Jason Dinesen, CPA, Author at Think Outside the Tax Box

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Jason Dinesen, CPA

Jason Dinesen is an enrolled agent and a licensed public accountant in Iowa. Jason prepares around 225 tax returns every year, so he sees a lot of different things in his practice. Jason is a CPE presenter to other accountants, presenting almost every day on dozens of tax topics. Jason is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents, and has served as president of the Iowa Society of Enrolled Agents multiple times, including right now. Prior to starting his own practice in 2009, Jason worked for a third-party administrator of retirement plans, where he worked with terminations of qualified plans. In his free time, Jason tinkers with the audio equipment and software in his in-home studio he presents from. Jason is a native Iowan, an Iowa Hawkeye football fan, and an aficionado of the Battle of the Little Bighorn (Custer’s Last Stand). He and his wife have two boys in 7th grade and 4th grade, who keep him plenty busy when not dealing with taxes.

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To Lease or to Buy: What is the Best Option with Business Vehicles?

Buying a vehicle is a way to potentially receive a large tax deduction, but is it always the best thing to do? What about buying versus leasing? The tax code treats vehicles differently from other types of assets and business expenses, so it helps to make sure you’re informed when thinking about using your vehicle to reduce your tax liability.

Background

A vehicle purchase by a business is treated as the purchase of an asset. This means you can deduct part of the expense each year in the form of depreciation deductions. Vehicles also might qualify for accelerated depreciation methods. In this current era of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and 100% bonus depreciation, that means a 100% deduction when you buy a vehicle … right? Not so fast.

Section 280F of the Tax Code places restrictions on depreciation deductions for vehicles. The terminology used in this section of the Code is “luxury vehicle” (in fact the title of §280F is “Limitation on depreciation for luxury automobiles”), but this is a misleading term.

When we think of “luxury vehicle” we likely think of a high-end vehicle. But the reality is, the tax law defines such a vehicle as any 4-wheeled vehicle with an unloaded gross vehicle weight of 6,000 pounds or less. I bet you didn’t think your 5 year old minivan with high mileage falls into the “luxury vehicle category,” but it can! This means you may be limited in how much you can write off against your taxable income.

Can leasing a vehicle work as a way to get around the §280F limitations? The IRS has thought about that too. But keep reading – we’ll give you some loopholes that work around the luxury auto limitation and help you decide if leasing or buying your next vehicle will help you pay less in tax.

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Net Operating Loss Changes and the CARES Act: Planning Opportunities for 2020 Returns

One bright side to losing money in your business is your ability to at least use those losses as a tax deduction against other income you may have. Unfortunately due to tax reform it shredded your ability to claim NOLs after 2017 to 80% of taxable income – it all eliminated the opportunity to carry back these losses to get refunds. We’ve still been reeling from both of these changes.

The CARES Act changed net operating losses (NOLs) in a major way to make usage of an NOL more taxpayer friendly … for a limited time. Because the changes are retroactive to 2018, this gives you the opportunity for 3 years of losses to provide much needed relief. The Treasury even provided a fast track to cash – keep reading to find out how.

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CURRENT EDITION

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.

Should Your Practice Use a Client Portal?

You may know me as the “crypto guy” here at Think Outside the Tax Box. It might seem like that’s all I ever write about. But this time, I’m sneaking an article in while my editor is on vacation. Because I want to talk about using a client portal and why all tax professionals should be using one in their firms. Some firms may have dipped their toe into the digital waters out of necessity as a by-product of the pandemic. Others may have started the process long before Covid existed.

According to a completely unscientific poll I ran on Twitter, 70 percent of firms are still processing returns at least partially on paper. This can mean either receiving paper documents from a client or delivering a hard copy of the completed return to the client. As the numbers from a Twitter survey are clearly biased toward firms already comfortable with digital technology, we can safely assume more accurate numbers are significantly higher. Since TOTTB refuses to provide me with a budget to run a full, comprehensive study, we’ll just have to run with my perfunctory data as well as published data from a poll Canopy conducted in 2021.

Canopy surveyed more than a thousand small businesses and found that 63 percent admitted that their accountant did not offer any portal. More surprising, depending on whom you ask, is that more than two-thirds of respondents said they would be interested in switching to an accountant that allows them to use photos of their documents for easy sharing.

While I’m not here to debate the issues of opening a gajillion .jpg files and how that might negatively affect my practice, the impact of using technology can improve your efficiencies, communications, and improve your workflow.

To learn how, continue reading.

The Tax Lives of Performing Artists

Performing artists are everywhere. Whether you’re a fan or indifferent, they’re tough to ignore. They color our world with print, broadcast, and social media coverage. We have actors, musicians, newscasters, and podcasters performing live, streaming online, captured on film/radio/television, and just about everywhere in an expanding online universe.

We celebrate their triumphs, empathize with their trials, feel shocked at their gaffes, and grieve for and with them. We may not think we have much in common with performers, but we do have one commonality: We’re all taxpayers!

A performer’s life may seem glamorous, but it’s hard work and not always financially predictable. The tax lives of performers are complicated. They have income and expenses, but with many twists and peculiarities.

Twists and peculiarities can make it both interesting and complex when navigating the Tax Code, but performing artists need tax reduction, too. Tony Nitti said, “It has to suck to make your living as an artist.” But paying taxes as an artist doesn’t have to suck when you have a great tax plan.

To read more about the unique tax planning opportunities available to performing artists, continue reading.

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  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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?

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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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    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%.

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    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?

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    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.

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