Business Strategies Archives - Page 3 of 11 - Think Outside the Tax Box

Business Strategies

By Lewis C. Taishoff

TAX COURT ROUND-UP – January 2023

I'm new here, but I know enough not to try to do what everyone else does. I won't try to cover the wider tax picture. I cover United States Tax Court on my blog, so here's a brief round-up on what went on in Tax Court during the last month that I think is of interest to the tax planner and practitioner...

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Just Good Business – Review Your Insurance Policies

Regular readers of this column may know that I came involuntarily to the tax business. I inherited it from my mother in 2010. Less well known is that the tax business was Mom’s side hustle. Mom’s main business was as an independent insurance agent. The insurance side of the business closed in 2017, but during the time I was administering that side of the business (I was never a licensed agent), I learned a lot about insurance. One of the most important lessons I learned was that the longer you hold a policy, the more the rates increase and that it pays to make the effort to review (and shop) your various insurance policies regularly. Another important lesson was that all coverage is not equal and, just as when looking for a tax professional, price should be a consideration but not the consideration. The third important lesson was to know your coverage before you need the insurance. Many times we had to remind a customer they had refused uninsured motorist coverage to save a few dollars after an uninsured motorist totaled the client’s vehicle or to explain the limits of flood coverage after a building flooded. Regularly reviewing your insurance policies for coverage and value provides peace of mind and is just good business. Click here to learn the ins and outs of getting a great deal.

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The 8082 Solution to Erroneous K-1s

If you’re thinking about extra forms that might have to go in with a 1040, Form 8082 is probably not the first thing that pops into your mind. But if what you need to do includes Form 8082 – Notice of Inconsistent Treatment or Administrative Adjustment Request, and you leave it out, there might be no way to recover. That appears to be the result in the Second Circuit decision in Laurence Gluck’s appeal of a Tax Court decision. There is also a lesson about like-kind exchanges that may have continuing significance despite changes in the law. With a deficiency of more than $1.5 million, it seems like a pretty big deal. It turns out that Laurence Gluck is one of New York City's largest landlords, so it may not have been that big a deal for him. On the other hand, it makes it surprising that the issue tripped him up. Click here to continue reading.

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Pros and Cons of Cryptocurrency Mining as a Trade or Business

As cryptocurrency grows in popularity, more people are turning to what is known as mining as a way to bring in some extra income. However, not all mining activities are equal; small differences in the facts and circumstances can have substantial impact on the tax consequences. Much of the nuance hinges on whether the activity is a trade or business under Section 162, which, in many circumstances, may not be a simple thing to determine. If you choose to treat your mining as a business, earned bitcoin is reported on a Form 1040 Schedule C. The benefit of this is the ability to deduct mining expenses as deductions for your crypto business. Along with direct costs to mine the digital currency, treating the work as a business opens the door to additional tax reduction strategies. To learn how to maximize your crypto mining activity, keep reading.

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Just Good Business – Develop or Review Your Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is usually designed to cover everything a new hire needs to know to get started at their job. Depending on the size of the company “everything a new hire needs to know” can be either a vast amount of information or a much smaller amount. Many small, closely held businesses may not have an employee handbook because they don’t feel they are large enough to warrant it or they (mistakenly) believe that necessary information is getting communicated effectively and consistently to all staff members. Often having an employee handbook isn’t something most businesses think about until it’s too late (for example, when an employee files a lawsuit for discrimination or a worker’s compensation claim). Even businesses that have an employee handbook may not give it much thought once it has been developed. But developing and maintaining a useful employee handbook is just good business. Why? The employee handbook explains a company’s culture and values and is a valuable reference tool for employees looking for information on company policies. It can save management time (and money) and can help to prevent or mitigate legal issues for the company.

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Do Your Clients Know Their Own Business Entity?

Have you been working with a partnership client or Schedule C client for a couple of years, only to find out: “Oh, by the way, we incorporated two years ago?” Or the taxpayer brings you a notice for non-filing penalties on the partnership or S corporation you didn’t know existed? When you are working with existing business clients for several years, you are not concerned about their prevailing business structure. After all, if you have been filing the wrong entity’s tax return, you would have been alerted by now. Right? As it turns out, not always. When you find out about the error, your gut reaction is that it’s your fault. Is your errors and omissions insurance (or malpractice insurance) up to date? Take a deep breath; it’s not your fault. Probably. Let's keep reading and find out.

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How to Withdraw Cash from Your C Corporation Tax-free

Question: I understand the concept of paying just 21 percent tax through a C corporation. This makes sense if my tax rate is higher than, say 25 percent or 35 percent. But isn’t this money taxable to me as a dividend as soon as I withdraw it from the corporation? I don’t understand; won’t that actually cost me more tax? Answer: You have identified the exact reason C corporations can be what we call “high maintenance.” You’re right. Done in the wrong way, using a C corporation can actually cost more in tax than using a pass-through entity and paying tax at your individual rate, even if that rate is, say, 35 percent. By the time you pay qualified dividends tax on any withdrawals, you can wind up paying 45 percent or even 50 percent, depending on your individual tax rate. The key is to use smart planning. Rather than simply withdrawing the funds from your C corporation as a taxable dividend, use one six ways to withdraw tax-free instead. Doing this will help you lock in the low 21 percent flat rate and permanently save you from your high individual tax brackets. Keep reading to learn more.

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Upgrade Your Client Experience with a New Mindset

Sponsored by Liscio You care deeply about your clients. It’s why you got into this business: to have a direct impact on your clients’ success. With this in mind, understanding where your firm falls on the spectrum of great vs. poor client experience is fundamental to your success. At its core, drop-dead easy, secure digital communication and document exchange are everything in your clients’ minds, even if they don’t say it. Beyond just taking great care of your clients, if you want to get paid premium fees, you have to deliver a premium experience. Keep reading to learn how to deliver premium level service.

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Should You Switch Your Work Strategy for Tax Planning Season?

If you’re like most tax professionals, you’re probably working tax-prep season hyper-focused and -vigilant, refusing to hit pause except on absolute demand. You’re keeping a sharp eye on the ball, the players, and the end goal: maximizing your resources and providing impeccable service to your clients. Now, when you have lots of familiar, practiced work to do in little time, working like this can produce great results. However, tax-prep season is ending, and tax-reduction planning season is beginning. Therein, hyper-focus, hyper-vigilance, and workdays, weeks, and months without meaningful rest can backfire and steal from you the results you hope to produce. That’s because reactively responding to external demands and deadlines (set by clients and the IRS, for example), requires something different from you doing proactive designing and selling high-end tax plans. Consider this, as you shift from tax-prep to tax planning, you: ● Soften your focus on computers, numbers, and speed and sharpen your focus on talking with prospective clients about their finances, their hopes and worries about their business and family, and how you might best serve them. This requires a shift from grinding and discipline to presence and attunement. ● Soften your focus on meeting immediate deliverables and sharpen your focus on developing long-term strategies for products you offer and your business overall. This requires a shift from following rules, structures, and guidance to thinking creatively and working socially. ● Soften your focus on external deadlines and client demands and sharpen your focus on your own ambitions and drive to get things done. This requires a shift from aligning your priorities with others’ agendas to aligning your priorities with your own dreams and goals. Making shifts like these can be challenging, particularly if tax-prep season devours you and you enter tax-reduction planning season depleted and drained. However, taking time now to recharge and reset can help you pivot and produce powerful results in the end. Did Tax Season Devour and Deplete You? When it comes to personal performance in business, I like to contrast two modes of working: Depleted Mode and Resourced Mode. These modes aren’t binary; rather, they’re two ends of a continuum that we all constantly move along. Generally, when you find yourself highly distracted and distractible, pushing yourself to keep going, and working excessive hours to make up for lost time, you’re in Depleted Mode. Tax-prep season unfailingly produces this outcome for the best of tax pros. Exhaustion (or simple tiredness), frustration, and a taxed mind (pun intended) live here. When you’re drawn into your work, interested in the results you produce, and loving what you do, you’re in Resourced Mode. Enthusiasm, creativity, and connection live here. Resourced Mode offers an ideal environment to tax pros for engaging with the demands of tax planning season. You’ve probably seen yourself operate in both of these modes and along the continuum. Many tax professionals start the tax-prep season in Resourced Mode but end in Depleted Mode after months of hyper-focus and -vigilance, both of which you can only sustain in short bursts. There’s nothing wrong with Depleted Mode; most people land themselves there through hard work and commitment. (Incidentally, you can build systems and structures to reduce or avoid Depletion Mode over time, but that’s a topic for another day.) Many people produce great work in Depleted Mode, and that can trick them into thinking it’s effective for every kind of work. You can do tax prep in Depleted Mode, for example, because the work is familiar, somewhat predictable and consistent, and ultimately requires less mental engagement. However, Depleted Mode renders fewer productive results in tax-planning season because there you need deeper thought, mental space and physical energy to develop a strategy, a connection to people, and effectively sales. Ultimately, even in situations where Depleted Mode works decently, Depleted Mode can lead to: ▪ Procrastination: Being overworked and under-rested drains your mental capacity and leads to internal resistance on projects that require more mental energy. ▪ Distractibility: Quick changes of focus habituate your brain to prioritize distractions instead of focused work, so you might find yourself putting “easy” work ahead of “valuable” work. ▪ Agitation: Fast pacing can create agitation, or a constant background sense of worry, which can hinder progress when you try to settle into something that requires deeper thinking, such as tax or business strategy (which requires divergent, non-linear thinking). ▪ Lower pay for more work: procrastination, distractibility, and agitation make it difficult to approach valuable work (higher-paying, more satisfying), leaving you to do easy work instead (lower-paying, less satisfying) so you feel as if you accomplish something. ▪ Cyclical depletion: In Depleted Mode, you produce less per hour, make up for it by working more hours, and stay in Depleted Mode by overworking yourself. Still working in depleted mode? Click here to learn how to shut down the grind and turn on the productivity.

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