- Darren Sanford
- Darren is a CPA, entrepreneur and network marketing professional. He is a 22+ year veteran in the small and home based business tax and accounting industry. In 2007, he founded It Makes Scents, an independent distributor for Scent-Sations, Inc., home of the Mia Bella Gourmet Candle, Bella Mineral Makeup and Dermal Renu Anti-Aging Skincare.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
If you give gifts in the course of your trade or business, you can deduct all or part of the cost. But the IRS has established limits and rules for deducting the costs of gifts.
$25 limit You can deduct no more than $25 for business gifts you give directly or indirectly to each person during your tax year. A gift to a company that is intended for the eventual personal use or benefit of a particular person or a limited class of people will be considered an indirect gift to that particular person or to the individuals within that class of people who receive the gift.
If you give a gift to a member of a customer's family, the gift is generally considered to be an indirect gift to the customer. This rule does not apply if you have a bonafide, independent business connection with that family member and the gift is not intended for the customer's eventual use.
If you and your spouse both give gifts, both of you are treated as one taxpayer. It does not matter whether you have separate businesses, are separately employed, or whether each of you has an independent connection with the recipient. If a partnership gives gifts, the partnership and the partners are treated as one taxpayer.
Example: Bob Jones sells products to Local Company. He and his wife, Jan, gave Local Company three cheese packages to thank them for their business. They paid $80 for each package, or $240 total. Three of Local Company's executives took the packages home for their families' use. Bob and Jan have no independent business relationship with any of the executives' other family members. They can deduct a total of $75 ($25 limit × 3) for the cheese packages.
Incidental costs. Incidental costs, such as engraving on jewelry, or packaging, insuring, and mailing, are generally not included in determining the cost of a gift for purposes of the $25 limit.
A cost is incidental only if it does not add substantial value to the gift. For example, the cost of gift wrapping is an incidental cost. However, the purchase of an ornamental basket for packaging fruit is not an incidental cost if the value of the basket is substantial compared to the value of the fruit.
Exceptions: The following items are not considered gifts for purposes of the $25 limit.
1. An item that costs $4 or less and:
- Has your name clearly and permanently imprinted on the gift, and
- Is one of a number of identical items you widely distribute. Examples include pens, desk sets.
2. Signs, display racks, or other promotional material to be used on the business premises of the recipient.
Gift or entertainment? Any item that might be considered either a gift or entertainment generally will be considered entertainment. However, if you give a customer packaged food or beverages you intend the customer to use at a later date, treat it as a gift.
If you give a customer tickets to a theater performance or sporting event and you do not go with the customer to the performance or event, you have a choice. You can treat the cost of the tickets as either a gift expense or an entertainment expense, whichever is to your advantage.
You can change your treatment of the tickets at a later date by filing an amended return. Generally, an amended return must be filed within 3 years from the date the original return was filed or within 2 years from the time the tax was paid, whichever is later.
If you go with the customer to the event, you must treat the cost of the tickets as an entertainment expense. You cannot choose, in this case, to treat the cost of the tickets as a gift expense.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
The Internal Revenue Service is encouraging small business owners to check out a key tax credit and a special relief program that could provide significant tax benefits during 2012.
The expanded credit for hiring veterans can provide tax savings to eligible small businesses when they file their 2012 federal income tax returns. In addition, substantial relief from past payroll tax obligations is available to eligible employers who agree to reclassify their workers as employees in the future. Here are details on each of these benefits.
Expanded Tax Credit for Hiring Veterans
A law change enacted late last year now provides an expanded Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to employers that hire eligible unemployed veterans. The credit can be as high as $9,600 per veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for tax-exempt organizations. The amount of the credit depends on a number of factors, including the length of the veteran’s unemployment before hire, hours a veteran works and the amount of first-year wages paid. Employers who hire veterans with service-related disabilities may be eligible for the maximum credit.
Certification requirements apply to these new hires. Normally, an eligible employer must file Form 8850 with the state workforce agency within 28 days after the eligible worker begins work.
But under a special rule, employers have until June 19, 2012, to complete and file this form for veterans hired on or after Nov. 22, 2011, and before May 22, 2012. The 28-day rule will again apply to eligible veterans hired on or after May 22. This form can be faxed or electronically transmitted to the state workforce agency, as long as the agency is able to receive the certification forms that way.
Businesses claim the credit on their income tax return using Form 5884 and Form 3800. A separate claim procedure using Form 5884-C applies to eligible tax-exempt organizations. Details are on IRS.gov.
Many Businesses can qualify for Substantial Payroll Tax Relief
Many businesses can now resolve past worker classification issues at a low cost by voluntarily reclassifying their workers. Better yet, they don’t have to wait for an IRS audit to do so.
By prospectively reclassifying workers, making a minimal payment and meeting a few other requirements, eligible businesses can achieve greater certainty for themselves, their workers and the government. Already, 540 employers have been approved to participate in the new IRS Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) since it was launched last September.
The VCSP is available to many businesses, tax-exempt organizations and government entities that currently treat their workers or a class or group of workers as non-employees or independent contractors, and now want to correctly treat these workers as employees in the future. To be eligible, an employer must:
• Consistently have treated the workers in the past as non-employees,
• Have filed all required Forms 1099 for the workers for the previous three years
• Not currently be under audit by the IRS or the Department of Labor or a state agency concerning the classification of these workers
Interested employers can apply for the program by filing Form 8952. Employers accepted into the program will pay an amount effectively equaling just over one percent of the wages paid to the reclassified workers for the past year. It’s that simple. Moreover, employers will not be audited on payroll taxes related to these workers for prior years.
Some other available tax credits:
• Agricultural chemicals security credit (Form 8931). This credit applies to qualified agricultural chemical security expenses paid or incurred by eligible agricultural businesses.
• Credit for employer social security and Medicare taxes paid on certain employee tips (Form 8846). This credit is generally equal to your (employer's) portion of social security and Medicare taxes paid on tips received by employees of your food and beverage establishment where tipping is customary. The credit applies regardless of whether the food is consumed on or off your business premises.
• Credit for employer differential wage payments (Form 8932). This credit provides certain small businesses with an incentive to continue to pay wages to an employee performing services on active duty in the uniformed services of the United States for a period of more than 30 days.
• Credit for small employer pension plan startup costs (Form 8881). This credit applies to pension plan startup costs of a new qualified defined benefit or defined contribution plan (including a 401(k) plan), SIMPLE plan, or simplified employee pension.
• Disabled access credit (Form 8826). This credit is a nonrefundable tax credit for an eligible small business that pays or incurs expenses to provide access to persons who have disabilities. You must pay or incur the expenses to enable your business to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
For more information on these and other small business tax and accounting issues, connect with me at R. Darren Sanford, CPA.
IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Business expenses are the cost of carrying on a trade or business. These expenses are usually deductible if the business is operated to make a profit.
What May I Deduct?
To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.
It is important to separate business expenses from the following expenses:
- The expenses used to figure the cost of goods sold,
- Capital Expenses, and
- Personal Expenses.
Cost of Goods Sold
If your business manufactures products or purchases them for resale, you generally must value inventory at the beginning and end of each tax year to determine your cost of goods sold. Some of your expenses may be included in figuring the cost of goods sold. Cost of goods sold is deducted from your gross receipts to figure your gross profit for the year. If you include an expense in the cost of goods sold, you cannot deduct it again as a business expense.
The following are types of expenses that go into figuring the cost of goods sold.
- The cost of products or raw materials, including freight
- Direct labor costs (including contributions to pensions or annuity plans) for workers who produce the products
- Factory overhead
Under the uniform capitalization rules, you must capitalize the direct costs and part of the indirect costs for certain production or resale activities. Indirect costs include rent, interest, taxes, storage, purchasing, processing, repackaging, handling, and administrative costs.
This rule does not apply to personal property you acquire for resale if your average annual gross receipts (or those of your predecessor) for the preceding 3 tax years are not more than $10 million.
You must capitalize, rather than deduct, some costs. These costs are a part of your investment in your business and are called capital expenses. Capital expenses are considered assets in your business. There are, in general, three types of costs you capitalize.
- Business start-up cost (See the note below)
- Business assets
Note: You can elect to deduct or amortize certain business start-up costs.
Personal versus Business Expenses
Generally, you cannot deduct personal, living, or family expenses. However, if you have an expense for something that is used partly for business and partly for personal purposes, divide the total cost between the business and personal parts. You can deduct the business part.
For example, if you borrow money and use 70% of it for business and the other 30% for a family vacation, you can deduct 70% of the interest as a business expense. The remaining 30% is personal interest and is not deductible.
Business Use of Your Home
If you use part of your home for business, you may be able to deduct expenses for the business use of your home. These expenses may include mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs, and depreciation.
Business Use of Your Car
If you use your car in your business, you can deduct car expenses. If you use your car for both business and personal purposes, you must divide your expenses based on actual mileage.
Other Types of Business Expenses
- Employees' Pay - You can generally deduct the pay you give your employees for the services they perform for your business.
- Retirement Plans - Retirement plans are savings plans that offer you tax advantages to set aside money for your own, and your employees' retirement.
- Rent Expense - Rent is any amount you pay for the use of property you do not own. In general, you can deduct rent as an expense only if the rent is for property you use in your trade or business. If you have or will receive equity in or title to the property, the rent is not deductible.
- Interest - Business interest expense is an amount charged for the use of money you borrowed for business activities.
- Taxes - You can deduct various federal, state, local, and foreign taxes directly attributable to your trade or business as business expenses.
- Insurance - Generally, you can deduct the ordinary and necessary cost of insurance as a business expense, if it is for your trade, business, or profession.
This list is not all inclusive of the types of business expenses that you can deduct. Be sure to check with your tax advisor or the IRS regarding the deductibility of expenses.