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It’s a Good Time to Buy Business Equipment and Other Depreciable Property

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There’s good news about the Section 179 depreciation deduction for business property. The election has long provided a tax windfall to businesses, enabling them to claim immediate deductions for qualified assets, instead of taking depreciation deductions over time. And it was increased and expanded by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

Even better, the Sec. 179 deduction isn’t the only avenue for immediate tax write-offs for qualified assets. Under the 100% bonus depreciation tax break provided by the TCJA, the entire cost of eligible assets placed in service in 2019 can be written off this year.

Sec. 179 basics

The Sec. 179 deduction applies to tangible personal property such as machinery and equipment purchased for use in a trade or business, and, if the taxpayer elects, qualified real property. It’s generally available on a tax year basis and is subject to a dollar limit.

The annual deduction limit is $1.02 million […]

By |July 16th, 2019|bonus, depreciation, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

The Minimum Wage is to Rise in Sonoma, California

Increase the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is to rise in Sonoma, California. The city of Sonoma will gradually increase the hourly minimum wage for both small and large employers. Here’s the schedule of hourly rates for employers with up to 25 workers: $12.50 on Jan. 1, 2020; $14.00 on Jan. 1, 2021; $15.00 on Jan. 1, 2022; and $16.00 on Jan. 1, 2023. For larger employers, the schedule of hourly rates is as follows: $13.50 on Jan. 1, 2020; $15.00 on Jan. 1, 2021; $16.00 on Jan. 1, 2022; and $17.00 in 2023. Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, the minimum wage rate for all employees will increase by 3.5%, or a percentage set by a separate Council of the City of Sonoma resolution (whichever is less). Contact your Linkenheimer CPA with your questions.

By |July 15th, 2019|business, employer|0 Comments

Volunteering for Charity: Do You Get a Tax Break?

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If you’re a volunteer who works for charity, you may be entitled to some tax breaks if you itemize deductions on your tax return. Unfortunately, they may not amount to as much as you think your generosity is worth.

Because donations to charity of cash or property generally are tax deductible for itemizers, it may seem like donations of something more valuable for many people — their time — would also be deductible. However, no tax deduction is allowed for the value of time you spend volunteering or the services you perform for a charitable organization.

It doesn’t matter if the services you provide require significant skills and experience, such as construction, which a charity would have to pay dearly for if it went out and obtained itself. You still don’t get to deduct the value of your time.

However, you potentially can deduct out-of-pocket costs associated with your volunteer work.

The basic […]

By |July 9th, 2019|charity, expensing, New Tax Laws, tax|0 Comments

M&A Transactions: Avoid Surprises from the IRS

Worried businesswoman reading a notification

If you’re considering buying or selling a business — or you’re in the process of a merger or acquisition — it’s important that both parties report the transaction to the IRS in the same way. Otherwise, you may increase your chances of being audited.

If a sale involves business assets (as opposed to stock or ownership interests), the buyer and the seller must generally report to the IRS the purchase price allocations that both use. This is done by attaching IRS Form 8594, “Asset Acquisition Statement,” to each of their respective federal income tax returns for the tax year that includes the transaction.

What’s reported?

When buying business assets in an M&A transaction, you must allocate the total purchase price to the specific assets that are acquired. The amount allocated to each asset then becomes its initial tax basis. For depreciable and amortizable assets, the initial tax basis of each asset determines the depreciation and amortization deductions for that asset after the acquisition. Depreciable and amortizable assets include:

  • Equipment,
  • Buildings and improvements,
  • Software,
  • Furniture, fixtures and
  • Intangibles (including customer lists, licenses, patents, copyrights and goodwill).

In addition to reporting the items above, you must also disclose […]

By |July 9th, 2019|audit, depreciation, irs|0 Comments

You May Have to Pay Tax on Social Security Benefits

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During your working days, you pay Social Security tax in the form of withholding from your salary or self-employment tax. And when you start receiving Social Security benefits, you may be surprised to learn that some of the payments may be taxed.

If you’re getting close to retirement age, you may be wondering if your benefits are going to be taxed. And if so, how much will you have to pay? The answer depends on your other income. If you are taxed, between 50% and 85% of your payments will be hit with federal income tax. (There could also be state tax.)

Important: This doesn’t mean you pay 50% to 85% of your benefits back to the government in taxes. It means that you have to include 50% to 85% of them in your income subject to your regular tax rates.

Calculate provisional income

To determine how much of your benefits are taxed, you must calculate your provisional income. It starts with your adjusted gross income on your tax return. Then, you add certain amounts (for example, tax-exempt interest from municipal bonds). Add to that the income of your spouse, if you file jointly. […]

By |July 8th, 2019|income tax, social security|0 Comments

California Gives Veterans a Boost

Military troops standing in line

The CA Employment Development Dept. has awarded $5 million in Veterans’ Employment-Related Assistance Program grants. The grants are expected to help about 1,200 veterans secure jobs. “EDD is proud to provide California veterans with the tools they need to transition into sustainable careers,” said EDD Director Patrick W. Henning. “This funding will help train and prepare former military personnel for high-growth civilian jobs.” Grants will be used in these counties: Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego and Ventura. The funding is part of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. For more info: https://bit.ly/2Xxms9w

By |July 3rd, 2019|New Tax Laws|0 Comments

Bartering: A Taxable Transaction Even if Your Business Exchanges No Cash

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Small businesses may find it beneficial to barter for goods and services instead of paying cash for them. If your business engages in bartering, be aware that the fair market value of goods that you receive in bartering is taxable income. And if you exchange services with another business, the transaction results in taxable income for both parties.

Income is also realized if services are exchanged for property. For example, if a construction firm does work for a retail business in exchange for unsold inventory, it will have income equal to the fair market value of the inventory.

Barter clubs

Many business owners join barter clubs that facilitate barter exchanges. In general, these clubs use a system of “credit units” that are awarded to members who provide goods and services. The credits can be redeemed for goods and services from other members.

Bartering is generally taxable in the year it occurs. But if […]

Grading the Performance of Your Company’s Retirement Plan

Letter A, Report Card, Test Results

Imagine giving your company’s retirement plan a report card. Would it earn straight A’s in preparing your participants for their golden years? Or is it more of a C student who could really use some extra help after school? Bench-marking can tell you.

Mind the basics

More than likely, you already use certain criteria to benchmark your plan’s performance using traditional measures such as:

  • Fund investment performance relative to a peer group,
  • Breadth of fund options,
  • Bench-marked fees, and
  • Participation rates and average deferral rates (including matching contributions).

These measures are all critical, but they’re only the beginning of the story. Add to that list helpful administrative features and functionality — including auto-enrollment and auto-escalation provisions, investment education, retirement planning, and forecasting tools. In general, the more, the better.

Don’t overlook useful data

A sometimes-overlooked plan metric is average account balance size. This matters for two reasons. First, it provides a first-pass look at whether participants are accumulating meaningful sums in their accounts. Naturally, you’ll need to look at that number in light of the age of your workforce and how long your plan has been in existence. Second, it affects record-keeping fees — higher […]

By |June 28th, 2019|business, retirement|0 Comments

Which Entity is Most Suitable for Your New or Existing Business?

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has changed the landscape for business taxpayers. That’s because the law introduced a flat 21% federal income tax rate for C corporations. Under prior law, profitable C corporations paid up to 35%.

The TCJA also cut individual income tax rates, which apply to sole proprietorships and pass-through entities, including partnerships, S corporations, and LLCs (treated as partnerships for tax purposes). However, the top rate dropped from 39.6% to only 37%.

These changes have caused many business owners to ask: What’s the optimal entity choice for me?

Entity tax basics

Before the TCJA, conventional wisdom was that most small businesses should be set up as sole proprietorships or pass-through entities to avoid the double taxation of C corporations. A C corporation pays entity-level income tax and then shareholders pay tax on dividends — and on capital gains when they sell the stock. For pass-through entities, there’s no federal income tax at the entity level.

Although C corporations are still potentially subject to double taxation, their current 21% tax rate helps make up for it. This issue is further complicated, however, by another tax provision that allows noncorporate owners of pass-through […]

By |June 28th, 2019|business, New Tax Laws, tax planning|0 Comments

If Your Kids Are Off to Day Camp, You May be Eligible for a Tax Break

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Now that most schools are out for the summer, you might be sending your children to day camp. It’s often a significant expense. The good news: You might be eligible for a tax break for the cost.

The value of a credit

Day camp is a qualified expense under the child and dependent care credit, which is worth 20% to 35% of qualifying expenses, subject to a cap. Note: Sleep-away camp does not qualify.

For 2019, the maximum expenses allowed for the credit are $3,000 for one qualifying child and $6,000 for two or more. Other expenses eligible for the credit include payments to a daycare center, nanny, or nursery school.

Keep in mind that tax credits are especially valuable because they reduce your tax liability dollar-for-dollar — $1 of tax credit saves you $1 of taxes. This differs from deductions, which simply reduce the amount of income subject to tax.

By |June 26th, 2019|child, credit, expensing, tax credit|0 Comments