Inflation Reduction Act Expands 179D (Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction)

Oct 17, 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (2022 IRA) was passed to incentivize investment in clean energy and promote the reduction of carbon emissions. A large share of the incentives come in the form of tax credits, which in some cases are extensions or expansions of current credits, such as those for electric vehicles or residential energy upgrades.

Of the tax provisions introduced by the 2022 IRA, one of the most significant to businesses has been the expansion of the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction (§179D), which increases the maximum deduction and updates the eligibility requirements for a property’s reduction of energy costs, in addition to other changes.

Under the expanded provision, a deduction is allowed for all or part of the cost of certain energy-savings improvements made to domestic, commercial buildings placed in service as part of the building’s:

  • interior lighting systems
  • heating, cooling, ventilation (HVAC), and hot water systems
  • building envelope

The tax deduction benefits both commercial building owners and lessees along with designers of government-owned buildings. Additionally, the provision states that installation of energy-efficient property may occur as a result of new construction, or through the improvement of an existing commercial or government building.

Efficiency standard: To qualify for the deduction, newly updated eligibility requirements call for energy-efficient property to reduce associated energy costs by 25% or more (decreased from 50% or more) in comparison to a reference building that meets the latest efficiency standards.

Applicable amount: The applicable dollar value of the deduction is $0.50 per square foot, an increase of $0.02 for each percentage point above 25% that a building’s total annual energy cost savings are increased. However the amount cannot be greater than $1/ square foot, and the maximum amount of the deduction in any tax year cannot exceed $1/ square foot minus the total deductions taken over the previous three years (or during a four-year period in cases where the deduction is allowable for someone other than the taxpayer). The applicable dollar value will be adjusted for inflation for tax years beginning after 2022.

An increased dollar value is available for projects that satisfy prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements for the duration of the construction.

Alternative deduction for energy-efficient retrofit property. Under the 2022 Inflation Act, taxpayers may elect to take an alternative deduction for a qualified retrofit of any eligible property. However, instead of a reduction in total annual energy power costs, the deduction is based on the reduction of energy usage intensity.

For more information on how you may be able to take advantage of this deduction or any other tax relief provisions under the 2022 Inflation Act, contact William Vaughan Company’s team of trusted tax professionals.

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wvco.com

Categories: Tax Planning


5 Tips for Building Culture in a Disconnected Workspace

Aug 30, 2022

With the labor shortages and hiring challenges facing employers nationwide, now more than ever, companies are beginning to put their “office culture” under a microscope. But what exactly does that mean, and how important is workplace culture in relation to employee retention?

We sat down with Aaron Swiggum, managing partner at William Vaughan Company to learn what innovative techniques his leadership team has initiated within the firm to create a culture that keeps talent motived and engaged: Give your team the trust and flexibility to work remote.

“At William Vaughan Company, we give our employees the option to work from home or at any of our three offices, depending on the needs of their schedule,” said Swiggum. “To support our staff working remotely, we offer a take-home technology package fully equipped with monitors, docking stations and the like to ensure their success while off-campus.”

Create space for connections within the office.
Meanwhile, for those working on-site, Swiggum has repurposed unused office space into multi-person, collaboration rooms where our team can work together, bounce ideas off each other, and grow together as professionals. Expanding opportunities for engaging connection beyond just the traditional “water cooler” chat is crucial for the ever growing, virtual workspace.

Keep an eye on corporate culture trends to stay ahead of curve.
Corporate cultures at companies like Google and Facebook typically come to mind when you think of progressive work environments and trendy perks. But you don’t have to be a tech giant to incentivize your team. William Vaughan Company noticed what those companies were doing, then polled our team to see which perks would be most beneficial to them. “We’ve increased our maternity leave, added paternity leave for new dads, and created wellness programs that encourage healthy habits during our busiest, and often most stressful, times of the year.

Reimaging what teambuilding looks like.
Modeled after the esteemed, Seattle Fish Market, William Vaughan Company launched a program known as “Fish Groups” which aims to connect 7-8 team members who may not normally work together. Each group meets off-campus periodically throughout the quarter, allowing for deeper connections to form between colleagues that may have only previously communicated via email.

Define your core values and stick to them.
Of all the core values that define William Vaughan Company, “work hard, play hard,” “family,” and “community” are the pillars upon which we’ve built our culture. “We pride ourselves on having created a work environment where our team can have fun, participate in community service activities, and at the end of the day, feel secure about putting their families first,” Aaron says.

Although “culture” has become somewhat of an overused buzzword today, William Vaughan Company knows how important building and maintaining a positive and engaging work environment can be. According to Aaron, “when your team feels valued and supported, that directly translates into the work they’re doing for the clients. And ultimately, our goal is to help our clients and their businesses succeed, so we have to start by creating a space for our internal team to be successful.”

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wvco.com

Categories: Other Resources


Leased Office Space Options In A Post-COVID Landscape

Jun 07, 2022

Most companies can agree one of biggest impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their businesses is the shift from in-person to remote working, and it’s not going back to normal any time soon. However, one thing employers in all industries are struggling to agree on is how to use their leased office space with the majority of their talent working from home.

We’ve compiled information on the strategies some of the nation’s largest companies have taken to make the most of their leased office space, and how these strategies could effect their bottom line.

Airbnb has instituted a permanent, full-remote option for all employees.

On April 28th, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky unveiled the company’s new “Live and Work Anywhere” policy to employees around the globe. This groundbreaking strategy allows anyone from the Airbnb team to “live and work in over 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location.”

According to the Chesky, “the best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area. And by recruiting from a diverse set of communities, we will become a more diverse company.” However, this change came with one caveat; each employee must maintain a permanent address for tax and payroll purposes.

Google and Meta (Facebook) have invested in even more corporate office space.

As many companies begin to embrace hybrid, work-from-home arrangements for their employees, others have started aggressively purchasing the excess office space left in their wake. A recent CBRE report showed a 100% increase in commercial leasing activity year over year for the first quarter of 2022, as tech giants like Google and Facebook work to expand their already sprawling campuses.

Last September, Google announced its plan to purchase and develop a sprawling Manhattan property for $2.1 billion – the largest, single-building commercial-real-estate deal since the start of the pandemic. Six months later, Meta Platforms Inc. (formerly known as Facebook) made headlines with news of its plans to lease an additional 300,000 square feet of office space next to its existing location, giving the company almost an entire New York City building.

What strategy makes the most sense for your business?

Regardless of size or location, the strategies behind where businesses decide to base their workforce can be heavily impacted by a variety tax considerations. Legislation on tax withholding for remote workers in certain municipalities continues to change, as we saw in Ohio during the beginning of the pandemic. On the flip side, those that choose to expand into new office spaces may want to consider running a cost segregation study to ensure no tax benefits have been left on the table.

Regardless of which direction you decide to take with your office space, we recommend connecting with William Vaughan Company’s team of trusted advisors to discuss which strategy best suits your business’s workforce needs all while reducing your potential tax risk.

Categories: Tax Planning


Funding For Import-Challenged Ohio Manufacturers – Up To $75,000

Jan 03, 2022

Have your sales been hit by import competition? If so, the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program may be able to help. For Ohio manufacturers, the program is managed by the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (GLTAAC) who helps qualified manufacturers identify, develop, staff, and pay for critical business improvement projects. GLTAAC clients have received up to $75,000 in matching funds.

While TAAF matching funds are extremely beneficial, GLTAAC clients also value the planning assistance received from their experienced team of manufacturing professionals. The guidance helps to clarify which projects can best support each client’s growth strategy while matching funds help clients fast-track those important efforts – regardless of the project’s size. Here are just a few case studies to demonstrate the value of GLTAAC and how leveraging funding can aid your organization:

  • Big impact from a quick and concentrated effort for an instrumentation manufacturer – An Ohio GLTAAC client had recently changed its name and required a rebrand with a new logo. After multiple conversations with key company stakeholders and a marketing consultant, a new logo was developed. The company’s website now features their re-designed logo and the GLTAAC client states, “This TAAF co-funded project was a simple, small – but strategic – marketing effort. Two weeks of intense work and results.”
  • TAAF matching funds saved both money and time for Ohio foundry – When their existing ERP system was being phased out, this GLTAAC client knew they would use TAAF matching funds for outside IT expertise to migrate to a new system. However, they also recognized their shortage of a key resource: time. They elected to utilize TAAF co-funding to hire a consultant to serve as the internal project manager for the entire ERP upgrade process. The consultants managed and ran all aspects of the upgrade, which enabled the project to be completd on schedule without disruption. Total cost for both consultants: $91,000 (TAAF paid 50%).

If import competition has hurt your sales, don’t put off learning more about TAAF and GLTAAC. Here’s how to get started.

STEP ONE – Contact GLTAAC Project Manager, Jani Hatchett at hatchett@umich.edu or 734.998.6227. Jani can quickly outline the TAAF program and help you determine whether your firm would qualify and provide the next steps.

STEP TWO – Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and check out our website at www.gltaac.org.

Categories: Manufacturing & Distribution


Employee Retention Tax Credit – Updates & Reminders

Nov 15, 2021

Don’t leave ERTC money on the table!

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is a provision established under the CARES Act which has been enhanced by additional legislation and could provide an immense amount of capital to employers. Unfortunately, statistics are showing the credit is being underutilized. The good news is with year-end planning on the horizon, now is the perfect time to leverage the ERTC.

What is the ERTC?
This is a refundable tax credit employers can claim against certain employment taxes, equal to a percentage of qualified wages and health insurance premiums paid after March 12, 2020, and before September 30, 2021.

For 2020, the credit is 50% of qualified payments, up to $10,000 per employee. Simply put, an eligible business has the potential to request refunds of up to $5,000 per employee for the year.

For 2021, the credit increases to 70% of qualified payments, up to $10,000 per employee per quarter. The credit was intended to run through December 31, 2021, but the passing of the recent Infrastructure Bill put an end to it after September 30. Nevertheless, the credit is still fair game for the first three quarters of 2021. With a maximum credit of $7,000 per employee, per quarter, a business eligible for all three quarters of 2021, could receive refunds of $21,000 per employee. Without question, the ERTC can provide much-needed dollars for eligible employers.

How do I know if my business is eligible?
For most businesses, eligibility is determined by meeting one of two tests; with a third test available for quarters 3 and 4 of 2021, which will be outlined later.

  • TEST #1 – A measure of decline in gross receipts. If an employer experiences a significant decline in gross receipts for any calendar quarter, as compared to the same calendar quarter in 2019, they will be eligible for the credit in that quarter. For 2020, this is defined as gross receipts that are less than 50% of gross receipts for the same quarter in 2019, and for 2021, this is gross receipts being less than 80% of gross receipts for the same quarter in 2019.
  • TEST #2 – A full or partial suspension of operations. If an employer was subject to any full or partial suspension of operations because of government orders related to COVID-19 they could be eligible. These orders could be Federal, State, county, and/or municipality. Even if your business was deemed essential and was not directly affected by such orders, there still could be avenues to be eligible for the credit.
  • TEST #3 – Under a third test, if a business can meet the definition of a recovery startup business, they can claim the credits for the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2021 only (not exceeding $50,000 per quarter). A recovery startup business is any employer that began a trade or business after February 15, 2020, and has average annual gross receipts of less than $1,000,000.

What are some important details to keep in mind?

  1. First, gross receipts are determined based on the method used for the employer’s tax return. Meaning, if your business uses the cash method for tax purposes, then gross receipts for Test #1 should be calculated using the cash method, even if your financial statements use the accrual method. This could be beneficial for businesses, especially during times when the pandemic was hitting the hardest and collections slowed.
  2. Another important item to keep in mind is that, for this credit, employers are considered either small or large. For 2020, a small employer is one that, based on 2019 counts, averaged 100 or fewer full-time employees. For 2021, this number increases to an average of 500 or fewer full-time employees, still based on 2019 counts. If a business is above these amounts, they are considered large. Small employer status is more advantageous because it allows qualified wages to include all wages paid. If a business is considered a large employer, qualified wages are limited to wages paid to an employee only for the time that employee was not providing services. For example, if your business is a large employer and operations were partially suspended, but all your employees continued working during that time, your business may not be able to claim any credits on the wages paid during that suspension period. For this purpose, a full-time employee is an employee that, in 2019, averaged at least 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month. As an example, an employer in 2019 who had 5 employees that worked 25 hours per week and 5 employees that worked 30 hours a week, would only be considered to have 5 full-time employees. Early on, a common misconception was that full-time employees were equal to full-time equivalents, which may have caused some businesses to think they were large employers, when in fact that may not be the case.
  3. Finally, there are several different paths a business could take to qualify for the ERTC based on a full or partial suspension of operations due to governmental orders. As previously mentioned, even if your business was not directly affected by the orders, there still could be ways to qualify for the credit. We encourage you not to overlook this test as it could be very beneficial to revisit.

What are my next steps?
With year-end planning season looming, your William Vaughan Company advisor will surely be discussing this topic with you in the coming weeks. If you are not currently a client, but this topic has piqued your interest and you would like us to look at how this credit might benefit your business, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. As mentioned, the credit has been generally underutilized, so we would love to help your business realize the greatest benefits it can.

Connect With Us.

Mike Hanf, CPA, CGMA

ERTC Lead

mike.hanf@wvco.com

Categories: Tax Planning