The Health Savings Account (HSA) is one of the most misunderstood and underused benefits in the Internal Revenue Code. Congress created HSAs as a way for individuals with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to save for medical expenses that are not covered by insurance due to the high-deductible provisions of their insurance coverage.
However, an HSA can act as more than just a vehicle to pay medical expenses; it can also serve as a retirement account. For some taxpayers who have maxed out their retirement-plan options an HSA provides them another resource for retirement savings – one that isn’t limited by income restrictions in the way that IRA contributions are.
In the past, the business use of a vehicle was determined either by using the standard mileage rate for business or using actual expenses plus vehicle depreciation limited by the luxury auto caps. That continues to be the case, except the luxury auto depreciation limit has been substantially increased. In addition, there are other changes as detailed below.
Standard Mileage Rates – The standard mileage rates for the business use of a car (or a van, pickup, or panel truck) are:
Taxpayers with higher 1040 taxable incomes who are self-employed but are not “specified service businesses” may find it beneficial to structure new businesses, or restructure an existing business, as an S corporation to avoid taxable income limitations that apply to the new 20% Sec. 199A pass-through deduction.
To make up for the tax reform’s reduction of the C corporation tax rate to 21%, from which other forms of business activities do not benefit, Congress created a new deduction and code section: 199A. The 199A deduction is for taxpayers with other business activities – such as sole proprietorships, rentals, partnerships and S corporations – since, unlike C corporations, which are directly taxed on their profits, the income from the other business activities flows through to the owner’s tax return and is taxed at the individual level, i.e., at the individual’s tax rate, which can be as high as 37%.
Taxes are similar to vehicles, in that they sometimes need a check-up to make sure they are performing as expected. That is especially true for 2018, with all of the changes brought about by tax reform.
There are a number of other circumstances that can impact your taxes, and you probably should not wait until tax time to see the results. You could even be missing opportunities to decrease your prepayments and obtain more cash flow. With mid-year tax planning, you may be able to take steps to mitigate the tax impact of certain events and thus avoid unpleasant surprises before it is too late to address them.
Prior to the passage of tax reform, individuals who moved as the result of a job change or job relocation could deduct their unreimbursed moving expenses if the driving distance from their home to the new job location was at least 50 miles more than the driving distance from home to the old job location. There was also a requirement that the individual work in the new location for a specified minimum period of time after the move.
Unfortunately, tax reform effectively repealed that deduction after 2017, except for members of the Armed Forces on active duty who move pursuant to a military order. On top of that, if an employer reimburses the employee for the expenses—whether by paying a moving van company, airline, or other vendor directly, or by reimbursing the employee for their moving expenses—the reimbursement will be treated as taxable wages subject to withholding of income, Medicare, and Social Security taxes.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, more commonly referred to as tax reform, substantially altered the itemized deduction for home mortgage interest and affects just about everyone who has been deducting their home mortgage interest as an itemized deduction on their tax returns.
Determining when home mortgage interest is deductible and how much was deductible was frequently complicated under the prior tax law, and the new rules have added a whole new level of complexity. Please call us if you have questions about your particular home loan interest, refinancing, or equity debt interest tracing circumstances.
Gift taxes were created to prevent wealthy taxpayers from transferring their estates to their beneficiaries via gifts and thus avoid estate taxes when they pass away. But that does not mean only wealthy taxpayers need to be concerned with the gift tax provisions as, under many circumstances, even lower-income taxpayers may find they are liable for filing a gift tax return.
The government uses the gift tax return to keep a perpetual record of a taxpayer’s gifts during their lifetime, and gifts exceeding the amount that is annually exempt from the gift tax reduce the taxpayer’s lifetime estate tax exclusion, which is currently $1.18 million (nearly a two-fold increase from the 2017 exclusion as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017).
So what does this have to do with me you ask, since your estate is significantly less than $1.18 million? Well, your estate may be less than $1.18 million now, but what will it be when you pass away? You never know. Another concern is that the IRS requires individuals to file gift tax returns if their gifts while living exceed the annual exemption amount.
This is a common question: How long must taxpayers keep copies of their tax returns and supporting documents?
Generally, taxpayers should hold on to their tax records for at least 3 years after the due date of the return to which those records apply. However, if the original return was filed later than the due date, including if the taxpayer received an extension, the actual filing date is substituted for the due date. A few other circumstances can require taxpayers to keep these records for longer than 3 years.
The statute of limitations in many states is 1 year longer than in the federal statute. This is because the IRS provides state tax authorities with federal audit results. The extra year gives the states adequate time to assess taxes based on any federal tax adjustments.
A frequent question is whether inheritances are taxable. This is a frequently misunderstood question related to taxation and can be complicated. When someone passes away, all of their assets will be subject to inheritance taxation, and whatever is left over after paying the inheritance tax passes to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
Sound bleak? Don’t worry, very few decedents’ estates ever pay any inheritance tax, primarily because the code exempts a liberal amount of the estate from taxation; thus, only very large estates are subject to inheritance tax. In fact, with the passage of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (tax reform), the estate tax deduction has been increased to $11,180,000* for 2018 and is inflation adjusted in future years.
Generally, all monetary awards as the result of a legal action are fully taxable, with one exception. Under the exception, the tax code allows an exclusion from gross income for damages received due to a personal physical injury or physical sickness. Consequently, when a lawsuit is based on a physical injury or sickness, all damages (other than punitive damages, which are generally always taxable) flowing from that suit are treated as payments received due to a physical injury or sickness and are therefore excludable from income. This is true whether or not the recipient of the damages is the injured party.