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savings

Year-End Tax Saving Moves for Individuals

Since 2019 is coming to a close now is the time to take action to proactively reduce your tax liability before the new year.

Included are a few strategies that may help with your tax situation:

  1. Harvest stock losses while substantially preserving one’s investment position. This can be accomplished by selling the shares and buying other shares in the same company or another company in the same industry to replace them, or by selling the original shares then buying back the same securities at least 31 days later.2.
  2. Apply a bunching strategy to deductible contributions and/or payments of medical expenses. The increased standard deduction and limited itemized deduction of state and local taxes to $10,000 will cause many taxpayers to lose the benefit of their itemized deductions.  By bunching multiple years of charitable contributions and medical expenses into one year, a taxpayer may create a taxable benefit that would not otherwise exist.  For example, a taxpayer who expects to itemize deductions in 2019 and usually contributes a total of $10,000 to charities each year, should consider prefunding 2020 and 2021 charitable contributions by contributing a total of $30,000 into a donor advised charitable fund and then distribute the funds to the charities over the following two years.
  3. Take required minimum distributions (RMDs). Taxpayers who have reached age 70-½ should be sure to take their 2019 RMD from their IRAs or 401(k) plans (or other employer-sponsored retired plans). Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount of the RMD not withdrawn. Those who turned age 70-½ in 2019 can delay the first required distribution to 2020, however, this can result in taking a double distribution in 2020 (the required amount for 2019 and 2020).
  4. Use IRAs to make charitable gifts. Taxpayers who have reached age 70-½, own IRAs, and are thinking of making a charitable gift should consider arranging for the gift to be made by way of a qualified charitable contribution, or QCD—a direct transfer from the IRA trustee to the charitable organization. Such a transfer (not to exceed $100,000) will neither be included in gross income nor allowed as a deduction on the taxpayer’s return. A qualified charitable contribution before year end is a particularly good idea for retired taxpayers who don’t need all of their as-yet undistributed RMD for living expenses.
  5. Make year-end gifts. A person can give any other person up to $15,000 for 2019 without incurring any gift tax. The annual exclusion amount increases to $30,000 per donee if the donor’s spouse consents to gift-splitting. Anyone who expects eventually to have estate tax liability and who can afford to make gifts to family members should do so.
  6. Reinvest capital gains in Opportunity Zones. Capital gains reinvested within 180 days into an qualified opportunity fund allows for federal tax deferral and partial tax exemption and tax free appreciation if held for the required ten year period.

These are broad suggestions that will benefit some but not all taxpayers.  To discuss and create a personalized tax strategy, be sure to contact a WFY tax specialist at info@cpa-wfy.com or (949) 910-2727.

© Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

business owner summit

WFY Partner Kahni Bizub as Panelist at 2019 Business Owner Summit

On November 8th, WFY Senior Tax Partner, Kahni Bizub, will be one of the panelists for WealthWise Financial Services’s 2019 Business Owner Summit.

The 2019 Business Owner Summit is a day-long event which includes discussing topics such as scaling your business, income tax strategies, retirement plans strategies, and more. The keynote speakers are Jacob M. Gerber, an equity & multi-asset investment director, and E. Luke Farrell, a fixed income investment director.

Kahni Bizub’s specialty is tax planning and compliance services for closely-held and family-owned businesses and their key executives in the service, manufacturing, and distribution industries. She has served some of the same clients for her entire career and believes in building strong CPA-client relationships. Such a rapport allows her to best understand her clients’ needs and tailor services specific to each client. Kahni is also involved in multiple business organizations including Vistage, AICPA, and CalCPA.

If you’d like to learn more about the 2019 Business Owner Summit, click here.

WFY Hosts MGI North America West Coast Area Meeting

On January 4th, Wright Ford Young & Co. hosted the MGI North America West Coast Area Meeting at our offices in Irvine, CA.

Joe Tarasco, Regional Director, and Nancy Damato, Director of Marketing, starting the meeting off by talking about key points such as MGI North America new member recruiting initiatives and activities, marketing assessment calls/web meetings with MGI North America members, a guide about foreign companies doing business in United States, and upcoming conferences.

The meeting continued with discussions concentrating on MGI firm collaboration and practice management updates along with topics including business development, technical and niche areas, succession planning, and more.

Our WFY Tax Partner, Andy Bautista, hosted the meeting and said, “It was a great day spent with colleagues and friends, sharing ideas and ‘best practices,’ as well as networking and socializing. The meeting served as a reminder of how proud the respective firms are to be part of the MGI Worldwide network.”

Wright Ford Young & Co. is a member of MGI Worldwide, a Top 20 international accounting network of independent audit, tax and accounting firms, which brings together the expertise of some 6,000 professionals in over 300 locations around the world.  Through MGI Worldwide, our firm benefits from connections with people we get to know and trust in all corners of the globe.

esop

The Pros and Cons of Becoming an ESOP

An ESOP is not the only way for employees to own a company, but it is by far the most common. Although the concept was almost unknown until 1974, by 2014, about 7,000 companies had ESOPs covering 13.5 million employees, according to the National Center for Employee Ownership, a nonprofit membership group that provides information and research on ESOPs.

An ESOP can work in a variety of ways. Employees can buy stock directly, be offered it as a bonus, receive stock options or obtain stock through a profit-sharing plan. Some employees become owners through worker cooperatives in which every staffer has an equal vote.

Many have the impression that ESOPs are just a last resort for troubled companies, but only a handful of ESOPs are set up for this purpose. They are most commonly used to provide a market for the shares of departing owners of successful closely held firms. Their purpose? To motivate and reward employees or to take advantage of incentives to borrow money for acquiring new assets in pretax dollars. In almost every case, ESOPs are a contribution to employees rather than an employee purchase.

Getting to the details

ESOPs are a kind of employee benefit plan, similar in some ways to a profit-sharing plan. In an ESOP, a company sets up a trust fund. Then, the firm contributes new shares of its own stock or cash to buy existing shares. The ESOP can borrow money to buy new or existing shares as the firm makes cash contributions to the plan, enabling it to repay the loan. So no matter how the plan acquires stock, company contributions to the trust are tax-deductible, within certain limits.

Shares in the trust are allocated to individual employee accounts. Although there are some exceptions, generally all full-time employees who are at least 21 participate in the plan. Allocations can be made based on pay. As employees accumulate seniority in the company, they acquire an increasing right to the shares in their accounts — known as vesting — but employees must be 100 percent vested in three to six years, whether vesting happens (by virtue of the plan rules) all at once or gradually.

When employees leave the company, they receive their stock — and then the company buys it back from them at fair market value unless there is a public market for the shares. In private firms, employees must be able to vote their allocated shares on major issues such as whether the firm should close or relocate. In public companies, employees must be able to vote regarding all issues.

Here are some of the tax benefits of ESOPs:

  • Contributions of stock are tax-deductible.
  • Cash contributions are deductible.
  • Contributions used to repay a loan the ESOP takes out to buy company shares are tax-deductible. ESOP financing is accomplished with pretax dollars.
  • Sellers of C corporations can get a tax deferral. Once an ESOP owns 30 percent of all the shares in the company, the seller can reinvest the proceeds in other securities and defer any tax on the gains.
  • In S corporations, the percentage of ownership held by the ESOP isn’t subject to income tax at the federal level, and often not at the state level either.
  • Dividends are tax-deductible.
  • Employees pay no tax on contributions to the ESOP, only on distributions of their accounts, and then at potentially favorable rates.

But there also are limits and drawbacks such as:

  • ESOPs are not allowed in partnerships or most professional corporations.
  • ESOPs can be used in S corporations, but don’t qualify for rollovers and have lower contribution limits.
  • Private companies must repurchase the shares of any departing employees, and this can become a major expense.

ESOPs can improve your company’s performance, but only if they are combined with opportunities for employees to participate in decisions affecting their work.

These are the basics. Provisions can be complicated and there are exceptions. You should work with a qualified professional to set one up and learn the details in advance. Give us a call or email a WFY advisor at info@cpa-wfy.com if you are interested in learning more about ESOP and for referral of specialist ESOP advisory firms.

© Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.