Tax Changes for Small Businesses

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Tax Changes for Small Businesses

During 2010, new laws, such as the Affordable Care Act and the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, created or expanded deductions and credits that small businesses and self-employed individuals should consider when completing their tax returns and making business decisions in 2011.

Health Insurance Deduction Reduces Self Employment Tax

With the enactment of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, self-employed taxpayers who pay their own health insurance costs can now reduce their net earnings from self-employment by these costs. Previously, the self-employed health insurance deduction was allowed only for income tax purposes. For tax year 2010, self-employed taxpayers can also reduce their net earnings from self employment subject to SE taxes on Schedule SE by the amount of self-employed health insurance deduction claimed on line 29 on Form 1040.

Taxpayers can claim the self-employed health insurance deduction if the insurance plan is established under their business and if any of the following are true:

• They were self-employed and had a net profit for the year,

• They used one of the optional methods to figure net earnings from self-employment on Schedule SE, or

• They received wages from an S corporation in which the taxpayer was a more-than-2-percent shareholder.

During tax year 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, the self-employed health insurance deduction was claimed on 3.6 million tax returns, reducing taxpayers’ adjusted gross incomes by $21 billion.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

In general, the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is available to small employers that pay at least half of the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees. It is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ moderate- and lower-income workers.

Small businesses can claim the credit for 2010 through 2013 and for any two years after that. For tax years 2010 to 2013, the maximum credit is 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible small businesses and 25 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations. Beginning in 2014, the maximum tax credit will increase to 50 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations.

The maximum credit goes to smaller employers –– those with 10 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees –– paying annual average wages of $25,000 or less. The credit is completely phased out for employers that have 25 or more FTEs or that pay average wages of $50,000 or more per year. Because the eligibility rules are based in part on the number of FTEs, not the number of employees, employers that use part-time workers may qualify even if they employ more than 25 individuals.

Eligible small businesses will first use Form 8941 to figure the credit and then include the amount of the credit as part of the general business credit on its income tax return.

General Business Credit for Employers

The general business credits of eligible small businesses in 2010 are not subject to alternative minimum tax The new law allows general business credits to offset both regular income tax and alternative minimum tax of eligible small businesses as described in Section 2012 of the Small Business Jobs Act. The provision is effective for any general business credits determined in the first taxable year beginning after December 31, 2009, and to any carryback of such credits. For a list of the general business credits, see Form 3800.
Small Businesses Can Benefit from Higher Expensing / Depreciation Limits

For tax years beginning in 2010 and 2011, small businesses can expense up to $500,000 of the first $2 million of certain business property placed in service during the year.

In general, businesses can choose to treat the cost of certain property as an expense and deduct it in the year the property is placed in service instead of depreciating it over several years. This property is frequently referred to as section 179 property, after the relevant section in the Internal Revenue Code.

Section 179 property is property that you acquire by purchase for use in the active conduct of your trade or business, including:

• Tangible personal property.

• Other tangible property (except buildings and their structural components) used as:

1. An integral part of manufacturing, production, or extraction or of furnishing transportation, communications, electricity, gas, water, or sewage disposal services;

2. A research facility used in connection with any of the activities in (1) above; or

3. A facility used in connection with any of the activities in (1) above for the bulk storage of fungible commodities.

• Single purpose agricultural (livestock) or horticultural structures.

• Storage facilities (except buildings and their structural components) used in connection with distributing petroleum or any primary product of petroleum.

• Off-the-shelf computer software.
Section 179 property generally does not include land, investment property (section 212 property), property used mainly outside the United States, property used mainly to furnish lodging and air conditioning or heating units.

The Small Business Jobs Act (SBJA) of  2010 increases the section 179 limitations on expensing of depreciable business assets for tax years beginning in 2010 and 2011 and expands temporarily the definition of section 179 property, for tax years beginning in 2010 and 2011, to include certain qualified real property a taxpayer elects to treat as section 179 property. Qualified real property means qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail improvement property.  

The $500,000 amount provided under the new law is reduced, but not below zero, if the cost of all section 179 property placed in service by the taxpayer during the tax year exceeds $2 million.

For tax years beginning in 2012, the maximum amount is $125,000; before enactment of the 2010 tax relief legislation, it was set at $25,000.
Depreciation limits on business vehicles

The total depreciation deduction (including the section 179 expense deduction and the 50 or 100 percent bonus depreciation) you can take for a passenger automobile (that is not a truck or a van) you use in your business and first placed in service in 2010 is increased to $11,060. The maximum deduction you can take for a truck or van you use in your business and first placed in service in 2010 is increased to $11,160.  If you do not take any bonus depreciation for the passenger automobile, truck, or van you use in your business and first placed in service in 2010, the maximum deduction you can take for a passenger automobile is $3,060 and for a truck or van is $3,160.

50 or 100 Percent Bonus Depreciation

Generally, businesses can take a special depreciation allowance to recover part of the cost of qualified property placed in service during the tax year. The allowance applies only for the first year you place the property in service.

Businesses that acquire and place qualified property into service after Sept. 8, 2010 can now claim a depreciation allowance of 100 percent of the cost of the property. The property must be placed in service before Jan. 1, 2012 (Jan. 14, 2013 in the case of certain longer-lived and transportation property).   Businesses that acquire qualified property during 2010 on or before Sept. 8, 2010 can claim a depreciation allowance of 50 percent of the cost of the property.  The property must be placed in service before Jan. 1, 2013 (Jan. 1, 2014 in the case of certain longer production period property and for certain aircraft.)

The allowance is an additional deduction you can take after any section 179 deduction and before you figure regular depreciation under MACRS for the year you place the property in service. The types of property that can be depreciated are described in the instructions to Form 4562.  

Small Businesses To Use EFTPS for Deposits Beginning in 2011

The paper coupon system for Federal Tax Deposits will no longer be maintained by the Treasury Department after Dec. 31, 2010. Most businesses must now make deposits and pay federal taxes through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Using EFTPS to make federal tax deposits provides substantial benefits to both taxpayers and the government. EFTPS users can make tax payments 24 hours a day, seven days a week from home or the office.

Deposits can be made online with a computer or by telephone. EFTPS also significantly reduces payment-related errors that could result in a penalty. The system helps taxpayers schedule dates to make payments even when they are out of town or on vacation when a payment is due. EFTPS business users can schedule payments up to 120 days in advance of the desired payment date.

Information on EFTPS, including how to enroll, can be found on line or by calling EFTPS Customer Service at 1-800-555-4477.

Gustavo A Viera CPA

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Senate Passes 1099 Repeal Amendment

Posted on 04/02/201106/07/2020Categories TaxTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Senate Passes 1099 Repeal Amendment

Senate Passes 1099 Repeal Amendment

Miami CPA Gustavo Viera reports that the Senate approved an amendment Wednesday to repeal the expanded 1099 information reporting requirements in the health care reform law.

Two similar, but competing amendments were introduced this week by Democratic and Republican lawmakers to be attached to a larger re-authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration (see 1099 Repeal Amendments Proposed for Aviation Administration). One came from Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and the other from Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., who had both introduced earlier attempts to repeal the 1099 reporting requirements.

The two amendments mainly differed in a few words regarding the handling of administrative expenses at the Social Security Administration. To avoid adding to the budget deficit, Stabenow’s amendment authorizes the director of the Office of Management and Budget to cut unnecessary unobligated spending, but exempts the Social Security Administration’s administrative expenses from being cut. There are also differences in the cost estimates of the two amendments and in how they would be offset.

The repeal of the 1099 reporting requirements enjoyed broad bipartisan support. The requirements, which were included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, would have required businesses to report to the Internal Revenue Service any purchases of goods and services over $600 a year from another business or individual.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., who has tried several times to get the 1099 reporting requirements repealed, hailed the approval of the amendment containing language exempting the Social Security Administration’s expenses. The Senate voted 81-17 to reject a point of order that had been raised against the Stabenow amendment.

“We heard small businesses loud and clear, and today both parties came together in a bipartisan manner to respond to their concerns,” Baucus said in a statement.  “Eliminating these paperwork requirements lets small businesses focus on the critical work of growing their businesses and creating jobs. This amendment is paid for by cutting spending in other areas, but we took the extra steps to ensure that not a thin dime of Social Security money is used. The common-sense solution we passed today delivers the paperwork relief small businesses need while protecting and preserving the crucial Social Security and veterans benefits millions of people in Montana and across the country rely on.”

The larger, $34.5 billion FAA legislation enjoys wide bipartisan support and includes $8 billion for airport construction and infrastructure improvement. It also would establish a whistleblower office at the FAA, upgrade air control technologies, and create a national review board that would travel to FAA offices to perform safety audits.

There was no vote on the Johanns amendment on Wednesday. However, he hailed the passage of the repeal, pointing out that the Stabenow amendment was nearly identical to the language of the Small Business Paperwork Elimination Act that he had introduced, which had attracted 61 co-sponsors, including 16 Democrats.

“I’m thrilled that after multiple attempts to repeal this burdensome mandate, the Senate has finally done the right thing in voting to repeal it,” Johanns said in a statement. “The small business owners and organizations who stepped forward in opposition to this 1099 overreach were instrumental in sustaining the momentum that has resulted in wide bipartisan support. I look forward to continuing the effort to repeal the health care law and finding true solutions to our health care challenges. This is a big victory for our job creators.”

Stabenow also praised passage of the amendment. “Today we provided a common-sense solution for business owners so they can focus on creating jobs, not filling out paperwork for the IRS,” she said. “Since last year, I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this problem. If left unchecked, 40 million small businesses would see their IRS 1099 paperwork increase 2000 percent.”

Gustavo A Viera CPA

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Staffing your Business – Four Flexible Options to Consider as you Start-up and Grow

Posted on 24/11/2010Categories Business TrendsTags , , , , , , , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Staffing your Business – Four Flexible Options to Consider as you Start-up and Grow

Staffing your Business – Four Flexible Options to Consider as you Start-up and Grow

How do you staff a new or growing small business?

Knowing who to turn to can be a bit of a conundrum. Do you dive right in and hire full- or part-time employees? What if your success doesn’t last and you are stuck with a team of employees with the associated payroll and benefit expenses? What about turning to friends and family or a staffing agency for help?

It might not be something you thought too much about when you started your business, but having a staffing plan can help your business prepare for success and ensure you have the right talent in place to help you scale and grow when the time comes.

Here are some options that you might wish consider as you review and prepare for your short- and long-term business staffing needs.

1. Hiring Friends and Family

Operating a family business has a nice ring to it, and of course if the talent and willingness is there, why not use it? Friends and family can often step-in and help you out on flexible schedules and terms. If this is an option you can take advantage of, don’t abuse it. Give your nearest and dearest clear goals and objectives, and compensate them fairly and within the law. You should also be aware of several regulations that come with working with family.  

Temporary agencies specializing in communications, accounting or legal work can be a source of job candidates. Many do direct hires, and temp-to-perm options are a great way to test an applicant before making a decision.

2. Consider Independent Contractors

Hiring an independent contractor or freelancer is another flexible approach to staffing your business. It’s also a great way of finding specialist help on an hourly or project basis (independent contractors specialize in many areas of business from HR and accounting, to marketing and web design). The best way to find independent contractors is word of mouth and referrals. Ask around. Use LinkedIn or Facebook to solicit recommendations from friends and acquaintances. Another alternative is to use online freelance “marketplaces” or “bidding” sites built solely for freelancers and the people who want to hire them – although if you are looking for a trusted resource, I always recommend getting a referral.

 Independent contractors are technically self-employed, which means you don’t carry the burden of managing payroll, employment taxes and the other obligations of managing employees – which can result in cost-savings over time.

Remember, however, that it is your responsibility to ensure that you properly handle the taxation and other regulatory requirements involved with working with independent contractors. Read more about these in this Hiring independent Contactors Guide 

3. Turn to a “Temp” Staffing Agency 

Many businesses turn to staffing agencies when they need to cover gaps in their employee line-up. Say, for example, if a team member takes extended leave or you need to temporarily fill a job vacancy until you can hire a replacement. 

But what about turning to a temp agency for your permanent or semi-permanent staffing needs?

Temp agencies can help you quickly staff a position with qualified and screened candidates, which can reduce the recruitment burden. However remember that temp agencies take a cut of the hourly rate that you pay the “temp” (up to 30%) and often charge temp-to-permanent fees if you decide to hire that person full-time.

So while you may get an immediate fix for your needs – if the “temp” is the right fit – it can be an expensive way to staff your start-up or growing business. And don’t forget to consider the fact that one of your biggest goals should be building a team – how invested in the success of your business would a “temp” be?

4. Outsource Core Business Functions

When you don’t have enough hours in the day to operate your business and take care of your clients at the same time, outsourcing core business functions can be a cost-effective and headache-free way to go.

Tax specialists and accountants can help reduce many of the headaches associated with small business ownership – from payroll to tax filing – and the overhead can be a lot less than staffing this kind of help in-house. Accounting firms for example charge a flat monthly fee, which can be as low as $35 plus an additional fee per employee (often less than $5 per headcount).

 Another area you might consider outsourcing is your administrative function. Virtual assistants can be hired for as little as $20-$50 an hour to help with all facets of your business – from managing your business expenses and maintaining inventory, to proofing and formatting your sales pitch in PowerPoint.

Gustavo A Viera CPA

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New Rules Require Rental Property Owners to Issue 1099s

Posted on 22/11/2010Categories TaxTags , , , , , , , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on New Rules Require Rental Property Owners to Issue 1099s

New Rules Require Rental Property Owners to Issue 1099s

 The recently enacted Small Business Jobs Act contained one provision that may have escaped the notice of taxpayers who own rental property, but will affect them starting in January. Under the provision, owners of property who receive rental income will be required to issue Forms 1099 to service providers for payments of $600 or more during the year.

The act subjects recipients of rental income from real estate to the same information-reporting requirements as taxpayers engaged in a trade or business. Thus, rental income recipients making payments of $600 or more to a service provider in the course of earning rental income are required to provide an information return (typically, Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income) to the IRS and to the service provider. This provision will apply to payments made after Dec. 31, 2010, and will cover, for example, payments made to plumbers, painters or accountants in the course of earning the rental income.

While rental property owners will not actually issue the required 1099s until early 2012, they need to start keeping adequate records of payments starting Jan. 1, 2011, so they will be prepared to issue correct 1099s. They will also need to obtain the name, address and taxpayer identification number of the service provider, using Form W-9 or a similar form.

Exceptions

The law provides exceptions for individuals who can show that the requirement will create a hardship for them. The IRS is directed to issue regulations on this, but has not done so yet, so there is currently no guidance on what constitutes sufficient hardship to qualify for the exception or how a taxpayer would demonstrate that hardship.

The law also contains an exception for individuals who receive rental income of “not more than a minimal amount.” Again, the IRS is directed to issue regulations to determine what constitutes “not more than a minimal amount” but has not done so yet.

If such guidance is not forthcoming before Jan.1, all individuals who receive rental income should start keeping records of payments to service providers so they are prepared to issue 1099s in 2012.

The law also contains an exception for members of the military or employees of the intelligence community if substantially all their rental income comes from renting their principal residence on a temporary basis.

Information Return Penalties

Taxpayers should also be aware that in addition to creating a new reporting requirement, the act increases the penalties for failure to file a correct information return. The first-tier penalty increases from $15 to $30; the second-tier penalty increases from $30 to $60; and the third-tier penalty increases from $50 to $100. For small business filers (with average annual gross receipts under $5 million), the calendar-year maximum increases from $25,000 to $75,000 for the first-tier penalty; from $50,000 to $200,000 for the second-tier penalty; and from $100,000 to $500,000 for the third-tier penalty. The minimum penalty for each failure due to intentional disregard increases from $100 to $250.

The increased penalties apply to information returns required to be filed on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

Expanded 1099 Reporting After 2011

Currently, payments to corporations are excepted from the 1099 information reporting requirements, but starting for payments after Dec. 31, 2011, businesses (including, now, individuals who receive rental income) will be required to file an information return for all payments aggregating $600 or more in a calendar year to a single payee, including corporations (other than a payee that is a tax-exempt corporation). This change was made by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in March. That act also expanded the information reporting requirements to include gross proceeds paid in consideration for property.

Gustavo A Viera CPA

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