How Will Your Business Benefit from the SECURE Act?

In the twilight of 2019, President Trump signed into law the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act that took effect January 1, 2020. 

At its core, the SECURE Act is meant to encourage increased retirement savings and provides a number of paths for individuals to do so. It has pushed back timelines for contribution and required distributions. It also created stipulations for part-time employees to participate in employer 401(k) plans if they meet certain stipulations in addition to a host of other enhanced saving opportunities.

While the majority of Americans save for retirement through a work-based plan, employees at small businesses have largely been unable to do so. Nearly 75 percent of workers at companies with fewer than 100 employees weren’t covered by an employer plan in 2017. Small business owners have rightfully cited startup costs and administrative burdens as hurdles to offering plans. 

To address these issues, one less publicized provision of the SECURE Act is a massive increase in the small business tax credit to cover the costs of the first three years an employer offers a workplace retirement plan. Originally, the tax credit was $500 a year for up to three years; however, the new provision now allows up to $5,000 a year (for a total of up to $15,000 over three years). There are also increased credits available for employers who require their workers to automatically enroll in their company’s retirement plans. 

Perhaps most importantly though, a part of the SECURE Act now allows small business owners the ability to band together to create Multiple Employer Plans (MEPs). MEPs pool small business resources to offer workplace retirement plans that are easier to administer and more cost effective for their owners. This also includes an annuity option for existing retirement plans, which previously could only be taken as a lump sum for taxation purposes.

Why does this matter? If you want to attract the highest quality employees for your open positions, you need to utilize avenues to offer plans that increase the allure of working for you. According to a 2019 study by the Society for Human Resource Management, retirement benefits ranked second in importance (after health care) among all the benefits that employers offer. 

The new law comes with a variety of updates and procedures. We can help you realign your business practices today to start capitalizing on its benefits, whether you’re a small business owner or an employee contributing to a work-based plan. 

Want to learn more on how these and other portions of the SECURE Act affect your taxes? Contact our office at 724-216-5180 or use our online form to schedule a consultation.

Ready to Sell Your Company in 2020? Read this First

Congratulations! You’ve made a decision to pass your company’s legacy onto someone else – perhaps a child or a likeminded stranger – and ride off into the sunset of retirement… or onto your next business venture. 

Of course, you will be taxed on the profit you make from the sale. So, as you prepare for this transition, there are a number of tax-related implications to consider as you strive to minimize your tax responsibilities. Without proper guidance from an experienced tax attorney, you could end up paying nearly half of your sales price in taxes. 

There are different tax rates depending on whether proceeds of the sale are taxed as ordinary income or capital gains. When you are selling a business, the goal is to maximize the amount of sold assets that are categorized as capital gain. Buyers conversely, for their own tax planning purposes, prefer to allocate as much of the contract sales price to  items that would categorized as ordinary income to the seller.  

Like most business deals, there’s a subtle negotiating dance between the parties over the ratio of capital gains versus ordinary income that results in a settlement that neither party is happy about, but both can live with.

There are additional intricacies when considering whether the sale is an all-cash deal or requires payment installments; whether the sale is one of assets or one of stocks; or whether the sale can be treated as a tax-free corporation (in the case of a deal between two corporations). 

Before you begin negotiations to sell your company, contact a law firm that specializes in tax law, including the timing and characterizations of transactions. I have been providing tax services to businesses and individuals for many years. Beforehand, I worked as a licensed certified public accountant and earned a master’s in taxation. Contact our office at 724-216-5180 or use our online form to see how we can help you.

Reporting Foreign Bank Accounts Isn’t a Choice

A photo of the US Tax Guide Book

Maybe you binge-watched too many seasons of Miami Vice. Maybe you have a friend at work who gave you poor advice. Maybe a less-than-scrupulous preparer suggested you forget to mention it in your returns. Or possibly you just weren’t sure if you had to file reports.

But, here you are. The owner of a foreign bank account that you have not reported to the Internal Revenue Service. Although previously certain accounts were exempt, with the adoption of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), every American with direct or indirect ownership or control over a foreign financial account must report those accounts to the U.S. Treasury Department. 

Coinciding with the April 15 tax return deadline, owners of foreign accounts must remit a Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report for the previous calendar year. 

If the IRS finds out about a foreign account that you have willfully not reported this becomes a very serious problem that could result in penalties in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and even prison time.

If you’re finding yourself in this situation and you’re ready to voluntarily disclose your accounts, there are a few legal options to get you on the right side of your past mistakes. While you’re still likely to experience financial pain, you need someone with experience on your side to help minimize the damage.

We can help. The best time to deal with these situations is now. With decades of experience helping tax payers settle their debts with the IRS, we can help you navigate these tricky times. To review your options, call us at 724-216-0704 or email us at john@jacochranlaw.com.

Yes, You Need an Estate Plan

A photo of an Estate Planning law book

Estate Planning

You don’t have to be part of the ultra-rich living in Beverly Hills to think about how to preserve your family’s wealth. Careful planning can ensure that your estate can be dispersed to your wishes after you’re gone, regardless of how much you own. It can also ensure that funds are not tied up in uncertainties over the administration of a probate or worse lost in taxation and other expenses.

Although it can be a difficult conversation to talk about plans for after your death, an estate plan will minimize confusion and stress for loved ones after a death. Your clear plan will provide a path for them with the least amount of delay for transfer of assets without involving costly court fees. Media coverage of high-profile court cases can give you a taste of what would lie in store for your estate without proper documentation.

Even a basic will would protect your wishes. While you’ll want to revisit these documents after important life changes (marriages, births, divorces, etc.), you should still periodically review them with a trusted attorney to ensure they are still accurate reflections of your wishes.

Most importantly, you should not wait to create these documents until you’re “old.” Without this becoming an Oprah rerun about every day being a gift, you don’t need me to tell you there are no guarantees on how long you’ll live.

We can help provide the peace of mind that comes with comprehensive estate planning. There are many different ways to preserve wealth and avoid as many federal and state taxes on the transfers as possible. To review your estate planning options, call us at 724-216-0704 or email us at john@jacochranlaw.com.

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Business Taxes

Business taxes. Are you prepared? The government shutdown is over just in time for tax season. Find that timing kind of convenient? Yeah. Me, too.

No matter how you feel about ‘building the wall’ chances are you aren’t interested in sending more tax dollars than necessary to the federal government from your business’s income. The pop-up booths in the aisles of big box stores are fine for people with basic W-2 incomes and simple deductions like interest paid on mortgages and student loans. But you’re not basic.

You have complex business situations that can create problems if you don’t know which forms to complete and how the rules change from year to year. As a business owner, you need someone with years of experience fighting for your every dollar. Someone who will be with you the entire year and who fully understands your special situations, and solves any discrepancies should they arise. Maybe you need to file an extension to get all those receipts in shoeboxes sorted out, or want advice on if you can write off any portion of that new vehicle you bought last year.

The best time to get started is before you’re contacted by the Internal Revenue Service. Already have an issue that needs resolving? That’s okay, we can help with that, too!

We’ll make sure you pay the minimum necessary to settle your financial obligations to the IRS. Schedule a personalized assessment of your tax health today. Call us at 724-216-5180 or email us at john@jacochranlaw.com.