For Tax Savings, Consider an IC-DISC for Your Exporters

Did you know there is an underutilized tax incentive that can reap federal tax savings for manufacturers?

For Tax Savings, Consider an IC-DISC for Your ExportersOne middle-market manufacturer recently saved approximately $300,000 in current year federal taxes by implementing this tax incentive, which promotes exporting goods manufactured in the United States that have an ultimate destination outside of the U. S. The federal tax savings will continue to increase as this client expands its export operations. The tax saving strategy was executed by forming an interest charge-domestic international sales corporation (“IC-DISC”).

To determine if an IC-DISC might be beneficial for your client, all of the following should apply:

  1. Does the company sell or lease export property or provide services that are related to any exchange of property outside the United States?
  2. Is the company generating taxable profits?
  3. Is the company closely held?

An IC-DISC is typically formed as a wholly-owned U. S. corporate subsidiary of a domestic exporting company. The IC-DISC serves as the exporting company’s foreign sales agent (not to be confused with a Foreign Sales Corporation, which was discontinued in 2000).

After the IC-DISC is incorporated, it must file an election with the Internal Revenue Service to be treated as an IC-DISC, which is not subject to federal income tax and certain state income taxes. The election must be made within 90 days of incorporation and is made on Form 4876-A, Election To Be Treated as an Interest Charge DISC. All of the corporation’s shareholders must consent to this election.

Qualifying as an IC-DISC

To qualify as an IC-DISC, a corporation must maintain the following requirements[1][2]:

  1. Be incorporated in one of the 50 states or District of Columbia
  2. File an election with the IRS to be treated as an IC-DISC for federal tax purposes
  3. Maintain a minimum capitalization of $2,500
  4. Have a single class of stock
  5. Meet a qualified exports receipts test and a qualified export assets test.

To expand on the last requirement, at least 95 percent of an IC-DISC’s gross receipts and assets must be related to the export of property whose value is at least 50 percent attributable to U.S. produced content.

The newly formed IC-DISC enters into a commission agreement with the seller of export goods. By virtue of the C corporation meeting all of the IC-DISC qualifications, it is presumed to have participated in the export sales activity, and due to that participation, is entitled to earn a commission.

The related exporter is allowed to pay a tax-deductible commission to the IC-DISC, which is the greater of 4 percent of the company’s gross receipts from qualified exports, or 50 percent of the company’s net income from qualified exports.[3] The IC-DISC commission is a current deduction to the U.S. exporter at ordinary income rates (currently a maximum of 39.6 percent).

The IC-DISC, as a tax-exempt entity, pays no federal tax on the commission income. When the IC-DISC distributes its income to its shareholders, it becomes qualified dividend income taxed at the qualified dividend rate of 23.8 percent when including the new 3.8 percent tax on net investment income.

If the company is a pass-through entity, such as a partnership, S corporation, or LLC, you can form an IC-DISC as a subsidiary. Dividends the IC-DISC distributes will retain their character and be passed through to individual shareholders and qualify for the 23.8 percent qualified dividends rate (20 percent qualified dividends rate plus 3.8 percent tax on net investment income).

If your company is a C corporation however, you will need to have the corporation’s individual shareholders form the IC-DISC as a sister corporation to obtain the lower tax rate on dividends.

Tax Benefits for Shareholders

Assume an S corporation has $20 million in qualifying export sales and $5 million in net export income on those sales. If the company has an IC-DISC subsidiary, it can pay a deductible commission to the IC-DISC equal to the greater of 50 percent of its export net income ($2.5 million) or 4 percent of its export gross receipts ($800,000). In this case, the maximum commission is 50 percent of net income or $2.5 million.

The IC-DISC distributes the full $2.5 million of commission income as a dividend to its S corporation shareholder. The S corporation receives a $2.5 million dividend, which retains its character and passes through to the S corporation’s individual shareholders. The S corporation shareholders pay 23.8 percent federal income tax on the IC-DISC qualified dividend income. If the commission had not been paid, the S corporation individual shareholders would have additional ordinary income passed through to them taxable at a maximum 39.6 percent federal tax rate.

Federal Tax Savings:

Tax on $2.5 Million at 39.6% rate                               $990,000

Tax on $2.5 Million at 23.8% rate                               $595,000

Federal income tax benefit to shareholders               $395,000

Taxpayers can also use IC-DISCs to defer the recognition of income related to foreign sales, however the discussion above focused primarily on using an IC-DISC to convert ordinary income into qualified dividend income, reducing the income tax liability of a corporation’s shareholders.

We’ve got your back

It is important for practitioners and advisers to be aware of tax incentives available to their manufacturing and export clients that are producing goods in the United States and shipping them overseas. For help establishing an IC-DISC, contact me at [email protected] or 908.655.7411.

References

[1] Trea. Reg. 1.992-2(b).

[2] IRC Sec. 992(a)(1) and Treas. Reg. 1.992-1.

[3] IRC Sec. 994.

IRS Form 5472: What Foreign-Owned Companies Need to Know to Avoid Penalties

Is your company doing business in the US market? If you’re not filing IRS Form 5472, you could face large penalties.

The United States continues to see more investment from foreign companies and individuals who want a business presence here. When a foreign company decides to conduct business in the U.S., not only must it decide what legal entity structure to use, but after the entity is established, it must comply with all applicable U.S. tax laws. Filing the right tax returns and informational forms is critical to avoiding penalties.

IRS Form 5472 for foreign owned companiesFor the purposes of this post, a foreigner is a corporation from outside the U.S. or an individual who is not a U.S. citizen or a resident. Generally, foreigners can use two types of legal entities in the US market to conduct business here: a limited liability company (LLC), or a C-corporation.

Tax filing requirements for foreign-owned corporations

Generally, a corporation doing business in the United States is required to file applicable federal and state income tax returns following each annual tax period. A U.S. corporation with non-U.S. shareholders who own 25% or more of the corporation’s stock are generally required to file Form 5472, which has the long-winded title, “Information Return of a 25% Foreign-Owned U.S. Corporation or a Foreign Corporation Engaged in a U.S. Trade or Business.”

Form 5472 is a separate filing requirement from the U.S. entity’s obligation to file income tax returns under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (Code). This form must be attached to the reporting corporation’s federal income tax return. It requires certain information disclosures about the corporation’s foreign shareholders and any transactions between it and such shareholders during the tax year.

For example, two shareholders, one from the U.S. and one from Germany, form Reliant Panel, Inc., to manufacture industrial control panels in the U.S. They each own 50% of the company’s shares. Under the Code, Reliant Panel must file Form 5472.

Requirements for LLCs taxed as partnerships

In addition to filing Form 1065 (U.S. Return of Partnership Income), a partnership with foreign partners could be responsible for complying with other filing requirements such as Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA), Partnership Withholding, and Nonresident Alien Withholding.

A partnership that has income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business is required to pay a withholding tax on the effectively connected taxable income that is allocable to its foreign partners. A foreign partner is anyone who is not considered a U.S. person, which includes nonresident aliens, foreign partnerships, foreign corporations, and foreign trusts or estates.

The partnership must pay the withholding tax regardless of the foreign partner’s U.S. income tax liability for the year and even if there were no partnership distributions made during the year. Withholding tax must be paid on a quarterly basis.

Form 5472 for LLCs with a single foreign owner

When a U.S. LLC has a single owner (defined in U.S. law as a “member”), it is disregarded as an entity separate from its owner (“disregarded entity”). Newly issued regulations treat such disregarded entities as domestic corporations rather than as disregarded entities for the purpose of the foreign reporting requirements. Under these new rules, such disregarded entities are required to file Form 5472.

For example, Forco, Inc., a Polish corporation, forms Domeco LLC in New York, a wholly-owned LLC that is treated as a disregarded entity for income tax purposes. Under prior IRS rules, Domeco had no foreign reporting obligations. However, under the new regulations Domeco is required to file Form 5472.

Form 5472 requirements

Form 5472 requires the disclosure of the foreign shareholders’ names, address and country of citizenship, organization or incorporation, principal business activity, and the nature and amount of the reportable transaction(s) with each foreign shareholder.

Whether a reportable transaction has occurred is a complex determination. For example, a loan to a U.S. LLC by the foreign shareholder is considered a “reportable transaction” and requires the disclosure on Form 5472. In general, a reportable transaction is any exchange of money or property with the foreign shareholder, except for the payment of dividends.

Filing deadlines for Form 5472

Form 5472 is filed with the U.S. Corporation’s federal income tax return, including any extensions of time to file same.

Why is filing Form 5472 is so important?

Penalties for failure to file information returns are separate from payments relating to underpayment of income taxes. Under certain circumstances, the penalties for failure to file information returns can be significantly greater than the U.S. income tax liabilities. Failure to maintain the proper records, failure to file the correct Form 5472, or failure to file a required Form 5472 may result in a $10,000 penalty for each failure per tax year.

Additionally, if a failure to file continues for more than 90 days after notification of a failure to file by the IRS, an additional $10,000 may apply for each 30-day period, or fraction thereof, that the failure continues.

These fines can’t be appealed to the IRS! That is why foreigners doing business in the U.S. are strongly encouraged to consult with their tax advisors and ensure compliance with all U.S. tax and reporting obligations.

We’ve got your back

Whether you’re new to investing in U.S. companies or quite experienced, it is always important to have knowledgeable CPAs behind you to ensure that you are making the right moves when it comes to complying with the often confusing U.S. tax code. The experts at KRS CPAs are here to guide you through tax season and beyond. For more information or to speak to one of our partners, give us a call at 201.655.7411 or email me at [email protected].

 

Special thanks to attorney Jacek Cieszynski for his assistance in developing this post.

Real Estate Rentals, the Sharing Economy and Taxes

Taxpayers renting out homes or spare rooms should be aware of the tax implications of these rentals.

When is the rental of a primary residence or vacation home taxable?

Real Estate Rentals, the Sharing Economy and TaxesThe Internal Revenue Code provides the rental of a property that is also occupied by the owner (“host”) as a residence for less than 15 days during the year is not taxable. The host is considered to use the property as a residence if they use it for personal enjoyment during the tax year for more than the greater of (1) 14 days or (2) 10% of the total days during the year they rent it to others.

The tax rules are more complicated when the vacation home is used by the host for more than 2 weeks and also rented for a substantial part of the year.

For example, a host spent 60 days last year in their ski cabin in Vermont. For the remainder of the year it was rented for 180 days.  The host can deduct 75% (180 days out of 240 days) of the ski cabin’s qualifying rental expenses against the rents collected. It is important to note that if expenses exceed rental income, the loss is not deductible.

Where is income from short-term rentals reported?

Many rental services, such as Airbnb, report the rental payments they send to hosts by filing IRS Form 1099-MISC. The IRS matches these 1099’s to tax returns to verify that rental income was reported.

If the host’s property is rented for more than 14 days per year, the exception noted above will not apply. Instead, the host will have to report and pay income tax on the rental income by filing IRS Schedule E along with the tax return. The host will also be allowed to deduct rental-related expenses, subject to limitations

Do hotel taxes apply to short-term rentals?

Lodging or transient occupancy taxes, which are commonly referred to as hotel taxes will typically apply to rentals of 30 days or less in some areas. Some jurisdictions will impose taxes for rentals that exceeds 30 days, such as Florida which taxes rentals of six months or less. These taxes are separate from any income tax they may be owed on profits from renting the property.

Airbnb will collect the applicable lodging taxes on behalf of its “hosts.” For instance, Airbnb has made an agreement with the Vermont Department of Taxation to collect the Vermont Meals and Rooms Tax on payments for lodging offered by its hosts. However, many other rental listing sites, such as HomeAway, will not collect the taxes for property owners. An internet search or browsing of the listing company’s website will provide their policy on collecting the taxes.

There are services available, such as Avalara’s MyLodgeTax, that assists hosts with filing and remitting their lodging taxes. These services are offered for monthly fees.

We’ve got your back

Ready to become a part of the sharing economy? If you’re considering renting out even part of your home, reach out to KRS so that we can help you stay on top of the tax rules. Contact me at [email protected] or (201) 655-7411.

You can also download my free Tax Tip Sheet for more ways to save taxes when buying or selling a rental property.

What Tax Topics Do Millennials Care About?

What Tax Topics Do Millennials Care About?
From left to right: Bret Kaye, a certified financial planner at AEPG Wealth Strategies, Diane Pineda, senior accountant at KRS CPAs, and Lance Aligo, CPA, senior accountant at KRS CPAs

On July 25, 2017, senior accountants Lance Aligo and Diane Pineda participated in an NJBIA panel presentation focusing on personal finances for young professionals. The first few years following college can be very challenging and it’s important for YPs to understand the tax implications of life changes.This panel covered topics such as marriage, job changes, first time home buyers, and starting a family.

One tax topic discussed was the difference between filing a “married filing joint,” “married filing separate” and “single” tax return.

Whether a couple is married on January 1 or December 31, they are considered to be married for the full year for income taxes and are required to file a “married” tax return.

An audience member posed the question,

When is it beneficial for a couple to file a married filing joint tax return compared to married filing separate?

Here’s what the panelists noted:

  • When married filing joint, the couple will complete one shared tax return and take full responsibility for the income and tax that is owed.
  • When married filing separate, the couple will each report their own income and be responsible for their own tax liability.
  • Filing separate can limit or disqualify tax credits and deductions. Each couple is unique and depending on their situation, both ways should be considered.
  • It is important to keep in mind that married filing separate is not the same as filing as a single person. Most of the time, a couple will pay less tax when filing a married filing joint return.
  • A married couple filing separate will lose the following credits and deductions (geared towards the young professional):
    • Traditional IRA deductions
    • Child and dependent care tax credit
    • College tuition expense deduction
    • American opportunity credit and lifetime learning credit
    • Student loan interest deduction
    • Earned income credit
  • If married filing separate, both taxpayers must claim either the standard deduction or itemized deduction. If one spouse is itemizing, the other must too.

Situations where married filing separate may benefit the taxpayer:

  • When filing separately, you will be responsible for the accuracy and completeness of only your return and have no responsibility for your spouses.
  • It’s possible that your overall tax bill could be lower as a couple when filing separate due to one spouse having significantly high itemized deductions. Specifically, itemized deductions limited by your adjusted gross income.
    • Medical expenses, unreimbursed employee business expenses, investment expenses, fees for tax preparation, charitable contributions.
  • Since adjusted gross income is lower on married filling separate returns, the limited itemized deductions listed above may be higher if you file separately reducing a couple’s overall tax liability.

If a couple is married, it is important to consider each unique situation and then determine which method, joint or separate, provides you with the lowest tax liability.

Standard vs. itemized tax deductions

Another topic discussed was standard vs. itemized deductions. The standard deduction for 2017 for a single individual is $6,350 and for a married couple $12,700 ($6,350 for married filing separately).

Itemized deductions are a group of eligible expenses that an individual can claim on their federal income tax return that potentially reduce their taxable income.  These deductions are reported on Schedule A of Form 1040.  A taxpayer may claim itemized deductions and receive a benefit from them when their total itemized deductions are larger than the IRS standard deduction.

What are some of the itemized deductions and how can they be tracked?

First-time homeowners should be aware that they are paying real estate taxes which are tax deductible as an itemized deduction. If the homeowner is paying a mortgage, the interest portion of the payment is tax deductible as an itemized deduction.

These deductions are tracked by the bank where you have your loan.  At the end of the year you will receive a Form 1098 which reflects the mortgage interest that was paid for the year.  Typically, Form 1098 will also reflect the amount of real estate taxes that were paid for the year.  If it does not, you should refer to quarterly or semi-annual tax statements from your town.

Taxes paid to any state jurisdiction are tax deductible. If you are working as a W-2 employee, state taxes are being withheld from your paycheck.  These taxes will be reported to you on your Form W-2 reflecting what taxes were withheld and what can be deducted as an itemized deduction.  If you are self-employed and pay quarterly estimates, a great way to track your payments is to keep copies of the checks you write as well as proof from your bank statements.

Charitable contributions are also itemized deductions. Cash and non-cash items qualify for this deduction as long as they are donated to a recognized charitable organization.  The organization that you donated to will provide you with a receipt of what was received and the value of the gift.  If donating a non-cash item valued more than $5,000, a special appraisal needs to be completed and in writing to submit to the IRS with your Form 1040.

Other itemized deductions that are common to the young professional include medical expenses, unreimbursed employee expenses, job search costs, union dues, investment expenses, continuing education, and tax preparation fees. To claim these deductions, the taxpayer should retain receipts for any expense incurred.

We’ve got your back

As a young professional myself, I understand the challenges we face. If you have any questions relating to tax topics relevant to YPs, contact me at [email protected] or 201-655-7411.

Is it Time to Update Your Buy-Sell Agreement?

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Buy-Sell AgreementsWhy should you have a buy-sell agreement?

Buy-sell agreements are among the most important agreements entered into by business co-owners. Notwithstanding the importance, many businesses do not have buy-sell agreements in place, and for many that do, the agreements are ambiguous and outdated.

An effective buy-sell agreement will eliminate or reduce the disputes arising from the death or retirement of a shareholder or partner, and the absence of an effective agreement may result in a protracted and costly dispute.

Is your existing agreement still effective?

To determine if an existing buy-sell agreement still works for a business, the value of the business should be calculated pursuant to the agreement, as if a triggering event had occurred. If there are not disputes over interpretation of the agreement, all parties believe the value result is fair, and the funding mechanism is in place to make the required payments, then the agreement is still acceptable.

Many companies that perform this exercise find the existing agreement to be unsatisfactory and in need of change.  It is much better to perform this exercise and identify problems with the agreement prior to occurrence of a triggering event.  In the evaluation of the results of this exercise, the parties will usually be open minded and fair, because they do not know if they will be a buyer or a seller when the actual triggering event occurs.

Types of buy-sell agreements

Buy-sell agreements generally fall into three basic categories: fixed-price agreements, formula agreements, and agreements requiring the performance of a valuation.

In fixed-price agreements, the price is specified in the agreement and is generally funded by an insurance policy, which was purchased at the time the agreement was executed. These agreements usually contain a provision requiring the fixed price to be periodically updated, but this provision is frequently disregarded.  Problems can arise when a triggering event occurs and the fixed price value has not been updated, the triggering event occurs after the expiration of the original term insurance policy, or the insurance benefit is no longer sufficient to fund the required payment.

In a formula agreement, the business value is generally determined by a relatively simple formula such as a multiple or percentage of net or gross income. The problem with formula agreements is that although the formula undoubtedly made perfect sense when the agreement was drafted, it may no longer be relevant or yield a result that bears any relationship to current value.  Furthermore, if net income is a component of the formula, each expense paid by the business can become the subject of a dispute.

Agreements that require the performance of a valuation by a qualified expert are most likely to yield a fair result and less likely to be the subject of a dispute, as opposed to fixed-price or formula agreements. This business valuation will require payment of professional fees, but these fees will be far less than those that would be paid in the event of a dispute.

Crucial agreement provisions

To avoid or reduce disputes upon occurrence of a triggering event, a buy-sell agreement should include the following provisions:

Standard of Value – This is an important element of a buy-sell agreement. In New Jersey, the most frequently used standards of value are fair value and fair market value.  An agreement that uses the generic term “value” and does not state the standard of value to be used will be the subject of dispute.

Triggering Events – Common triggering events in a buy-sell agreement include shareholder death, disability, and retirement. Other triggering events that should be considered are divorce, loss of business or professional license, or one’s continued failure to perform duties. The agreement should also distinguish between normal retirement at or within a range of ages stated by the agreement, and early retirement, which occurs prior to this age or range.

Valuation Date – Upon the occurrence of a triggering event, the valuation date is the effective date of the valuation. In performing the valuation, the valuation analyst can only use information that was known or knowable as of the valuation date.  This is important because an event occurring subsequent to the valuation date cannot be considered in the valuation.

Discounts and Premiums – Discounts for lack of control and lack of marketability frequently give rise to disagreement between business valuation practitioners, as well as between practitioners and the Internal Revenue Service. To avoid controversy over application and amount of discounts, consideration may be given to specifying a range or maximum discount in the buy-sell agreement.

Tax Effecting – Most closely held businesses operate as S corporations, partnerships, or limited liability companies taxed as partnerships. With limited exception, none of these companies pay federal or New Jersey income taxes.  They are commonly referred to as pass-through entities, because the business income or loss passes through to the owners for inclusion and taxation on their individual income tax returns.  Because pass-through entities do not pay income taxes, controversy exists whether income tax expense should be recognized in the valuation of these entities.  In drafting a buy-sell agreement, consideration should be given to expressly addressing tax effecting in the agreement.

Although it is impossible to anticipate every contingency and the source of every possible disagreement, an effective buy-sell agreement that is understood by all will go a long way in reducing disputes. Business circumstances change, and the buy-sell agreement may require periodic updating to reflect such changing circumstances.  It may be uncomfortable for the parties to discuss sensitive buy-sell agreement issues, but it is far worse to ignore them.  Issued not addressed do not go away, they become bigger and more often than not must be decided by a judge.  Review and update your buy-sell agreement today to avoid future problems.

We’ve got your back

If you have questions about buy-sell agreements or require an independent business valuation, contact KRS CPA partner Gerald Shanker at 201.655.7411 or [email protected]. You can also learn more from these buy-sell agreement and business valuation blog posts.

 

This article was originally published in the New Jersey Staffing Alliance July 2017 newsletter.

 

 

Income Tax Incentives for Land Conservation

Income Tax Incentives for Land Conservation

Conservation easements have been receiving increased press and scrutiny from the IRS, which is cracking down on easement donation abuse by tax shelter promoters.

At its very basis, conservation easements are meant to further the public good by encouraging taxpayers to donate property rights to organizations so the property can be conserved in its current form.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement, also referred to as a conservation agreement, is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency.

When a landowner donates an easement to a land trust or public agency, he is giving away some rights associated with the underlying land. The easement acts to permanently limit the use of the land to protect its conservation values.

What kinds of property qualify?

It could be land that preserves open space or is deemed to be historically important. Land with a scenic vista, a critical water source or wildlife habitat may also qualify.

Does the landowner lose all rights to the property?

Conservation easements offer landowners the flexibility of protecting their land. A donating landowner can retain the right to harvest crops, while relinquishing rights to build additional structures on the conserved parcel.

It is the responsibility of the land trust to make sure the donating landowner adheres to the terms of the conservation easement.

What are the tax incentives?

If a conservation easement is voluntarily donated to a land trust or government agency it can qualify for a charitable tax deduction on the donor’s federal income tax return. To determine the value of the charitable donation, an appraisal is obtained for the value of the land “as-is,” and the value of the property as restricted by the easement. The difference between the two values is the amount of the charitable donation to the land trust.

Are there additional benefits?

The donating landowner may also realize savings in the form of reduced property taxes. A lowered property value assessment after the easement is granted can result in decreased real estate taxes. Additionally, some states, including New York offer their own tax incentives.

We’ve got your back

For additional information on the tax benefits of land conservation, please contact me at  [email protected] or (201) 655-7411.

What Is the New GAAP Lease Accounting Standard?

In February 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued an Accounting Standard Update (“ASU”), ASU 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842).

New GAAP Accounting Rules for Leases
For public companies, ASU 2016-02 is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018. For all other entities, this update is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019. Early adoption is permitted for all entities, using a modified retrospective approach.

ASU 2016-02 impacts all entities that lease property, plant, or equipment. ASU 2016-02 defines a lease as a contract, or part of a contract, that conveys the right to control the use of identified property, plant, or equipment for a period of time, in exchange for consideration.

What will change?

Currently, operating lease obligations (for example, a lease of office space for 10 years) are disclosed in a company’s financial statement footnotes, but not recorded on the balance sheet. Under the new guidance, a lessee will be required to report on its balance sheet assets and liabilities related to lease obligations with lease terms of more than 12 months. This differs from current GAAP, which requires only capital leases to be recognized on the balance sheet.

How will the change impact financial reporting?

Companies will have to report their leases (finance leases and operating leases) as both assets and liabilities on their balance sheets. This must be done regardless of the lessee’s (tenant’s) intent to vacate the space at the end of its lease term. Rent obligations that were previously disclosed in the footnotes of financial statements will be reflected on the balance sheet as debt. Debt impacts a company’s credit, compliance with debt covenants and other capital requirements.

What about the lessor (landlord)?

For lessors, the impact of ASU 2016-02 is largely unchanged from current GAAP. For example, the vast majority of operating leases should remain classified as operating leases. In general, lessors should continue to recognize lease income for those leases on a straight-line basis over the lease term.

We’ve got your back

Not sure how the new FASB lease reporting standards impact accounting for your real estate leases? The real estate accounting experts at KRS CPAs are here to help. Reach out to me for a complimentary initial consultation at [email protected] or (201) 655-7411. 

Prepare Now for Easier 1099s in January ’18

Now is the time to contact vendors for any missing W-9 forms, so that you have a less frenetic year-end.

In fact, we recommend that you obtain a vendor’s W-9 before you pay any of their invoices. Don’t wait to the end of the year to begin the process.

Prepare Now for Easier 1099s in January '18If your company uses  independent contractors, you need to send them a 1099 form for their taxes.The IRS requires anyone providing a service who is not an employee and was paid $600 or more during the year, to be issued a 1099. There are exceptions for attorneys who have no dollar threshold, and payments to corporations, which are exempt from 1099 reporting.

Get detailed instructions for completing Form 1099-MISC.

Important deadlines for filing 2017 Form 1099-MISC

Copy B and Copy 2 of the 1099-MISC form (recipient’s copy)                     January 31, 2018

File Copy A of the 1099-MISC form (IRS copy)                                          February 28, 2018

If filing electronically                                                                                            April 2, 2018

Electronic filing requires software that generates a file according to IRS specifications. When reporting nonemployee compensation payments in box 7 of Form 1099-MISC, the due date remains January 31, 2018.

Recommendations

It is much harder to contact independent contractors for information if their services were used sparingly, or if they no longer provide services. That’s why we recommend that you:

  • Withhold payment to any vendor who has not provided your company with an updated Form W-9.
  • Keep an electronic file of all W-9 forms received.
  • Accept W-9 forms from all vendors – even if you believe the entity may be exempt from 1099 reporting. (Better safe than sorry!)
  • Incorporate the Form W-9 requirement in your initial vendor setup and contract agreements.

Remember, taxpayers may be subjected to fines for late 1099 forms, missing forms, or wrong/omitted taxpayer information. To ensure a stress-reduced year end, start collecting any missing taxpayer information during these summer months.

We’ve got your back

From 1099s to 1040s and more, we believe in making tax season as stress-less as possible for our clients. Contact me at [email protected] to learn more about our proactive tax planning and preparation services.

 

How Does the Net Investment Income Tax Apply to Rental Real Estate?

Taxpayers should be mindful that their rental income may be subject to taxes in addition to ordinary income tax.

What is the Net Investment Income Tax?

Net Investment Income Tax and Rental Real EstateThe Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) is a surtax that took effect in 2013. The NIIT was intended to boost tax revenue from Medicare payroll taxes on earned income by broadening its reach to unearned investment income.

Net Investment Income Tax basics

The NIIT only applies to certain high-income taxpayers. Specifically, taxpayers with adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 (single filers) or $250,000 (joint filers) are subject to the surtax on investment income that exceeds the thresholds. Note that these amounts are not indexed for inflation.

NIIT imposes a 3.8% surtax on income from investments. Investments includes portfolio income items such as interest, dividends and short-term and long-term capital gains. Royalties, rental income and business income from activities that are treated as passive are also subject to the surtax.  Read my post on passive activities in rental real estate to learn more.

What about self-rentals?

It is common for recipients of rental income, which include taxpayers who own rental properties directly or through pass-through entities (partnerships, LLCs or S Corporations), to also be involved with the business operations conducted on the property. The common scenario is a business owner that also owns the real estate in which he operates. The real estate is held in a separate entity that collects rents from the operating entity. Check out my previous post on IRS rules for self-rentals to learn more.

The NIIT is intended to apply to passive investment income, rather than income generated from an active trade or business. Therefore, it should not penalize a taxpayer who separates its real estate from business operations. This was clarified in an Internal Revenue Bulletin that made it clear that, if an individual derives rental income from a business activity in which the individual is materially participating, the 3.8% tax will not apply.

Does the surtax apply to real estate professionals?

While losses from real estate activities are passive per se, the losses of a real estate professional are considered ordinary losses and available to offset other ordinary income. Net rental income is generally included in the calculation of NIIT and is therefore subject to the 3.8% surtax. There is an exception if the following three conditions are met:

  • the taxpayer is a real estate professional
  • the rental activity rises to the level of trade or business; and
  • the taxpayer materially participates in the trade or business.

If all three of the conditions are met, the income from the rental real estate activity can be excluded from the calculation of net investment income.

What about sales of real estate?

Gains from the disposition of property (other than property held in an active trade or business) is subject to NIIT, including gain on the sale of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate. The gain from the sale of rental property is also subject to NIIT unless the rental activity is part of an active trade or business.

If the real estate activity is considered a passive activity, any gain on the sale of property would generate gain that would be subject to the net investment income tax. However, if the taxpayer qualifies as a real estate professional, and the activity is considered an active trade or business, any gain on the sale of the property may be exempt from the net investment income tax. The characterization of the property for purposes of taxation of the gain on disposition is determined based on the treatment of the property during its operation.

With the 3.8% Medicare surtax on net investment income, real estate professionals should have a renewed focus on tax implications relating to their level of participation in real estate businesses.

We’ve got your back

If you’d like some additional insights into net investment income tax as it relates to real estate investments, contact me at [email protected] or (201) 655-7411.

Food Industry Trends and More: Notes from the Summer Fancy Food Show

Maria Rollins at the Summer Fancy Food Show

 

Whenever a local industry trade show aligns with a KRS service offering or niche I look forward to an opportunity to get out and network with its exhibitors. I also find that the breakout education sessions are extremely relevant and offer insight to the business challenges faced by industry members. Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Specialty Food Associations’ Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.

I was drawn to this particular show because we have many clients who are in the food and beverage industry. In addition, I am a “foodie” and was enticed by the thought of spending a day in New York City networking while sampling the latest in specialty foods and beverages.

The show lasted for four days and although I only attended the last day (usually the day with the most giveaways) I was able to get a flavor for many product and business trends. Here’s just a sampling of what I learned.

Hot product trends and business challenges

In light of the shift in consumer demand from processed foods to healthier options, I wasn’t surprised to see gluten-free, vegan, raw and “sugar conscious” products as the hot items on exhibit. Many of the dessert and snack items I sampled were marketed as gluten-free and many amount were also dairy-free and vegan.

As the gluten-free trend continues, manufacturers will face challenges in production when gluten-free and gluten products are manufactured in the same facility. The gluten-free trend will also continue to boost the need for gluten-free flour substitutes such as coconut, corn and rice flours, in addition to other ingredients needed to improve texture and consistency.

Shelf-life of gluten-free products can also be a business challenge. Many exhibitors stressed the shelf-life of their products since many of the ingredients in these gluten-free alternatives result in a shorter shelf-life compared to full gluten products.

Many of the beverage samples offered by exhibitors continued the “healthier” option theme and were low sugar alternatives to traditional sodas. Flavored waters and spritzers containing organic juices, apple cider vinegar or Acai berries were positioned as healthier alternatives to sugar-laden sodas.

I also saw many dairy-free and vegan products exhibited by small businesses and start-ups. Many of the small business exhibitors I spoke with are challenged with expanding their distribution beyond their local geographical region. Attending such premier show was an important way for these companies to get their products in front of the many distributors and buyers attending.

All the small businesses and start-ups I spoke to have e-commerce sites and will ship their products to consumers. We talked about how important e-commerce is to their growth and how it requires that they invest in technology. I also listened to panelist Monica Schechter, specialty and international food category manager at Jet.com and Walmart.com, who cited technology as a catalyst to finding new products and assisting with the discovery experience through online searching and shopping.

Turning a food idea into a successful business

My favorite experience at any trade show is talking to the exhibitors and learning the story behind their product or brand. Many are family businesses or friends who came up with an idea. They are passionate about their ingredients and the quality of the product they deliver to their consumers. As an accountant working with many start-ups and “well-seasoned” businesses, I find these stories are refreshing and often heart-warming. Common for start-ups, these stories usually include a business mistake or two they encountered along the way. After all, having a great idea is only the first step. A successful food manufacturer must build their brand, secure efficient manufacturing, seek distribution channels, set pricing, manage inventory, finance the business and market their product. The most successful businesses deliver their product more efficiently than their competitors.

My advice to small businesses and start-ups is to seek out help from professionals and mentors. I recently spoke to one food manufacturer who has grown a significant business and now offers advice to those entering the market. They are willing to share their challenges and how they overcame obstacles in growing their business.