Using a Car for Business: New Rules Under TCJA

Many of the tax provisions under tax reform were favorable to small business owners including those relating to using a car for business. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Section 179 Expense Deduction

If you bought a new car in 2018 and use it more 50 percent for business use, you can take advantage of the Section 179 expense deduction when you file your 2018 tax return. Under Section 179 you can immediately deduct (rather than depreciating) the cost of certain property in the year it is placed in service. In 2018, the Section 179 expense deduction increases to a maximum deduction of $1 million of the first $2,500,000 million of qualifying equipment placed in service during the current tax year. It is indexed to inflation for tax years after 2018.

For sport utility vehicles (defined as four-wheeled passenger automobiles between 6,000 and 14,000 pounds), however, the maximum deduction is $25,000 (also indexed for inflation). Certain exceptions may apply, however such as a seating capacity of more than nine persons behind the driver’s seat. Vehicles weighing more than 14,000 pounds are typically considered “work vehicles” and would not be used for personal reasons. As such, there is no expense deduction limit.

2. Luxury Auto Depreciation Allowance

For luxury passenger automobiles placed in service after December 31, 2017, the amount of allowable depreciation increases to a maximum of $10,000. The deduction increases to $16,000 for the second year, then decreases to $9,600 for the third year and $5,760 for the fourth year and for years beyond. These dollar amounts are indexed for inflation. Deductions are based on a percentage of business use; i.e., a business owner whose business use of the vehicle is 100 percent can take a larger deduction than one whose business use of a car is only 50 percent.

3. Additional First-Year Bonus Depreciation for Passenger Vehicles

For passenger autos eligible for the additional bonus first-year depreciation, the maximum first-year depreciation allowance remains at $8,000. It applies to new and used (“new to you”) vehicles acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and remains in effect for tax years through December 31, 2022. When combined with the increased depreciation allowance above, the deduction amounts to as much as $18,000.

4. 100 Percent First-Year Bonus Depreciation for Heavy Vehicles

For tax purposes, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs whose gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is more than 6,000 pounds are treated as transportation equipment instead of passenger vehicles. Heavy vehicles (new or used) placed into service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023, qualify for a 100 percent first-year bonus depreciation deduction as well, if business-related use exceeds 50 percent. These deductions are based on percentage of business use and vehicles used less than 50 percent for business are required to depreciate the vehicle cost over a period of six years.

5. Deductions Eliminated for Unreimbursed Expenses for Business use of a Car

Under tax reform miscellaneous itemized expenses were repealed. As such starting in 2018, if you are an employee who is required to use your own vehicle for business-related use and are not reimbursed for these expenses by your employer you are no longer able to claim a deduction for unreimbursed expenses for business use of a car on your tax return.

Questions?

If you have any questions about business use of a car, don’t hesitate to call the office.

 

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Self-Employed? Five Easy Ways to Lower Your Tax Bill

If you’re like most small business owners, you’re always looking for ways to lower your taxable income. Here are five ways to do just that.

1. DEDUCTING THE COST OF A HOME COMPUTER

If you purchased a computer and use it for work-related purposes, you can take advantage of the Section 179 expense election, which allows you to write off new equipment in the year it was purchased if it is used for business more than 50 percent of the time (subject to certain rules).

2. MEAL EXPENSES FOR COMPANY PICNICS AND HOLIDAY PARTIES

If you host a company picnic or holiday party–even if it is at your home–100 percent of your meal expenses are deductible. Prior to tax reform legislation passed in late 2017, 50 percent of your business-related entertainment expenses (with some exceptions) were generally deductible. Starting in 2018, however, entertainment-related expenses are no longer deductible. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.

3. DEDUCT $25 FOR BUSINESS GIFTS TO ASSOCIATES

Don’t overlook the deductible benefit of business gifts during the holidays or at any other time of the year. As a self-employed individual, you can deduct the cost of gifts made to clients and other business associates as a business expense. The law limits your maximum deduction to $25 in value for each recipient for which the gift was purchased with cash.

4. FOOD OFFERED TO THE PUBLIC AT A TRADE SHOW

If you are a frequent trade show exhibitor (or you are in the business of “food”), you know that offering free food is a sure way to get people to visit your booth. Did you know it’s also a tax write off? Typically associated with a promotional campaign, food offered to the public free of charge is 100 percent deductible.

5. MINIMIZE YOUR TAX BILL BY FUNDING A RETIREMENT PLAN

As a self-employed small business owner, there are several retirement plan options available to you, but understanding which option is most advantageous to you can be confusing. The “best” option for you may depend on whether you have employees and how much you want to save each year.

There are four basic types of plans:

  • Traditional and Roth IRAS
  • Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) Plan and Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE)
  • Self-employed 401(k)
  • Qualified and Defined Benefit Plans

To make sure you are getting the most out of your financial future, contact the office to determine your eligibility and to figure out which plan is best for your tax situation.

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