Our Office will be closed Nov.21 – Nov.25 in observance of Thanksgiving. We will return to regular business hours on Monday, Nov. 28.
Our Office will be closed Nov.21 – Nov.25 in observance of Thanksgiving. We will return to regular business hours on Monday, Nov. 28.
|UPDATED 3/19/20, 10:30 a.m.|
IRS Updates on Tax Payments
**Please note: we are planning a client webinar for early next week to explain how the tax deferrals will work. Event details will be posted on our website.**
The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance allowing all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.
To clarify, the federal tax payment deferrals include 2019 tax payments as well as 2020 first quarter estimated federal tax payments.
This applies to federal taxes, states taxes vary. Colorado officials said they would mirror IRS guidance as it is updated amid the pandemic. See the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)’s state-by-state guide for more information.
The guidance also allows corporate taxpayers a similar deferment of up to $10 million of federal income tax payments that would be due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.
The current guidance does not change the April 15 filing deadline, or the requirement to file for an extension if you do not file by April 15. We anticipate this also may change; however, we are working diligently toward these deadlines.
Read the full IRS guidance here.
We are monitoring the Treasury Website and the IRS Website for updates and will continue to post the latest information to our Coronavirus Updates page.
SKR+CO Document Exchange – New Secure In Person Dropbox:
SKR+CO installed a secure dropbox on the 3rd floor of our building. Clients may drop documents off securely, should you prefer to do so in person. Please use an envelope, clips or rubber bands to keep your documents organized.
Access to the 4th floor will only be available to SKR+CO essential personnel, effective immediately.
USPS mail services, secure email and the client portal are also available to exchange and securely share documents with your CPA. As always, please call your CPA with questions — our receptionist is happy to connect you as we work remotely.
SKR+CO Client Information:
In an abundance of caution, please avoid unnecessary trips to the SKR+CO office. Instead, we highly encourage:
Sharing documents digitally via the SKR+CO client portal and/or secure email, both located on our client center page.
If possible, please share and/or sign documents electronically via our portal or secure email.
Business Recovery Information:
Webinar: We are preparing a webinar for clients regarding business recovery.
Social Media: We will share information placed on our update page through our social media platforms, should you prefer accessing information via those channels.
Business Recovery: Please review the Business Recovery Guide
Additional information from the IRS regarding coronavirus can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus
We will list closure status or other updates on our website and our social media channels.
“After the natural disasters in the fall of 2013, the Colorado SBDC disaster relief team worked with federal, state and local resources to produce a comprehensive guide to assist Colorado businesses in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from natural disasters and emergencies.” Click here for the guide . More information can be found on the SBDC Website
Stay up to date with the latest SKR+CO information. Sign up for our newsletter where we will update you with new information as it becomes available to us. You can join our newsletter by signing up at the bottom of our Client Center page.
Do you drive a heavy vehicle for work? It could lighten your tax load. If you’re a business owner, your SUV, pickup truck or van may be eligible for 100% first-year bonus depreciation. But it must:
See below for some business vehicles that can do the heavy lifting.
Other rules apply. Contact your trusted advisor for details.
Year-end tax planning will be just as complicated as it was last year due to the complexity of new tax regulations for businesses and individuals. This is of the essence as tax planning strategies to reduce your 2019 tax bill must be taken before year end.
Take advantage of planning strategies for individuals
Individuals often can reduce their tax bills by deferring income to the next year and accelerating deductible expenses into the current year. To defer income, for example, you might ask your employer to pay your year-end bonus in early 2020 rather than in 2019.
To accelerate deductions, consider increasing your IRA or qualified retirement plan contributions to the extent that they’ll be deductible. Such contributions also provide some planning flexibility because you can make 2019 contributions to IRAs, and certain other retirement plans, after the end of the year.
Other year-end tax planning strategies to consider include:
Offsetting capital gains. If you sold stocks or other investments at a gain this year — or plan to do so — consider offsetting those gains by selling some poorly performing investments at a loss.
Reducing capital gains is particularly important if you are subject to the net investment income tax (NIIT), which applies to taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) over $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly). The NIIT is an additional 3.8% tax on the lesser of 1) your net income from capital gains, dividends, taxable interest and certain other sources, or 2) the amount by which your MAGI exceeds the threshold.
In addition to reducing your net investment income by generating capital losses, you may have opportunities to bring your MAGI below the applicable NIIT threshold by deferring income or accelerating certain deductions.
Charitable giving. If you plan to make charitable donations, consider donating highly appreciated stock or other assets rather than cash. This strategy is particularly effective if you own appreciated stock you would like to sell but you don’t have any losses to offset the gains.
Donating stock to charity allows you to dispose of the stock without triggering capital gains taxes, while still claiming a charitable deduction. Then you can take the cash you’d planned to donate and reinvest it in other securities.
Contact your trusted advisor to discuss end of year planning for you and your business.
With the holiday season right around the corner, it is a good time for business owners to focus on strategic planning for next year. Here are some ways to get started.
A good place to find inspiration for strategic objectives is your financial statements. They will tell you whether you are excelling or struggling so you may decide how strategically ambitious or cautious to be in the coming year.
Use the numbers to look at key performance indicators such as gross profit, which tells you how much money you made after your production and selling costs were paid. It’s calculated by subtracting the cost of goods sold from your total revenue. Also calculate current ratio, which is calculated by dividing current assets by current liabilities. It helps you gauge the strength of your cash flow.
A CFO or CPA-prepared budget can serve as more than just a management tool – it also can be presented to lenders and investors who want to know more about your start-up’s operations and its expected financial results. Review your findings with your CPA or a CFO consultant if you do not already have a CFO on staff.
Human resources is another critical area of strategic planning. Consider last year’s employee turnover rate. High turnover could be a sign of poor training, substandard management or low morale. Any of these problems could undercut the strategic objectives you set.
Examine sales and marketing. Did you meet your goals for new sales last year, as measured in both sales volume and number of new customers? Did you generate an adequate return on investment for your marketing dollars?
Finally, take a close look at your production and operations. Many companies track a metric called customer reject rate that measures the number of complete units rejected or returned by external customers. Sometimes a business must improve this rate before it moves forward with growth objectives. If yours is a service business, you should similarly track and assess customer satisfaction.
Set new objectives
With a review of your financials and key business areas complete, you can more reasonably set goals for next year under the banner of your strategic plan. On the financial side, for instance, your objective might be to boost gross profit from 20% to 30%. But how will you lower your costs or increase efficiency to make this goal a reality?
Or maybe you want to lower your employee turnover rate from 20% to 10%. Strategize what will you do differently from a training and management standpoint to keep your employees from jumping ship this year.
Don’t let year end creep any closer without reviewing your business’s recent performance. Then, use this data to set realistic goals for the coming year.
Contact your trusted advisor to choose the best metrics numbers and put together a solid strategic plan.
Owners of certain rental real estate interests have final guidance on what qualifies for the qualified business income (QBI) deduction.
QBI in a nutshell
QBI equals the net amount of income, gains, deductions and losses — excluding reasonable compensation, certain investment items and payments to partners for services rendered. The deduction is subject to several significant limitations; however, QBI generally allows partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), S corporations and sole proprietorships to deduct as much as 20% of QBI received.
Many taxpayers involved in rental real estate activities were uncertain whether they would qualify for the deduction. The final guidance leaves no doubt that individuals and entities that own rental real estate directly or through disregarded entities (entities that are not considered separate from their owners for income tax purposes, such as single-member LLCs) may be eligible.
The safe harbor applies to qualified “rental real estate enterprises.” For purposes of the safe harbor only, the term refers to a directly held interest in real property held to produce rents. It may consist of an interest in a single property or multiple properties.
You can treat each interest in a similar property type as a separate rental real estate enterprise or treat interests in all similar properties as a single enterprise. Properties are “similar” if they are part of the same rental real estate category (that is, residential or commercial). In other words, you can only hold commercial real estate in the same enterprise with other commercial real estate. The same applies for residential properties.
Bear in mind, if you opt to treat interests in similar properties as a single enterprise, you must continue to treat interests in all properties of that category — including newly acquired properties — as a single enterprise. If, however, you choose to treat your interests in each property as a separate enterprise, you can later decide to treat your interests in all similar commercial or all similar residential properties as a single enterprise.
Notably, the guidance provides that an interest in mixed-use property may be treated as a single rental real estate enterprise or bifurcated into separate residential and commercial interests.
Safe harbor requirements
The final guidance clarifies the requirements you must fulfill during the tax year in which you wish to claim the safe harbor. Requirements include:
Keeping separate books and records. You must maintain separate books and records reflecting income and expenses for each rental real estate enterprise. If the enterprise includes multiple properties, you can meet this requirement by keeping separate income and expense information statements for each property and consolidating them.
Performing rental services. For enterprises in existence less than four years, at least 250 hours of rental services must be performed each year. For those in existence at least four years, the safe harbor requires at least 250 hours of rental services per year in any three of the five consecutive tax years that end with the tax year of the safe harbor.
The rental services may be performed by owners or by employees, agents or contractors of the owners. Rental services include:
Financial or investment management activities, studying or reviewing financial statements or reports, improving property, and traveling to and from the property do not qualify as rental services.
Maintaining contemporaneous records. For all rental services performed, you must keep contemporaneous records that describe the service, associated hours, dates and the individuals who performed the service. If services are performed by employees or contractors, you can provide a description of them, the amount of time employees or contractors generally spent performing those services, and time, wage or payment records for the individuals.
This requirement does not apply to tax years beginning before January 1, 2020. The IRS cautions, though, that taxpayers still must establish their right to any claimed deductions in all tax years, so be prepared to document your QBI deduction.
Providing a tax return statement. You must attach a statement to your original tax return (or, for the 2018 tax year only, on an amended return) for each year you rely on the safe harbor. If you have multiple rental real estate enterprises, you can submit a single statement listing the requisite information separately for each.
Excluded real estate arrangements
The safe harbor is not available for all rental real estate arrangements. The guidance excludes:
The guidance states that taxpayers that do not qualify for the safe harbor may still be able to establish that an interest in rental real estate is a business for purposes of the deduction.
The final safe harbor rules apply to tax years ending after December 31, 2017, and you have the option of instead relying on the earlier proposed safe harbor for the 2018 tax year. Plus, you must determine annually whether to use the safe harbor.
Contact your trusted advisor to determine whether you are eligible for this and other valuable tax breaks.
Bitcoin and other forms of virtual currency are gaining popularity worldwide. Yet many businesses, consumers, employees and investors are still confused about how they work and how to report transactions on their federal tax returns. The IRS recently announced that it is reaching out to taxpayers who potentially failed to report income and pay tax on virtual currency transactions or did not report them properly.
The nuts and bolts
Unlike cash or credit cards, small businesses generally don’t accept bitcoin payments for routine transactions. However, a growing number of larger retailers and online businesses now accept payments. Businesses can also pay employees or independent contractors with virtual currency. The trend is expected to continue, so more small businesses may soon get on board.
Virtual currency has an equivalent value in real currency and can be digitally traded between users. It can also be purchased and exchanged with real currencies (such as U.S. dollars). The most common ways to obtain virtual currency like bitcoin are through virtual currency ATMs or online exchanges, which typically charge nominal transaction fees.
Virtual currency has triggered many tax-related questions. The IRS has issued limited guidance to address them. In 2014, the IRS established that virtual currency should be treated as property, not currency, for federal tax purposes.
As a result, businesses that accept bitcoin payments for goods and services must report gross income based on the fair market value of the virtual currency when it was received. This is measured in equivalent U.S. dollars.
From the buyer’s perspective, purchases made using bitcoin result in a taxable gain if the fair market value of the property received exceeds the buyer’s adjusted basis in the currency exchanged. Conversely, a tax loss is incurred if the fair market value of the property received is less than its adjusted tax basis.
Wages paid using virtual currency are taxable to employees and must be reported by employers on W-2 forms. They are subject to federal income tax withholding and payroll taxes, based on the fair market value of the virtual currency on the date of receipt.
Virtual currency payments made to independent contractors and other service providers are also taxable. In general, the rules for self-employment tax apply and payers must issue 1099-MISC forms.
The IRS announced it is sending letters to taxpayers who potentially failed to report income and pay tax on virtual currency transactions or did nott report them properly. The letters urge taxpayers to review their tax filings and, if appropriate, amend past returns to pay back taxes, interest and penalties.
By the end of August, more than 10,000 taxpayers will receive these letters. The names of the taxpayers were obtained through compliance efforts undertaken by the IRS. The IRS Commissioner warned, “The IRS is expanding our efforts involving virtual currency, including increased use of data analytics.”
Last year, the tax agency also began an audit initiative to address virtual currency noncompliance and has stated that it is an ongoing focus area for criminal cases.
Implications of going virtual
Contact your trusted advisor if you have questions about the tax considerations of accepting virtual currency or using it to make payments for your business. If you receive a letter from the IRS about possible noncompliance, consult with your trusted business advisor before responding.
A taxpayer’s annual tax liability is based on numerous personal circumstances and life events. For wage-earning taxpayers, federal income tax is paid when income is received via paycheck withholdings. In general, taxpayers are encouraged to update paycheck withholding allowances (Form W-4) to account for significant life changes (e.g., increase in wages, the number of dependents, changes in marital status).
Tax reform created an additional reason to review paycheck withholdings: Confirm how the new laws impact your personal circumstances and preferences.
Tax reform lowered and broadened income tax brackets, doubled the standard deduction and eliminated personal exemptions. The IRS subsequently updated income tax withholding tables, one of the guidelines employers use to determine how much to retain for taxes from employee paychecks. The amount withheld is further customized by an employee’s W-4.
In many cases, employer withholding amounts went down, enabling employees to enjoy slightly higher paychecks; yet many Americans left their W-4s unchanged. Consequently, many W-2 wage earners have found themselves under-withheld for the 2018 tax year. Fortunately, the
IRS waived the penalty for many taxpayers who paid at least 80% of their total tax liability.
The IRS shared that it is “especially important” that certain groups with more “complicated financial situations” should check their withholdings.
• Two-income families.
• People working two or more jobs or who only work for part of the year.
• People with children who claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit.
• People with older dependents, including children age 17 or older.
• People who itemized deductions in the prior tax year.
• People with high incomes and more complex tax returns.
• People with large tax refunds or large tax bills in the prior years.
It is important to note that receiving a refund or owing taxes does not indicate that your overall annual tax liability has increased or decreased. Your effective tax rate, or the percentage of your annual total income paid in federal income tax, often provides a clearer comparison.
Please consult with your tax professional to learn more about your specific tax rate and identify if adjustments should be made to your withholdings for the current tax year.
Article was updated on 3/22/19 to reflect the IRS expansion of the penalty waiver.
Ten Warnings Signs:
If you have compliance questions on your employee benefit plan, please contact the SKR+CO audit team.
Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA can provide tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals in retirement, but what if you convert your traditional IRA — subject to income taxes on all earnings and deductible contributions — and then discover you would have been better off if you left it as a traditional IRA?
Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), you could undo a Roth IRA conversion using a “recharacterization.” Effective with 2018 conversions, the TCJA prohibits recharacterizations. If you executed a conversion in 2017, you may still be able to undo it.
Reasons to recharacterize
Generally, if you converted to a Roth IRA in 2017, you have until October 15, 2018, to undo it and avoid the tax hit.
Here are some reasons you might want to recharacterize a 2017 Roth IRA conversion:
If you recharacterize your 2017 conversion but would still like to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you must wait until the 31st day after the recharacterization. If you undo a conversion because your IRA’s value declined, there is a risk that your investments will bounce back during the waiting period, causing you to reconvert at a higher tax cost.
Recharacterization in action
Sally had a traditional IRA with a balance of $100,000 when she converted it to a Roth IRA in 2017. Her 2017 tax rate was 33%, so she owed $33,000 in federal income taxes on the conversion.
However, by August 1, 2018, the value of her account had dropped to $80,000. So Sally recharacterizes the account as a traditional IRA and amends her 2017 tax return to exclude the $100,000 in income.
On September 1, she reconverts the traditional IRA, whose value remains at $80,000, to a Roth IRA. She will report that amount when she files her 2018 tax return. The 33% rate has dropped to 32% under the TCJA. Assuming Sally is still in this bracket, this time she’ll owe $25,600 ($80,000 × 32%) — deferred for a year and resulting in a tax savings of $7,400.
(Be aware that the thresholds for the various brackets have changed for 2018, in some cases increasing but in others decreasing. This, combined with other TCJA provisions and changes in your income, could cause you to be in a higher or lower bracket in 2018.)
Know your options
If you converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2017, it is worthwhile to see if you could save tax by undoing the conversion. If you are considering a Roth conversion in 2018, keep in mind that you will not have the option to recharacterize. See your financial adviser whether recharacterizing a 2017 conversion or executing a 2018 conversion makes sense for you.
Starting early on your 2018 tax planning is especially critical this year, as tax reform has substantially changed the tax environment. Tax planning helps determine the total impact new laws may have on your particular scenario and identifies proactive tax strategies that make sense for you this year, such as the best way to time income and expenses. From this analysis, you may decide to deviate from tax approaches that worked for you in previous years and implement a new game plan.
A tremendous number of variables affect your overall tax liability for the year. For example, the timing of income and deductible expenses can affect both the rate you pay and when you pay. By reviewing your year-to-date income, expenses and potential tax, you may be able to time income and expenses in a way that reduces, or at least defers, your tax liability.
Under the TCJA tax reform legislation, most of the provisions affecting individuals are in effect for 2018–2025 and additional major tax law changes are not expected in 2018.
Starting sooner will help prevent you from making costly assumptions under the new tax regime. It will also allow you to take full advantage of new tax-saving opportunities.
A large number of variables affect your overall tax liability for the year. It is especially critical this year because tax reform has substantially changed the tax environment. Planning early in the year can give you more opportunities to reduce your 2018 tax bill.
If you own a business, this is particularly important for the new qualified business income (QBI). New strategies are available to help you time income and expenses to minimize tax liability.
Now and throughout the year, seek your business adviser to help you determine how tax reform affects you and what strategies you should implement to minimize your tax liability.