Charlie Jones featured on Atlanta’s ‘Shrimp Tank’

Last week, our company was invited to be on the national broadcast The Shrimp Tank which is produced here in Atlanta, GA. We had a great time on the show and gave lots of tidbits and nuggets to all of the listeners on how to become a better business owner.

To that end, we wanted to share the post show wrap up video that was shot on site and say thanks to all of you for allowing us to work with you. None of this could be possible without having the best clients on the planet!

If you want to hear a download of the full broadcast, please go to www.shrimptankpodcast.com. They have the entire show on the website and some fascinating articles to read as well.

Thanks again for all of your support for our company.

Changes we expect to see with divorce

Divorce is stressful enough, but the new tax bill may ramp up the complications and anxieties for couples who are calling it quits.

Divorce experts are predicting a confusing, turbulent year, thanks to the tax plan’s reversal on who pays taxes on alimony. For more than 70 years, the tax law allowed the higher-earning spouse to deduct the alimony they paid to their exes, while the “receiving” spouse was taxed at a 15% rate.

But the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reverses that long-standing arrangement. Starting in 2019, the higher-income spouse will lose the alimony deduction and must pay federal taxes on it, while the receiving spouse won’t have to pay taxes. The new tax bill affects divorce agreements signed after Dec. 31, 2018, while divorces settled before that will be grandfathered in under the old tax bill.

Those dynamics may result in a tense year of negotiations for couples who are splitting apart as higher-earning spouses likely push for a settlement in 2018, allowing them to lock in a tax deduction. Lower-earning spouses may want to delay the settlement until 2019, believing the new tax law will benefit them, he said.

Where to start

Given the complicated mix of emotion and finances in divorce, it can be helpful to rely on a team of experts, including a divorce attorney, a divorce coach and a financial analyst with expertise in divorce. The analyst can help spouses understand how the tax bill will affect their settlement.

A detailed financial analysis can help put things in perspective, including how the new tax code will affect spouses. Examining a post-divorce forecast of your cash flow — and how the tax law will affect it — will clarify whether it’s possible to maintain your current home or where you might need to cut back, for instance.

Take a step back

A spouse who wants to argue for lower alimony payments based on the new tax code may want to examine how much their fight will cost in legal fees. The typical hourly rate for a divorce attorney is $350, although it can be as high as $1,000 an hour in big cities.

How it affects happily married couples

Married couples with prenuptial agreements should also pay attention to the new alimony taxation. That’s because most of those prenups likely include alimony provisions based on the prior tax law.

Those prenups probably have to change. If you are happily married, this probably isn’t even on your radar. But they’ll have a big ‘uh-oh’ moment if they go through divorce and have this in their prenup.

New Georgia tax legislation will benefit all Georgia taxpayers

 

Governor Nathan Deal signed major income tax changes in response to the federal Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017 (“TCJA”), on March 2, 2018.

The major components of the legislation are as follows:

  1. The top individual and business tax rates have been reduced to a maximum rate of 5.75%
  2. The standard deduction for individuals has been increased to $ 6,000 for married filing jointly taxpayers, and other increases for other classes of taxpayers
  3. Conforming the Georgia code to the newly enacted federal tax law changes

 

There are more specific details concerning the legislation, but the above three major changes cover the basics. For information on how these changes will affect your individual situation, please give us a call.

Hiring new employees with the 2018 Tax Act

When you hire a new employee, they must fill out a W-4 form telling you, their employer, how they want their federal withholdings. Single, married. Number of withholding allowances.

The Internal Revenue Service has issued a notice providing guidance for employees and employers on what to do with the Form W-4 under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They have extended. the effective period of Forms W-4 furnished to claim exemption from income tax withholding) for 2017 until Feb. 28, 2018 and temporarily allows employees to claim exemption from withholding for 2018 by using the 2017 Form W-4. Note that “withholding allowances” was used both for dependents and other things. Since there is no longer a deduction for dependents, it may be necessary for ALL employees to file new W-4 forms. We will stay on top of this and notify you on a future blog when this becomes clear.

The new IRS notice also suspends a requirement that employees must give their employers new W-4 forms within 10 days of a change of status resulting in fewer withholding allowances The new guidance also specifies that the optional withholding rate on supplemental wage payments is 22 percent for taxable years 2018 through 2025.

In addition, it says that, for 2018, withholding on annuities or similar periodic payments where no withholding certificate is in effect is based on treating the payee as a married individual who is claiming three withholding allowances.

The new tax law that Congress passed has led to confusion among many employers and employees since it eliminates many longstanding provisions of the tax code, including personal exemptions. Earlier this month, the IRS updated the withholding tables, and promised further guidance would be on the way. It also promised an online tax withholding calculator would be posted on its website where employees could double check their withholding to make sure it’s correct.

2017 Tax Reform: IRS clarifies interest on home equity loans

 

2017 Tax Reform: IRS clarifies interest on home equity loans. Often still deductible

In an Information Release, IRS has announced that in many cases, taxpayers can continue to deduct interest paid on home equity loans under the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (PL 115-97, 12/22/2017).

Background. Taxpayers may deduct interest on mortgage debt that is “acquisition debt”. Acquisition debt means debt that is:

  1. Secured by the taxpayer’s principal home and/or a second home, and
  2. Incurred in acquiring, constructing, or substantially improving the home.

This rule hasn’t been changed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Under pre-Tax Cuts and Jobs Act law, the maximum amount that was treated as acquisition debt for the purpose of deducting interest was $1 million ($500,000 for marrieds filing separately). This meant that a taxpayer could deduct interest on no more than $1 million of acquisition debt. Taxpayers could also deduct interest on “home equity debt”. “Home equity debt”, as specially defined for purposes of the mortgage interest deduction, meant debt that:

  1. Was secured by the taxpayer’s home, and
  2. Wasn’t “acquisition indebtedness” (that is, wasn’t incurred to acquire, construct, or substantially improve the home).

Thus, the rule had allowed deduction of interest on home equity debt and enabled taxpayers to deduct interest on debt that wasn’t incurred to acquire, construct, or substantially improve a home—i.e., on debt that could be used for any purpose. As with acquisition debt, the pre-Tax Cuts and Jobs Act rules limited the maximum amount of “home equity debt” on which interest could be deducted; here, the limit was the lesser of $100,000 ($50,000 for a married taxpayer filing separately), or the taxpayer’s equity in the home.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, the limit on acquisition debt is reduced to $750,000 ($375,000 for a married taxpayer filing separately). The $1 million, pre-Tax Cuts and Jobs Act limit applies to acquisition debt incurred before Dec. 15, 2017, and to debt arising from refinancing pre-Dec. 15, 2017 acquisition debt, to the extent the debt resulting from the refinancing does not exceed the original debt amount. (Code Sec. 163(h)(3)(F))

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, there is no longer a deduction for interest on “home equity debt”. The elimination of the deduction for interest on home equity debt applies regardless of when the home equity debt was incurred. (Code Sec. 163(h)(3)(F))

New guidance. In IR 2018-32, IRS said that despite the newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC), or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labelled.

IRS clarified that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspends the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit, unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan.

For example, interest on a home equity loan used to build an addition to an existing home is typically deductible, while interest on the same loan used to pay personal living expenses—such as credit card debts—is not. As under pre-Tax Cuts and Jobs Act law, for the interest to be deductible, the loan must be secured by the taxpayer’s main home or second home (known as a qualified residence), not exceed the cost of the home and meet other requirements.

For anyone considering taking out a mortgage, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act imposes a lower dollar limit on mortgages qualifying for the home mortgage interest deduction. The lower limits apply to the combined amount of loans used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s main home and second home.

IR 2018-32, provides the following examples:

Illustration 1: In January 2018, John takes out a $500,000 mortgage to purchase a main home with a fair market value of $800,000. In February 2018, he takes out a $250,000 home equity loan to put an addition on the main home. Both loans are secured by the main home and the total does not exceed the cost of the home. Because the total amount of both loans does not exceed $750,000, all of the interest paid on the loans is deductible. However, if John used the home equity loan proceeds for personal expenses, such as paying off student loans and credit cards, then the interest on the home equity loan would not be deductible.

Illustration 2: In January 2018, Mary takes out a $500,000 mortgage to purchase a main home. The loan is secured by the main home. In February 2018, she takes out a $250,000 loan to purchase a vacation home. The loan is secured by the vacation home. Because the total amount of both mortgages does not exceed $750,000, all of the interest paid on both mortgages is deductible. However, if Mary took out a $250,000 home equity loan on the main home to purchase the vacation home, then the interest on the home equity loan would not be deductible.

Illustration 3: In January 2018, Bob takes out a $500,000 mortgage to purchase a main home. The loan is secured by the main home. In February 2018, he takes out a $500,000 loan to purchase a vacation home. The loan is secured by the vacation home. Because the total amount of both mortgages exceeds $750,000, not all of the interest paid on the mortgages is deductible. Only a percentage of the total interest paid is deductible.

Call us if you have any questions.

Pros and Cons of the New Tax Law on Real Estate Owners

There are certain provisions of the new tax law that offer expanded tax cuts while others eliminate existing deductions.

One big plus is bonus depreciation. Under prior law, there was a 50 percent bonus depreciation for property placed in service in 2017, 40 percent for 2018, and 30 percent for 2019. Qualified property has to be new, not used.

Under the new law, there’s 100 percent bonus depreciation for property placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017, and before 2023, 80 percent for 2023, 60 percent for 2024, 40 percent for 2025 and 20 percent for 2026. The acquisition date for property purchased with a written contract is the date of the contract.

Qualified property includes property acquired by purchase. A qualified property does not include property used in a business that is not subject to the net business interest expense limitation (see below), but it does include property used in farm business. The law also adds a new category for qualified film, TV, and live theatrical production property. Taxpayers can elect a 50 percent bonus for 2017.

Section 179 expensing has also expanded to include roofs, HVAC systems, fire protection, alarm systems and security systems, with the allowable expense increased from $500,000 to $1,000,000 in 2018, and the phase-out deduction increased to $2.5 million. These rules now include tangible personal property acquired for rental properties, furniture and appliances.

 

Potential losses of prior credits include:

Interest deduction limitation: Interest is now limited to 30 percent of a business’s adjusted taxable income, with the exception of businesses with average annual gross receipts of $25 million or less. Real property businesses can opt out of the interest limitation if they elect the Alternative Depreciation System recovery period rather than MACRS (the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System). ADS recovery periods are 40 years for nonresidential property, 30 years for residential and 20 years for improvement property.

State and local tax and property tax deduction: The exclusion of local income and sales tax deductions is for non-corporate taxpayers. There is a $10,000 limit for deductibility of property tax which applies to individuals only.

Property placed in service: Under prior law you could deduct up to $500,000. The limit would be reduced dollar-for-dollar if $2 million in property was placed in service during year. Under the new law, you can deduct up to $1 million starting in 2018. The limit is reduced dollar-for-dollar if $2.5 million in property is placed in service during year. The new law also adds tangible property used for lodging (beds and other furniture for hotels and apartments) and an election for roofs, HVAC property, fire protection and alarm systems, and security systems for nonresidential real property placed in service after the date the real estate was first placed in service. The provisions are effective for property placed in service in 2018.

 

All things considered, the new tax law will provide significant tax savings for the majority of businesses given an overall reduction of tax rates and increased bonus and Section 179 deductions. Real estate owners should strongly consider projected revenue, tax liability and the application of accelerated depreciation to take advantage of these increased expenses on all acquisitions.

Tax Act Changes Deductibility of Mortgage Interest

Here are the changes in the rules for deducting qualified residential interest, i.e., interest on your home mortgage, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the Act).

 

Under the pre-Act rules, you could deduct interest on up to a total of $1 million of mortgage debt used to acquire your principal residence and a second home, i.e., acquisition debt. For a married taxpayer filing separately, the limit was $500,000. You could also deduct interest on home equity debt, i.e., other debt secured by the qualifying homes. Qualifying home equity debt was limited to the lesser of $100,000 ($50,000 for a married taxpayer filing separately), or the taxpayer’s equity in the home or homes (the excess of the value of the home over the acquisition debt). The funds obtained via a home equity loan did not have to be used to acquire or improve the homes. So you could use home equity debt to pay for education, travel, health care, etc.

 

Under the Act, starting in 2018, the limit on qualifying acquisition debt is reduced to $750,000 ($375,000 for a married taxpayer filing separately). However, for acquisition debt incurred before Dec. 15, 2017, the higher pre-Act limit applies. The higher pre-Act limit also applies to debt arising from refinancing pre-Dec. 15, 2017 acquisition debt, to the extent the debt resulting from the refinancing does not exceed the original debt amount. This means you can refinance up to $1 million of pre-Dec. 15, 2017 acquisition debt in the future and not be subject to the reduced limitation.

 

And, importantly, starting in 2018, there is no longer a deduction for interest on home equity debt. This applies regardless of when the home equity debt was incurred. Accordingly, if you are considering incurring home equity debt in the future, you should take this factor into consideration. And if you currently have outstanding home equity debt, be prepared to lose the interest deduction for it, starting in 2018. (You will still be able to deduct it on your 2017 tax return, filed in 2018.)

 

Lastly, both of these changes last for eight years, through 2025. In 2026, the pre-Act rules are scheduled to come back into effect. So beginning in 2026, interest on home equity loans will be deductible again, and the limit on qualifying acquisition debt will be raised back to $1 million ($500,000 for married separate filers).

 

If you would like to discuss how these changes affect your particular situation, and any planning moves you should consider in light of them, please give us a call.

Will the loss of the entertainment deduction affect your business?

Businesses—especially smaller firms—may scale back on treating clients to major league baseball games, golf outings and the like after Congress and President Donald Trump ended a tax break for such entertainment.

The tax overhaul that Trump signed Dec. 22 eliminated a 50 percent deduction for business-related expenses for “entertainment, amusement or recreation.” Suddenly, luxury boxes at stadiums and arenas—along with theater and concert tickets—will be more costly for firms that use them for clients.

Businesses that use the entertainment deduction extensively—including law, investment, accounting and lobbying firms—will have to gauge the effects on their bottom lines. Smaller businesses will be less able to absorb the cost.

The loss of the entertainment deduction is a kind of counterpoint to the Republican Congress’s sweeping tax cuts for businesses. The overhaul slashed the corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. It also created a new 20 percent deduction for many partnerships, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships and other “pass-through” businesses, whose owners pay individual tax rates on the income they earn.

Each company will have to decide for itself whether the higher after-tax cost of these expenses makes good business sense.

Taking advantage of the new tax law to reduce taxes

 

The new tax law will affect everybody. Many individuals and companies will have opportunities to make planning decisions that could potentially reduce taxes.

Here’s an example:

For instance, let’s say you have an S Corp that has $500,000 of net income before any compensation to you, the 100% owner. Before the new tax act (Prior to tax year 2018) it would be best to pay yourself a reasonable salary and let the rest of the income flow to the bottom line. Being that both are taxable to you the salary  and the net income to you as S Corp income.

With the new tax law, the scenario will change and look more like this:

Using the example above.  You could pay yourself a reasonable $200,000 salary and let the $300,000 fall to the bottom line as net income. The new tax law states you would receive a 20% deduction on your personal tax return, or $60,000.  But wait! The House Committee reports suggest that you add back any owner compensation in computing the “Qualified Business Income” to the bottom line net income. The Senate version was silent on this. If the House version is interpreted by the IRS as the Act’s intent, the QBI would be the entire $500,000, giving you a deduction of $100,000 on your form 1040.

We will keep a close watch on this as IRS regulations and interpretations as they begin coming out, and will keep you updated. Don’t hesitate to call us anytime to discuss.