Year End Tax Strategies and Considerations for 2018
Recapping Business Tax Provisions for 2018, here’s what business owners need to know about tax changes for 2018:
Standard Mileage Rates
The standard mileage rate in 2018 is 54.5 cents per business mile driven.
Health Care Tax Credit for Small Businesses
Small business employers who pay at least half the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit as long as they employ fewer than the equivalent of 25 full-time workers and average annual wages do not exceed $50,000 (adjusted annually for inflation). In 2018 this amount is $53,200.
In 2018 (as in 2014-2017), the tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees’ premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers. For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit was 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.
Section 179 Expensing and Depreciation
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Section 179 expense deduction increases to a maximum deduction of $1 million of the first $2,500,000 of qualifying equipment placed in service during the current tax year. The deduction was indexed to inflation after 2018 and enhanced to include improvements to nonresidential qualified real property such as roofs, fire protection, and alarm systems and security systems, and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.
Businesses are allowed to immediately deduct 100% of the cost of eligible property placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023, after which it will be phased downward over a four-year period: 80% in 2023, 60% in 2024, 40% in 2025, and 20% in 2026. The standard business depreciation amount is 25 cents per mile (same as 2017).
Please call if you have any questions about Section 179 expensing and the bonus depreciation.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
Extended through 2019, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit remained under tax reform and can be used by employers who hire long-term unemployed individuals (unemployed for 27 weeks or more). It is generally equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to a new hire. Please call if you have any questions about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
SIMPLE IRA Plan Contributions
Contribution limits for SIMPLE IRA plans increased to $12,500 for persons under age 50 and $15,500 for persons age 50 or older in 2018. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions is $275,000.
Please contact us if you would like more information about these and other tax deductions and credits to which you are entitled.
Avoid these Five Common Budgeting Errors
When it comes to creating a budget, it’s essential to estimate your spending as realistically as possible. Here are five budget-related errors commonly made by small businesses and some tips for avoiding them.
- Not Setting Goals. It’s almost impossible to set spending priorities without clear goals for the coming year. It’s important to identify, in detail, your business and financial goals and what you want to achieve in your business.
- Underestimating Costs. Every business has ancillary or incidental costs that don’t always make it into the budget. A good example of this is buying a new piece of equipment or software. While you probably accounted for the cost of the equipment in your budget, you might not have remembered to budget time and money needed to train staff or for equipment maintenance.
- Forgetting about Tax Obligations. While your financial statements may seem adequate, don’t forget to set aside enough money for tax (e.g., payroll and sales and use taxes) owed to state, local, and federal entities. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is “money in the bank” and use it to pay for expenses you can’t afford or worse, including it in next year’s budget and later finding out that you don’t have the cash to pay for your tax obligations.
- Assuming Revenue Equals Positive Cash Flow. Revenue on the books doesn’t always equate to cash in hand. Just because you’ve closed the deal, it may be a long time before you are paid for your services and the money is in your bank account. Easier said than done, perhaps, but don’t spend money that you don’t have.
- Failing to Adjust Your Budget. Don’t be afraid to update your forecasted expenditures whenever new circumstances affect your business. Several times a year you should set aside time to compare budget estimates against the amount you spent, and then adjust your budget accordingly.
Please call if you need assistance in setting up a budget to meet your business financial goals.
Eight Tax Breaks for Parents
If you have children, you may be able to reduce your tax bill using these tax credits and deductions.
- Child Tax Credit: You may be able to take this credit on your tax return for each of your children under age 17. Qualifying dependents must have a valid Social Security Number. This credit is refundable, which means you may a refund even if you don’t owe any tax.
- Credit for Other Dependents: This is a new tax credit under tax reform and is available for dependents for whom taxpayers cannot claim the Child Tax Credit. These dependents may include dependent children who are age 17 or older at the end of 2018 or parents or other qualifying relatives supported by the taxpayer. This credit is nonrefundable.
- Child and Dependent Care Credit: You may be able to claim this credit if you pay someone to care for your child under age 13 while you work or look for work. To claim this credit you will need to accurately track your child care expenses.
- Earned Income Tax Credit: The EITC is a benefit for certain people who work and have earned income from wages, self-employment, or farming. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund.
- Adoption Credit: You may be able to take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt a child.
- Coverdell Education Savings Account: This savings account is used to pay qualified expenses at an eligible educational institution, which starting in 2018, includes primary and secondary schools as well as colleges and vocational schools. Contributions are not deductible; however, qualified distributions generally are tax-free.
- Higher Education Tax Credits: Education tax credits can help offset the costs of education. The American Opportunity and the Lifetime Learning Credits are education tax credits that reduce your federal income tax dollar for dollar, unlike a deduction, which reduces your taxable income.
- Student Loan Interest: You may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income, so you do not need to itemize your deductions.
As you can see, having children can impact your tax situation in multiple ways. Make sure that you’re taking advantage of credits and deductions you’re entitled to by speaking to a tax professional today.
Tax Transcript Email Scam Alert
Taxpayers should be aware of a new round of fraudulent emails that impersonate the IRS and use tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malware. The scam is especially problematic for businesses whose employees might open the emails infected with malware as it can spread throughout the network and may take months to remove.
This well-known malware, which is called Emotet, typ[ically tricks people into opening infected documents by posing as specific banks and financial institutions. However, in the past few weeks, the scam has masqueraded as the IRS, pretending to be from “IRS Online.” Many of these malicious Emotet emails were recently forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The scam email carries an attachment labeled “Tax Account Transcript” or something similar, and the subject line uses some variation of the phrase “tax transcript.” The exact wording often changes with each version of the malware.
Taxpayers should remember that the IRS does not send unsolicited emails to the public, nor would it email a sensitive document such as a tax transcript (a summary of a tax return). Taxpayers receiving a suspicious email are urged not to open the email or the attachment. If using a personal computer, delete or forward the scam email to email@example.com. If you see these types of emails when using an employer’s computer, notify your company’s internet technology (IT) department immediately.
In July, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a warning in July about earlier versions of the Emotet, which it has called one of the most costly and destructive malware affecting the private and public sectors.
Transition Rule for Rehabilitation Tax Credit
The Rehabilitation Tax Credit offers an incentive for owners to renovate and restore old or historic buildings. Tax reform legislation passed in December 2017 changed when the credit is claimed and provides a transition rule, which is summarized below:
1. The credit is 20 percent of the taxpayer’s qualifying costs for rehabilitating a building.
2. The credit doesn’t apply to the money spent on buying the structure.
3. The legislation now requires taxpayers take the 20 percent credit spread out over five years beginning in the year they placed the building into service.
4. The law eliminates the 10 percent rehabilitation credit for pre-1936 buildings.
5. A transition rule provides relief to owners of either a certified historic structure or a pre-1936 building by allowing owners to use the prior law if the project meets these conditions:
- The taxpayer owned or leased the building on January 1, 2018, and the taxpayer continues to own or lease the building after that date.
- The 24 or 60-month period selected by the taxpayer for the substantial rehabilitation test begins by June 20, 2018.
6. Taxpayers should use Form 3468, Investment Credit, to claim the rehabilitation tax credit in addition to a variety of other investment credits.
Please call if you have any questions about this tax credit.
Tax Planning for 2019
Retirement Contributions Limits Announced for 2019
Dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for 2019 are as follows:
In general, income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs, and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2019. The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan also increases from $18,500 to $19,000. Contribution limits for SIMPLE retirement accounts for self-employed persons increase in 2019 as well – from $12,500 to $13,000.
The limit on annual contributions to an IRA increases from $5,500 to $6,000. The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.
Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions; however, if during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. If a retirement plan at work covers neither the taxpayer nor their spouse, the phase-out amounts of the deduction do not apply.
Here are the phase-out ranges for 2019:
- For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $64,000 to $74,000, up from $63,000 to $73,000.
- For married couples filing jointly, where a workplace retirement plan covers the spouse making the IRA contribution, the phase-out range is $103,000 to $123,000, up from $101,000 to $121,000.
- For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $193,000 and $203,000, up from $189,000 and $199,000.
- For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $122,000 to $137,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $120,000 to $135,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $193,000 to $203,000, up from $189,000 to $199,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
The income limit for the Saver’s Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $64,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $63,000; $48,000 for heads of household, up from $47,250; and $32,000 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $31,500.
Limitations that remain unchanged from 2018
- The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $6,000.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about retirement plan contributions or any other year end considerations.