2022 Year End Tax Planning Letter for Business Clients

2022 Year End Tax Planning Letter for Business Clients

As the year draws to a close, it’s important that we meet to discuss any year-end strategies that might help lower your business’s taxable income for 2022.

The most significant tax law changes during the year took place in August when the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (2022 IRA) was signed into law. While the new law did not change tax rates for most businesses, it does extend some expiring business tax credits while also introducing some new tax credits that may benefit your business. It also provided a hefty increase in IRS funding to bolster taxpayer services and enforcement of the tax code.

The following are some strategies we should consider for reducing your business’s taxes for 2022.

Section 179 Expensing and Depreciation Deductions

The two business tax deductions that present the best opportunities for reducing your business’s taxable income are the Section 179 deduction, where your business can elect to deduct the entire cost of certain property acquired and placed in service during the year, and the bonus depreciation deduction, where 100 percent of the cost of business property may be expensed. Under the Section 179 expensing option, your business can immediately expense the cost of up to $1,080,000 of “Section 179” property placed in service in 2022. This amount is reduced dollar for dollar (but not below zero) by the amount by which the cost of the Section 179 property placed in service during 2022 exceeds $2,700,000.

The bonus depreciation rules apply to all businesses unless the business specifically elects out of these rules. An election out might be preferable where a business expects a tax loss for the year and the bonus depreciation would just increase that loss or where it might be advantageous to push depreciation deductions into future years. For example, if the owner of a pass-thru entity to whom these deductions would flow expects to be in a higher tax bracket in future years, such deductions might be of more use in those future years. When applying both the Section 179 deduction and the bonus depreciation deduction to an asset, the Section 179 deduction applies first.

If you need a vehicle for your business, purchasing a sport utility vehicle weighing more than 6,000 pounds, can trigger a bigger deduction than if a smaller vehicle is purchased. This is because vehicles that weigh 6,000 pounds or less are considered listed property and the related first-year deduction is limited to $19,200 for cars, trucks and vans acquired and placed in service in 2022. For vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds, however, up to $27,000 of the cost of the vehicle can be immediately expensed.

It’s worth noting that if you leased a passenger automobile in 2022 with a value of more than $56,000, the deduction available for that lease expense is reduced. In such cases, you must include in gross income an amount determined by a formula the IRS issues each year.

Qualified Business Income Deduction

If you are conducting your business as a sole proprietorship, a partner in a partnership, a member in an LLC taxed as a partnership, or as a shareholder in an S corporation, the qualified business income (QBI) deduction can significantly help reduce taxable income. The QBI deduction allows eligible taxpayers to deduct up to 20 percent of their QBI, plus 20 percent of qualified real estate investment trust dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership income. A W-2 wage limitation amount may apply to limit the amount of the deduction. The W-2 wage limitation amount must be calculated for taxpayers with a taxable income that exceeds a statutorily-defined amount (i.e., the threshold amount). For any tax year beginning in 2022, the threshold amount is $340,100 for married filing joint returns and $170,050 for all other returns.

Since the QBI deduction reduces taxable income, and is not used in computing adjusted gross income, it does not affect limitations based on adjusted gross income such as the medical expense deduction or the calculation of social security income that is includible in income. However, the QBI deduction does not apply to a “specified service trade or business,” which is defined as any trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, including investing and investment management, trading, or dealing in securities, partnership interests, or commodities, and any trade or business where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees. Engineering and architecture services are specifically excluded from the definition of a specified service trade or business.

Rental Real Estate

If you have any rental real estate activities, it’s important to determine if the activity will be considered a passive activity by the IRS. Generally, losses from passive activities are only deductible against passive activity income. However, a deduction of up to $25,000 ($12,500 if married filing separately) may be allowed against nonpassive income to the extent you actively participates in the rental real estate activities. This deduction is subject to a phaseout for individuals with modified adjusted gross income above $100,000 (or $50,000 if married filing separately). Additionally, you may be eligible for a qualified business income deduction if certain criteria are met, such as the rental activity qualifying as a Section 162 trade or business.

Substantiation of Vehicle-Related Deductions

In audits, the IRS tends to focus on deductions taken for vehicle expenses. If not properly substantiated, such deductions are disallowed. Thus, if vehicles are used in any part of your business or business-related activities, your tax records with respect to each vehicle should include the following:

(1) the amount of each separate expense with respect to the vehicle (e.g., the cost of purchase or lease, the cost of repairs and maintenance, etc.);

(2) the amount of mileage for each business or investment use and the total miles for the tax period;

(3) the date of the expenditure; and

(4) the business purpose for the expenditure.

The IRS will consider the following as adequate substantiation for such expenses: (1) records such as a notebook, diary, log, statement of expense, or trip sheets; and (2) documentary evidence such as receipts, canceled checks, bills, or similar evidence.

Its important to note that records are considered adequate to substantiate the element of a vehicle expense only if they are prepared or maintained in such a manner that each recording of an element of the expense is made at or near the time the expense is incurred.

Employee Benefits

One area I would like to discuss with you are the tax and other advantages your business could reap by offering a retirement plan and/or other fringe benefits to employees. By offering such benefits, your business has a better chance of attracting and retaining talented workers which, in turn, reduces the costs of searching for and training new employees. Contributions made to retirement plans on behalf of employees are deductible and your business may be eligible for a tax credit for setting up a qualified plan if you don’t already have one.

If you haven’t already done so, you might consider the establishment of a flexible spending arrangement (FSA). An FSA allows employees to be reimbursed for medical expenses and is usually funded through voluntary salary reduction agreements with the employer. The employer has the option of making or not making contributions to the FSA. Some of the benefits of providing an FSA for employees include contributions made by the business being excluded from the employee’s gross income, reimbursements to the employee are tax free if used for qualified medical expenses, the FSA can be used to pay qualified medical expenses even if the employer or employee haven’t yet placed the funds in the account, and up to $570 of funds in the FSA can be carried over to subsequent years indefinitely.

Another popular employee benefit your business might consider is a high deductible health plan paired with a health savings account (HSA). The benefits to your business include savings on health insurance premiums that would otherwise be paid to traditional health insurance companies and having employee wage contributions to the plan not being counted as wages and thus neither the employer nor the employee is subject to FICA taxes on the payroll contributions. As for employees, they can reap a tax deduction for funds contributed to the HSA, and there is no use-it-or-lose-it limit like there is for most flexible spending arrangements (FSAs). Thus, the funds can grow tax free and be used in retirement.

Pass-Thru Entity Considerations

If you are operating a business through a pass-thru entity such as a partnership or S corporation, your basis in the entity must be high enough to allow for any loss deduction, if you have one for the year. In such a situation, we should consider the options available for increasing your basis in such entity.

If you are an S corporation shareholder it’s important to ensure that you and other shareholders involved in running the business are paid an amount that is commensurate with the work being done. The IRS scrutinizes S corporations which distribute profits instead of paying compensation subject to employment taxes. Failing to pay arm’s length salaries can lead to tax deficiencies, interest, and penalties. The key to establishing reasonable compensation is showing that the compensation paid for the type of work an owner-employee does for the S corporation is similar to what other entities would pay for similar work. An S corporation needs to adequately document the factors that support the salary an S corporation owner is being paid.

Also, because there are stringent requirements for who may be an S corporation shareholder, if the number of shareholders have changed or increased during the year, we should review the residency or citizenship status of the S corporation’s shareholders and S corporation stock beneficiaries (including contingent and residuary beneficiaries).

Energy Efficient Commercial Building Deduction

If your business owns a commercial building, a deduction is available for an amount equal to the cost of energy efficient commercial building property placed in service during the tax year. The maximum deduction with respect to any building for any tax year is the excess (if any) of (1) the product of $1.88, and the square footage of the building, over (2) the aggregate amount of the deductions for all prior tax years.

New and Modified Tax Credits

The 2022 IRA modified tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs) and fuel cell vehicles. The law also enacted new tax credits for used and commercial clean vehicles. Multiple factors determine whether an EV purchased in 2022 qualifies for federal tax credits. Many EVs purchased before August 16, 2022, qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500 (with smaller amounts available for certain makes and models). Vehicles manufactured by Tesla or General Motors purchased in 2022 are not eligible for tax credits, as Tesla and GM have exceeded the 200,000 vehicle threshold that limits the number of tax credits that can be claimed for vehicles made by a manufacturer.

For vehicles purchased after August 16, 2022, only vehicles for which final assembly occurred in North America qualify. The U.S. Department of Energy has released a list of model year 2022 and 2023 vehicles with final assembly in North America.

EV purchasers who ordered a vehicle before August 16, 2022, and take delivery of their vehicle at a later date may be able to claim tax credits for vehicles not assembled in North America if they had a written binding contract to purchase the vehicle. Most of the changes to the clean vehicle tax credit are effective starting in 2023, with the exception of the final assembly in North America requirement, mentioned above. Beginning in 2023, EVs qualify only if the vehicle’s battery meets certain conditions. The maximum potential credit is the sum of two amounts: the critical mineral amount and the battery component amount.

The 2022 IRA also introduced a new credit for qualified commercial electric vehicles placed into service by the taxpayer after 2022. The amount of credit is 30 percent of the cost of the vehicle, up to $7,500 in the case of a vehicle that weighs less than 14,000 pounds, and up to $40,000 for all other vehicles.

The energy investment tax credit (ITC) was also extended by the 2022 IRA and could reduce your business’s federal tax liability by a percentage of the cost of a solar system installed during the tax year. Solar systems placed in service in 2022 or later, and that began construction before 2033, are eligible for a 30 percent ITC or a production tax credit based on a kilowatt-hour formula if they meet certain labor requirements or are under 1 megawatt in size.

Research and Development Deductions and Credits

Finally, the provision allowing a deduction for research and development (R&D) expenses expired at the end of 2021. Such expenditures must now be amortized over five years. However, under the 2022 IRA, businesses that engage in certain types of research may qualify for an income tax credit based on its qualified research expenses. The credit is calculated as the amount of qualified research expenditures above a base amount that is meant to represent the amount of research expenditures in the absence of the credit. Because some small businesses may not have a large enough income tax liability to take advantage of their research credit, the law allows that small business (i.e., a business with less than $5 million in gross receipts and that is under five years old) to apply up to $250,000 of the research credit toward its social security payroll tax liability. The 2022 IRA expanded the amount available for the credit from $250,000 to $500,000 for tax years beginning after 2022.

It’s worth noting that there is a slim chance that the R&D expensing provision that terminated at the end of 2021 may be restored. There have been ongoing discussions between Republicans and Democrats about a potential last minute end-of-year tax deal regarding a reinstatement of the R&D credit, which expired at the end of 2021 and which businesses are anxious to see reinstated, in exchange for an enhanced child tax credit that is similar to the 2021 enhanced child tax credit enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Because it is unclear what, if any, tax legislation may be passed before the end of the year, our year-end planning will have to be based on existing law.

As you can see, there is much to consider before we prepare your 2022 business tax return and calculate any estimated tax payments that might be due in 2023. Please call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 so we can set a time to review potential strategies for reducing your business’s 2022 taxable income and tax liability.

2022 Year End Tax Planning for Individuals

2022 Year End Tax Planning for Individuals

The following are some of the tax breaks from which you may benefit, as well as the strategies we can employ to help minimize your taxable income and resulting federal tax liability for 2022.

Filing Status

Your tax return filing status can impact the amount of taxes you pay. For example, if you qualify for head-of-household (HOH) filing status, you are entitled to a higher standard deduction and more favorable tax rates. To qualify as HOH, you must be unmarried or considered unmarried and provide a home for certain other persons. If you are in such a situation, we need to review whether you qualify for HOH filing status.

Income, Deductions, and Credits

Standard Deduction versus Itemized Deductions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) substantially increased the standard deduction amounts, thus making itemized deductions less attractive for many individuals. For 2022, the standard deduction amounts are: $12,950 (single); $19,400 (head of household); $25,900 (married filing jointly); and $12,950 (married filing separately). If the total of your itemized deductions in 2022 will be close to your standard deduction amount, we should evaluate whether alternating between bunching itemized deductions into 2022 and taking the standard deduction in 2023 (or vice versa) could provide a net-tax benefit over the two-year period. For example, you might consider doubling up this year on your charitable contributions rather than spreading the contributions over a two-year period. If these contributions, along with your mortgage interest, medical expenses (discussed below), and state income and property taxes (subject to the $10,000 deduction limitation on such taxes that applies to both single individuals and married couples filing jointly; and the $5,000 limitation on such expenses for married filing separately returns), exceed your standard deduction, then itemizing such expenses this year and taking the standard deduction next year may be appropriate.

Medical Expenses, Health Savings Accounts, and Flexible Savings Accounts. For 2022, your medical expenses are deductible as an itemized deduction to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. To be deductible, medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental disability or illness. They don’t include expenses that are merely beneficial to general health, such as vitamins or a vacation. Deductible expenses include the premiums you pay for insurance that covers the expenses of medical care, and the amounts you pay for transportation to get medical care. Medical expenses also include amounts paid for qualified long-term care services and limited amounts paid for any qualified long-term care insurance contract. Depending on what your taxable income is expected to be in 2022 and 2023, and whether itemizing deductions would be advantageous for you in either year, you may want to accelerate any optional medical expenses into 2022 or defer them until 2023. The right approach depends on your income for each year, expected medical expenses, as well as your other itemized deductions.

You may also want to consider health saving accounts (HSAs) if you don’t already have one. These are tax-advantaged accounts which help individuals who have high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). If you are eligible to set up such an account, you can deduct the amount you contribute to the account in computing adjusted gross income. These contributions are deductible whether you itemize deductions or not. Distributions from an HSA are tax free to the extent they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses (i.e., medical, dental, and vision expenses). For 2022, the annual contribution limits are $3,650 for an individual with self-only coverage and $7,300 for an individual with family coverage.

In addition, if you are not already doing so and your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), consider setting aside some of your earnings tax free in such an account so you can pay medical and dental bills with pre-tax money. Since you don’t pay taxes on this money, you’ll save an amount equal to the taxes you would have paid on the money you set aside. FSA funds can be used to pay deductibles and copayments, but not for insurance premiums. You can also spend FSA funds on prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter medicines, generally with a doctor’s prescription. Reimbursements for insulin are allowed without a prescription. And finally, FSAs may also be used to cover costs of medical equipment like crutches, supplies like bandages, and diagnostic devices like blood sugar test kits.

Charitable Contributions. The tax benefits of making charitable contributions and taking an itemized deduction for such contributions were tamped down as a result of the increase in the standard deduction in the TCJA. More people are forgoing itemized deductions as their standard deduction is more favorable.

If you are itemizing deductions, you can maximize the tax benefit of making a charitable contribution by donating appreciated assets, such as stock, instead of cash. Doing so generally allows you to deduct the fair market value of the asset while also avoiding the capital gains tax that would otherwise be due if you sold the asset. For example, if you own stock with a fair market value of $1,000 that was purchased for $250 and your capital gains tax rate is 15 percent, the capital gains tax you would owe is $113 ($750 gain x 15%). If you donate that stock instead of selling it, and are in the 24 percent tax bracket, your ordinary income deduction is worth $240 ($1,000 FMV x 24% tax rate). You also save the $113 in capital gains tax that you would otherwise pay if you sold the stock; that amount goes to the charity. Thus, the after-tax cost of the gift of appreciated stock is $647 ($1,000 – $240 – $113) compared to the after tax cost of a donation of $1,000 cash which would be $760 ($1,000 – $240). However, it’s important to also keep in mind that tax deductions for contributions of appreciated long-term capital gain property may be limited to a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income depending on the amount of the deduction.

In addition, if you have an individual retirement account and are 70 1/2 years old and older, you are eligible to make a charitable contribution directly from your IRA. This is more advantageous than taking a distribution and making a donation to the charity that may or may not be deductible as an itemized deduction. If your itemized deductions, including the contribution, are less than your standard deduction, then you receive no tax benefit from making the donation in this manner. By making the donation directly from your IRA to a charity, you eliminate having the IRA distribution included in your income. This in turn reduces your adjusted gross income (AGI). And because various tax-related items, such as the medical expense deduction or the taxability of social security income or the 3.8 percent net investment income tax, are calculated based on your AGI, a reduced AGI can potentially increase your medical expense deduction, reduce the tax on social security income, and reduce any net investment income tax.

Expenses Incurred While Working from Home. Although more people are working from home these days, related expenses are not deductible if you are an employee. TCJA eliminated the deductibility of such expenses when it suspended the deduction for miscellaneous itemized expenses that was available before 2018. However, if you are self-employed and worked from home during the year, tax deductions are still available. Thus, if you have been working from home as an independent contractor, we should discuss what expenses you have incurred that might reduce your taxable income.

Mortgage Interest Deduction. If you sold your principal residence during the year and acquired a new principal residence, the deduction for any interest on your acquisition indebtedness (i.e., your mortgage) could be limited. The mortgage interest deduction on mortgages of more than $750,000 obtained after December 14, 2017, is limited to the portion of the interest allocable to $750,000 ($375,000 in the case of married taxpayers filing separately). If you have a mortgage on a principle residence acquired before December 15, 2017, the limitation applies to mortgages of $1,000,000 ($500,000 in the case of married taxpayers filing separately) or less. However, if you operate a business from your home, an allocable portion of your mortgage interest is not subject to these limitations.

Interest on Home Equity Indebtedness. You can potentially deduct interest paid on home equity indebtedness, but only if you used the debt to buy, build, or substantially improve your home. Thus, for example, interest on a home equity loan used to build an addition to your existing home is typically deductible, while interest on the same loan used to pay personal expenses, such as credit card debt, is not.

Sale of a Home. If you sold your home this year, up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married filing jointly) of the gain on the sale is excludible from income. However, this amount is reduced if part of your home was rented out or used for business purposes. Generally, a loss on the sale of a home is not deductible. But again, if you rented part of your home or otherwise used it for business, the loss attributable to that portion of the home is deductible.

Discharge of Qualified Principal Residence Indebtedness: If you had any qualified principal residence indebtedness which was discharged in 2022, it is not includible in gross income.

Deductions for Mortgage Insurance Premiums: You may be entitled to treat amounts paid during the year for any qualified mortgage insurance as deductible qualified residence interest if the insurance was obtained in connection with acquisition debt for a qualified residence.

Deductions for Excess Business Losses. Taxpayers other than corporations can deduct excess farm losses and excess business losses through 2028. An excess business loss for the tax year is the excess of aggregate deductions attributable to your trades or businesses over the sum of your aggregate gross income or gain plus a threshold amount. The threshold amount for 2022 is $270,000 or $540,000 for joint returns.

Qualified Business Income Passthrough Tax Break. Under the qualified business income tax break, a 20 percent deduction is allowed for qualified business income from sole proprietorships, S corporations, partnerships, and LLCs taxed as partnerships. If you qualify for the deduction, which is available to both itemizers and nonitemizers, it is taken on your individual tax return as a reduction to taxable income. This tax break is subject to some complicated restrictions and limitations, but the rules that apply to individuals with taxable income at or below a certain threshold ($340,100 for joint filers; $170,050 for other taxpayers) are simpler and more permissive than the rules that apply to individuals with income above those thresholds.

Child Tax Credit. The enhanced child tax credit (CTC) that was available last year was not renewed. Thus, for 2022, for each child under age 17, a CTC of up to $2,000 credit is available, depending on your modified adjusted income. In addition, a $500 nonrefundable credit is available for qualifying dependents other than qualifying children. Where the credit exceeds the maximum amount of tax due, it may be refundable. The maximum amount refundable for 2022 is $1,500 per qualifying child. The $500 credit applies to two categories of dependents: (1) qualifying children for whom a child tax credit is not allowed, and (2) qualifying relatives. The amount of the credit is reduced for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income over $200,000 ($400,000 for married filing jointly) and eliminated in full for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income over $240,000 ($440,000 for married filing jointly).

Earned Income Credit. The earned income tax credit (EITC) is determined by multiplying your earned income for the year (but only up to a maximum amount of earned income) by a credit percentage that varies depending on whether you have any qualifying children and, if so, the number of qualifying children. The EITC is also subject to a limitation based on your adjusted gross income. For 2022, the maximum amount of the EITC is (1) $560 for a taxpayer with no qualifying children, (2) $3,733 for a taxpayer with one qualifying child, (3) $6,164 for a taxpayer with two qualifying children, and (4) $6,935 for a taxpayer with three or more qualifying children. In addition, the EITC cannot be claimed if your investment income (including interest, dividends, capital gain net income, and net rental income) exceeds $10,300 for 2022.

Dependent Care Credit: If you incurred expenses to care for a child or another dependent so that you can work, you may be eligible for the child and dependent care credit. This credit is available to individuals who, in order to work or to look for work, have to pay for child care services for dependents under age 13. The credit is also available for amounts paid for the care of a spouse or a dependent of any age who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. The credit is not available for amounts paid to a dependent or a taxpayer under age 19. The amount of the credit is a specified percentage of your total employment-related expenses – generally, 35 percent reduced (but not below 20 percent) by one percentage point for each $2,000 by which your adjusted gross income for the tax year exceeds $15,000. Employment-related expenses incurred during any tax year which may be taken into account cannot exceed $3,000 for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals.

Premium Tax Credit. A health insurance subsidy is available in the form of a premium assistance tax credit for eligible individuals and families who purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the “Exchange.” The provision is the result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This credit is refundable and payable in advance directly to the insurer on the Exchange. In the past, individuals with incomes exceeding 400 percent of the poverty level were not eligible for these subsidies. However, as a result of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, the cap was eliminated for tax years beginning in 2021 or 2022 and therefore, anyone can qualify for the subsidy. In addition, the percentage of your income paid for a health insurance under a PPACA plan is limited to 8.5 percent of income. Thus, if you buy your own health insurance directly through an Exchange, you can receive increased tax credits to reduce your premiums.

Education-Related Deductions and Credits. Certain education-related tax deductions, credits, and exclusions from income may be available for 2022. For example, tax-free distributions from a qualified tuition program, also referred to as a Section 529 plan, of up to $10,000 are allowed for qualified higher education expenses. Qualified higher education expenses for this purpose include tuition expenses in connection with a designated beneficiary’s enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school, i.e. kindergarten through grade 12. It also includes expenses for fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for the participation in certain apprenticeship programs and qualified education loan repayments in limited amounts. A special rule allows tax-free distributions to a sibling of a designated beneficiary (i.e., a brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister). As a result, a 529 account holder can make a student loan distribution to a sibling of the designated beneficiary without changing the designated beneficiary of the account.

Depending on your modified adjusted gross income for the year, you may also qualify for: (1) an American Opportunity Tax Credit of up to $2,500 per year for each eligible student; (2) a Lifetime Learning credit up to $2,000 for tuition and fees paid for the enrollment or attendance of yourself, your spouse, or your dependents for courses of instruction at an eligible educational institution; (3) an exclusion from income for education savings bond interest received; and (4) a deduction for student loan interest.

If you qualified for student loan forgiveness under the plan announced by the Biden administration earlier this year, the forgiven amount will generally be excludible from your income for federal tax purposes. However, you may be liable for state or local income taxes as a result of the discharge.

Clean Energy Credits. For 2022, the clean energy tax credits available include (1) residential energy property credits (the nonbusiness energy property credit and the residential clean energy property credit) and (2) vehicle-related credits (the qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit and the alternative fuel refueling property credit). These credits were significantly expanded by the Inflation Reduction Act, generally beginning after December 31, 2022. However, as described in more detail below, a change to the credit for purchasing an electric vehicle, requiring the final assembly of the vehicle in the United States, takes effect on August 17, 2022.

For years before 2023, the nonbusiness energy property credit (renamed the energy efficient home improvement credit by the Inflation Reduction Act) is a credit for: (1) 10 percent of the cost of qualified energy efficiency improvements installed during the year; and (2) the amount of the residential energy property expenditures paid or incurred during the year. Qualified energy efficiency improvements include the following qualifying products: (1) energy-efficient exterior windows, doors and skylights; (2) roofs (metal and asphalt) and roof products; and (3) insulation. Residential energy property expenditures generally include: (1) energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems, and (2) water heaters (natural gas, propane, or oil). There is a lifetime limit of $500 on the total amount of nonbusiness energy property credits that may be claimed. In addition, the amount of the credit taken with respect to windows is limited to $200. The following additional limitations also apply to the nonbusiness energy property credit: (1) $300 for any item of energy-efficient building property; (2) $150 for any furnace or hot water boiler; and (3) $50 for any advanced main air circulating fan.

Beginning in 2023, this credit is increased to 30 percent of the costs of all qualified energy efficiency improvements and residential energy property expenditures made during the year. In addition, the lifetime credit limitation is replaced with an annual limit of $1,200. The annual limits for specific types of qualifying improvements are (1) $250 for any exterior door ($500 total for all exterior doors), (2) $600 for exterior windows and skylights, (3) $600 for other qualified energy property (including central air conditioners; electric panels and certain related equipment; natural gas, propane, or oil water heaters; oil furnaces; water boilers), and (4) a higher $2,000 annual limit for heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, biomass stoves, and boilers. The Inflation Reduction Act also added a credit of up to $150 per year for home energy audits. Roofs no longer qualify for the credit beginning in 2023.

The residential clean energy credit by the Inflation Reduction Act) equals 30 percent of the cost of certain qualified property installed on or used in connection with your home. For 2022, qualifying properties are: (1) solar electric property, (2) solar water heaters, (3) fuel cell property, (4) small wind turbines, (5) geothermal heat pumps, and (6) biomass fuel property. Biomass fuel property expenditures no long qualify after December 31, 2022. However, battery storage technology expenditures qualify beginning in 2023.

The qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit may be available if you acquired a qualified electric vehicle and placed it in service this year. For 2022, the amount of the credit is $2,500, plus an amount based on the battery capacity of the vehicle if the vehicle draws propulsion energy from a battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity. The credit begins to phase out for a manufacturer’s vehicles when at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles have been sold for use in the United States. For instance, Tesla and GM vehicles purchased in 2022 are not eligible for tax credits since those manufacturers have exceeded the 200,000 vehicle threshold.

The Inflation Reduction Act significantly modified the electric vehicle credit. After August 16, 2022, the credit is generally available only for qualifying electric vehicles for which final assembly occurred in North America. However, under a transition rule, if you entered a written binding contract to purchase an electric vehicle on or before August 16, 2022, but took possession of the vehicle after that date, you would not be subject to the final assembly requirement. The Inflation Reduction Act also increased the amount of this credit, effective after December 31, 2022. Beginning in 2023, the total credit amount is $7,500, consisting of $3,750 for vehicles meeting a critical minerals requirement and $3,750 for vehicles a battery component requirement. In addition, price limits apply depending on the vehicle type ($80,000 for vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks; $55,000 for other vehicles). The credit is also not available to taxpayers with adjusted gross income over $300,000 (married filing jointly), $225,000 (head of household), and $150,000 (single). Other requirements apply beginning after 2023.

The alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit is a credit for 30 percent of the cost of purchasing qualified alternative fuel vehicle refueling property. This credit initially expired at the end of 2021 but was extended through 2032 by the Inflation Reduction Act. The amount of the credit is limited to a certain dollar amount, which depends on whether the property is used for business or personal purposes. The amount of the credit for business-use property (i.e., depreciable property) is limited to $30,000. The amount of the credit for personal-use property (i.e., non-depreciable property) is limited to $1,000.

Beginning next year, the credit allowed with respect to any single item of qualified alternative fuel vehicle refueling property placed in service during the tax year cannot exceed (1) $100,000 in the case of depreciable property, and (2) $1,000 in any other case. In addition, the definition of qualifying property is expanded to include bidirectional charging equipment and the credit can also be claimed for electric charging stations for two- and three-wheeled vehicles that are intended for use on public roads.

Retirement Planning

If you can afford to do so, investing the maximum amount allowable in a qualified retirement plan will yield a large tax benefit. If your employer has a 401(k) plan and you are under age 50, you can defer up to $20,500 of income into that plan for 2022. Catch-up contributions of $6,500 are allowed if you are 50 or over. If you have a SIMPLE 401(k), the maximum pre-tax contribution for 2022 is $14,000. That amount increases to $17,000 if you are 50 or older. The maximum IRA deductible contribution for 2022 is $6,000 and that amount increases to $7,000 if you are 50 or over.

Life Events

Life events can have a significant impact on your tax liability. For example, if you are eligible to use head of household or surviving spouse filing status for 2022 but will change to a filing tax status of single for 2023, your tax rate will go up. If you married or divorced during the year and changed your name, you need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA). Similarly, the SSA should be notified if you have a dependent whose name has been changed. A mismatch between the name shown on the tax return and the SSA records can cause problems in the processing of tax returns and may even delay tax refunds. Let me know if you have been impacted by a life event, such as a birth or death in your family, the loss of a job or a change in jobs, or a retirement during the year. All of these can affect you tax situation.

Please call Gregory J. Spadea to discuss your 2022 tax return and determine if any estimated tax payment may be due before year end at 610-521-0604.

Age Related Tax Milestones

As I grow older, I am reminded of the Steve Miller song, Fly Like An Eagle where he sings “time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future…”.  This blog covers some important age-related tax milestones that I witness every tax season and that you should keep in mind as you get older.

Ages 0–23

The so-called “Kiddie Tax” rules can potentially apply to your child’s (or grandchild’s) investment income until the year he or she reaches age 24. Specifically, a child’s investment income in excess of the applicable annual threshold is taxed at the parent’s marginal tax rate.

Hour glass image for tax lawyer blog Greg Spadea

Note: For 2018 and 2019, the unfavorable income tax rates for trusts and estates were used to calculate the Kiddie Tax. Recent legislation changed this for 2020 by once again linking the child’s tax rate to the parent’s marginal tax rate. However, you may elect to apply this change to your 2018 and 2019 tax years. If we feel an election would be beneficial for 2018, we may recommend amending your return.

For 2020 and 2021, the investment income threshold is $2,200. A child’s investment income below the threshold is usually taxed at benign rates (typically 0% for long-term capital gains and dividends and 0%, 10%, or 12% for ordinary investment income and short-term gains). Note that between ages 19 and 23, the Kiddie Tax is only an issue if the child is a full-time student. For the year the child turns age 24 and for all subsequent years, the Kiddie Tax ceases to be an issue.

Age 18 or 21

A custodial account set up for a minor child comes under the child’s control when he or she reaches the age of majority under applicable state law which is 21 in Pennsylvania.  If there’s a significant amount of money in the custodial account, this issue can be a big deal. Depending on the child’s maturity level and dependability, you may or may not want to take steps to ensure that the money in the custodial account is used for expenditures you approve of such as college tuition.

Age 30

If you set up a Coverdell Education Savings Account (CESA) for a child (or grandchild), it must be liquidated within 30 days after he or she turns 30 years old. To the extent earnings included in a distribution are not used for qualified higher education expenses, they are subject to federal income tax plus a 10% penalty tax. Alternatively, the CESA account balance can be rolled over tax-free into another CESA set up for a younger family member.

Age 50

If you are age 50 or older as of the end of the year, you can make an additional catch-up contribution to your Section 401(k) plan (up to $6,500 for 2020), Section 403(b) plan (up to $6,500 for 2020), Section 457 plan (up to $6,500 for 2020), or SIMPLE-IRA (up to $3,000 for 2020), assuming the plan permits catch-up contributions. You also can make an additional catch-up contribution (up to $1,000 for 2019 or 2020) to your traditional or Roth IRA. The deadline for making IRA catch-up contributions for the 2019 tax year is 4/15/20.

Age 55

If you permanently leave your job for any reason, you can receive distributions from the former employer’s qualified retirement plan without being socked with the 10% early distribution penalty tax. This is an exception to the general rule that the taxable portion of qualified retirement plan distributions received before age 59½ are subject to the 10% penalty tax. Note that this exception applies only if you have attained age 55 on or before your separation from service.

Age 59½

You can receive distributions from all types of tax-favored retirement plans and accounts including IRAs, Section 401k accounts, pensions and tax-deferred annuities without being hit with the 10% early distribution penalty tax. Before age 59½, the penalty tax will apply to the taxable portion of distributions unless an exception is available.

Age 62

You can choose to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits. However, your benefits will be lower than if you wait until reaching full retirement age, which is age 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954. Also, if you work before reaching full retirement age and your earnings exceed $18,950, your 2021 Social Security retirement benefits will be further reduced.

Age 66

You can start receiving full Social Security retirement benefits at age 66 if you were born between 1943–1954. You will not lose any benefits if you work in years after the year you reach the full retirement age of 66, regardless of how much income you have in those years. However, if you will reach age 66 in 2021, your benefits may be reduced if your income from working exceeds $50,520.

Note: If you were born after 1954, your full retirement age goes up by two months for each year before leveling out at age 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

Warning: Under current law, up to 85% of your Social Security benefits may be subject to federal income tax, depending on your provisional income level. Provisional income equals your gross income from other sources plus tax-exempt interest income and 50% of your Social Security benefits. Contact us if you have questions or want more information.

Age 70

You can choose to postpone receiving Social Security retirement benefits until you reach age 70. If you make this choice, your benefits will be higher than if you start earlier.

An often-overlooked issue that you must factor into the breakeven age is when you would come out ahead by postponing benefits. For example, if your normal retirement age is 66 and you wait until age 70 to begin receiving benefits, you forego benefits for four years. It would take 12½ years to reach the breakeven point. Are you sure you will still be around and able to enjoy the higher benefit at age 82½?  Fortunately, I can prepare a report to help you decide when to take social security based on your current earnings, other retirement income and your health.

Age 72

At this age, you must begin taking annual Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from tax-favored retirement accounts such as traditional IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, SEP accounts, or 401k accounts and pay the resulting income taxes. However, you do not need to take any RMDs from Roth IRAs set up in your name. The initial RMD is for the year you turn 72 if you had not reached age 70½ by December 31, 2019.  You can postpone taking the initial RMD until April 1 of the year after you reach the magic age.  If you choose that option, however, you must take two RMDs in that same year: one by the April 1 deadline (the RMD for the previous year) plus another by December 31 (the RMD for the current year). For each subsequent year, you must take another RMD by December 31. There’s one more exception: If you are still working after reaching age of 72, and you do not own over 5% of the employer, you can postpone taking any RMDs from the employer’s plan until after you have actually retired.

Thanks to a change included in the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (the SECURE Act), the age after which you must begin taking RMDs is increased from 70½ to 72. This favorable change only applies to individuals who attain age 70½ after December 31, 2019.  So, if you turned 70½ in 2019 or earlier, you are unaffected. If you turn 70½ in 2020 or later, you will not need to begin taking RMDs until after attaining age 72.

Conclusion

Remember that almost all adults should do at least some estate planning. In uncomplicated situations, nothing more than a simple will and updated beneficiary designations may be required. If you have a larger estate, taking steps to confront realities about your heirs and to reduce exposure to the federal estate tax and income tax and any Pennsylvania inheritance tax may be advisable. Please call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604, if you think your estate plan needs updating.

2020 Year End Tax Planning for Businesses

Tax legislation enacted at the end of 2019, as well as new tax laws enacted in 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), will most assuredly affect your business’s 2020 income tax return. The plethora of legislation contains many new provisions which are likely to minimize your business’s 2020 tax liability. As a result, there are actions we may need to take before year end to ensure we take full advantage of all the opportunities introduced by these pieces of legislation.  In December of 2019, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, was signed into law. Included in that new law was the SECURE Act of 2019, which not only extended certain expiring tax credits, such as the employer credit for paid family and medical leave, it also made favorable changes to certain provisions relating to employer-provided retirement plans.

Tax Planning 2020

In 2020, the first piece of COVID-19 legislation signed into law was the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act), which responded to the coronavirus outbreak by providing, among other things, payroll tax credits for leave required to be paid under the newly enacted Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). The Families First Act was followed by the biggest piece of legislation for the year – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Included in the CARES Act was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a program authorized by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to guarantee $349 billion in new loans to eligible businesses and nonprofits affected by coronavirus/COVID-19. Such loans may also qualify for tax-free loan forgiveness. We need to evaluate the changes made by the CARES Act, as well as subsequent coronavirus-related legislation, to determine their impact on your business’s tax liability. The following are some of the considerations we need to review when deciding what year-end actions may be appropriate to reap the most benefit to you and your business’s bottom line.

Depreciation Deductions

Among the many changes made by the CARES Act, the one which may have the most impact is the correction of a technical error made in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). That error resulted in the 15-year recovery period that applied to qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail improvement property being eliminated for such property placed in service after 2017. After the TCJA, the depreciation period for such property, now referred to as “qualified improvement property,” was 39 years and, as a result, did not meet the requirements for additional first-year depreciation (i.e., bonus depreciation). Under the CARES Act, qualified improvement property is now depreciated over a 15-year life and meets the criteria for taking bonus depreciation. The change is effective as if it were included in the TCJA. Thus, if your business is affected by this change, we can file amended returns to claim refunds for the deductions that should have been available to you had the technical error not happened.

Relaxed Rules for Deducting Net Operating Losses

The CARES Act also temporarily removed the 80 percent limitation on taxable income for deducting net operating losses (NOLs) for 2020. In addition, the CARES Act amended the rules for NOLs to provide for a five-year carryback of any NOL arising in 2018, 2019, and 2020. As a result, if applicable, your business can take such NOLs into account in the earliest tax year in the carryback period and carry forward unused amounts to each succeeding tax year. Alternatively, you can waive this carryback period and instead carry forward any NOLs to offset income in future years. Depending on expected tax rates and cash flow in future years, this waiver option may make more sense than carrying back any NOLs.

Reduction in Business Interest Limitation

The CARES Act reduced the limitation on the deductibility of business interest. For tax years beginning in 2019 or 2020, 50 percent of a business’s adjusted taxable income, rather than 30 percent, is used to determine the business interest limitation. A special rule is provided for partnerships. Under this special rule, the increase in the limitation to 50 percent of adjusted taxable income in determining the business interest limitation does not apply to a partnership for 2019, subject to certain rules relating to allocations to the partners. There is also an election under which a business can substitute its adjusted taxable income for its last tax year beginning in 2019 for its adjusted taxable income for 2020 in calculating the business interest limitation for 2020. Keep in mind that the business interest deduction limitation only applies if the gross receipts of your business exceed $26 million in 2019 and 2020; Additionally, certain types of businesses are exempt from the limitation.

Modification of Excess Business Loss Limitation Rules

The CARES Act eliminated certain limitations on excess farm losses of a business other than a corporation. This change applies to any tax year beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. Thus, if you had such losses that were limited in 2018 and/or 2019, we may be able to obtain tax refunds with respect to those years. Further, excess business losses, previously disallowed for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026, are now allowed for tax years beginning after 2017 and before January 1, 2021. This also presents an opportunity for amended tax returns if it applies to your business.

Minimum Tax Credit Refund

The CARES Act modified the rules for the minimum tax credit for alternative minimum tax (AMT) incurred by a corporation in a prior tax year. Under this provision, the limitation on the credit for prior year minimum tax liability does not apply to a corporation’s 2020 and 2021 tax years and the AMT refundable credit amount is 100 percent, rather than 50 percent, for tax years beginning in 2019. In addition, a corporation can elect to take the entire refundable credit amount in 2018. A corporation can apply for a tentative refund of any amount for which a refund is due by reason of this new election and, within 90 days, the IRS is required to review the application, determine the amount of the overpayment, and apply, credit, or refund the overpayment.

Retirement Plans and Other Employee Benefits

You can reap substantial tax benefits, as well as non-tax benefits, by offering a retirement plan and/or other fringe benefits to employees. Businesses that offer such benefits have a better chance of attracting and retaining talented workers. This, in turn, reduces the costs of searching for and training new employees. Contributions made to retirement plans on behalf of employees are deductible and you may be eligible for a tax credit for setting up a qualified plan. In addition, business owners can take advantage of the retirement plan themselves, as can their spouse. Where a spouse is not currently on the payroll of a business, consideration should be given to adding the spouse as an employee and paying a salary up to the maximum amount that can be deferred into a retirement plan. So, for example, if your spouse is 50 years old or over and receives a salary of $25,000, all of it could go into a 401(k), leaving him or her with a retirement account but no taxable income.

To help employees with medical expenses, your business might consider setting up a high deductible health plan paired with a health savings account (HSA). The benefits to a business include savings on health insurance premiums that would otherwise be paid to traditional health insurance companies and having employee wage contributions to the plan not being counted as wages and thus neither the employer nor the employee is subject to FICA taxes on the payroll contributions. As for employees, they can reap a tax deduction for funds contributed to the HSA, which they can invest the funds for future medical costs because there is no use-it-or-lose-it limit like there is for most flexible spending accounts; thus the funds can grow tax free and be used in retirement.

Your business might also consider establishing a flexible spending arrangement (FSA) which allows employees to be reimbursed for medical expenses and is usually funded through voluntary salary reduction agreements with the employer. The employer has the option of making or not making contributions to the FSA. Some of the benefits of an FSA include the fact that contributions made by the business can be excluded from the employee’s gross income, no employment or federal income taxes are deducted from the contributions, reimbursements to the employee are tax free if used for qualified medical expenses, and the FSA can be used to pay qualified medical expenses even if the employer or employee haven’t yet placed the funds in the account.

In addition, the SECURE Act made substantial changes to retirement plan-related provisions from which your business may benefit. For one, it increased the credit available for small employer pension plan startup costs. The credit is available for qualified startup costs of an eligible small employer that adopts a new qualified retirement plan, SIMPLE IRA plan, or SEP, provided that the plan covers at least one non-highly compensated employee. Qualified startup costs are expenses connected with the establishment or administration of the plan or retirement-related education for employees with respect to the plan. The credit, which applies for up to three years, was increased to the lesser of (1) a flat dollar amount of $500 per year, or (2) 50 percent of the qualified startup costs.

The SECURE Act also extended through 2020 an employer credit for paid family and medical leave. The credit allows eligible employers to claim a general business credit equal to an applicable percent of the amount of wages paid to qualifying employees during any period in which such employees are on family and medical leave, provided that the rate of payment under the program is at least 50 percent of the wages normally paid to an employee.

The SECURE Act also extended the work opportunity credit through 2020. Under this provision, an employer can take a 40 percent credit for qualified first-year wages paid or incurred with respect to employees who are members of a targeted group of employees.

Qualified Business Income Deduction

If you participate in a business as sole proprietor, a partner in a partnership, a member in an LLC taxed as a partnership, or as a shareholder in an S corporation, you may be eligible for the qualified business income (QBI) deduction. The QBI deduction is generally 20 percent of qualifying business income from a qualified trade or business. A W-2 wage limitation amount may apply to limit the amount of the deduction. The W-2 wage limitation amount must be calculated for taxpayers with a taxable income that exceeds a statutorily-defined amount (i.e., the threshold amount). For any tax year beginning in 2020, the threshold amount is $326,600 for married filing joint returns, $163,300 for married filing separate returns, and $163,300 for all other returns.

The QBI deduction reduces taxable income, and is not used in computing adjusted gross income. Thus, it does not affect limitations based on adjusted gross income. The QBI deduction does not apply to a “specified service trade or business,” which is defined as any trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, including investing and investment management, trading, or dealing in securities, partnership interests, or commodities, and any trade or business where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees. Engineering and architecture services are specifically excluded from the definition of a specified service trade or business. 

Some of the categories and fields listed as a specified service trade or business are fairly clear in their meaning. Others – such as “consulting” and “any trade or business where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees” – are more vague. If your business could be considered a specified service trade or business, we will need to document why it should not be considered such a business and is thus eligible for the QBI deduction.

Employee Payroll Tax Deferrals

In a Payroll Tax Memorandum issued in August, President Trump directed Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to use his authority to defer the withholding, deposit, and payment of employee social security taxes, as well as taxes imposed under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) on railroad employees, for the period of September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Because these taxes are not forgiven, and must be repaid at the end of the year, such a deferral could result in numerous practical challenges, such as what happens if an employee leaves before he or she repays the payroll taxes. Due to these practical challenges I recommended that my clients not defer any payroll taxes.  However, if you have deferred an employee’s payroll taxes under this Presidential directive, we need to discuss your options.

Extension of Time to Pay Employment Taxes

Under the CARES Act, a business can delay payment of applicable employment taxes for the period beginning on March 27, 2020, and ending before January 1, 2021 (i.e., the payroll tax deferral period). Generally, under this provision, the business is treated as having timely made all deposits of applicable employment taxes that would otherwise be required during the payroll tax deferral period if all such deposits are made not later than the “applicable date,” which is (1) December 31, 2021, with respect to 50 percent of the amounts due, and (2) December 31, 2022, with respect to the remaining amounts. For self-employed taxpayers, the payment for 50 percent of the self-employment taxes for the payroll tax deferral period is not due before the applicable date. For purposes of applying the penalty for underpayment of estimated income taxes to any tax year which includes any part of the payroll tax deferral period, 50 percent of the self-employment taxes for the payroll tax deferral period are not treated as taxes to which that penalty applies.

Rental Real Estate

Whether a rental real estate enterprise is considered a passive activity with respect to a taxpayer is important in determining whether losses from the activity are deductible. Generally, passive activity losses are only deductible against passive activity income. However, a deduction of up to $25,000 ($12,500 if married filing separately) may be allowed against nonpassive income to the extent an individual actively participates in the rental real estate activities. However, the deduction is subject to a phaseout for individuals with modified adjusted gross income above $100,000 (or $50,000 if married filing separately).

Rental real estate enterprises operated by individuals and owners of passthrough entities may also qualify for the QBI deduction if certain criteria are met. For example, a taxpayer’s rental activity must be considerable, regular, and continuous in scope. In determining whether a rental real estate activity meets this criteria, relevant factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • the type of rented property (commercial real property versus residential property);
  • the number of properties rented;
  • the taxpayer’s day-to-day involvement;
  • the types and significance of any ancillary services provided under the lease; and
  • the terms of the lease (for example, a net lease versus a traditional lease and a short-term lease versus a long-term lease).

A rental real estate activity will be treated as a business eligible for the QBI deduction if certain safe harbor requirements are satisfied, such as:

  • separate books and records are maintained to reflect the income and expenses for each rental real estate enterprise;
  • for rental real estate enterprises that have been in existence less than four years, 250 or more hours of rental services are performed per year with respect to the rental real estate enterprise (with slightly less stringent requirements for rental real estate enterprises that have been in existence for at least four years);
  • contemporaneous records have been maintained, including time reports, logs, or similar documents, regarding the following: (i) hours of all services performed; (ii) description of all services performed; (iii) dates on which such services were performed; and (iv) who performed the services.                                                                           

Thus, to qualify for the QBI deduction, it’s important to determine if the safe harbor conditions are met and, if not, whether such conditions can be met by year end. Alternatively, even if the safe harbor requirements are not met, certain actions may be taken to ensure that your real estate business falls within the “trade or business” guidelines for taking the deduction.

Vehicle-Related Deductions and Substantiation Requirements

Deductions relating to vehicles are generally part of any business tax return. Since the IRS tends to focus on vehicle expenses in an audit and disallow them if they are not properly substantiated, it’s important to remind business clients that the following should be part of their business’s tax records with respect to each vehicle used in the business:

(1) the amount of each separate expense with respect to the vehicle (e.g., the cost of purchase or lease, the cost of repairs and maintenance, etc.);

(2) the amount of mileage for each business or investment use and the total miles for the tax period;

(3) the date of the expenditure; and

(4) the business purpose for the expenditure.

The following are considered adequate for substantiating such expenses:

(1) records such as a notebook, diary, log, statement of expense, or trip sheets; and

(2) documentary evidence such as receipts, canceled checks, bills, or similar evidence.

Records are considered adequate to substantiate the element of a vehicle expense only if they are prepared or maintained in such a manner that each recording of an element of the expense is made at or near the time the expense is incurred.

Feel free to contact Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604, if you have any questions.  The Law Offices of Spadea & Associates, LLC prepares individual and business tax returns year round.  

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