Ohio’s Municipal Withholding Dilemma – Take 3

Dec 30, 2021

Hybrid work arrangements significantly impact municipal income tax withholding requirements and raise other municipal tax issues.

With the start of the new year just around the corner, the “pre-pandemic” law for Ohio municipal income tax withholding will soon return.

Applicable to periods beginning on or after 1/1/2022, if an employee works a hybrid schedule by spending some days working at home and other days working at the office, employers will once again be required to withhold municipal tax based on where the employee’s work is actually performed. For many employers, this may trigger withholding for employees’ home municipalities that the employer may never have been required to do before. Additionally troubling is the requirement for businesses to allocate such wages, and potentially apportion some gross receipts (sales) as well, to these home municipalities for purposes of the net profits (income) tax, subjecting the company to income tax reporting in each of their employees’ home municipalities.

As we recommended in our July blog, to ease the complexities of tracking actual work locations for Ohio municipal withholding requirements in 2022, employers could consider having employees sign formalized, hybrid work agreements. Such agreements provide consistency, structure, and ease of record keeping. In exchange for permitting hybrid work schedules, employers might consider requiring employees to report true-up differences between actual and forecasted work on their personal municipal income tax returns and to provide proof of payment (in case the employer is audited). Noting that the hybrid work agreement will be helpful but cannot cover all municipal activity, employers could also aim to develop ways within their internal system to most easily track multi-location work performed by employees throughout the year. Employers could consider contacting municipalities to gain pre-approval of estimated or hybrid withholding approaches or enter into withholding agreement(s) with the municipalities. Consultation with legal counsel related to any employment arrangements should also be considered due to the complexity of labor laws.

If we can assist you regarding your specific facts and circumstances and in making decisions about municipal income tax compliance or if you have any questions, please contact your William Vaughan Company advisor.

Categories: Tax Compliance


Timely Estate Planning Strategies: Part Two

Oct 21, 2021

Low-Interest Rate Opportunities

An important component of personal financial and estate planning often includes transferring assets and future growth of those assets to younger generations or to charitable organizations while reducing current income taxes and future potential estate taxes. Once properly made, appreciation of such transfers and any future income generated thereon can be free of transfer taxes.

The current low-interest-rate environment provides an excellent opportunity to shift wealth to future generations. While we cannot predict the future, we can anticipate the writing on the wall. As noted in our previous post, Estate Planning Strategies Before Year-End: Part One, recent and proposed massive spending by the federal government will likely put pressure on rates. This coupled with various proposals to modify tax laws relating to gift and estate taxation, individuals should plan on implementing any such plans sooner rather than later.

Planning techniques benefitting from lower rates include the following:

1. Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT). This trust can be set up to provide annual distributions to charity for a specified number of years. Any growth in the value of the assets above the applicable federal interest rate passes to the non-charitable remainder beneficiaries (i.e. the taxpayer’s children) free of estate or gift tax at the termination of the trust.

2. Intra-Family Loans. It’s a good time to loan money to family members or trusts for members’ benefit. Interest can be charged at very low rates; to the extent the borrowers are able to leverage the funds to generate a return greater than the stated rate, wealth will be transferred without any transfer tax.

3. “Defective” Grantor Trusts. When a taxpayer (grantor) transfers assets to fund this trust, certain rights might be retained causing the trust to be “defective”. This may include the right to substitute other assets of equal value in future years. As a result, the annual income of the trust remains taxable to the grantor even though the income inures to the benefit of the beneficiaries. The effect of this is to reduce the grantor’s taxable estate by the amount of the income taxes paid annually. These trusts are often used to sell assets expected to grow in the future to the trust in exchange for a low-interest rate promissory note. The grantor does not recognize gain from the sale, and no income is recognized on the interest payments. The appreciation in the assets will be realized by the next generation without any transfer tax.

4. Charitable Remainder Trust. If a current income tax deduction is more important than saving transfer taxes, this trust may be implemented. The trust will make annual payments to its beneficiaries for a period of time. At the termination of the trust, the principal balance goes to the specified charity. This “remainder interest” is calculated at a present value to determine the current charitable contribution income tax deduction available to the donor. Lower interest rates translate to a larger remainder interest, and thus larger income tax deduction.

5. Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT). A grantor transfers assets to the trust and retains the right to receive specified payments from the trust for a specified number of years. At the end of the trust term, the accumulated principal of the trust passes to the specified donees, often the grantor’s children.

The annual payments can be structured so that the present value of the annual payments will equal the value of the property transferred to the trust. The trust is said to be “zeroed-out” because the donees’ remainder interest has no value for gift tax purposes, thus no gift tax exemption is used and no gift tax is due. To the extent, the increase in the value of the assets exceeds the annuity stream paid to the grantor, the assets remaining in the trust pass to the beneficiaries becoming a tax-free gift.

These are just some of the planning opportunities your William Vaughan advisor can discuss with you. We encourage you to take this important step now to avoid potentially detrimental changes which have been proposed in Washington. Early adoption and implementation have perhaps never been more important.

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wvco.com | 419.891.1040

Categories: Estate Planning, Tax Planning


New Mandatory Requirement For Cyber Insurance

Oct 19, 2021

During the past year, ransomware attacks and other cyber breaches have skyrocketed leading to significant changes in the cyber insurance marketplace. Historically, obtaining cyber insurance was simple and renewals were a matter of updates based on major changes within an organization. Fast forward to now and notable shifts in insurance policies and regulations are taking shape. Underwriters are now asking for more information related to cyber controls and IT risk management.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-Factor Authentical (MFA) is now a minimum requirement for cyber insurance through most carriers. The message, if you have not incorporated MFA into your current IT environment, your organization may be considered a high risk which would disqualify you from coverage.

MFA provides an additional layer of security above and beyond your traditional password protection. It requires users to validate their identity with additional credentials. These credentials could be the answer to a security question, the click of a button in an app for approvals, or even a biometric identifier such as a fingerprint. This extra layer of protection stops attackers as they won’t be able to access an account without all required credentials, even if they have stolen a password. The additional proof points confirm the person attempting to enter the system is truly who they say they are.

According to both Microsoft, ‘up to 99% of cyber identity attacks can be prevented with MFA’. Google has also supported this with their research ‘which shows that simply adding a recovery phone number to your Google Account can block up to 100% of automated bots, 99% of bulk phishing attacks, and 66% of targeted attacks.’

If you already have cyber insurance you more than likely will find stricter requirements during your renewal. If you are in the market for cyber insurance, you will need to incorporate MFA before you seek coverage. Carrier data proves those without MFA are at a much higher risk for extortion and therefore coverage is not obtainable.

Our WVC Technologies team can assist with your MFA initiatives to help you: one, qualify for cyber insurance quotes from multiple carriers, and two, help reduce your claims activity which can improve your insurance pricing.

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Greg Gomach, WVC Technologies Senior Client Rep.

greg.gomach@dmctechgroup.com

Categories: Risk Services


Fueling Growth With A JobsOhio Inclusion Grant

Jul 09, 2021

The JobsOhio Inclusion Grant program was established in 2020 with the goal of providing financial support for eligible projects in designated distressed communities and/or for businesses owned by underrepresented populations across the state, including minority, veteran, and women-owned businesses.

Locally, the Toledo Regional Growth Partnership and William Vaughan Company have assisted qualifying organizations in receiving upwards of $25,000 to help facilitate growth.

How do I qualify?

To qualify for the Inclusion Grant, a company must:

  • Meet one of the 2 criteria – 1.) Be owned by an underrepresented population – which includes race, ethnicity, gender, veterans, and those with disabilities, or 2.) located in a qualified distressed community as defined by the Economic Innovation Group.
  • Be a targeted industry including Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace and Aviation, Automotive, Energy and Chemicals, Financial Services, Healthcare, Food and Agribusiness, Logistics and Distribution, Technology, Military, and Federal.
  • Ineligible companies include retail or operations that include point-of-final-purchase transactions at a facility open to the public or other population-driven businesses that derive most of their sales from in-person delivery of services or products. For example, restaurants, hair salons, physician’s offices, retail stores, daycares, etc. For a full list of ineligible businesses, visit the JobsOhio website.
  • Additionally, companies must have been in operation for at least one (1) year and be able to demonstrate $100,000 in annual revenues.

What can the grant fund be used for?
Funds may be put towards eligible costs including fixed-asset investment in machinery and equipment, real estate investments, and training costs, among other items including:

  • Land
  • Building
  • Leasehold improvements
  • Machinery and equipment
  • Moving and relocation costs of machinery and equipment related to the project
  • Infrastructure
  • Site development
  • Revitalization costs including demolition, renovation, and environmental remediation
  • Fees and material costs related to planning and feasibility studies
  • Engineering services
  • Employee training costs
  • Information technology including hardware and industry-specific software.

A full list of eligible costs can be found on the website noted below.

What should I do next?

Visit the JobsOhio Inclusion Grant Program website. Ensure you meet the criteria to be eligible. The Grant is reimbursement-based and requires supporting documentation including proof of payment.

Contact your William Vaughan Company representative or call our office number below to receive assistance in applying for this useful grant.

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wvco.com | 419.891.1040

Categories: COVID-19, Other Resources


Tax-Free Employer Contribution to Student Loan Debt Incentive

Mar 23, 2021

Statistics show that a mere 8% of employers offer some kind of student loan repayment option. While this is not a new phenomenon, bigger corporations like Google and Hulu recognize the value-add of such offering to attract and retain top talent. Recent changes to a CARES Act provision providing employers tax incentives if they offer student loan repayments has been making news. Similar to employer-sponsored retirement and health care plans, employers can contribute up to $5,250 toward an employee’s student loan balance (principal or interest) and the payment will be free from payroll and income tax under Section 2206 of the CARES Act. This temporary tax-free provision has now been extended for at least five years, and employers are starting to take notice.

Due to the pandemic, many employers are focusing efforts on employee wellbeing and financial stability. This opportunity benefits both sides: the employee doesn’t have to pay income tax on the $5,250 and the employer gets a tax deduction. Some employers have evaluated the benefit of providing annual raises or offering a contribution to student loan debt. Given the economic impact of the pandemic, some may prefer the latter. Especially with student loan interest suspended until September of this year.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this tax-free provision, employers who already maintain an educational assistance program will need to amend their program, and employers who do not already maintain such a program will need to adopt one. Developing a written plan that outlines: 1) how to notify employees of the program, 2) eligibility and, 3) benefits is a good place to start. If you have questions, please contact your William Vaughan Company advisor today.

Categories: COVID-19, Tax Planning