Category Archives: Deductions

Home Office Deduction Simplified

 

HHome Office Deduction Simplified

 

IRS posts a new simplified method for the Home Office Deduction Starting in 2013; Home-Based Businesses May Deduct up to $1,500;

 

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service published Revenue Procedure 2013-13.  This procedure explains a a simplified option that a lot of owners of home-based businesses and some home-based workers may use to figure their deductions for the business use of their homes. The government estimates this will saves Taxpayers 1.6 Million Hours per year in compliance time.

 

In tax year 2010, the most recent year for which Statistics of Income are available, nearly 3.4 million taxpayers claimed deductions for business use of a home (commonly referred to as the home office deduction).

 

The new optional deduction, capped at $1,500 per year based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet, will reduce the paperwork and recordkeeping burden on small businesses by an estimated 1.6 million hours annually.

 

“This is a common-sense rule to provide taxpayers an easier way to calculate and claim the home office deduction,” said Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller. “The IRS continues to look for similar ways to combat complexity and encourages people to look at this option as they consider tax planning in 2013.”

 

The new option provides eligible taxpayers an easier path to claiming the home office deduction. Currently, they are generally required to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829) often with complex calculations of allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions.  Taxpayers claiming the optional deduction will complete a significantly simplified form.

 

Though homeowners using the new option cannot depreciate the portion of their home used in a trade or business, they can claim allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses on the home as itemized deductions on Schedule A. These deductions need not be allocated between personal and business use, as is required under the regular method.

 

Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees are still fully deductible.

 

Current restrictions on the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office must be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit tied to the income derived from the particular business, still apply under the new option.

 

The new simplified option is available starting with the 2013 return most taxpayers file early in 2014. Further details on the new option can be found in, Revenue Procedure 2013-13.

 

The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.

 

CPA South Florida

 

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Deductions Still Available For 2012

Deductions Still Available  For 2012

 

 

Tax Saving Tips // Tax Preparation

 

 

 

Tax Savings Ideas For 2012

There is good news there is still a way to make a deduction for the previous year. The most sensible, legal tax-saving move for anyone that wants deductions for last year is to to fully fund one’s  IRA or SEP.

 

The funding can be postponed until the due date of the return, so there isn’t a panic to fund those right now.

 

 

What is an IRA?

 

 

IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account, and it’s basically a savings account with big tax breaks, making it an ideal way to sock away cash for your retirement. A lot of people mistakenly think an IRA itself is an investment – but it’s just the basket in which you keep stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other assets.

 

 

What is a SEP?

 

 

A SEP is a simplified employee pension plan. A SEP plan provides a way for the self-employed to fund their own retirement.

 

Frequently a client with a second business will ask, “If I am an employee and participate in my employer’s retirement plan, can I set up a SEP for self-employment income?

 

Yes. A SEP can be set up for a person’s business even if he or she participates in another employer’s retirement plan.

 

We are here to accommodate clients with good service that is convenient, and priced fairly. Our office is here to answer any tax questions that you need help with.

 

CPA Deerfield Beach

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Pension Plans-Some Basic Selections for Smaller Companies

Starting and managing a company has its difficulties, plus in spite of the fact you are devoted to the company, the business cannot run indefinitely.Ultimately, every owner stops working; your employees will stop working and retire too. As a company owner here are some basic options to help plan for the golden years.

§401(k) – Most owners consider a §401(k) plan an option for larger companies, however this kind of retirement plan can be set up for a one owner/employee business. This is known as a Solo §401(k). A lot of clients think the company has to match employee contributions, this is not true. Matching is typical however the plan’s founders can arrange the plan to not match employee contributions. The companies that have enough money to match employee contributions usually see employee morale go higher. Participants usually elect to have a set percentage or dollar amount deducted from their paycheck. The employee limits on contributions to a retirement plan for 2012 is $17,000 for those under 50 years, and $22,500 for those over 50. §401(k)s are available in Traditional and Roth versions. A Roth or Traditional plan version permits the employee to choose between, paying taxes in the beginning or paying taxes when money is withdrawn from the account. Roth §401(k) account owners pay taxes in the beginning. Traditional §401(k) account owners pay taxes when money is withdrawn. 401(k) regulations also permit loans if the plan is setup with that option.

SEP- SEP (Simplified Employee Pensions) IRAs are an easy option for many small companies. These plans are comparatively undemanding to administrate. Participants generally cannot defer salary to the account. The company makes contributions based on a percentage of salary. Some participants in a SEP-IRA plan start additional IRAs to plan for the future. One major benefit to this plan is that a SEP-IRA can be set up after the tax year is closed. The employer contribution can be made as late as the due date (including extensions) of the company’s tax return for that year. IRS regulations do not permit loans, early withdrawals, or catch up contributions.

SIMPLE IRA – means for Savings Incentive Match for Employees. Relative to other kinds of pension plans the name “simple” is true. One downside is that the company is obligated to match employee contributions. Another thing to consider is the max contribution allowed to this type of plan is $11,500. The reporting requirements for this kind of plan are minimal.

The preceding information is not intended to replace the services of a professional. Consult a CPA or an Attorney who can better understand your particular circumstances. Please contact us.

CPA Firm

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The Choice Between A Regular §401(K) Plan Or A Roth §401(K)

When we meet clients to review their tax information, there often is a frequent question. “Which retirement option is better, the Roth option of my employer’s retirement plan or the traditional option?”

Roth accounts started in 1998.  The key concept of a Roth accounts is sacrifice a current year deduction for a guarantee the distributions taken when you retire are tax free.

From 1998 until 2005, Roth accounts were only available in the form of an IRA account. A lot of middle-income and high-income taxpayers could not contribute to a Roth IRA, because their incomes exceeded the relatively modest limit based on their filing status.  (The Roth IRA limit for 2012 is $125k for single individuals and $183k for married couples.)

Our elected representatives liked the public giving up a current year tax breaks by opting to go with a Roth IRA instead of to a Traditional IRA. In 2005, politicians decided to expand this opportunity to employer plans.

What’s the difference between the Traditional and Roth versions? Traditional employer plans permit the salary deferrals to reduce your taxable income and grow tax deferred.  Income taxes are paid on distributions taken from these accounts when you retire.

Let’s say you earn $200,000, and you max out your salary deferrals for $17,000 during the year.  In this case, your W-2 will report taxable wages of $183k in Box 1.  Assuming you are in the 33% federal tax bracket, the $17k you contribute saves you $6,667 in federal income taxes.  That’s a pretty good tax break.

What happens if you instead decide defer into a Roth version? When you contribute money to a Roth account, you forego a current year tax-break.  Your W-2, therefore, will report the full $200k as taxable wages in Box 1, instead of $183k that would be reported had you gone with the Traditional version.  The benefit of giving up this tax break is the tax-free treatment of the compounded growth on the $17k of salary deferrals. In other words, you won’t owe any federal income taxes on the distributions taken from this account when you retire.

The Max Benefit Factor:

From a general tax perspective, the Roth IRA is the better choice if your tax rate during retirement will be the same or higher than your current tax rate, as the Roth IRA allows you to pay the taxes now, and receive tax-free distributions when your income tax rate is higher. If your tax rate will be lower during retirement, then the traditional IRA may be the better choice if you are eligible to receive a tax deduction now when your tax rate is higher.

Since the savings you accumulate in traditional employer plans will eventually be taxed at ordinary income rates when you withdrawal, high tax rates during retirement could dramatically reduce the after-tax value of those savings.

As a general rule the Roth accounts are better for savers in their 20s and 30s. This is when the option of paying taxes on your contribution now is generally a better deal than getting a tax break today. When people are in a lower tax bracket and should expect to be in the same or higher tax bracket when  they retire.

The core to financial planning is saving. Saving will start to make you a Money Hero. On the way to becoming a hero there will be others to like us, to help improve your financial well-being.

Tax Prep Deerfield Beach

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Three basic tax areas of the Affordable Care Act

Benefits for Lower Income Taxpayers
Costs for Higher Income Taxpayers
Employer Responsibility

There is a Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit that benefits low and medium income level taxpayers. Medicare taxes are expanded and a new levy is created.  A good number of small businesses are exempt from the employer requirement.

Benefits for the less affluent taxpayers

Tax credit for health insurance. The legislation offers a tax credit to low and medium income level taxpayers. Starting 2014, there is a refundable tax credit (the “premium assistance credit”) for eligible individuals and families who purchase health insurance from an Exchange.

The refundable credit is paid to the insurer to help fund the purchase of certain health insurance plans. An eligible individual enrolls in a plan offered through an Exchange and conveys his or her income to the Exchange. The exchange analyzes the information and calculates the credit. The IRS pays the insurer. The premium amount the individual pays the insurer is the cost minus the credit. Employed individuals pay with payroll deductions.

The credit will be available for individuals and families with certain incomes levels and if they are not eligible for Medicaid, employer sponsored insurance, or other acceptable coverage.

The income test is up to 400% of the federal poverty level. The income thresholds are approximately $45,000 for an individual and $90,000 for a family of four.

Cost for more affluent taxpayers

Higher Medicare taxes. A supplemental Medicare is imposed Singles earning more than $200,000 and married couples earning more than $250,000. There is also a new Medicare levy on investments.

Medicare Taxes are the primary source of money for Medicare’s hospital program. The program pays hospital bills for participants older than 65 and the disabled. Right now workers and employers each pay 1.45%. Self-employed people pay both sides 2.90%   Under the new law, in 2013, most taxpayers will continue to pay the 1.45% Medicare hospital insurance tax, but single people earning more than $200,0000 and married couples earning more than $250,000 will be taxed at an additional 0.9% (2.35% in total) on the excess over those base amounts. Self-employed persons will pay 3.8% on earnings over the threshold.

Medicare tax levy on investments. Right now, Medicare tax is only assessed on wages. Beginning in 2013, a Medicare tax will, for the first time, tax investment income. The new 3.8% tax will be imposed on net investment income of single taxpayers with AGI above $200,000 and joint filers over $250,000. Net investment income is interest, dividends, royalties, rents, gross income from a trade or business involving passive activities, and net gain from disposition of property (other than property held in a trade or business). Net investment income is includes deductions against income.

Tax Tip

The new tax levy is not applicable to retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans. Also, the Medicare tax only applies to incomes in excess of the $200,000/$250,000 thresholds. For example a married filing joint return has $200,000 in wages and $100,000 in gains, $50,000 is taxed.

The employer mandate This is relevant to an employer who has employed an average of at least 50 full-time employees. This tax term is an “applicable large employer,” someone who employed an average of at least 50 full-time employees during the preceding calendar year. The law requires employers to offer coverage.

The following information is not intended to replace the services of a professional. Please consult a CPA or an Attorney who can better understand your particular circumstances. Trying to set up and/or operate a corporation of any kind without competent professional guidance is asking for serious trouble. Please contact us.

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Hiring a Spouse as an Official Employee

Tax Planning

Tax Planning

This can create benefits. Here are two easy tax advantages for putting a spouse on the payroll of an S Corporation

 Accumulated tax deferred funds for retirement When the employee meets the tax-law requirements your company can deduct

contributions. The spouse has to be an official employee with a business purpose.

Contributions to a qualified retirement can create real savings. The annual contributions limits are quite generous. The easiest plan to set up is either a Solo §401(k) or a SIMPLE IRA. With a Solo §401(k) plan, your spouse can defer up to $17,000 to the plan (plus an extra $5,500 if he or she  is age 50 or older). Your company can match those contributions wholly or partially up to tax-law limits.

Get more tax deductions from business trips Generally, you can’t deduct the travel expenses attributable to your spouse if he or she accompanies you on a business excursion. However, if your spouse is a bona fide company employee and goes for a valid business reason, you may deduct his or her travel costs, including air fare, lodging and 50% of the meal expenses. The benefit also is tax-free to your spouse.

CPA Deerfield Beach

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Tax breaks to those who do volunteer work for charity

Charitable deduction

Charitable deduction

Thanks to the people in this world that do volunteer worker for a charity. We believe that you should be aware that your generosity permits deductions/tax breaks.

To many taxpayer’s surprise no tax deduction is allowed for the value of services you perform for a charitable organization. However some deductions are permitted for out-of-pocket costs you incur while performing the services (subject to the deduction limit that generally applies to charitable contributions).  This includes items such as:

Away-from-home travel expenses while performing services for a charity (out-of-pocket round-trip travel cost, taxi fares and other costs of transportation between the airport or station and hotel, plus lodging and meals). However, these expenses aren’t deductible if there’s a significant element of personal pleasure associated with the travel, or if your services for a charity involve lobbying activities.

The cost of entertaining others on behalf of a charity, such as wining and dining a potential large contributor (but the cost of your own entertainment or meal is not deductible).

If you use your car while performing services for a charitable organization you may deduct your actual unreimbursed expenses directly attributable to the services, such as gas and oil costs. Alternatively, you may deduct a flat 14¢ per mile for charitable use of your car. In either event, you may also deduct parking fees and tolls.

You can deduct the cost of a uniform you wear when you do volunteer work for the charity, as long as the uniform has no general utility (e.g., a volunteer ambulance worker’s jumpsuit). You can also deduct the cost of cleaning the uniform.

No charitable deduction is allowed for a contribution of $250 or more unless you substantiate the contribution by a written acknowledgment from the charitable organization. The acknowledgment generally must include the amount of cash, a description of any property contributed, and whether you got anything in return for your contribution. This presents a problem where you as a volunteer make a contribution on behalf of rather than directly to a charity. One way around this is for the charity to pay for the expenses, itself, and then be reimbursed by you (or you can make the donation before the expense is incurred). If this isn’t possible, you can safeguard your deductions as follows:

Get written documentation from the charity about the nature of your volunteering activity and the need for related expenses to be paid. For example, if you travel out of town as a volunteer, get a letter from the charity explaining why you’re needed at the out-of-town location.

If you are out-of-pocket for substantial amounts, you should submit a statement of expenses and, preferably, a copy of the receipts, to the charity, and arrange for the charity to acknowledge in writing the amount of the contribution.

You should maintain detailed records of your out-of-pocket expenses—receipts plus a written record of the time, place, amount, and charitable purpose of the expense.

We would be happy to assist you with any other questions you may have about deductions related to your charitable contributions.

CPA Deerfield Beach

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Converting nondeductible personal interest into deductible…


Many individuals and families (particularly those with school-age children), use personal loans or credit cards to buy cars or vans, finance private schooling, take vacations, etc.

If you are making significant payments on these kinds of debts, you know you can’t deduct the “personal interest.” That means you are paying the interest portion with after-tax dollars (and perhaps at very high rates as well).

There’s a way to convert your nondeductible interest payments into deductible expense. You can get this tax break if you own your own home.

Specifically, you can take out a home equity loan (in the normal way, from your bank for example) and use the proceeds to pay off your nondeductible debts. You will probably be paying at a lower rate, since many lenders are charging near prime on these loans. And the interest payments will be deductible even though you don’t use the loan for anything connected with the house.

Of course, before you borrow against the equity in your personal residence, you should be certain that you actually get the tax deduction benefit. As always, there are various technical restrictions and limits that may apply, depending on your particular tax facts and circumstances.

First, the loan must be secured by your residence. That is, the lender must have a mortgage interest in it. Don’t confuse so-called “home improvement” loans, which are just one type of personal loan, with qualifying “home equity” loans. The interest on an unsecured home improvement loan isn’t deductible.

Second, the residence securing the debt must either be your principal residence (essentially, the home you live in most of the year) or a single second residence, for example, a vacation home which you use for at least part of the year. If you own more than one “second” residence, a home equity loan secured by only one of them (your choice) can qualify.

Third, although, as noted above, home equity debt doesn’t have to be used on the home, there are limits on the amount of debt than can qualify. Specifically, qualifying home equity debt can’t exceed the lesser of (a) $100,000, or (b) your equity in the home (specifically, the fair market value of the home at the date of the loan reduced by the “acquisition debt,” generally, your first mortgage). For example, say a taxpayer takes out a first mortgage to buy a home worth $300,000. Later, when the first mortgage is still $200,000, but because of a downturn in the real estate market the value of the home has declined to $275,000, the taxpayer takes out a home equity loan to reduce his credit card debts and pay for his daughter’s wedding. The taxpayer will only be able to deduct the interest on a maximum of $75,000 of any home equity loan he takes out ($275,000 fair market value minus $200,000 acquisition debt), even though the lender may be willing to make a loan in excess of the taxpayer’s $75,000 equity in the home. Thus, if the taxpayer took out a $100,000 home equity loan, only 75% of the interest on the loan would be deductible.

Also, you should bear in mind that interest on a home equity loan isn’t deductible for purposes of the alternative minimum tax (AMT), unless you use the loan to improve your home. This is an important consideration, since an increasing number of taxpayers are subject to the AMT.

Note that a home equity lender is required to give you an information return (Form 1098) reporting the interest you paid, but that form doesn’t show the deductible percentage, just the total amount of interest paid.

I would be happy to personally go over all of these rules with you to see if the home equity technique—or other tax-saving strategies that your financial situation may suggest—will work for you.

Please contact us so we can meet.

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Business Tax strategies for Purchasing a New Car

The decision of whether to trade in an old business car or try to sell it for cash generally should be based on factors such as the amount you can get on a sale versus a trade-in, and the time and bother a sale will entail. However, important tax factors also may affect your decision-making process. Here’s an overview of the complex rules that apply to what appears to be a simple transaction, and some pointers on how to achieve the best tax results.

In general, the sale of a business asset yields a gain or loss depending on the net amount you receive from the sale and your basis for it. “Basis” is your cost for tax purposes and, if you bought the asset, usually equals your cost less the depreciation deductions you claimed for the asset over the years. Under the tax-free swap rules, trading in an old business asset for a new, like-kind asset doesn’t result in a current gain or loss, and the new asset’s basis will equal the old asset’s remaining basis plus any cash you paid to trade up. The rules generally are the same for business cars, with a couple of extra twists. Here are some pointers.


As a general rule, you should trade in your old business car if you used it exclusively for business driving, and its basis has been depreciated down to zero, or is very low. The trade-in often avoids a current tax. For  example, if you sell your business car for $9,000, and your basis in it is only $7,000, you will have a $2,000 taxable gain, but if you trade it in, a current tax is avoided. True, your basis in the new car will be lower than it would be if you bought it without a trade-in, but that doesn’t necessarily mean lower depreciation deductions on the new car. Because of the so-called “luxury auto” annual depreciation dollar caps, your annual depreciation deductions on the new car may be the same whether you sold the old car or traded it in.


However, you should consider selling your old business car for cash rather than trading it in if you used it exclusively for business driving and depreciation on the old car was limited by the annual depreciation dollar caps. In this situation, your basis in the old car may exceed its value. If you sell the old car, you will recognize a loss for tax purposes. However, if you trade it in, you will not recognize the loss. By way of a simplified example, let’s assume a business person bought a $30,000 car several years back and used it 100% for business driving. Because of the annual depreciation dollar caps, she still has a $16,000 basis in the car, which has a current value of $14,500. Now, she wants to buy another $30,000 car. If the old car is sold, a $1,500 loss will be recognized ($16,000 basis less $14,500 sale price). If the old car is traded in for a new one, there will be no current loss. Of course, if the old car’s value exceeds its basis, the tax-smart move is to trade it in and thereby avoid a gain.

You also may be better off selling your old business car for cash rather than trading it in, if you used the standard mileage allowance to deduct car-related expenses. For 2011, the allowance is 51¢ per business mile driven from Jan. 1, 2011 through June 30, 2011, and 55.5¢ per business mile driven from July 1, 2011  through Dec. 31, 2011. (For 2012, the allowance is 55.5¢ per business mile driven.) The standard mileage allowance has a built-in allowance for depreciation, which must be reflected in the basis of the car. The deemed depreciation is 22¢ for every business mile traveled during 2011 (23¢ for every business mile traveled in 2012). When it’s time to dispose of a car, the depreciation allowance may leave you with a higher remaining basis than the car’s value. Under these circumstances, the car should be sold in order to recognize the loss.


Did you use your car partially for business, partially for personal use? The rules are more complicated in this situation, which can occur if you are self-employed, or an employee required to supply a car for business use.

  • If you sell the part-business, part-personal-use car, cost and depreciation must be allocated between the business and personal portions. Gain or loss on the business part is recognized; gain, but not loss, is recognized on the personal part.
  • If you trade in the part-business, part-personal-use car, a special basis rule applies for depreciation purposes only: The basis of the new car as computed under the normal trade-in rules is reduced by any difference between (1) the depreciation that would have been allowable had the old car been used 100% for business driving, and (2) the depreciation claimed for its actual business use.

Are you thinking of leasing a business car? The complex rules that apply to purchased business autos are one reason many businesses are leasing vehicles instead of buying them. You simply deduct the business/investment use portion of annual lease costs, and, if the vehicle is a “luxury” model, you add back to income during each lease year an income inclusion amount derived from an IRS table. For auto leases that begin during 2011, the auto is a “luxury” if the auto’s fair market value exceeds $18,500 ($19,000 for certain trucks and vans treated as autos for purposes of the “luxury” auto rules). There are, however, a few special angles you should be aware of:

  • If you pay an additional sum up-front, it should be amortized over the life of the lease.
  • Any refundable deposit required as part of the lease deal can’t be deducted at all.

All of this sounds very complicated, and it is. Before you sell or trade in your business car or lease a new one, please give us a call and we’ll set up a meeting to discuss your options.

CPA Deerfield Beach

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