Casualty loss deductions: You can claim one only for a federally declared disaster

The rules for writing off personal casualty losses on a tax return have changed for 2018 to 2025. Specifically, taxpayers generally can’t deduct losses unless the casualty event qualifies as a federally declared disaster. (The rules for business or income-producing property are different.) Another factor that now makes it harder to claim a casualty loss is that you must itemize deductions to claim one. For 2018 to 2025, fewer people will itemize, because the standard deduction amounts have been significantly increased. We can help you navigate the complex rules.

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Three questions you may have after you file your tax return.

Once your 2018 tax return has been successfully filed with the IRS, you may still have some questions.  Here are brief answers to three questions that we are frequently asked at this time of year.

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Understanding how taxes factor into an M&A transaction

If your company is merging with or acquiring another business, it’s important to understand how the transaction will be taxed. For tax purposes, a transaction can basically be structured in two ways: stock (or ownership interest) or assets. For tax and nontax reasons, buyers usually prefer to purchase assets, while sellers generally prefer stock sales. Buying or selling a business may be the most important deal you’ll ever make, so seek professional tax advice as you negotiate. After a deal is done, it may be too late to get the best tax results. Contact us.

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Some of your deductions may be smaller (or nonexistent) when you file your 2018 tax return

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduces most income tax rates and expands some tax breaks, it may cause you to see these five itemized deductions shrink or disappear when you file your 2018 tax return: 1) state and local tax, 2) mortgage interest, 3) home equity debt interest, 4) miscellaneous, and 5) casualty and theft loss. The combination of a much larger standard deduction and smaller itemized deductions may mean that, even if itemizing has typically benefited you, you might now be better off taking the standard deduction. Contact us for details.

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Fundamental tax truths for C corporations

The flat 21% federal income tax rate for C corporations under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been great news for these entities and their owners. But some fundamental tax truths for C corporations largely remain the same. For example, although the 21% rate will lower the impact, double taxation is still an important issue to consider, especially if a C corporation owns assets that are likely to appreciate significantly. And C corporation status still generally isn’t advisable for ventures that will incur ongoing tax losses. Have questions? Contact us.

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3 big TCJA changes affecting 2018 individual tax returns and beyond

When you file your 2018 income tax return, you’ll likely find that some big tax law changes affect you, besides the much-discussed tax rate cuts and reduced itemize deductions. For 2018 through 2025, the TCJA: 1) eliminates personal exemptions, 2) increases the standard deduction and 3) expands the child credit. The degree to which these changes will affect you depends on whether you have dependents and, if so, how many. It also depends on whether you typically itemize deductions. We can help ensure you claim all of the breaks available to you on your 2018 return.

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Depreciation-related breaks on business real estate: What you need to know when you file your 2018 return

Enhanced depreciation-related tax breaks for certain business real estate investments, such as qualified improvement property, may offer substantial savings when you file your 2018 tax return. Learn more.

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Why you shouldn’t wait to file your 2018 income tax return

The IRS opened the 2018 income tax return filing season on Jan. 28. Consider filing as soon as you can, even if you typically don’t file this early. It can help protect you from tax identity theft, in which a thief files a return using your Social Security number to claim a bogus refund. If you file first, it will be returns filed by any would-be thieves that are rejected by the IRS, not yours. Other benefits: You’ll get your refund sooner or, if you owe tax, you’ll know how much you owe sooner so you can be ready to pay it by April 15. Contact us with questions.

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Higher mileage rate may mean larger tax deductions for business miles in 2019

A higher IRS mileage rate means larger tax deductions for business miles in 2019. The optional standard mileage rate used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an auto for business has increased by 3.5 cents, to 58 cents per mile. The mileage rate comes into play when businesses don’t want to keep track of actual vehicle-related expenses. But you still must record certain information, such as the mileage, date and destination for each trip. The mileage rate can also be used for reimbursing employees. Many rules and limits apply. Contact us for details.

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2 major tax law changes for individuals in 2019

Most TCJA provisions went into effect in 2018 and apply through 2025 or are permanent, but two major changes affect individuals beginning in 2019: 1) While the TCJA reduced the medical expense deduction threshold from 10% of adjusted gross income to 7.5%, the reduction applies only to 2017 and 2018. So for 2019, the threshold returns to 10%. 2) For divorce agreements executed (or, in some cases, modified) after Dec. 31, 2018, alimony payments won’t be deductible by the payer but will be excluded from the recipient’s taxable income. Contact us for details.

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