How to Co-ordinate Cost Segregation with Like-kind Exchange

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed by the President on December 22, 2017. The TCJA is the most significant overhaul of Internal Revenue Tax code since the 1986 Tax Act under President Reagan. The Committee Report has over a thousand pages of modifications to many areas of the tax code. One piece of the new legislation (that concern most real estate investors) involves changes to the like-kind exchange rules.

When certain conditions are met, no gain or loss is recognized when a taxpayer exchanges property of like-kind (used in a trade or business or for investment purposes). Before the TCJA, a taxpayer could exchange real property for real property; and personal property for personal property (with some restrictions) without recognizing gain on the exchange. For exchanges completed after December 31, 2017, the TCJA limits this tax-free treatment to an exchange of real property only. Personal property no longer qualifies for like-kind exchange after this date. Many taxpayers and tax preparers are asking the question: How does this impact an exchange of real property that went through a cost segregation study?

Cost segregation is a valuable tax strategy to accelerate depreciation deductions. When the timing is right, this strategic tool can save taxpayers thousands of tax dollars. The primary goal of a cost segregation study is to identify all costs that can be depreciated over shorter depreciable lives. By accelerating depreciation, a taxpayer can defer federal and state income taxes and increase cash flow. If timed correctly, a taxpayer can claim more deductions in a high marginal tax year and less deductions in low marginal tax year resulting in a permanent tax savings.

The building costs identified with shorter depreciable lives (by the cost segregation study) are depreciated as Section 1245 property. Most tax preparers believe that means that these assets are personal property. The distinction that needs to be made is between the personal property (machinery and equipment) from the real property fixtures that qualify as 1245 property for tax purposes but are deemed to be real property by state law. State law generally determines the classification of property as real or personal. For like-kind exchange purposes, the courts have held that state law, although not controlling, is generally followed to determine whether property is real or personal. As such, fixtures can be 1245 property with a shorter depreciable life for depreciation purpose but real property for like-kind exchange purpose. Taxpayers still need to be aware of the potential recapture rules under 1245(b)(4) and 1245(d)(4) but this personal property vs. real property distinction should help taxpayers navigate like-kind exchanges with more comfort.

Finally, according to the Committee Report, it is the intention of the Congress that real property eligible for like-kind exchange treatment under prior law continue to be eligible under TCJA. The expert opinion is that this language means that the treatment of real property that went through cost segregation study should continue to be eligible for like-kind exchange treatment as it has in the past.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. 

Pass-Through Entities and the 20 Percent Tax Break

Small-business owners and partners are scratching their heads over the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and how the new 20 percent tax deduction for pass-through entities will work.

Here’s a little background

A pass-through entity can be a partnership, S corporation, limited liability company or partnership, or sole proprietorship — basically, most of the country’s small businesses. Owners and shareholders of these entities are taxed on earnings based on individual, not corporate, tax rates. Effectively, company earnings, losses and deductions pass through to the individual’s personal tax rates, which, in the past, were typically lower than corporate rates. The pass-through deduction was a nice tax break.

But things have changed.

In 2017, the U.S. corporate tax rate was 35 percent, one of the highest in the industrialized world. The new bill slices that rate to a flat 21 percent, which is lower than the top individual tax rate of 37 percent. Earners who fall into that top tax tier would be silly to claim a pass-through deduction, because their individual rate is now higher than the corporate rate. Say bye-bye to that tax break.

Not so fast. To even things out, lawmakers have allowed pass-through owners to deduct 20 percent of their qualified business income, or QBI, from their personal income taxes, whether or not they itemize. Unlike the corporate tax cut, which is permanent, this pass-through deduction lasts only through 2025, unless Congress extends it.

A 20 percent pass-through deduction is nothing to sneeze at. If you have, say, $100,000 in pass-through income, you can reduce your income taxes by $4,800 if you’re in the 24 percent income tax bracket.

What is QBI?

QBI is, essentially, the profit a pass-through business makes during a year.

QBI includes:

  • Rental income from a rental business.
  • Income from publicly traded partnerships.
  • Real estate investments trusts.
  • Qualified cooperatives.

QBI does not include:

  • Dividend income.
  • Interest income.
  • S corporation shareholder wages.
  • Business income earned outside the United States.
  • Guaranteed payments to LLC members or partnership partners.
  • Capital gain or loss.

Here’s the hitch

In order to take advantage of the pass-through deduction, you must have net taxable income from your businesses. If you don’t make any profit, you can’t deduct 20 percent from nothing.

The QBI from each business is calculated separately. If you have several businesses, and one or more loses money in a given year, you will deduct that loss from the QBI from the profitable businesses.

More considerations

Hey, if there weren’t always more considerations, you wouldn’t need us. Whether you can take advantage of all, some or none of the pass-through tax deduction depends on how much money you earn and how you earn it.

For instance, if your taxable income falls below $315,000 if married filing jointly or $157,500 if single, you can take full advantage of the pass-through deduction. But if your taxable income is more than $315,000/$157,500, taking the deduction will depend on your total income and the kind of work you do. If you perform a personal service, such as doctor or consultant, you’ll lose the deduction at certain income levels. The details are still unclear, and we’re looking forward to reviewing future guidance.

The new pass-through deduction can be a nice tax break for folks who qualify. Not sure if you do? Contact us at info@cpa-wfy.com, and we’ll help you navigate the murky waters surrounding the new tax law and pass-through deduction. We’ll see if you’re entitled to anything and, if so, how much.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Extraordinary Estate Tax Opportunity

By Cheryl J. Schaffer, CPA, MST, AEP®

Estate and Trust Partner

 

January 9, 2018

You may recall that President Trump promised to repeal the Estate and Gift Tax and their cousin, the Generation Skipping Tax.   However, the enacted version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed just before Christmas 2017, left these three taxes intact.   The outcome is surprising, given that the Republican Party has often condemned these taxes, and given that the House, Senate, and White House are all on the same side of the party divide.   Yet, complete repeal was not accomplished.   Thus, these taxes remain a huge liability for high net worth individuals and families.

What the Act does accomplish is a doubling of the Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Tax Exemption.   Starting on January 1, 2018, the exemption is $11,200,000 for individuals and $22,400,000 for married couples, up from $5,490,000 and $10,980,000 in 2017, respectively. On January 1, 2026, the exemption amounts are scheduled to revert to the 2017 levels, adjusted for inflation. The rate remains the same, at 40%.

If you should pass away before 2026, your Estate will benefit from this historic change in the exemption.   Mortality tables show that if you were born after 1947, you have a 50% chance of outliving the 2026 date, when the Estate Tax comes back at full force.   History tells us that if we have a change of parties in power to Democrats, that 2026 date for reducing the exemption might be accelerated.   Thus, it remains critical that high net worth individuals take proactive steps to reduce their exposure to the Estate Tax.

Many tools are at our finger tips to help you reduce your taxable estate through gifting.   The Gift Tax Exemption doubled, allowing an extraordinary opportunity for you to gift substantial appreciating assets without paying a dime of Gift Tax.   Making substantial gifts can be a little frightening: it may bring up issues of control over assets, creating “Trust Babies” who have unrealistic expectations of entitlement, and reducing cash flow.   Careful consideration must be given to these non-tax aspects.   However, these issues can be addressed via strategies involving special types of trusts, such as Dynasty Trusts, Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, and nontaxable sales to grantor trusts, just to name a few.

You may have noticed that the media has given little mention to the effect of the Act on the income taxation of Estates and Trusts.   Under the new rules, the highest Federal tax rate for a Trust or Estate is 38% on income over $12,500.   Compare this with the highest Federal tax rate for individuals: 35% on $500,000 of taxable income.   Thus, planning distributions to escape the extremely high rate of tax imposed on Trusts and Estates remains critically important.

Since 1916, The Estate Tax Exemption has changed more than 60 times! Despite complete control by Republicans and their repeated aversion to the death tax, the Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Tax remains a threat to high net worth families.   Should we have a change in parties over the next few years, what might Democrats do to accelerate that critical 2026 date? One thing you can bet on: Uncertainty is certain!

We have guided our clients through hundreds of Estate Planning transactions resulting in millions of dollars in savings.   We remain ready to point you in the right direction. Please give us a call to see how Wright Ford Young & Co. can help you!

© Copyright 2017. All rights reserved

Bracket Changes and More From the IRS

You haven’t even filed your 2017 taxes yet, but the IRS has already announced changes that will affect your 2018 taxes, which you’ll be filing in 2019. The changes were announced in Revenue Procedure 2017-58, which runs 28 pages, but below are some key points. How do these changes impact you?

Of course, if any meaningful tax reform is passed, anything can be changed. We’ll keep you posted on any developments that affect you.

  • The standard deduction for married filing jointly rises to $13,000 for tax year 2018, up $300. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rises to $6,500 in 2018, up from $6,350 in 2017, and for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $9,550 for tax year 2018, up from $9,350 for tax year 2017.
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2018 rises to $4,150, an increase of $100. The exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $266,700 ($320,000 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $389,200 ($442,500 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The bracket changes have not gone up significantly from the previous year. For example, the floor for the 28 percent “married — filing jointly” category is up from $153,101 to $156,151. The details of each bracket are described in the revenue procedure.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2018 is $55,400, and begins to phase out at $123,100 ($86,200 for married couples filing jointly, for whom the exemption begins to phase out at $164,100). The 2017 exemption amount was $54,300 ($84,500 for married couples filing jointly). For tax year 2018, the 28 percent tax rate applies to taxpayers with taxable incomes above $191,500 ($95,750 for married individuals filing separately).
  • The tax year 2018 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,444 for taxpayers filing jointly who have three or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,318 for tax year 2017. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phase-outs.
  • For tax year 2018, the monthly limitation for the qualified transportation fringe benefit is $260, as is the monthly limitation for qualified parking.
  • For calendar year 2018, the dollar amount used to determine the penalty for not maintaining minimum essential health coverage remains as it was for 2017: $695.
  • For tax year 2018, for participants who have self-only coverage in a Medical Savings Account, the plan must have an annual deductible that is not less than $2,300, an increase of $50 from tax year 2017, but not more than $3,450, an increase of $100 from tax year 2017. For self-only coverage, the maximum out-of-pocket expense amount is $4,600, up $100 from 2017. For tax year 2018, for participants with family coverage, the floor for the annual deductible is $4,600, up from $4,500 in 2017; however, the deductible cannot be more than $6,850, up $100 from the limit for tax year 2017. For family coverage, the out-of-pocket expense limit is $8,400 for tax year 2018, an increase of $150 from tax year 2017.
  • For tax year 2018, the adjusted gross income amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning Credit is $114,000, up from $112,000 for tax year 2017.
  • For tax year 2018, the foreign earned income exclusion is $104,100, up from $102,100 for tax year 2017.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2018 have a basic exclusion amount of $5.6 million, up from a total of $5.49 million for estates of decedents who died in 2017.
  • The annual exclusion for gifts increased to $15,000, an increase of $1,000 from the exclusion for tax year 2017.

Contact us at info@cpa-wfy.com, and we’ll explain how they change your tax situation.

© Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Is This Your Situation: Wondering If An Audit Can Benefit You

Your privately owned business may not need a financial statement audit according to law, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it. Read through to learn why an audit can be a smart move.

With the vicissitudes of change combined with technological advances, we’re living in an age of transparency where businesses are required to disclose more information about their taxes, financial records, operations and executive salaries.  While private companies are spared the intense scrutiny of professional auditors and not required to provide an external review of their financial statements, there are advantages to having an external audit many business heads rarely consider.

Seven reasons why an external audit is smart business

  1. Audits improve functioning of the business. Objective scrutiny of a business’s operations leads to creative improvements and controls, which result in better products and services and a fatter bottom line.Just as regular tuneups improve an automobile engine’s functioning, the external audit achieves similar results by improving a company’s performance by  reinforcing and strengthening what works and eliminating what’s slowing a business down.  Internal controls are scrutinized to make sure they’re achieving their goals and whether timetables and stakeholders’ interests and goals are being achieved.
  2. All companies, regardless of size and industry, can benefit from an external audit.A common misconception is small companies don’t need to be audited. Auditors can identify and address potential problems that may be holding you back.
  3. Audited financial statements are considered more reliable. Investing in an external audit is considered a proactive strategy that improves and enhances the image of the business in the public eye.  It circumvents potential mistrust that comes when information is revealed after the fact.  It also gives customers or clients (existing and potential) and investors a sense of security, knowing that your company’s financial statements have gone through the audit process.
  4. The audit process encourages transparency.  Financial statements that have been verified by an external auditor are considered more reliable in the business marketplace.  External auditors are trained specifically to focus on tightening and improving business processes to reduce the amount of risk of misreporting financial data.
  5. External auditors have no agenda other than the truth.
  6. Audits help foster a culture that encourages change and growth. Rather than view an external audit as a bureaucratic annoyance, managers ought to embrace the audit concept as a conduit to a stronger business, new systems and processes, all of which open the door to innovation.
  7. Audits lead to better hiring decisions.A company’s employees (human capital) are as valuable as its products or services and business operations.After all, their expertise, motivation and attitude affect and define the company’s culture.A careful external audit evaluates every variable in a company’s machinery.

Do you want to know about the advantages of an audit for your business, and what it would involve? Give us a call today.

Big Changes in Social Security and Retirement Plans for 2018

From 401(k) plans to individual retirement accounts to Social Security, the federal government has been busy in recent weeks adjusting numbers for 2018. Whether you’re an employee or business owner, senior management or nonexempt staff, these changes may affect how you approach retirement in the coming months and years.

Social Security: New ceilings

First, let’s start with what is not changing. The 7.65 percent Social Security deduction remains the same. And as before, it’s doubled to 15.30 percent for the self-employed.

However, the maximum earnings subject to Social Security rises from $127,200 to $128,700, a $1,500 increase. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that this change means 12 million more workers will be paying more Social Security tax than before. The 1.45 percent Medicare portion, which has no ceiling, remains unchanged.

Those who are working while collecting Social Security catch a small break: The SSA is raising slightly the amount people can earn before losing a portion of Social Security benefits. The new amounts are $10 or $40 a month, depending on the recipient’s status.

Another significant change is to the maximum Social Security benefit for those retiring at full retirement age, which changes from $2,687/month to $2,788/month, a $101 increase. More details are available on the Social Security site.

Retirement plan limits rise

Workers who can afford to do so can put away a little more for retirement: The limit for 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,000 to $18,500.

It’s a little more complicated for those contributing to IRAs:

  • For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $63,000 to $73,000, up from $62,000 to $72,000.
  • For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $101,000 to $121,000, up from $99,000 to $119,000.
  • For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $189,000 and $199,000, up from $186,000 and $196,000.
  • For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

Roth IRA contributors also get a bump up: The income phase-out range is $120,000 to $135,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $118,000 to $133,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $189,000 to $199,000, up from $186,000 to $196,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

Some IRA numbers are not changing, however:

  • The limit on annual contributions to an IRA remains $5,500. The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals age 50 and over remains $1,000.
  • The catch-up contribution limit for employees age 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $6,000.

These are just summaries of complex rules. Be sure to give us a call or email a WFY advisor at info@cpa-wfy.com so we can explain how these changes may affect your situation.

© Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Senate Tax Plan Outline Released

The Senate Republican’s tax reform plan was released last week. Several proposals changed from the House Tax bill. The key changes in the plan from the current law are as follows:

Individuals:

  • Current tax rates: Seven brackets from 10% to 39.6%.
  • Proposed tax rates: Seven brackets at 10%, 12%, 22.5%, 25%, 32.5%, 35% and 38.5%.
  • Current standard deduction: $6,350 individuals and $12,700 married filing joint.
  • Proposed standard deduction: $12,000 individuals and $24,000 married filing joint.
  • Elimination of personal exemptions, worth $4,050 per person.
  • Increase child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,650 and add a $500 credit for nonchild dependents.
  • Eliminate most itemized deductions, including property taxes and state and local tax deductions (will keep charitable contributions and medical expense deduction).
  • Continue to exclude from gross income up to $500,000 for joint filers ($250,000 for other filers) on the sale of a principal residence if the taxpayer owned and used the home for five out of the previous eight years (currently two out of five years). The exclusion would be available once every five years  (currently every two years).
  • Repeal of the alternative minimum tax.
  • Double the exemption for the estate tax amount to $10 million (no plan for repeal).

Businesses:

  • Small and family-owned business and flow through entities (Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships and S Corporations) will receive an additional 17.4% deduction of domestic qualified business income (limited to 50% of the W-2 wages of the taxpayer) effective in 2018. Certain professional service businesses are not eligible for the deduction, with a possible exemption if the qualified income is less than $150,000 (joint filers).
  • Proposed C Corporation tax rate 20% effective in 2019 (most other provisions begin in 2018).
  • Imposing a one-time 10% tax on accumulated foreign earnings, reduced to 5% for illiquid assets.
  • Nonresidential and residential rental property tax depreciation reduced to 25 years.
  • Increase Section 179 expensing limitation, deducting the cost of certain property, to $1 million and the phase out threshold to $2.5 million (currently $510,000 expense limitation with $2 million phaseout) and certain nonresidential property improvements would also qualify for Section 179 expense.
  • Limit the deduction for net interest expenses incurred by a business in excess of 30% of the business’s adjusted taxable income and any disallowed interest may be carried forward indefinitely.
  • Eliminate the deduction allowed for Section 199 domestic manufacturing activities after 2018.
  • Disallow deductions for entertainment, amusement or recreation but retain 50% deduction for business related meals.

WFY will update you as the plan progresses into a bill.

Contact us at info@cpa-wfy.com to discuss how to maximize your 2017 tax benefits through comprehensive year-end tax planning.

House Tax Bill Outline Released

By Richard A. Huffman, CPA MST

Wright Ford Young & Co.

On the heels of the recently passed 2018 budget resolution that allows for tax legislation to increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years the House Republican leaders released details of its tax overhaul plan. The key changes in the plan from the current law are as follows:

Individuals:

  • Current tax rates: Seven brackets from 10% to 39.6%.
  • Proposed tax rates: Four brackets at 12%, 25%, 35% and 39.6%.
  • Current standard deduction: $6,350 individuals and $12,700 married filing joint.
  • Proposed standard deduction: $12,000 individuals and $24,000 married filing joint.
  • Elimination of personal exemptions, worth $4,050 per person.
  • Increase child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600 and add a $300 credit for non-child dependents.
  • Eliminate most itemized deductions, including state and local tax deductions (will keep charitable contributions deduction).
  • Limit itemized property tax deduction to $10,000.
  • Limit home mortgage interest on new loans up to $500,000 debt.
  • Repeal of the alternative minimum tax.
  • Double the exemption for the estate tax and repeal it after six years.

Businesses:

  • Small and family-owned business and flow through entity tax rate reduction
    • Current maximum tax rate 39.6%.
    • Proposed maximum tax rate 25%.
  • (Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships and S Corporations).
  • Current C Corporation tax rate 35%
  • Proposed C Corporation tax rate 20%.
  • Global minimum tax of 10% applied to income that American companies earn anywhere in the world.
  • Imposing a one-time 12% tax on accumulated foreign earnings, reduced to 5% for illiquid assets.
  • Allowing businesses to expense the cost of certain new property placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023.

WFY will update you as the bill progresses through the expected many changes before it is slated for a vote and potential law.

Contact us at info@cpa-wfy.com to discuss how to maximize your 2017 tax benefits through comprehensive year-end tax planning.