IRS finalizes safe harbor to allow rental real estate to qualify as a business for qualified business income deduction

September 30, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued Revenue Procedure 2019-38 that has a safe harbor allowing certain interests in rental real estate, including interests in mixed-use property, to be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the qualified business income deduction under section 199A of the Internal Revenue Code (section 199A deduction).

If all the safe harbor requirements are met, an interest in rental real estate will be treated as a single trade or business for purposes of the section 199A deduction. If an interest in real estate fails to satisfy all the requirements of the safe harbor, it may still be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the section 199A deduction if it otherwise meets the definition of a trade or business in the section 199A regulations.

This safe harbor is available for taxpayers who seek to claim the section 199A deduction with respect to a “rental real estate enterprise.” Solely for purposes of this safe harbor, a rental real estate enterprise is defined as an interest in real property held to generate rental or lease income. It may consist of an interest in a single property or interests in multiple properties. The taxpayer or a relevant passthrough entity (RPE) relying on this revenue procedure must hold each interest directly or through an entity disregarded as an entity separate from its owner, such as a limited liability company with a single member.

The following requirements must be met by taxpayers or RPEs to qualify for this safe harbor:

  • Separate books and records are maintained to reflect income and expenses for each rental real estate enterprise.
  • For rental real estate enterprises that have been in existence less than four years, 250 or more hours of rental services are performed per year. For other rental real estate enterprises, 250 or more hours of rental services are performed in at least three of the past five years.
  • The taxpayer maintains contemporaneous records, including time reports, logs, or similar documents, regarding the following: hours of all services performed; description of all services performed; dates on which such services were performed; and who performed the services.
  • The taxpayer or RPE attaches a statement to the return filed for the tax year(s) the safe harbor is relied upon.

Third quarter estimated tax payment due Sept. 16

September 9, 2019

Online tools at IRS.gov help people stay current

WASHINGTON – With major tax reform now in its second year and taxpayers seeing its full effect on 2018 returns, the Internal Revenue Service today reminded people who pay estimated tax that their third quarter payment for 2019 is due Monday, Sept. 16.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), enacted in December 2017, fundamentally changed the way tax is calculated for most taxpayers, including those with income not subject to withholding. By making quarterly estimated tax payments, however, people can better stay up to date with their taxes throughout the year.

Who needs to pay quarterly?

Most often, self-employed people, including many involved in the sharing economy, need to pay quarterly installments of estimated tax. Similarly, investors, retirees and others often need to make these payments as well. That’s because a substantial portion of their income is not subject to withholding. Other income generally not subject to withholding includes interest, dividends, capital gains, alimony and rental income.

Special rules apply to some groups of taxpayers, such as farmers, fishermen, casualty and disaster victims, those who recently became disabled, recent retirees and those who receive income unevenly during the year.

Taxpayers can avoid an underpayment penalty by owing less than $1,000 at tax time or by paying most of their taxes during the year. Generally, for 2019, that means making payments of at least 90% of the tax expected on their 2019 return.

Taxes are pay-as-you-go

This means taxpayers need to pay most of their taxes owed during the year as income is received. There are two ways to do that:

  • Withholding from pay, pension or certain government payments such as Social Security; and/or
  • Making quarterly estimated tax payments during the year.

As a result of tax reform or a recent life change such as marriage, many taxpayers may need to raise or lower the amount of tax they pay each quarter through the estimated tax system.

Tax Withholding Estimator

This new and improved tool is now more mobile friendly and replaces the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. The new design makes it easier for everyone to do a Paycheck Checkup and have the right amount of tax withheld during the year. The estimator offers workers, as well as retirees, self-employed individuals and other taxpayers a clear, step-by-step method for effectively tailoring the amount of income tax they should have withheld from wages and pension payments.


These tax tips can help new business owners find success

September 9, 2019

Starting a business can be very rewarding. It can also be a little overwhelming. From business plans to market strategies, and even tax responsibilities…there are many things to consider. Here’s what new business owners can do to help get off to a good start.

  • Choose a business structure. The form of business determines which income tax return a business taxpayer needs to file. The most common business structures are:
    • Sole proprietorship: An unincorporated business owned by an individual. There’s no distinction between the taxpayer and their business.
    • Partnership: An unincorporated business with ownership shared between two or more people.
    • Corporation: Also known as a C corporation. It’s a separate entity owned by shareholders.
    • S Corporation: A corporation that elects to pass corporate income, losses, deductions, and credits through to the shareholders.
    • Limited Liability Company: A business structure allowed by state statute.
  • Choose a tax year. A tax year is an annual accounting period for keeping records and reporting income and expenses. A new business owner must choose either:
    • Calendar year: 12 consecutive months beginning January 1 and ending December 31.
    • Fiscal year: 12 consecutive months ending on the last day of any month except December.
  • Apply for an employer identification number. An EIN is also called a federal tax identification number. It’s used to identify a business. Most businesses need an EIN.
  • Have all employees complete these forms:
    • Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
    • Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate
  • Pay business taxes. The form of business determines what taxes must be paid and how to pay them.

IRS automatically waives estimated tax penalty for eligible 2018 tax filers

August 26, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is automatically waiving the estimated tax penalty for the more than 400,000 eligible taxpayers who already filed their 2018 federal income tax returns but did not claim the waiver.

The IRS will apply this waiver to tax accounts of all eligible taxpayers, so there is no need to contact the IRS to apply for or request the waiver.

Earlier this year, the IRS lowered the usual 90% penalty threshold to 80% to help taxpayers whose withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total 2018 tax liability. The agency also removed the requirement that estimated tax payments be made in four equal installments, as long as they were all made by Jan. 15, 2019. The 90% threshold was initially lowered to 85% on Jan 16 and further lowered to 80% on March 22.

The automatic waiver applies to any individual taxpayer who paid at least 80% of their total tax liability through federal income tax withholding or quarterly estimated tax payments but did not claim the special waiver available to them when they filed their 2018 return earlier this year.

“The IRS is taking this step to help affected taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “This waiver is designed to provide relief to any person who filed too early to take advantage of the waiver or was unaware of it when they filed.”

Refunds planned for eligible taxpayers who paid penalty
Over the next few months, the IRS will mail copies of notices CP 21 granting this relief to affected taxpayers. Any eligible taxpayer who already paid the penalty will also receive a refund check about three weeks after their CP21 notice regardless if they requested penalty relief. The agency emphasized that eligible taxpayers who have already filed a 2018 return do not need to request penalty relief, contact the IRS or take any other action to receive this relief.

For those yet to file, the IRS urges every eligible taxpayer to claim the waiver on their return. This includes those with tax-filing extensions due to run out on Oct. 15, 2019. The quickest and easiest way is to file electronically and take advantage of the waiver computation built into their tax software package. Those who choose to file on paper can fill out Form 2210 and attach it to their 2018 return. See the instructions to Form 2210 for details.

Because the U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go, taxpayers are required by law to pay most of their tax obligation during the year, rather than at the end of the year. This can be done by having tax withheld from paychecks, pension payments or Social Security benefits, making estimated tax payments or a combination of these methods.

Like last year, the IRS urges everyone to do a “Paycheck Checkup” and review their withholding for 2019. This is especially important for anyone who faced an unexpected tax bill or a penalty when they filed this year. It’s also an important step for those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change. Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld include those who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction, as well as two wage earner households, employees with nonwage sources of income and those with complex tax situations.

To get started, check out the new Tax Withholding Estimator, available on IRS.gov.


Here’s what taxpayers should know about making 2019 estimated tax payments

August 24, 2019

Just a reminder that 3rd quarter estimated taxes are due September 15th, 2019.

Small business owners, self-employed people, and some wage earners should look into whether they should make estimated tax payments this year. Doing so can help them avoid an unexpected tax bill and possibly a penalty when they file next year.

Everyone must pay tax as they earn income. Taxpayers who earn a paycheck usually have their employer withhold tax from their checks. This helps cover taxes the employee owes. On the other hand, some taxpayers earn income not subject to withholding. For small business owners and self-employed people, that usually means making quarterly estimated tax payments.

Here’s some information about estimated tax payments:

  • Taxpayers generally must make estimated tax payments if they expect to owe $1,000 or more when they file their 2019 tax return.
  • Whether or not they expect to owe next year, taxpayers may have to pay estimated tax for 2019 if their tax was more than zero in 2018.
  • Wage earners who also have business income can often avoid having to pay estimated tax. They can do so by asking their employer to withhold more tax from their paychecks. The IRS urges anyone in this situation to do a Paycheck Checkup using the Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov. If the estimator suggests a change, the taxpayer can submit a new Form W-4 to their employer.
  • Aside from business owners and self-employed individuals, people who need to make estimated payments also includes sole proprietors, partners and S corporation shareholders. It also often includes people involved in the sharing economy.
  • Estimated tax requirements are different for farmers and fishermen.
  • Corporations generally must make these payments if they expect to owe $500 or more on their 2019 tax return.
  • Aside from income tax, taxpayers can pay other taxes through estimated tax payments. This includes self-employment tax and the alternative minimum tax.
  • The final two deadlines for paying 2019 estimated payments are Sept. 16, 2019 and Jan. 15, 2020.
  • Taxpayers can check out these forms for details on how to figure their payments:
  • Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov to find options for paying estimated taxes. These include:
  • Anyone who pays too little tax through withholding, estimated tax payments, or a combination of the two may owe a penalty. In some cases, the penalty may apply if their estimated tax payments are late. The penalty may apply even if the taxpayer is due a refund.
  • For tax year 2019, the penalty generally applies to anyone who pays less than 90 percent of the tax reported on their 2019 tax return.

Good tax planning includes good recordkeeping

August 7, 2019

Tax planning should happen all year long, not just when someone is filing their tax return.  An important part of tax planning is recordkeeping. Well-organized records make it easier for a taxpayer to prepare their tax return. It can also help provide answers if a taxpayer’s return is selected for examination or if the taxpayer receives an IRS notice.

This tip is one in a series about tax planning. These tips focus on steps taxpayers can take now to help them down the road.

Here are some suggestions to help taxpayers keep good records:

  • Taxpayers should develop a system that keeps all their important info together. They can use a software program for electronic recordkeeping. They could also store paper documents in labeled folders.
  • Throughout the year, they should add tax records to their files as they receive them. Having records readily at hand makes preparing a tax return easier.
  • It may also help them discover potentially overlooked deductions or credits. Taxpayers should notify the IRS if their address changes. They should also notify the Social Security Administration of a legal name change to avoid a delay in processing their tax return.
  • Records that taxpayers should keep include receipts, canceled checks, and other documents that support income, a deduction, or a credit on a tax return.
  • Taxpayers should also keep records relating to property they dispose of or sell. They must keep these records to figure their basis for computing gain or loss.
  • In general, the IRS suggests that taxpayers keep records for three years from the date they filed the return.
  • For business taxpayers, there’s no particular method of bookkeeping they must use. However, taxpayers should find a method that clearly and accurately reflects their gross income and expenses. The records should confirm income and expenses. Taxpayers who have employees must keep all employment tax records for at least four years after the tax is due or paid, whichever is later.

Here’s who can deduct car expenses on their tax returns

July 29, 2019

Taxpayers who have deducted the business use of their car on past tax returns should review whether or not they can still claim this deduction. Some taxpayers can. Some cannot.

Here’s a breakdown of which taxpayers can claim this deduction when they file their tax returns.

Business owners and self-employed individuals
Individuals who own a business or are self-employed and use their vehicle for business may deduct car expenses on their tax return. If a taxpayer uses the car for both business and personal purposes, the expenses must be split. The deduction is based on the portion of mileage used for business.

There are two methods for figuring car expenses:

  1. Using actual expenses
  • These include:
    • Depreciation
    • Lease payments
    • Gas and oil
    • Tires
    • Repairs and tune-ups
    • Insurance
    • Registration fees
  1. Using the standard mileage rate
  • Taxpayers who want to use the standard mileage rate for a car they own must choose to use this method in the first year the car is available for use in their business.
  • Taxpayers who want to use the standard mileage rate for a car they lease must use it for the entire lease period.
  • The standard mileage rate for 2018 is 54.5 cents per mile. For 2019, it‘s 58 cents.

There are recordkeeping requirements for both methods.

Employees
Employees who use their car for work can no longer take an employee business expense deduction as part of their miscellaneous itemized deductions reported on Schedule A.  Employees can’t deduct this cost even if their employer doesn’t reimburse the employee for using their own car. This is for tax years after December 2017. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% floor.

However, certain taxpayers may still deduct unreimbursed employee travel expenses, this includes Armed Forces reservists, qualified performing artists, and fee-basis state or local government officials.

More information:
Publication 535, Business Expenses


It’s summertime…and these tips can help make livin’ easy for teens with jobs

May 20, 2019

With summer almost here, many students will turn their attention to making money from a summer job. Whether it’s flipping burgers or filing documents, the IRS wants student workers to know some facts about their summer jobs and taxes.

Not all the money they earn will make it to their pocket because employers must withhold taxes from their paycheck. Here are some tax tips young individuals should know when starting a summer job.

New employees:  Employees – including those who are students – normally have taxes withheld from their paychecks by their employer. When anyone gets a new job, they need to fill out a Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Employers use this form to calculate how much federal income tax to withhold from the new employee’s pay. The Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov can help a taxpayer fill out this form.

Self-employment: Students who do odd jobs over the summer to make extra cash are self-employed. This include jobs like baby-sitting or lawn care. Money earned from self-employment is taxable, and self-employed workers may be responsible for paying taxes directly to the IRS. One way they can do this is by making estimated tax payments during the year.

Tip income: Students working as waiters or camp counselors who earn tips as part of their summer income should know tip income is taxable. They should keep a daily log to accurately report tips. They must report cash tips to their employer for any month that totals $20 or more.

Payroll taxes: This tax pays for benefits under the Social Security system. While students may earn too little from their summer job to owe income tax, employers usually must still withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from their pay. If a student is self-employed, Social Security and Medicare taxes may still be due and are generally paid by the student.

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps pay: If a student is in an ROTC program, and receives pay for activities such as summer advanced camp, it is taxable. Other allowances the student may receive – like food and lodging – may not be taxable. The Armed Forces’ Tax Guide on IRS.gov provides details.


 Itemized Deductions Changes

April 5, 2019

Here is a video tax tip from the IRS:

Itemized Deductions Changes

www.youtube.com/irsvideos

www.youtube.com/irsvideosmultilingua

www.youtube.com/irsvideosASL


All taxpayers will file using 2018 Form 1040; Forms 1040A and 1040EZ no longer available 

March 25, 2019

As the April filing deadline approaches, IRS reminds taxpayers that Form 1040 has been redesigned for tax year 2018. The revised form consolidates Forms 1040, 1040A and 1040-EZ into one form that all individual taxpayers will use to file their 2018 federal income tax return.

Forms 1040-A and 1040-EZ are no longer available to file 2018 taxes. Taxpayers who used one of these forms in the past will now file Form 1040. Some forms and publications released in 2017 or early 2018 may still have references to Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ. Taxpayers should disregard these references and refer to the Form 1040 instructions for more information.

The new form uses a building block approach that can be supplemented with additional schedules as needed. Taxpayers with straightforward tax situations will only need to file the Form 1040 with no additional schedules.

People who use tax software will still follow the steps they’re familiar with from previous years. Since nearly 90 percent of taxpayers now use tax software, the IRS expects the change to Form 1040 and its schedules to be seamless for those who file electronically.

Electronic filers may not notice any changes because the tax return preparation software will automatically use their answers to the tax questions to complete the Form 1040 and any needed schedules.
For taxpayers who filed paper returns in the past and are concerned about these changes, this year may be the year to consider the benefits of filing electronically. Using tax software is a convenient, safe and secure way to prepare and e-file an accurate tax return.


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