Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
Is your business having trouble collecting payments from clients or vendors? You might be able to claim a bad debt deduction on your tax return. But if you hope to take the deduction on your 2023 return, you’ll have to get busy, because you must be able to show that you’ve made a “reasonable” effort to collect the debt.
First, a cash-basis taxpayer may claim a business bad debt deduction only if the amount that’s owed was previously included in gross income. Second, a business must establish that the debt is legitimate and can’t be recovered from the debtor. To this end, as mentioned, you must make a reasonable effort to collect the amount that’s due.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to file a lawsuit against the debtor. But you can’t just make a single phone call either. Give it your best shot. You might actually be able to collect the debt! But if you can’t, you’ll have put yourself in a position to potentially claim a bad debt deduction.
Often, the specific charge-off method (also called the direct write-off method) is used for writing off bad debts. In this case, you can deduct business bad debts that became either partially or totally worthless during the year.
For tax purposes, partially and totally worthless are defined as follows:
Partially worthless. The deduction is limited to the amount charged off on your books. You don’t have to charge off and deduct your partially worthless debts annually, so you can postpone this to a later year. However, you can’t deduct any part of a debt after the year it becomes totally worthless.
Totally worthless. If a debt becomes totally worthless in the current tax year, you can deduct the entire amount (less any amount deducted in an earlier tax year when the debt was partially worthless).
Note that you don’t have to make an actual charge-off on your books to claim a bad debt deduction for a totally worthless debt. But if you don’t record a charge-off and the IRS later rules the debt is only partially worthless, you won’t be allowed a deduction for the debt in that tax year. Reason: A deduction of a partially worthless bad debt is limited to the amount actually charged off.
If you haven’t started your collection efforts yet but hope to claim a business bad debt deduction for 2023, time is short. So, spring into action now. For instance, you might start collection efforts through phone and email contacts. If that doesn’t work, you may want to follow up with a series of letters or even hire a collection agency. Finally, if all else fails, contact the office about the prospects of claiming a business bad debt deduction on your 2023 return.
If you may be eligible for disability income should you become disabled, it’s important to know whether that income will be taxable. As is often the case with tax questions, the answer is “it depends.”
The key factor is who paid it. If your employer will directly pay the disability income to you, it will be taxable to you as ordinary salary and wages would be. Taxable benefits are also subject to federal income tax withholding, though, depending on the disability plan, disability benefits sometimes aren’t subject to Social Security tax.
Frequently, the payments aren’t made by an employer but by an insurer under a policy providing disability coverage or under an arrangement having the effect of accident or health insurance. In such cases, the tax treatment depends on who paid for the coverage. If your employer paid for it, the disability income will be taxed to you, as if paid directly to you by the employer. But if you paid for the policy, the payments you receive under it won’t be taxable.
Even if your employer arranges for the coverage (in other words, it’s a policy made available to you at work), the benefits won’t be taxed to you as long as you paid the premiums. For these purposes, if the premiums were paid by your employer but the amount paid was included as part of your taxable income from work, the premiums will also be treated as paid by you and the benefits won’t be taxable.
For simplicity, let’s say your salary is $1,000 a week ($52,000 a year). Under a disability insurance arrangement made available to you by your employer, $10 a week ($520 for the year) is paid on your behalf by your employer to an insurance company. You include $52,520 in income as your wages for the year: the $52,000 paid to you plus the $520 in disability insurance premiums. In this case, the insurance is treated as paid for by you. If you become disabled and receive benefits, they won’t be taxable income to you.
Now, let’s look at an example with the same facts as above, except that the amount paid for the insurance coverage qualifies as excludable under the rules for employer-provided health and accident plans. In this case, you include only $52,000 in income as your wages for the year because the insurance is treated as paid for by your employer. So, if you become disabled and receive benefits, they will be taxable income to you.
Note: There are special rules in the case of a permanent loss (or loss of the use) of a part or function of the body, or a permanent disfigurement.
In deciding how much disability coverage you need to protect yourself and your family, take tax treatment into consideration. If you’re buying the policy, you need to replace only your after-tax, “take-home” income because your benefits won’t be taxed. On the other hand, if your employer pays for the benefit, you’ll lose a percentage to taxes.
If your current coverage is insufficient, you may wish to supplement an employer benefit with a policy you take out personally.
This discussion doesn’t cover the tax treatment of Social Security disability benefits, which may be taxed under different rules. Contact the office to discuss this further or if you have questions about regular disability income.
Did you know that you can transfer funds directly from your IRA to a Health Savings Account (HSA) without taxes or penalties? Under current law, you’re permitted to make one such “qualified HSA funding distribution” during your lifetime.
Typically, if you have an IRA and an HSA, it’s a good idea to contribute as much as possible to both to maximize their tax benefits. But if you’re hit with high medical expenses and have an insufficient balance in your HSA, transferring funds from your IRA may be a solution.
An HSA is a savings account that can be used to pay qualified medical expenses with pre-tax dollars. It’s generally available to individuals with eligible high-deductible health plans. For 2023, the annual limit on tax-deductible or pre-tax contributions to an HSA is $3,850 for individuals with self-only coverage and $7,750 for individuals with family coverage. If you’re 55 or older, the limits are $4,850 and $8,750, respectively. Those same limits apply to an IRA-to-HSA transfer, reduced by any contributions already made to the HSA during the year.
Here’s an example illustrating the potential benefits of a qualified HSA funding distribution from an IRA: Joe is 58 years old, with a self-only, high-deductible health plan. In 2023, he needs surgery for which he incurs $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs. Joe is strapped for cash, has made no contributions to his HSA in 2023 and has only $500 left in his HSA, but he does have a $50,000 balance in his traditional IRA. Joe may move up to $4,850 from his IRA to his HSA tax- and penalty-free.
If you decide to transfer funds from your IRA to your HSA, keep in mind that the distribution must be made directly by the IRA trustee to the HSA trustee, and, again, the transfer counts toward your maximum annual HSA contribution for the year.
Also, funds transferred to the HSA in this case aren’t tax deductible. But, because the IRA distribution is excluded from your income, the effect is the same (at least for federal tax purposes).
IRA-to-HSA transfers are literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right move for everyone. If you’re interested, contact the office to explore whether taking this step makes sense in the context of your tax and financial circumstances.
The IRS has announced the per diem rates for ordinary and necessary business travel expenses in fiscal year 2023-24:
These rates are effective beginning Oct. 1, 2023. Questions about per diem rates or other options for deducting business travel expenses? Contact the office.
Donating cash and property to your favorite charity is beneficial to the charity, but also to you in the form of a tax deduction if you itemize. However, to be deductible, your donation must meet certain IRS criteria.
First, the charity you’re donating to must be a qualified charitable organization, with tax-exempt status. The Exempt Organizations Search tool on the IRS website allows users to search for a specific organization and check its federal tax-exempt status.
Second, contributions must be actually paid, not simply pledged. So, if you pledge $5,000 in 2023 but have paid only $1,500 by Dec. 31, 2023, you can deduct only $1,500 on your 2023 tax return.
Third, substantiation rules apply, and they vary based on the type and amount of the donation. For example, some donated property may require you to obtain a professional appraisal of value.
Many additional rules and limits apply to the charitable donation deduction. Contact the office to learn more.
Recently, the IRS halted processing of claims for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), due to a high volume of fraudulent claims. The moratorium is through at least the end of 2023. ERC claims that were already filed are now subject to longer processing, including heightened scrutiny to weed out fraud.
Now the IRS is creating a path for businesses that are concerned they may be victims of aggressive ERC marketing schemes. Eligible businesses can opt to withdraw unprocessed claims that they now believe may be invalid. Among other things, to be eligible, the business must have made the claim on an adjusted employment return that included no other adjustments and must want to withdraw the entire amount of the ERC claim.
Withdrawing a claim can allow the business to avoid receiving a refund for which it’s ineligible (and that would have to be repaid) as well as interest and penalties. Businesses that aren’t eligible to use the withdrawal process may be able to reduce or eliminate their ERC claim by filing an amended return.
Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in October.
Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in October.
Individuals – Reporting October tip income of $20 or more to employers (Form 4070)
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