Gift-giving and Taxes

May 25, 2017

The recipient of a gift need not worry about the tax consequences; receipts of gifts are non-taxable events.  However, that is not always the case for the giver.  Every year the IRS allows for the tax-free transfer of a specified amount of monetary gifts. For 2017 this amount stands at $14,000 per person, per year.  Amounts given to any one individual, by any one individual, during a tax yearbring about no consequences as long as they are at or below $14,000.  For example, a husband and wife can each give $14,000 in cash ($28,000 total) to each of their grand-kids every year, with no resulting tax or return filing consequences.

Gifts in excess of this annual exclusion can also be tax-free; however, these gifts are required to be reported against the givers lifetime gift and estate exemption.  The total lifetime exemption for 2017 stands at $5.49 million per individual.  Gifts made during the year in excess of the annual exclusion ($14,000) require the giver to file a gift tax return.  This return discloses the excess gifts given annually as well as tracking their lifetime excess/remaining exclusion.  Typically annual gift returns come with no tax due; however, these returns reduce the tax-free amount allowed upon death and could have potential tax consequences down the road.

Bottom line?  If you have a large estate and make any large gifts during the year, consult your tax advisor.  We may be able to offer advice on how to better structure these transactions.

– Courtney Elgin, CPA

Categories: Other Resources, Tax Compliance, Tax Planning

Planning Ahead for Retirement

May 22, 2017

Transferring Your Retirement Savings?

When moving around your retirement savings, it is always best to have a plan. There are several options available to you when changing a job or just changing your retirement plan.

  • Lump sum withdraws from your 401(k) from your old employer. Generally, this option is not advisable unless, in dire need of cash, as it can considerably reduce your retirement savings. Also, this could end up boosting you up into a higher tax bracket. Either way, you’ll end up paying more taxes.
  • Leave the money in your old employer’s 401(k) plan. Generally, once you reach retirement age, your former employer may require you to withdraw the balance. The balance may also be left in the old plan temporarily while you look into new plans and find the right one for you. Unfortunately this not always an option. If your vested balance is $5,000 or less, your old employer may require you to take it out upon leaving the company.
  • You can choose to have your balance transferred directly to your new plan, if allowed, through your financial institution. This is generally the best decision as the savings go on without any disruption or withholdings.
  • Another option, within the transfer option, is to have a check made out to you for the amount and then to deposit the check into your new employer’s plan or an alternate IRA. When using this option, you should be aware of the implications that come along with it, primarily the 60 day window that you must transfer the deposit within. Not doing so can have hefty tax consequences. The full amount will be taxable and if you are under the age of 59 and a half then you will be subject to a 10% penalty. Generally, taxpayers do not knowingly miss the 60 day window and have unwillingly faced financial burdens as a result. Because of this the IRS has cut taxpayers a break and provided a set of rules designed to offer relief from penalties. 

Basic Qualifying Factors:

  • An error was committed by the financial institution receiving the contribution or
  • making the distribution to which the contribution relates;
  • The distribution, having been made in the form of a check, was misplaced and
  • never cashed;
  • The distribution was deposited into and remained in an account that the
  • taxpayer mistakenly thought was an eligible retirement plan;
  • The taxpayer’s principal residence was severely damaged;
  • A member of the taxpayer’s family died;
  • The taxpayer or a member of the taxpayer’s family was seriously ill;
  • The taxpayer was incarcerated;
  • Restrictions were imposed by a foreign country;
  • A  postal error occurred;

Myriad options exist when rolling your retirement plan assets, including utilizing these new rules in the event an inadvertent violation of the 60-day rollover provision occurs.

Contact your William Vaughan Company advisor for more information and to discuss these rules in depth.

– Matthew J. Babcock, Staff Accountant

Categories: Audit & Accounting, Other Resources

Home Sweet Office

May 10, 2017

Do you have a room in your home that you use just for your business? If so, you could claim a deduction on your tax return for your home office.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should acknowledge that you will have to meet certain requirements. However, most are able to deduct a percentage of the costs of running the home such as utilities, rent, insurance, depreciation, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, some casualty losses, repairs, and improvements as related to the portion of your home used for business.

A “home”, as defined by the IRS, can be a condo, house, apartment, mobile home or boat (with provided amenities). The home can be rented or owned,  however, to qualify for the home office deduction you must meet two tax law requirements:

  1. You must regularly use part of your home exclusively for a trade or business.
  2. You must be able to show that you use your home as your principal place of business meaning you meet patients, clients, or customers at your home or you use a separate structure on your property exclusively for business purposes.

Regular use: 

The IRS doesn’t offer a clear definition of regular use – only that you must use a part of your home for business on a continuing basis, not just for occasional or incidental business. You should qualify by working a couple days a week for a few hours.

Exclusive use: 

Exclusive means that you must use a portion of your home only for your business. If you use a portion of your home for work but also for personal use then you will not meet that requirement. However, you are able to use a portion of a larger room as long as your personal activities do not enter that area.  There are two exceptions to the exclusive use rule. If you run a qualified daycare out of your home or store inventory or product samples then you do not have to meet the exclusive use test.

If you are storing inventory or samples in your home, you can still qualify for the home business expense even if you are not using that space exclusive for your business.The inventory will need to be stored in a certain location such as the garage, a closet, or bedroom.  However, you will not get the deduction if you have an office or business location outside of your home.

Remember you can only claim this deduction if you are running a business. If the IRS believes it’s a hobby the deduction will not be honored.

– Brittany Jennings, Staff Accountant

Categories: Audit & Accounting, Other Resources, Tax Compliance, Tax Planning

Looking to Sell?

Aug 04, 2016

240_F_101916353_CLAc4e3dzc1FPbfNwJctpwVCrbqBZclbAre you looking to sell your business? Maybe you’re considering retirement, in poor health, or just ready to cash in. Whatever your reason, you should be aware of the complexity of your venture, as well as the tax consequences that come along with it. The very first step should always be consulting with your WVC adviser. You can obtain an accurate business valuation and develop a tax planning strategy to minimize capital gains, and any other taxes from the sale, to maximize your profits.

Most business owners do not know how much their business is worth. This can result in severely under or overestimating a proper selling price. Obtaining a third party business valuation allows owners to sell at a price that is realistic for potential buyers, while maximizing the total value and profit at the same time.

As a business owner, you may think of your business as a single entity sold for one lump sum. However, it is actually a combination of assets to be sold that will be subject to different taxes under federal and state laws. The IRS requires each asset to be classified as capital assets, depreciable property used in the business, real property used in the business, goodwill or property held for sale to customers. The gain or loss on each asset is figured separately, classified as capital or ordinary, and taxed accordingly.

The sale of depreciable property can be tricky. Section 1231 gains and losses are the taxable gains and losses from the sale or exchange of real or depreciable property held for longer than one year. Whether you have a net gain or loss from all 1231 transactions determines if they will be treated as ordinary or capital. When section 1245 or 1250 property is sold at a gain, you may have to recognize all or part of the gain as ordinary income due to depreciation recapture rules. The remaining gain would be considered a 1231 gain.

The way a business is taxed when sold also depends on the business structure. “Pass-through” entities such as sole proprietorship, partnerships, and limited liability companies are required to sell each asset separately. This provides much more flexibility when structuring a sale to benefit both the buyer and seller with regard to tax consequences.

Corporations and s-corporations are subject to more complex regulations when selling assets and stock. For example, when a corporation is sold, the seller is taxed twice for all assets. The corporation pays any gains tax when the assets are sold, and the shareholders pay capital gains tax when the corporation is dissolved. On the other hand, s-corporations are only taxed once. Income or loss flows through to the shareholders who then report it on their individual tax returns.

Are you thinking of selling your business soon? Our team of business valuation and tax planning experts can help you make the most money with the least amount of consequence.

-Halie N. Baker, Staff Accountant

Categories: Other Resources

Seasonal Business Considerations

Jul 07, 2016

If you have a seasonal business, you may face challenges typically not encounters by a year-round businesses. After all, attempting to squeeze a year’s worth of business into a far shorter period can prove to be hectic. Here are some tips to help you deal with demands of owning a seasonal venture.

Cash Control All small business owners have to be careful cash managers. Strict management is particularly important when cash flows in over a relatively short period of time. One very important lesson to learn: Control the temptation to overspend when cash is plentiful.

Arming yourself with a realistic budget and sound financial projections, including next season’s start-up costs, will help you maintain control. In addition, you may want to establish a line of credit just to be safe.

In the Off-season It may be difficult to maintain visibility when you are not in business year round. However, continued marketing efforts and periodic updates via e-mail or snail mail can dramatically impact your client base. Such marketing efforts can also help you develop new leads and new business. When you re-open for the season, you will certainly want to announce the date well ahead of time. Maximize your efforts by utilizing social media to expand your reach.

SeasonsTime for R and R Take some time for rest and relaxation, you deserve it. Nevertheless, you will also want to use this time to make any necessary repairs and take care of any additions or modifications. You can also use the off-season to shop around for deals on items you keep in stock and/or equipment you need to buy or replace.

Expansion Plans If you’re thinking of making the transition from “closed for the season” to “open all year,” start investigating new product lines or services. If you diversify in ways which are complementary to and compatible with your core business, your current customer base may provide support right away. A well-thought-out expansion can be the key to a successful transition into a year-round business.

Being the owner of any type of business has its rewards — and its challenges. We significant experience working with small business and would be happy to assist in any possible.

Categories: Other Resources