How renting out a vacation property will affect your taxes | estate planning cpa in harford county md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

How renting out a vacation property will affect your taxes

Are you dreaming of buying a vacation beach home, lakefront cottage or ski chalet? Or perhaps you’re fortunate enough to already own a vacation home. In either case, you may wonder about the tax implications of renting it out for part of the year.

Count the days

The tax treatment depends on how many days it’s rented and your level of personal use. Personal use includes vacation use by your relatives (even if you charge them market rate rent) and use by nonrelatives if a market rate rent isn’t charged.

If you rent the property out for less than 15 days during the year, it’s not treated as “rental property” at all. In the right circumstances, this can produce significant tax benefits. Any rent you receive isn’t included in your income for tax purposes (no matter how substantial). On the other hand, you can only deduct property taxes and mortgage interest — no other operating costs and no depreciation. (Mortgage interest is deductible on your principal residence and one other home, subject to certain limits.)

If you rent the property out for more than 14 days, you must include the rent you receive in income. However, you can deduct part of your operating expenses and depreciation, subject to several rules. First, you must allocate your expenses between the personal use days and the rental days. For example, if the house is rented for 90 days and used personally for 30 days, then 75% of the use is rental (90 days out of 120 total days). You would allocate 75% of your maintenance, utilities, insurance, etc. costs to rental. You would allocate 75% of your depreciation allowance, interest and taxes for the property to rental as well. The personal use portion of taxes is separately deductible. The personal use portion of interest on a second home is also deductible if the personal use exceeds the greater of 14 days or 10% of the rental days. However, depreciation on the personal use portion isn’t allowed.

Income and expenses

If the rental income exceeds these allocable deductions, you report the rent and deductions to determine the amount of rental income to add to your other income. If the expenses exceed the income, you may be able to claim a rental loss. This depends on how many days you use the house personally.

Here’s the test: if you use it personally for the greater of more than 14 days, or 10% of the rental days, you’re using it “too much,” and you can’t claim a loss. In this case, you can still use your deductions to wipe out rental income, but you can’t go beyond that to create a loss. Any unused deductions are carried forward and may be usable in future years.

If you’re limited to using deductions only up to the amount of rental income, you must use the deductions allocated to the rental portion in the following order:

  • Interest and taxes,
  • Operating costs, and
  • Depreciation.

If you “pass” the personal use test (that is, you don’t use the property personally more than the greater of the figures listed above), you must still allocate your expenses between the personal and rental portions. In this case, however, if your rental deductions exceed rental income, you can claim a loss. (The loss is “passive,” however, and may be limited under the passive loss rules.)

Plan ahead for best results

As you can see, the rules are complex. Contact us if you have questions or would like to plan ahead to maximize deductions in your situation.

© 2024

 

Update on retirement account required minimum distributions | accountant in cecil county md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Update on retirement account required minimum distributions

If you have a tax-favored retirement account, including a traditional IRA, you’ll become exposed to the federal income tax required minimum distribution (RMD) rules after reaching a certain age. If you inherit a tax-favored retirement account, including a traditional or Roth IRA, you’ll also have to deal with these rules.

Specifically, you’ll have to: 1) take annual withdrawals from the accounts and pay the resulting income tax and/or 2) reduce the balance in your inherited Roth IRA sooner than you might like.

Let’s take a look at the current rules after some recent tax-law changes.

RMD basics

The RMD rules require affected individuals to take annual withdrawals from tax-favored accounts. Except for RMDs that meet the definition of tax-free Roth IRA distributions, RMDs will generally trigger a federal income tax bill (and maybe a state tax bill).

Under a favorable exception, when you’re the original account owner of a Roth IRA, you’re exempt from the RMD rules during your lifetime. But if you inherit a Roth IRA, the RMD rules for inherited IRAs come into play.

A later starting age

The SECURE 2.0 law was enacted in 2022. Previously, you generally had to start taking RMDs for the calendar year during which you turned age 72. However, you could decide to take your initial RMD until April 1 of the year after the year you turned 72.

SECURE 2.0 raised the starting age for RMDs to 73 for account owners who turn age 72 in 2023 to 2032. So, if you attained age 72 in 2023, you’ll reach age 73 in 2024, and your initial RMD will be for calendar 2024. You must take that initial RMD by April 1, 2025, or face a penalty for failure to follow the RMD rules. The tax-smart strategy is to take your initial RMD, which will be for calendar year 2024, before the end of 2024 instead of in 2025 (by the April 1, 2025, absolute deadline). Then, take your second RMD, which will be for calendar year 2025, by Dec. 31, 2025. That way, you avoid having to take two RMDs in 2025 with the resulting double tax hit in that year.

A reduced penalty

If you don’t withdraw at least the RMD amount for the year, the IRS can assess an expensive penalty on the shortfall. Before SECURE 2.0, if you failed to take your RMD for the calendar year in question, the IRS could impose a 50% penalty on the shortfall. SECURE 2.0 reduced the penalty from 50% to 25%, or 10% if you withdraw the shortfall within a “correction window.”

Controversial 10-year liquidation rule

A change included in the original SECURE Act (which became law in 2019) requires most non-spouse IRA and retirement plan account beneficiaries to empty inherited accounts within 10 years after the account owner’s death. If they don’t, they face the penalty for failure to comply with the RMD rules.

According to IRS proposed regulations issued in 2022, beneficiaries who are subject to the original SECURE Act’s 10-year account liquidation rule must take annual RMDs, calculated in the usual fashion — with the resulting income tax. Then, the inherited account must be emptied at the end of the 10-year period. According to this interpretation, you can’t simply wait 10 years and then drain the inherited account.

The IRS position on having to take annual RMDs during the 10-year period is debatable. Therefore, in Notice 2023-54, the IRS stated that the penalty for failure to follow the RMD rules wouldn’t be assessed against beneficiaries who are subject to the 10-year rule who didn’t take RMDs in 2023. It also stated that IRS intends to issue new final RMD regulations that won’t take effect until sometime in 2024 at the earliest.

Contact us about your situation

SECURE 2.0 includes some good RMD news. The original SECURE Act contained some bad RMD news for certain account beneficiaries in the form of the 10-year account liquidation rule. However, exactly how that rule is supposed to work is still TBD. Stay tuned for developments.

© 2024

 

Tax-wise ways to take cash from your corporation while avoiding dividend treatment | tax accountants in alexandria | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Tax-wise ways to take cash from your corporation while avoiding dividend treatment

If you want to withdraw cash from your closely held corporation at a low tax cost, the easiest way is to distribute cash as a dividend. However, a dividend distribution isn’t tax efficient since it’s taxable to you to the extent of your corporation’s “earnings and profits,” but it’s not deductible by the corporation.

5 different approaches

Thankfully, there are some alternative methods that may allow you to withdraw cash from a corporation while avoiding dividend treatment. Here are five possible options:

1. Salary. Reasonable compensation that you, or family members, receive for services rendered to the corporation is deductible by the business. However, it’s also taxable to the recipient(s). The same rule applies to any compensation (in the form of rent) that you receive from the corporation for the use of property. In either case, the amount of compensation must be reasonable in relation to the services rendered or the value of the property provided. If it’s excessive, the excess will be nondeductible and treated as a corporate distribution.

2. Fringe benefits. Consider obtaining the equivalent of a cash withdrawal in fringe benefits that are deductible by the corporation and not taxable to you. Examples are life insurance, certain medical benefits, disability insurance and dependent care. Most of these benefits are tax-free only if provided on a nondiscriminatory basis to other employees of the corporation. You can also establish a salary reduction plan that allows you (and other employees) to take a portion of your compensation as nontaxable benefits, rather than as taxable compensation.

3. Capital repayments. To the extent that you’ve capitalized the corporation with debt, including amounts that you’ve advanced to the business, the corporation can repay the debt without the repayment being treated as a dividend. Additionally, interest paid on the debt can be deducted by the corporation. This assumes that the debt has been properly documented with terms that characterize debt and that the corporation doesn’t have an excessively high debt-to-equity ratio. If not, the “debt” repayment may be taxed as a dividend. If you make cash contributions to the corporation in the future, consider structuring them as debt to facilitate later withdrawals on a tax-advantaged basis.

4. Loans. You may withdraw cash from the corporation tax-free by borrowing money from it. However, to avoid having the loan characterized as a corporate distribution, it should be properly documented in a loan agreement or a note and be made on terms that are comparable to those on which an unrelated third party would lend money to you. This should include a provision for interest and principal. All interest and principal payments should be made when required under the loan terms. Also, consider the effect of the corporation’s receipt of interest income.

5. Property sales. You can withdraw cash from the corporation by selling property to it. However, certain sales should be avoided. For example, you shouldn’t sell property to a more than 50% owned corporation at a loss, since the loss will be disallowed. And you shouldn’t sell depreciable property to a more than 50% owned corporation at a gain, since the gain will be treated as ordinary income, rather than capital gain. A sale should be on terms that are comparable to those on which an unrelated third party would purchase the property. You may need to obtain an independent appraisal to establish the property’s value.

Minimize taxes

If you’re interested in discussing any of these ideas, contact us. We can help you get the maximum out of your corporation at the minimum tax cost.

© 2024

 

9 tax considerations if you’re starting a business as a sole proprietor | tax accountants in washington dc | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

9 tax considerations if you’re starting a business as a sole proprietor

When launching a small business, many entrepreneurs start out as sole proprietors. If you’re launching a venture as a sole proprietorship, you need to understand the tax issues involved. Here are nine considerations:

1. You may qualify for the pass-through deduction. To the extent your business generates qualified business income, you’re currently eligible to claim the 20% pass-through deduction, subject to limitations. The deduction is taken “below the line,” meaning it reduces taxable income, rather than being taken “above the line” against your gross income. However, you can take the deduction even if you don’t itemize deductions and instead claim the standard deduction. Be aware that this deduction is only available through 2025, unless Congress acts to extend it.

2. You report income and expenses on Schedule C of Form 1040. The net income will be taxable to you regardless of whether you withdraw cash from the business. Your business expenses are deductible against gross income and not as itemized deductions. If you have losses, they’ll generally be deductible against your other income, subject to special rules related to hobby losses, passive activity losses and losses from activities in which you weren’t “at risk.”

3. You must pay self-employment taxes. For 2024, you pay self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare) at a 15.3% rate on your net earnings from self-employment up to $168,600, and Medicare tax only at a 2.9% rate on the excess. An additional 0.9% Medicare tax (for a total of 3.8%) is imposed on self-employment income in excess of $250,000 for joint returns, $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separate returns and $200,000 in all other cases. Self-employment tax is imposed in addition to income tax, but you can deduct half of your self-employment tax as an adjustment to income.

4. You generally must make quarterly estimated tax payments. For 2024, these are due April 15, June 17, September 16 and January 15, 2025.

5. You can deduct 100% of your health insurance costs as a business expense. This means your deduction for medical care insurance won’t be subject to the rule that limits medical expense deductions.

6. You may be able to deduct home office expenses. If you work from a home office, perform management or administrative tasks there, or store product samples or inventory at home, you may be entitled to deduct an allocable part of certain expenses, including mortgage interest or rent, insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance and depreciation. You may also be able to deduct travel expenses from a home office to another work location.

7. You should keep complete records of your income and expenses. Specifically, you should carefully record your expenses in order to claim all the tax breaks to which you’re entitled. Certain expenses, such as automobile, travel, meals, and home office expenses, require extra attention because they’re subject to special recordkeeping rules or deductibility limits.

8. You have more responsibilities if you hire employees. For example, you need to get a taxpayer identification number and withhold and pay over payroll taxes.

9. You should consider establishing a qualified retirement plan. The advantages are that amounts contributed to it are deductible at the time of the contributions and aren’t taken into income until they’re withdrawn. You might consider a SEP plan, which requires minimal paperwork. A SIMPLE plan is also available to sole proprietors and offers tax advantages with fewer restrictions and administrative requirements. If you don’t establish a retirement plan, you may still be able to contribute to an IRA.

Turn to us

Contact us if you want additional information regarding the tax aspects of your business, or if you have questions about reporting or recordkeeping requirements.

© 2024

 

Plan now to reimburse staffers, board members and volunteers | tax preparation in elkton md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Plan now to reimburse staffers, board members and volunteers

Even if your not-for-profit organization rarely needs to reimburse staffers, board members or volunteers, reimbursement requests almost certainly will occasionally appear. At that point, will you know how to pay stakeholders back for expenses related to your nonprofit’s operations? If you have a formal reimbursement policy, you will. Plus, you’ll be able to direct individuals with reimbursement questions to your formal document and minimize the risk of disagreements.

2 categories

In the eyes of the IRS, expense reimbursement plans generally fall into two main categories:

1. Accountable plans. Reimbursements under these plans generally aren’t taxable income for the employee, board member or volunteer. To secure this favorable tax treatment, accountable plans must satisfy three requirements: 1) Expenses must have a connection to your organization’s purpose; 2) claimants must adequately substantiate expenses within 60 days after they were paid or incurred; and 3) claimants must return any excess reimbursement or allowance within 120 days after expenses were paid or incurred.

Arrangements where you advance money to an employee or volunteer meet the third requirement only if the advance is reasonably calculated not to exceed the amount of anticipated expenses. You must make the advance within 30 days of the time the recipient pays or incurs the expense.

2. Nonaccountable plans. These don’t fulfill the above requirements. Reimbursements made under nonaccountable plans are treated as taxable wages.

Policy items

Your reimbursement policy should make it clear which types of expenses are reimbursable and which aren’t. Be sure to include any restrictions. For example, you might set a limit on the nightly cost for lodging or exclude alcoholic beverages from reimbursable meals.

Also be sure to require substantiation of travel, mileage and other reimbursable expenses within 60 days. The documentation should include items such as a statement of expenses, receipts (showing the date, vendor, and items or services purchased), and account book or calendar. Note that the IRS does allow some limited exceptions to its documentation requirements. Specifically, no receipts are necessary for:

  • A per diem allowance for out-of-town travel,
  • Non-lodging expenses less than $75, or
  • Transportation expenses for which a receipt isn’t readily available.

Your policy should require the timely (within 120 days) return of any amounts you pay that are more than the substantiated expenses.

Standard rate vs. actual costs

Finally, address mileage reimbursement, including the method you’ll use. You can reimburse employees for vehicle use at the federal standard mileage rate of 67 cents per mile for 2024, and volunteers at the charity rate of 14 cents per mile. Unlike employees, however, volunteers can be reimbursed for commuting mileage.

Alternatively, you can reimburse employees and volunteers for the actual costs of using their vehicles for your nonprofit’s purposes. For employees, you might reimburse gas, lease payments or depreciation, repairs, insurance, and registration fees. For volunteers, the only allowable actual expenses are gas and oil.

What makes sense

You don’t need to craft a reimbursement policy on your own. We can help ensure you include the elements that make sense given your nonprofit’s size, mission and activities and update it as your organization grows and evolves.

© 2024

 

What’s the best accounting method route for business tax purposes? | tax accountant in baltimore md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

What’s the best accounting method route for business tax purposes?

Businesses basically have two accounting methods to figure their taxable income: cash and accrual. Many businesses have a choice of which method to use for tax purposes. The cash method often provides significant tax benefits for eligible businesses, though some may be better off using the accrual method. Thus, it may be prudent for your business to evaluate its method to ensure that it’s the most advantageous approach.

Eligibility to use the cash method

“Small businesses,” as defined by the tax code, are generally eligible to use either cash or accrual accounting for tax purposes. (Some businesses may also be eligible to use various hybrid approaches.) Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) took effect, the gross receipts threshold for classification as a small business varied from $1 million to $10 million depending on how a business was structured, its industry and factors involving inventory.

The TCJA simplified the small business definition by establishing a single gross receipts threshold. It also increased the threshold to $25 million (adjusted for inflation), expanding the benefits of small business status to more companies. For 2024, a small business is one whose average annual gross receipts for the three-year period ending before the 2024 tax year are $30 million or less (up from $29 million for 2023).

In addition to eligibility for the cash accounting method, small businesses can benefit from advantages including:

  • Simplified inventory accounting,
  • An exemption from the uniform capitalization rules, and
  • An exemption from the business interest deduction limit.

Note: Some businesses are eligible for cash accounting even if their gross receipts are above the threshold, including S corporations, partnerships without C corporation partners, farming businesses and certain personal service corporations. Tax shelters are ineligible for the cash method, regardless of size.

Difference between the methods

For most businesses, the cash method provides significant tax advantages. Because cash-basis businesses recognize income when received and deduct expenses when they’re paid, they have greater control over the timing of income and deductions. For example, toward the end of the year, they can defer income by delaying invoices until the following tax year or shift deductions into the current year by accelerating the payment of expenses.

In contrast, accrual-basis businesses recognize income when earned and deduct expenses when incurred, without regard to the timing of cash receipts or payments. Therefore, they have little flexibility to time the recognition of income or expenses for tax purposes.

The cash method also provides cash flow benefits. Because income is taxed in the year received, it helps ensure that a business has the funds needed to pay its tax bill.

However, for some businesses, the accrual method may be preferable. For instance, if a company’s accrued income tends to be lower than its accrued expenses, the accrual method may result in lower tax liability. Other potential advantages of the accrual method include the ability to deduct year-end bonuses paid within the first 2½ months of the following tax year and the option to defer taxes on certain advance payments.

Switching methods

Even if your business would benefit by switching from the accrual method to the cash method, or vice versa, it’s important to consider the administrative costs involved in a change. For example, if your business prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, it’s required to use the accrual method for financial reporting purposes. That doesn’t mean it can’t use the cash method for tax purposes, but it would require maintaining two sets of books.

Changing accounting methods for tax purposes also may require IRS approval. Contact us to learn more about each method.

© 2024

 

Encouraging charitable donors to include you in their estate plans | quickbooks consultant in washington dc | Weyrich, Cronin, & Sorra

Encouraging charitable donors to include you in their estate plans

Even if current donations are your not-for-profit’s bread and butter, you can’t afford to neglect planned, legacy or deferred gifts. These gifts, generally made through wills and living trusts, often are much larger. Your employees don’t need to be directly involved when donors establish gifts through their estate plans. But your development staff should know how the process works and how to encourage such contributions.

How the process works

In addition to will and trust gifts, planned donations can be made with beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs, and life insurance policies. However, charitable annuities and other more complex estate planning instruments, such as charitable remainder trusts, may come into play.

Donors need to indicate in a legally binding document (such as a will) your nonprofit’s full name and address. Although your organization’s tax ID number is helpful, it isn’t required. The legal document also must describe the donation and state any restrictions on its use by your nonprofit.

Making your case

You can’t just be reactive and accept windfalls that come your way. You need to proactively pursue planned gifts. For example, feature information on planned giving in prominent locations on your website, in your newsletter and in brochures and other promotional materials. Don’t assume that only older, long-time donors might be interested. Many people may not even consider making a planned gift unless you educate them about the option.

Recognize that sometimes even wealthy individuals fail to make proper estate plans. They may promise to leave something to your organization, but if they don’t put it in writing, state intestacy laws can lead to unintended results. Use subtle and sensitive messages to get the point across.

You might also emphasize the tax benefits of acting quickly. Unless Congress acts, the current generous estate tax exemption, $13.61 million in 2024, is scheduled to revert to an inflation-adjusted $5 million in 2026. Supporters whose estates wouldn’t be subject to estate taxes now but could be after 2025 may want to incorporate a planned gift into their estate plans before then.

It’s also helpful to show how you can put planned gifts to work. Many donors expect planned gifts to go toward special projects or programs rather than day-to-day expenses. You can help provide ideas for potential special uses, but you may want to make the case for contributing to your general operating fund.

Gaining an edge

Donors are less likely to leave gifts to young or financially insecure organizations. So if your nonprofit already has a long track record and strong reputation, you probably have an edge. However, it’s never too soon to start building relationships with financial and legal advisors in your community who might help individuals prepare estate plans. Also, try to secure planned gifts from such committed stakeholders as board members. Contact us with questions.

© 2024

 

6 ways nonprofit retirement plans are changing | quickbooks consultant in alexandria va | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

6 ways nonprofit retirement plans are changing

Some provisions of 2022’s SECURE Act 2.0 (a follow-up to the SECURE Act of 2019) have been in force for over a year — including several that affect 403(b) retirement plans. If your not-for-profit offers staffers a 403(b) plan, you likely made some minor changes in 2023 and may have made more significant ones on January 1, 2024. A few additional provisions are scheduled to become effective in 2025 and 2026. To help ensure you’re adhering to the applicable rules and implementing enhancements where they make sense, review these significant SECURE Act 2.0 provisions.

Effective January 1, 2024

1. Pension-linked emergency savings accounts (PLESAs). Nonprofit employers may allow workers to contribute to a PLESA linked to their 403(b) plans. Contributions to these accounts are made on an after-tax basis, and the account balance attributable to employee contributions can’t exceed $2,500 (which will be indexed for inflation). Workers generally may make withdrawals from a PLESA much more easily than they can obtain a 403(b) plan hardship distribution or loan.

2. Student loan match. Employers can elect to make matching contributions to employees’ 403(b) accounts based on their student loan payments. This provision is intended to help build workers’ retirement savings even if their student loan payment obligations are preventing them from contributing.

Effective January 1, 2025

3. Automatic enrollment. For new plans adopted after 2024, nonprofits must provide automatic enrollment. Employees can then choose to opt out if they don’t want to participate. One exception: Organizations with 10 or fewer employees or that have been in operation for less than three years aren’t required to meet this mandate.

4. Catch-up contributions for some older employees. Generally, taxpayers age 50 or older are allowed to make additional “catch-up” contributions to their 403(b) plans. SECURE 2.0 will allow employees age 60 to 63 to make even larger catch-up contributions of $10,000 (indexed for inflation) or 150% of the regular catch-up limit, whichever is greater.

5. Part-time worker participation. Under the first SECURE Act, part-time workers are eligible to participate in their employers’ 403(b) plan if they have 500 hours of service each year for three consecutive years. Starting in 2025, the eligibility requirement will fall from three years to two years.

Effective January 1, 2026

6. Catch-up contributions for higher-paid employees. Changes to 403(b) catch-up contribution rules originally were scheduled to go into effect in 2024. But, in 2023, the IRS announced a two-year transition to help nonprofits comply with the new rules. Beginning in 2026, employees who earned more than $145,000 in the prior year (indexed for inflation) will be allowed to make catch-up contributions only to a Roth 403(b) account.

Another Roth 403(b)-related provision went into effect in 2022: Employees can elect that their employer makes matching contributions to their Roth 403(b) — if the nonprofit offers one. (Previously, matching contributions could be made only to an employee’s traditional account, even if the employee contributed to a Roth account.)

What stays the same (for now)

As always, traditional 403(b) plan contributions grow tax-deferred in participants’ accounts and withdrawals are taxed — generally when participants are retired and in a lower income tax bracket. Employee contributions are deducted from paychecks pre-tax.

The 403(b) contribution limit for 2024 is $23,000, and participants age 50 or older can make catch-up contributions of an additional $7,500. Also, participants who have been employed by your nonprofit for more than 15 years may be eligible to contribute an extra $3,000 a year, if you’ve included this provision in your plan. Contact us if you have questions about 403(b) limits or any changes under the SECURE Act 2.0.

© 2024

 

Get ready for the 2023 gift tax return deadline | accountant in baltimore md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Get ready for the 2023 gift tax return deadline

Did you make large gifts to your children, grandchildren or others last year? If so, it’s important to determine if you’re required to file a 2023 gift tax return. In some cases, it might be beneficial to file one — even if it’s not required.

Who must file?

The annual gift tax exclusion has increased in 2024 to $18,000 but was $17,000 for 2023. Generally, you must file a gift tax return for 2023 if, during the tax year, you made gifts:

  • That exceeded the $17,000-per-recipient gift tax annual exclusion for 2023 (other than to your U.S. citizen spouse),
  • That you wish to split with your spouse to take advantage of your combined $34,000 annual exclusion for 2023,
  • That exceeded the $175,000 annual exclusion in 2023 for gifts to a noncitizen spouse,
  • To a Section 529 college savings plan and wish to accelerate up to five years’ worth of annual exclusions ($85,000) into 2023,
  • Of future interests — such as remainder interests in a trust — regardless of the amount, or
  • Of jointly held or community property.

Keep in mind that you’ll owe gift tax only to the extent that an exclusion doesn’t apply and you’ve used up your lifetime gift and estate tax exemption ($12.92 million for 2023). As you can see, some transfers require a return even if you don’t owe tax.

Who might want to file?

No gift tax return is required if your gifts for 2023 consisted solely of gifts that are tax-free because they qualify as:

  • Annual exclusion gifts,
  • Present interest gifts to a U.S. citizen spouse,
  • Educational or medical expenses paid directly to a school or health care provider, or
  • Political or charitable contributions.

But if you transferred hard-to-value property, such as artwork or interests in a family-owned business, you should consider filing a gift tax return even if you’re not required to. Adequate disclosure of the transfer in a return triggers the statute of limitations, generally preventing the IRS from challenging your valuation more than three years after you file.

The deadline is April 15

The gift tax return deadline is the same as the income tax filing deadline. For 2023 returns, it’s Monday, April 15, 2024 — or Tuesday, October 15, 2024, if you file for an extension. But keep in mind that, if you owe gift tax, the payment deadline is April 15, regardless of whether you file for an extension. If you’re not sure whether you must (or should) file a 2023 gift tax return on IRS Form 709, contact us.

© 2024

 

If you didn’t contribute to an IRA last year, there’s still time | tax preparation in hunt valley md | Weyrich, Cronin, & Sorra

If you didn’t contribute to an IRA last year, there’s still time

If you’re gathering documents to file your 2023 tax return and you’re concerned that your tax bill may be higher than you’d like, there might still be an opportunity to lower it. If you qualify, you can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA right up until the April 15, 2024, filing date and benefit from the tax savings on your 2023 return.

Who is eligible?

You can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA if:

  • You and your spouse aren’t active participants in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, or
  • You or your spouse are an active participant in an employer plan, but your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) doesn’t exceed certain levels that vary from year to year by filing status.

For 2023, if you’re a joint tax return filer and you are covered by an employer plan, your deductible IRA contribution phases out over $116,000 to $136,000 of modified AGI. If you’re single or a head of household, the phaseout range is $73,000 to $83,000 for 2023. For married filing separately, the phaseout range is $0 to $10,000. For 2023, if you’re not an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, but your spouse is, your deductible IRA contribution phases out with modified AGI of $218,000 to $228,000.

Deductible IRA contributions reduce your current tax bill, and earnings within the IRA are tax deferred. However, every dollar you take out is taxed in full (and subject to a 10% penalty before age 59½, unless one of several exceptions apply).

IRAs are often referred to as “traditional IRAs” to differentiate them from Roth IRAs. You also have until April 15 to make a Roth IRA contribution. But while contributions to a traditional IRA are deductible, contributions to a Roth IRA aren’t. However, withdrawals from a Roth IRA are tax-free as long as the account has been open at least five years and you’re age 59½ or older. (There are also income limits to contribute to a Roth IRA.)

Here are two other IRA strategies that may help you save tax:

1. Turn a nondeductible Roth IRA contribution into a deductible IRA contribution. Did you make a Roth IRA contribution in 2023? That may help you in the future when you take tax-free payouts from the account. However, the contribution isn’t deductible. If you realize you need the deduction that a traditional IRA contribution provides, you can change your mind and turn a Roth IRA contribution into a traditional IRA contribution via the “recharacterization” mechanism. The traditional IRA deduction is then yours if you meet the requirements described above.

2. Make a deductible IRA contribution, even if you don’t work. In general, you can’t make a deductible traditional IRA contribution unless you have wages or other earned income. However, an exception applies if your spouse is the wage earner and you’re a stay-at-home parent or homemaker. In this case, you may be able to take advantage of a spousal IRA.

What’s the contribution limit?

For 2023 if you’re eligible, you can make a deductible traditional IRA contribution of up to $6,500 ($7,500 if you’re 50 or over).

In addition, small business owners can set up and contribute to a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan up to the due date for their returns, including extensions. For 2023, the maximum contribution you can make to a SEP is $66,000.

If you want more information about IRAs or SEPs, contact us or ask about it when we’re preparing your return. We can help you save the maximum tax-advantaged amount for retirement.

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