2017 – 12/26 – Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Key provisions affecting businesses





The recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes a multitude of provisions that will have a major impact on businesses. For example, it creates a flat corporate rate of 21% and temporarily provides a new 20% qualified business income deduction for owners of flow-through entities (such as partnerships and S corporations) and sole proprietorships. It also enhances some breaks, but it limits or eliminates many others. The changes generally apply to tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. Contact us for more details and to discuss the impact on your business.

2017 – 05/08 – Operating across state lines presents tax risks — or possibly rewards





Operating in another state might mean being subject to taxation there, generally if you have nexus with the state. Essentially, “nexus” means a business presence that’s substantial enough to trigger the state’s tax rules and obligations. What activates nexus depends on a state’s chosen criteria. Triggers vary but common ones are employing workers in the state, owning or leasing property there, or maintaining substantial inventory there. Sometimes operating in another state could actually lower your tax liability. Contact us for more info on multistate taxation.

2017 – 06/12 – Dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” on loans between your business and its owners





Treating transfers of money between a closely held business and its owners as loans can provide tax advantages. But the IRS looks closely at such transactions, so it’s critical to establish that the transaction is truly a loan by 1) executing a promissory note, 2) charging a reasonable rate of interest, 3) establishing and following a fixed repayment schedule, 4) securing the loan using appropriate collateral, 5) treating the transaction as a loan in the company’s books, and 6) making reasonable efforts to collect in case of default. Contact us for more details.

Tangible property safe harbors help maximize deductions

If last year your business made repairs to tangible property, such as buildings, machinery, equipment or vehicles, you may be eligible for a valuable deduction on your 2016 income tax return. But you must make sure they were truly “repairs,” and not actually “improvements.”

Why? Costs incurred to improve tangible property must be depreciated over a period of years. But costs incurred on incidental repairs and maintenance can be expensed and immediately deducted.

What’s an “improvement”?

In general, a cost that results in an improvement to a building structure or any of its building systems (for example, the plumbing or electrical system) or to other tangible property must be capitalized. An improvement occurs if there was a betterment, restoration or adaptation of the unit of property.

Under the “betterment test,” you generally must capitalize amounts paid for work that is reasonably expected to materially increase the productivity, efficiency, strength, quality or output of a unit of property or that is a material addition to a unit of property.

Under the “restoration test,” you generally must capitalize amounts paid to replace a part (or combination of parts) that is a major component or a significant portion of the physical structure of a unit of property.

Under the “adaptation test,” you generally must capitalize amounts paid to adapt a unit of property to a new or different use — one that isn’t consistent with your ordinary use of the unit of property at the time you originally placed it in service.

2 safe harbors

Distinguishing between repairs and improvements can be difficult, but a couple of IRS safe harbors can help:

1. Routine maintenance safe harbor. Recurring activities dedicated to keeping property in efficient operating condition can be expensed. These are activities that your business reasonably expects to perform more than once during the property’s “class life,” as defined by the IRS.

Amounts incurred for activities outside the safe harbor don’t necessarily have to be capitalized, though. These amounts are subject to analysis under the general rules for improvements.

2. Small business safe harbor. For buildings that initially cost $1 million or less, qualified small businesses may elect to deduct the lesser of $10,000 or 2% of the unadjusted basis of the property for repairs, maintenance, improvements and similar activities each year. A qualified small business is generally one with gross receipts of $10 million or less.

There is also a de minimis safe harbor as well as an exemption for materials and supplies up to a certain threshold. Contact us for details on these safe harbors and exemptions and other ways to maximize your tangible property deductions.

© 2017

3 hot spots to look for your successor

Picking someone to lead your company after you step down is probably among the hardest aspects of retiring (or otherwise moving on). Sure, there are some business owners who have a ready-made successor waiting in the wings at a moment’s notice. But many have a few viable candidates to consider — others have too few.

When looking for a successor, for best results, keep an open mind. Don’t assume you have to pick any one person — look everywhere. Here are three hot spots to consider.

1. Your family. If yours is a family-owned business, this is a natural place to first look for a successor. Yet, because of the relationships and emotions involved, finding a successor in the family can be particularly complex. Make absolutely sure a son, daughter or other family member really wants to succeed you. But also keep in mind that desire isn’t enough. The loved one must also have the proper qualifications, as well as experience inside and, ideally, outside the company.

2. Nonfamily employees. Keep an eye out for company “stars” who are still early in their careers, regardless of their functional or geographic area. Start developing their leadership skills as early as possible and put them to the test regularly. For example, as time goes on, continually create new projects or positions that give them responsibility for increasingly larger and more complex profit centers to see how they’ll measure up.

3. The wide, wide world. If a family member or current employee just isn’t feasible, you can always look externally. A good way to start is simply by networking with people in your industry, former employees and professional advisors. You can also try placing an ad in a newspaper or trade publication, or on an Internet job site. Don’t forget executive search firms either; they’ll help screen candidates and conduct interviews.

At the end of the day, any successor — whether family member, employee or external candidate — must have the right stuff. Please contact our firm for help setting up an effective succession plan.

© 2017

Bartering may be cash-free, but it’s not tax-free

Bartering might seem like something that happened only in ancient times, but the practice is still common today. And the general definition remains the same: the exchange of goods and services without the exchange of money. Because no cash changes hands in a typical barter transaction, it’s easy to forget about taxes. But, as one might expect, you can’t cut Uncle Sam out of the deal.

A taxing transaction

The IRS generally treats a barter exchange similarly to a transaction involving cash, so you must report as income the fair market value of the products or services you receive. If there are business expenses associated with the transaction, those can be deducted. Any income arising from a bartering arrangement is generally taxable in the year you receive the bartered product or service.

And income tax liability isn’t the only thing you’ll need to consider. Barter activities may also trigger self-employment taxes, employment taxes or an excise tax.

Barter in action

Let’s look at an example. Mike, a painting contractor, requires legal representation for a lawsuit. He engages Maria as legal counsel to represent him during the litigation. Maria charges Mike $6,000 for her work on the case.

Being short of cash, Mike agrees to paint Maria’s office in exchange for her $6,000 fee. Both Mike and Maria must report $6,000 of taxable gross income during the year the exchange takes place. Because Mike and Maria each operate a viable business, they’re entitled to deduct any business expenses resulting from the barter transaction.

Using an exchange company

You may wish to arrange a bartering deal though an exchange company. For a fee, one of these companies can allow you to network with other businesses looking to trade goods and services. For tax purposes, a barter exchange company typically must issue a Form 1099-B, “Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions,” annually to its clients or members.

Although bartering may appear cut and dried, the tax implications can complicate the deal. We can help you assess a bartering arrangement and manage the tax impact.

© 2017

What are the Three Primary Requirements for IC-DISCs?

What is an IC-DISC?

An IC-DISC is a tax-exempt entity that pays no federal tax on commission income. An IC-DISC, means a significant tax advantage by converting “ordinary income” taxed at 39.6% federal rate to maximum dividend rate of 23.8% (15.8% rate differential).

What are the requirements?

  • The manufacturing requirement

The property must be manufactured, produced, grown, or extracted in the U.S

  • The destination requirement

The export property must be held primarily for sale, lease, or rental for direct use, consumption, or disposition outside the U.S.

  • The minimum of 50% U.S. content requirement

All export property may have no more than 50% of the value of the final costs attributable to foreign components. The fair market value of the foreign content is determined based on the dutiable value of the foreign components. Click here to learn more about international services.

For more information on IC-DISC’s and their benefits, please contact Larry Cooper at (231) 726-5840 or lcooper@brickleydelong.com