Business Strategies Archives - Think Outside the Tax Box

Business Strategies

By Dan Chodan, CPA

COVID Relief Money Is Still Hiding in Plain Sight: The Employee Retention Credit

Business COVID relief funds have been plentiful. We have seen it all from state and local grant programs to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The dollars have flowed freely during the past two years although some programs were certainly simpler than others. The Employee Retention Credit (ERC), unfortunately, has been the most complex and misunderstood relief program. It deserves serious consideration along with a second and third look. ERC has suffered from a branding problem, from repeated changes, and because the PPP overshadowed it. The CARES Act brought both programs to life in March 2020 , but small businesses quickly ignored the ERC in favor of the forgivable PPP loans. A taxpayer could only choose one of these programs until the December 2020 COVID relief law retroactively allowed them to coexist in the same business. But once again a second round of PPP loans overshadowed the ERC. Perhaps now with the grants awarded and PPP funds issued, the ERC can finally get the attention it deserves. The benefits are tremendous at up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and $28,000 per employee in 2021. Opportunities abound for businesses and advisers to be on the hunt for ERC eligibility both obvious and obscure. Today, let’s review the program and cover some of the unusual ways to qualify.

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California’s AB-5 And Its Impact On Small Businesses That Work with Independent Contractors

Question: I run a virtual business with no employees, but independent contractors perform all the work. I heard about that case in California. Should I be doing something different in my business? Do I owe any penalties for how I’ve done it in the past? Answer: Effective January 1, 2020, AB 5, later AB 2257, radically changed the rules and criteria for determining whether a worker’s classification is independent contractor or employee. The so-called “gig law” was effective based on a California Supreme Court case from 2018. The significance of the ruling is that it changed the criteria of worker classification and held that workers are presumptively employees and the burden is on the hiring entity to establish that a worker is an independent contractor not subject to wage order protections in California. Although this is a change impacting California employers, the rest of the country has eagerly watched and hoped to cash in on the changes that would generate billions in employment taxes. Businesses that prefer to work with independent contractors such as Uber and Lyft were quick to propose a ballot initiative in 2020 that the voters passed and now drivers are exempt from the new criteria (insert eyeroll here). Want to know how to get your own exemption from AB-5? Continue reading.

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Build Back Better Legislation Could Present Complications for QSBS

Tax advisors are seeing more clients looking to claim an exclusion for Qualified Small Business Stock and expecting the gain to be 100 percent tax free. Can this be? Believe it or not, it very well could be, but nuanced criteria, not to mention the recently proposed amendment to IRC Section 1202 through the Build Back Better Act, make it a complex incentive to evaluate and monitor over time. In fact, QSBS gains haven’t always been 100 percent tax free. When introduced in 1993, QSBS started out as a 50 percent capital gain exclusion. The exclusion was increased to 75 percent in 2009, and increased to 100 percent in September 2010. Currently, the exclusion percentage is solely based on the date the owners acquired QSBS stock, but the proposed BBB amendment would additionally subject the exclusion percentage to the taxpayer’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), depending on a $400,000 threshold. The proposed language has accountants scratching their heads over the seemingly circular reference in determining what level of exclusion their clients would receive. As written, you need to know the QSBS exclusion percentage to calculate AGI, and you need AGI to know the exclusion percentage! Keep reading to learn how.

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Just Good Business: When It’s Time to Hire a Pro

Often, clients and potential clients grumble when their tax professionals recommend hiring a bookkeeping and/or accounting professional. Why? Because many people (including some tax practitioners) simply do not understand the miraculous complexity that is double-entry accounting. As some are probably aware, proper bookkeeping and accounting are much more than simply entering income and expenses into a software program. Nevertheless, it is sometimes difficult to explain the nuances of and the necessity for double-entry accounting to clients. Following are the specific circumstances under which clients should hire a professional bookkeeper and/or accountant. And remember, what works for clients also works for busy tax and accounting professionals. You may, after reading this article, decide that it’s in your own best interests to outsource your business’s tax and accounting work both for peace of mind and for time and money saved. So, when is it just good business to gently insist that your client hire an accounting professional? Keep reading to find out.

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Just Good Business: What to Consider When Choosing an Entity

It’s every tax professional’s favorite answer to the question “How is your business organized?” “I have an LLC.” It’s the non-answer answer. Unfortunately for many clients and practitioners, clients often decide to form an LLC for no reason other than “they said I should” and more often cannot provide a good answer when the practitioner asks, “Who is ‘they?” Ideally, small business clients should consult both an attorney and a tax professional when deciding to form a business entity under state law. Because while state law governs entity formation and many aspects of entity administrative compliance, federal and state tax law determines which tax returns you need to file and which tax laws apply to the entity. It is just good business to make a mindful, proactive choice when choosing a type of business entity. Making a conscientious choice means asking the right questions. And when choosing a business entity, asking the right questions means asking questions about matters other than simply tax considerations.

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Qualified Small Business Stock and Your LLC or S Corporation

Your optimal choice of entity depends on many factors, including which tax breaks and loopholes are available for that entity type. The C corporation leaps to the top of entity choices if your C corporation stock will qualify as small business stock (QSBS). The tax law gives two huge tax breaks to QSBS: 1. Up to $10 million of gain exclusion upon sale or the stock’s liquidation; or 2. Tax-deferred rollover of gains if the taxpayer purchases additional QSBS. But beware: There are two issues that are ambiguous under the law that could cause you to not qualify for either of these tax benefits. Read on to learn more!

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Closing the Tax Gap – An Enticing Alternative to Raising Taxes

The tax hikes on wealthy Americans included in President Biden’s economic recovery plan last spring have been a battleground for bipartisan debate for most of 2021. Now, the Senate Republicans have pushed aside the administration's proposal to increase funding for the Internal Revenue Service, for the moment. We will take a closer look at the proposed IRS funding, the reasons it is necessary, and how the same wealthy Americans could end up the most impacted by the proposal.

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Just Good Business: How to Keep Business Records for Tax Compliance

One of the most common non-tax questions clients ask tax professionals is “How long should I keep this?” “This” could mean bank records, copies of tax returns, or virtually any other piece of business information. This reasonably comprehensive overview focuses on keeping business records for tax compliance, specifically, what to keep and how long to keep it in case a taxing authority ever decides to examine (audit) a business return. Records management is an entire field unto itself! Hiring an in-house records manager is beyond the needs or the budget of most small businesses, but it’s important to understand that proper records management is serious business.

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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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