Tag Archives: small business

What Have You Gained in the “Lost Years?”

Text Think about tomorrow today on notebook

This is the first of two articles – this first one is more individual-focused; the next will be focused on entrepreneurs (including sole practitioners/independent contractors) and small-business. In that article, I will discuss Pass-Through Entity Tax (PTET) and ways to manage the generous but short-lived Qualified Business Income Deductions (QBID).

But first, let’s look back before we look forward. 

In most of my recent interactions with others, the term “lost years” is becoming a part of our conversation. I must say, the first time I heard it, I was a little taken aback. Why would we define them as lost years?

Despite the added responsibilities, I must say that in the past two years I’ve learned more about the beauty and fragility of our being, i.e., human beings, than all my years combined. I have learned that we need each other more than we can ever fathom. We also need a space for solitude, yet as Amanda Gorman expressed in her poem, The Hill We Climb: “… we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.” Learning to wisely balance/manage time with others and time with self can be enriching to our overall well-being.

The years 2020 and 2021 are not lost years. Sadly, we have lost so many of our loved ones during these years and have seen the health of others deteriorate from the lingering side effects of COVID-19. Yet, even in the chaos, some among us have been transformed. Time did an article titled, “Even if You Feel Like This Was a Lost Year, That Might Not Be True.” In the article, the writer looked back at 2020 and wrote how some survivors of trauma, “found that after time, a significant portion of them report feeling renewed. They have a sense of fresh possibilities in life, an openness to following new pathways.” (You can read the entire article here.)

Moving Along to Taxes

You may have heard this echoed from other tax practitioners — this was one of the longest tax seasons! Most of us, including myself, felt like tax season started in January 2020 and didn’t end until the end of April 2022. Think about it — the IRS was given the task of administering most of the pandemic monetary distributions, and as we all know, whatever sits on the IRS’s shoulders falls into the laps of tax practitioners.

In this article, I will share some big moves made by individuals and their impact:

1. Primary Home Sales: One of my indirect mentors noted that of his 40+ years in business, he saw the most home sales in 2021. For primary home sales – under Code §121, the IRS allows an individual taxpayer to exclude up to $250,000 of profit/gain on a home sale (and up to $500,000 if jointly owned) when certain rules are met. While there are multiple complexities to these rules and some decisions may lead to losing all or part of the exemption, in its simple form these rules are:

a. They must have owned the home for at least two of the last five years;

b. They must have used the home as their principal residence for two of the last five years; and

c. They must have not excluded a gain on a home sale in the last two years.

2. Retirement Withdrawal and its Future Tax Effect: In 2020, a large number of individuals took money from their retirement savings and chose to have the taxes due on the withdrawal taxed over a 3-year period. While the tax impact was minimal for most in 2020 – the impact on the portion allocated for 2021 has propelled some individuals into a higher tax bracket. If you would like to cushion the tax impact for the 2022 allocation, consider replenishing your retirement savings by making tax-deferred contributions.

3. Residency Audits: People who moved during the pandemic appear to be returning “home.” If you are one of the many individuals who claimed to have moved from a state (which was your primary residence before the pandemic) with a personal income tax obligation to a state with no personal income tax obligation, and are considering moving back home, be mindful that this will likely trigger a residency audit. Residency audits are quite complex, and the burden of proof often lies with the taxpayer, which means you are guilty until proven innocent. Having adequate documentation can be crucial to defending your case. Each case is unique, and one size doesn’t fit all in a residency audit. Don’t go it alone.

4. Growth of Personal Savings During the Pandemic: Though most among us have lost a sizeable portion of our income in the last two years, many of us have saved more than in previous years. One notable factor was we spent much less on the “nice to haves,” since we were isolated and had no one to impress. Sincerely, I say this — most of our spending is often to impress others. Another factor that impacted our savings positively was that we eliminated many of those valueless subscriptions that are automatically billed and paid.

5. Amateur/Rookie Investors (Stepping Into the Role of Investment Manager):  Many among us used the time at home testing the various waters as investors and have profited from these trades/sales. However, a vast number of individuals did not set aside money to pay the tax liability on those gains. I have received 1099-B brokerage statements this year with over 200 pages. These statements entail short-term gains and “wash” sales. (A wash sale is triggered when an investor sells or trades a security at a loss, and within 30 days buys another similar security.) Short-term gains do not get favorable capital gain treatment, and wash sale losses are not allowable. 

6. The Will: Yes, you read correctly. At the time I drafted this article, I asked Google’s search engine — What is a Will? Over 14 million responses were generated, telling me that a Will matters. A Will is simply a legal document that states how you want your belongings to be handled and cared for after you pass away. A common misunderstanding about a Will is that if one does not have “heirs” then it is not necessary, but this is not true. If this is your thinking, consider this — many of us have resorted to animals for companionship and friendship and may have placed a higher value on our relationships with them than those with human beings. In our Will, we can choose who and how our companions are to be cared for after we have passed. 

Another reason I believe a Will is a necessary document is that it is a written document that expresses how you would like your remains to be handled. This is a selfless act of kindness. The grieving process is overwhelming to our loved ones, but when we make certain preparations in advance, we demonstrate how much we care for them. While a Will may not protect us from family grievances and bickering, in a Will we can state how we would like our ‘remains’ to be handled and who among our heirs should receive what.

If you would like to work with someone sensitive and caring in these matters, please reach out to me.

In closing, as I looked back at the past two years — for me, they were years of gains. Through 2020 and 2021, I have certainly attended the most wakes/funerals when compared to the last 10 years, yet I feel I have grown more within — more unmasked — less inhibited — more vulnerable and am much freer. I’m sincerely grateful for the meaningful and genuine conversations that were part of this experience. I’m equally grateful for the opportunity to serve others in this privileged capacity, and humbled when I reminisce on the ebbs and flows of this role.

Thank you for allowing me access to you – at times that access may only be a peephole. Other times it could be a window, while still others it is an open door.  Whatever level of access you provide, I am equally grateful for each. I am reminded of a scripture that depicts the loving nature of our Creator as he stands at our doors and knocks, saying:

Here I am — I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” 

May we resolve to let him in and allow him access to our lives. We can start with a small peephole. Only God knows how He will use this access to transform us for His goodness, but He will.

Nadine Riley, CPA
Founder, Masterpiece Accounting Group
Phone: (212) 966-9301
Email: info@mpagroupllc.com

The Masterpiece Accounting Group web, blogs, and articles are not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice. Tax strategies and techniques depend on your specific facts and circumstances. You should implement the information in this newsletter only with the advice of your tax and legal advisors.  

Considering the New Tax Laws, Is Starting a Business the Right Choice for Me?

Considering the New Tax Laws, is Starting a Business the Right Choice for Me? by Nadine Riley{6 minutes to read}  During tax season we are often questioned about starting a small business. However, throughout 2018, the two most asked questions we received were:

  1. I have been freelancing for some time now; do I incorporate or form an LLC?
  2. Since I will lose most or all of my deductions as an employee, I am considering having a conversation with my employer about paying me as an independent contractor rather than as an employee. Do you think this is a wise move?

Continue reading

All Pass-Through Entities: Tax Planning is Imperative This Year

All Pass-Through Entities: Tax Planning is Imperative This Year by Nadine RileyThe focus of this article is to highlight how the owners of pass-through entities are impacted under the new tax rules. Though the intent of the law is to simplify your tax reporting requirement, this has not yet been achieved for businesses with pass-through entity income. Before we get into the details, this year planning is of utmost importance for all pass-through entities.

The most notable change for these entities is the IRC § 199A’s new 20% deduction. The new Qualified Business Income Deduction (QBID) provides an additional 20% deduction off the Qualifying Business Income (QBI). The deduction has a lifespan of eight years (2018 – 2025), and is subject to limitations and adjustments. One such limitation is on a Specified Service Business (SSB), “where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or owners.” In simple terms, if most of the income in the fields of health, law, engineering, architecture, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, etc. is generated based on the skill set of the owners and employees, the business may be an SSB.

Before we continue, it may be worth your while to review the last business article  from April 2018. It contains a vast amount of information on how your 2018 tax reporting will be impacted by the new tax law.

As we proceed, when a new tax rule (statute) is enacted, in theory it may be understandable, but from a practical standpoint, it may be more difficult to fathom on paper. The IRS will be meeting at the end of July to provide further direction on certain areas of the law; in the meantime, there is still a lot we know that will allow us to start planning now.

Where is the pass-through business income coming from?

  • K1 operating income from partnerships (including multi-member LLCs) and S Corporation shareholders.
  • Net Income from sole proprietorships (Schedule Cs include single member LLCs, Schedule E and Schedule F filers who are individuals, estates, or trusts).

Schedule E activity must be a trade or business (including property rentals). It should be noted that some states treat certain rental income as non-business income, in which case some may not qualify for a QBID.

A word of caution to S-Corp owners.

As a reminder, S-Corp owners are required to take a salary (reasonable compensation) from the company. The principle behind this is that most other entries with pass-through income are subject to the 15.3% Self Employment tax (SE), which creates an unfair advantage. The IRS requires that the owners/officers of the S-Corp take a reasonable salary from the profit of the business before distributing it to the shareholders. The wages an S-Corp owner takes do not qualify for the QBID, only what remains. (The word among tax professionals is that reasonable compensation may be an area of increased audits from the IRS.)

An article written by Toni Nitti a few years ago (yet still relevant) depicts this well. Read it here.

Another concern is that a large number of S-Corp’s are not making much profit.

How will this new deduction affect my overall tax reporting?

Here is a list of some of the areas to which QBID does not apply:

  • QBID does not reduce the 15.3% Self Employment Income tax liability.
  • QBID does not reduce Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) is investment income tax on capital gains, non-business interest, dividends, etc.
  • QBID does not increase your business Net Operating Loss (NOL).
  • QBID does not reduce your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

What are some of the limitations of the QBID?

  • The income threshold for SSB(s) is simpler:

Most pass-through entity income is coming from an SSB and an income threshold limitation applies. If you file a joint return, your spouse’s income could limit or eliminate the 20% business deduction.

Additionally, your other income (such as investment income) could also affect your ability to take advantage of the QBID. As noted in the last article, personal taxable income exceeding $315,000 married/ $157,500 single may limit your ability to take the deduction. If your taxable income is $415,000 married/$207,500 single, you could basically lose the deduction altogether.

  • The more complex restrictions and adjustments are to the non-SSB(s):

These are other caps that could affect those businesses that are non-SSB. These caps revolve around wages and depreciable business properties. Those will not be discussed in this article due to the complexity and its uniqueness from business to business.  

Long before the law was enacted, the questions were coming in; here are three (3) of the most frequently asked questions we have received from our clients and others.

  • What business is best for me? Do I give up my S-Corp status and go back to a C-Corp?

While this question is best answered on a per taxpayer basis, here’s what I want you to understand: C-Corporation income that is distributed to the owner is double taxed. (To read full answer, click here.)

  • I am an independent contractor; do I form an LLC or S-Corp?

My response would be yes since I am looking beyond a tax viewpoint, however, let’s first make a correction. S-Corp is not a legal entity; it’s simply a tax election that the company makes. Before making a decision to form a company, consider the cost to form or organize a legal entity, to maintain and don’t forget the NYC publishing requirement, that is an added cost.

Please keep in mind that proper books and record should be maintained for the company. You should consider using the service of an accountant to track the financial stability of the company.

If you are interested in forming a legal entity, we can help you to form one that is right
for you and assist you with your accounting needs, so please contact us. (To read full answer, click here.)

  • I get a W-2 from my employer, however my role is one like that of an independent contractor, I pay my own health insurance and take care of my own job expenses.

The response to this question is not clear-cut. Some industries require that you are classified as an employee. I would first ask that you evaluate your role with your employer and if you strongly believe you are an independent contractor, consider forming a legal entity. (To read full answer, click here.)

Here is our two cents about each tax status!

C-Corps are great if they are profitable and you are an employee of the corporation. The company can pay for your health insurance, retirement matching, profit-sharing, reimburse you for tuition, and a plethora of other benefits, if they can afford it. There is also a great death benefit. Consider the long-term impact, and if you plan to take the company public in the future, then C-Corp is the choice to make.

S-Corp election is a great way to capitalize on your expenses; however, keep in mind that your financial health is beyond tax reporting.  As mentioned in the previous article, if your intent is to rent or buy a home in the future, underwriters and landlords look unkindly on low income. It may be seen as a sign of poor cash flow, thus the question is raised about your “ability to pay.” Also poor cash flow is not attractive to other types of lenders and investors.

S-Corp also has another layer of reporting, that is payroll reporting. Last, but not least, not everyone can qualify for S-Corp status.

LLC & Partnerships: Single member LLCs are viewed as sole proprietorships and are reported as a part of your personal tax returns, unless you elect S-Corp status. All your expenses are exposed and in plain view to the IRS, so proper record keeping is imperative. It is also one of the most scrutinized areas by the IRS. Don’t let this deter you, it still remains one of the more easy to “manage” legal entities; and more flexible than S-Corp.  

What’s next? Planning!!

There are no two ways about it — all pass through-entities should consider a tax planning consultation. This will allow you to get a better sense of your 2018 tax liability and plan in advance, to reduce the possible negative effect of the new tax laws.  ​

And, if your total income exceeds $315,000 married/ $157,500 single, you may need a comprehensive tax planning analysis.

Don’t Wait! It is URGENT that every client with a pass through entity or total income in excess of $315,000 married/$157,500 single, contact us by August 10th, 2018 to set up a time to meet so we can  create a tax plan that will allow you to mitigate any possible adverse effects from the new tax law.

Nadine Riley, CPA
Founder, Masterpiece Accounting Group
Phone: (212) 966-9301
Email: info@mpagroupllc.com

2017 Year-End Tax Guide for Businesses

2017 Year-End Tax Guide for Businesses by Nadine Riley*Due to the weekly changes and updates to the proposed tax law, some of this article’s content may have changed. Once the law is passed, we will update you.

{7:06 minutes to read} Now that each chamber of Congress has met, i.e. the House and the Senate, we now await the final verdict regarding how they will reconcile their differences and decide what will be the new tax law. Continue reading