Your CPA Can Help You Avoid Paying Taxes—But Only if They Know What's Going On!
For many people, the process of putting together tax information for their accountant is a burdensome chore. The chore can be that much worse when you have a small business or rental properties, etc. You finally get it done and submitted, and you sit and await your fate: refund or balance due. Whew. With that behind you, you file your records away, and are happy you don’t have to deal with that for another year. You go about your life, dealing with your real life issues… should I sell this property? Buy this one? What do we do with mom’s home, now that she is entering assisted living?
More than the messenger of whether you owe additional taxes
Your CPA is your strategic partner in minimizing taxes due. We are your advocate. But we can’t help you after the fact, when you turn in your records at tax time. We need you to contact us during the process of making these decisions, in case there are things you need to know.
Here is a real world example from the 2016 filing season.
A client of mine sent his records in and included information on the sale of one rental property and the purchase of another rental property. He assumed that because he rolled the profit from the sale into a new property, he wouldn’t be taxed on that gain. Unfortunately, that was an incorrect assumption.
When exchanging like properties, there is a way to avoid paying taxes in the near-term. Known as a Section 1031 exchange, there are several requirements that must be met. Had my client contacted me when he was contemplating the sale, I could have helped him do it in a way to avoid taxes on the transaction in 2015. But because he didn’t call me, he ended up paying a few thousand dollars in tax. This was not good news for me to deliver, and it was not good news for him to receive.
Here’s another example… My own mother.
A retiree, my mother decided to withdraw from her IRA to finance a small addition to her home. She had taxes withheld from the distribution, and assumed she would be OK. She never even thought to call and ask me. What she failed to consider was that her distribution was substantial enough to make her Social Security income taxable. She ended up paying several thousand dollars in tax, much more so than interest she would have paid on a bank loan.
The moral of the story is that we are here to help you, if you just stay in touch with us during the year. Sometimes a quick ten-minute phone call may be all that is necessary. It never hurts to ask, and there are no stupid questions. Other times, we may need a bit more information from you to sort it out. But the time necessary to evaluate it saves us time during busy season, and could potentially save you a lot of tax dollars.
So please, don’t be a stranger. We want to hear from you! For starters, contact us today.View full article
An Example by the Numbers
What an IC-DISC can do for your business
IC-DISC shareholdings can be used in a number of ways to help achieve business goals and objectives.
Permanent tax savings on global sales
Permanent tax savings begins with the exporting company deducting the commission it pays to the IC-DISC from its ordinary income, which is taxed at 35 percent. Tax law sets the commission rate, which is based on export sales revenue, as the greater of either 50 percent of net income or 4 percent of gross income. Because the IC-DISC is tax exempt, tax is paid only on distributions to shareholders. Individual and pass-through company shareholders pay income tax on dividends at the capital gains rate of 15 percent.
The following example illustrates how a 20* percent tax rate arbitrage creates a permanent tax benefit of $160,000 on a commission of $800,000:
Freed Maxick's International tax team helps companies all over the U.S. implement and administer the IC-DISC. To learn more about how we can help you navigate the complexities of international tax, contact us to speak with one of our experts.
*Results may vary depending on the corporate and individual rates applicable to you.
The Final Tangible Property Regulations - Are You Informed?
Get access to our latest webinar for all the details
On September 13, 2013, the IRS issued final regulations affecting costs to acquire, produce, or improve tangible property and re-proposed regulations affecting disposition of tangible property. The final regulations are effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. These regulations will affect all taxpayers that acquire, produce or improve tangible property.
Please check out our recent webinar that highlights the significant changes from the 2011 temporary regulations and discusses implementation planning.
Background and update
Materials and supplies
2013 may be the last opportunity for taxpayers to take advantage of bonus depreciation, an enhanced Code Section 179 expensing deduction, and Code Section 179D deduction for energy efficient improvements to commercial buildings.
By: Jennifer A Birkemeier, CPA
Senior Manager, CSP360
Taxpayers considering making significant capital investments in property in the near future should consider making such investments by December 31, 2013 to enjoy these lucrative tax benefits. These tax benefits may allow the entire cost to be expensed for the 2013 tax year instead of a deduction claimed over a period of years under the MACRS depreciation rules. Given the tax increases and new taxes effective beginning with the 2013 tax year, the ability to deduct capital investments in property could result in a significant tax savings.
Bonus depreciation, as defined in Code Section 168(k), was first introduced in 2001 and has been extended & enhanced several times over the past 12 years. This tax incentive allows for a percentage of an asset’s basis, currently 50%, to be expensed immediately while the remaining basis is depreciated over the MACRS recovery period. If the law is not extended, bonus depreciation will not be available for property placed in service after December 31, 2013. To qualify for bonus depreciation, the asset must qualify as new property that has not been previously used by another taxpayer.
Code Section 179 currently allows a taxpayer to expense up to $500,000 of qualifying property placed in service during the 2013 tax year. The property must be personal property and the maximum amount of qualifying property that a taxpayer may place in service during 2013 is $2,000,000 before the deduction begins to phase out. Beginning with the 2014 tax year, the Code Section 179 deduction will be lowered to $25,000. The ability to expense up to $500,000 has helped many taxpayers decide to proceed with asset acquisitions in 2013.
Taxpayers have the opportunity to receive immediate tax deductions for energy efficient improvements that they have made to a building since 2006. Code Section 179D provides a deduction of up to $1.80 per Square Foot for energy efficient lighting, HVAC and building envelope improvements that a taxpayer has placed in service by December 31, 2013. There is also an opportunity to review improvements since2006 and claim deductions that a taxpayer may have missed. There are several requirements to receive the Code Section 179D deduction that include receiving a specific certification from a qualified individual. In addition, for government owned buildings the deduction can be allocated to the architect or engineer who is primarily responsible for the design of the energy efficient improvements.
CSP360 is a subsidiary of Freed Maxick, CPAs in Buffalo NY. Freed Maxick CPAs is a Top 100 accounting Firm, and one of the leading providers of Cost Segregation and consulting services. Our philosophy is to offer clients a 360 approach to a taxpayer’s fixed assets; pairing engineering and LEED specialists with accountants for a truly unique tax advisory team. Since 1995, our in house team has provided specialty studies to CPAs in a private label arrangement. Products include Cost Segregation, Code Section 179D Energy Studies and Code Section 263(a) repair studies. CSP360 is Circular 230 compliant and has proven methodologies that are sustainable in the event of an IRS examination. To learn more about our unique approach click here.
The Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA and Prop 8 is not only a civil rights win for same sex couples- it’s a financial win for many.
In an unprecedented event last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) singled out same-sex marriage and treated same-sex couples "as living in marriages less respected than others." This week’s ruling will now give same-sex couples many of the same benefits (and in some cases, drawbacks) as any other married couple in the eyes of the law. Married same-sex couples in a dozen states and the District of Columbia will now be eligible for more than “1,000 spousal benefits previously off limits under DOMA.” And the court's other decision on Wednesday, striking down California's Prop 8, paves the way for same-sex marriages to resume in that state.
Key Aspects of the DOMA Ruling Include:
Income tax: Same-sex couples will now be able to file their federal income taxes jointly. For many couples -- especially those where one person earns significantly more than the other -- merging incomes for tax purposes will result in big savings. In addition, many education benefits, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit, are now available to the spouse in a same-sex marriage where one spouse pays for qualified expenses of the other.
Health insurance: Some same-sex couples pay income tax on imputed income for the medical benefits one partner receives through the other's health insurance plan; this will now likely change. Meanwhile, many federal employees will likely be granted spousal benefits like partner health insurance.
Estate and Gift tax: Same-sex couples will also be exempt from gift tax when transferring assets to each other. Under DOMA, any gift between same-sex spouses of more than $14,000 (the 2013 annual gift tax exclusion) began utilizing the lifetime exclusion limit of $5.25 million-- after which tax was assessed on gifts exceeding the exclusion. Opposite-sex couples have never been subject to that tax. Same-sex couples will also be eligible to “split” gifts to take advantage of a doubled annual gift tax exclusion ($14,000 above x 2 married individuals or $28,000 for 2013) In addition, the unused lifetime exclusion of the decedent spouse is now portable and will allow the estate of the surviving spouse to utilize it.
Social Security benefits: Same-sex couples will now be eligible for the same federal tax treatment and Social Security benefits as opposite-sex couples in the event that one spouse passes away. This means a surviving spouse will be eligible for Social Security survivor’s benefits and will be exempt from the federal estate tax on assets exceeding $5.25 million. Note: In states where same-sex marriage is banned, this issue still has to be sorted out as the Social Security Administration has based these benefits on the state of residence.
While many will receive the benefits of this ruling; they will also receive its downside. For example, same-sex couples who divorce may be subject to the federal gift tax when dividing assets, or be partially responsible for the back taxes of the divorcing partner. Also, same-sex married couples will now have to file as either married filing joint, surviving spouse or married filing separate. Thus, the “marriage penalty” will impact some same-sex couples.
What the decision doesn't do: While many specifics of the Supreme Court's ruling are still blurry, it appears that couples must be married at a state level for all of these federal benefits to apply -- meaning domestic partnerships and civil unions don't qualify. It's also unclear whether federal benefits will apply to same-sex couples who marry in a state where same-sex marriage is legal but move to a state where it's not recognized.
To learn more check out this special report detailing Post DOMA Tax Implications
We may be based in New York State, however Freed Maxick CPAs provides tax services to business all over the U.S., no matter your location: Alabama, AL; Alaska, AK; Arizona, AZ; Arkansas, AR; California, CA; Colorado, CO; Connecticut, CT; Delaware, DE; Florida, FL; Georgia, GA; Hawaii, HI; Idaho, ID; Illinois; IL; Indiana, IN; Iowa, IA; Kansas, KS; Kentucky, KY; Louisiana, LA; Maine, ME; Maryland, MD; Massachusetts, MA; Michigan, MI; Minnesota, MN; Mississippi, MS; Missouri, MO; Montana, MT; Nebraska, NE; Nevada, NV; New Hampshire, NH; New Jersey, NJ; New Mexico, NM; New York; NY, North Carolina, NC; North Dakota, ND; Ohio, OH; Oklahoma, OK; Oregon, OR; Pennsylvania, PA; Rhode Island, RI; South Carolina, SC; South Dakota, SD; Tennessee, TN; Texas, TX; Utah, UT; Vermont, VT; Virginia, VA; Washington, WA; West Virginia, WV; Wisconsin, WI; Wyoming, WY. We Serve all 50 States.
Contact us to learn more about our tax services
By: Jeffery T. Zawada, CPA
A few years ago, talk of harnessing energy for commercial or residential sustainability didn’t seem practical. With no replicable models for doing community based energy projects or investments, local development didn’t seem thinkable. But with recent opportunities in community solar, crowdfunding and R&D, there has been a surge in commercial and residential development and investment.
What are other States Doing?
In 2012, California-based company, Solar Mosaic, launched their first community solar investment project, allowing 51 California investors to earn 6.38% returns for investing in a 47 kilowatt solar array on the roof of the Youth Partnership in Oakland. Their subsequent 235 KW project ups the ante; opening up to regular folks in California and New York (and accredited investors in all 50 states).
The Mosaic model turns community solar into a simple investment, letting prospective investors select a particular Mosaic project to invest in, with significantly higher returns than parking money in a U.S. Treasury or savings account. For now, it’s limited to broad participation in just two states, New York and California. This is just one example of how solar companies are expanding the reach of solar energy output.
What is New York Doing?
Governor Cuomo, in his 2013 State of the State Address, announced the Charge New York Program; making NYS part of a clean tech economy. Due to the large amount of money NY is investing in panel installations for home and business; various companies in New York offer incentives and tax credits for both residential and commercial businesses looking to recoup some of the costs.
Companies like New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offer many state incentives and credits for commercial and residential builds.
NYSERDA Solar PV Program Incentives- Saves 40-70% off the purchase cost and install on a solar electric system by combining this program with other New York Energy SMART programs;
The NYSERDA Solar Thermal Program Incentive offers both residential and commercial 15-20% off the installed cost of an ST system.
On the state and federal level, NY offers tax credits and exemptions for various solar installations. Some of these include:
The NYS Solar Credit: Is a 25% credit of the total installation cost. You have to file tax form IT-255 to receive the credit. Be mindful; there’s a cap of $5,000 on this. If you are installing a 5kw system, you’ll be due back $5,000 from the state.
The federal solar tax credit: Allows for a 30% solar installation tax credit. This credit differs slightly from NY state credits. You need to calculate your expenses after rebates. For example- on a hypothetical 5kw system priced at $25,000, you can expect back $4,875 (this is by taking the $25,000, subtracting the state solar power rebate of $8,750 to arrive at $16,250. Then take your 30% and you’ll get $4,875).
The NYS solar tax exemption: for the addition of solar panels to your home; giving an exemption from property tax increases, even though you’ll be adding roughly 20 times your annual electricity bill savings to your property value.
It’s always a benefit to business and real estate owners to uncover ways to save money. Did you know that the tax depreciation records of golf course owners likely contain a tax deduction that can be claimed for the 2012 tax year?
The tax deduction is claimed by adopting specific sections of the temporary repair regulations that were issued in December 2011. The IRS is allowing taxpayers to adopt specific sections of these regulations for their 2012 tax year and to defer other sections that may result in income until the 2014 tax year. Specific sections of these regulations allow taxpayers to claim a deduction for assets that are now reclassified as repairs, routine maintenance, or were disposed of before 2012.
It’s a lot of information to wade through, but CSP 360 and their affiliate Freed Maxick CPAs can help country clubs and golf course owners navigate through the complex regulations.
Get the Tangible Property Q&A now to learn more!
Check out a few examples of how we can help:
1) Tax Deductions: Golf course owners that capitalized improvements to buildings and the course since 1987, likely removed or abandoned assets as a result. The remaining tax basis in these assets and perhaps, the costs of removal, can be claimed as a tax deduction for 2012 tax year.
For another example, let’s assume during 2008 that $1 Million of structural improvements were made to a club house facility and $1 Million of land improvements were made to the golf course bringing the total investment to $8 Million. A cost segregation specialist identifies $1 Million of tax basis remaining in the real and personal property disposed of in conjunction with the improvements.
Result? The golf club owner is entitled to claim a $1 Million tax deduction for the 2012 tax year.
2) Regulation Changes: All golf course owners should prepare for other changes under these regulations which may affect current accounting policies and procedures. For example, a golf course owner that has historically expensed assets for tax purposes based on their book capitalization policy may need to act before 2014 to be able to continue to deduct assets under this policy beginning in 2014. In addition, all golf course owners will be required to review their treatment of materials and supplies and repairs in order to comply with the new repair regulations.
3) Uncovering Cash Flow: For example, let’s assume a club house was constructed and placed in service during 2004 with an original cost of $2 Million and the golf course was constructed with an original cost of $4 Million for a total capitalized cost of $6 Million. A cost segregation study reclassified $2.4 Million of the capitalized cost as land improvements and tangible personal property.
Result? This reclassification results in a $1.5 Million tax deduction for 2012 providing additional cash flow from the federal and state income tax savings.
CSP 360 is affiliated with Freed Maxick CPAs and is one of the nation's leading providers of cost segregation and consulting services to real estate owners. CSP 360 is the national leader in providing cost segregation services to the golf and hospitality industries. Our experienced team of Construction Engineers and CPAs work in the cost segregation service niche with no outsourcing.
Allow us to show you how our Cost Segregation and CapX services could result in a substantial income tax savings for the 2012 tax year. Contact Us today to learn more about how we can assist.