Tag Archives: Tax Tips

indiana tax attorney

Tax Considerations for the Self-Employed

When you’re self-employed, all your income goes straight into your own bank account. It doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for paying taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Taxes apply to you, just like any other member of the workforce – and if you don’t play by the tax rules, the IRS could assign stiff penalties that could destroy your business.

How Does the IRS Define Self-Employment?

Whether you define yourself as a freelancer, a sole proprietor, a one-person corporation owner or another kind of worker, you’re one of the 15 million Americans who is self-employed. Maybe you don’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront or business cards or even an official business name – but it doesn’t matter. If you are accepting payment for services rendered, it’s a business according to the IRS. Because no employer is withholding taxes on your behalf, you’ll owe taxes to the IRS and should file as self-employed.

What Taxes Do Self-Employed Workers Pay?

You’ll owe both income tax and self-employed, or SE, tax. The SE tax is essentially the same thing as the tax any other worker would pay for Social Security and Medicare.

How Do I Determine How Much I Owe?

Start by figuring your net profit/loss during the tax year, which is your business income minus business expenses. If it’s more than $400, you’ll owe money to the IRS – but even if it’s under $400 or a net loss, you may need to file because you meet other requirements set by the IRS.

How Do I Pay What I Owe?

Use IRS tax Form 1040 to report your earnings, with Schedule SE for the self-employed. Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ will help you figure what you owe for Medicare and Social Security. Pay the IRS the total due, and keep in mind that they require any business that estimates it will owe more than $1,000 annually to make estimated tax payments every quarter using Form 1040 ES each time.

What About Credits and Deductions?

There are many credits and deductions that apply to self-employed workers, just like any other business. Take advantage of credits like the health coverage credit and the earned-income credit. Many expenses of running a business can also be deducted, as long as the IRS defines them as “necessary and ordinary” costs, like office supplies and using your vehicle for business.

What if I’ve Fallen Behind on Taxes?
If you owe back taxes, penalties will accrue and be applied retroactively when they realize you have delinquent unpaid taxes. This means you should start paying taxes immediately, even if you have never done so before. Otherwise the penalties will grow steeper and steeper. Call us for help and we can assist in laying out your options and helping you set up a payment plan.

Dutton Legal Group – Indiana’s Tax Resolution Law Firm

The Dutton Legal Group helps the people and businesses of Indiana navigate ever-changing State and Federal tax codes. Our goal as experienced tax attorneys is to assist you in finding an immediate, cost-effective answer to your tax challenges. We provide a variety of tax services from balance resolution and return preparation to wage garnishment relief and audit assistance. Make Dutton Legal Group your next call at 1-800-334-0255 or send an email to request a free consultation. Trustworthy and affordable, for over 15 years.

small business taxes

The Right Way for Corporations to Reimburse Home Office Expenses

small business taxes

If your company has people working from home offices, many of their business expenses are reimbursable. However, a corporation must reimburse these expenses the right way, or the IRS could consider the reimbursements improper and trigger an audit with financial penalties. Let’s look at the two main methods of seeking home office reimbursements – the actual expense method and the safe harbor method. For a corporation, one option is clearly better than the other.

What is the Actual Expense Method?

The actual expense method directly reflects the amount of business expenses a home-based worker is experiencing. The employee would submit receipts and other proof for reimbursement from the company. If the expense comes from a house-wide cost, its reimbursement will be calculated as a percentage of the total household cost. This percentage is usually found by determining how many square feet of the home is used for business use only, then using that percentage as the guide. So, if their home office is 15% of the total home space, they should never be requesting reimbursement for any amount above 15% of an expense that applies to the entire home.

What is the Safe Harbor Method?

The safe harbor method is also for work-from-home taxpayers who have business expenses. It gives them a certain level of safety in claiming business expenses up to a threshold amount. However, there are still many limitations and requirements to consider. In general, the maximum amount a taxpayer can deduct annually under the safe harbor method is $1,500. Consult a tax attorney to ensure you qualify for safe harbor before using it.

Why Does the Safe Harbor Method Exist?

The IRS introduced the safe harbor method to help taxpayers affected by changing laws. Lawmakers working on the 2010 economic stimulus package inadvertently penalized taxpayers who were simply trying to claim legitimate business deductions. In response, the IRS introduced the safe harbor method, also called the safe harbor escape, to give these taxpayers another choice. If people feel too uneasy about claiming business deductions for fear of triggering an IRS audit, they could seek the safe harbor option.

Can a Corporation Use the Safe Harbor Method?

No. Corporations should not use the safe harbor method. A corporation should use the actual expense method for reimbursements. This means that any request for reimbursement coming from an employee or employee-shareholder should be based on their actual expense, with proof in the form of receipts and other paperwork. For more information about handling reimbursements properly, reach out to your corporation’s tax attorney.

Dutton Legal Group – Indiana’s Tax Resolution Law Firm

The Dutton Legal Group helps the people and businesses of Indiana navigate ever-changing State and Federal tax codes. Our goal as experienced tax attorneys is to assist you in finding an immediate, cost-effective answer to your tax challenges. We provide a variety of tax services from balance resolution and return preparation to wage garnishment relief and audit assistance. Make Dutton Legal Group your next call at 1-800-334-0255 or send an email to request a free consultation. Trustworthy and affordable, for over 15 years.

indiana tax attorney

10 Proven Strategies to Lower S Corporation Taxes

indiana tax attorney

One of the biggest benefits of setting up an S corporation is avoiding double taxation by not paying corporate income tax. Shareholders absorb profits and losses, paying tax when they file their individual returns. Of course, this makes S corporation owners wonder whether there are additional ways to lower taxes even further. The good news: S corp taxes can be lowered using reliable methods of keeping your tax burden as small as possible.

How Can Limiting Owner Wages Lower S Corp Taxes?

An S corporation is taxed in part at the level of its owner’s wages. By reducing the owner’s salary, the corporation’s taxes can be cut by thousands of dollars. Additional payments can be made to the owner through distributions – a sort of periodic bonus plan – without adding to the corporation taxes. The only caveat with this approach is that the owner’s salary can’t be so small that it falls below the IRS “reasonable compensation” threshold.

Can I Employ My Adult Children to Lower S Corp Taxes?

Do you know each of your children can make up to $12,000 without paying any federal income taxes on what they earn? This comes as great news for family businesses operating as S corporations, when you employ a second generation of family workers. It means you can not only provide a job for your children but also decrease the family tax burden at the same time. Keep in mind that you’re still responsible for payroll taxes for every employee, including your children.

What Happens If I Rent a Home to the S Corporation?

For up to 14 days a year, an S corporation owner can rent their home to the company and receive a tax deduction. To pursue this option, draw up formal paperwork for the transaction and have the S corporation deduct the full amount of the rental fees at tax time. The net result is that the owner of the company receives tax-free income.

Can Selling a Home to the S Corporation Also Lower Taxes?

This is a great option if you’re already considering turning a home into a rental property. Sell the house to the S corporation first and avoid taxes through something known as the home-sale profit exclusion. You can exclude a $250,000 gain from your income if filing individually and $500,000 if filing jointly. 

How Does Using Owner-Employee Health Care Reimbursement Help?

The 21st Century Cures Act removes penalties for owner-employees who have health insurance through the company. If the S corporation owner holds more than 2% of the company, establish a health insurance plan for them and the S corporation can reimburse them for the premiums.

How Can Business Deductions Lower S Corp Taxes?

  • Deduct home office expenses. The deduction of home office expenses must be well-documented for the IRS, but it’s worth doing. The owner is reimbursed for the expenses. It’s like tax-free income. Make sure you create expense reports and a clear paper trail, in case the IRS questions your purchases.
  • Deduct depreciation. Under IRS rules, depreciation is an allowable reimbursement – although some people may try to convince you otherwise. If you have depreciation related to a vehicle, building or other asset used for the business, you can take it as a deduction.
  • Deduct vehicle expenses. Does your company use vehicles for business? Take advantage of the tax break this offers. If a vehicle is used for business trips, deliveries or day-to-day business driving, it almost certainly qualifies – especially if it is a “heavy vehicle” used for commercial purposes. Plus, don’t forget the depreciation deduction related to these vehicles.
  • Deduct travel. Travel expenses are deductible. We must caution you that the IRS pays close attention to these kinds of deductions, so make sure you keep receipts, fill out detailed expense reports and submit them to your S corporation financial executives just as any employee should.
  • Deduct cell phone costs. Don’t forget about cell phones at tax time. S corporations that provide employees with smartphones and other communications equipment can reimburse the employees for the full cost of the phone – including non-work-related use – and deduct it from their corporate tax return. For the employee, this is like tax-free income and comes as a very welcome fringe benefit of working for your company.

Dutton Legal Group – Indiana’s Tax Resolution Law Firm

The Dutton Legal Group helps the people and businesses of Indiana navigate ever-changing State and Federal tax codes. Our goal as experienced tax attorneys is to assist you in finding an immediate, cost-effective answer to your tax challenges. We provide a variety of tax services from balance resolution and return preparation to wage garnishment relief and audit assistance. Make Dutton Legal Group your next call at 1-800-334-0255 or send an email to request a free consultation. Trustworthy and affordable, for over 15 years.

Indiana tax attorney

Get 2018 Tax Documents Ready for Filing Season Now

Indiana tax attorney

As tax season approaches, now is the perfect time to get your tax documents in order and make sure you have everything you need. One missing document could create confusion at the last minute, or even cause you to file your taxes past the deadline and pay penalties. We strongly advise our clients to get their tax documents together by December of the current year, so everything will be ready to go well before the filing deadline, usually in April of the next year for most people.

What Documents Do I Need to File My Taxes?

To file your taxes, the three most essential things you’ll need are your social security number, your tax documentation from the recent tax year and your W-2 forms from all employers you worked for this year. If filing jointly, you need all the same documentation for your spouse. Beyond that, you’ll also need the following documents, depending on your exact situation: 1099 forms for any contract work beyond $600, statements of income from any investments like stocks, bonds, dividends and interest, accounting records if you run a business or rent property, social security benefits forms and proof of any other benefits from unemployment, jury duty, gambling, prizes and medical savings accounts.

What if a Document is Missing?

If you lost last year’s return, request a free tax transcript from the IRS through the online portal and receive it in five to 10 days. By mail, it takes 30 to 75 days, depending on the level of detail you requested. If you need info as far back as six years, you may owe a $50 fee to the IRS per return requested. For other types of missing forms, it will depend on the organization involved. For a missing W-2 or 1099, contact your employer. It often takes them several weeks to generate and mail a new copy, so be prepared to wait. For proof of your investment income, contact the company that manages your investments. Prove social security benefits by contacting the Social Security Administration. For gambling and prizes, contact the company that administers the payout. If you run a business or rent property, you will be expected to provide records and may need the help of a tax attorney to sort out missing documents.

Why Does the IRS Need So Many Documents?

Tax-related documentation is used to prove your identity, prevent people from impersonating you and provide details the IRS needs to verify your tax burden. In a world that is increasingly paperless, you might find it frustrating that you’ll still need to deal with so much paperwork at tax time. However, many organizations now provide the information you need electronically, which makes things a little easier. For example, your employer may use an online vendor that can show you a picture of your W-2, even if you haven’t received it by mail. The online W-2 usually provides enough information to fill out your tax forms and proceed with filing. Also, keep in mind that the IRS recommends keeping all tax documents – whether printed or online – for seven years, and to dispose of old documents carefully by shredding.

What if Missing Documents Cause Me to Miss the Filing Deadline?

Don’t miss filing your taxes simply because you’re missing a document. If you pass the filing deadline, you could be assigned penalties and interest by the IRS. You could owe an additional 5% to 25% of your total tax due, a fee of $210 and additional escalating penalties depending on how late you file and the amount you owe. A business owner can rack up $100,000 in penalties for failure to pay on time. Instead, take the honest approach and notify the IRS about what’s going on. If you know in advance that you won’t be able to meet the deadline, file for an extension using IRS Form 4868. Or, if you later receive missing documents or realize something was omitted, file an amended tax return to keep yourself in good standing with the IRS. When in doubt, consult a tax attorney who can help you sort through your paperwork and keep things on track.

Dutton Legal Group – Indiana’s Tax Resolution Law Firm

The Dutton Legal Group helps the people and businesses of Indiana navigate ever-changing State and Federal tax codes. Our goal as experienced tax attorneys is to assist you in finding an immediate, cost-effective answer to your tax challenges. We provide a variety of tax services from balance resolution and return preparation to wage garnishment relief and audit assistance. Make Dutton Legal Group your next call at 1-800-334-0255 or send an email to request a free consultation. Trustworthy and affordable, for over 15 years.

business equipment procurement

How 2018 Tax Reforms Affect Business Equipment Procurement

business equipment procurement

Provisions in the 2018 tax reform bill are enticing businesses to upgrade their outdated equipment. However, do they buy or lease? With the new corporate tax rate sitting comfortably at 21%, businesses large and small are rethinking their old purchasing plans and changing the way they approach their bottom line. The new tax laws are prompting some to move away from owning and embrace long-term leasing. As technology evolves, these companies are poised to change with it. Businesses are spending money on new equipment and giving the economy the healthy jolt it needs.

What are the 3 Key Provisions Affecting Equipment Procurement?

  1. The lower tax rate for businesses (21%)
  2. Like-kind exchanges limited to real property (real estate)
  3. Companies can apply an accelerated depreciation bonus of 100% for capital equipment. It relates to new and used items and can be used in purchase year.

Can I Still Use a Like-Kind Exchange to Obtain New Equipment?

Swapping one asset for a similar one (and deferring taxes) is referred to as a like-kind exchange (Section 1031). The old definition of property allows businesses to trade in an older model of machinery, equipment or vehicles for a newer version. It is no longer possible. Section 1031 now applies only to real property or real estate. Companies use this loophole to procure updated products. If they are unable to purchase or lease new items, they must hold onto the older equipment

What is the Purpose of an Accelerated Depreciation Bonus?

It is meant to increase corporate spending and encourage the use of the latest technology and growth. Since this provision concerns the buying and leasing of new or used products, many companies are considering upgrading outdated equipment. If your business is thinking of buying, get busy. This tax gift has a shelf-life. The one-time bonus drops its rate to 80% in 2023 and reduces it to 20% the following year.

Are Businesses Switching from Buying to Leasing Equipment?

It is already happening. The leasing industry is now a $1 trillion industry and set for even more growth. Because many businesses now lease, the 2018 tax reform bill favors using vs. owning. Currently, eight out of 10 companies lease their equipment rather than buy. It saves them on the cost of maintaining and repairing outdated equipment. With leasing, a business can upgrade to the latest, most efficient products every few years. Having updated systems means you are more competitive in your field, can recruit and hire top employees and keep a stronger bottom line.

Don’t You Lose Money on Leasing?

If you have the right type of lease, your business can benefit. An operating lease has a lower capitalized asset cost compared to a loan or cash transaction. This kind of agreement does not affect a company’s profit and loss statements the same way as purchasing does. There is no P&L front-end impact the way there is with buying. Compared with borrowing to buy, leases have a better return on assets (ROA), return on invested capital (ROIC) and return on capital employed (ROCE) for the lessee. To determine if leasing equipment is a better option for your company, speak with a tax professional about how you can improve your bottom line.

Dutton Legal Group – Indiana’s Tax Resolution Law Firm

Dutton Legal Group helps the people and businesses of Indiana navigate ever-changing State and Federal tax codes. Our goal as experienced tax attorneys is to assist you in finding an immediate, cost-effective answer to your tax challenges. We provide a variety of tax services from balance resolution and return preparation to wage garnishment relief and audit assistance. Make Dutton Legal Group your next call at 1-800-334-0255 or send an email to request a free consultation. Trustworthy and affordable, for over 15 years.

2017 tax deadlines extensions

Consider Extension Deadlines for Filing 2017 Small Business Returns

2017 tax deadlines extensions

If you’re a small business, you may be focused on how the new tax laws will affect your company’s future tax returns. Meanwhile, the 2017 tax return deadline for individual filers and sole proprietor or single member LLC small businesses is looming. This year, the ubiquitous April 15 deadline was extended by two days (April 17, 2018). Other types of businesses would have had to meet 2017 tax deadlines earlier in 2018 or are subject to quarterly payments – so you may want to switch to extension mode and think about taking advantage of current tax breaks that will be phased out with your 2018 tax returns.

The type of tax entity a company is determines their tax deadlines. While converting to an LLC or S-Corporation may seem advantageous, it is prudent to weigh your options. If you are considering incorporating to take advantage of the new 2018 tax changes, you would need to meet tax deadlines earlier than those you may be used to meeting. Learn more about official federal income tax return due dates here and talk to a tax professional to determine what is the best move for your company.

What Deductions Could I Take on My 2017 Business Taxes?

After 2017, companies can no longer deduct entertainment as a business expense. They can still claim client meals. For example, if your sales staff takes a client to a baseball game, you can only claim the food eaten at the game. The game tickets will not be deductible. 

Can I Still Claim My Home Office for My Business?

After 2017, any room you claim as an office must be 100% dedicated to your company. It cannot be an office/guest room. The IRS is cracking down on individuals claiming an office is any space with a computer in it. Phone, internet and supplies must be solely for the function of the office. If you are a sole proprietor and work out of your home, seek the expertise of a tax professional to help you review what you can itemize on your 2018 tax return. With the new standard deductions, you may find itemizing is no longer beneficial.

In 2018, Will the Loss of Business Deductions Affect My Company?

Many of the eliminated deductions are those individuals claim on their 1040 Schedule A forms. Business owners file Schedule C forms. The new changes do not affect their deductions.

Should I Convert from a Sole Proprietor to an LLC?

If you are considering incorporating due to the loss of Schedule A itemized deductions, you may find limited benefits. Costs are involved in incorporating and maintaining an LLC. Tax deductions reduce your overall taxable income. They do not reduce your tax bill on a dollar per dollar basis.

Dutton Legal Group – Indiana’s Tax Resolution Law Firm

We know small business is big in Indiana. Dutton Legal Group helps the people and businesses of our state navigate ever-changing State and Federal tax codes. Our goal as experienced tax attorneys is to assist you in finding an immediate, cost-effective answer to your tax challenges. We provide a variety of tax services from balance resolution and return preparation to wage garnishment relief and audit assistance. Stop worrying about your company taxes and get back to business. Make Dutton Legal Group your next call at 1-800-334-0255 or send an email to request a free consultation. Trustworthy and affordable, for over 15 years.