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

Coordinating Sec. 179 tax deductions with bonus depreciation

Your business should generally maximize current year depreciation write-offs for newly acquired assets. Two federal tax breaks can be a big help in achieving this goal: first-year Section 179 depreciation deductions and first-year bonus depreciation deductions. These two deductions can potentially allow businesses to write off some or all of their qualifying asset expenses in Year 1. However, they’re moving targets due to annual inflation adjustments and tax law changes that phase out bonus depreciation. With that in mind, here’s how to coordinate these write-offs for optimal tax-saving results.

Sec. 179 deduction basics

Most tangible depreciable business assets — including equipment, computer hardware, vehicles (subject to limits), furniture, most software and fixtures — qualify for the first-year Sec. 179 deduction.

Depreciable real property generally doesn’t qualify unless it’s qualified improvement property (QIP). QIP means any improvement to an interior portion of a nonresidential building that’s placed in service after the date the building is placed in service — except for any expenditures attributable to the enlargement of the building, any elevator or escalator, or the internal structural framework. Sec. 179 deductions are also allowed for nonresidential building roofs, HVAC equipment, fire protection systems and security systems.

The inflation-adjusted maximum Sec. 179 deduction for tax years beginning in 2024 is $1.22 million. It begins to be phased out if 2024 qualified asset additions exceed $3.05 million. (These are up from $1.16 million and $2.89 million, respectively, in 2023.)

Bonus depreciation basics

Most tangible depreciable business assets also qualify for first-year bonus depreciation. In addition, software and QIP generally qualify. To be eligible, a used asset must be new to the taxpayer.

For qualifying assets placed in service in 2024, the first-year bonus depreciation percentage is 60%. This is down from 80% in 2023.

Sec. 179 vs. bonus depreciation

The current Sec. 179 deduction rules are generous, but there are several limitations:

  • The phase-out rule mentioned above,
  • A business taxable income limitation that disallows deductions that would result in an overall business taxable loss,
  • A limited deduction for SUVs with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 6,000 pounds, and
  • Tricky limitation rules when assets are owned by pass-through entities such as LLCs, partnerships, and S corporations.

First-year bonus depreciation deductions aren’t subject to any complicated limitations. But, as mentioned earlier, the bonus depreciation percentages for 2024 and 2023 are only 60% and 80%, respectively.

So, the current tax-saving strategy is to write off as much of the cost of qualifying asset additions as you can with Sec. 179 deductions. Then claim as much first-year bonus depreciation as you can.

Example: In 2024, your calendar-tax-year C corporation places in service $500,000 of assets that qualify for both a Sec. 179 deduction and first-year bonus depreciation. However, due to the taxable income limitation, the company’s Sec. 179 deduction is limited to only $300,000. You can deduct the $300,000 on your corporation’s 2024 federal income tax return. You can then deduct 60% of the remaining $200,000 ($500,000 − $300,000), thanks to first-year bonus depreciation. So, your corporation can write off $420,000 in 2024 [$300,000 + (60% x $200,000) = $420,000]. That’s 84% of the cost! Note that the $200,000 bonus depreciation deduction will contribute to a corporate net operating loss that’s carried forward to your 2025 tax year.

Manage tax breaks

As you can see, coordinating Sec. 179 deductions with bonus depreciation deductions is a tax-wise idea. We can provide details on how the rules work or answer any questions you have.

© 2024

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

Bartering is a taxable transaction even if no cash is exchanged

If your small business is strapped for cash (or likes to save money), you may find it beneficial to barter or trade for goods and services. Bartering isn’t new — it’s the oldest form of trade — but the internet has made it easier to engage in with other businesses.

However, if your business begins bartering, be aware that the fair market value of goods that you receive in these types of transactions is taxable income. And if you exchange services with another business, the transaction results in taxable income for both parties.

Fair market value

Here are some examples of an exchange of services:

  • A computer consultant agrees to offer tech support to an advertising agency in exchange for free advertising.
  • An electrical contractor does repair work for a dentist in exchange for dental services.

In these cases, both parties are taxed on the fair market value of the services received. This is the amount they would normally charge for the same services. If the parties agree to the value of the services in advance, that will be considered the fair market value unless there’s contrary evidence.

In addition, if services are exchanged for property, income is realized. For example:

  • If a construction firm does work for a retail business in exchange for unsold inventory, it will have income equal to the fair market value of the inventory.
  • If an architectural firm does work for a corporation in exchange for shares of the corporation’s stock, it will have income equal to the fair market value of the stock.

Joining a club

Many businesses join barter clubs that facilitate barter exchanges. These clubs generally use a system of “credit units,” which are awarded to members who provide goods and services. The credits can be redeemed for goods and services from other members.

In general, bartering is taxable in the year it occurs. But if you participate in a barter club, you may be taxed on the value of credit units at the time they’re added to your account, even if you don’t redeem them for actual goods and services until a later year. For example, let’s say that you earn 2,500 credit units one year, and that each unit is redeemable for $2 in goods and services. In that year, you’ll have $5,000 of income. You won’t pay additional tax if you redeem the units the next year, since you’ve already been taxed on that income.

If you join a barter club, you’ll be asked to provide your Social Security number or Employer Identification Number. You’ll also be asked to certify that you aren’t subject to backup withholding. Unless you make this certification, the club is required to withhold tax from your bartering income at a 24% rate.

Tax reporting

By January 31 of each year, a barter club will send participants a Form 1099-B, “Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions,” which shows the value of cash, property, services and credits that you received from exchanges during the previous year. This information will also be reported to the IRS.

Exchanging without exchanging money

By bartering, you can trade away excess inventory or provide services during slow times, all while hanging on to your cash. You may also find yourself bartering when a customer doesn’t have the money on hand to complete a transaction. As long as you’re aware of the federal and state tax consequences, these transactions can benefit all parties involved. Contact us if you need assistance or would like more information.

© 2024

Beware of a stealth tax on Social Security benefits

Some people mistakenly believe that Social Security benefits are always free from federal income tax. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. In fact, depending on how much overall income you have, up to 85% of your benefits could be hit with federal income tax.

While the truth about the federal income tax bite on Social Security benefits may be painful, it’s better to understand it. Here are the rules.

Calculate provisional income

The amount of Social Security benefits that must be reported as taxable income on your tax return depends on your “provisional income.” To arrive at provisional income, start with your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is the number that appears on Page 1, Line 11 of Form 1040. Then, subtract your Social Security benefits to arrive at your adjusted AGI for this purpose.

Next, take that adjusted AGI number and add the following:

  1. 50% of Social Security benefits,
  2. Any tax-free municipal bond interest income,
  3. Any tax-free interest on U.S. Savings Bonds used to pay college expenses,
  4. Any tax-free adoption assistance payments from your employer,
  5. Any deduction for student loan interest, and
  6. Any tax-free foreign earned income and housing allowances, and certain tax-free income from Puerto Rico or U.S. possessions.

The result is your provisional income.

Find your tax scenario

Once you know your provisional income, you can determine which of the following three scenarios you fall under.

Scenario 1: All benefits are tax-free

If your provisional income is $32,000 or less, and you file a joint return with your spouse, your Social Security benefits will be federal-income-tax-free. But you might owe state income tax.

If your provisional income is $25,000 or less, and you don’t file jointly, the general rule is that Social Security benefits are totally federal-income-tax-free. However, if you’re married and file separately from your spouse who lived with you at any time during the year, you must report up to 85% of your Social Security benefits as income unless your provisional income is zero or a negative number, which is unlikely.

Having federal-income-tax-free benefits is nice, but, as you can see, this favorable outcome is only allowed when provisional income is quite low.

Scenario 2: Up to 50% of your benefits are taxed

If your provisional income is between $32,001 and $44,000, and you file jointly with your spouse, up to 50% of your Social Security benefits must be reported as income on Form 1040.

If your provisional income is between $25,001 and $34,000, and you don’t file a joint return, up to 50% of your benefits must be reported as income.

Scenario 3: Up to 85% of your benefits are taxed

If your provisional income is above $44,000, and you file jointly with your spouse, you must report up to 85% of your Social Security benefits as income on Form 1040.

If your provisional income is above $34,000, and you don’t file a joint return, the general rule is that you must report up to 85% of your Social Security benefits as income.

As mentioned earlier, you also must report up to 85% of your benefits if you’re married and file separately from your spouse who lived with you at any time during the year — unless your provisional income is zero or a negative number.

Turn to us

This is only a very simplified explanation of how Social Security benefits are taxed. With the necessary information, we can precisely calculate the federal income tax, if any, on your Social Security benefits.

© 2024

Maximize the QBI deduction before it’s gone

The qualified business income (QBI) deduction is available to eligible businesses through 2025. After that, it’s scheduled to disappear. So if you’re eligible, you want to make the most of the deduction while it’s still on the books because it can potentially be a big tax saver.

Deduction basics

The QBI deduction is written off at the owner level. It can be up to 20% of:

  • QBI earned from a sole proprietorship or single-member LLC that’s treated as a sole proprietorship for tax purposes, plus
  • QBI from a pass-through entity, meaning a partnership, LLC that’s treated as a partnership for tax purposes or S corporation.

How is QBI defined? It’s qualified income and gains from an eligible business, reduced by related deductions. QBI is reduced by: 1) deductible contributions to a self-employed retirement plan, 2) the deduction for 50% of self-employment tax, and 3) the deduction for self-employed health insurance premiums.

Unfortunately, the QBI deduction doesn’t reduce net earnings for purposes of the self-employment tax, nor does it reduce investment income for purposes of the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) imposed on higher-income individuals.

Limitations

At higher income levels, QBI deduction limitations come into play. For 2024, these begin to phase in when taxable income before any QBI deduction exceeds $191,950 ($383,900 for married joint filers). The limitations are fully phased in once taxable income exceeds $241,950 or $483,900, respectively.

If your income exceeds the applicable fully-phased-in number, your QBI deduction is limited to the greater of: 1) your share of 50% of W-2 wages paid to employees during the year and properly allocable to QBI, or 2) the sum of your share of 25% of such W-2 wages plus your share of 2.5% of the unadjusted basis immediately upon acquisition (UBIA) of qualified property.

The limitation based on qualified property is intended to benefit capital-intensive businesses such as hotels and manufacturing operations. Qualified property means depreciable tangible property, including real estate, that’s owned and used to produce QBI. The UBIA of qualified property generally equals its original cost when first put to use in the business.

Finally, your QBI deduction can’t exceed 20% of your taxable income calculated before any QBI deduction and before any net capital gain (net long-term capital gains in excess of net short-term capital losses plus qualified dividends).

Unfavorable rules for certain businesses

For a specified service trade or business (SSTB), the QBI deduction begins to be phased out when your taxable income before any QBI deduction exceeds $191,950 ($383,900 for married joint filers). Phaseout is complete if taxable income exceeds $241,950 or $483,900, respectively. If your taxable income exceeds the applicable phaseout amount, you’re not allowed to claim any QBI deduction based on income from a SSTB.

Other factors

Other rules apply to this tax break. For example, you can elect to aggregate several businesses for purposes of the deduction. It may allow someone with taxable income high enough to be affected by the limitations described above to claim a bigger QBI deduction than if the businesses were considered separately.

There also may be an impact for claiming or forgoing certain deductions. For example, in 2024, you can potentially claim first-year Section 179 depreciation deductions of up to $1.22 million for eligible asset additions (subject to various limitations). For 2024, 60% first-year bonus depreciation is also available. However, first-year depreciation deductions reduce QBI and taxable income, which can reduce your QBI deduction. So, you may have to thread the needle with depreciation write-offs to get the best overall tax result.

Use it or potentially lose it

The QBI deduction is scheduled to disappear after 2025. Congress could extend it, but don’t count on it. So, maximizing the deduction for 2024 and 2025 is a worthy goal. We can help.

© 2024

Better tax break when applying the research credit against payroll taxes

The credit for increasing research activities, often referred to as the research and development (R&D) credit, is a valuable tax break available to certain eligible small businesses. Claiming the credit involves complex calculations, which we’ll take care of for you.

But in addition to the credit itself, be aware that there are two additional features that are especially favorable to small businesses:

  • Eligible small businesses ($50 million or less in gross receipts for the three prior tax years) may claim the credit against alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability.
  • The credit can be used by certain smaller startup businesses against their Social Security payroll and Medicare tax liability.

Let’s take a look at the second feature. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has doubled the amount of the payroll tax credit election for qualified businesses and made a change to the eligible types of payroll taxes it can be applied to, making it better than it was before the law changes kicked in.

Election basics

Subject to limits, your business can elect to apply all or some of any research tax credit that you earn against your payroll taxes instead of your income tax. This payroll tax election may influence you to undertake or increase your research activities. On the other hand, if you’re engaged in — or are planning to undertake — research activities without regard to tax consequences, you could receive some tax relief.

Many new businesses, even if they have some cash flow, or even net positive cash flow and/or a book profit, pay no income taxes and won’t for some time. Thus, there’s no amount against which business credits, including the research credit, can be applied. On the other hand, any wage-paying business, even a new one, has payroll tax liabilities. Therefore, the payroll tax election is an opportunity to get immediate use out of the research credits that you earn. Because every dollar of credit-eligible expenditure can result in as much as a 10-cent tax credit, that’s a big help in the start-up phase of a business — the time when help is most needed.

Eligible businesses

To qualify for the election a taxpayer must:

  • Have gross receipts for the election year of less than $5 million, and
  • Be no more than five years past the period for which it had no receipts (the start-up period).

In making these determinations, the only gross receipts that an individual taxpayer considers are from the individual’s businesses. An individual’s salary, investment income or other income aren’t taken into account. Also, note that an entity or individual can’t make the election for more than six years in a row.

Limits on the election

The research credit for which the taxpayer makes the payroll tax election can be applied against the employer portion of Social Security and Medicare. It can’t be used to lower the FICA taxes that an employer withholds and remits to the government on behalf of employees. Before a provision in the IRA became effective for 2023 and later years, taxpayers were only allowed to use the payroll tax offset against Social Security, not Medicare.

The amount of research credit for which the election can be made can’t annually exceed $500,000. Prior to the IRA, the maximum credit amount allowed to offset payroll tax before 2023 was only $250,000. Note, too, that an individual or C corporation can make the election only for those research credits which, in the absence of an election, would have to be carried forward. In other words, a C corporation can’t make the election for the research credit to reduce current or past income tax liabilities.

These are just the basics of the payroll tax election. Keep in mind that identifying and substantiating expenses eligible for the research credit itself is a complex task. Contact us about whether you can benefit from the payroll tax election and the research tax credit.

© 2024

 

Better tax break when applying the research credit against payroll taxes

 

The credit for increasing research activities, often referred to as the research and development (R&D) credit, is a valuable tax break available to certain eligible small businesses. Claiming the credit involves complex calculations, which we’ll take care of for you.

But in addition to the credit itself, be aware that there are two additional features that are especially favorable to small businesses:

  • Eligible small businesses ($50 million or less in gross receipts for the three prior tax years) may claim the credit against alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability.
  • The credit can be used by certain smaller startup businesses against their Social Security payroll and Medicare tax liability.

Let’s take a look at the second feature. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has doubled the amount of the payroll tax credit election for qualified businesses and made a change to the eligible types of payroll taxes it can be applied to, making it better than it was before the law changes kicked in.

Election basics

Subject to limits, your business can elect to apply all or some of any research tax credit that you earn against your payroll taxes instead of your income tax. This payroll tax election may influence you to undertake or increase your research activities. On the other hand, if you’re engaged in — or are planning to undertake — research activities without regard to tax consequences, you could receive some tax relief.

Many new businesses, even if they have some cash flow, or even net positive cash flow and/or a book profit, pay no income taxes and won’t for some time. Thus, there’s no amount against which business credits, including the research credit, can be applied. On the other hand, any wage-paying business, even a new one, has payroll tax liabilities. Therefore, the payroll tax election is an opportunity to get immediate use out of the research credits that you earn. Because every dollar of credit-eligible expenditure can result in as much as a 10-cent tax credit, that’s a big help in the start-up phase of a business — the time when help is most needed.

Eligible businesses

To qualify for the election a taxpayer must:

  • Have gross receipts for the election year of less than $5 million, and
  • Be no more than five years past the period for which it had no receipts (the start-up period).

In making these determinations, the only gross receipts that an individual taxpayer considers are from the individual’s businesses. An individual’s salary, investment income or other income aren’t taken into account. Also, note that an entity or individual can’t make the election for more than six years in a row.

Limits on the election

The research credit for which the taxpayer makes the payroll tax election can be applied against the employer portion of Social Security and Medicare. It can’t be used to lower the FICA taxes that an employer withholds and remits to the government on behalf of employees. Before a provision in the IRA became effective for 2023 and later years, taxpayers were only allowed to use the payroll tax offset against Social Security, not Medicare.

The amount of research credit for which the election can be made can’t annually exceed $500,000. Prior to the IRA, the maximum credit amount allowed to offset payroll tax before 2023 was only $250,000. Note, too, that an individual or C corporation can make the election only for those research credits which, in the absence of an election, would have to be carried forward. In other words, a C corporation can’t make the election for the research credit to reduce current or past income tax liabilities.

These are just the basics of the payroll tax election. Keep in mind that identifying and substantiating expenses eligible for the research credit itself is a complex task. Contact us about whether you can benefit from the payroll tax election and the research tax credit.

© 2024

 

 

New option for unused funds in a 529 college savings plan

With the high cost of college, many parents begin saving with 529 plans when their children are babies. Contributions to these plans aren’t tax deductible, but they grow tax deferred. Earnings used to pay qualified education expenses can be withdrawn tax-free. However, earnings used for other purposes may be subject to income tax plus a 10% penalty.

What if you have a substantial balance in a 529 plan but your child doesn’t need all the money for college? Perhaps your child decided not to attend college or received a scholarship. Or maybe you saved for private college, but your child attended a lower-priced state university.

What should you do with unused funds? One option is to pay the tax and penalties and spend the money on whatever you wish. But there are more tax-efficient options, including a new 529-to-Roth IRA transfer.

Nuts and bolts

Beginning in 2024, you can transfer unused funds in a 529 plan to a Roth IRA for the same beneficiary, without tax or penalties. These rollovers are subject to several rules and limits:

  • Transfers have a lifetime maximum of $35,000 per beneficiary.
  • The 529 plan must have existed for at least 15 years.
  • The rollover must be through a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer.
  • Transferred funds can’t include contributions made within the preceding five years or earnings on those contributions.
  • Transfers are subject to the annual limits on contributions to Roth IRAs (without regard to income limits).

For example, let’s say you opened a 529 plan for your son after he was born in 2001. When your son graduated from college in 2023, there was $30,000 left in the account. In 2024, under the new option, you can begin transferring funds into your son’s Roth IRA. Since the 529 plan was opened at least 15 years ago (and no contributions were made in the last five years), the only restriction on rollover is the annual Roth IRA contribution limit. Assuming your son hasn’t made any other IRA contributions for 2024, you can roll over up to $7,000 (if your son has at least that much earned income for the year).

If your son’s earned income for 2024 is less than $7,000, the amount eligible for a rollover will be reduced. For example, if he takes an unpaid internship and earns $4,000 during the year from a part-time job, the most you can roll over for the year is $4,000.

A 529-to-Roth IRA rollover is an appealing option to avoid tax and penalties on unused funds, while helping the beneficiaries start saving for retirement. Roth IRAs are a great savings vehicle for young people because they’ll enjoy tax-free withdrawals decades later.

Other options

Roth IRA rollovers aren’t the only option for avoiding tax and penalties on unused 529 plan funds. You can also change a plan’s beneficiary to another family member. Or you can use 529 plans for continuing education, certain trade schools, or even up to $10,000 per year of elementary through high school tuition. In addition, you can withdraw funds tax-free to pay down student loan debt, up to $10,000 per beneficiary.

It’s not unusual for parents to end up with unused 529 funds. Contact us if you have questions about the most tax-wise way to handle them.

© 2024

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

 

134 Sipe Avenue Hummelstown, PA 17036