug-in electric drive vehicle placed in service during the tax year. Certain vehicle requirements must be met.

Currently, the credit phases out beginning in the second calendar quarter after a manufacturer sells more than 200,000 plug-in electric drive motor vehicles for use in the U.S. after 2009. Under the IRA, the plug-in vehicle credit has been renamed the clean vehicle credit and the manufacturer limitation on the number of vehicles eligible for the credit has been eliminated after December 31, 2022.

However, the bill changes how the clean vehicle credit is calculated. Specifically, a vehicle must meet critical mineral component requirements and requirements that the batteries must be made in America. There are also price and income limitations. The clean vehicle credit isn’t allowed for a vehicle with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price above $80,000 for vans, SUVs and pickups, and above $55,000 for other vehicles.

A clean vehicle credit isn’t allowed if a taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income for the current or preceding tax year exceeds $150,000 for single filers, $300,000 for married couples filing jointly and $225,000 for heads of household.

Due to all these requirements, auto manufacturers and dealers are complaining that many electric vehicles and buyers won’t qualify for the tax credit.

Previously Owned and Commercial Vehicles

The IRA also contains a tax credit for used plug-in electric vehicles purchased after 2022. The tax credit is $4,000 or 30% of the vehicle’s sale price, whichever is less. There are also price and income limitations. An eligible previously owned clean vehicle is one with a model year that’s at least two years earlier than the calendar year when a taxpayer acquires it.

In addition, the IRA adds a new commercial clean vehicle credit for qualified vehicles acquired and placed in service after December 31, 2022. The credit is a component of the general business credit.

Residential Energy Improvements

Individual taxpayers can also receive tax breaks for home energy efficiency improvements, such as solar panels, energy-efficient water heaters, heat pumps and HVAC systems. The bill also extends, increases and modifies a tax credit for new home construction that meets certain requirements.

Provisions Related to Climate, Energy and Health Care

The legislation includes many new, extended and increased tax credits intended to incentivize both businesses and individuals to boost their use of renewable energy. For example, it provides tax credits to private companies and public utilities to produce renewable energy or manufacture parts used in renewable projects, such as wind turbines and solar panels. Clean energy producers that pay a prevailing wage also may qualify for tax credits.

In addition, the IRA allows Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and prohibits future administrations from refusing to negotiate. It also caps the annual out-of-pocket drug costs of Medicare enrollees at $2,000 and monthly insulin costs at $35 — and provides them free vaccines. Additional provisions to rein in drug costs include a requirement that pharmaceutical companies that raise the prices on drugs purchased by Medicare faster than the rate of inflation rebate the difference back to the program.

The IRA also should reduce health care costs for Americans who obtain coverage from the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. It extends the expansion of subsidies — in the form of refundable premium tax credits — through 2025. These subsidies were scheduled to expire at the end of 2022.

Increase in Qualified Small Business Payroll Tax Credit for Research

Another provision in the IRA would boost the payroll tax credit for increasing research activities. Currently, a qualified small business (QSB) may elect to take part of the research credit as a payroll tax credit against its employer FICA tax liability. A QSB must have gross receipts of less than $5 million and meet other requirements. An eligible business with qualifying research expenses can then opt to apply up to $250,000 of its research credit against its payroll tax liability.

Under the IRA, beginning after December 31, 2022, a QSB can choose to apply another $250,000 in qualifying research expenses (for a total of $500,000) against its payroll tax liability.

Stay Tuned

These are only some of the provisions in the legislation. The IRS will be issuing guidance about these and other provisions in the coming months. We will continue our coverage of the law in future articles. Contact us if you have questions about your situation.

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Is Your Withholding Adequate? Here’s How to Check

When you filed your federal tax return this year, were you surprised to find you owed money? You might want to change your withholding so that this doesn’t happen again next year. You might even want to adjust your withholding if you got a big refund. Receiving a tax refund essentially means you’re giving the government an interest-free loan.

Adjust if necessary

Taxpayers should periodically review their tax situations and adjust withholding, if appropriate.

The IRS has a withholding calculator to assist you in conducting a paycheck checkup. The calculator reflects tax law changes in areas such as available itemized deductions, the child credit, the dependent credit and the repeal of dependent exemptions. You can access the IRS calculator here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-withholding-estimator

Life changes

There are some situations when you should check your withholding. In addition to tax law changes, the IRS recommends that you perform a checkup if you:

  • Adjusted your withholding last year, especially in the middle or later part of the year,
  • Owed additional tax when you filed your 2021 return,
  • Received a refund that was smaller or larger than expected,
  • Got married or divorced,
  • Had a child or adopted one,
  • Purchased a home, or
  • Had changes in income.

You can modify your withholding at any time during the year, or even multiple times within a year. To do so, you simply submit a new Form W-4 to your employer. Changes typically go into effect several weeks after a new Form W-4 is submitted. (For estimated tax payments, you can make adjustments each time quarterly estimated payments are due. The next payments for 2022 are due on September 15, 2022, and January 16, 2023.)

Plan ahead now

There’s still time to remedy any shortfalls to minimize taxes due for 2022, as well as any penalties and interest. Contact us if you have any questions or need assistance. We can help you determine if you need to adjust your withholding.

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Three Tax Breaks for Small Businesses

Sometimes, bigger isn’t better: Your small- or medium-sized business may be eligible for some tax breaks that aren’t available to larger businesses. Here are some examples.

  1. QBI deduction

For 2018 through 2025, the qualified business income (QBI) deduction is available to eligible individuals, trusts and estates. But it’s not available to C corporations or their shareholders.

The QBI deduction can be up to 20% of:

  • QBI earned from a sole proprietorship or single-member limited liability company (LLC) that’s treated as a sole proprietorship for federal income tax purposes, plus
  • QBI passed through from a pass-through business entity, meaning a partnership, LLC classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes or S corporation.

Pass-through business entities report tax items to their owners, who then take them into account on their owner-level returns. The QBI deduction rules are complicated, and the deduction can be phased out at higher income levels.

  1. Eligibility for cash-method accounting

Businesses that are eligible to use the cash method of accounting for tax purposes have the ability to fine-tune annual taxable income. This is accomplished by timing the year in which you recognize taxable income and claim deductions.

Under the cash method, you generally don’t have to recognize taxable income until you’re paid in cash. And you can generally write off deductible expenses when you pay them in cash or with a credit card.

Only “small” businesses are potentially eligible for the cash method. For this purpose under current law, a small business includes one that has no more than $25 million of average annual gross receipts, based on the preceding three tax years. This limit is adjusted annually for inflation. For tax years beginning in 2022, the limit is $27 million.

  1. Section 179 deduction 

The Sec. 179 first-year depreciation deduction potentially allows you to write off some (or all) of your qualified asset additions in the first year they’re placed in service. It’s available for both new and used property.

For qualified property placed in service in tax years 2018 and beyond, the deduction rules are much more favorable than under prior law. Enhancements include:

Higher deduction. The Sec. 179 deduction has been permanently increased to $1 million with annual inflation adjustments. For qualified assets placed in service in 2022, the maximum is $1.08 million.

Liberalized phase-out. The threshold above which the maximum Sec. 179 deduction begins to be phased out is $2.5 million with annual inflation adjustments. For qualified assets placed in service in 2022, the phase-out begins at $2.7 million.

The phase-out rule kicks in only if your additions of assets that are eligible for the deduction for the year exceed the threshold for that year. If they exceed the threshold, your maximum deduction is reduced dollar-for-dollar by the excess. Sec. 179 deductions are also subject to other limitations.

Bonus depreciation

While Sec. 179 deductions may be limited, those limitations don’t apply to first-year bonus depreciation deductions. For qualified assets placed in service in 2022, 100% first-year bonus depreciation is available. After this year, the first-year bonus depreciation percentages are scheduled to start going down to 80% for qualified assets placed in service in 2023. They will continue to be reduced until they reach 0% for 2028 and later years.

Contact us to determine if you’re taking advantage of all available tax breaks, including those that are available to small and large businesses alike.

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