What you need to know about restricted stock awards and taxes | accountant in baltimore county md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

What you need to know about restricted stock awards and taxes

Restricted stock awards are a popular way for companies to offer equity-oriented executive compensation. Some businesses offer them instead of stock option awards. The reason: Options can lose most or all of their value if the price of the underlying stock takes a dive. But with restricted stock, if the stock price goes down, your company can issue you additional restricted shares to make up the difference.

Restricted stock basics

In a typical restricted stock deal, you receive company stock subject to one or more restrictions. The most common restriction is that you must continue working for the company until a certain date. If you leave before then, you forfeit the restricted shares, which are usually issued at minimal or no cost to you.

To be clear, the restricted shares are transferred to you, but you don’t actually own them without any restrictions until they become vested.

Tax rules for awards

What are the tax implications? You don’t have any taxable income from a restricted share award until the shares become vested — meaning when your ownership is no longer restricted. At that time, you’re deemed to receive taxable compensation income equal to the difference between the value of the shares on the vesting date and the amount you paid for them, if anything. The current federal income tax rate on compensation income can be as high as 37%, and you’ll probably owe an additional 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT). You may owe state income tax too.

Any appreciation after the shares vest is treated as capital gain. So, if you hold the stock for more than one year after the vesting date, you’ll have a lower-taxed long-term capital gain on any post-vesting-date appreciation. The current maximum federal rate on long-term capital gains is 20%, but you may also owe the 3.8% NIIT and possibly state income tax.

Special election to be currently taxed

If you make a special Section 83(b) election, you’ll be taxed at the time you receive your restricted stock award instead of later when the restricted shares vest. The income amount equals the difference between the value of the shares at the time of the restricted stock award and the amount you pay for them, if anything. The income is treated as compensation subject to federal income tax, federal employment taxes and state income tax, if applicable.

The benefit of making the election is that any subsequent appreciation in the value of the stock is treated as lower-taxed, long-term capital gain if you hold the stock for more than one year. Also, making the election can provide insurance against higher tax rates that might be in place when your restricted shares become vested.

The downside of making the election is that you recognize taxable income in the year you receive the restricted stock award, even though the shares may later be forfeited or decline in value. If you forfeit the shares back to your employer, you can claim a capital loss for the amount you paid for the shares, if anything.

If you opt to make the election, you must notify the IRS either before the restricted stock is transferred to you or within 30 days after that date. We can help you with election details.

Important decision

The tax rules for restricted stock awards are pretty straightforward. The major tax planning consideration is deciding whether or not to make the Section 83(b) election. Consult with us before making that call.

© 2023


11 Exceptions to the 10% penalty tax on early IRA withdrawals | accountant in baltimore md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

11 Exceptions to the 10% penalty tax on early IRA withdrawals

If you’re facing a serious cash shortfall, one possible solution is to take an early withdrawal from your traditional IRA. That means one before you’ve reached age 59½. For this purpose, traditional IRAs include simplified employee pension (SEP-IRA) and SIMPLE-IRA accounts.

Here’s what you need to know about the tax implications, including when the 10% early withdrawal penalty tax might apply.

Penalty may be avoided

In almost all cases, all or part of a withdrawal from a traditional IRA will constitute taxable income. The taxable percentage depends on whether you’ve made any nondeductible contributions to your traditional IRAs. If you have, each withdrawal from a traditional IRA consists of a proportionate amount of your total nondeductible contributions. That part is tax-free. The proportionate amount of each withdrawal that consists of deductible contributions and accumulated earnings is taxable. If you’ve never made any nondeductible contributions, 100% of a withdrawal is taxable.

Wide variety of exceptions

Unless one of these 11 exceptions applies, there will be a 10% early withdrawal penalty tax on the taxable portion of a traditional IRA withdrawal taken before age 59½.

1. Substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs). These are annual annuity-like withdrawals that must be taken for at least five years or until the you reach age 59½, whichever comes later. Because the SEPP rules are complicated, consult with us to avoid pitfalls.

2. Withdrawals for medical expenses. If you have qualified medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, the excess is exempt from the penalty tax.

3. Higher education expense withdrawals. Early withdrawals are penalty-free to the extent of qualified higher education expenses paid during the same year.

4. Withdrawals for health insurance premiums while unemployed. This exception is available to an IRA owner who has received unemployment compensation payments for 12 consecutive weeks under any federal or state unemployment compensation law during the year in question or the preceding year.

5. Birth or adoption withdrawals. Penalty-free treatment is available for qualified birth or adoption withdrawals of up to $5,000 for each eligible event.

6. Withdrawals for first-time home purchases. Penalty-free withdrawals are allowed to an account owner within 120 days to pay qualified principal residence acquisition costs, subject to a $10,000 lifetime limit.

7. Withdrawals by certain military reservists. Early withdrawals taken by military reserve members called to active duty for at least 180 days or for an indefinite period are exempt from the 10% penalty.

8. Withdrawals after disability. Early withdrawals taken by an IRA owner who is physically or mentally disabled to the extent that the owner cannot engage in his or her customary gainful activity or a comparable gainful activity are exempt from the penalty tax. The disability must be expected to lead to death or be of long or indefinite duration.

9. Withdrawals to satisfy certain IRS debts. This applies to early IRA withdrawals taken to pay IRS levies against the account.

10. Withdrawals after death. Withdrawals taken from an IRA after the account owner’s death are always exempt from the 10% penalty. However, this exemption isn’t available for funds rolled over into the surviving spouse’s IRA or if the surviving spouse elects to treat an IRA inherited from the deceased spouse as the spouse’s own account.

11. Penalty-free withdrawals for emergencies coming soon. The SECURE 2.0 law adds a new exception for certain distributions used for emergency expenses, which are defined as unforeseeable or immediate financial needs relating to personal or family emergencies. Only one distribution of up to $1,000 is permitted a year and a taxpayer has the option to repay it within three years. This provision is effective for distributions made after December 31, 2023.

Plan ahead

Since most or all of an early traditional IRA withdrawal will probably be taxable, it could push you into a higher marginal federal income tax bracket. You may also owe the 10% early withdrawal penalty and possibly state income tax too. Note that the penalty tax exceptions generally have additional requirements that we haven’t covered here. Contact us for more details.

© 2023


5 strategies to cut your company’s 2023 tax bill | accounting firm in hunt valley md | Weyrich, Cronin, & Sorra

5 strategies to cut your company’s 2023 tax bill

As another year ends with interest rates and markets in flux, one thing remains certain: Reducing your company’s tax bill can improve your cash flow and your bottom line. Below are five strategies — including some tried-and-true and others particularly timely — that you can execute before the turn of the new year to minimize your company’s tax liability.

1. Take advantage of the pass-through entity (PTE) tax deduction, if available

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) imposed a $10,000 limit on the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). In response, more than 30 states have enacted some type of “workaround” to provide relief to PTE owners who pay individual income tax on their share of their business’ income.

While PTE tax deductions vary by state, they generally allow partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations to pay a mandatory or elective entity-level state tax on business income with an offsetting owner-level benefit. The benefit typically is a full or partial tax credit, deduction or exclusion that owners can apply to their individual state income tax. The business can claim an IRC Section 164 business expense deduction for the full amount of its payment of the tax, as the SALT limit doesn’t apply to businesses.

2. Establish a cash balance retirement plan

Cash balance retirement plans are regaining popularity for businesses with high earners who regularly max out their 401(k) plans. The plans combine the higher contribution limits of defined contribution plans with the higher maximum benefits and deduction limits of defined benefit plans. A business can claim much larger deductions for cash balance contributions than 401(k) contributions.

In 2023, for example, the maximum employer/employee 401(k) contribution for a 55-year-old is $73,500 (including a catch-up contribution of $7,500). Meanwhile, a business can contribute up to $265,000 to a cash balance plan (depending on the participant’s age), in addition to the 401(k) plan contribution. Contribution limits increase with age, creating a valuable opportunity for those nearing retirement to add to their retirement savings as well as a substantial deduction for the business.

Under the original SECURE Act, businesses have until their federal filing deadline (including extensions) to launch a cash balance plan. But it can take some time to prepare the necessary documents, calculate the contributions and handle other administrative tasks, so you’d be wise to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.

3. Take action on asset purchases

Timing your asset purchases so you can place the items “in service” before year-end has long been a viable method of reducing your taxes. However, now there’s a ticking clock to consider. That’s because the TCJA reduces 100% first-year bonus depreciation by 20% each tax year, until it vanishes in 2027 (absent congressional action). The deduction has already dropped to 80% for 2023.

First-year bonus depreciation is available for computer systems, software, vehicles, machinery, equipment, office furniture and qualified improvement property (generally, certain improvements to nonresidential property, including roofs, HVAC, fire protection and alarm systems, and security systems).

Usually, though, it’s advisable to first apply the IRC Section 179 expensing election to asset purchases. Sec. 179 allows you to deduct 100% of the purchase price of new and used eligible assets. Eligible assets include machinery, office and computer equipment, software, certain business vehicles, and qualified improvement property.

The maximum Sec. 179 “deduction” for 2023 is $1.16 million. It begins phasing out on a dollar-for-dollar basis when a business’s qualifying property purchases exceed $2.89 million. The maximum deduction is limited to the amount of your income from business activity, but you can carry forward unused amounts indefinitely or claim the excess amounts as bonus depreciation, which is subject to no limits or phaseouts. (Note: If financing asset purchases, consider the impact of high interest rates in addition to the potential tax savings.)

4. Maximize the qualified business income (QBI) deduction

One caveat regarding depreciation deductions is that they can reduce the QBI deduction for PTE owners. (Note that the QBI deduction is scheduled to expire after 2025 absent congressional action.) If the QBI deduction is allowed to expire, PTE income could be subject to rates as high as 39.6% if current rates also expire.

For now, though, PTE owners can deduct up to 20% of their QBI, subject to certain limitations based on W-2 wages paid, the unadjusted basis of qualified property and taxable income. Accelerated depreciation reduces your QBI (in addition to certain other tax breaks that depend on taxable income) and thus your deduction.

On the other hand, you can increase the deduction by increasing W-2 wages or purchasing qualified property. In addition, you can bypass income limits on the QBI deduction by timing your income and deductions (see below).

5. Timing income and expenses

With the election looming next November, it’s unlikely that 2024 will see significant changes to the tax laws. As a result, the perennial tactic of timing income and expenses is worth pursuing if you use cash-basis accounting.

For example, if you don’t expect to land in a higher tax bracket next year, you can push income into 2024 and accelerate expenses into 2023. As discussed above, though, you could end up with a smaller QBI deduction.

A tangled web

Seemingly small tax decisions may have costly unintended consequences under different tax provisions. We can help your business make the right year-end tax planning moves.

© 2023

The 2024 cost-of-living adjustment numbers have been released: How do they affect your year-end tax planning? | accounting firm in cecil county md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

The 2024 cost-of-living adjustment numbers have been released: How do they affect your year-end tax planning?

The IRS recently issued its 2024 cost-of-living adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions. With inflation moderating slightly this year over last, many amounts will increase over 2023 amounts but not as much as in the previous year. As you implement 2023 year-end tax planning strategies, be sure to take these 2024 adjustments into account.

Also, keep in mind that under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), annual inflation adjustments are calculated using the chained consumer price index (also known as C-CPI-U). This increases tax bracket thresholds, the standard deduction, certain exemptions and other figures at a slower rate than was the case with the consumer price index previously used, potentially pushing taxpayers into higher tax brackets and making various breaks worth less over time. The TCJA adopted the C-CPI-U on a permanent basis.

Individual income taxes

Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status but, because they’re based on percentages, they increase more significantly for the higher brackets. For example, the top of the 10% bracket will increase by $600–$1,200, depending on filing status, but the top of the 35% bracket will increase by $18,725–$37,450, again depending on filing status.

2024 ordinary-income tax brackets
Tax rateSingleHead of householdMarried filing jointly or surviving spouseMarried filing separately
10%           $0 –   $11,600           $0 –   $16,550          $0 –   $23,200           $0 –   $11,600
12%  $11,601 –   $47,150  $16,551 –   $63,100  $23,201 –   $94,300  $11,601 –   $47,150
22%  $47,151 – $100,525  $63,101 – $100,500  $94,301 – $201,050  $47,151 – $100,525
24%$100,526 – $191,950$100,501 – $191,950$201,051 – $383,900$100,526 – $191,950
32%$191,951 – $243,725$191,951 – $243,700$383,901 – $487,450$191,951 – $243,725
35%$243,726 – $609,350$243,701 – $609,350$487,451 – $731,200$243,726 – $365,600
37%         Over $609,350         Over $609,350         Over $731,200         Over $365,600

The TCJA suspended personal exemptions through 2025. However, it nearly doubled the standard deduction, indexed annually for inflation, through 2025. In 2024, the standard deduction will be $29,200 (for married couples filing jointly), $21,900 (for heads of households), and $14,600 (for singles and married couples filing separately). After 2025, the standard deduction amounts are scheduled to drop back to the amounts under pre-TCJA law unless Congress extends the current rules or revises them.

Changes to the standard deduction could help some taxpayers make up for the loss of personal exemptions. But they might not help taxpayers who typically itemize deductions.


The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is a separate tax system that limits some deductions, doesn’t permit others and treats certain income items differently. If your AMT liability is greater than your regular tax liability, you must pay the AMT.

Like the regular tax brackets, the AMT brackets are annually indexed for inflation. In 2024, the threshold for the 28% bracket will increase by $11,900 for all filing statuses except married filing separately, which will increase by half that amount.

2024 AMT brackets
Tax rateSingleHead of householdMarried filing jointly or surviving spouseMarried filing separately
26%      $0 – $232,600      $0 – $232,600      $0 – $232,600      $0 – $116,300
28%     Over $232,600     Over $232,600     Over $232,600     Over $116,300

The AMT exemptions and exemption phaseouts are also indexed. The exemption amounts in 2024 will be $85,700 for singles and $133,300 for joint filers, increasing by $4,400 and $6,800, respectively, over 2023 amounts. The inflation-adjusted phaseout ranges in 2024 will be $609,350–$952,150 (for singles) and $1,218,700–$1,751,900 (for joint filers). Amounts for married couples filing separately are half of those for joint filers.

Education and child-related breaks

The maximum benefits of certain education and child-related breaks will generally remain the same in 2024. But most of these breaks are limited based on a taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). Taxpayers whose MAGIs are within an applicable phaseout range are eligible for a partial break — and breaks are eliminated for those whose MAGIs exceed the top of the range.

The MAGI phaseout ranges will generally remain the same or increase modestly in 2024, depending on the break. For example:

The American Opportunity credit. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2020, the MAGI amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the American Opportunity credit isn’t adjusted for inflation. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with MAGI in excess of $80,000 ($160,000 for joint returns). The maximum credit per eligible student is $2,500.

The Lifetime Learning credit. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2020, the MAGI amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning credit isn’t adjusted for inflation. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with MAGI in excess of $80,000 ($160,000 for joint returns). The maximum credit is $2,000 per tax return.

The adoption credit. The phaseout range for eligible taxpayers adopting a child will increase in 2024 — by $12,920. It will be $252,150–$292,150 for joint, head-of-household and single filers. The maximum credit will increase by $860, to $16,810 in 2024.

(Note: Married couples filing separately generally aren’t eligible for these credits.)

These are only some of the education and child-related tax breaks that may benefit you. Keep in mind that, if your MAGI is too high for you to qualify for a break for your child’s education, your child might be eligible to claim one on his or her tax return.

Gift and estate taxes

The unified gift and estate tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption are both adjusted annually for inflation. In 2024, the amount will be $13.61 million (up from $12.92 million for 2023).

The annual gift tax exclusion will increase by $1,000 to $18,000 in 2024.

Retirement plans

Nearly all retirement-plan-related limits will increase for 2024. Thus, depending on the type of plan you have, you may have limited opportunities to increase your retirement savings if you’ve already been contributing the maximum amount allowed:

Type of limitation2023 limit2024 limit
Elective deferrals to 401(k), 403(b), 457(b)(2) and 457(c)(1) plans$22,500$23,000
Annual benefit limit for defined benefit plans$265,000$275,000
Contributions to defined contribution plans$66,000$69,000
Contributions to SIMPLEs$15,500$16,000
Contributions to traditional and Roth IRAs$6,500$7,000
“Catch-up” contributions to 401(k), 403(b), 457(b)(2) and 457(c)(1) plans for those age 50 and older$7,500$7,500
Catch-up contributions to SIMPLEs$3,500$3,500
Catch-up contributions to IRAs$1,000$1,000
Compensation for benefit purposes for qualified plans and SEPs$330,000$345,000
Minimum compensation for SEP coverage$750$750
Highly compensated employee threshold$150,000$155,000

Your MAGI may reduce or even eliminate your ability to take advantage of IRAs. Fortunately, IRA-related MAGI phaseout range limits all will increase for 2024:

Traditional IRAs. MAGI phaseout ranges apply to the deductibility of contributions if a taxpayer (or his or her spouse) participates in an employer-sponsored retirement plan:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly, the phaseout range is specific to each spouse based on whether he or she is a participant in an employer-sponsored plan:
    • For a spouse who participates, the 2024 phaseout range limits will increase by $7,000, to $123,000–$143,000.
    • For a spouse who doesn’t participate, the 2024 phaseout range limits will increase by $12,000, to $230,000–$240,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers participating in an employer-sponsored plan, the 2024 phaseout range limits will increase by $4,000, to $77,000–$87,000.

Taxpayers with MAGIs in the applicable range can deduct a partial contribution; those with MAGIs exceeding the applicable range can’t deduct any IRA contribution.

But a taxpayer whose deduction is reduced or eliminated can make nondeductible traditional IRA contributions. The $7,000 contribution limit for 2024 (plus $1,000 catch-up, if applicable, and reduced by any Roth IRA contributions) still applies. Nondeductible traditional IRA contributions may also be beneficial if your MAGI is too high for you to contribute (or fully contribute) to a Roth IRA.

Roth IRAs. Whether you participate in an employer-sponsored plan doesn’t affect your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA, but MAGI limits may reduce or eliminate your ability to contribute:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly, the 2024 phaseout range limits will increase by $12,000, to $230,000–$240,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers, the 2024 phaseout range limits will increase by $8,000, to $146,000–$161,000.

You can make a partial contribution if your MAGI falls within the applicable range, but no contribution if it exceeds the top of the range.

(Note: Married taxpayers filing separately are subject to much lower phaseout ranges for both traditional and Roth IRAs.)

2024 cost-of-living adjustments and tax planning

With many of the 2024 cost-of-living adjustment amounts trending higher, you may have an opportunity to realize some tax relief next year. In addition, with certain retirement-plan-related limits also increasing, you may have the chance to boost your retirement savings. If you have questions on the best tax-saving strategies to implement based on the 2024 numbers, please give us a call. We’d be happy to help.

© 2023

Best of Harford Voting Begins! | accountant in harford county | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

2024 Best of Harford Voting Begins!

Voting for the 2024 Best of Harford is open and Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra is up for Best Accountant. Please consider voting for us!

Click here to vote for Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra >> 

You can vote once per day, per email address until the contest ends on December 3th at 5 p.m. You can find us under Personal Services > Accountant.

Evaluate whether a Health Savings Account is beneficial to you | tax preparation in harford county md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Evaluate whether a Health Savings Account is beneficial to you

With the escalating cost of health care, many people are looking for a more cost-effective way to pay for it. For eligible individuals, a Health Savings Account (HSA) offers a tax-favorable way to set aside funds (or have an employer do so) to meet future medical needs. Here are four tax benefits:

  1. Contributions made to an HSA are deductible, within limits,
  2. Earnings on the funds in the HSA aren’t taxed,
  3. Contributions your employer makes aren’t taxed to you, and
  4. Distributions from the HSA to cover qualified medical expenses aren’t taxed.


To be eligible for an HSA, you must be covered by a “high deductible health plan.” For 2023, a high deductible health plan is one with an annual deductible of at least $1,500 for self-only coverage, or at least $3,000 for family coverage. (These amounts are scheduled to increase to $1,600 and $3,200 for 2024.)

For self-only coverage, the 2023 limit on deductible contributions is $3,850. For family coverage, the 2023 limit on deductible contributions is $7,750. (These amounts are scheduled to increase to $4,150 and $8,300 for 2024.) Additionally, annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits for 2023 can’t exceed $7,500 for self-only coverage or $15,000 for family coverage ($8,050 and $16,100 for 2024).

An individual (and the individual’s covered spouse) who has reached age 55 before the close of the year (and is an eligible HSA contributor) may make additional “catch-up” contributions for 2023 and 2024 of up to $1,000 per year.

HSAs may be established by, or on behalf of, any eligible individual.

Deduction limits

You can deduct contributions to an HSA for the year up to the total of your monthly limitation for the months you were eligible. For 2023, the monthly limitation on deductible contributions for a person with self-only coverage is 1/12 of $3,850. For an individual with family coverage, the monthly limitation on deductible contributions is 1/12 of $7,750. Thus, deductible contributions aren’t limited by the amount of the annual deductible under the high deductible health plan.

Also, taxpayers who are eligible individuals on the first day of the last month of the tax year are treated as having been eligible individuals for the entire year for purposes of computing the annual HSA contribution.

However, if an individual is enrolled in Medicare, he or she is no longer eligible under the HSA rules and contributions to an HSA can no longer be made.

On a once-only basis, taxpayers can withdraw funds from an IRA and transfer them tax-free to an HSA. The amount transferred can be up to the maximum deductible HSA contribution for the type of coverage (individual or family) in effect at the transfer time. The amount transferred is excluded from gross income and isn’t subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Taking distributions

HSA distributions to cover an eligible individual’s qualified medical expenses (or those of his or her spouse or dependents, if covered) aren’t taxed. Qualified medical expenses for these purposes generally means those that would qualify for the medical expense itemized deduction. If funds are withdrawn from the HSA for other reasons, the withdrawal is taxable. Additionally, an extra 20% tax will apply to the withdrawal, unless it’s made after reaching age 65 or in the event of death or disability.

As you can see, an HSA offers a very flexible option for providing health care coverage, but the rules are somewhat complicated. Contact us if you have questions.

© 2023


The tax implications of renting out a vacation home | tax preparation in alexandria va | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

The tax implications of renting out a vacation home

Many Americans own a vacation home or aspire to purchase one. If you own a second home in a waterfront community, in the mountains or in a resort area, you may want to rent it out for part of the year.

The tax implications of these transactions can be complicated. It depends on how many days the home is rented and your level of personal use. Personal use includes vacation use by you, your family members (even if you charge them market rent) and use by nonrelatives if a market rent isn’t charged.

Short-term rentals

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 revenue and significant tax benefits. Any rent you receive isn’t included in your income for tax purposes. On the other hand, you can only deduct property taxes and mortgage interest — no other operating costs or 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 received in income. However, you can deduct part of your operating expenses and depreciation, subject to certain rules. First, you must allocate your expenses between the personal use days and the rental days. This includes maintenance, utilities, depreciation allowance, interest and taxes for the property. The personal use portion of taxes can be deducted separately. The personal use part of interest on a second home is also deductible (if eligible) when it exceeds the greater of 14 days or 10% of the rental days. However, depreciation on the personal use portion isn’t allowed.

Losses may be deductible

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. But 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 for personal purposes.

Here’s the test: if you use it personally for more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the rental days, you’re using it “too much” and can’t claim your loss. In this case, you can still use your deductions to wipe out rental income, but you can’t create a loss. Deductions you can’t claim are carried forward and may be usable in future years. If you’re limited to using deductions only up to the rental income amount, you must use the deductions allocated to the rental portion in this order:

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

If you “pass” the personal use test, you must still allocate your expenses between the personal and rental portions. However, in this case, if your rental deductions exceed your rental income, you can claim the loss. (The loss is “passive,” however, and may be limited under passive loss rules.)

Navigate a plan

These are only the basic rules. There may be other rules if you’re considered a small landlord or real estate professional. Contact us if you have questions. We can help plan your vacation home use to achieve optimal tax results.

© 2023


IRS offers a withdrawal option to businesses that claimed ERTCs | accounting firm in baltimore county md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

IRS offers a withdrawal option to businesses that claimed ERTCs

Recent IRS warnings and announcements regarding the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) have raised some businesses’ concerns about the validity of their claims for this valuable, but complex, pandemic-related credit — and the potential consequences of an invalid claim. In response, the IRS has rolled out a new process that certain employers can use to withdraw their claims.

Fraudsters jump on the ERTC

The ERTC is a refundable tax credit intended for businesses that 1) continued paying employees while they were shut down due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, or 2) suffered significant declines in gross receipts from March 13, 2020, to December 31, 2021. Eligible employers can file claims until April 15, 2025 (on amended returns), and receive credits worth up to $26,000 per retained employee.

With such potentially large payouts, fraudulent promoters and marketers were quick to rush in with offers to help businesses file claims in exchange for fees in the thousands of dollars or for a percentage of any refunds received. The requirements for the credit are strict, though, and the IRS has found that many of these claims fall short of meeting them.

Invalid claims put taxpayers at risk of liability for credit repayment, penalties and interest, in addition to the promoter’s fees. And promoters may leave out key details, which could lead to what the IRS describes as a “domino effect of tax problems” for unsuspecting employers.

The IRS responds

The wave of fraudulent claims has produced escalating action from the IRS. In July 2023, the agency announced that it was shifting its ERTC review focus to compliance concerns, with intensified audits and criminal investigations of both promoters and businesses filing suspect claims. Two months later, it imposed a moratorium on the processing of new ERTC claims.

The moratorium, prompted by “a flood of ineligible claims,” will last until at least the end of 2023. The processing of legitimate claims filed before September 14 will continue during the moratorium period but at a much slower pace. The IRS has extended the standard processing goal of 90 days to 180 days and potentially far longer for claims flagged for further review or audit.

According to the IRS, though, the moratorium isn’t deterring the scammers. It reports they’ve already revised their pitches, pushing employers that submit ERTC claims to take out costly upfront loans in anticipation of delayed refunds.

Now, the IRS has unveiled a new withdrawal option for eligible employers that filed claims but haven’t yet received, cashed or deposited refunds. Withdrawn claims will be treated as if they were never filed, so taxpayers need not fear repayment, penalties or interest. (The IRS also is developing assistance for employers that were misled into claiming the ERTC and have already received payment.)

The withdrawal option is available if you:

  • Claimed the credit on an adjusted employment return (for example, Form 941-X),
  • Filed the adjusted return solely to claim the credit, and
  • Requested to withdraw your entire ERTC claim.

The exact steps vary depending on your circumstances, including whether you filed your claim yourself or through a payroll provider, have been notified that you’re under audit, or have received a refund check that you haven’t cashed or deposited. Regardless of the applicable procedure, your withdrawal isn’t effective until you receive an acceptance letter from the IRS.

Taxpayers that aren’t eligible for the withdrawal process can reduce or eliminate their ERTC claim by filing an amended return. But you may need to amend your income tax return even if your claim is withdrawn.

Seek help

Throughout its warnings about potential ERTC pitfalls, the IRS has continued to urge taxpayers to consult “trusted tax professionals.” If you’re having second thoughts about your ERTC claim, we can help you review your claim and, if appropriate, properly withdraw it.

© 2023

Plan now for year-end gifts with the gift tax annual exclusion | cpa in cecil county md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Plan now for year-end gifts with the gift tax annual exclusion

Now that Labor Day has passed, the holidays are just around the corner. Many people may want to make gifts of cash or stock to their loved ones. By properly using the annual exclusion, gifts to family members and loved ones can reduce the size of your taxable estate, within generous limits, without triggering any estate or gift tax. The exclusion amount for 2023 is $17,000.

The exclusion covers gifts you make to each recipient each year. Therefore, a taxpayer with three children can transfer $51,000 to the children this year free of federal gift taxes. If the only gifts made during a year are excluded in this fashion, there’s no need to file a federal gift tax return. If annual gifts exceed $17,000, the exclusion covers the first $17,000 per recipient, and only the excess is taxable. In addition, even taxable gifts may result in no gift tax liability thanks to the unified credit (discussed below).

Note: This discussion isn’t relevant to gifts made to a spouse because these gifts are free of gift tax under separate marital deduction rules.

Married taxpayers can split gifts

If you’re married, a gift made during a year can be treated as split between you and your spouse, even if the cash or gift property is actually given by only one of you. Thus, by gift-splitting, up to $34,000 a year can be transferred to each recipient by a married couple because of their two annual exclusions. For example, a married couple with three married children can transfer a total of $204,000 each year to their children and to the children’s spouses ($34,000 for each of six recipients).

If gift-splitting is involved, both spouses must consent to it. Consent should be indicated on the gift tax return (or returns) that the spouses file. The IRS prefers that both spouses indicate their consent on each return filed. Because more than $17,000 is being transferred by a spouse, a gift tax return (or returns) will have to be filed, even if the $34,000 exclusion covers total gifts. We can prepare a gift tax return (or returns) for you, if more than $17,000 is being given to a single individual in any year.

“Unified” credit for taxable gifts

Even gifts that aren’t covered by the exclusion, and are thus taxable, may not result in a tax liability. This is because a tax credit wipes out the federal gift tax liability on the first taxable gifts that you make in your lifetime, up to $12.92 million for 2023. However, to the extent you use this credit against a gift tax liability, it reduces (or eliminates) the credit available for use against the federal estate tax at your death.

Be aware that gifts made directly to a financial institution to pay for tuition or to a health care provider to pay for medical expenses on behalf of someone else don’t count towards the exclusion. For example, you can pay $20,000 to your grandson’s college for his tuition this year, plus still give him up to $17,000 as a gift.

Annual gifts help reduce the taxable value of your estate. The estate and gift tax exemption amount is scheduled to be cut drastically in 2026 to the 2017 level when the related Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provisions expire (unless Congress acts to extend them). Making large tax-free gifts may be one way to recognize and address this potential threat. They could help insulate you against any later reduction in the unified federal estate and gift tax exemption.

© 2023


Investment swings: What’s the tax impact? | accounting firm in cecil county md | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Investment swings: What’s the tax impact?

If your investments have fluctuated wildly this year, you may have already recognized some significant gains and losses. But nothing is decided tax-wise until year end when the final results of your trades will reveal your 2023 tax situation. Here’s what you need to know to avoid tax surprises.

Tax-favored retirement accounts and taxable accounts

If you’ve had wild swings in the value of investments held in a tax-favored 401(k), traditional IRA, Roth IRA or self-employed SEP account, there’s no current tax impact. While these changes affect your account value, they have no tax consequences until you finally start taking withdrawals. At that point, the size of your balance(s) will affect your tax bills. If you have investments in a Roth IRA, qualified withdrawals taken after age 59½ can be federal-income-tax-free.

With taxable accounts, your cumulative gains and losses from executed trades during the year are what matter. Unrealized gains and losses don’t affect your tax bill.

Overall loss for 2023

If your losses for the year exceed your gains, you have a net capital loss. To determine and apply the loss:

  1. Divide your gains and losses into short-term gains and losses from investments held for one year or less and long-term gains and losses from investments held for more than one year.
    • If your short-term losses exceed your short- and long-term gains, you have a net short-term capital loss for the year.
    • If your long-term losses exceed the total of your long- and short-term gains, you have a net long-term capital loss for the year.
  2. Claim your allowable net capital loss deduction of up $3,000 ($1,500 if you use married filing separate status).
  3. Carry over any remaining net short-term or long-term capital loss after Step 2 to next year where it can be used to offset capital gains in 2024 and beyond.

Overall gain for 2023

If your gains for the year exceed your losses, you have a net capital gain. To figure out the gain:

  • Divide your gains and losses into short-term gains and losses from investments held for one year or less and long-term gains and losses from investments held for more than one year.
    • If your short-term gains exceed the total of your short- and long-term losses, you have a net short-term capital gain for the year.
    • If your long-term gains exceed the total of your long- and short-term losses, you have a net long-term capital gain for the year.

Net short-term and long-term gain

A net short-term capital gain is taxed at your regular federal income tax rate, which can be up to 37%. You may also owe the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) (see below) and state income tax, too.

A net long-term capital gain (LTCG) is taxed at the lower federal capital gain tax rates of 0%, 15%, and 20%. Most individuals pay 15%. High-income folks will owe the maximum 20% rate on the lesser of: 1) net LTCG or 2) the excess of taxable income, including any net LTCG, over the applicable threshold. For 2023, the thresholds are $553,850 for married joint-filers, $492,300 for singles and $523,050 for heads of households. You may also owe the NIIT and state income tax, too.

Watch out for the NIIT

The 3.8% NIIT hits the lesser of your net investment income, including capital gains, or the amount by which your modified adjusted gross income exceeds the applicable threshold. The thresholds are:

  • $250,000 for married joint-filers,
  • $200,000 for singles and heads of households, and
  • $125,000 for married individuals filing separate.

Year end is still months away

As explained earlier, your tax results for 2023 are up in the air until all the gains and losses from trades executed during the year are tallied up. If you have questions or want more information, consult with us.

© 2023