Peter J Reilly CPA, Author at Think Outside the Tax Box

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Peter J Reilly CPA

In 1974 Peter J Reilly graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester Mass with a plan. After serving a year in VISTA in an ill-conceived project sponsored by the Worcester Consortium for Higher Education, he commenced graduate studies in history at the University of Chicago. That did not go well so he went with the backup plan.

Three years later with a bachelors in business administration from Clark University earned while working as a hotel night auditor and controller for a travel company, he went to work for Joseph B Cohan and Associates, a large local Worcester CPA firm founded in 1917. He became expert in whatever Herb Cohan said he was an expert in. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was big help to him since he spent more time reading than most accountants and all of a sudden everything they knew was wrong. In 1990 he was the last person to become a partner in Joseph B Cohan and Associates.

In 1997 he became one of the founding partners in CCR LLP (he was not the R), which grew to be the largest regional firms in New England, at least by their own account. The firm was acquired by Grant Thornton in 2011 giving him a taste of national firm life as a managing director. That went slightly better than graduate school in history.

After Grant Thornton was done with them Reilly and his life partner opened a boutique practice with another couple focused on real estate tax issues with a taste of family office. They withdrew from the practice 2018 and began touring the country in an RV until interrupted by the plague. They are currently sheltering in place in their home in North Oxford MA. Reilly continues to consult mostly for other tax practitioners.

Reilly’s writing career began in 2009 with a blog, now titled Your Tax Matters Partner. He was picked up by Forbes.com in 2011 and continues with both. Although he covers a wide range of tax topics, part of his perspective is that of a practical large local/regional CPA who has to provide technically sound advice to clients and partners who are not that patient.

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How to Qualify for More Interest Deductions You Didn’t Pay

Your Questions Answered: The Dubious Anonymity of Virtual Currency Transactions

Question: Bitcoin being treated as property by the IRS was partially related to not being “legal tender in any nation.” Does the fact that El Salvador is now using cryptocurrency have any cascading ramifications for tax/currency treatment of bitcoin in the U.S.?

Answer: The Department of Justice recently issued a news release to strike terror in the hearts of anyone attempting to execute cryptocurrency tax shenanigans. Similarly, the federal court for the Northern District of California entered an order authorizing a John Doe’s summons on Payward Venture Inc. and subsidiaries d/b/a Kraken. The IRS wants to look at the records of U.S. taxpayers who conducted at least the equivalent of $20,000 in transactions in cryptocurrency during the years 2016 to 2020.
What’s with all the sudden interest in crypto, and why are the feds looking to snoop around retroactively? If you’re curious to find out why and how to stay off its radar, keep reading.

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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.

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Monetized Installment Sale – Risky Business

The monetized installment sale (MIS), which is more of a product than a tax concept sounds very attractive. In the right circumstances MIS promises a very long deferral of capital gains tax for a reasonable cost. But does the strategy actually work?

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Monetized Installment Sale – IRS Finally Says It Does Not Work

The promoters of Monetized Installment Sales got some bad news from the IRS earlier this month. The IRS released an analysis the Office of Chief Counsel did outlining six, count them six, ways in which the transaction does not work as the promoters claim. The release will not stop the industry in its tracks, but it will probably be a relief to practitioners who have been advising that the technique is flawed.

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Employee Retention Credit for the Little People

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) was probably the ugly step-child of the CARES Act. It received very little attention from tax practitioners, because participation in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) precluded ERC. The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act changed all that.

This good news to you as a business owner threatens to overwhelm smaller tax firms, some of which might leave a valuable service to be performed probably less than ideally by the sorts of firms that sell R&D studies and cost segregation. They are already advertising.

To avoid missing out on this valuable service for your client or to capture this free cash for yourself as a small business owner, keep reading.

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Does the Cohan Rule Still Matter?

Looking to write off your favorite wine? Better yet, how about deducting it while lacking the receipts?

For nearly a century, freewheeling salespeople, hobnobbers, and schmoozers alike have treated potential customers and employees to fine dining and entertaining all while seeking the maximum tax break in the process with minimal substantiation.

While proving these expenses has certainly gotten easier with technology, smart planners have made use of the so-called Cohan rule to enjoy the deductions without the paperwork nightmare. Want to make use of it yourself? Read on to learn more.

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Conservations Easement - Good Execution is the Key

Conservation Easements: Good Execution Is the Key

If someone approaches your client offering four to one deductions on conservation easements (probably somewhere in the Southeast), you need to do your best to talk them out of it. And if you cannot, it may be best to let some other practitioner have the honor of preparing their return.

On the other hand, if your client has land or a building they would like to preserve forever, a conservation easement may be just the thing. Assuming the desire to have the property preserved anyway, it is about as close to a free lunch as you can get. Good execution is the key to making it work. Read on to learn how!

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Bob Dylan Shows How to Beat an Imminent Tax Increase

Timing might be one of the oldest, most valuable tax strategies known. Essentially, a timing strategy allows a taxpayer to pay tax when rates are generally lower rather than when in a higher tax bracket or when facing increasing tax rates. Given this, 2020 may have been an optimal time to sell capital assets if tax rates rise under the new administration.

President-elect Joe Biden has suggested taxing capital gains as ordinary income for high-income taxpayers (more than $400,000), as well as raising the top tax rate from 37% to 39.6%. Here’s how to cash in on the lower rates and, more importantly, when. While tax law changes seldom pass quickly, we often see changes made retroactive to the beginning of the year they are voted into law.

Based on a recent story in The New York Times, Bob Dylan may have anticipated the increase when he sold the copyrights to his catalog of more than 600 songs for $300 million. Not to fret if you found yourself missing the beat of Dylan’s lead, there are many things a taxpayer can do to reduce capital gains tax, especially for self-created works of art. Here’s how.

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Be More Aggressive in Claiming “Hobby Losses”

Imagine your clients, a couple, tell you they are going to start a business. They will breed horses, start a band, get into car racing, or write a book about beekeeping. Of course, there will be losses starting out, but they have plenty of income to shelter and in the long run, they figure they can make money.

If you are as I used to be, you may discourage them from deducting the losses, particularly if there are other complications on their return. You figure the Schedule C or Schedule F will be a red flag, and they will likely lose on audit. I’d like to suggest that you rethink that attitude.

It is fine if you want to talk your physician client out of going into horse breeding or raising cattle, but if they are going to do it anyway, you should not try to talk them out of claiming the losses. Rather, you should talk to them about what they need to do to beef up their chances of winning an audit of their cattle ranch. And the great thing is that you are the one who can help them more than anybody. Read on to find out how.

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Airline Miles, Other Reward Programs, and Taxes – What You Need to Know

Frequent flyer miles and similar programs for other forms of consumption like grocery shopping raise a host of tax issues. There are the concerns of the recipients of the “rewards” and also of the issuers of the various sorts of points. A recent Tax Court decision brought the taxability of rewards into focus again and the opinion encourages the IRS to provide more guidance. Here is where we seem to be now.
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.

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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.

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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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