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Tax Breaks Made Permanent!

Posted by Admin Posted on Dec 28 2015

Family and Individual Tax Breaks

 

Tax Breaks Made Permanent.

The Act makes a whole slew of favored individual provisions permanent, including the following:

 

  • Deduction of State and Local General Sales Taxes. For the last few years, individuals who paid little or no state income taxes had the option of claiming an alternative itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes. The sales tax deduction option expired at the end of 2014, but the Act makes this option permanent starting in 2015, so that itemizers can elect to deduct state and local sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes for tax years beginning in 2015 and beyond.

  • IRA Qualified Charitable Contributions. For 2006–2014, IRA owners who had reached age 70½ were allowed to make tax-free charitable contributions of up to $100,000 directly out of their IRAs. Such contributions were called Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs), and they counted as IRA Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). Charitably inclined seniors with more IRA money than they needed could reduce their income tax bills by arranging for tax-free QCDs to take the place of taxable RMDs. This break expired at the end of 2014. The Act makes this tax break permanent so that it’s available for QCDs made in tax years 2015 and beyond.

  • $250 Deduction for K-12 Educators. For the last few years, teachers and other eligible personnel at K-12 schools could deduct up to $250 of school-related expenses paid out of their own pockets—whether they itemized or not. This break expired at the end of 2014. The Act makes this deduction permanent so that it is allowed for 2015 and beyond. Also, beginning in 2016, the $250 cap will be indexed for inflation and professional development expenses will be deductible under this provision.

  • Qualified Conservation Contribution Breaks. Qualified conservation contributions are charitable donations of real property interests, including remainder interests and easements that restrict the use of real property. Liberalized deduction rules applied through 2014 that increased the maximum write-off for these contributions. The Act makes these liberalized rules permanent.

  • 100% Gain Exclusion for Qualified Small Business Corporation (QSBC) Stock. The Act retroactively restores and makes permanent the 100% gain exclusion (within limits) and the exception from alternative minimum tax preference treatment for sales of QSBC stock that expired at the end of 2014. Note that you must hold QSBC shares for more than five years to be eligible for the 100% gain exclusion.

  • American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). The AOTC is a credit of $2,500 for various tuition and related expenses for the first four years of post-secondary education. It phases out for AGI starting at $80,000 (if single) and $160,000 (if married filing jointly). This break was set to expire after 2017. The Act makes the AOTC permanent.

  • Parity for Employer-provided Transit and Parking Benefits. The Act retroactively restores and makes permanent the parity provision that requires the tax exclusion for transit benefits to be the same as the exclusion for parking benefits. Thus, for 2015, employees can receive tax-free transit benefits of up to $250 a month—the same as for tax-free parking benefits.

  • Favorable Rule for S Corporation Donations of Appreciated Assets. The Act retroactively restores and makes permanent the favorable shareholder basis rule for stock in S corporations that make charitable donations of appreciated assets. For such donations, each shareholder’s tax basis in the S corporation’s stock is only reduced by the shareholder’s prorata percentage of the company’s tax basis in the donated assets. Without this tax break, a shareholder’s basis reduction would equal the passed-through write-off for the donation (a larger amount). The provision is taxpayer-friendly because it leaves shareholders with higher tax basis in their S corporation shares.

 

Credits for Qualified Solar Electric and Water Heating Property Extended through 2021. The 30% credit for qualified solar water heating property and solar electric property expenditures was scheduled to expire for property placed in service after 2016. The Act extends this credit through 2021. For property placed in service in calendar-years 2017—2019, the credit remains at 30%. The credit is reduced to 26% or property placed in service in calendar-year 2020 and 22% for property placed in service in calendar-year 2021.

 

 

 

Tax Breaks Extended through 2016. Individual tax breaks that weren’t made permanent or extended through 2021 by the Act, were extended for two years through 2016, including the following:

 

  • Tax-free Treatment for Forgiven Principal Residence Mortgage Debt. For federal income tax purposes, a forgiven debt generally counts as taxable Cancellation of Debt (COD) income. However, a temporary exception applied to COD income from cancelled mortgage debt that was used to acquire a principal residence. Under the temporary rule, up to $2 million of COD income from principal residence acquisition debt that was cancelled in 2007–2014 was treated as a tax-free item. The Act retroactively extends this break to cover eligible debt cancellations that occur before 2017 or are pursuant to a written agreement entered into before 2017.

  • Mortgage Insurance Premium Deduction. Premiums for qualified mortgage insurance on debt to acquire, construct, or improve a first or second residence can potentially be treated as deductible qualified residence interest. The deduction is phased out for higher-income taxpayers. Before the Act, this break wasn’t available for premiums paid after 2014. The Act retroactively extends the break for premiums paid before 2017.

  • Qualified Tuition Deduction. This write-off, which can be as much as $4,000 or $2,000 for higher-income folks, expired at the end of 2014. The Act retroactively extends it through 2016.

  • $500 Energy-efficient Home Improvement Credit. In past years, taxpayers could claim a tax credit of up to $500 for certain energy-saving improvements to a principal residence. The credit equals 10% of eligible costs for energy-efficient insulation, windows, doors, and roof, plus 100% of eligible costs for energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, subject to a $500 lifetime cap. This break expired at the end of 2014, but the Act retroactively extends it for two years, to apply to property placed in service before 2017.

    New Tax Breaks. The Act also includes a number of new individual tax breaks, including:

 

  • Allowing tax-preferred distributions from 529 accounts to be spent computer equipment and technology.

  • Allowing ABLE accounts (tax-preferred savings accounts for disabled individuals), which currently may be located only in the state of residence of the beneficiary, to be established in any state. This will allow individuals setting up ABLE accounts to choose the state program that best fits their needs, such as with regard to investment options, fees, and account limits.

  • Allowing a taxpayer to roll over distributions from an employer-sponsored retirement plan [e.g., a 401(k) plan] and traditional IRA (that is not a SIMPLE IRA) to a SIMPLE IRA, provided the SIMPLE IRA has existed for at least two years.

    Cost Recovery Provisions

    Enhanced Section 179 Deduction Made Permanent. The Act retroactively restores and makes permanent the (1) enhanced maximum Section 179 deduction of $500,000 (same as in effect from 2010 through 2014), (2) enhanced Section 179 deduction phase-out threshold of $2 million (same as in effect from 2010 through 2014), and (3) rule allowing Section 179 deductions for qualified real property. Without this change, the maximum Section 179 deduction was scheduled to be only $25,000, the phase-out threshold was scheduled to fall to $200,000, and there was to be no Section 179 deduction privilege for real estate.

    Additionally, for tax years beginning after 2015, (1) the $500,000 and $2 million limits will be indexed for inflation, (2) the special $250,000 deduction cap that previously applied to qualified real property will be eliminated, and (3) air conditioning and heating units will be eligible for expensing.

    15-year Depreciation for Certain Real Property Improvements Made Permanent. The Act retroactively extends and makes permanent the 15-year straight-line depreciation privilege for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail space improvements.

    Bonus Depreciation Extended through 2019. The Act retroactively extends bonus depreciation for qualifying new (not used) assets that are placed in service during 2015 through 2019 (2020 for certain assets with longer production periods). The bonus depreciation percentage is 50% for property placed in service during 2015 through 2017 (2018 for certain assets with longer production periods) and phases down to 40% for property placed in service in 2018 (2019 for certain assets with longer production periods), and 30% for property placed in service in 2019 (2020 for certain assets with longer production periods).

    For new passenger autos and light trucks subject to the luxury auto depreciation limitations, the bonus depreciation increases the maximum first-year depreciation deduction by $8,000 for vehicles placed in service through 2017, $6,400 for vehicles placed in service in 2018, and $4,800 for vehicles placed in service in 2019.

    Other Business Tax Breaks

    Tax Breaks Made Permanent. Business provisions made permanent by the Act, include the following:

 

  • Research and Development (R&D) Credit. The Act retroactively and permanently extends the R&D credit. Additionally, beginning in 2016, eligible small businesses ($50 million or less in gross receipts) may claim the credit against Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and the credit can be utilized by certain small businesses against the employer’s payroll tax (i.e., FICA) liability.

  • Break for S Corporation Built-in Gains. When a C corporation converts to S corporation status, the corporate-level Section 1374 built-in gains tax generally applies when built-in gain assets (including receivables and inventories) are turned into cash or sold within the recognition period. The tax is only assessed on built-in gains (excess of FMV over basis) that exist on the conversion date. The recognition period is normally the 10-year period that begins on the conversion date. However, for S corporation tax years beginning in 2012 through 2014, the recognition period was five years. The Act makes the five-year recognition period permanent retroactive to tax years beginning in 2015. In other words, for gains recognized in 2015 and beyond, the built-in gains tax won’t apply if the fifth year of the recognition period has gone by before the start of the year.

  • Differential Pay Credit for Small Employers. The Act retroactively and permanently extends the credit for eligible small employers that provide differential pay to employees while they serve in the military. The credit equals 20% of differential pay of up to $20,000 paid to each qualifying employee during the tax year. Additionally, beginning in 2016, the Act modifies the credit to apply to employers of any size, rather than employers with 50 or fewer employees, as under current law.

    Work Opportunity Credit (WOTC) Hiring Deadline Extended through 2019. The Act retroactively extends the general deadline for employing eligible individuals for purposes of claiming the WOTC to cover qualifying hires who begin to work before 2020. With respect to individuals who begin work for an employer after 2015, the PATH Act also modifies the WOTC to apply to employers who hire qualified long-term unemployed individuals (i.e., those who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more) with the credit with respect to such long-term unemployed individuals equal to 40% of the first $6,000 of wages.

    Tax Breaks Extended through 2016. The following business tax breaks were retroactively extended for two years through 2016:

 

  • Credit for Building Energy-efficient Homes. The Act retroactively extends the $2,000 or $1,000 (depending on the projected level of fuel consumption) per-home contractor tax credit for building new energy-efficient homes in the U.S. to qualifying homes sold by December 31, 2016, for use as a residence.

  • Energy-efficient Commercial Building Property Deduction. The Act retroactively extends the deduction for the cost of an “energy efficient commercial building property” placed in service during the tax year for two years, for property placed in service before 2017. The maximum deduction for any building for any tax year is the excess (if any) of the product of $1.80, and the square footage of the building, over the total amount of the Section 179 deductions claimed for the building for all earlier tax years.

     New Rules for Information Reporting

    Accelerated Due Date for Reporting Employee and Nonemployee Compensation. Currently, a business that pays nonemployee compensation totaling $600 or more in any tax year to a single payee must file a Form 1099-MISC (Miscellaneous Income) with the IRS by the last day of February of the year following the calendar year to which such returns relate (or March 31 if filed electronically). Similarly, employers must file Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to report wage paid to employees with the Social Security Administration (SSA) by that same date.

    The Act accelerates the date that Forms 1099-MISC and W-2 must be filed with the IRS and SSA. Starting with 2016 Forms 1099-MISC and W-2 filed in 2017, the returns must be filed with the IRS (or SSA) by January 31 of the year following the calendar year to which such returns relate and they are no longer eligible for the extended March 31 filing date for electronically filed returns.

    Penalty Relief for De Minimis Errors on Information Returns. Substantial penalties can apply for failing to file correct information returns and to furnish correct information to payees. The penalties are the same regardless of the size of the error in the amount reported. For returns required to be filed after 2016, the Act establishes a new safe harbor from penalties if the return is otherwise correctly filed but includes only a de minimis error of $100 or less ($25 or less in the case of errors involving tax withholding). In this case, the issuer is not required to file a corrected return and no penalty is imposed, unless the recipient of such the incorrect return requests a corrected return.

 

 

 

Healthcare Excise Taxes Delayed

 

The Act delays the imposition following healthcare excise taxes:

 

  • Medical Device Tax. The Act provides a two-year moratorium on the 2.3% excise tax imposed on the sale of medical devices. The tax will not apply to sales during calendar-years 2016 and 2017.

  • Cadillac Tax. A 40% excise tax imposed on high-cost employer sponsored health coverage (often referred to as the Cadillac tax) was scheduled to take effect for tax years beginning after 2017. The Act delays the tax for two years. It will now be imposed for tax years beginning after 2019. The Act also makes this tax a deductible business expense.

 

Conclusion

 

As you can see, the tax extender legislation includes lots of tax changes and not all of them were extender provisions. We did not cover them all here because we did not want this to turn into a book. If you have questions or want more complete information, please contact us.

 

How to Determine if the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) Applies to You

Posted by Admin Posted on Feb 26 2015

If you have income from investments, you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax. You may owe this tax if you receive investment income and your income for the year is more than certain limits. Here are some key tips you should know about this tax:

• Net Investment Income Tax.  The law requires a tax of 3.8 percent on the lesser of either your net investment income or the amount by which your modified adjusted gross income exceeds a threshold amount based on your filing status.

• Income threshold amounts.  You may owe this tax if your modified adjusted gross income is more than the following amount for your filing status:

Filing Status

Threshold Amount

Single or Head of household

$200,000

Married filing jointly            

$250,000

Married filing separately    

$125,000

Qualifying widow(er) with a child

$250,000

• Net investment income.  This amount generally includes income such as:

  • Interest,
  • Dividends,
  • Capital gains,
  • Rental and royalty income, and
  • Non-qualified annuities.

This list is not all-inclusive. Net investment income normally does not include wages and most self-employment income. It does not include unemployment compensation, Social Security benefits or alimony. It also does not include any gain from the sale of your main home that you exclude from your income.

If you have any other questions about the Net Investment Income Tax, give us a call:  858-487-4580.

Laura Stees to Speak at Southern California Institute Feb 19

Posted by Admin Posted on Feb 09 2015

Laura Stees to present:  The Four Best Ways to Fail Grow Your Business in 2015 and Beyond

Where:  The Southern California Institute, 3636 Nobel Drive, Ste. 450, San Diego, CA 92122

When:  February 19 from 2:30 to 4:00 pm

Tires of being stuck in the slow lane?  Join Laura as she discusses how to jumpstart your business plans for the coming year and beyond.  You will learn the the 4 most effective ways to grow a business and the formula necessary to accurately calculate your potential growth.

Participants will leave the session with a key leverage chart and an action plan to help you transform your business into what you want it to be.

Additionally, Laura will share with participants the Professional Wellbeing Calculator as well as a Business Diagnostic to discover or confirm how your business and personal life might be out of balance. 

To sign up, please click here.  We hope to see you soon!

 


It's Time to File Forms 1099

Posted by Admin Posted on Jan 07 2015

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that, with limited exception, every business must file informational returns (Federal Forms 1099) with the Internal Revenue Service for certain payments made during the calendar year 2014. These payments include, but are not limited to: 

  1. Payments to persons, including partnerships and limited liability companies but excluding corporations, of at least $600 for services in the course of a trade or business. 
  2. Payments to persons, including partnerships and limited liability companies but excluding corporations, of at least $600 for rents, and at least $10 for royalties in the course of a trade or business.
  3. Payments to persons including partnerships and limited liability companies but excluding corporations, of at least $10 for interest (i.e. interest on officer’s loans) in the course of a trade or business.
  4. Payments to attorneys ($600 or more), including corporations, for services in the course of a trade or business.

These informational returns must be provided to their recipients by January 31, 2015 and filed with the IRS by February 28, 2015. Failure to file these returns can result in a penalty for each 1099 return not filed.

If you would like us to prepare your 1099 forms, please contact our office as soon as possible.

The required information that we need is the recipient’s name, address, tax ID number, and amount paid.

Our office will be pleased to assist you in the preparation of these or any informational returns. As always, please feel free to contact us at 858-487-4580 if you have any questions.

Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014

Posted by Admin Posted on Dec 22 2014

In the recently enacted "Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014," Congress has once again extended a package of expired or expiring individual, business, and energy provisions known as "extenders." The extenders are a varied assortment of more than 50 individual and business tax deductions, tax credits, and other tax-saving laws which have been on the books for years but which technically are temporary because they have a specific end date. Congress has repeatedly temporarily extended the tax breaks for short periods of time (e.g., one or two years), which is why they are referred to as "extenders." The new legislation generally extends the tax breaks retroactively, most of which expired at the end of 2013, for one year through 2014.

Below is an overview of the key tax breaks that were extended by the new law. Please call our office for details of how the new changes may affect you or your business.

Individual extenders

The following provisions which affect individual taxpayers are extended through 2014:

  • the $250 above-the-line deduction for teachers and other school professionals for expenses paid or incurred for books, certain supplies, equipment, and supplementary material used by the educator in the classroom;
  • the exclusion of up to $2 million ($1 million if married filing separately) of discharged principal residence indebtedness from gross income;
  • parity for the exclusions for employer-provided mass transit and parking benefits;
  • the deduction for mortgage insurance premiums deductible as qualified residence interest;
  • the option to take an itemized deduction for State and local general sales taxes instead of the itemized deduction permitted for State and local income taxes;
  • the increased contribution limits and carryforward period for contributions of appreciated real property (including partial interests in real property) for conservation purposes;
  • the above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses; and
  • the provision that permits tax-free distributions to charity from an individual retirement account (IRA) of up to $100,000 per taxpayer per tax year, by taxpayers age 70 and ½ or older. 

Business extenders

The following business credits and special rules are generally extended through 2014:

  • the research credit;
  • the temporary minimum low-income housing tax credit rate for nonfederally subsidized new buildings;
  • the military housing allowance exclusion for determining whether a tenant in certain counties is low-income;
  • the Indian employment tax credit;
  • the new markets tax credit;
  • the railroad track maintenance credit;
  • the mine rescue team training credit;
  • the employer wage credit for activated military reservists;
  • the work opportunity tax credit;
  • qualified zone academy bond program;
  • three-year depreciation for racehorses;
  • 15-year straight line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant buildings and improvements, and qualified retail improvements;
  • 7-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes;
  • accelerated depreciation for business property on an Indian reservation;
  • 50% bonus depreciation (extended before Jan. 1, 2016 for certain longer-lived and transportation assets);
  • the election to accelerate alternative minimum tax (AMT) credits in lieu of additional first-year depreciation;
  • the enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory;
  • the increase in expensing (up to $500,000 write-off of capital expenditures subject to a gradual reduction once capital expenditures exceed $2,000,000) and an expanded definition of property eligible for expensing;
  • the election to expense mine safety equipment;
  • special expensing rules for certain film and television productions;
  • the deduction allowable with respect to income attributable to domestic production activities in Puerto Rico;
  • the exclusion from a tax-exempt organization's unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) of interest, rent, royalties, and annuities paid to it from a controlled entity;
  • the special treatment of certain dividends of regulated investment companies (RICs);
  • the definition of RICs as qualified investment entities under the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act;
  • exceptions under subpart F for active financing income;
  • look-through treatment for payments between related controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) under the foreign personal holding company rules;
  • the exclusion of 100% of gain on certain small business stock;
  • the basis adjustment to stock of S corporations making charitable contributions of property;
  • the reduction in S corporation recognition period for built-in gains tax;
  • the empowerment zone tax incentives;
  • the American Samoa economic development credit; and
  • two provisions dealing with multiemployer defined benefit pension plans (dealing with an automatic extension of amortization periods and shortfall funding method and endangered and critical rules), are extended through 2015.

Energy-related extenders

The following energy provisions are retroactively extended through 2014:

  • the credit for nonbusiness energy property;
  • the second generation biofuel producer credit (formerly cellulosic biofuels producer tax credit);
  • the incentives for biodiesel and renewable diesel;
  • the Indian country coal production tax credit;
  • the renewable electricity production credit, and the election to claim the energy credit in lieu of the renewable electricity production credit;
  • the credit for construction of energy efficient new homes;
  • second generation biofuels bonus depreciation;
  • the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction;
  • the special rule for sale or disposition to implement federal energy regulatory commission (FERC) or State electric restructuring policy for qualified electric utilities;
  • the incentives for alternative fuel and alternative fuel mixtures; and
  • the alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit.

We hope this information is helpful. If you would like more details about these changes or any other aspect of the new law, please do not hesitate to call us at 858-487-4580.

The Team at Stees, Walker & Company LLP

How the ACA Affects Your Taxes in 2015

Posted by Admin Posted on Dec 12 2014

Did you know...

Beginning in 2014, the “individual mandate” under the Affordable Care Act begins. Not only are all individuals required to have insurance but all people who are required to file a tax return must report their insurance on that return. So we will need quite a bit of additional information to prepare your 2014 return.

In reporting their insurance, people will fall into one of four categories:

  • You got qualifying insurance through the exchange (the Marketplace);

  • You got qualifying insurance through some other source such as an employer or Medicare;

  • You did not get qualifying insurance and you do not have an exemption which means you will be subject to the penalty for not having insurance;

  • You did not get qualifying insurance but you are entitled to an exemption from the penalty.

To complicate matters, the above four categories apply to each member of your family and may apply differently to each member (for example, different members of the family have insurance from different sources). Moreover, any one member of your family may have changed categories during the year. The information we request below must cover each family member on a month-to-month basis. If a family member’s situation was the same for the entire year, then you can document that member’s insurance on a yearly basis.

Exchange:  If you got insurance through the exchange, the exchange will send you a Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. This form will be used to claim any Premium Tax Credit to which you may be entitled. Note that we cannot give you this tax credit if you don’t provide us with the form.

Other source: If you got insurance from another source, you will need to bring us documentation. If it is government insurance, such as Medicare, the government will send you the documentation. If it is employer insurance, the employer may provide you with Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C. If they do not provide either form, we can accept documentation such as a copy of the insurance policy. If you cannot provide any documentation, but you are sure you had qualifying coverage, we will have you sign a statement to that effect.

Exemption: Some exemptions are claimed on the tax return and others require a certificate from the exchange. We cannot claim an exchange exemption without that certificate. Examples of exemptions that require certification from the exchange include:

  • You are a member of certain religious sects;

  • You did not have access to affordable coverage at the beginning of the year due to your household income;

  • You were notified that your health insurance plan would not be renewed and other plans were not affordable; or

  • You experienced other problems that prevented you from getting insurance. This broad category includes homelessness, evictions or foreclosures, domestic violence, bankruptcy, illness or death in the family, and many other hardships.

If you think you qualify for an exchange exemption, visit http://marketplace.cms.gov to learn more and to get an application for exemption. We suggest you file the application as soon as possible.

As you can see, preparing your tax return this year will include an entirely new and complex process. We are ramping up now, getting all the education we need to properly prepare your tax returns that now include these new government requirements.  We ask you to start preparing now so you have the information you will need come tax time.  If you would like to schedule a tax consultation and planning appointment, we would be happy to look at your situation and try to mitigate any possible tax surprises next year.

Call us at 858-487-4580


Stees, Walker & Co, on Twitter and LinkedIn!

Posted by Admin Posted on Dec 08 2014

We are proud on to introduce our new Twitter and LinkedIn company pages.  We aim to provide current tax and financial info to followers, as well as current events happening at SWC.  Links to both sites can also be found at the bottom of our website.

If you have questions or comments about Stees, Walker & Company, please email us at:  info@steeswalker.com, or call us at: 858-487-4580

The Team at Stees, Walker & Company LLP

Welcome to Our Blog!

Posted by Admin Posted on Sept 26 2014
This is the home of our new blog. Check back often for updates!