Individual Strategies Archives - Page 7 of 9 - Think Outside the Tax Box

Individual Strategies

By Peter J Reilly CPA

How to Avoid Losing Valuable Noncash Charitable Contributions

The rules for noncash charitable contributions defy easy summary. On the other hand, they are not rocket surgery. Moving on from the humor, if you want to sum them up in a sentence you can use Reilly’s Seventh Law of Tax Planning: Read the instructions. Specifically, you want to read the instructions to Form 8283 Noncash Charitable Contributions.

There is, of course, more to it than that, but you will find a remarkable number of disallowed deductions from not following those instructions. To be fair, sometimes there are other shenanigans going on and the instruction failures are the easiest way for the IRS to attack. Nonetheless, there is nothing to say that the IRS will not use the precedents set in those cases on your client even though they are not trying to get away with anything.

To get a simplified list of what to know and implement, continue reading.

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Reduce Your Taxes by Making Your Spouse a Business Partner

Question: Can I save S/E tax and create passive income by having my spouse own my entity? Answer: Potentially, but it depends on a number of factors. If you’re a sole proprietor or single member LLC, you’ve probably felt the sting of self-employment taxes (S/E tax). If you and your spouse work together and you’re not incorporated, the IRS generally considers you a 50/50 partnership and both spouses’ earnings are subject to S/E tax. This is true even if your spouse minimally participates in the activity. That’s right, even without a partnership agreement, if you and your spouse both share in the profits and losses of an unincorporated business, the IRS considers that you have a partnership owned equally. The IRS calculates self-employment taxes by apportioning 50 percent of the earnings to each spouse. It’s possible to pay way more than you need to if your profits are more than the threshold for Social Security. One way around this is to make your non-participating (or passively involved) spouse your business partner. But if you live in a community property state, be sure to follow these guidelines to secure your savings.

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More Free Money With the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

On Wednesday, March 11, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, a $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package. The ARPA contains a mix of retroactive and prospective tax breaks in the form of credits, exclusions from income, and even new tax-free grant programs. Let’s take a look at the most tax significant items in the bill.

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Moving to a Low Tax State

Looking to escape high state taxes? Perhaps the taxpayer wants to leave the gridlock, housing congestion, and cement jungles behind for the likes of slower, less expensive living? COVID-19’s long-term impact on urbanization may be uncertain, but we have already seen people moving to low-tax states because these states offer more land and outdoor space. Along with the people, many businesses are also looking to relocate to low tax jurisdictions. But before packing up that U-haul, consider how to lock in your tax savings; otherwise, there may be a nasty bill waiting for you in that new mailbox.

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Is Your Spouse Innocent or Injured? Part One: The Injured Spouse

Jack and Jill went up the hill to have a lovely wedding Jack fell down and broke his crown When Jill learned all his tax debts That pretty much describes the origin of the taxes faced by an injured spouse: The taxpayer was not married to that spouse at the time he or she incurred the tax obligation or it was assessed or did not sign the tax return where the balance due originated. In other words, it was never the injured spouse’s debt or obligation in the first place. What kinds of debts or taxes might the IRS collect (or “offset”) that would affect the injured spouse’s refund?

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Avoiding the Repayment Cliff: Mitigating the Effects of Miscalculating the Advance Premium Tax Credit

The premium tax credit (PTC) is a refundable credit that is available to certain individuals “whose household income for the taxable year equals or exceeds 100%, but does not exceed 400% of an amount equal to the poverty line for a family of the size involved.” In other words, it’s a refundable tax credit that specifically subsidizes the cost of insurance purchased on a health care marketplace for individuals who are over the federal poverty level (FPL), but not by 400 percent or more. This credit is available as an advance paid directly to the marketplace for qualifying taxpayers who cannot afford (or do not wish) to pay their full monthly premium out of pocket. The amount of the credit is calculated based on estimated annual household income. When taxpayers receive more advance credit than they are entitled to, they must repay the excess. So, the consequences for an intentional or inadvertent underestimation of annual income can be severe. What follows is an overview of how the credit works and describes strategies for reducing the amount of advance premium tax credit (APTC) the taxpayer must repay both immediately and after the fact.

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Land Conservation Easements: Tax Avoidance or Evasion?

Question: I was going to look into a conservation easement (CE) for a client and noticed the IRS has focused heavily on compliance efforts for abusive syndicated transactions. Are there any legitimate conservation easement transactions, or is it best to stay away from this strategy until things calm down? Answer: Sounds too good to be true, right? A $500,000 charitable tax deduction for a $100,000 land purchase in December. In your search for information, you may be scared off by the court cases and Department of Justice investigations of the promoters of syndication easements. Syndication deals are partnerships that own land ideal for conservation and allow groups of investors to pool their money in the business, which typically will also include other activities beyond just the land ownership. These deals have come under heavy scrutiny in the past few years as CEs became a listed transaction and more cases have wound their way through the court system. The IRS even announced a settlement program for syndicated conservation easements in mid-2020. Click here to read the full answer.

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Get Automatic, No Questions Asked Penalty Relief

The IRS loves to issue penalties to taxpayers. In fiscal year 2019, the IRS imposed a whopping $40.5 billion in civil penalties.1 If a taxpayer wants to contest an IRS penalty, it usually takes a really good explanation plus a lot of time and effort. However, there is a little-known IRS policy that allows a taxpayer to get penalty relief with no explanations required. Taxpayers who file returns late can quickly rack up huge penalty bills.

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Quick Guide to Claiming Work-From-Home COVID-19 Expenses to Reduce Your Tax Bill

This information is particularly important if you are the owner/shareholder of your own corporation – C or S corp. You can set up payroll and designate tax-free reimbursements for you to be working at home – as well other tax-free money for you and for your employees. (We will discuss employees momentarily. Yes, it’s essential.) If being an employee is your main source of income – watch out! The short answer to employees claiming an office in home deduction this year is... There is no deduction!

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