Amber Gray-Fenner, EA NTPI Fellow USTCP, Author at Think Outside the Tax Box

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Amber Gray-Fenner, EA NTPI Fellow USTCP

Amber Gray-Fenner is an Enrolled Agent, National Tax Practice Institute Fellow, and United States Tax Court Practitioner. She is the owner of Tax Therapy, LLC in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Amber’s practice focuses on tax returns and tax planning for individuals and small professional businesses with a bit of representation thrown in to keep things spicy. In 2020 Amber was selected as one of the Top 100 Must Follow Tax Twitter Accounts. Amber was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, and has a Bachelor of Arts in English from UNLV.

READ MORE BY Amber Gray-Fenner, EA NTPI Fellow USTCP

Taking Cash from Your C Corporation: Which Tactic is Best for You?

Being a shareholder owner of a C corporation comes with certain benefits, including the ability to take cash from your business. How to do so depends on your short- and long-term goals and consideration of the tax trade-offs. This article will discuss the options available to shareholder owners, other than borrowing, to realize cash from a corporation that is expected to continue.

Read More
Just Good Business: What to Consider When Choosing an Entity

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.

Read More
Just Good Business: What to Consider When Choosing an Entity

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.

Read More
Just Good Business

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.

Read More
Home Vacation Deductions

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.

Read More

Deducting Business Meals and Entertainment: The good, the bad, the very recently changed

“Say dog.” My dad once told me that a friend paid for his lunch and said, “Say dog, then I can write this off.” She bred show dogs. File that under “nope.” That is not how the meals and entertainment (M&E) deduction works. Not even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changed the rules.

The deduction for M&E is a favorite of many of our clients and rightfully so. Nevertheless, it can be a fraught area if taxpayers and their advisors don’t have a comprehensive understanding of how the rules for deducting expenses apply across the many different scenarios in which our clients are likely to apply them. The IRS issued the final regulations for deducting M&E expenses under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 274 on October 9, 2020. It made some additional, short-term adjustments when the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) became law on December 27, 2020. Here is an overview of the new regulations, how to use them to your clients’ benefit, and how to avoid the most common pitfalls.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More
Electric Vehicles Credits - Worth It

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.

Read More

Any Port in The Storm – Tax Strategies for Boat Owners (Part 2 of 2)

Ever thought of using a recreational vehicle like a boat to lower your taxes? Yes, it’s possible using the right strategies, and there’s no time like the present to make that happen.
Even more than pre-pandemic taxpayers may be considering buying their own island. Those for whom buying an actual island is beyond the budget may be considering buying a boat or an RV for use as a residence, an office, or both.
Whatever the type of use, there are tax strategies available for boat owners if they meet the requirements. As with any tax strategy it is important to have a full understanding of the requirements to ensure the deduction is legal and to ensure the taxpayer can substantiate the deduction should the tax authorities examine the return.
This is the first of two articles discussing the tax strategies available to boat owners. Part 1 focuses on using a boat as a residence, but if that doesn’t meet your needs, stay tuned because Part 2 will cover boats for business use (including as a home office). Why not consider both options and see how your tax savings can help fund your floating condo? Keep reading to learn more.

Read More

Any Port in the Storm – Tax Strategies for Boat Owners (Part 1 of 2)

Ever thought of using a recreational vehicle like a boat to lower your taxes? Yes, it’s possible using the right strategies, and there’s no time like the present to make that happen.
Even more than pre-pandemic taxpayers may be considering buying their own island. Those for whom buying an actual island is beyond the budget may be considering buying a boat or an RV for use as a residence, an office, or both.
Whatever the type of use, there are tax strategies available for boat owners if they meet the requirements. As with any tax strategy it is important to have a full understanding of the requirements to ensure the deduction is legal and to ensure the taxpayer can substantiate the deduction should the tax authorities examine the return.
This is the first of two articles discussing the tax strategies available to boat owners. Part 1 focuses on using a boat as a residence, but if that doesn’t meet your needs, stay tuned because Part 2 will cover boats for business use (including as a home office). Why not consider both options and see how your tax savings can help fund your floating condo? Keep reading to learn more.

Read More

All About the Augusta Rule – One of the Tax Code’s Best and Easiest Income “Loopholes”

Do you have homes in destination spots? Places where people flock during specific times of the year? Mardi Gras? Spring break? Sports championships or events? Maybe you own a home in places commonly used as film locations? For example, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is often the site for movie and television productions, and it hosts the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every year (excluding global pandemics, obviously). The 10-day long event hosts well over 100,000 visitors to the city each year. But this article isn’t about Albuquerque tourism, it’s about the easiest tax-free money you will ever make.

Read More

CURRENT EDITION

Electric Vehicles Credits - Worth It

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.

COVID Relief hiding in plain sight

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.

Crypto and the Wash Loss Rule

Wash Up for Tax Savings – Cryptocurrency and the Wash Loss Rule

When recognizing capital gains during a tax year, it can often make financial sense to sell assets that have lost value to offset profits in other investments or regular income. In this situation, you swap stocks, bonds, or mutual funds by buying a similar asset, selling the old asset and taking a loss.

This strategy is called tax-loss harvesting, and it can be applied under certain circumstances which will lower your taxes. Yet while the tax deduction might seem appealing, you might have a hard time locking in that loss forever, and you may be inclined to repurchase the same investment in case the value rebounds.

This strategy may appear brilliant on paper; however, the IRS doesn’t allow such manipulation just to reduce taxes.

The Wash Loss Rule prevents traders from realizing a tax loss on a position that the taxpayer reacquires within 30 days after (or before) selling a security.

But a little known loophole may allow you to complete a wash sale and claim your deduction without recognizing the loss forever as long as it is crypto.

Cryptocurrency continues to be an area where the rules don’t always seem to make sense. Most experienced investors are already familiar with the “Wash Loss Rule,” while many newer investors have recently learned about it the hard way.

To learn this valuable strategy for offsetting your capital gains while remaining in the investment gain for expected future growth, continue reading to learn more.

  • NOT A MEMBER YET?

    SUBSCRIBE TO GET ALL OF OUR
    GREAT ARTICLES AND RESOURCES!

  • Avoiding Passive Loss Limitations Through Short-term and Alternative Rentals

    Short-term rentals like AirBnb are becoming increasingly popular with taxpayers who invest in real estate. For many taxpayers, the appeal of these properties is the flexibility and cash flow potential. However, there may be an overlooked third tax benefit. In many situations these short-term rentals may not qualify as a rental activity to the IRS, and that may offer a big tax break. While many rental activities generate losses, this can leave taxpayers facing the frustrations of not always getting to deduct those losses right away due to the passive activity limitations.

    Read More

    How Business Owners Can Boost Income by Avoiding the $10,000 SALT Cap

    Taxpayers have been whipsawed by confusing rules for the $10,000 limit on deducting state and local taxes (SALT), the most politically charged piece of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. The cap has caused nearly 11 million individuals to lose an annual deduction worth $323 billion. But many owners of private businesses known as passthroughs can avert that financial pain. If you own your company and thus report your business income on your personal federal income tax return, here’s what you need to know.

    Read More

    GOFUNDME & KICKSTARTER: TAXABLE? DEDUCTIBLE?

    Millions of taxpayers in the United States are using crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter to raise money for important needs, such as paying medical bills, paying legal fees, or funding a new business venture. Both the IRS and the courts have been surprisingly silent on the tax consequences of crowdfunding platforms. The good news is that established tax law provides a clear road map for answering most tax questions created by raising money from a crowdfunding website. By knowing these rules, taxpayers can use crowdfunding to raise cash and minimize their overall tax exposure.

    Read More

    My Client Stuck with a Mistaken C Corporation Election?

    My client formed three limited liability companies (LLCs) to hold his rental properties. Without consulting me, he filed Form 8832, Entity Classification Election, to elect C corporation treatment, effective January 1, 2020, for these LLCs. I want the LLCs to be disregarded entities, which is the most tax-efficient structure for his situation. What is the best way to undo these elections?

    Read More

    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!

    Read More

    Five Tax Reduction Strategies for the Casual Cryptocurrency Owner

    With so many people looking for more ways to make money outside their 9 to 5 jobs, many are turning to money making methods using technology including trading in cryptocurrency. For tax purposes, the IRS considers cryptocurrencies property, not as currency. Just like other property types, stocks, investments, or real estate, when you sell, swap, or otherwise dispose of your cryptocurrency for more or less than you acquired it for, you incur a tax reporting obligation. As an example, there would be a $1,000 capital gain if 0.1 bitcoin is bought for $2,000 in June of 2020 and then sold for $3,000 two months later. This profit must be reported on the tax return and a certain amount of tax is due on the gain, depending on the tax bracket of the taxpayer. In this example, the gain would be short term requiring the profit to be taxed at the filer’s ordinary tax rate. These rates range anywhere from 0-37%.

    Read More

    Extra Taxes on S Corporation Distribution?

    My client plans to take about $15,000 in distributions in excess of his basis from his S corporation construction business. I know this generates tax for him. He’s in the 32 percent tax bracket and single. Does he also have to pay the 3.8 percent net investment income tax and the 0.9 percent additional Medicare tax on this amount? Is there a way for him to avoid taxes on this amount?

    Read More

    Reduce Taxable Income Up to $25,000 with Passive Rental Losses

    You have likely heard that owning rental real estate provides great tax benefits. This is true for a multitude of reasons, but there’s one benefit that is arguably the best of the bunch: The Small Taxpayer Allowance for Deducting Passive Rental Losses. Based on average household income levels, more than three-quarters of taxpayers can potentially qualify for this fantastic tax benefit that offers taxable income reduction of up to $25,000.

    Read More
    1 2 3 12
    Scroll to Top