About Brady Ramsay

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.

Do You Have a Tax-Favored Strategy for Retirement?

Do-You-Have-a-Tax-Favored-Strategy-for-Retirement

Do you have a tax-favored strategy for retirement? Does it include a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA? Both have been around for decades, and the rules surrounding them have changed many times. What hasn’t changed is that they can help you save for retirement on a tax-favored basis. Here’s an overview.

Here’s the skinny on traditional IRA contributions

You can make an annual deductible contribution to a traditional IRA if:

  • You (and your spouse) aren’t active participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans, or
  • You (or your spouse) are active participants in an employer plan, and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) doesn’t exceed certain levels that vary annually by filing status.

For example, in 2022, if you’re a joint return filer covered by an employer plan, your deductible IRA contribution phases out over $109,000 to $129,000 of MAGI ($68,000 to $78,000 for singles).

Deductible IRA contributions reduce your current tax bill, and earnings are tax deferred. However, withdrawals are taxed in full (and subject to a 10-percent penalty if taken before age 59½, unless one of several exceptions applies). You must begin making minimum withdrawals by April 1 of the year following the year you turn age 72.

You can make an annual, nondeductible IRA contribution without regard to employer plan coverage and your MAGI. The earnings in a nondeductible IRA are tax deferred but taxed when distributed (and subject to a 10-percent penalty if taken early, unless an exception applies).

You must begin making minimum withdrawals by April 1 of the year after the year you reach age 72. Nondeductible contributions aren’t taxed when withdrawn. If you’ve made deductible and nondeductible IRA contributions, a portion of each distribution is treated as coming from nontaxable IRA contributions (and the rest is taxed).

Contribution allowances

The maximum annual IRA contribution (deductible or nondeductible, or a combination) is $6,000 for 2022 and 2021 ($7,000 if age 50 or older). Additionally, your contribution can’t exceed the amount of your compensation included in income for that year. There’s no age limit for making contributions, as long as you have compensation income (before 2021, traditional IRA contributions weren’t allowed after age 70½).

The finer points of your Roth IRA

You can make an annual contribution to a Roth IRA if your income doesn’t exceed certain levels based on filing status. For example, in 2022, if you’re a joint return filer, the maximum annual Roth IRA contribution phases out between $204,000 and $214,000 of MAGI ($129,000 to $144,000 for singles). Annual Roth contributions can be made up to the amount allowed as a contribution to a traditional IRA, reduced by the amount you contribute for the year to non-Roth IRAs, but not reduced by contributions to a SEP or SIMPLE plan.

Roth IRA contributions aren’t deductible. However, earnings are tax-deferred and (unlike a traditional IRA) withdrawals are tax-free if paid out:

  • After a five-year period that begins with the first year for which you made a contribution to a Roth, and
  • Once you reach age 59½, or upon death or disability, or for first-time home-buyer expenses of you, your spouse, child, grandchild, or ancestor (up to $10,000 lifetime).

You can make Roth IRA contributions even after reaching age 72 (if you have compensation income), and you don’t have to take the required minimum distributions from a Roth. You can “rollover” (or convert) a traditional IRA to a Roth regardless of your income. The amount taken out of the traditional IRA and rolled into the Roth is treated for tax purposes as a regular withdrawal (but not subject to the 10-percent early withdrawal penalty).

Be sure you know the specifics if your tax-favored strategy for retirement involves a traditional or Roth IRA. The knowledgeable professionals at Ramsay & Associates can help you understand the ins and outs. Contact us for more information about how you may be able to benefit from and save money for retirement with these types of accounts.

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.

Be Your Child’s Wealth Management Coach

Be-your-child’s-wealth-management-coach

If you’ve worked a lifetime to build a large estate, you undoubtedly would like to leave a lasting legacy to your children and future generations. Educate your children about saving, investing, and other money management skills. Be your child’s wealth management coach and help keep your legacy alive.

Tailor your techniques

There’s no one right way to teach your children about money. The best way depends on your circumstances, their personalities, and your comfort level.

If your kids are old enough, consider sending them to a money management class. For younger children, you might start by simply giving them an allowance in exchange for doing household chores. This helps teach them the value of work. And, after they spend the money all in one place a few times and don’t have anything left for something they really want, they (hopefully) will learn the value of saving. Opening a savings account or a Certificate of Deposit (CD), or buying bonds, can help teach kids about investing and the power of compounding.

For families that are charitably inclined, a private foundation can be a vehicle for teaching children about the joys of giving and the impact wealth can make beyond one’s family. For this strategy to be effective, children should have some input into the foundation’s activities.

Timing and amounts of distributions

Many parents take an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to the timing and amounts of distributions to their children — either transferring substantial amounts of wealth all at once or making gifts that are too small to provide meaningful lessons.

Consider making distributions large enough so that your kids have something significant to lose, but not so large that their entire inheritance is at risk. For example, if your child’s trust is worth $2 million, consider having the trust distribute $200,000 when your son or daughter reaches age 21. This amount is large enough to provide a meaningful test run of your child’s financial responsibility while safeguarding the bulk of the nest egg.

Introduce incentives, but remain flexible

An incentive trust is one that rewards children for doing things that they might not otherwise do. Such a trust can be an effective estate planning tool, but there’s a fine line between encouraging positive behavior and controlling your children’s life choices. A trust that’s too restrictive may incite rebellion or invite lawsuits.

Incentives can be valuable, however, if the trust is flexible enough to allow a child to chart his or her own course. A so-called “principle trust,” for example, gives the trustee discretion to make distributions based on certain guiding principles or values without limiting beneficiaries to narrowly defined goals. But no matter how carefully designed, an incentive trust won’t teach your children critical money skills.

Communication is key

Be your child’s wealth management coach as an effective way to educate him or her about money early on. And to maintain family harmony when leaving a large portion of your estate to your children, clearly communicate the reasons for your decisions. Contact your estate planning advisor for more information.

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.