Category: Personal and Business Accounting

Understanding The New Tax Code: How It Affects You

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 22, 2017.  The TCJA has brought with it many sweeping changes to a broad part of the tax code. Some of the notable changes include:

(1) Elimination of personal exemptions – previously taxpayers were allowed to subtract $4,500 from their income as a personal exemption.

(2) Elimination of the “personal mandate” enforced by the Affordable Care Act (known more commonly by many as “Obamacare”) – it is important to note that the elimination of this penalty did not go into effect until January 1, 2019. Hence, if you failed to obtain “qualifying health coverage” in 2018, the IRS will assess the penalty.

(3) Expansion of the Child Tax Credit – the TCJA increased the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000. The income level at which point the tax credit phases out has been raised from $110,000 to $400,000 for married tax filers. The age cut-off stays at 17 (child must be under 17 at the end of the year for taxpayers to claim the credit).  The refundable portion (applicable to parents who do not earn enough income to pay taxes) of the credit is limited to $1,400.  This amount will be adjusted for inflation after the 2018 tax year.

(4) Standard deduction for single filers increased by $5,500 and by $11,000 for married couples filing jointly (see Table 2 below).  Most itemized deductions eliminated.

(5) Mortgage Interest Deduction Reduced (learn more).

(6) If you’re caring for an elderly parent, you can get a $500 credit for each non-child dependent.

(7)  Tax table changes (see Table 1 below)

To protect individuals that are pushed into higher income tax brackets due to reduced value from credits and deductions instead of increase in real income (known as “bracket creep”), the act also requires that the IRS adjust numerous tax provisions for inflation.

2018 Income Tax Brackets and Standard Deduction Rates

Table 1. 2018 Income Tax Brackets and Rates

 

Table 2. 2018 Personal Exemption and Standard Deduction

The personal exemption for 2018 is eliminated

 

 

 

IRS Is Not Fooling Around With Retirees on April 1!

Although many retirees may not need to withdraw money from their retirement accounts (IRAs, SEP IRAs and 401(k) plans to name a few), April 1st could cost some of them as much as a “50% excise tax” if they do not take any contributions, and this is no April Fools’ Joke!

 

The Reason & Who’s Affected?

As delightful and rewarding as tax-deferred retirement saving plans like IRAs can be, there is a very important IRS Rule known as Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) that needs to be observed or the penalties can be severe. Generally speaking, all taxpayers (there are a few exceptions we will discuss later) with these types of accounts must start taking mandatory minimum distributions from their retirement accounts once they reach the age of 70½. The importance of the April 1st deadline is that it applies to the first year after which a taxpayer turns 70½.  Going forward each taxpayer is required to take the RMDs by the end of each calendar year (we provide the IRS worksheets to calculate the required minimum amount of distribution below). There is a caveat, if you are retired and your 70th birthday was say July 1, 2018. You reached age 70½ on January 1, 2019. You do not have an RMD for 2018. You must take your first RMD (for 2019) by April 1, 2020.  Of course, for those who turned 70½ June 30th or earlier in 2018, you must observe the upcoming April 1st deadline.

Failure To Take The Required Minimum Distribution

The consequences for failing to take the Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) can be severe, as taxpayers would be subject to pay an excise tax of up to 50% on the amount not distributed as required. The IRS is flexible regarding how you can choose to take your RMD.  For instance, if you have more than one account that is subject to the Required Minimum Distributions (RMD), you can elect to withdraw the combined RMD from one account, provided that the total minimum for all accounts is withdrawn during the calendar year in question.

RMDs

What Plans Are Subject to RMDs?

The minimum distribution rules apply to:

  • traditional IRAs
  • SEP IRAs
  • SIMPLE IRAs
  • 401(k) plans
  • 403(b) plans
  • 457(b) plans
  • profit sharing plans
  • other defined contribution plans
*  Roth IRAs do not require withdrawals until after the death of the owner.

Below you will find the IRS RMD Worksheets:

IRA Required Minimum Distribution Worksheet

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(Source: https://www.irs.gov/)

 

IRA Required Minimum Distribution Worksheet (if your spouse is the sole beneficiary of IRA and he or she is more than 10 years younger)

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(Source: https://www.irs.gov/)

 

 

Small Business Stock Loss Deduction (Sec. 1244)

What is Section 1244 ?

Section 1244 is the IRS provision enacted to allow shareholders of  small business corporations (corporation’s equity may not exceed $1,000,000 at the time the stock was issued) to dispose  their stock as an ordinary loss, which is likely to be a significant impact difference on a shareholder’s personal return from stock being treated as a capital asset and hence losses being deducted as capital losses, provided the qualifications and limits found below are met.  If you own stock in a small “domestic corporation” (note: as LLCs are state created entities that are taxed differently than corporations the membership interest in the LLC cannot be treated as section 1244 stock as defined in Title 26) and you plan to dispose of it for a given tax year, certain qualification requirements must be met.

Meeting the Sec. 1244 Requirement

  • The corporation must be a domestic small business corporation.  A domestic corporation (including an S corporation) qualifies as a small business corporation if, when the stock is issued, its aggregate capital does not exceed $1,000,000.
  • The stock must have been issued in exchange for money or property (other than stock and securities) and not inheritance or gift.  Therefore, stock issued for services or other does not qualify under Sec. 1244.
  • Only the original owner of the stock is entitled to claim a Sec. 1244 stock loss.  If a partnership purchases Section 1244 stock of another company, and later disposes of the stock at a loss, the partnership entity may pass the resulting loss through to its partners.  However, to be allowed to claim the loss as an ordinary loss instead of a capital loss, the partner must have been a partner when the stock was issued and have remained so until the time of the loss.
  • Section 1244 is available only for losses sustained by shareholders who are individuals.  Losses sustained on stock held by a corporation, trust or estate do not qualify for 1244 treatment.  In limited cases, a partnership can qualify as a shareholder of 1244 stock.  Generally, all transfers of 1244 stock by the shareholder, whether in a taxable or nontaxable transaction, whether by death, gift, sale or exchange revoke 1244 status.

Sec. 1244 Limits

Provided all of the requirements listed above are met, ordinary loss treatment for losses that arise for stock disposition are allowed.  However, there are limits to the the amount of ordinary loss that an individual taxpayer may realize by reason of the small business stock provision.  Any amount of Sec. 1244 loss in excess of this limitation is treated as a capital loss (there is no carry-forward). For losses incurred by unmarried individuals, the maximum amount they may claim as an ordinary loss for all losses sustained on Sec. 1244 stock in a taxable year is $50,000.  For married individuals filing a joint return, up to $100,000 of the loss on Section 1244 stock may be claimed as an ordinary loss even if only one spouse owns the stock.

Recordkeeping

It is important that records are maintained for a minimum of five(5) years, and the records must show that the corporation’s stock qualifies as Section 1244 stock.

  • The corporate minutes/by-laws, should make reference to the issuance of Section1244 stock.
  • Keep records of gross receipts for the past five(5) years.

Understanding and unearthing all the caveats in the IRS tax code can be a daunting task for even the most sophisticated business owners and taxpayers, therefore it is always a good idea to consult a tax professional like those found at TaxPM who can help you review, and if necessary revise your tax filings.

 

Don’t be misinformed in 2018 regarding ACA (Affordable Care Act)

 

One of the biggest benefits (besides adjusting income tax brackets and their respective percentages) of the Tax Cut Jobs Act (TCJA) Trumpeted by the Trump administration was the repeal of the “individual mandate penalty”.  However, although other provisions of the tax bill took effect in 2018, the individual mandate penalty, which penalized taxpayers that did not carry health insurance for at least 9 months out of the year, will not be eliminated until the 2019 tax year.

Despite strong opposition to the penalty as being extremely unfair to the poorest of taxpayers (80% of those who paid the penalty earned less than $50,000/yr.), the penalty has increased steadily since it’s 2014 debut.

The Individual Mandate Penalty Started Out Small But Has Grown Over Time

•     In 2014, the punishment was $95 per uninsured adult ($47.50 per child), up to $285 per family, OR 1 percent of household income. The IRS released statistics that among filers who owed a penalty for the tax year ending 2014, the average penalty was $210.

•     In 2015, the penalty would be raised to $325 per uninsured adult ($162.50 per child), up to $975 per family, OR 2 percent of household income. The IRS released statistics that among filers who owed a penalty for the tax year ending 2015, the average penalty rose over 125% year-to-year to $470.

•     In 2016, the penalty was again significantly raised to $695 per uninsured adult ($347.50 per child), up to $2,085 per family, or 2.5 percent of household income.

The 2.5 percent of household income penalty has remained constant since 2016, and in 2018 will remain at $695 per uninsured adult ($347.50 per child), up to $2,085 per family, or 2.5 percent of household income.

In closing, it is important to remember that although the individual mandate penalty was eliminated as part of the tax cut legislation passed in December 2017, this penalty assessed by the IRS will still be in effect for the tax year 2018.