Edition 10 Archives - Think Outside the Tax Box

Edition 10

By Peter J Reilly CPA

The Trouble with Management Companies

Management companies exist in a variety of fields for sound reasons. Real estate owners, for example, will hire a management company to collect the rent and deal with maintenance of their properties. Professional practices may use management companies to allow non-professional owners a stake in the practice. Sometimes, though, management companies are not for a real business purpose but rather as a device to shift income. It often does not end well as we will see.


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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Be Careful When Using a C Corp to Avoid the Hobby Loss Rules

Starting a business is hard. Running a business is hard. And often, it isn’t profitable either – at least not right away. As if losing your money isn’t enough torture, it can get worse. If your business is not profitable and remains that way for a while the IRS can reclassify it as a hobby. This is really bad because while you still have to pay tax on your hobby income, you can’t deduct any of the expenses. Ouch! One strategy around this is to reorganize as a C corporation (since code section 183 doesn’t apply to them). However, if you’re thinking about using this to deduct expenses from your hobby, be careful! A taxpayer, a courtroom, and a whole lotta cats (explanation later) might change your mind. Click here to continue reading.

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Conservation Easements – Is This Winning?

Looking for lucrative deductions to reduce your taxable income? Many people are turning to Conservation Land Easements (CE), and the tax authorities are doing their best to deny these deductions. When a property meets the IRS criteria for a conservation easement, the owner may qualify to deduct thousands of dollars simply by acquiring the right kind of land an LLC holds. Often, these deductions are worth much more than the actual cost of getting the LLC interest. Sounds appealing doesn’t it? Under a conservation easement, a property’s owner gives up the right to make certain changes to that property to preserve it for future generations. Such an easement usually limits the usefulness of the property and lowers its value. But the tax deduction is not based just on the property’s reduction in value. The magnitude of the deduction comes into play when the deduction’s value is calculated by taking the difference between the appraised “highest and best use” of the property and its new reduced value. These best use appraisals often make assumptions about the property’s potential creating massive tax deductions, which, of course, leave taxpayers lining up to claim. But be careful! The IRS is cracking down on what it calls an “abusive tax deduction”; even going so far as to list the strategy on its Dirty Dozen list of tax scams. Yet even after spending billions of dollars, the service is not having much success. In fact, it’s losing key arguments on the strategy. Continue reading to learn how to participate safely.

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