Seven Tax Considerations for New Businesses

Seven tax considerations for new businesses is our blog topic this month. Did you start a business in 2021? As we enter tax season, we see a lot of new owners make several common mistakes. Here’s seven tax considerations for new businesses to keep you out of hot water with the IRS.

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Newer business owners need to know small business taxes.
1. Yes, You Have to File Taxes.

Above all, you’ll need to understand how rules changes if you’re new to running a business. As an individual, you only need to file taxes if your gross income exceeds $12,550. That number drops to a net income of $400 as a business owner. You also have to carefully monitor all your income and expenses, much more than as an employee.

2. And Yes, You May Have to Pay Quarterly Estimated Taxes.

When you work for someone else, they take takes out of your paycheck on your behalf. So, when you work for yourself, the IRS expects you to estimate your taxes and submit them quarterly. Failing to do so sets you up for underpayment penalties.

3. Claim Start Up Costs.

Even if you run your business from your kitchen table, it cost money to get set up. You can deduct anything you needed to pay to get up and running, including research and training (Subject to a $5K Limitation ). You can claim everything from marketing, website creation, office furniture and supplies, vehicle costs, and more.

4. The IRS Sees You As ‘Fresh Meat.’

Unfortunately, having your own business raises all sorts of interest from the IRS. Getting audited isn’t the end of the world, IF you’ve carefully followed directions on expenses and deductions with receipts. Keeping up with all the changes year to year can get overwhelming. And if you make a mistake, it can get expensive really quick.

5. Don’t Mix Business and Personal Finances.

If you’ve just started out, you may not have thought about having a separate business checking account yet. But this is one of the first things you should do as a new business owner. Even if you barely edge over that $400 net income line, have a separate account for business income and expenses. This makes things easier to separate for filing purposes and cleaner during any audits.

6. Self-Employed? Don’t Expect a Refund.

Most employees look forward to late spring every year when they receive a windfall as part of their tax return. We’ll leave for another conversation as to why you should minimize tax refunds that basically serve as free loans for the government. Most small businesses serve as a pass-through entity for the owner’s income. Owners pay taxes on that income as part of their individual taxes without any withholdings to absorb the additional taxes. ​

7. Learn from this Return.

Even with a tax specialist helping you, expect a few lessons on how to improve next year. Look closely at your return. Go over it with a tax expert and make sure you understand any penalties or additional deductions for next year. We like to say it’s not rocket science. But, when you’re just starting out, it can really feel like it!

Did you start a business in 2021? If you feel unsure on what to organize or how to get started, relax! We hope that our Seven Tax Considerations for New Businesses blog helped a little.

Still confused? Our, our experienced tax professionals can help you minimize any taxes you owe and ensure you comply with all applicable laws. Complete our online form or call us today at 724-216-5180 to learn more.

7. Learn from this Return Even with a tax specialist helping you, expect a few lessons on how to improve next year. Look closely at your return. Go over it with a tax expert and make sure you understand any penalties or additional deductions for next year. We like to say it’s not rocket science, but when you’re just starting out, it can really feel like it! Did you start a business in 2021 ? If you feel unsure on what to organize or how to get started, relax! O ur experienced tax professionals can help you minimize any taxes you owe and ensure you comply with all applicable laws. Complete our online form or call us today at 724-216-5180 to learn more.

Prepare for the Inevitable Upcoming Tax Season

Every year right between Christmas and New Year’s people start dreading tax season. That shoe box or receipt drawer may not close all the way anymore. Maybe you just found the statement for quarterly tax estimates (from June) in another pile of papers. Likewise, maybe your resolution list from January 2021 just resurfaced that included “stay on top of taxes” on the list. You already know that when you prepare for the inevitable upcoming tax season, it will suck so much less. So, let’s get started!

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Get Out Ahead of Crunch Time

Rather than pouring yourself another cup of cheer and making tax preparations next year’s problem, face it head on. You can pour that cup of cheer if you’d like. However, digging in now will make Future You so much less stressed come tax time.

Picture yourself the evening of April 14, 2022, what do you see yourself doing? Do you see yourself furiously adding up totals? Trying to find random tax documentations? Or would you rather have plans to join your buddies for a well-deserved thirsty Thursday at the local watering hole?

Get Organized

Most tax experts will say it matters less how you organize your paperwork but more that you actually do it. So long as you have materials in order so that you can produce documentation requested for tax purposes, you’re good. You will save money in preparation fees.

If you don’t currently have a system or experience exasperated looks from your tax professional each year, ask yourself why. Perhaps your current system or lack thereof could use a tune up? Rely on the advice of experts on how to create or improve on your current techniques. You’ll make everyone’s lives easier.

Check Your Information

Double check that all your information on file with the IRS is correct, including direct deposit information for refunds. Even something as simple as an address change can get forgotten during a busy year.

Closely examine everything from dependent information to retirement and investment accounts to income streams. This year remember to check Economic Impact Payments and Child Tax Credit Updates, too, if applicable. Spotting differences now can avoid potential problems after filing.

Ask Questions and Get Clarifications Early

Do some early research to see if you need to file differently or can add new deductions. Whether you work with an accountant or use a self-service tax filing tool, ask follow-up questions from the experts.

Get clarification on changes in tax deductions early in the season so you have time to do something about them. Finding out about a new deduction does no good if you didn’t save the proof necessary to claim it.

Nervous about this upcoming tax season? How will you prepare for the inevitable upcoming tax season? Relax! Our experienced tax professionals can help you minimize any taxes you owe and ensure you comply with all applicable laws. We help our clients avoid legal issues with their taxes while providing peace of mind. Complete our online form or call us today at 724-216-5180 to learn more.

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Making Charitable Donations Part of Your Estate Plan

As you create an estate plan ( yes, you need one ), consider how your assets will be divided upon your death. Most people don’t consider charitable donations as a way to minimize estate/inheritance taxes. However, did you know that making charitable donations part of your estate plan could lessen the tax burden for your heirs? Read on to learn more.

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Why Designate Charitable Donations in Estate Plans?

For example, some people decide they don’t want to leave all their assets to their children or other beneficiaries. Likewise, others don’t have beneficiaries to leave their assets to but want to ensure their estate contributes to a lasting legacy.

For anyone passionate about a specific cause, making charitable donations part of your estate plan may be the right choice for you. Leaving funds or other assets to a designated charity could make the most impact. Tax-exempt charities are set up to maximize the effectiveness of gifts they receive, planned or otherwise.

Any funds given to a recognized public charity are not taxable. While this may decrease the overall amount any named beneficiaries receive, most people appreciate the sentiment during their grieving period. Making charitable donations part of your estate plan may be a good choice.

What Charities Count?

Any charity recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) can receive tax-exempt donations as part of an estate plan. These include charitable organizations, churches and religious organizations, private foundations, and other non-profits.

In addition, depending on the size of your gift, you should contact the charity to inform them of your plans. They may need time to prepare for a large gift (over $10,000). They can also provide basic information to list in the estate plan to streamline the process. If you do name other beneficiaries in your estate plan, you should probably let them know your plans, too. This can minimize hurt feelings and contested wills upon your death.

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How to Get Started.

There are a number of ways to plan gift to charities, foundations, or others as part of your estate plan. Estate/inheritance tax rules seem to change every year. So, your estate attorney can work with your designated charities to determine which options make the most sense for everyone. By making your wishes clear in your estate plan, you leave little room for misinterpretation. You can minimize additional work for your heirs and maximize their tax benefits while supporting organizations important to you.

In conclusion, are you not sure how to name a charity in your estate plan? RELAX! Our estate planning experts can walk you through options. Each will fit your unique circumstances. We help with will preparation, trust creation and administration, probate administration, and more. Call us today at 724-216-5180 or complete the online form to schedule a free consultation.

Considerations when Setting up a Business

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A strange thing happened as part of the global pandemic and economic crises. Many people, especially if laid off or furloughed, are having “COVID epiphanies.” No longer interested in working for someone else, they’ve decided to go into business for themselves. Congratulations if you’re one of them! You may only plan to run a part-time business as a side hustle for now. However, there are many considerations when setting up a business. 

No two businesses are the same. I encourage you reach out to an experienced business attorney before making any decisions. Different structures offer different sets of pros and cons. Below is a very brief description of a few areas to consider. 

Ease of Establishing

The size and structure you select determines how easily a business becomes a legal entity. Usually businesses start small, helping guide which structures to consider. 

Sole proprietorship’s simple business structure offers easy entry into owning a business, making it the most common small business structure. The sole prop basically acts as an extension of the person.

Partnerships operate much the same way as sole props with owners sharing responsibility.

Limited liability corporations (LLCs) require a bit more work to set up. But they minimize risk while offering flexible management. Most small businesses fall into these categories. 

However, structures also exist for larger entities, including Chapter C and Subchapter S corporations. Here, shareholders exchange money, property, or both for the corporation’s capital stock.

Tax Implications

Tax implications may hold more overall weight than how hard it is to form an organization. 

Owned and operated by one person, the sole prop takes total responsibility for the business’s debt and taxes. LLCs may offer lower risks with less complex taxes than corporations. A C corporation is separate, paying taxes and passing on profits to shareholders.

For more than 35 years, we have guided business owners through decisions involving nearly every type of business. Our past clients include sole props, partners, LLCs, and Chapter C and Subchapter S corporations. Each decision comes from many smaller choices. These choices include business control, asset protection, tax rates, and other matters.

Interested in learning how to turn your COVID epiphany into a proper business? We can walk through considerations when setting up a business with you. Call John A. Cochran, Esquire, in Greensburg at 724-216-0704 or use our online form.

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. So, how will your business benefit from the SECURE Act?

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

Small Business Retirement Plan Tax Credits

While the majority of Americans save for retirement through a work-based plan, employees at small businesses largely could not. Nearly 75 percent of workers at companies with fewer than 100 employees could participate in 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. This credit covers the costs of the first three years an employer offers a workplace retirement plan. Originally, the tax credit covered $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. 

Multiple Employer Plans for Retirement

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 easier to administer. They are also 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 must offer plans that increase the allure of working for you. A 2019 study by the Society for Human Resource Management, ranked retirement benefits second in importance (after health care). This accounted for 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, we can help. 

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

a photo of a business for sale

Congratulations! You made a decision to pass your company’s legacy onto someone else. Perhaps a child or a likeminded stranger will take the reins, leaving you free ride off into the sunset of retirement. Or onto your next business venture. 

Of course, the IRS will tax you on the profit you make from the sale. As you prepare for this transition, minimize your tax responsibilities by considering a number of implications. Without proper guidance, you could end up paying nearly half of your sales price in taxes. 

Tax Rates

Different tax rates apply depending on whether proceeds of the sale are taxed as ordinary income or capital gains. When you sell a business, you want to maximize the amount of sold assets categorized as capital gain. Buyers, for their own taxes, prefer to allocate as much of the contract sales price as ordinary income to the seller.  

Like most business deals, subtle negotiating happens between the parties over the ratio of capital gains versus ordinary income. Usually, this results in a settlement that makes neither party happy, but both can live with.

Additional intricacies to consider include whether the sale is an all-cash deal or requires payment installments. Also consider whether you the sale includes assets or stocks. Finally, determined if the sale can be treated as a tax-free corporation (if between two corporations). 

Prepare before Negotiations

Before you begin negotiations to sell your company, contact a law firm that specializes in tax law. I have provided tax services to businesses and individuals for many years, including advising on timing and characterizations of transactions. . 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

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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

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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.