Tag: taxes

IRS Clarifies Deductible Expenses

Updated IRS rules offer guidance for deductible expenses which may have been murky as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

IRS provides guidance on deductible expensesThe rules being updated involve using optional standard mileage rates when figuring the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving expense purposes, among other issues.

The full details are available in Revenue Procedure 2019-46 and Revenue Procedure 2019-48.

There are more succinct rules to substantiate the amount of an employee’s ordinary and necessary travel expenses reimbursed by an employer using the optional standard mileage rates. But know that you’re not required to use this method and that you may substantiate your actual allowable expenses, provided you maintain adequate records.

Miscellaneous itemized deductions clarified

The TCJA suspended the miscellaneous itemized deduction for most employees with unreimbursed business expenses, including the costs of operating an automobile for business purposes. However, self-employed individuals and certain employees, armed forces reservists, qualifying state or local government officials, educators, and performing artists may continue to deduct unreimbursed business expenses during the suspension.

The TCJA also suspended the deduction for moving expenses. However, this suspension doesn’t apply to a member of the armed forces on active duty who moves pursuant to a military order and incident to a permanent change of station.

Entertainment vs. food & beverage expenses

The IRS has also made it clear that the TCJA amended prior rules to disallow a deduction for expenses for entertainment, amusement or recreation paid for or incurred after Dec. 31, 2017. Otherwise allowable meal expenses remain deductible if the food and beverages are purchased separately from the entertainment, or if the cost of the food and beverages is stated separately from the cost of the entertainment.

More resources from KRS

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What To Know About Getting a Tax Refund

Is your tax refund slow in arriving in your mailbox or bank account? One of these may be the culprit.

What To Know About Getting a Tax RefundIn a recent statement, the IRS noted that most taxpayers are issued refunds by the IRS in fewer than 21 days. If yours takes a bit longer, here are six things that may be affecting the timing of your refund:

  • Security reviews—The IRS and its partners continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud. Your tax return may be receiving additional review, which makes processing your refund take a bit longer.
  • Errors—It can take longer for the IRS to process a tax return that has errors. Fortunately, electronic filing has reduced the number of errors, which are more common in paper returns.
  • Incomplete returns—Here again, electronic returns make the most sense. It takes longer to process an incomplete return. The IRS contacts a taxpayer by mail when more info is needed to process the return.
  • Earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit—If you claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) or additional child tax credit (ACTC) before mid-February, the IRS cannot issue refunds as quickly as others. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund. This includes the portion of the refund not associated with EITC or ACTC.
  • Your bank or other financial institutions may not post your refund immediately—It can take time for banks or other financial institutions to post a refund to a taxpayer’s account.
  • Refund checks by mail—It can take even longer for a taxpayer to receive a refund check by mail. Direct deposit is a better bet.

The IRS Explains

In an unusually poetic statement, the IRS explains that “tax returns, like snowflakes and thumbprints, are unique and individual. So too, is each taxpayer’s refund.” So keep this in mind. Fortunately, you can track your refund status online by entering your Social Security number and other key information.

KRSCPAS.com is accessible from your mobile device and is loaded with tax guides, blogs, and other resources to help you succeed. Check it out today!

Form W-4: What Changed and Why it Matters

Form W-4 was revised after the 2017 Tax Reform Act. Here’s what you need to know to complete it accurately.

Form W-4 is completed by employees to advise their employers of the amount of federal income tax to withhold from their paycheck. Your employer will then remit the money withheld to the IRS along with your name and social security number. The tax withheld will be applied against your total income tax liability when you file your tax return in April.Form W-4: What Changed and Why it Matters

In the past this has been a relatively simple and straightforward form to complete. However, the Form W-4 has been changed as a result of the passing of the TCJA back in late 2017.

Revised W-4 adds more detail

The major factor here is that the passing of the TCJA has gotten rid of all personal and dependent exemptions which affects the necessary and required amount of tax that needs to be withheld from your paycheck.

The revised Form W-4 issued by the IRS was intended to assist employees in making a more accurate determination of their income tax withholding needs based on the tax law changes. This new form is more detailed and includes various sections of specific withholding related information to help guide employees in accurately calculating the proper withholding amount.

Page one of this form includes questions relating to the various sources of income you may have, dependents you can claim, and other income affecting adjustments. Step One involves providing general personal information as seen on the previous form. You will list your name, address, social security number, and filing status. The following steps two through four should only be completed if they apply to you.

Form W-4 Step One
Step Two is for persons who work multiple jobs and have working spouses. There are three different methods to accurately calculate what the proper withholding should be based on your situation. You will need to calculate the correct amount of withholding based on the income earned from all jobs.

Form W-4 Step Two
Step three accounts for certain tax credits associated with claiming dependents. Step four allows you to use your discretion to make any other adjustments to your withholding based on other income, deductions, and extra withholding that you may need to consider.

Form W-4 Step ThreeThese form changes have been implemented as a response to the withholding issues that arose during the first year of the new tax law changes.

We’ve got your back

Tax season is getting underway. Are you ready? Trust KRS CPAs to help you with your tax strategy and preparation. Contact me at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 to learn more.

Sources:

https://www.cicplus.com/w-4-changes-for-2020/
https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-dft/fw4–dft.pdf
https://www.staffone.com/resources/w-4-forms/

Adjusting Your Income Tax Withholding

Adjusting Your Income Tax WithholdingWhen should you revise your tax withholding?

If you receive a large refund from the IRS when filing your income tax return, or owe the IRS a substantial amount when filing, you should consider adjusting your income tax withholding.

Your income tax withholding is based on the number of allowances you claim on your Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. This form is typically filled out when you first start a job with your employer. This determines the amount of income tax that comes out of your paycheck each pay period.

If your withholding is too high, you are, in effect, giving the IRS an interest free loan. Although the overpaid tax will be refunded when you file your return, it would have been better for you to have access to these funds throughout the year. In this case, you should reduce the amount your employer withholds to increase your pay in your paycheck.

Do you owe the IRS too much?

On the other end, there are taxpayers who owe the IRS large balances when filing their taxes. Yes, they have access to their money all year long, but they will have to pay this back on April 15th. Most of the time, this repayment comes with tacked-on interest and penalties from the IRS.

It is your responsibility to change your withholding with your employer. At any time, you can provide them with an updated Form W-4 and adjust your withholding.

When to review your withholding

You should check your withholding anytime there is a significant financial change in your life, including the following:

– You getting married, divorced, or having children.
– Increase or decrease in working wages.
– You or your spouse start or stop working, start a second job.
– Changes in deductions such as: buying house, paying for child care, medical expenses.

It is never too late to change your withholding for the current year. If you believe that you may be substantially over or under withheld, you can make the necessary adjustments to correct that. This is one of the more complex issues that a taxpayer faces.

We’ve got your back.

If you think your situation calls for a withholding adjustment, please contact us today. Contact KRS manager Lance Aligo, CPA, MAS at [email protected] or 201-655-7411.

What to Know About the Qualified Business Income Deduction

Does your business qualify as a pass-through for tax purposes?

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’ve heard other business owners talking about the qualified business income deduction (also called Section 199A), you’re probably asking yourself, “Should I incorporate to help save on taxes?” and “What entity should I select?”

Qualified Business Income DeductionLots of business folks want to form an LLC because it can save you money on taxes, but there’s a caveat. The new tax law’s 20% deduction on qualified business income is subject to limitations that keep it from being just a giveaway for anyone who runs a business.

To qualify for the full deduction, your taxable income must be below $157,500, or $315,000 if you’re married and you and your spouse file jointly. If your income is below the threshold, you may take the deduction no matter what business you’re in. But if your income is higher, there are limits on who can take the break.

Some fine print about qualified businesses

  • What exactly is a qualified business? The IRS notes this break is for sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, and some trusts and estates. C corporations are specifically excluded.
  • There are special rules and limits for “specified service trades or businesses.” The IRS defines these as businesses such as health, law, accounting, among others, “where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or owners.”
  • The deduction doesn’t lower your adjusted gross income, and you don’t have to itemize on your taxes to take it.
  • If you qualify, the 20% break will apply to the lesser of your qualified business income or your taxable income minus capital gains.
  • There’s a wage and capital limitation: it is the greater of 50% of W-2 wages or 25% of W-2 wages plus 2.5% of unadjusted basis of all qualified property. There is a 20% deduction of REIT dividends and distributions from publicly traded partnerships.
  • In counting qualified business income, the deductible part of self-employment tax, self-employed health insurance, and deductions for contributions to qualified retirement plans like SEPs, SIMPLEs and qualified plan deductions are included.
  • You have to decide how you should set up your business. As noted above, multiple entities are eligible for the pass-through treatment, but there are other implications you need to consider, such as how Social Security taxes will be paid.
  • Finally, don’t assume that the creation of a pass-through entity automatically creates a windfall. You’ll want to weigh how much you’ll save on taxes versus how much you’ll pay to set up an eligible entity.

How can you optimize the deduction?

Here are a few ways:

  • Consider operating as a PTP, or publicly traded partnership, which is not subject to the W-2 wage limit or the qualified property cap.
  • Consider multiplying the $157,500 per person threshold by gifting business ownership interest to children or non-grantor trusts.
  • For partners, consider switching from guaranteed payments, which don’t qualify, to preferred returns, which do.

This is just an introduction to a complex topic. Also, new guidance from the IRS may change some of the details, which means many provisions are not etched in stone. For example, the IRS issued in late September Revenue Procedure 2019-38, which offers a safe harbor allowing certain interests in rental real estate, including interests in mixed-use property, to be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the QBI deduction, under Section 199A.

KRS has your back on understanding pass-through entities

Be sure to get professional advice to make sure you’re making the right decisions about your pass-through entity. KRS CPAs offers unbiased financial and tax guidance to help you with this complicated subject. Contact us today for a complimentary initial consultation.

KRSCPAS.com is accessible from your mobile device and is loaded with tax guides, blogs, and other resources to help you succeed. Check it out today!

IRAs to Charity: A Useful Estate Planning Technique

Make your favorite charity a beneficiary of your IRAsSave taxes with this smart estate planning strategy

If you’re like many people, you have a great deal of your wealth tied up in traditional IRA accounts. Why? The tax-free benefits have motivated you. But there’s going to come a time when you—or your heirs—will have to pay taxes on this money. Instead of worrying about what you’re going to do about that, you can follow a tax-saving strategy that considers designating your favorite charity or charities as beneficiaries of all or a portion of your IRAs. Then you can leave other assets to family members and other heirs.

IRAs and estate taxes

Your IRAs are considered part of your estate when you die, which means they are subject to estate taxes. Although very few people are subject to the federal estate tax, some states have lower thresholds for estate taxes. Also, your heirs will have to eventually withdraw the funds, and typically will pay income tax. This could be substantial, if your heirs are already in a high bracket.

Fortunately, there’s a tax-smart solution: leave some or all of your IRA to charitable beneficiaries while leaving other assets to heirs of your choice. Leaving money directly to charities by designating them as account beneficiaries is very tax-efficient. First, it avoids estate tax, since the IRA is removed from your estate. Second, there’s no federal income tax due on IRA money. (You may get a state tax break too.) No income taxes are due when your favorite tax-exempt charities make withdrawals from the IRAs.

This strategy allows you to leave more to your favorite charities and more to your loved ones while keeping as much as possible from the IRS.

Leave Roth IRAs to your loved ones

One final word, however. This strategy generally applies to traditional IRAs. Naming a charity as the beneficiary of your Roth IRA is generally inadvisable. Leave Roth balances to your loved ones by designating them as account beneficiaries. Why? As long as your Roth IRA has been open for more than five years before withdrawals are taken, all withdrawals will be federal income tax-free since the money went in after taxes. But if you leave Roth IRA money to charity, this tax break is wasted. (Roth IRA inheritance rules differ from the rules for traditional IRAs in several key ways.)

Looking at the Big Picture

Of course, this is just part of your estate plan, and there are lots of complexities. A giving strategy that makes sense for one family may not be appropriate for another. Also, the new tax law has changed the scenario for many.  Finally, there are various limits and provisions you should be aware of before you proceed.

The bottom line? Talk to a qualified financial professional about your charitable goals and any traditional or Roth IRAs you have in order to take care of both your family and your designated nonprofits in as efficient a way as possible.

We’ve got your back on estate planning

It’s never too early to start thinking about estate planning. KRS CPAs offers unbiased financial and tax guidance to help you realize your specific goals and vision. Contact KRS managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 to discuss your situation.

What Is Tax-Efficient Investing?

Keep taxes in mind when investing

Tax Efficient InvestingAvoiding taxation should not be the only goal, or even the main goal, of your investment strategy.

Still, you always have to keep taxes in mind to make sure you’re not unnecessarily sending too much of your money to the government.

Managing Your Investments

Keep on top of your tax losses. No one likes to see their investments fail, but there are hidden tax savings there. Tax-harvesting strategies take advantage of losses for tax benefits when you rebalance your portfolio if you comply with IRS rules on the tax treatment of gains and losses.

Note that losses can offset up to $3,000 in taxable income in realized investment gains annually. If losses exceed deduction limits in the year they occur, you may be able to carry them forward to offset gains in future years.

Also watch out for capital gains. Securities held for more than 12 months and sold at a profit are taxed as long-term gains, with a top federal rate of 23.8%. For short-term gains, the tax rate can hit 40.8%. Timing can be everything.

Consider tax-exempt securities. Municipal bonds typically are exempt from federal taxes and may receive preferential state tax treatment. However, choose carefully before jumping into them. If you have a low tax rate in retirement, for example, it may not be necessary or even wise to concentrate so heavily on avoiding taxes.

Managing Your Taxes

Sometimes it’s better to pay taxes later rather than now. For example, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs, and tax-deferred annuities let you postpone your taxes until you are retired and thus likely in a lower bracket. Contributions you make may reduce your taxable income if you meet income eligibility requirements, and typically, investment growth is tax-deferred.

On the other side of the coin are Roth IRAs, which don’t give you an immediate tax break, since you use after-tax dollars. But this can help you later. For example, you may be in a low tax bracket now, so you put money into a Roth IRA. Investment gains are tax-deferred. When you withdraw the money, you don’t have to pay taxes at what could be a higher rate.

Reduce Taxes through Charity

If you itemize, you can deduct the value of your charitable gift from taxable income, but be aware that limits apply. Consider contributing appreciated stock, which may help you avoid capital gains taxes. Also try a donor-advised fund in a high-income year. These funds let you make a donation, take an immediate deduction and spread the giving over a period of time.

Of course, this is just an introduction to a complex topic — there are limits and exceptions to these strategies. Tax law is detailed, especially when it comes to investments, and a slight miscalculation on your end can lead to an unexpected tax bill down the line.

We’ve got your back on tax efficient investing

Taxes are a key part, but not the only part, of an investment strategy and you need to work with tax and financial professionals to make sure your strategies are aligned with your goals.Contact KRS managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 to discuss your situation.

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]

SALT Workarounds Squashed

$10k Limit on SALT Deductions Stands

On Tuesday the Treasury Department issued final regulations that officially prohibit high-tax states like SALT Workarounds SquashedNew Jersey, New York, and Connecticut from utilizing workarounds to evade the new $10,000 limit on state and local tax (“SALT”) deductions.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act capped at $10,000 the amount of state and local tax payments that taxpayers could deduct from their federal returns.  In response, a number of state governments enacted or proposed workarounds to find a way to remove the economic pain of the cap.

In the workaround, a state resident could, instead of paying state property taxes, choose to donate to a state-created charitable fund, for example, $40,000. The resident would then get to write off the $40,000 as a charitable donation on his or her federal taxes and receive a state tax credit for some of that donation, easing the burden of the lower write-off for their SALT levy.

The regulations will allow taxpayers to receive a tax write-off equal to the difference between the state tax credits they receive and their charitable donations. That means the taxpayer who makes a $40,000 charitable donation to pay property taxes and receives a $25,000 state tax credit would only be entitled to a charitable write off of $15,000 on his or her federal tax bill.

The Treasury indicated it would continue to evaluate the issue and release further guidance if necessary.

We’ve got your back

With Simon Filip, the Real Estate Tax Guy, on your side, you can focus on your real estate investments while he and his team take care of your accounting and keep you up to speed on the latest tax developments. Contact him at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 today.