The S corporation business structure offers many advantages, including limited liability for owners and no double taxation (at least at the federal level). But not all businesses are eligible, and S corps may not be quite as attractive from a tax perspective as they once were. The C corp tax rate is now only 21%, while the top individual rate is 37%, so double taxation may be less of a concern. On the other hand, S corp owners may benefit from the new qualified business income (QBI) deduction, which can be equal to as much as 20% of QBI. Contact us for details.
If your small business doesn’t have a retirement plan and has 100 or fewer employees, consider a SIMPLE IRA. Offering a retirement plan can provide your business with valuable tax deductions for its contributions and help attract and retain employees. As the name implies, a SIMPLE IRA is easy to set up and maintain. Eligible employees can defer up to $12,500 in 2018 (plus a catch-up of up to $3,000 for those age 50 or older). The deadline for setting one up for this year is Oct. 1, 2018. Contact us to learn more about SIMPLE IRAs and other retirement plan options.
The SEC updated its pass-fail model for audit reports last year. Under the revised model, auditors must report critical audit matters (CAMs) that warrant attention from stakeholders. The change goes into effect for audits of fiscal years ending on or after 1) June 30, 2019, for large accelerated filers, and 2) Dec. 15, 2020, for smaller public companies. The Center for Audit Quality recently issued a guide to help auditors identify challenging, subjective or complex matters in the coming fiscal year. Contact us for additional information about CAMs.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) liberalized the eligibility rules for using the cash method of accounting, making this method (which is simpler than the accrual method) available to more businesses. Now the IRS has provided procedures for obtaining automatic consent to change accounting method under the TCJA. If you’re eligible for both methods, consider whether switching would be beneficial. The cash method is typically preferable, but in some cases the accrual method is advantageous. We can help you make this decision and execute the change if appropriate.
Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA can provide tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals in retirement. But conversions are subject to income tax. Before the TCJA, if you discovered a conversion would be too costly tax-wise, you could undo it using a “recharacterization” and avoid the tax hit. Effective with 2018 conversions, the TCJA prohibits recharacterizations. If, however, you converted to a Roth IRA in 2017, you have until Oct. 15, 2018, to undo it. We can help you assess whether to recharacterize a 2017 conversion or execute a 2018 conversion.
A family limited partnership (FLP) can help you enjoy the tax benefits of transferring ownership in your business to the next generation yet allow you to retain control. The value of transferred interests is removed from your taxable estate. Discounts might reduce the value for tax purposes, and you can apply your $15,000 annual gift tax exclusion or $11.18 million lifetime gift tax exemption. There also may be income tax benefits. But to withstand IRS scrutiny, FLPs must, among other things, have a business purpose beyond tax savings. Contact us to learn more.
Investors and lenders beware: What’s undisclosed on a company’s financial statements can be just as significant as the disclosures. Examples of unrecorded liabilities include warranties, pending lawsuits, IRS investigations and an underfunded pension. It’s also important to consider hidden items buried in the assets, such as bad debts or damaged goods in inventory. We can perform an external audit or agreed upon procedures that target specific areas to provide a clearer picture of a company’s financial well-being.
Some common deductions for businesses are meal (generally 50%), vehicle and travel expenses. Deductibility depends on a variety of factors, but proper documentation is one of the most critical. Following some simple steps can help ensure your deductions will pass muster with the IRS. First, keep receipts, canceled checks or similar documentation. Also, track the business purpose of each expense (and don’t wait until year end or an IRS audit). Finally, if you reimburse employees, require them to provide such documentation. Contact us for more information.
Under the TCJA, employees can no longer claim the home office deduction. But if you run a business from your home or are otherwise self-employed, this deduction may still be available to you. You might qualify if part of your home is used exclusively and regularly for administrative or management activities and you don’t have another fixed location where you conduct these activities. You also might qualify if you physically meet with clients/customers there or you use a storage area in your home exclusively and regularly for business. Contact us for details.
Do you still need to worry about the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT)? A repeal had been proposed, but it wasn’t included in the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The act will, however, reduce the number of taxpayers subject to the AMT. Now is a good time to familiarize yourself with the changes and see if there are any steps you can take during the last several months of the year to avoid the AMT or at least minimize any negative consequences. To learn about the TCJA’s impact on the AMT and assessing your AMT risk for 2018, contact us.