Choosing the Right Business Entity

llcWhen you decide to start a business, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is choosing the right business entity. It’s a decision that impacts many things–from the amount of taxes you pay to how much paperwork you have to deal with and what type of personal liability you face.

Forms of Business

The most common forms of business are Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), and Corporations (C-Corporations). Federal tax law also recognizes another business form called the S-Corporation. While state law controls the formation of your business, federal tax law controls how your business is taxed.

What to Consider

Businesses fall under one of two federal tax systems:

1. Taxation of both the entity itself on the income it earns and the owners on dividends or other profit participation the owners receive from the business. C-Corporations fall under this system of federal taxation.2. “Pass through” taxation. This type of entity (also called a “flow-through” entity) is not taxed, but its owners are each taxed (more or less) on their proportionate shares of the entity’s income. Pass-through entities include:

  • Sole Proprietorships
  • Partnerships, of various types
  • Limited liability companies (LLCs)
  • “S-Corporations” (S-Corps), as distinguished from C-corporations (C-Corps)

The first major consideration when choosing a business entity is whether to choose one that has two levels of tax on income or one that is a pass-through entity with only one level directly on the owners.

The second consideration, which has more to do with business considerations rather than tax considerations, is the limitation of liability (protecting your assets from claims of business creditors).

Let’s take a general look at each of the options more closely:. Continue reading

IRS Warns of Fake Tax Bill Emails

Numerous reports of scammers sending fraudulent CP2000 Notices for tax-year 2015 have been received by the IRS, resulting in an investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The notice relates to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and requests information regarding 2014 coverage. It also includes a request for payment of unpaid taxes.

Here’s what taxpayers need to know: Continue reading

Cash Flow Management: the Secret to Success

cash-flowCash flow is the lifeblood of any small business. Some business experts even say that a healthy cash flow is more important than your business’s ability to deliver its goods and services.

While that might seem counter-intuitive, consider this: if you fail to satisfy a customer and lose that customer’s business, you can always work harder to please the next customer. If you fail to have enough cash to pay your suppliers, creditors, or employees, you are out of business! Continue reading

Eight Ways Children Lower your Taxes

Got kids? They may have an impact on your tax situation. If you have children, here are eight tax credits and deductions that can help lower your tax burden.

  1. Dependents: In most cases, a child can be claimed as a dependent in the year they were born. Be sure to let the office know if your family size has increased this year. You may be able to claim the child as a dependent this year.
  2. Child Tax Credit: You may be able to take this credit on your tax return for each of your children under age 17. If you do not benefit from the full amount of the Child Tax Credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. The Additional Child Tax Credit is a refundable credit and may give you a refund even if you do not owe any tax.
  3. Child and Dependent Care Credit: You may be able to claim this credit if you pay someone to care for your child under age 13 while you work or look for work. Be sure to keep track of your child care expenses so we can claim this credit accurately.
  4. Earned Income Tax Credit: The EITC is a benefit for certain people who work and have earned income from wages, self-employment, or farming. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund.
  5. Adoption Credit: You may be able to take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt a child.
  6. Coverdell Education Savings Account: This savings account is used to pay qualified expenses at an eligible educational institution. Contributions are not deductible; however, qualified distributions generally are tax-free.
  7. Higher Education Credits: Education tax credits can help offset the costs of education. The American Opportunity and the Lifetime Learning Credit are education credits that reduce your federal income tax dollar for dollar, unlike a deduction, which reduces your taxable income.
  8. Student Loan Interest: You may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income, so you do not need to itemize your deductions.

As you can see, having children can make a big impact on your tax profile. Make sure that you’re getting the appropriate credits and deductions by speaking to a tax professional today.

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Lending Money to a Friend? It Pays to Plan Ahead

lending money.pngLending money to a cash-strapped friend or family member is a noble and generous offer that just might make a difference. But before you hand over the cash, you need to plan ahead to avoid tax complications for yourself down the road.

Take a look at this example: Let’s say you decide to loan $5,000 to your daughter who’s been out of work for over a year and is having difficulty keeping up with the mortgage payments on her condo. While you may be tempted to charge an interest rate of zero percent, you should resist the temptation.

Here’s why. Continue reading

Apps for Tracking Business Mileage

triplog-app
Photo Credit: https://triplogmileage.com/

Every business owner, no matter how small, must keep good records. But whether it’s keeping track of mileage, documenting expenses, or separating personal from business use, keeping up with paperwork is a seemingly never ending job.

No matter how good your intentions are in January, the chances are good that by summer that mileage log is looking a bit empty. Even worse, you could be avoiding tracking your mileage altogether–and missing out on tax deductions and credits that could save your business money at tax time.

The good news is that there are a number of phone applications (apps) that could help you track those pesky business miles. Most of these apps are useful for tracking and reporting expenses, mileage and billable time. They use GPS to track mileage, allow you to track receipts, choose the mileage type (Business, Charitable, Medical, Moving, Personal), and produce formatted reports (IRS compliant HTML and CSV tax return reports) that are easy to generate and share with your CPA, EA, or tax advisor.

Here are three popular apps that help you track your business mileage. Continue reading