All Articles - Think Outside the Tax Box

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By Amber Gray-Fenner, EA NTPI Fellow USTCP

Are Electric Vehicle Credits Really Worth It? Spoiler Alert: It Depends!

It happens all the time. A client comes in with the receipt for their new hybrid or electric vehicle and is expecting a huge tax credit to offset some of the purchase expense. It’s a fact that hybrid and electric vehicles cost more (some estimates say an average of $19K more) than their internal combustion engine (ICE) based counterparts. And, despite the fact that hybrids and fully electric vehicles continue to gain market share, it has continued to be difficult to quantify exactly how much fuel and maintenance cost savings offset the larger price tag. Often, the time span for offsetting the difference in purchase price is much longer than many taxpayers want to keep their cars. Taxpayers often hope tax credits will help them to recoup the difference in purchase price more quickly than fuel and maintenance cost savings. Do they? Are electric vehicle tax credits really worth it? Well—it depends.

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End of Summer Tax Savings: Summer Home Rentals and Summer Jobs for the Kids

Considering hiring your kids to work in your business or renting property you own to your business to save money on taxes? Both of these strategies can work (and work well), but often those promoting them (the mainstream media, social media, etc.) hold forth heavily on the benefits of the strategies without considering the nuances and fine print that can end up costing money rather than saving it if you end up on the bad side of an audit. Keep reading for how to maximize tax savings on summer homes and summer jobs without getting burned.

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Don’t Overpay on the Crypto 1099-K

As cryptocurrency grows in popularity, so do the complications of tax reporting. At present, there is no consistent 1099 reporting for crypto transactions. This is primarily because no 1099 form currently exists to adequately report cryptocurrency. The IRS has yet to issue third party reporting requirements to exchanges, so companies must determine on their own what information to report to the IRS and how they will report it. Some exchanges will attempt to report transactions on a traditional 1099-B, but the easily accessible transferability of crypto makes it nearly impossible for an exchange to correctly report basis information. Incorrect reporting can result in the IRS sending an unnecessary CP2000 notice, which can be both expensive and time-consuming for the taxpayer to resolve. Other exchanges issue a 1099-Misc for certain transactions, but again this doesn’t reflect the full picture. Some exchanges choose to issue a 1099-K to customers, showing only the gross proceeds of crypto transactions and also doesn’t show the full picture. Here’s what to do to avoid getting a dreaded notice from the IRS.

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Owner Employee Wages – Do They Qualify For ERC?

Question: I read the recent IRS Notice, but I’m not sure I understand whether or not an employee/owner’s wages qualify for the ERC. Help! Answer: On August 4, 2021, the IRS released Notice 2021-49 to answer exactly this question – albeit true-to-form in the confusing way only the IRS offers as an explanation. The notice addresses full-time equivalents, how to stack the ERC with tip credits, the timing of adding back wages for tax purposes, and whether a majority owner’s wages qualify for ERC. Is it possible the IRS is favoring orphans in this notice? It certainly appears that way. The original text of the CARES Act referenced the rules for Work Opportunity Credits. Specifically, the act indicates that relationships listed in Code Section 51 apply and, while not explicitly saying only payments made to the list of related parties were ineligible, most readers assumed wages to the owners were not disqualified. Here’s what the guidance now says.

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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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