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S Corporation Losses May NOT Be Deductible

Have you ever heard of the term “basis” as it relates to S Corporation stock ownership?  If you’re not familiar with the term, you should be, especially as it relates to potentially deducting your share of losses allocated to you by an S Corporation.

Let me give you a common scenario when a new business is formed, and an S Corporation election is made:

  1. New business started up 1/1/17
  2. Business borrows $100,000 from the bank to buy equipment, furniture, etc.
  3. Owners do NOT contribute money personally to the business
  4. Business shows $50,000 loss (on paper) due to accelerated depreciation (write offs)

How much of the $50,000 loss described above can the shareholders deduct?  Answer… ZERO!!

Why?  S Corporation losses are limited to your BASIS.  There’s that word again.  What is basis?  Basis is the cumulative amount of income (or losses) less distributions plus capital contributed.

In the example above, the shareholders borrowed money from the bank (i.e. didn’t contribute personally) and proceeded to lose $50,000 for the year.  Their basis at the end of the year is ZERO and NONE of the losses are allowed.  Essentially, based on tax law, the government is saying that YOU (Mr. Shareholder) haven’t lost anything.  You borrowed the money.

Let’s change the scenario a bit and say that the shareholders contributed $100,000 instead of borrowing the $100,000.  The $100,000 of capital contributed gives the shareholders BASIS.  Now the losses become deductible because the shareholders have, in effect, lost something.  They’ve depleted (by way of losing money) their capital so to speak.

The moral of the story is this:  Be careful when you borrow money in an S Corporation especially in the start-up years.  You may be banking on tax losses that aren’t available to you.

A better way to organize your business (from the start-up phase) might be as an LLC that is taxed as a partnership.  Partnerships can deduct losses (related to borrowed money) because partnership basis (as opposed to S Corporation basis) IS increased by debt if the partners personally guarantee the debt.  The losses described above would have been deductible in a partnership assuming the partners guaranteed the $100,000 debt.

Above said, this is the reason you should consult with a tax adviser BEFORE organizing your business.  I’d love to help you avoid this trap!

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Why you need timely, accurate accounting.

Having timely, accurate accounting information is essential to running a healthy business.  As I progress through my business career and interact with lots of “business” people, I’m noticing a scary trend.  Many business owners do not see the need to have timely, accurate accounting done by someone in house (controller) or an outsourced CPA firm.  This worries me.  Let me tell you why…

1.      You will have difficulty selling your business.

Think a successful business or business owner will take your word on how well the business is performing?  Think a couple of spreadsheets will do the trick?  The answer is a resounding NO!  I’ve personally seen a business owner try to sell his business to a potential suitor only to be turned down and ultimately questioned due to a lack of timely financial statements.  Deficiencies in this area lead successful people to question just how serious you are about your business.  It tells them that you don’t value data and make sound business decisions according to that data.  Essentially, you’re flying by the seat of your pants or running the business off feel or emotion.  Numbers are black and white and tell the picture.

2.      You won’t proactively plan for taxes throughout the year.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a projection of your Federal and State tax liabilities, at least, quarterly?  Imagine taking large sums of your money out of your business only to realize later that most of that money should have been used to pay tax liabilities.  Having taxes estimated on a regular basis allows you to set aside tax funds, operate your business, and take personal distributions with the remainder without regret.

3.      Growing the business will be hard.

A lack of financial records will make it difficult to expand, open a new location, or build a talented team.  Similarly, getting financing will be extremely difficult.  How will you prove to any lender that your company is strong financially and able to pay the debt back timely?  Employees will also recognize your lack of financial reporting when it comes time to account for out of pocket expenses.  Would you work for a company that is cavalier about employee reimbursements?  Without accurate, timely financial reporting, growing your small business will be hard.

These are just a few of the many reasons to get serious about having timely, accurate accounting for your business.  This data is invaluable in making proactive financial decisions.

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Early withdrawals from a 401(k) can be costly

If you’re considering taking a 401(k) withdrawal before you’ve reached 59 ½ years old, I would think twice.  In most cases (excluding those where you’ve left your employer in/after the year you turned 55), taking a 401(K) withdrawal before you reach 59 ½ will cost you.

Let’s walk through a simple example:

Sample Facts:

  • 40 year old taxpayer
  • $100,000 401(k) balance that is being entirely distributed
  • Distribution does not meet one of the IRS exclusions for escaping the 10% early withdrawal penalty.
  • Taxpayer’s marginal Federal tax bracket is 25%
    • For this example we’ll exclude state income tax

 

401(k) distribution taxable income                         $100,000

Less:  Fed income tax on distribution (25%)        ($25,000)

Less:  Early Withdrawal Penalty (10%)                    ($10,000)

 

Net after tax                                                                         $65,000

Now, let’s stop and think for a second.  A $100,000 distribution costs the taxpayer $35,000.  Another way to put it is to say the taxpayer paid a 35% interest rate (obviously much more if you annualized the rate).  I bring up the interest concept because an alternative to a complete distribution of your 401(k) is borrowing from (taking a loan against) your 401(k) account.   A second option would be tapping into the equity in your home or other assets you could borrow against.  I really would use the complete distribution of a 401(k) (assuming early withdrawal) as a last resort.

The tax code does allow taxpayers to take early withdrawals from a 401(k) that are NOT subject to the 10% penalty (https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-tax-on-early-distributions).  These distributions are still taxable for income tax purposes.  Given the example above, you’d still be paying 25%.

Here’s another thought, numbers aside.  Many people go through the process of distribution funds (early) from a 401(k), consulting with their 401(k) custodian, and withholding Federal income tax from the distribution and still end up with a tax bill.  Why?  Because they underestimate the tax burden (early withdrawal penalty) and/or the distribution puts them in a higher tax bracket because of the additional income.  Maybe the top tax bracket they normally reach is 25%, but this additional income puts them in the 28% or 33% bracket?  You can see how this can cause an unanticipated tax burden.

Again, there may be financial situations that simply demand you take an early withdrawal from your 401(k), but I would strongly suggest that you educate yourself on the potential costs so you are not surprised when you file your tax returns.

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Donating Appreciated Property for Tax Savings

Clients are always asking me for tax saving measures to take before the end of the year.  While most suggestions involve spending money to get a dollar for dollar deduction (cash donations to charity, increased retirement plan contributions, etc.), the Internal Revenue Code offers a creative planning opportunity.

If you own appreciated property (stock in this example), you can get a deduction for the value of this property if you donate it to a qualified charity.

Let’s look at a simple example:

  • 1,000 shares of XYZ Company stock purchased for $10/share in 1990 (total cost = $10,000)
  • Assume shares of XYZ Company stock are currently selling for $100/share (total value = $100,000)
  • If we stop right here we can see that the taxpayer has an unrealized long-term capital gain of $90,000. Assuming the taxpayer is not in the highest marginal income tax bracket, selling the stock would result in a $13,500 ($90,000 x 15%) tax hit.
  • Instead, let’s assume the taxpayer donated the stock to the LSU Foundation. Let’s also assume the taxpayer’s marginal tax bracket is 33%.
    • The taxpayer would receive a $100,000 charitable donation deduction which would save $33,000 in Federal tax ($100,000 x 33%)
    • Effectively the taxpayer has converted a $10,000 investment into $33,000 of Federal tax savings. Did I mention that $0.00 gain is recognized on this transaction?  Not only do you get a deduction for the fair market value of the property, but the unrealized gain is not recognized.  It simply goes away.

The example above is meant to be a simple one (i.e. does not consider phase out of itemized deductions or the 30% AGI limitation used when donating appreciating stock) but the point is clear.  Donating appreciated stock (assuming the taxpayer’s alternative is donating cash/check) is a great way to save income tax without depleting cash.

 

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Louisiana Technology Donations can be Big Tax Savings

Most taxpayers are aware of the benefits of making charitable donations.  It’s pretty simple in most cases.  You give to a charity and you get a charitable donation deduction that saves Federal income tax at your marginal tax rate.

For example:  If you donate $10,000 and you’re in the 28% tax bracket, you save $2,800 of Federal tax.  Pretty simple right?

The state of Louisiana offers a type of donation that works like the example I described above, but also offers substantial Louisiana income tax savings.  This deduction applies to donations (of a technological nature) made to educational institutions.  What’s really cool is that Louisiana gives you a 29% credit (to the extent you have Louisiana income tax) that reduces your Louisiana income tax dollar for dollar.  This credit combined with the Federal tax savings from the charitable deduction can be huge.

Let’s take a look at an example:

  • $10,000 donated to a local high school toward the purchase of new servers
  • Taxpayer ‘s marginal Federal tax rate is 33%
Federal tax savings                          $3,300 ($10,000 x 33%)
Louisiana tax savings                      $2,900 ($10,000 x 29%)
Total tax savings                               $6,200 ***

***Simple example above ignores the small Louisiana benefit from the charitable contribution deduction.

The total tax savings of $6,200 provides tax savings at a 62% clip.  That’s huge!  I can’t think of many other situations where making a tax move saves 62%.

To make the donation you should contact an educational institution (school)  and inquire of their technology needs.  Given the popularity of this tax saving donation, many schools begin developing a “wish list” of technology items as year end approaches.  Simply making a cash donation toward the purchase of technology will suffice.  I’ve seen schools list “partial payment…” as the description of the items donated on Form R-3400 (more on form below).

Once the donation is made, the school is required to provide Form R-3400 “Certification of Donation or Contribution of Property of a Sophisticated and Technological Nature.”  This form, along with copies of the invoices of the items donated (if not cash) or items that will be/have been purchased with your donation (cash) should be attached to your timely filed Louisiana individual income tax return to substantiate the donation and ultimate credit received.

If you’re charitably inclined, a Louisiana resident,  and looking to reap big tax savings before year end, you should definitely be considering making technology donations to a local school. Contact Us. 

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Cash Receipts and Disbursements Not the Best Way to Determine Profitability

Speaking with entrepreneurs recently (especially those w/businesses that buy/sell inventory) I’ve noticed a lack of understanding of the difference between cash flow and net income, profitability.

Let me give you an example:

  • Business selling inventory
  • Start business by purchasing 10,000 units at $1/unit; total purchase = $10,000
  • Sell 1,000 of those units for $5/unit; total sales = $5,000

Let’s stop here for a second.  At this point, many of you might come to the conclusion that you haven’t made any money (profits).  After all, cash spent ($10,000) exceeds cash received ($5,000 sales) and so your net cash flow is negative $5,000.   This view of the facts doesn’t tell the whole story.

Let’s view the facts using simple accounting:

  • Sales                                                  $5,000
  • Less: Cost of Goods Sold           ($1,000)
  • Equals: Gross Profit                     $4,000

Some of you may be thinking how can I have gross profit when I’ve spent more than I’ve collected in sales?  Good question!  The reason is that you’ve sold each of the 1,000 units for more than you paid for them individually.  The remaining $9,000 ($10,000 initial purchase less $1,000 cost of good sold) of inventory remains on your Balance Sheet as an asset.  It is not “expensed” on your Profit and Loss Statement until the units are actually sold.

Assuming the inventory doesn’t expire/spoil (think produce or other food type products) then your $9,000 of inventory will remain at that value on your Balance Sheet and will be “costed” to the Profit and Loss Statement at $1/unit.

My point is this.  Having the proper understanding of accounting for sales, inventory and cost of goods sold would lead you to better decision making.  Let’s say these items are flying off the shelves quickly and you’re profiting $4/unit ($5 sales price less $1 per unit cost), you definitely would consider buying more inventory even BEFORE you’d recouped your initial $10,000 investment.  Waiting until you recouped your initial $10,000 investment would cause you to miss profitable sales in the interim.

Above said, any credible accounting software that has an inventory function should be able to handle the accounting properly.  I recommend Xero or QuickBooks (desktop version) to handle inventory and consult on either software.

I hope this simple example will help you gain an understanding the differences between cash flow and profitability.  I’d love to help clarify the accounting to be used for sales, inventory, and costs of good sold.

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Form 1099 Filing Requirements

Form 1099 Filing Requirements

If you made a payment during the calendar year **as part of your trade or business**, you are likely required to file a 1099 or Information Return with the IRS.

Form 1099-MISC would be issued for payments, in the course of your trade or business for:

  • Services performed by independent contractors or others that are not your employees (to individuals or other businesses) of $600 or more to each payee
  • Prizes and awards of $600 or more
  • Rent of $600 or more
  • Royalties $10 or more
  • To physicians, physicians’ corporation or other supplier of health and medical services of $600 or more
  • For a purchase of fish from anyone engaged in the trade or business of catching fish of $600 or more
  • Substitute dividends or tax exempt interest payments and you are broker of $10 or more
  • Crop insurance proceeds of $600 or more
  • Gross proceeds of $600 or more paid to an attorney

Form 1099-MISC would also be used to report direct sales of $5,000 of consumer products to a buyer for resale anywhere other than a permanent retail establishment.

Form 1099-INT is used to report interest you paid on a business debt to someone of at least $10.

Form 1099-DIV is used to report dividends or other distributions to a company shareholder.  The minimum amount to be reported is $10.

Form 1099-R is used to report distributions from retirement plans.

**Trade or business**

If you are not engaged in a trade or business, you are not required to file 1099 forms.  A question that sometimes arises is, “do I need to give my lawn care service a 1099.”  It depends…if you pay a lawn care service to take care of your personal residence, then you are not required to issue a 1099 because there is no trade or business.  If you pay that same lawn care service to tend to your business property, then you are required to issue a 1099 unless an exception applies.

Owning a rental property constitutes a trade or business.  Paying someone over $600 for the upkeep or maintenance of your property could create a filing requirement.

Exceptions to general rule for issuing 1099s

You do not have to issue 1099s to companies that are incorporated unless it is for medical or legal services.  A company is incorporated if it is established as a C Corporation or an S Corporation.  You must issue a 1099 to a partnership or an LLC unless the business is taxed as a Corporation.  See W-9 Forms below.

If you paid someone under $600, you also are not required to issue a 1099 to that vendor.

W-9 Forms

It is a best practice for you to have a W-9 Form on file for each of your vendors.  The W-9 Form, prepared and signed by the vendor, provides information to the company that is necessary to prepare 1099 Forms.  Information includes the vendor’s name, address, tax identification number or social security number, and type of business.  If the W-9 form indicates that the company is a corporation or an S Corporation, you do not need to file a 1099 form unless they provide medical or legal services.  If the IRS questions why you did not issue a 1099 to XYZ LLC (an LLC taxed as an S Corporation), the signed W-9 Form is your proof that the company certified to you that they were incorporated.

Due Dates and Penalties

1099s are due to the recipients and to the IRS by January 31st this year if you are reporting nonemployee compensation in box 7.  Penalties for failure to file 1099s vary but are anywhere from $50 to $260 per 1099.

More info…

Most companies are required to prepare 1099s…are you ready to do so?  The due dates for filing with the IRS have been pushed up this year so get ready now for filing those 1099s in January!  The information presented above is a summary of some important 1099 facts; however, should you need to see the detailed rules, click below to access the IRS Instructions – 2016 General Instructions for Certain Information Returns.

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Cloud-based Accounting Tools for Your Business

We’ve been working hard researching and implementing cloud-based accounting and financial tools to help our clients organize their data and cut down on data entry while increasing accuracy.  From an accounting perspective, our focus has centered on Xero (www.xero.com) and all of the ways Xero can help run your business more efficiently.  The beauty of Xero is its seamless integration with many other cloud-based accounting and financial solutions.  At PRM we’re using these solutions for accounts receivable, accounts payable, collections, vendor payments, and document retention all while cutting down on data entry time, streamlining our digital processes, and increasing efficiency and accuracy.  All of the solutions we’ve adopted can be accessed in the cloud via web browser, phone, or tablet.  These solutions really do make it easy to run your business wherever you are.

Bill.com (www.bill.com)

Bill.com is a great tool for digitally managing accounts receivable, accounts payable, collections, and vendor payments

  • Simply fax, scan or email your bills to bill.com. No more opening mail, handwriting approvals and G/L coding directly on the bill.  com’s automated system handles everything from approval to coding once the bill is received.
  • The entire A/P approval and payment process can be managed digitally. Paying vendors is also a breeze using bill.com’s ACH or “ePayments.”
  • Easily syncs w/Xero and QuickBooks further reducing data entry. Payments received and payments made using bill.com flow into your accounting software updating A/P and A/R seamlessly.

What bill.com customers are saying…

https://vimeo.com/111689100

https://player.vimeo.com/video/116381760?width=720&height=405&iframe=true

Hubdoc (www.hubdoc.com)

Hubdoc is a great storage tool for financial documents and receipts.

  • Hubdoc imports your financial documents and receipts in 3 easy ways:
    • Snap and send a picture of your receipt to your Hubdoc account using the Hubdoc app. We’ve been using this for all debit and credit card charges.  Once in Hubdoc we have the ability to sync w/Xero.  Data entry is easier (automated) AND the transaction will include a copy of your receipt.  What better way to defend yourself in an IRS audit than to have the transaction properly coded and have a receipt attached?
    • Link your financial accounts to Hudoc
      • We’ve linked our bank and credit cards to Hubdoc. Hubdoc automatically imports each month’s statement
    • Forward invoices from your inbox or have vendors send invoices to Hubdoc for you
      • Hubdoc recognizes your email address so you can easily import documents into your account via email. Simply send a vendor invoice from your email account and Hubdoc places the invoice in your account
      • Have vendors send their invoices to a specific email address provided by hubdoc. My vendors can send an email to marcusmire.hubdoc@app.hubdoc.com and those invoices will automatically import into my account

Quick Hubdoc video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH27ZChAfdg

Give these tools a try.  My bet is that you’ll be amazed at the ease of use, quick set up, and convenience.

I’d love to talk with you about these tools and how they can transform your business’ efficiency.

 

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Benefits of a Roth 401(k)

A Roth IRA can be a great vehicle for retirement savings.  Taxpayers make after-tax (non-deductible) contributions to a Roth IRA.  Contributions accumulate along with earnings in the Roth IRA and can be withdrawn TAX FREE once the taxpayer reaches 59 ½ years old.  Contributing to a Roth IRA forgoes a current tax deduction for tax-free withdrawal of contributions and related earnings in retirement (after 59 ½ years old).

A drawback of Roth IRAs is the potential for taxpayers being excluded from making contributions as their income grows.  Taxpayers cannot contribute to a Roth IRA once their adjusted gross income reaches $133,000 (single filer) or $194,000 (married filer).

Taxpayers that participate in 401(k) plans at work or are self employed can avoid the Roth IRA contribution adjusted gross income phase outs ($133,000/single, $194,000 married) described above by making Roth contributions within a 401(k) plan.  Most 401(k) plans allow for employee Roth contributions and these contributions are NOT subject to the adjusted gross income limitations described above for taxpayers contributing to Roth IRAs.  Further sweetening the Roth 401(k) deal is ability to make larger employee contributions to a 401(k) than to a Roth IRA.  Roth IRA contributions are limited to $5,500 ($6,500 if 50 years or older) while Roth 401(k) contributions are limited to $18,000 ($24,000 if 50 years or older).

Consider this example:

  • Married couple in their 30s with an adjusted gross income of $320,000
  • Roth IRA contributions allowed = ZERO
    • Contributions allowed are “phased out” when adjusted gross income reaches $194,000 for a married couple
  • Roth 401(k) contributions allowed = $36,000 ($18,000 each)

A Roth 401(k) makes PERFECT sense for a high-income, young taxpayer.  Why?  Consider a taxpayer that would normally be excluded from making Roth IRA contributions because their adjusted gross income exceeds the phase out thresholds.  Not only can that taxpayer contribute to a Roth 401(k), he can contribute over three times the amount ($18,000 vs. $5,500) that could be contributed to a Roth IRA.

The reason being “young” is a big factor in this example is the time horizon for earnings growth.  Roth IRAs are popular to young taxpayers because of the length of time earnings grow that will ultimately be distributed tax free assuming distributions after 59 ½ years old.

A Roth 401(k) option is available even if you’re self-employed.  Consult your financial adviser about setting up a “Solo K” plan that allows for employee Roth contributions.

For taxpayers that fit the right criteria (high income, young), Roth 401(k) contributions make a TON of sense.

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New Due Dates for 2016 Tax Returns

 

Are you ready for the new due dates for 2016 tax returns due in 2017?  Recently enacted legislation has changed some due dates in order to facilitate a more logical flow of information, allowing taxpayers and preparers more ability to timely prepare and file returns.

Individual tax return (Form 1040) due date of April 15th and extended due date of October 15th did not change!  These dates are said to be “cut in stone”!  See below regarding FinCen Form 114, if applicable.

Partnership and LLC return (Form 1065) due dates have moved up a month…they are now due on March 15th.  If an extension is filed, the due date will be September 15th.

S Corporation return (Form 1120S) due dates remain the same…they are due on March 15th.  If an extension is filed, the due date will be September 15th.

Trust returns (Form 1041) original due date remains the same (April 15th); however, the extended due date is now September 30th.

Corporation return (Form 1120) due dates have been pushed back a month to April 15th for calendar-year returns. If an extension is filed, returns are due Sept. 15th until 2026, see note below.  For fiscal year companies, in most cases, returns will be due on the 15th day of the fourth month after the year-end.

Note:  Calendar­year C corporations can get extensions until Sept. 15 until tax years beginning after 2025, when the extended due date will be Oct. 15. June 30 fiscal­ year­end C corporations (returns due Sept. 15) can get extensions to April 15 until tax years beginning after 2025; after 2025, June 30 fiscal­year­end C corporations will have an Oct. 15 due date and can get extensions until April 15.

FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) due date has changed from June to April 15th.  An extension can be filed now to grant additional time (until October 15th).

State Returns –  Many states are likely to follow the above federal due date changes but may need to enact legislation in order to make those changes.  Louisiana has not made those changes yet…stay tuned.

Forms W-2 and 1099 Series – Acceleration of Due Dates for Filing Information returns

W-2 and 1099 Forms have generally been due to recipients by January 31st and due to the IRS/SSA by February 28th (or March 31 if filed electronically). For the 2016 Forms due in 2017, returns will be due to the IRS/SSA by January 31st, the same day they are due to the recipients.

Businesses should review accounting records now in order to verify that vendor information is complete and ready to file 1099 forms at the end of the year.

Why change the due dates now? 

If you are wondering why these changes have been implemented and how they will be helpful, continue reading below:  The partnership Form 1065 is now the first return due (March 15th).  All other entities and individuals can be partners in a partnership and may need information from Schedules K­1 from partnerships to complete their tax returns. For this reason, it is both logical and helpful to many that it be completed first.

Once partnership and S corporation returns have been filed by March 15, individuals, trusts, and C corporations will have the information (K-1s) they need from their pass-through entities to file timely returns. Trusts will have two more weeks after receiving extended partnership and S corporation Schedules K­1 to finalize their extended returns and issue their Form 1041 Schedules K­1 to beneficiaries, who will have an additional two weeks to complete their personal returns. Taxpayers with foreign accounts will have all the information needed to complete FinCEN Form 114 at the same time as the individual tax return due date and extension.

C corporation new due dates of April 15 (or the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the tax year for most fiscal­year corporations).  Many C corporations previously needed to extend their returns because they were waiting on audited financial statements.  Audited financial statements are typically complete by the end of March. These corporations may no longer need to extend the income tax return.

It makes logical sense…only a tax season will tell whether the new dates truly make a difference in the hectic, fast-paced busy season!

For a quick-reference guide on the new due dates, click the link below to access the AICPA Federal Due Date Chart

http://www.aicpa.org/Advocacy/Tax/DownloadableDocuments/Federal-Due-Date-Chart-1-22-2016.pdf

 

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