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Yikes! You Have a Large Refund

Posted on May 10th, 2021

Good News That Is Sometimes Not So Good

For some reason, some believe it is better to receive than give when it comes to filing taxes. While that may help your savings account, it is not always a great idea. Here’s why.

You are giving the IRS an interest-free loan. Granted, interest rates are pretty low, but every dollar you earn money on, is one more dollar of yours and one less of Uncle Sam’s.

Debt costs a lot. While interest on savings is low, the same is not necessarily true for credit card and other forms of debt. Why not lower your withholdings throughout the year and use the extra money to pay down your debt?

IRS identity theft is common. The longer you have your money in the hands of the IRS, the higher the chance some unsavory character is going to try to get it for themselves. Should this happen to you, the IRS will fix the problem…eventually. In the meantime, there is paperwork and tons of hurdles to overcome while your refund is delayed.

You could fund something else. Instead of money being parked at the IRS, you could be investing in your retirement or funding a Health Savings Account to pay for medical expenses in pre-tax dollars! So in addition to saving money in interest, you could actually be lowering your tax bill!

Let’s face it. Sometimes knowing you get a refund versus a tax bill is less stressful. But, for the savvy taxpayer you can accomplish both!

Contact our office at 904-351-0195 if you would like to make an appointment or have any questions.


Defending Fair Market Value

Posted on May 3rd, 2021

Fair market value (FMV) is the price that property would sell for on the open market. It is the price that would be agreed on between a willing buyer and a willing seller, with neither being required to act, and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.

Source: IRS Publication 561

This is the standard the IRS uses to determine if an item sold or donated by you is valued correctly for income tax purposes. It is a definition that is open to interpretation and if the IRS decides your FMV opinion is wrong, you are not only subject to more taxes, but also penalties to boot.

Here are some tips to help defend your FMV in case of an audit.

Understand When It Is Used

FMV is used whenever an item is bought, sold, or donated that has tax consequences. The most common examples are:

  • Buying or selling your home or other real estate
  • Buying or selling personal property
  • Buying or selling business property
  • Establishing values of other business assets like inventory
  • Valuing charitable donations of personal goods and property like automobiles
  • Valuing bartering of services
  • Valuing transfer of business ownership
  • Valuing the assets in an estate of a deceased taxpayer

Ideas to Defend Your FMV Determination

To help defend your FMV determinations, consider the following:

  • Properly document donations.
  • Donate capital items like automobiles to the correct places. 
  • Get an appraisal. 
  • Keep copies of similar items and transactions. 
  • Take photos. 
  • Keep good records. 

With proper planning, establishing the fair market value of an item sold or donated can be done in a way that can be defended against a challenge from the IRS.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call at 904-351-0195.


Oops! I Wish I Knew That.

Posted on April 26th, 2021

Couple at computer

Six tax topics that seem innocent but can cause problems if not handled correctly.

1. Gambling winnings. If you receive a tax form at a casino for your winnings, that information is sent to the tax authorities. Since the form typically only contains the amount you won, save copies and records of any gambling losses.

2. Maturing CDs. Be careful with maturing CD’s in a retirement account that are rolled over into new CDs. Your financial institution may provide you with tax forms showing the distribution, but not the rollover. You will need to account for this on your tax return. In this case, there is not a taxable event, but the IRS may think there is!

3. Retirement distributions. Make note of any distributions from your retirement accounts and note the type of account. You should receive informational 1099’s for the distributions. Depending on your age and the type of retirement account, a number of tax surprises could occur if not properly recorded. This includes early withdrawal penalties, potential required minimum distribution penalties, and income tax on the withdrawals. Remember that required minimum distributions are not required in 2020. The early withdrawal penalty is also waived in 2020.

4. Gifts over $15,000. If you provide gifts in excess of $15,000 ($30,000 for a couple) to any one person during the year, you must fill out a gift tax return.

5. Contemporaneous documentation. The time to put together proper documentation to support your deductions is when the activity takes place. For example, if you misplace a receipt for a charitable donation, you can go back to the organization and ask for a copy of the “old receipt,” but a new receipt to replace the one you lost is not valid documentation. Common areas where this is important are charitable contributions, mileage logs, and other itemized deductions.

6. Unemployment income. Unless specifically excluded by the federal government, unemployment income is taxable. Many taxpayers become surprised by an unwanted tax bill if federal withholdings are not taken out of these payments.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your tax situation please feel free to call at 904-351-0195.


Businesses Get More Time to Apply For PPP Loans

Posted on April 20th, 2021

Legislation Provides Other Business Relief Provisions

Here’s what you need to know about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and other business relief provisions of the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act.

PPP loan application deadline extended. The deadline to apply for PPP loans is now May 31, 2021.

Big increase in Employee Retention Credit.

  • Businesses can get up to a $28,000 tax credit per employee in 2021, up from a $5,000 maximum credit in 2020. This credit can be claimed through Dec. 31, 2021.

Sick leave extended. If your business provides sick leave for COVID-related reasons, you might get reimbursed for the sick pay through a tax credit.

  • Businesses which voluntarily provide sick leave through September 30, 2021 qualify for the credit. There are limits for each employee. However, for employees who took 10 days of sick leave in 2020 using this same provision, they can take another 10 days beginning April 1, 2021.
  • Refundable tax credits are available through September 30, 2021.
  • Covered reasons to get the tax credit now include sick leave taken to get COVID testing and vaccination, and to recover from the vaccination.
  • These benefits are also extended to self-employed workers.

Family Medical Leave Act Provisions extended.

  • Additional coverage is now available through September 30, 2021.
  • Qualified wages for this provision move to $12,000 (up from $10,000) however the credit was not increased.
  • The Family Medical Leave Act also applies to the self-employed.

There are many more provisions in the close to $2 trillion dollar spending package, including money given to states. As everyone digests this new 500-plus page piece of legislation, more clarifications will be forthcoming from the IRS and other sources.

Contact our office at 904-351-0195 if you would like to make an appointment or have any questions.


The $24,000 Tax Time Bomb

Posted on April 12th, 2021

A Terrible Tax Surprise Everyone Should Know

What follows is a true story. A story with a sad ending, but one that has a lesson for everyone. Stick with the story, with a high degree of certainty you probably know someone in this exact situation.

The Ingredients

Back in the 1970s, U.S. Savings Bonds were a popular savings alternative. Grand parents purchased them for kid’s college. Many used them to build funds for retirement. Even better, you paid ½ the face value and later (usually 20 years) the bonds matured at twice what you paid for them. So a $1,000 investment yielded $2,000 when it reached maturity. In our case, this tax bomb had the following ingredients:

  • Converted old Series E savings bonds with deferred interest;
  • Series HH savings bonds with annual taxable interest;
  • Owning un-cashed savings bonds that no longer earn interest;
  • Little help from the bank; and
  • Confusing information from federal tax authorities about impending tax obligations.

The Bomb Is Set

Joe purchased Series E saving bonds each year in the 1970s. With half down and promise of double value upon maturity, Joe amassed a nice $140,000 retirement fund. After 20 years the bonds matured. Joe did not yet need the money, so he converted them to Series H savings bonds. This effectively deferred the interest income on the Series E bonds since the bonds were not cashed.

With the new Series H savings bonds, Joe paid federal income tax each year on the interest earned. Meanwhile the taxable interest from the series E bonds continued to be deferred.

The result? Joe thought he was paying tax on the interest each year…BUT there was a sleeping tax bill on interest of $70,000 just waiting until Joe cashed in his series H bonds!

The Bomb Explodes

Joe received word that his series H bonds would no longer pay interest. So he tells his grandson to go to a bank and cash in the bonds. Heck, why have bonds that no longer pay interest? And…it’s no big tax deal because he has been paying tax on his Series H bond interest each year. The grandson has financial power of attorney so he does as his grandfather asks. Surprise! He receives a notice from the IRS saying he owes them $24,000! This includes plenty of penalties and tax.

Lessons for All of Us

  • Never disregard 1099s or printed details. When the grandson cashed the bonds, if he looked closely on the face of the bonds, he may have noticed the deferred interest. But it would contradict what grandpa had told him. Further, his grandpa probably received a Form 1099 that was disregarded because he believed he was already paying the tax.
  • Old savings bonds can be confusing. There are many different issues and flavors of savings bonds. When you see any uncashed bonds, conduct the necessary research to understand your potential obligations. This is especially true for bonds past their maturity date.
  • Ask before you sell. Always understand the tax consequences BEFORE you sell any property. Even the most innocent of transactions can have their own tax time bomb. So call an expert before you buy or sell.
  • Tax planning matters. While Joe would always owe federal income tax when he cashed the bonds, he could have reduced his effective tax rate by cashing them over time instead of all in one year. In this case, it exposed a lot of income to a much higher tax rate. He could have saved over $10,000 in tax with a little planning!

Because neither the bank nor federal taxing authorities believe it is part of their duty to help you make knowledgeable tax decisions, you are on your own. This one-way street of knowledge makes having an expert on your side more important than ever!

Please contact us if you have any tax questions and would like to schedule an appointment.


Get Your Contractor or Employee Classification Right

Posted on April 5th, 2021

Tax challenges can be VERY expensive.

As a small business owner, you may face the issue of whether to classify workers as employees or as independent contractors.

Classifying your workers as independent contractors generally saves you money. That’s because you avoid paying employment taxes and benefits on their behalf.

If the IRS determines that you misclassified your employees as contractors, you could end up paying all of the employment taxes and benefits that would have been paid over the years. Depending on the size of your work force, the cost to your business could be substantial.

In determining whether the person providing a service is an employee or an independent contractor, all information that provides evidence of the degree of control and independence must be considered. There are three primary categories of control and independence that the IRS considers when determining if a worker is a contractor or an employee:

  • Behavioral. Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job? If yes, the worker is an employee.
  • Financial. Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? This includes things like how the worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed and whether the employer provides tools and supplies. If yes, the worker is an employee.
  • Type of relationship. Are there written contracts or employee-type benefits? A written contract does not assure contractor status. The IRS will look to your books for employee type benefits such as a pension plan, insurance, and vacation pay.

Deciding whether a worker is a contractor or employee can get complicated. And remember that there are significant financial consequences for incorrectly classifying a worker. Please call if you have a question about how to classify one or more of your employees.

Contact our office at 904-351-0195 if you have questions or would like to make an appointment.


American Rescue Plan Act

Posted on March 29th, 2021

While the COVID-19 pandemic is finally slowing down, the economic damage that it caused lingers on. In order to relieve the financial burdens facing many taxpayers and accelerate recovery, Congress has passed the American Rescue Plan Act (the Act). The Act is a $1.9 trillion relief package that will affect millions of individuals and businesses.

Two of the Act’s key tax provisions affecting business are as follows:

Modification of Exceptions for Reporting of Third Party Network Transactions

The Act lowers the threshold for the dollar amount of sales that will cause a payment processor to send a Form 1099K to a seller. Previously, the threshold was $20,000 in gross receipts when collected in over 200 transactions. After 2021, that threshold is $600. This means that if you sell online or process cards, you will be receiving a 1099k for your sales amount from each processor. And if you process cards under one company name for several related entities, then the accounting and tax reporting just got complicated.

Preferential Treatment of EIDL and Restaurant Revitalization Grants

The Act provides that these grants are not includible in the recipient’s income on a federal level. State taxation does not follow federal in some states; therefore, you should contact your tax expert for clarification.

Contact our office at 904-351-0195 if you have questions or would like to make an appointment.


Starting a Business Now Could Make a Lot of Sense

Posted on March 22nd, 2021

Entrepreneur

The same factors that we’ve been dealing with for the past 12 months during the pandemic can also create an opportunity if you are considering starting a small business.

Problems Create Opportunity

For one thing, fewer businesses in the marketplace can mean fewer potential competitors. For a start-up company, that can be good news.Also, a slower economy can mean cheaper prices for certain goods and services you’ll need to get up and running. As companies close branch offices, they may be willing to sell office equipment, furniture, electronics, and other items at discounted rates. Commercial property managers have tons of empty space with no rent income. They may be willing to cut you a deal.Skilled labor is also more readily available in a slow or uncertain economy. With today’s employment outlook, skilled workers may be willing to take lower salaries, at least for now. As your business prospers, you may be able to ramp up salaries and offer other benefits.

Some Time-Tested Suggestions

If you’re thinking about starting a small business now while the short-term economic outlook is still slow or uncertain, here are some time-tested suggestions:

  • Start small. Test the market for your product or service without risking too many resources. This could be as simple as a concept test that you share with a few prospective customers. Or it might be creating a pop-up restaurant with pick-up or delivery only. Not only does this approach take less money, it also develops a proven business model you can then present to bankers to possibly obtain more funding when you wish to expand. So consider taking it slow and letting it build.
  • Under promise and over deliver. With customers hard to come by in some industries, consider wowing your customers even more than you normally do to try and quickly gain their loyalty. Remember, success is not always defined by what you do or make, but how well you do it!
  • Seek advice. Find other small business owners and pick their brains for suggestions about overcoming obstacles, keeping the business focused, and prospering during hard times.
  • Look for jump starts. Sometimes there is a similar business that could use your help or is willing to sell at a reasonable price. Starting out with a book of business and systems already in place can save a substantial amount of time and money.
  • Create a plan. Start with a feasibility study of your idea and then translate that into a well-developed introductory plan. This review and road map will help you succeed when starting your business.
  • Build a team. Successful businesses have great accountants, legal advisors, and trusted suppliers. Start networking to build your team. You’ll need your team both in the short-term as you start your business and in the long-term as you look to grow your business.

    Please call if you’d like additional suggestions for getting your business started.


When “Family” Is More Than Family

Posted on March 15th, 2021

Did you know that hiring your family members in your business could affect your upcoming tax plans? For instance, if your children are your employees, then they may induce a minimal amount of income tax. Spouses, siblings, and further family members have unique tax laws regarding their employment as well. Our firm can help you understand the benefits and costs of using family members as employees and give you the best chance of financial success.

Please feel free to call us at 904-351-0195 to schedule a conference.


Organizing for Success

Posted on March 8th, 2021

Binders

Organizing and documenting your business transactions is a key element to success. Without proper policies, procedures, and tax planning, your business could be blindsided by unforeseen IRS liabilities. Conversely, being aware of current tax incentives, practicing proper organization, and ensuring proper record-keeping can all help your business navigate its way to success. Need help keeping everything in order and planning for unforeseen tax hurdles? Contact our office today to set up an appointment.


You’ve Got Mail!

Posted on March 1st, 2021

Mail

Notice Mailed to Address Shared with Other Businesses Started 30-day Filing Deadline

Do you have upcoming IRS Tax Notice deadlines? If so, you could be affected by a recent tax court action. The Tax Court has held that an IRS Notice of Intent to Levy that was mailed to a taxpayer’s actual (and last known) address by certified mail, return receipt requested, started the running of the 30-day period under Code Sec. 6330(a)(2).

Multiple businesses shared the taxpayer’s address. The USPS carrier left the notice at that address with a person who was neither the taxpayer’s employee nor authorized to receive mail on the taxpayer’s behalf. This is a simple reminder that, obviously, Certified Mail from the IRS should never be ignored, regardless of the situation.


Pandemic & Unexpected Taxes

Posted on February 22nd, 2021

The recent pandemic has changed many aspects of our daily lives. But it is not just your schedule that Covid-19 might be changing! For instance, you may find yourself with unusual profits and losses, as well as new and unusual taxes regarding unemployment and side jobs. We are prepared to help you navigate these changes to ensure you don’t receive any unfortunate tax surprises.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your tax situation please feel free to call at 904-351-0195.


C Corp Confusion

Posted on February 15th, 2021

Recent Tax Court Claims Payments to Shareholders
Were Not Deductible Management Fees

It is always important to optimize your tax planning to achieve maximum success. Recent tax court actions, however, may throw your tax planning for a loop. The Tax Court has recently decided that a C corporation was not entitled to deductions for management fees paid to its three shareholders because the payments were disguised distributions. The court noted that the corporation never paid dividends to its shareholders. Even more so, it presented no evidence showing that an independent investor would have been satisfied with investment returns after shareholder compensation. Don’t find yourself caught in a similar situation! Your tax planning should be reviewed and, if necessary, updated accordingly. Contact our office to set up an appointment today.

Call us at: 904-351-0195


Seven Tips For Financial Wellness In 2021

Posted on February 8th, 2021

Financial Wellness

Common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight or become more active. Perhaps 2021 is the year to shift focus. Here are seven tips to help you become more financially fit.

  • Create a budget. It’s easy to get into financial trouble if you spend more than you earn. By watching your budget more carefully, you might be surprised by how much you spend in certain areas of your life. Many banks and credit unions offer budgeting tools directly on their websites.
  • Get a free credit report. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every 12 months. Reviewing your reports regularly can help ensure the data in your report is accurate and allows you to contact creditors to dispute any errors.
  • Pay down debt. Start chipping away at your debts through a series of regular payments. Begin with bills that have the highest interest rates. Research whether it makes sense to consolidate debts at a more reasonable interest rate.
  • Review your investments. With recent changes in Washington, D.C. and market volatility, reviewing your investments is more important than ever. Protect yourself against risks by diversifying across different classes of investments. If you have not developed an asset allocation plan, do so. If you have, adjust your portfolio to ensure it is still meeting your objectives.
  • Plan ahead for retirement. Take advantage of tax-favored retirement plans such as a 401(k) at work. Both the contributions and earnings are tax-deferred and can compound over time. The 401(k) limit for 2021 is $19,500 ($26,000 if you’re age 50 or over). Also consider contributing to an IRA, which has a contribution limit of $6,000 ($7,000 if you’re age 50 or older).
  • Check your insurance coverage. Things can change over time, so don’t assume the coverage you acquired years ago still provides adequate protection for your family or business. Take a look at your policies to determine if adjustments are needed.
  • Save for emergencies. And finally, would you be financially prepared if your business failed or you lost your job? The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us the importance of establishing an emergency fund that can last for several months if you lost your salary or business revenue dramatically declines.

Acting on all these tips may seem a bit overwhelming. By focusing on a few now, before you know it, your financial wellness will improve over time.


2021 Retirement Plan Limits

Posted on January 25th, 2021

As part of your 2021 tax planning, now is the time to review funding your retirement accounts. By establishing your contribution goals at the beginning of each year, the financial impact of saving for your future should be more manageable. Here are annual contribution limits for 2021:

Take Action

If you have not already done so, please consider:

  • Reviewing and adjusting your periodic contributions to your retirement savings accounts to take full advantage of the tax advantaged limits
  • Setting up new accounts for a spouse or dependent(s)
  • Using this time to review the status of your retirement plan
  • Reviewing contributions to other tax-advantaged plans including flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts

For any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us at 904-351-0195.


PPP Loan Expenses Are Now Tax Deductible

Posted on January 18th, 2021

PPP Loan Expenses

If you or your business received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the recently passed Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 will help to dramatically cut your tax bill. Here’s what you need to know.

Background

The PPP program was created by the CARES Act in March 2020 to help businesses which were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualified businesses could apply for and receive loans of up to $10 million. Loan proceeds could be used to pay for certain expenses incurred by a business, including salaries and wages, other employee benefits, rent and utilities.

If the business used at least 60% of loan proceeds towards payroll expenses, the entire amount of the loan would be forgiven.

The Dilemma

While the CARES Act spelled out that a business’s forgiven PPP loan would not be considered taxable income, the legislation was silent about how to treat expenses paid for using PPP loan proceeds if the loan was ultimately forgiven.

Congress intended for these expenses to be deductible for federal tax purposes. But since the legislation was silent on this issue, the IRS swooped in and deemed these expenses to be nondeductible.

There was considerable debate over the latter half of 2020, with Congressional politicians explaining that their intent was that the expenses be deductible and the IRS responding “Too bad, they’re nondeductible.”

The Solution

Congress overruled the IRS’s position in the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020. The legislation officially makes deductible for federal tax purposes all expenses paid for using proceeds from a forgiven PPP loan.

Stay tuned for updates as to how this new legislation affects your business.


Make Preparations for Form 1099s This Year

Posted on January 11th, 2021

Deadline for filing new Form 1099-NEC is February 1, 2021!

Here are three tasks to consider that will make meeting your business’s information reporting requirements less stressful this tax season.

  • Review your general ledger. Even if you’ve already identified 1099 vendors in your payables system, review current year expenses to make sure no new or infrequent payments have been overlooked. For example, it’s easy to forget that fees totaling $600 or more paid to service providers must be reported on a Form 1099. But be careful! There is a new form this year, Form 1099-NEC. Be sure to know whether you should use the existing Form 1099-MISC or the new Form 1099-NEC.
  • Verify vendor information. Check your files for up-to-date Forms W-9, the form you use to request a vendor’s federal taxpayer identification number (TIN). In general, you should have Form W-9 on file for each vendor who provides services, even if the transaction is a one-time event. Why? Filing mismatched 1099 forms – where the combination of name and TIN do not match IRS records – will result in a notice, and possibly penalties. To avoid problems, consider signing up for the TIN Matching Program, an online service run by the IRS, so you can verify identification numbers prior to filing 1099s.
  • Order forms. If you plan to file paper forms this year, the copy you mail to the IRS must be on forms preprinted with scan-friendly ink. You’ll also need Form 1096, the annual summary, for each type of information return you file.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your tax situation please feel free to call at 904-351-0195.


A Happy Banker Makes for a Happy Business

Posted on January 4th, 2021

With the onset of COVID-19, small business banks are more nervous about potential loan losses than ever. Here are several tips for your business to maintain a great working relationship with your lender. These same tips can also be used if you want to plant seeds with your banker for potential future loans.

  • Produce timely financial statements. Your lender may require you to produce financial statements over the duration of your loans to ensure that you have enough cash to make consistent, on-time payments. Strive to produce up-to-date financial statements and send them to your bank before they ask for them. Not only will timely financial statements make your lenders happy, the pro-active nature of your financials will show a level of transparency to them. Be prepared to include a note explaining major changes and schedule regular phone calls to go over the business.
  • Implement solid internal controls. How does a lender have faith that the dollar amounts on your financial statements are accurate? By properly implementing internal controls. You’ll have a happy banker if your company can provide evidence that your internal controls are operating properly.
  • Communicate. If your business encounters turbulent financial waters, the best thing to do is immediately let your lender know about it. Better yet, by keeping in constant communication, your lender will most likely be able to spot if your business starts experiencing a downturn and will try devising a plan before you begin missing payment deadlines.

Remember your banker probably has their hands full right now. These tips allow them to spend more time on their problem loans, and one of them will not be yours.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 904-351-0195.


Using Depreciation to Control a Loan Forgiveness Tax Surprise

Posted on December 28th, 2020

Depreciation for Loan Forgiveness

Bonus depreciation and Section 179 expense can be a valuable tool to help you manage your business’ profit margin this year. Here are some thoughts to consider.

The Problem

Many businesses struggling during the pandemic took out Small Business Association Payroll Protection Program loans (SBA PPP loans). The SBA’s willingness to forgive these loans is now creating a potential tax obligation. This is because the expenses used to offset this loan can no longer be deducted from the business.

So the loan forgiveness could create an unexpected taxable event.

A Possible Solution

Instead of paying some of the loan back to cover the tax created by the loan forgiveness, consider investing some of the funds in necessary capital purchases. You could then use special depreciation rules to manage your tax obligation. This can be done by using:

  • Bonus depreciation. For assets that you purchase during the current fiscal year, you can deduct 100% of an asset’s cost using bonus depreciation. You can use this option to expense 100% of an asset’s cost using bonus depreciation this year.

    Note: This bonus depreciation is 100% in 2020 and 2021. After that the bonus depreciation amount phases out through 2025.
  • Section 179 depreciation. Section 179 depreciation works similarly to using bonus depreciation, as you can deduct 100% of an asset’s cost that you purchase and place in service during the current year. You can deduct up to $1.04 million of qualified Section 179 purchases in 2020.

The Downside

Whenever you use these special tax rules, you will lose the ability to take this depreciation for these capital purchases in future years, so some tax planning is required. But at least you will be able to use some of the forgiven loan proceeds to help your business, versus paying it back in the way of additional tax.

Even worse, recent IRS notices suggest the PPP loan forgiveness needs to be reflected in this year’s tax return, so you have little time if you wish to take advantage of bonus depreciation and Section 179 this tax year. To consider this option, you will need to select qualified assets and ensure they are placed in service before the end of your tax year. But if used correctly, depreciation can be used to offset business income and lower your taxes. Please call if you want to discuss your situation.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your tax situation please feel free to call at 904-351-0195.


Turn Your Home Office Into a Tax Deduction

Posted on December 21st, 2020

If you are working from home for the first time in 2020, you may be wondering if your home office is tax deductible. The bad news? If you’re working from home for an employer, you normally can’t deduct your home office expenses.

Here’s a quick look at the basic requirements to be able to deduct your home office expenses, along with some suggestions for how to qualify for the deduction if you’re currently working for your company as an employee.

The Basics

There are two requirements for having a tax-deductible home office:

  • Your home office is only used for business purposes. Your home office must be used exclusively for operating your business. It can’t double as the family media center or living room. To meet this requirement, set up your office in a separate area of your house. Then if you get audited by the IRS, there is no doubt that your office is used exclusively for business purposes.
  • Your home office is your primary place of business. You need to demonstrate that your home office is the primary place you conduct your business. The IRS has clarified that you can meet clients and conduct meetings at separate office locations, but your home office must be the only location where your administrative work is completed. So if you meet with clients or work on any part of your business away from your home office, keep a journal of each specific activity undertaken and describe how it doesn’t violate the primary place-of-business rule.

Looking at these two criteria, everyone that is now required to work from home probably meets both qualifications. If you’re a W-2 employee, however, you can’t deduct your home office expenses on your tax return.

Solving the Problem

Here are three options for solving your problem of being a W-2 employee and qualifying to deduct your home office expenses on your tax return.

  • Become an independent contractor. The easiest way to deduct your home office expenses is by switching from being an employee to an independent contractor. With a number of firms cutting pay and hours due to the pandemic, it may be worth exploring. There’s a big warning label if you go this route, however. You will need to account for lost benefits such as health insurance, and the additional cost of self-employment taxes. If you can meet the IRS requirements for becoming an independent contractor, it may be worth doing the math and considering all the deductions your home office may make available to you.
  • Start a side business. If becoming an independent contractor for your current employer isn’t an option, consider starting a side business. You can deduct all business-related expenses on your tax return, including your home office expenses. If you go this route, ensure your home office is in a different location in your home than your other work space.
  • Consider your entire household. Even if you don’t qualify for the home office deduction, maybe someone else living in your home does qualify. So look into your options to see if a family member can take advantage of the home office deduction.

What if none of these options for deducting home office expenses are feasible for you? While you won’t be able to deduct your home office expenses on your tax return, you may still be able to end up financially ahead with the help of your employer.

Get Reimbursed by Your Company

There’s no question you are picking up some of the expense of your home office with added electrical, heating, telephone, internet and other expenses. One way companies are solving this is by allowing employees to submit valid expense reports to cover some of these extra costs. They do this by setting up an accountable plan. With financial pressures on businesses, this might be a tough subject to broach, but if the system is already in place you may be able to find a way to get some of your home office expense reimbursed.

So if you’re stuck working as a W-2 employee, look into whether your employer offers reimbursement for home office expenses.

Figuring out how to properly deduct your home office or get reimbursed by your employer can be a lot more complicated than it appears. If you need help, please call us at 904-351-0195.


Common IRS Surprises

Posted on December 14th, 2020

Common IRS Surprises

No one likes surprises from the IRS, but they do occasionally happen. Here are some examples of unpleasant tax situations you could find yourself in and what to do about them.

  • An expected refund turns into a tax payment. Nothing may be more deflating than expecting to get a nice tax refund and instead being met with the reality that you actually owe the IRS more money.

    What you can do: Run an estimated tax return and see if you may be in for a surprise. If so, adjust how much federal income tax is withheld from your paycheck for the balance of the year. Consult with your company’s human resources department to figure out how to make the necessary adjustments for the future. If you’re self-employed, examine if you need to increase your estimated tax payments due in January, April, June and September.
  • Getting a letter from the IRS. Official tax forms such as W-2s and 1099s are mailed to both you and the IRS. If the figures on your income tax return do not match those in the hands of the IRS, you will get a letter from the IRS saying that you’re being audited. These audits are now done by mail and are commonly known as correspondence audits. The IRS assumes their figures are correct and will demand payment for the taxes you owe on the amount of income you omitted on your tax return.

    What you can do: Assuming you already know you received all your 1099s and W-2s and confirmed their accuracy, verify the information in the IRS letter with your records. Believe it or not, the IRS sometimes makes mistakes! It is always best to ask for help in how to correspond and make your payments in a timely fashion if they are justified.
  • Getting a tax bill for an emergency retirement distribution. Due to the pandemic, you can withdraw money from retirement accounts in 2020 without getting a 10% early withdrawal penalty, but you’ll still have to pay income taxes on the amount withdrawn. If you don’t plan for this extra tax you will be surprised with an additional tax bill. You may still get an underpayment penalty bill from the IRS because you did not withhold enough during the year. You may also still receive an early withdrawal penalty in error because the IRS is still scrambling to update their systems with all of this year’s tax relief changes.

    What you can do: Set aside a percentage of your distribution for taxes. Your account administrator may withhold funds automatically for you when you request the withdrawal, so check your statements. Your review should be for both federal and any state tax obligations. If the withholding is not sufficient, consider sending in an estimated tax payment. If you are charged a withdrawal penalty, ask for help to correspond with the IRS to get this charge reversed.

No one likes surprises when filing their taxes. With a little planning now, you can reduce the chance of having a surprise hit your tax return later.

If you have any questions please call our office at 904-351-0195.


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M Disbrow CPA Blog

© Marilyn M Disbrow CPA 2021, 88 Riberia St - Ste 400, St. Augustine, FL 32084
T: 904-351-0195 Free Case Review F: 904-814-8415 E: M.Disbrow@DisbrowCPA.com

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