Amway & Taxes - Excellent post by Roth & Co on how important it is to have a true profit motive in order to deduct business losses. Since almost nobody ever makes any real money from Amway, that business already starts off as suspect in the eyes of the IRS.
Limits On Section 179
I continue to receive a lot of questions about the use of the Section 179 expensing election, such as this one:
I've read that taking this deduction cannot cause your business to have a loss, but If I have a business loss before taking this deduction, am I allowed to take it?
Thank you in advance,
It is true that the Section 179 cannot be used to reduce taxable income below zero. However, this isn't always based on the business income alone.
For corporations (Form 1120), it is pretty straight forward. The Sec. 179 deduction can only be as high as needed to zero out the taxable income. If there's already a break-even or net loss, no current 179 is allowed and must be carried over (on Form 4562) to the next tax year.
For Schedule C sole proprietorships, it is actually possible to use Sec. 179 to create or increase a large net loss if there are other sources of income (W-2s, etc) that result in a positive taxable income before considering the Sec. 179 deduction.
I hope this helps. I'm sure your personal tax advisor can give you more specifics for your particular situation.
IRS Says Americans' Income Shrank for 2 Consecutive Years - Using amounts reported on tax returns actually understates the drop in income caused by the stock market collapse a few years ago. I've seen tax returns where the taxpayers lost well over a million dollars; but were only allowed to deduct $3,000 per year.
Cigarette Taxes Are Dangerous For Your Health
John Kerry's Tax Plan: Too Much Tinkering - While it's not worth wasting any time seriously worrying about John Kerry's tax plans becoming reality any time soon since he will lose in November in a landslide, there are some other good alternative tax reform ideas at the end of this article.
The Tax Code's Impact on the Reliability of Revenue Projections
Socialism is evil - Good "tell it like it is" from Walter Williams. It's always bugged me how pervasive the belief is in this country among the elites (and the DemonRats) that capitalism is the world's evil and socialism is the salvation from all problems.
Wave of Regulations Will Follow Tsunami of Federal Spending
Trusts May Gain Tax Benefits By Shifting States - A tax saving strategy that has always been near & dear to me, arranging things so that income is sourced from a tax free state. While this article deals with trusts, similar steps can often be taken with corporations.
Human Piggy Bank Held - An even more disgusting money laundering technique.
A closer look at 2004 sales-tax-free holidays - Most are timed for back to school purchases, but some have already started.
Arkansas Tax Amnesty Program - I just received a press release from the DFA reminding us that the amnesty program for people to come clean on pre-2003 taxes will be expiring on September 30, 2004. This is actually better than most other tax amnesty programs I have seen because, besides waiving all penalties, they are also forgiving interest charges. Since DFA charges ten percent (10%) interest on back taxes (much higher than the IRS's 4%), that could save quite a bit of money.
Having participated in the California amnesty program back in the mid-1980s, a word of warning is appropriate. Anyone considering catching up with previously unfiled State income tax returns should also be ready to do the same with IRS, which does not have an active amnesty program. Information sharing between State and Federal tax agencies is a two way exchange. DFA will be notifying IRS of back returns they receive and IRS will be expecting the same years to be cleaned up with them. Back in the 1980s, I knew of many people who refused to take part in the Calif. amnesty because they didn't want to tip off IRS.
IRS Officials Criticize Arbitration Ruling - I can't help feeling a bit sorry for top IRS management after their employees' union stopped them from trying to improve their accounting skill level.
When tax cuts lose to spending
Incentives Matter: A Lesson - The lower tax rates on corporate dividends haven't completely eliminated the double taxation of corporate income; but they have motivated Microsoft to pay out over $60 billion from previously taxed income. It does keep the balance of intellectual power tilted towards our side.
Hispanic business owners strongly support permanent repeal of the estate tax, and the issue could determine how they vote in November - As should anyone who supports capitalism and opposes communistic wealth redistribution.
Low-Income Seniors Won't Lose Subsidy
As Cash Fades, America Becomes A Plastic Nation - Interesting look at the way our financial activities have been evolving away from the use of actual currency. This must be good news for IRS because tracking taxable cash transactions has always been the largest component of their "tax gap."
US Treasury Begins Sponsorship on New Twenty Dollar Bills - Obviously, this wouldn't be a good time to do this.
Blood-red money leads to a suspect - An extreme example of money laundering at an actual laundromat.
The only consistent money makers in the stock market are the brokers, especially those who constantly churn their clients' accounts.
Arguments Against Car Leasing - For decades, I've been warning people that leasing vehicles is a huge rip-off from a financial perspective.
Home For Sale
My dad and his wife have purchased a new place in Bella Vista, Arkansas and are ready to sell the place they have been in for the past few years in Rogers, Arkansas. They did a ton of work on the place; but have decided to make a move and are trying to sell the place on their own.
Although it's much closer to civilization than our ranch in the boonies is, one thing making it very tempting to me is high speed cable Internet service. This is even more appealing this week, as I've been pulling my hair out trying to get my new upgraded DirecWay satellite service to work properly with the small computer network in our main house.
Republicans Delay Action on Extending Tax Cuts
Greenspan says Bush's tax cuts buoyed economy - Exactly why the DemonRats fought so hard to oppose them. Their marching orders are to fight anything that makes Bush look good, regardless of how beneficial they are for the country.
Loose change - The Feds have latched onto "Finders keepers, losers weepers" as a new revenue source. Over a quarter million dollars in found change at airports since last October.
Class warfare and political profiteers - Standard political weapons for the DemonRats, along with a big helping of hypocrisy.
Bush Quashes GOP Deal on Tax Cuts' Life - Remember what big tax increases are just around the corner if our rulers don't stop their bickering and extend (or better still, make permanent) so many tax breaks that are scheduled to expire soon.
Why those of who believe in smaller Constitutionally legitimate government functions support the Libertarian Party
Exploiting the mathematically ignorant
It does appear to be quite a coincidence that our government run schools have dropped their academic standards so much and are able to keep turning out a steady supply of math morons to buy lottery tickets that supposedly help fund the schools. What an interesting cycle this works out to be.
Linking Social Security and prosperity - Art Linkletter staying active and very wise at 92 years old.
Accountants Who Blog - Here is one of the articles I was interviewed for over the past few weeks.
The incredible shrinking deficit - Good take on this by Jack Kemp.
IRS Lawyers' Compensation Draws Criticism - Thanks to TaxProf Paul Caron for this link. For those who don't want to divulge personal info to websites, BugMeNot is a great source of free registration codes that provide access to many sites, which is why I added it to my BlogRoll on the right side of this page several weeks ago.
Edwards and Kerry want to raise taxes, but aren't wild about paying them. - Nothing new here. Hypocrisy in tax matters is one of the criteria for being a member in good standing of the JackAss Party.
Employees Can Claim Section 179 Deductions
Another good question about the lucrative Section 179 expensing election.
Dear Tax Guru,
I am contemplating the purchase of a new vehicle. I am a sales person employed by a corporation that provides a car allowance and some reimbursement for fuel. The requirement of the company is to have a late model vehicle in good condition. Since I am an employee and not a small business owner, would I still qualify for the deduction allowed for vehicles over 6000 pounds since I have to provide my own vehicle for business purposes?
That is a common misconception; that only business owners qualify to deduct the purchase of business equipment.
Fortunately, IRS regulations define active trade or business income to include the trade or business of being an employee. This allows the use of Section 179 expenses to somewhat offset wages, tips and other income received as an employee.
The big difference between claiming the Sec. 179 for a self employed (SE) person and a W-2 employee is the effect on the person's AGI (adjusted gross income). SE individuals claim it on their Schedule C and it reduces their AGI. W-2 employees have to claim it on Form 2106, which flows to the Miscellaneous Deductions section of their Schedule A. This does reduce their taxable income, but not AGI.
There is also the issue of having to reduce the Misc. Deductions by two percent of AGI.
I have also found a number of cases where high Misc. Deductions trigger the infamous AMT (alternative minimum tax).
Another difference is that Section 179 expenses will reduce a Schedule C proprietor's 15.3% self employment tax; but it won't reduce a W-2 employee's FICA or Medicare taxes at all.
So, bottom line, you can claim Section 179 for business equipment, including vehicles, that you use as a W-2 employee; but it won't save you as much in taxes as it does for a self employed person.
I hope this helps. Your personal tax advisor can better explain exactly how much you will be eligible to deduct because there is also an overall limit based on your income for the year.
How Uncurbed Entitlements Will Force Large Tax Increases - Interesting PowerPoint presentation of how the drunken sailors of both parties in DC are forcing inevitable tax hikes.
IRS Strategic Plan Focuses on Service, Compliance, Modernization - Interesting 35 page mission statement for the IRS. Is it just me or doesn't their symbolic image of themselves remind you of a killer sea creature from the movie, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? It looks like a four armed octopus.
Corporate Tax Tangle
Using QuickBooks Saves Time & Money
We are still receiving resistance to our push to have all of our clients use QuickBooks. I received this email today from a long-time client, who I thought had been in the process of getting his stuff set up on QB:
Is there any way we can get our taxes done for 2003 without doing Quick Books? Thanks,
For individual income tax returns (1040), we can prepare your tax returns without QuickBooks if you thoroughly fill in every applicable portion of the organizer.
If you ever take the big tax saving step of setting up a corporation, QuickBooks must be used, with no exception.
To dispel a common misconception, the use of QuickBooks is not being encouraged for our benefit. It is the best move to ensure that you receive all of the tax benefits to which you are entitled.
When assembling their tax info, most people simply look through their main checkbook for deductible items. They miss a lot of other kinds of deductible activity, including cash, credit cards, loans and other investment and bank accounts. Keeping track of all of those items and properly combining them for tax purposes can't be done any easier or more efficiently than with QuickBooks.
If you are comfortable using the shoe-box approach to assembling the info for your tax return organizer, and don't mind missing out on possibly thousands of dollars of additional tax deductions, that's fine with me. It's your money.
I know I've said these things many times before; but it still gets my goat that people think I am pushing the use of QuickBooks for my own sick pleasure of making them do something new and unfamiliar; when it is really to help them save large amounts of taxes.
What I forgot to mention in this letter was the fact that having all of your data in QuickBooks also makes it much readier in case of an IRS audit. I have been spending the past few months working on multi-year IRS audits for two different clients, and there has been a huge difference in the amount of time it has taken me and the volume of physical paper documents required for the auditors.
The client whose info was on QuickBooks only required a few envelopes of substantiating documents because the auditor was able to rely a lot on the QuickBooks reports. For the other client, who hasn't been using QuickBooks, we already have six file boxes filled with documents, and may need even more for the auditor. I explained to the client that if the info for those years had been in QuickBooks, the audit process would have taken a fraction of the time it has.
Dems call for simpler taxes - Whichever party is in power, the results of tax simplification efforts are always exactly the same; much more work for us tax pros. As someone who works with many aspects of the insane tax code every day, I know all too well that the Frankenstein approach to addressing the complexity cannot ever succeed. Ending it; not mending it, as with the FairTax proposal, is the only solution.
Bogus Tax Protestor Arguments
QuickFinders has a good summary of the top illegal tax evasion schemes being promoted by slimeball tax protestors.
Bondsman Kerry Edwards Sells Website For $900 Billion - Wouldn't that be great?
New Jersey's Governor McGreevey is winning the race for worst. - That's quite an impressive resume of taxing and spending that the Garden State's governor has. To be considered as bad as former PRC Governor Gray-Out Doofus is also quite a distinction.
CPA's Appeal of Disbarment Denied - Joe Bannister went from being a Criminal Investigator with IRS to a promoter of illegal tax evasion scams based on the usual list of idiotic tax protestor arguments. What's actually been most amazing about the disciplinary actions being taken against him is that they have been so mild and that he hasn't been thrown into prison, as a growing number of his cohorts in the tax protestor movement have been. For what it's worth, Bannister has been posting a history of his battle with IRS on his own website
Brown trial now Aug. 17 - Prosecution passes on witnesses' statements - I guess the definition of "swift justice" is up for subjective interpretation. The embezzlement of over a million dollars was discovered and made public in June 2003 and we're still waiting for the first day of the trial.
Choosing A Fiscal Year
I do hope my point in regard to seeking professional assistance is getting through, as in this recent email exchange.
I found your website on a search and had a simple question. If as you say Corporations should have a different Fiscal year from the Calendar year what month should you choose?
I am starting an private NV LLC that will be used for Investing. What month would be appropriate?
This first thing you should discuss with your personal tax advisor is how the LLC is going to be treated for tax purposes; which obviously depends on whether there are more members than just you.
If it is to be treated as a sole proprietorship (if you are sole member) or partnership or S corp (multiple members), you have no choice in the fiscal year. It must be from January 1 through December 31.
If you choose to have the LLC taxed as a C corp, a tax year ending other than December has several benefits, as I described on my website. There is no universally applicable best month. However, I have found June 30 to be the most useful since it gives six months on either side to make any adjustments between the personal tax year-end of December 31.
I hope this help. Do not proceed any further without the assistance of a competent professional tax advisor. Most decisions made at the beginning cannot be changed later on; so you need to make sure they are the best for your situation.
(No relation to the French-looking anti-American currently running for President)
Car Donation Proposals Worry Charitable Sector - End of the line for that little scam; helping people deduct more than their vehicles are really worth on the open market.
Setting Up Corporations
I constantly see people jumping into decisions about setting up corporations without adequate professional guidance. Every day I see postings on the Q&A boards I check stating something like, "I just set up an S corp. Now what do I do?" The time to consult with a tax pro is before choosing which kind of entity and which states are best for the particular situation.
I received this email the other day:
I read your interesting article on the possible advantages of a C-Corp vs S-Corp.
My question is:
I reside in Florida, and want to set up a corporation.... Trying to decide between C, S, and LLC
I will be the main principal, but will have other partners who contribute both financially and through in kind work, and I will give them some shares.
You mentioned that it only costs $50 to set up a corp in Arkansas.
Is that a viable option for me since I live in Florida? Will I have to travel to Arkansas for legal issues? What are the issues of setting up a corp in a different state than I am residing?
I assume you do this type of thing....
What is your fee for setting up a corp, and what kind of other services do you provide to your customers? Tax filing, required paperwork, etc?
There are companies that will act as legal in-state agents for corporations when their owners don't live there. Delaware and Nevada seem to have the highest number of them since those states are generally the best for corporations.
Regardless of which state has chartered your corp, you need to be careful of the source of the corp's income. Even foreign chartered corps have to report and pay taxes to the state in which the income is earned. For example, Florida has a corp income tax. Regardless of where you charter the corp, you will still have to pay Florida income tax if it appears that the income was earned inside Florida.
There are several very simple methods routinely used to either source the original income through a tax free state or shift it there via inter-company payments. You should definitely work with a tax pro who is knowledgeable in this area. Trying it on your own is asking for trouble of several kinds.
I wish I could be of more help, but you will need to work on a good strategy for your situation with another tax pro. We are currently too overloaded with work and are unable to take on any new clients.
You can check out my tips on selecting a personal tax advisor:
Giving Away Your Property Can Be Very Taxing
Cards list GOP 'commandments' - Especially needed for the RINOs.
Sin Taxes: Inferior Revenue Sources
Missouri Tax Credits: Boondoggle - Thanks to Ben Cunningham for passing along this example of incompetence and corruption up in Jefferson City. I'm sure if someone were to check, they would find that the scammers who have made off with the $2 million in tax credit money made campaign contributions (aka bribes) of anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 to those rulers responsible for the legislation creating these credits. As I've long said, there is no better return on one's money, from a purely investment perspective, than campaign contributions. Mere thousands in donations return millions in direct paybacks, courtesy of the taxpayers.
'Kerry Edwards' Site Belongs to Bondsman - It seems that there is something good about having Kerry as a first name during this campaign season. This Kerry has been offered $30,000 for his web domain name and had the good sense to not take up the John sKerry campaign's request to donate it to them. Lurch is married to a billionaire airhead and has the gall to ask people to donate things of value to his disastrous campaign. He will probably end up paying more than $30,000 for his regimen of Botox injections for his face.
The Most Insidious Tax - Taxing paper gains caused by inflation is an issue I have been writing about since the early 1990s, when President George H. W. Bush wimped out from the opportunity to remove that tax, as I described here. That option is still available if President George W. Bush wants to show that he has more conservative discipline than his father had.
Too good to be true? Lawyers seek millions from investors in scheme - One more pyramid scheme collapses, nailing another bunch of scammers, con artists and idiots.
National Taxpayer Advocate Releases Report to Congress, Cites Need for Aggressive Protection of Taxpayer Rights
Tax Return vs Book Income Figures
Back when corporate accounting scandals were big news, I mentioned how much more useful it would be if shareholders and others interested in a company's finances had access to copies of its income tax returns to see what is being reported to IRS. Under the very wide generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), it's very common for companies to tell IRS that they are losing their shirts, while at the same time telling the investing public that they are making money hand over fist. In fact, I requre a look at 1120s before giving my opinion on small corporations that are possible acquisition targets by my clients.
One of the underlying assumptions behind the Martha Stewart and other insider trading cases is the premise that every potential investor should have the exact same information at the exact same time and as much as possible in order to arrive at the best possible investment decisions. As I've mentioned before, such a goal is impossible to achieve; but releasing corporate tax returns would be a step in the right direction.
Similarly, knowing about differences between book accounting and what is reported on corporate income tax returns (1120) can tip off IRS to possibly over-aggressive tax savings strategies. These differences have normally been shown on Schedule M-1 on Page 4 of the 1120. However, IRS hasn't been able to see the differences as clearly as they would like with the limited format of the current M-1; so they have come up with a new three page long Schedule M-3 to provide more detailed information on differences between book and tax income and expenses. This new schedule will only be required for corporations with more than $10 million in total assets and for tax years ending on or after December 31, 2004.
Official Press Releases regarding this:
Treasury and IRS Issue Revised Tax Form for Corporate Tax Returns (IR-2004-91)
Treasury, IRS Streamline Reporting of Significant Book-Tax Differences (IR-2004-92)
From Treasury Department:
Treasury and IRS Issue Revised Tax Form for Corporate Tax Returns (JS-1770)
Treasury and IRS Streamline Reporting of Significant Book-Tax Differences (JS-1769)
Baxter County jury to hear Brown case - Too much coverage by the Harrison Times has supposedly made it impossible to have a fair trial in Boone County. I doubt that moving the case over to a nearby county will make much of a difference other than to inconvenience most of the witnesses. What's actually been more surprising is the fact that there hasn't already been any attempt (that we know of) at vigilante justice. Maybe Boone County has matured since its heydays, with lynchings, mob violence and other KKK related activities, and can be patient enough to allow the legal system to do its thing.
Fuzzy Math And Stock Options - As usual, when our rulers attempt to micro-manage our lives, they make things worse. Creating new convoluted accounting rules that make no logical sense will do nothing to make corporate numbers more reliable. Just the opposite.
Gov. Schwarzenegger aims to get California's flabby government into shape.
Didn't Republicans use to favor cutting government spending?
VP Pick Puts New Pressure on Kerry to Release Tax Returns
Oregon to test mileage tax as replacement for gas tax - Making sure users of electric vehicles pay "their fair share" of taxes. They're always coming up with new taxing schemes on the Left Coast.
Tax Advisors Are Different
As I've always warned, there are big differences between professional tax advisors in regard to how much effort they will put into helping their clients minimize taxes.
This email I recently received is a good example of just that point:
I recently purchased a drug store (c-corp) and the transaction proceeded as a sale of stock, rather than sale of assets. The previous owner wanted double the asking price to execute an asset sale because of the double tax implications. Now, my dilema is that my tax advisor tells me that I can not write off any of the interest of the note and can not count the note payments as business expense---which was a surprise to me. My note payments are approx. $8,000 per month and were to be my primary way to cut my corp. taxes on gains. Also, my tax advisor has recently advised that I should restructure my corporation as an s-corp. which I thought was a good idea until I read your website--now I am confused. Basically, the previous owner utilized income shifting to wipe out all corporate gains by paying himself rent and other strategies. The tax advisor is not comfortable with this tactic and says that I can gain the same benefit by changing to s-corp status and pay myself dividends to wipe out gains. Sounded good originally, but i see your points also. I am new to the "game" and could use some pointers on these subjects----would be glad to pay a consulting fee for your ideas. I value the ideas of folks at the top of their profession and am willing to pay for it. Let me know what I need to do to "pick your brain". I am confused and need to find a way to get these note payments to help me in some fashion.
From the way you described things, it sounds as if the previous owner had a better tax advisor than you have, in terms of keeping your taxes to a minimum. As I have explained in several places, using an S corp for a profitable business can more than double the taxes as opposed to a C corp.
Of the loan payments you are making for the purchase of the stock, there is no way to deduct the principal portion. That is your capital investment in the stock and will be part of your cost basis for when you eventually sell the stock or give it to someone else (i.e. kids).
There are a number of ways in which the interest portion of the payments could be deductible on Schedule A or E of your 1040, depending on the kinds of income it generates for you (salary, lease, royalties, etc.).
I wish I could be of more help, but you will need to work on a good strategy for your situation with another tax pro. We are currently too overloaded with work and are unable to take on any new clients. If I were you, I would check with the previous owner's CPA. It sounds as if he is more in synch with my methods of developing a useful strategy to minimize taxes.
Experts examine value of buying a hybrid car - Thanks to AutoBlog for this article on the dollars & cents of buying the new fangled type of vehicles.
Home makeover not as free as it seems - Thanks to TaxProf Paul Caron for this new story on the tax problems awaiting the fortunate families receiving free extreme home makeovers from ABC TV.
Spoofing Michael Moron
The Fark PhotoShoppers have come up with some creative spoofs on the Marxist blob who is himself a walking (or more appropriately, waddling) spoof of a human being.
Most states rebounding from money woes Several raising taxes, but others doling out raises
A million pennies saved, nothing earned - There are obviously pros and cons to the different ways to accumulate money.
IRS Probing H & R Block Unit's Tax-Planning Strategies - Here's a headline I never expected to see, considering Block's long standing reputation for being veritable wimps in terms of tax saving opportunities for their clients. This problem has to do with another tax and consulting service that H & R Block purchased in 2003, RSM McGladrey.
Rental Scam - Potential tenants should verify the person they are renting from is the actual property owner, and that he hasn't already pretended to rent the same place to half a dozen other people.
Lightening Bridge's Load - I've written extensively on the very lucrative tax benefits of buying a vehicle weighing more than 6,000 pounds. One trade off, besides the extra fuel they consume, is limits on where they can be driven.
Forgery trial set to start - Subpoenas issued in Dian Brown case - This local case, where over a million dollars was stolen from real estate escrow funds, should serve as a warning for everyone to be very careful when selecting such services. Since a number of our clients are involved in this case (as Realtors and other victims), we should be able to learn more of the gory details than will be published in the paper.
Life Insurance Industry Backs John Kerry, Praises His "Wonderful Pessimism" - His gloom and doom messages do have an eager and receptive audience.