Author: Sean Faust, CPA

Home office expense deduction for a self-employed taxpayer

Home office expense deduction for a self-employed taxpayerDoes your home office qualify for a tax deduction?

If you’re self-employed and work out of an office in your home and you satisfy certain strict rules, you will be entitled to favorable “home office” deductions. These deductions against your business income include the following:

  • Direct expenses of the home office – for example, the costs of painting or repairing the home office, depreciation deductions for furniture and fixtures used in the home office, etc.; and
  • Indirect expenses of maintaining the office – for example, the properly allocable share of utility costs, depreciation, insurance, etc., for your home, as well as an allocable share of mortgage interest and real estate taxes.

In addition, if this office is your “principal place of business” under the rules discussed below, the costs of traveling between it and other work locations in your business are deductible transportation expenses, rather than nondeductible commuting costs.

Tests to determine home office deductibility

You may deduct your home office expenses if you meet any of the three tests described below: (1) the principal place of business test, (2) the place for meeting patients, clients, or customers test, or (3) the separate structure test. You may also deduct the expenses of certain storage space if you qualify under the rules described further below.

  1. Principal place of business

You’re entitled to home office deductions if you use your home office, exclusively and on a regular basis, as your principal place of business. Your home office is your principal place of business if it satisfies either a “management or administrative activities” test, or a “relative importance” test. You satisfy the management or administrative activities test if you use your home office for administrative or management activities of your business, and if you meet certain other requirements. You meet the relative importance test if your home office is the most important place where you conduct your business, in comparison with all the other locations where you conduct that business.

  1. Home office used for meeting patients, clients, or customers

You’re entitled to home office deductions if you use this office, exclusively and on a regular basis, to meet or deal with patients, clients, or customers. The patients, clients or customers must be physically present in the office.

  1. Separate structures

You’re entitled to deductions for a home office, used exclusively and on a regular basis for business, if it is located in a separate unattached structure on the same property as your home – for instance, an unattached garage, artist’s studio, workshop, or office building.

Space for storing inventory or product samples

If you’re in the business of selling products at retail or wholesale, and if your home is your sole fixed business location, you can deduct home expenses allocable to space that you use regularly (but not necessarily exclusively) to store inventory or product samples.

How much can you deduct?

The amount of your home office deduction is based on the amount of square footage allocated to your office space. There are two methods to choose from; Simplified Method and Regular Method.

Simplified Method

The simplified method for determining this deduction is straightforward: You receive a deduction of $5 per square foot, up to 300 square feet (the deduction can’t exceed $1,500).

Regular Method

You determine the deduction by figuring out the percentage of your home used for business. Then apply the resulting percentage to the total direct & indirect expenses discussed above.

To demonstrate, if your home is 2,000 square feet and your home office is 500 square feet, you use 25% of your home for business. You’re allowed to deduct 25% of the above-mentioned expenses against your income. The remaining 75% of qualified expenses carry over to Schedule A, if you itemize. These costs include property taxes and mortgage interest.

Someone with a larger office and higher expenses might benefit from the regular method of determining the home office deduction compared to the standard method.

We’ve got your back

At KRS, our CPAs can help you utilize the home office deduction to maximize potential tax savings. Give us a call at 201.655.7411 or email me at [email protected]

What You Need to Know to Deduct Medical Expenses

What You Need to Know to Deduct Medical ExpensesDeducting expenses for medical and dental care is easier when you know the rules

If you itemize your deductions for a taxable year on Form 1040, Schedule A Itemized Deductions, you may be able to deduct unreimbursed expenses you paid that year for medical and dental care for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. You may deduct only the amount of your total medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income in 2018 and 10% beginning in 2019.

What qualifies as a medical expense?

Qualifying costs, which include many items other than hospital and doctor bills, often amount to much larger figures than expected. Below are some items you should take into account in determining your medical expenses:

Health insurance premiums

The cost of health insurance is a medical expense. This item, by itself, can total thousands of dollars a year. Even if your employer provides you with health coverage, you can deduct the portion of the premiums that you pay. Long-term care insurance premiums are also included in medical expenses, subject to specific dollar limits based on age. However, pre-tax insurance premiums paid by an individual are not deductible medical expenses.

Transportation

The cost of getting to and from medical treatment is a deductible medical expense. This includes taxi fares, public transportation, or the cost of using your own car. Car costs can be calculated at 20¢ a mile for miles driven in 2019 (18¢ a mile for miles driven in 2018), plus tolls and parking. Alternatively, you can deduct your actual costs, such as for gas and oil (but not your general costs such as insurance, depreciation, or maintenance).

Therapists, nurses, etc.

The services of individuals other than doctors can qualify as long as the services relate to a medical condition and aren’t for general health. For example, costs of physical therapy after knee surgery would qualify, but not costs of a fitness counselor to tone you up. Amounts paid for certain long-term care services required by a chronically ill individual also qualify as deductible medical expenses.

Eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental work, psychotherapy, prescription drugs

Deductible medical expenses include the cost of glasses, hearing aids, dental work, psychiatric counseling, and other ongoing expenses in connection with medical needs. Purely cosmetic expenses (e.g., a “nose job”) don’t qualify. Prescription drugs (including insulin) qualify, but over the counter items such as aspirin and vitamins don’t. Neither do amounts paid for operations or treatments that are illegal under federal law (such as marijuana), even if state or local law permits the procedure or drug.

Smoking-cessation programs

Amounts paid for participation in a smoking-cessation program and for prescribed drugs designed to alleviate nicotine withdrawal are deductible medical expenses. However, non-prescription nicotine gum and certain nicotine patches aren’t deductible.

Weight-loss programs

A weight-loss program is a deductible medical expense if undertaken as treatment for a disease diagnosed by a physician. The disease can be obesity itself or another disease, such as hypertension or heart disease, for which the doctor directs you to lose weight. It’s a good idea to get a written diagnosis before starting the program. Deductible expenses include fees paid to join the program and to attend periodic meetings. However, the cost of low-calorie food that you eat in place of your regular diet isn’t deductible.

Dependents and others

You can deduct the medical costs paid on behalf of dependents, such as your children. Additionally, you may be able to deduct medical costs you pay for an individual, such as an elderly parent or grandparent, who would qualify as your dependent except that he has too much gross income or files jointly. In most cases, the medical costs of a child of divorced parents can be claimed by the parent who pays them, regardless of who gets the dependency exemption.

We’ve got your back

At KRS, our CPAs can help you identify deductible medical expenses to maximize potential tax savings. Give us a call at 201.655.7411 or email me at [email protected]

Put Your Children on Your Payroll and Reduce Taxes

One tax reduction strategy that most business owners do not take advantage of is putting their childrenPutting Your Children on Your Payroll on payroll.

This can help reduce the overall family tax bill and transfer assets to children without introducing gift tax implications.

As a business owner, you can deduct wages paid to children, while the child can offset those wages with their own standard deduction.  In addition to the standard deduction, you could setup pre-tax retirement accounts that would allow taxpayers to deduct more, while the child saves for retirement.

For partnerships and disregarded entities, if your child is under 18, the company does not have to pay employment taxes such as Social Security, Medicare and Workers’ Compensation Insurance. You can also avoid Unemployment taxes until the child turns 21. But for S-Corps and C-Corps, Social Security and Medicare taxes are paid regardless of age. These payroll taxes amount to 15.3% of wages earned, your share and child’s share.

Potential tax savings

With that in mind, let’s review a sample of potential tax savings. Starting in 2019, the standard deduction is $12,000 for single filers. The maximum contribution to a traditional IRA is $6,000 (if modified adjusted gross income is less than $64,000 for single filers in 2019). Additionally, taxpayers can draft a 401(k) plan that includes no age limitations, which will allow younger children to contribute $19,000 of pre-tax dollars to their 401(k). The example below illustrates the potential tax savings if the taxpayer’s entity is an S-Corporation.

Save taxes by putting your children on your payrollIf the entity is an LLC instead of an S-Corp, and your child is under 18, add back the payroll taxes of $5,585 to get your tax saving potential.

One other benefit you could produce is a safe harbor 401(k) plan or profit sharing/matching system that could increase your child’s retirement account and provides a deduction for your business. This strategy has plenty of scenarios to take into consideration which provide an opportunity to save even more money in taxes.

There are some rules you need to be aware of when using this strategy:

  • Keeping detailed employment records, including timely tracking of weekly hours and wages that correspond to services provided
  • Issuing paychecks as you would a normal employee (e.g., bi-weekly)
  • Documenting that the services are legitimate and considered ordinary and necessary for the business
  • Ensuring the services provided do not include typical household chores

If your child is not treated like any other employee in a similar position, the IRS could potentially deem their wages as not ordinary and necessary, and disallow them as a deductible expense.

We’ve got your back

At KRS, our CPAs can help you strategize setting your children up on payroll to maximize potential tax savings. Give us a call at 201.655.7411 or email me at [email protected]

The Importance of Working Capital for Staffing Companies

A snapshot of short-term liquidity

Working capital is a key financial concept for business owners when evaluating the overall health of operations. It reveals a snapshot of the company’s short-term liquidity position.

The working capital computation is relatively simple:

Current Assets – Current Liabilities = Working CapitalThe Importance of Working Capital for Staffing Companies

Current assets represent the most liquid items on the company’s balance sheet. They consist mostly of cash, accounts receivable, and inventory.

Current liabilities represent debts the company will need to satisfy within 12 months or less.

How much working capital do owners need?

A company should have sufficient working capital on hand to pay all its bills for a year. The amount of working capital informs owners if they have the necessary resources to expand internally or they will need to turn to banks or outside services to raise capital to reach sufficient working capital levels. Having a large positive working capital balance allows the company to grow using funds that were generated internally instead of being liable to outside investors or banks.

One of the main advantages of looking at the working capital position of a company is being able to foresee potential financial difficulties that might arise. If there is insufficient working capital the Company may need to secure financing to meet its current financial obligations. For staffing companies, having positive working capital is imperative for the business to succeed.

Staffing companies and working capital

Staffing companies also need to look into the business cycle of the company to fully understand the importance of working capital. The operating cycle analyzes the accounts receivable, inventory, and accounts payable cycles in terms of days. In other words, accounts receivable is analyzed by the average number of days it takes to collect an account. Accounts payable are analyzed by the average number of days it takes to pay a supplier invoice.

The main goal for staffing companies is to have a high accounts receivable turnover ratio, which is net credit sales divided by average accounts receivable. Divide 365 by your ratio and that will reflect the number of days, on average, to collect receivables. A higher ratio and lower number of days means the company is efficient in collecting receivables. A strong performance ratio for staffing companies range from 11.4 to 16.0, with the number of days to collect balances between 23-32 days.

If receivables are not being collected in a timely manner then the agency has to generate the cash to fund payroll, employee benefits, and payroll taxes not only for placements but for its own employees as well.

Working capital has a direct impact on cash flow in a staffing agency. Since cash flow is the name of the game for all business owners, a good understanding of working capital is imperative to make s business venture successful.

We’ve got your back

At KRS, our CPAs can help you review your staffing company’s working capital and put together a plan for improving your company’s financial situation. Give us a call at 201.655.7411 or email Sean at [email protected]

R&D Tax Credits for Food & Beverage Companies

Certain research expenses can help your food or beverage company save on taxes.

Companies operating in the food and beverage industry are constantly facing increased costs in raw materials, fuel, and regulatory changes while trying to keep pricing competitive and gain market share. Rising costs can be related to research and development (R&D), which include developing new products related to food safety, reducing costs, natural ingredients, dietary guidelines, and sustainable resources.
R&D Tax Credits for Food & Beverage Companies
Luckily, federal and state governments offer R&D tax credits to reduce some of these expenses. The credit allows companies to receive tax breaks on costs associated with technological research performed in the United States. These costs do not have to be the direct cause of a new product or process, but rather activities they already perform.

Activities eligible for R&D credits

Activities that may qualify could fall into numerous categories including food, processes, packaging, and sustainability. A few examples are:

  • Improving taste, texture, or nutritional content of food product formulations
  • Developing techniques that will reduce costs and/or improve product consistency
  • Improving machinery and equipment to ensure safe handling of food
  • Create new packaging to improve shelf life, durability, and/or product integrity
  • Switching to a more environmental friendly packaging
  • Costs associated with being more energy efficient
  • Creating new methods for minimizing contamination, scrap, waste, and spoilage

The credits can be as much as 20 percent of qualified research expenses, which include, but are not limited to, wages, supplies, and contract expenses. Remember, the R&D credit is not a deduction against income, but rather a dollar-for-dollar credit against taxes owed or taxes paid.

There are changes to the tax credits under the new tax law. Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the corporate AMT tax rate was 20 percent, regardless of credits or certain deductions. Post-TCJA, AMT tax is eliminated and C Corporations will now be taxed at 21 percent, allowing corporations to take greater advantage of these tax credits. However, one limitation still applies. If a corporation has over $25,000 in regular tax liability, they cannot use R&D tax credits to offset more than 75 percent of their regular tax liability.

Under the TCJA, companies will no longer be able to expense costs that are related to research after 2021. These costs will be capitalized and amortized over a five-year period. Expenses for research activities performed outside the United States would be amortized over a fifteen-year period.

We’ve Got Your Back

As a tax advisor in the food and beverage industry, we ensure that our clients take full advantage of these tax credits. If you would like to learn if your company is eligible for these credits, please contact Sean Faust, CPA of KRS CPAs’ Food and Beverage Practice at 201-655-7411 or [email protected].