Staff Writer, Author at Think Outside the Tax Box

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Why Can’t I Deduct PPP Payroll Expenses?

Question: Given the recent passing of the stimulus law (CAA 2021) permitting a business to deduct payroll expenses paid with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds, how does an S corporation or Partnership basis negatively impact this? I’m hearing that even though the law allows the deduction, some businesses will have suspended losses due to PPP funds. Which is true? Can a business deduct losses from PPP payroll or not?

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What Is the Best Way Tax Advisors Can Charge for ERC Claims?

Question: How are you pricing Employee Retention Credit claims?

Answer: The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) has seemed more confusing than some of the other tax credits simply because it was mostly ignored by the tax community early in the pandemic. While small businesses happily pocketed PPP funds rather than claim the credit, the choice between the two benefits was clear.

As we now know, business owners can have both PPP loan forgiveness as well as access to the ERC tax credits. But many smaller firms and payroll processors felt overwhelmed by the demand, and with refunds taking months to process, some businesses are often looking for help on their own.

So many new players have entered the game selling access to these credits, up to $33,000 in cash per employee. Firms selling R&D studies and cost segregation are advertising – hard. Most are charging a percentage of the total credit amount.

You don’t want to miss out on this valuable service for your client to capture this free cash, yet many advisors are passing on this work due to the time, research, and education requirements for something that has such a short shelf life. Is it worth losing income to meet everyone’s needs?

Continue reading to check out the results of a short survey asking tax pros how they are charging for this type of work.

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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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Owner Employee Wages – Do They Qualify For ERC?

Question: I read the recent IRS Notice, but I’m not sure I understand whether or not an employee/owner’s wages qualify for the ERC. Help!

Answer: On August 4, 2021, the IRS released Notice 2021-49 to answer exactly this question – albeit true-to-form in the confusing way only the IRS offers as an explanation.

The notice addresses full-time equivalents, how to stack the ERC with tip credits, the timing of adding back wages for tax purposes, and whether a majority owner’s wages qualify for ERC.

Is it possible the IRS is favoring orphans in this notice? It certainly appears that way. The original text of the CARES Act referenced the rules for Work Opportunity Credits. Specifically, the act indicates that relationships listed in Code Section 51 apply and, while not explicitly saying only payments made to the list of related parties were ineligible, most readers assumed wages to the owners were not disqualified.

Here’s what the guidance now says.

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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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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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How To Report Officer’s Compensation For A Late S Election

Question: If I am making a late S election for a client, how do I handle the fact that the officer received no officer’s compensation throughout the year?

One of the biggest areas of audit for an S corporation return Form 1120S is officer’s compensation. The IRS collects and examines data from all returns filed and develops a computerized standard of insufficient compensation. Since this area can result in deficiencies for payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare) for every dollar of distribution reclassified to wage, tax advisors would be wise to avoid risk factors that might raise the risk of audit on officer’s compensation.

By avoiding what resembles unreasonably low compensation, we can help business owners by limiting the number of Forms 1120S without officer’s compensation. However, when making a late S election, what is the rule when officer’s truly have taken no compensation? You might be surprised to learn it isn’t filing a Form 1099. Read on to find out how to reduce the risk of audit, while accurately reporting your first Form 1120S.

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

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

Question: Can I increase my business tax deductions with interest the Small Business Administration (SBA) paid during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Answer: In short, yes. But it depends on the type of loan, forgiveness options, and loan status. We here at Think Outside the Tax Box sure like the way you’re thinking!

One of the benefits created through the CARES Act included payments on existing SBA loans. In addition, new SBA loans created through the PPP and EIDL programs included deferred payments for the first six months of the loan.

Depending on your current situation, you may actually qualify for the interest deduction, even if the SBA paid it on your behalf!
To learn how to qualify, continue reading.

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How to Get More Tax Write-offs for Your Rental Property

Question: Do I need to have my LLC hold the title to my rental property to get the tax benefits?

Answer: If you’re like most investors, you probably purchased your rental property in your own name. While this doesn’t keep you from accessing all the special tax breaks available with owning real estate, it does expose you to some risky liabilities.

Insurance can cover a lot of predictable liabilities like slip and falls, theft, and vandalism, but there are many other things that can happen putting not only the property at risk but also your personal assets.

One way to protect against this risk is by using an LLC to hold your property. Most LLCs act like a corporation in providing limited liability protection against creditors for your personal assets and your other non-real estate business activities.

Like most things in law, changing the deed can lead to a whole set of problems. So be sure to think twice before changing your deed. There are two key problems this action can cause you as the property’s owner. Keep reading to learn how to overcome them.

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How to Deduct Even More Expenses as Self-Employed Health Expenses

Question: Can I still deduct self-employed health insurance if my spouse has insurance through their employment?

Answer: You may potentially qualify for the deduction even if your spouse has insurance through their employment.

Healthcare costs seem to be always on the rise, and if you’re self-employed if can be tough to find an affordable option for a single participant plan.

The good news is, the Self-Employed Health Insurance deduction provides an “above the line” write-off helping you not only save tax through a lower taxable income, but it also helps to slash your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

Lowering your AGI also helps mitigate the disadvantages of AGI based tax laws. For example, some itemized like medical expenses and charitable contributions can be hampered by the amount of your AGI. In other words, AGI determines how much of certain deductions and tax credits you can take.

There are three steps to qualifying for this deduction including some special provisions that let you sweeten the deal. Did you know you can even write off dental and long-term care insurance as self-employed medical expense? You can! Here’s how to get even more write-offs if you’re self-employed.

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How to Claim the Emergency Relief Credit Fast

Question: How are you pricing Employee Retention Credit claims?

Answer: The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) has seemed more confusing than some of the other tax credits simply because it was mostly ignored by the tax community early in the pandemic. While small businesses happily pocketed PPP funds rather than claim the credit, the choice between the two benefits was clear.

As we now know, business owners can have both PPP loan forgiveness as well as access to the ERC tax credits. But many smaller firms and payroll processors felt overwhelmed by the demand, and with refunds taking months to process, some businesses are often looking for help on their own.

So many new players have entered the game selling access to these credits, up to $33,000 in cash per employee. Firms selling R&D studies and cost segregation are advertising – hard. Most are charging a percentage of the total credit amount.

You don’t want to miss out on this valuable service for your client to capture this free cash, yet many advisors are passing on this work due to the time, research, and education requirements for something that has such a short shelf life. Is it worth losing income to meet everyone’s needs?

Continue reading to check out the results of a short survey asking tax pros how they are charging for this type of work.

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How Late Is Too Late to Request a Late S Election?

Question: How Late Is Too Late to Request a Late S Election?

Answer: Late in 2020, the IRS issued a Private Letter Ruling related to a late S election request for relief. Generally, you must file a request to become an S corporation no later than the 15th day of the third month of the taxable year for which the election is to take effect. If you miss this deadline, or don’t file an election at all, the business is generally considered a C corporation or LLC.

If you’re like most business owners, however, you may not have known at the time you formed your business all the tax benefits available to you by holding your business as an S corporation. Whether you were unaware, or for some other reason, it may be well past the official IRS deadline to make this request for the current or recently ended tax year.

If you haven’t yet filed your tax returns at all, you may be qualified to use the relief available by following the proper procedures. You may also wonder, “How far back can I go in changing the way my business income is taxed?” To learn more about how far back and how long you can be “fashionably late,” continue reading.

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Go the Extra (Tax) Mile

Question: Can my business still take a deduction for my car if the title is in my name?

Answer: If you want to get all the business deductions you are entitled to for your car, it’s better to have the vehicle titled in your business’s name. Most taxpayers continue to use their vehicles for both personal use and business purposes, as a result, most car titles show just the individual’s name as the owner. This can present a big problem and potential lost deductions, especially due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

It is important to review the rules since they have changed recently. You may have deducted expenses on past tax returns as an unreimbursed employee vehicle expense. But under tax reform, the miscellaneous itemized deductions were repealed until 2026, and this is an important rule change. Read on to learn how to still benefit after tax reform and why it can help you go the extra tax mile to title the car in your business’s name.

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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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Extra Taxes on S Corporation Distribution?

Question: 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?

Answer: Without planning, yes, the taxpayer has to pay tax on this excess distribution amount. There is a completely legal way to either avoid or substantially reduce this tax, though. Read on to learn how.

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Closing the Tax Gap – An Enticing Alternative to Raising Taxes

The tax hikes on wealthy Americans included in President Biden’s economic recovery plan last spring have been a battleground for bipartisan debate for most of 2021. Now, the Senate Republicans have pushed aside the administration’s proposal to increase funding for the Internal Revenue Service, for the moment. We will take a closer look at the proposed IRS funding, the reasons it is necessary, and how the same wealthy Americans could end up the most impacted by the proposal.

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Can I Double Dip? Qualifying for Both PPP Forgiveness and COVID-related Tax Credits

Question: Is it possible to qualify for both PPP forgiveness and COVID-related tax credits?

Answer: The short answer, of course, includes, “it depends.” We were fortunate that the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December 2020 made it so that businesses that received PPP loans may now be eligible for the Employee Retention tax credits retroactively.

The tax credits are great – a dollar for dollar reduction of tax, and for 2020 the value is up to $5,000 per employee!
It is a credit against the employer’s share of the Social Security tax, but it is refundable, so if the amount of the credit is more than the tax, you’ll get free cash from the IRS.

In addition, we’ve discussed previously in Think Outside the Tax Box about paid leave tax credits and even how to get them if you are a small business. These credits are also applicable even if you received PPP forgiveness provided you otherwise qualify.
Here’s where it gets complicated. You can stack the benefits, but you can’t double dip. While no one likes a double dipper at the snack bowl (especially during COVID) there are ways to get the benefit from forgiven PPP funds and tax credits allowing you to have your chips and “dip” them too.

Keep reading to learn how to legally take these benefits.

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Can I “Nominee” Income From a Schedule C to Another Return?

I have a few physician clients who earn their income via Form 1099 and are perfect candidates for an S corporation. However, the hospital won’t issue the Form 1099 in the name/EIN of an S corporation. Is this an issue? Can I still report the income on the Form 1120S and report the Form 1099 on a Schedule C with a negative adjustment for the same amount and attach an explanation annually? Or is there any other way?

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CURRENT EDITION

The Safeguards Rule — Are You Compliant?

Tax professionals must take measures to prevent unauthorized access to customer information. For example, you should limit access to customer data to only those employees who need it for their jobs. Also, outsourcing tax preparation in your firm can impact this security.

In October 2019, the IRS added a new question about data security responsibilities to the form to obtain or renew a PTIN. As a tax professional, it’s important to understand what the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires and how you can comply.

Keep reading to learn what steps you can take to help protect the confidential information of clients and ensure GLBA compliance.

Inflation Reduction Act — Up to $40,000 in Tax Credits with Clean Commercial Vehicle Credit

First, you need to get an EIN, then get an LLC, establish business credit, and then you can buy a car in your business name. That process may get you a new car but that does not make it a business expense or eligible for a credit. Friends, that is not how this works; that is not how any of this works.

I’ve noticed a recent obsession in the online business world with writing off car expenses. Especially clean vehicles since President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act in August.

There is a correct way to do so, and then, there are a variety of ways to do it incorrectly. If you don’t believe me, just scroll through TikTok and Instagram, it will make your head hurt.

Misinterpretations of Section 179 have set the internet ablaze. That is why I want to make sure we set the record straight on how the clean vehicle credit can benefit businesses. That is if your client follows the guidelines set by the IRS. *Hint, hint: It requires more than buying the car in your business name using your business credit.

Let’s look at the amendments and additions to the IRC that make this credit valuable to business owners too. You have an opportunity to help your clients save $7,500 to $40,000 when they buy a qualifying clean commercial vehicle from now until December 31, 2032.

Retirement Tax Planning — Retirement Plans for the Sole Proprietor

Many of the same tax advantages perceived as being only available with entity taxation are also available to Schedule C sole proprietors and that includes funding retirement plans. It’s perfectly OK to start and continue to run a business as a sole proprietorship filing a Schedule C for when it makes financial and administrative sense to do so.

There are a number of advantages to having a retirement account. Of course, when you contribute to a retirement account, you can deduct your contributions from your taxable income. This can result in significant savings come tax time. Additionally, the money in your retirement account grows tax-free. This means that you can potentially earn a lot more on your investment than you would if it were subject to taxation. A retirement account gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have a cushion to fall back on in retirement. No matter what happens in the markets, you will always have access to your retirement savings. This can provide a great deal of security during uncertain economic times.

While retirement accounts can be a great way to save for the future, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. For one thing, retirement accounts often come with strict penalties for early withdrawal. This means that if you need to access your savings before retirement age, you may be subject to significant fees. Additionally, retirement accounts can be complex and confusing, making it difficult to keep track of your progress.

While retirement accounts can be a helpful tool for saving, it’s important to be aware of the potential drawbacks before you decide as a sole proprietor whether or not to open one. Click here to explore the different types of retirement plans available to sole proprietors and the pros and cons of each.

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    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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    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!

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    Five Tax Reduction Strategies for the Casual Cryptocurrency Owner

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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?

    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.

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