New law offers small business tax breaks

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) does much more for businesses than lower corporate tax rates. With careful planning, your small business may realize big tax benefits under the new law. Here are several tax-saving opportunities for 2018:

  • Place assets in service. Under Section 179, a business can now deduct the cost of up to $1 million of qualified assets a year, doubled from $500,000. But the Section 179 deduction is still limited to the amount of income from the business activity. Also, the TCJA doubles the 50 percent bonus depreciation deduction to 100 percent for 2018, giving your small business greater flexibility.
  • Consider buying a new business car. The TCJA also increases depreciation deductions allowed for cars used for business driving. Specifically, it hikes the annual limits for luxury cars for each year in service. For instance, the first-year write-off for a car jumps from $3,160 in 2017 to $10,000 in 2018, not even counting bonus depreciation. If you’re shopping for a new business car, now’s a good tax time to buy.
  • Manage pass-through income. For taxpayers owning a business taxed as a pass-through entity — like a partnership, S corporation or sole proprietorship — the new law creates a brand-new deduction generally equal to 20 percent of the business income. This effectively lowers the tax rate for owners. There have been conditions put in place to avoid abuses, especially for professionals and other taxpayers providing services. By keeping income below the thresholds of $157,500 for single filers and $315,000 for joint filers, you may benefit from the maximum 20 percent deduction.
  • Cash in on other business tax breaks. Finally, you can still take advantage of various deductions and credits (albeit with certain tweaks), including tax breaks for research activities, interest deductions, net operating losses (NOLs) and a new temporary credit for family and medical leave wages.

Contact Dye & Whitcomb, Fort Collins CPA’s today and we can help you develop the best tax strategies for your situation.

Here’s a new tax prescription for medical expenses

The new tax reform law — the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) — preserves the deduction for medical expenses, unlike many other itemized deductions. But that’s only part of the good news for itemizers. The TCJA also temporarily rolls back the threshold for deducting medical expenses to 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income, from 10 percent.

This change applies to the 2017 and 2018 tax years. In other words, it’s retroactive, so you still may benefit on your 2017 return.

How to determine your medical deduction for the year

Add up all your unreimbursed expenses that qualify as medical care. This can range from payments for doctor and dentist visits to prescription drugs and equipment like wheelchairs. If the total exceeds the tax law threshold, you deduct only the excess. Otherwise, you get no deduction.

Now that the new tax law lowered it to 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income, it’s easier to qualify for deduction. Here’s what you can do:

  • For 2017: Go back over your records to see if any deductible expenses have fallen through the cracks. Those extra expenses may be enough to push you over the 7.5 percent mark or increase an existing deduction.
  • For 2018: Because of the lower limit, this may be the last year you qualify for a medical deduction. Try to schedule routine expenses such as medical exams and dental cleanings before the end of the year. Or you may decide to undergo that surgery you’ve been putting off.

This may represent your last opportunity to claim a medical deduction, especially if you don’t expect to itemize deductions in coming years. If you have tax questions about medical deductions or anything else, contact Dye and Whictomb, Fort Collins CPA’s

How to cut taxes under the new tax act

Now that the massive new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is finally the law of the land, what should you do? Every situation is different, but here are several practical suggestions for improving your tax outlook for 2018 and beyond:

  • Adjust your withholding. There are “winners” and “losers” due to changes in tax rates, the increased standard deduction, the loss of personal exemptions and cutbacks and repeals of deductions. We can help you figure out how this will affect your situation. Depending on your needs and wants, you may end up increasing or decreasing your take-home pay by revising your W-4.
  • Make your move. Pulling up stakes just because of new laws is a drastic reaction. However, if you were planning to move soon anyway, now may be the time to do it if you reside in a high-tax state. The TCJA limits the annual state, local and property tax deduction to $10,000 for itemizers. If you do move, remember that job-related moving expenses are no longer deductible.
  • Pile up medical expenses. The threshold for deducting medical expenses is rolled back to 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (down from 10 percent) for 2017 and 2018. If you can clear the lower hurdle this year, schedule routine doctor and dentist visits or finally undergo that surgery you’ve been putting off. The extra expenses will boost your medical deduction.
  • Tap a 529 plan for private school. The new law expands the use of 529 education savings plans to cover private elementary and secondary schools. It’s not just for college or grad school anymore. Distributions are exempt from tax, but be careful. Make sure you’ll still have enough money in the account to pay for higher education.

Finally, coordinate your tax strategies into an overall plan for 2018. This is a better approach than trying to cash in on tax breaks one at a time. Contact Dye and Whitcomb and we can help.

How to get a green light for commuting expense deductions

If you commute back and forth to work every day, you typically can’t deduct any of your travel costs, such as gas for your car or commuter fares. The IRS says these commuting expenses are nondeductible personal expenses. However, there are some special situations when your commuting costs may be deductible:

1. Business stops. It may be convenient to stop at a business client’s office on the way to work or going home. In this case, you can deduct the cost of the commute between the client’s location and your regular place of business.

2. Multiple business locations. Maybe you work for a company with separate branch offices or other business sites. If you drive between two or more business locations during the course of the day, the cost of the travel is deductible.

3. Long-distance travel. Normally, you may commute to a nearby workplace. But you might have to go to a distant business location for a few days, weeks or even months on occasion. As a result, you don’t go to your regular job site. The IRS allows you to deduct daily travel costs of this long-distance commute.

4. Temporary assignments. Finally, you might be required to work at a far-flung business location for a long stretch. To accommodate this work, you might stay near the job site in a hotel and return home on weekends. If the assignment lasts less than one year, you may deduct your meals and lodging expenses (subject to certain limits). Best of all, you can usually deduct the cost of your weekend trips home.

If you pay the commuting costs yourself, they are deducted as miscellaneous expenses on your personal return. The deduction for all miscellaneous expenses, including unreimbursed employee business expenses, is limited to the excess above 2 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). There are also potential commuter benefits available through your employer.

Contact Dye & Whitcomb if you have questions about deducting your commuting expenses.