expense

Back-to-School Time Means a Tax Break for Teachers

When teachers are setting up their classrooms for the new school year, it’s common for them to pay for a portion of their classroom supplies out of pocket. A special tax break allows these educators to deduct some of their expenses. This educator expense deduction is especially important now due to some changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

The old miscellaneous itemized deduction

Before 2018, employee expenses were potentially deductible if they were unreimbursed by the employer and ordinary and necessary to the “business” of being an employee. A teacher’s out-of-pocket classroom expenses could qualify.

But these expenses had to be claimed as a miscellaneous itemized deduction and were subject to a 2% of adjusted gross income (AGI) floor. This meant employees, including teachers, could enjoy a tax benefit only if they itemized deductions (rather than taking the standard deduction) and all their deductions subject to the floor, combined, exceeded 2% of their AGI.

By |September 6th, 2018|deduction, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

Choosing the Right Accounting Method for Tax Purposes

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 a small business taxpayer can use to obtain automatic consent to change its method of accounting under the TCJA. If you have the option to use either accounting method, it pays to consider whether switching methods would be beneficial.

Cash vs. accrual

Generally, cash-basis businesses recognize income when it’s received and deduct expenses when they’re paid. Accrual-basis businesses, on the other hand, recognize income when it’s earned and deduct expenses when they’re incurred, without regard to the timing of cash receipts or payments.

In most cases, a business is permitted to use the cash method of accounting for tax purposes unless it’s:

  1. Expressly prohibited from using the cash method, or
  2. Expressly required to use the accrual method.

Cash method advantages

The cash method offers several advantages, including:

Simplicity. It’s easier and cheaper to implement and maintain.

Tax-planning flexibility. It offers greater flexibility to control the timing of income and deductible expenses. For example, it allows you to defer income to next year by […]

By |August 20th, 2018|accounting, New Tax Laws, tax, tax planning|0 Comments

Do You Still Need to Worry About the AMT?

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There was talk of repealing the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) as part of last year’s tax reform legislation. A repeal wasn’t included in the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), but the TCJA will reduce the number of taxpayers subject to the AMT.

Now is a good time to familiarize yourself with the changes, assess your AMT risk 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 impact.

AMT vs. regular tax

The top AMT rate is 28%, compared to the top regular ordinary-income tax rate of 37%. But the AMT rate typically applies to a higher taxable income base and will result in a larger tax bill if you’re subject to it.

The TCJA reduced the number of taxpayers who’ll likely be subject to the AMT in part by increasing the AMT exemption and the income phaseout ranges for the exemption:

  • For 2018, the exemption is $70,300 for singles and heads of households (up from $54,300 for 2017), and $109,400 for married couples filing jointly (up from $84,500 for 2017).
  • The 2018 […]
By |July 31st, 2018|amt, deduction, expensing, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

Business Deductions for Meal, Vehicle and Travel Expenses: Document, Document, Document

Meal, vehicle and travel expenses are common deductions for businesses. But if you don’t properly document these expenses, you could find your deductions denied by the IRS.

A critical requirement

Subject to various rules and limits, business meal (generally 50%), vehicle and travel expenses may be deductible, whether you pay for the expenses directly or reimburse employees for them. Deductibility depends on a variety of factors, but generally the expenses must be “ordinary and necessary” and directly related to the business.

Proper documentation, however, is one of the most critical requirements. And all too often, when the IRS scrutinizes these deductions, taxpayers don’t have the necessary documentation.

What you need to do

Following some simple steps can help ensure you have documentation that will pass muster with the IRS:

Keep receipts or similar documentation. You generally […]

By |July 23rd, 2018|business, deduction, deductions, New Tax Laws, vehicles|0 Comments

Medical Expense Deduction Threshold Temporarily Reduced

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A deduction is allowed for the expenses paid during the tax year for the medical care of the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, and the taxpayer’s dependents to the extent the expenses exceed a threshold amount.

To be deductible, the expenses may not be reimbursed by insurance or otherwise. If the medical expenses are reimbursed, then they must be reduced by the reimbursement before the threshold is applied. Under pre-Act law, the threshold was generally 10% of AGI.

RIA observation: For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2012, and ending before Jan. 1, 2017, a 7.5%-of-AGI floor for medical expenses applied if a taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse had reached age 65 before the close of the tax year.

And, under pre-Act law, for alternative minimum tax (AMT) purposes, the medical expenses deduction rules were modified such that medical expenses were only deductible to the extent they exceeded 10% of AGI.

New law. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2016 and ending before Jan. 1, 2019, the threshold on medical expense deductions is reduced to 7.5% for all taxpayers. (Code Sec. 213(f), as amended by Act Sec. 11027(a)) In addition, the rule limiting the medical expense deduction for AMT purposes to 10% of […]

Payments to Employees Affected by the Local Fires

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During these tragic times businesses may want to help employees affected by the local fires.  The purpose of the following information is to highlight some tax efficient opportunities to help employees affected by the local fires which were declared a qualified disaster by President Trump.  IRC section 139 allow employers to provide qualified disaster relief payments to employees that have incurred unreimbursed expenses due to a qualified disaster (such as the local fires) and have those payments excluded from the employees gross income and included as deductible expense for the business making the payment.   For the payments to be considered qualified disaster relief payments, they should be for either items i. or ii. below, but only to the extent not already covered by insurance.

  1. Reasonable and necessary personal, family, living, or funeral expenses incurred as a result of a disaster. This would include expenses related to loss of use.
  2. Reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for the repair or rehabilitation of a personal residence or repair or replacement of its contents to the extent that the need for such repair, rehabilitation, or replacement is attributable to a qualified disaster.

Other items to point out:

To […]

By |October 19th, 2017|business, Community, disaster, relief, tax|0 Comments

Substantiating Expenses

Statutory requirements require taxpayers to provide specific detailed information to substantiate expenses for the following:

Travel expenses (including meals and lodging while away from home);

  • Any item with respect to an activity that is of a type generally considered to constitute entertainment, amusement, or recreation, or with respect to a facility used in connection with such an activity;
  • Business gifts (which are limited to $25); and
  • Expenses with respect to any listed property, i.e., autos, (as defined in Sec. 280F(d)(4)).

A recent case, Garza, demonstrates that this is an all-or-nothing scenario, as a lack of substantiation will disallow these expenses, even if the court believes that a legitimate expenditure was made. In Garza, the court said that “While we believe that petitioner had business travel expenses in relation to his employment, the Court must heed the strict substantiation requirements of section 274(d).” To support its ruling, the court cited DeLima, in which the Tax Court indicated that it had no doubt that the taxpayer used a vehicle for business purposes, but it was bound to deny the vehicle expense deduction because she failed to follow the statutory and regulatory requirements.

Listed property, covers assets that are used by many closely-held […]

By |January 7th, 2015|expensing|0 Comments