As we approach year-end, it is again time to focus on what we can do to save money on our taxes. Yes, there are last-minute moves you can make to save taxes—both on your 2013 return and in future years. The current federal income tax environment remains relatively favorable by historical standards. Our comprehensive guide 2013 Year-End Tax Planning will provide you with tax-saving ideas to get you started. As always, you can call on us to help you sort through the options and implement strategies that make sense for you.
Please let us know if you would like us to prepare a year-end projection of your 2013 tax liabilities to eliminate some of the uncertainty in the process.
Ideas for Your Business
Take Advantage of Tax Breaks for Purchasing Equipment, Software, and certain Real Property. If you have plans to buy a business computer, office furniture, equipment, vehicle, or other tangible business property or to make certain improvements to real property, you might consider doing so before year-end to capitalize on the following generous, but temporary tax breaks:
• Bigger Section 179 Deduction. Your business may be able to take advantage of the temporarily increased Section 179 deduction. Under the Section 179 deduction privilege, an eligible business can often claim first-year depreciation write-offs for the entire cost of new and used equipment and software additions. (However, limits apply to the amount that can be deducted for most vehicles.) For tax years beginning in 2013, the maximum Section 179 deduction is $500,000. For tax years beginning in 2014, however, the maximum deduction is scheduled to drop to $25,000.
• Section 179 Deduction for Real Estate. Real property costs are generally ineligible for the Section 179 deduction privilege. However, an exception applies to tax years beginning in 2013. Under the exception, your business can immediately deduct up to $250,000 of qualified costs for restaurant buildings and improvements to interiors of retail and leased nonresidential buildings. The $250,000 Section 179 allowance for these real estate expenditures is part of the overall $500,000 allowance. This temporary real estate break will not be available for tax years beginning after 2013 unless Congress extends the provision. Note: Watch out if your business is already expected to have a tax loss for the year (or be close) before considering any Section 179 deduction, as you cannot claim a Section 179 write-off that would create or increase an overall business tax loss. Please contact us if you think this might be an issue for your operation.
• 50% First-year Bonus Depreciation. Above and beyond the bumped-up Section 179 deduction, your business can also claim first-year bonus depreciation equal to 50% of the cost of most new (not used) equipment and software placed in service by December 31 of this year. For a new passenger auto or light truck that’s used for business and is subject to the luxury auto depreciation limitations, the 50% bonus depreciation break increases the maximum first-year depreciation deduction by $8,000 for vehicles placed in service this year. The 50% bonus depreciation break will expire at year-end unless Congress extends.Note:First-year bonus depreciation deductions can create or increase a Net Operating Loss (NOL) for your business’s 2013 tax year. You can then carry back a 2013 NOL to 2011 and 2012 and collect a refund of taxes paid in those years. Please contact us for details on the interaction between asset additions and NOLs.
Evaluate Inventory for Damaged or Obsolete Items. Inventory is normally valued for tax purposes at cost or the lower of cost or market value. Regardless of which of these methods is used, the end-of-the-year inventory should be reviewed to detect obsolete or damaged items. The carrying cost of any such items may be written down to their probable selling price (net of selling expenses). [This rule does not apply to businesses that use the Last in, First out (LIFO) method because LIFO does not distinguish between goods that have been written down and those that have not].
To claim a deduction for a write-down of obsolete inventory, you are not required to scrap the item. However, in a period ending not later than 30 days after the inventory date, the item must be actually offered for sale at the price to which the inventory is reduced.
Employ Your Child. If you are self-employed, do not miss one last opportunity to employ your child before the end of the year. Doing so has tax benefits in that it shifts income (which is not subject to the Kiddie tax) from you to your child, who normally is in a lower tax bracket or may avoid tax entirely due to the standard deduction. There can also be payroll tax savings since wages paid by sole proprietors to their children age 17 and younger are exempt from both social security and unemployment taxes. Employing your children has the added benefit of providing them with earned income, which enables them to contribute to an IRA. Children with IRAs, particularly Roth IRAs, have a great start on retirement savings since the compounded growth of the funds can be significant.
Remember a couple of things when employing your child.
- First, the wages paid must be reasonable given the child’s age and work skills.
- Second, if the child is in college, or is entering soon, having too much earned income can have a detrimental impact on the student’s need-based financial aid eligibility.
Through careful planning, it is possible your 2013 tax liability can still be significantly reduced, but do not delay. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to achieve a meaningful reduction. The ideas discussed in this letter are a good way to get you started with year-end planning, but they are no substitutes for personalized professional assistance.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or for additional strategies on reducing your tax bill. We’ would be glad to set up a planning meeting or assist you in any other way that we can.
To ensure compliance with the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department regulations, we wish to inform you that any tax advice that may be contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein.
Material discussed in this article is meant to provide general information and should not be acted on without professional advice tailored to your individual needs.