All Articles - Think Outside the Tax Box

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By Dominique Molina, CPA MST CTS

5 Keys to Beating the Biden Tax Increase

Lawmakers have moved even closer to voting on a bipartisan infrastructure bill to build bridges, roads, and national broadband internet as party leaders announced an agreement recently. While Biden’s tax hikes are unpopular, the Senate will need to determine how to pay for the increase in spending. The President’s original $3.5 trillion spending plan calls for higher taxes for those making more than $400,000 per year as well as higher corporate tax rates and changes to capital gains and estate tax. This leaves those benefiting from the current “sale prices” on tax considering their next move. In our previous coverage on this topic, I listed 5 Ways to Avoid Biden’s Capital Gain Increase, but let’s focus here on how to beat the increases to corporate and individual tax rates. The answer might surprise you.

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Benefit Plans Without Breaking the Bank: Save Tax by Being Unfair

Let’s face it, many small businesses would love to offer retirement and healthcare benefits to their employees, especially owner employees. In addition to the obvious benefits (healthcare coverage and tax-deferred retirement savings), providing healthcare and retirement benefits to owner employees through a business can shift non- or partially deductible personal expenses to fully tax-deductible business expenses. Even for non-owner employees, these types of benefits are a great way to provide additional compensation without incurring additional payroll taxes. As with everything tax and business related, however, there are rules and employers must be careful to follow them, especially when it comes to what types of benefit plans are offered and to whom. Providing healthcare and retirement benefits is expensive which is why many small business owners would like to be able to limit who receives them. But if you think providing benefits is expensive not paying attention to the rules for providing them can be even more expensive. To ensure your clients’ benefits plans remain tax deductible, it is important to understand the federal, state, and local labor and tax laws that affect the plans. This article provides an overview of what small employers and their advisors need to consider when evaluating potential benefits options and takes a more in-depth look at the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) non-discrimination provisions that are most likely to affect small employers.

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Be More Aggressive in Claiming “Hobby Losses”

Imagine your clients, a couple, tell you they are going to start a business. They will breed horses, start a band, get into car racing, or write a book about beekeeping. Of course, there will be losses starting out, but they have plenty of income to shelter and in the long run, they figure they can make money. If you are as I used to be, you may discourage them from deducting the losses, particularly if there are other complications on their return. You figure the Schedule C or Schedule F will be a red flag, and they will likely lose on audit. I’d like to suggest that you rethink that attitude. It is fine if you want to talk your physician client out of going into horse breeding or raising cattle, but if they are going to do it anyway, you should not try to talk them out of claiming the losses. Rather, you should talk to them about what they need to do to beef up their chances of winning an audit of their cattle ranch. And the great thing is that you are the one who can help them more than anybody. Read on to find out how.

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Placed in Service: Ready, Set, Deduct, or Depreciate

Why wait to deduct your depreciation over time? You can speed up your deductions with new increased depreciation rules making it possible to get your benefits up front. Here are four ways to deduct your business assets faster and save more tax now.

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Trump Corporation Charged in Fringe Benefits Tax Fraud Scheme – How to Do It the Legal Way

Prosecutors in New York have charged the Trump Corporation with tax fraud related to deductions of more than $1 million in fringe benefits over 15 years. The Manhattan DA indicted longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg for tax evasion on $1.7 million in business deductions, which paid for an apartment, private school tuition for family members, two Mercedes Benz vehicles, and other perks in exchange for his employment at the Trump Organization. The former President and company spokespeople responded that every company deducts fringe benefits, describing the charges as a witch hunt or political gamesmanship by opponents. If this leaves you a tad confused about whether or not you can deduct fringe benefits for yourself or employees in your small business, rest assured, there is a legal way to do it. Keep reading to discover the right way to deduct non cash or other indirect fringe benefits.

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To Lease or to Buy: What is the Best Option with Business Vehicles?

Buying a vehicle is a way to potentially receive a large tax deduction, but is it always the best thing to do? What about buying versus leasing? The tax code treats vehicles differently from other types of assets and business expenses, so it helps to make sure you’re informed when thinking about using your vehicle to reduce your tax liability. Background A vehicle purchase by a business is treated as the purchase of an asset. This means you can deduct part of the expense each year in the form of depreciation deductions. Vehicles also might qualify for accelerated depreciation methods. In this current era of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and 100% bonus depreciation, that means a 100% deduction when you buy a vehicle … right? Not so fast. Section 280F of the Tax Code places restrictions on depreciation deductions for vehicles. The terminology used in this section of the Code is “luxury vehicle” (in fact the title of §280F is “Limitation on depreciation for luxury automobiles”), but this is a misleading term. When we think of “luxury vehicle” we likely think of a high-end vehicle. But the reality is, the tax law defines such a vehicle as any 4-wheeled vehicle with an unloaded gross vehicle weight of 6,000 pounds or less. I bet you didn’t think your 5 year old minivan with high mileage falls into the “luxury vehicle category,” but it can! This means you may be limited in how much you can write off against your taxable income. Can leasing a vehicle work as a way to get around the §280F limitations? The IRS has thought about that too. But keep reading - we’ll give you some loopholes that work around the luxury auto limitation and help you decide if leasing or buying your next vehicle will help you pay less in tax.

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Extra Taxes on S Corporation Distribution?

Question: My client plans to take about $15,000 in distributions in excess of his basis from his S corporation construction business. I know this generates tax for him. He’s in the 32 percent tax bracket and single. Does he also have to pay the 3.8 percent net investment income tax and the 0.9 percent additional Medicare tax on this amount? Is there a way for him to avoid taxes on this amount? Answer: Without planning, yes, the taxpayer has to pay tax on this excess distribution amount. There is a completely legal way to either avoid or substantially reduce this tax, though. Read on to learn how.

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On the Road Again – Tax Savings for the Recreational Vehicle

There is no better time than a multi-year worldwide pandemic to reevaluate the 9 to 5 office grind. Many people are realizing it was never actually necessary to work from a fixed location as long as they have a laptop and an internet connection. So why not take the show on the road? Hop in an RV and head out to see the country and work from wherever you like that day. It’s a great plan, but what does it mean for your taxes? Is your RV a business vehicle or is it a lodging that happens to be on wheels? Buckle up and let’s find out which is best to save you the most money.

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5 Ways to Avoid Biden’s Capital Gain Increase

The headlines have said it all. “Biden Wants up to 43 percent of Your Retirement Gains!” or “Americans Can’t Afford Biden Inflation Tax!” Also recently seen, “Biden Doubles Capital Gains Rate,” and “Biden Tax Rule Would Rip Billions From Big Fortunes at Death!” The hysteria presented in the media as we anxiously await proposed changes in tax law through the pending budget proposal has many investors debating whether or not to lock in low capital gains before anticipated tax hikes. Wealthy investors like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet have reportedly been selling large numbers of stock market shares rumored as a response to news of an impending capital gains tax increase, many people are left wondering what moves, if any, should they take now to avoid higher taxes. Given that we know to anticipate higher taxes, here’s what you should do now to lock in taxes while they are on sale.

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