Tax Details When Selling Trade or Business Property

Tax-Details-When-Selling-Trade-or-Business-Property

If you’re selling trade or business property, be aware that there are many tax rules that can potentially apply to such transactions. To simplify discussion, let’s assume that the property you want to sell is land or depreciable property used in your business. And let’s also assume it has been held by you for more than a year. (There are different rules for property held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business; intellectual property; low-income housing; property that involves farming or livestock; and other types of property.) We can help ensure you know the rules and consequences.

General Rules

Under the Internal Revenue Code, your gains and losses from sales of business property are netted against each other. The net gain or loss qualifies for tax treatment as follows:

  1. If the netting of gains and losses results in a net gain, then long-term capital gain treatment results, subject to “recapture” rules discussed below. Long-term capital gain treatment is generally more favorable than ordinary income treatment.
  2. If the netting of gains and losses results in a net loss, that loss is fully deductible against ordinary income. (In other words, none of the rules that limit the deductibility of capital losses applies.)

Recapture Rules

The availability of long-term capital gain treatment for business property net gain is limited by “recapture” rules. These are rules under which amounts are treated as ordinary income rather than capital gain because of previous ordinary loss or deduction treatment for these amounts.

There’s a special recapture rule that applies only to business property. Under this rule, to the extent you’ve had a business property net loss within the previous five years, any business property net gain is treated as ordinary income instead of as long-term capital gain.

Section 1245 Property

Section 1245 Property” consists of all depreciable personal property, whether tangible or intangible, and certain depreciable real property (usually, real property that performs specific functions). If you sell Section 1245 Property, you must recapture your gain as ordinary income to the extent of your earlier depreciation deductions on the asset.

Section 1250 Property

Generally speaking, “Section 1250 Property” consists of buildings and their structural components. If you sell Section 1250 Property that was placed in service after 1986, none of the long-term capital gain attributable to depreciation deductions will be subject to depreciation recapture.

However, for most noncorporate taxpayers, the gain attributable to depreciation deductions, to the extent it doesn’t exceed business property net gain, will (as reduced by the business property recapture rule above) be taxed. That gain will be taxed at a rate of no more than 28.8% (25% as adjusted for the 3.8% net investment income tax) rather than the maximum 23.8% rate (20% as adjusted for the 3.8% net investment income tax) that generally applies to long-term capital gains of noncorporate taxpayers.

Other rules may apply to Section 1250 Property, depending on when it was placed in service.

Understanding the Consequences

As you can see, even with the simplifying assumptions in this article, the tax treatment of the sale of business assets can be complex. To further understand the tax details when selling trade or business property, contact the business tax professionals at Ramsay & Associates. We can help determine the tax consequences of specific transactions or answer any additional questions.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.

Tax Matters to Consider After You File

Tax-Matters-to-Consider-After-You-File

The tax filing deadline for 2021 tax returns has come and gone. Now that your 2021 tax return has been successfully filed with the IRS, there may still be some issues to bear in mind. Here are a few tax matters to consider after you file.

You Can Discard Some Tax Records Now

You should hang onto tax records related to your return for as long as the IRS can audit your return or assess additional taxes. The statute of limitations is generally three years after you file your return. So, you can generally get rid of most records related to tax returns for 2018 and earlier years. (If you filed an extension for your 2018 return, hold on to your records until at least three years from when you filed the extended return.)

However, the statute of limitations extends to six years for taxpayers who understate their gross income by more than 25%.

You should keep certain tax-related records longer. For example, keep the actual tax returns indefinitely, so you can prove to the IRS that you filed a legitimate return. (There’s no statute of limitations for an audit if you didn’t file a return or if you filed a fraudulent one.)

What about your retirement account paperwork? Keep records associated with a retirement account until you’ve depleted the account and reported the last withdrawal on your tax return, plus three (or six) years. And retain records related to real estate or investments for as long as you own the asset, plus at least three years after you sell it and report the sale on your tax return. (Keep these records for six years if you want to be extra safe.)

Anticipating a Refund? Check on It

The IRS has an online tool that can tell you the status of your refund. Go to irs.gov and click on “Get Your Refund Status” to find out about yours. You’ll need your Social Security number, filing status, and the exact refund amount.

Forget to Report Something? You Can Still Make the Correction

In general, you can file an amended tax return and claim a refund within three years after the date you filed your original return or within two years of the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. So, for a 2021 tax return that you file on April 15, 2022, you can generally file an amended return until April 15, 2025.

However, there are a few opportunities when you have longer to file an amended return. For example, the statute of limitations for bad debts is longer than the usual three-year time limit for most items on your tax return. In general, you can amend your tax return to claim a bad debt for seven years from the due date of the tax return for the year that the debt became worthless.

We’re Always Here to Help

If you have questions about tax record retention, your refund or filing an amended return, contact us. The tax professionals at Ramsay & Associates can help explain any tax matters to consider after you file. And we’re available more than just during tax filing time; we’re here all year round.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.

Know the Vacation Home Tax Rules Before Renting

Know-the-Vacation-Home-Tax-Rules-Before-Renting

Summer is just around the corner. If you’re fortunate enough to own a vacation property, you may wonder about the tax consequences of renting it out for part of the year. We’ll break down the specifics so that you know the vacation home tax rules before renting this summer.

Duration is a Factor

The tax treatment depends on how many days the home is 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.

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.

Put it to the Test

Here’s the test: if you use the property personally for more than the greater of 1) 14 days, or 2) 10% of the rental days, you’re using it “too much,” and you can’t claim your 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: 1) interest and taxes, 2) operating costs, 3) depreciation.

If you “pass” the personal use test (i.e., 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 the loss. (The loss is “passive,” however, and may be limited under the passive loss rules.)

Rely on the Experts

As you can see, the rules are complex. But knowing the vacation home tax rules before renting can help you plan ahead and maximize deductions. The professional team at Ramsay & Associates can help you better understand these regulations to benefit your specific situation. Contact us with questions.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.

Can You Deduct Spousal Costs on a Business Trip?

Can-You-Deduct-Spousal-Costs-on-a-Business-Trip?

If you own your own company and travel for business, you may wonder whether you can deduct spousal costs if he or she accompanies you on trips.

The rules for deducting a spouse’s travel costs are very restrictive. First off, to qualify, your spouse must be your employee. This means you can’t deduct the travel costs of a spouse, even if his or her presence has a bona fide business purpose, unless the spouse is a bona fide employee of your business. This requirement prevents tax deductibility in most cases.

A Spouse-Employee

If your spouse is your employee, then you can deduct his or her travel costs if his or her presence on the trip serves a bona fide business purpose. Merely having your spouse perform some incidental business service, such as typing up notes from a meeting, isn’t enough to establish a business purpose. In general, it isn’t sufficient for his or her presence to be “helpful” to your business pursuits — it must be necessary.

In most cases, a spouse’s participation in social functions, for example as a host or hostess, isn’t enough to establish a business purpose. That is, if his or her purpose is to establish general goodwill for customers or associates, this is usually insufficient.

Further, if there’s a vacation element to the trip (for example, if your spouse spends time sightseeing), it will be more difficult to establish a business purpose for his or her presence on the trip. On the other hand, a bona fide business purpose exists if your spouse’s presence is necessary to care for a serious medical condition that you have.

If your spouse’s travel satisfies these tests, the normal deductions for business travel away from home can be claimed. These include the costs of transportation, meals, lodging, and incidental costs such as dry cleaning, phone calls, etc.

A Non-Employee Spouse

Even if your spouse’s travel doesn’t satisfy the requirements, you may still be able to deduct a substantial portion of the trip’s costs. This is because the rules don’t require you to allocate 50% of your travel costs to your spouse. You need only allocate any additional costs you incur for him or her.

For example, in many hotels the cost of a single room isn’t that much lower than the cost of a double. If a single would cost you $150 a night and a double would cost you and your spouse $200, the disallowed portion of the cost allocable to your spouse would only be $50. In other words, you can write off the cost of what you would have paid traveling alone. To prove your deduction, ask the hotel for a room rate schedule showing single rates for the days you’re staying.

And if you drive your own car or rent one, the whole cost will be fully deductible even if your spouse is along. Of course, if public transportation is used, and for meals, any separate costs incurred by your spouse wouldn’t be deductible.

Contact the Professionals

Whether or not you can deduct spousal costs on a business trip depends on specific factors. The accounting, tax, and advisory services professionals at Ramsay & Associates are here to provide answers. Contact us if you have questions about this or other tax-related topics.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.

What to Know if Filing a Gift Tax Return

What-to-Know-if-Filing-a-Gift-Tax-Return

The deadline for filing your federal income tax return is April 18, 2022. Keep in mind that the deadline for filing a gift tax return is on the very same date. So, if you made large gifts to family members or heirs last year, it’s important to determine whether you’re required to file Form 709.

Do you need to file a gift tax return?

Generally, you must file a gift tax return for 2021 if, during the tax year, you made gifts that exceeded the $15,000-per-recipient annual gift tax exclusion (other than to your U.S. citizen spouse). (For 2022, the exclusion amount has increased to $16,000 per recipient or $32,000 if you split gifts with your spouse.)

You also need to file if you made gifts to a Section 529 college savings plan and wish to accelerate up to five years’ worth of annual exclusions ($75,000) into 2021. Other reasons to file include making gifts:

  • That exceeded the $159,000 (for 2021) annual exclusion for gifts to a noncitizen spouse,
  • Of future interests (such as remainder interests in a trust) regardless of the amount, or
  • Of jointly held or community property.

Keep in mind that you’ll owe gift tax only to the extent an exclusion doesn’t apply and you’ve used up your federal gift and estate tax exemption ($11.7 million for 2021). As you can see, some transfers require a return even if you don’t owe tax.

No return needed

Filing a gift tax return is not required if your gifts for the year consist solely of gifts that are tax-free because they qualify as annual exclusion gifts, present interest gifts to a U.S. citizen spouse, educational or medical expenses paid directly to a school or health care provider, or political or charitable contributions.

But if you transferred hard-to-value property, such as artwork or interests in a family-owned business, consider filing a gift tax return even if you’re not required to. Adequate disclosure of the transfer in a return triggers the statute of limitations, generally preventing the IRS from challenging your valuation more than three years after you file.

Rely on the professionals

If you’re unsure whether you should be filing a gift tax return or if you owe gift tax to the IRS, the accounting, tax, and advisory services professionals at Ramsay & Associates can help. Act quickly, though, because the filing deadline is fast approaching. Contact us today.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.