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Top 3 Tax Planning Tips for Construction Companies

We're smack in the middle of another busy tax season, but you might already be wondering how you can do a better job of tax planning for your construction company next year. Ian Grimbleby - Principal, CPA, and Construction Team Leader - offers his top tips.

      Ian Grimbleby, Principal, CPA and Construction Team Lead      

VEHICLES

It's the most common question Grimbleby hears: "Should I buy or lease a new truck for the business?" Grimbleby recommends carefully tracking the miles, gas, and maintenance per vehicle. Knowing those numbers will make it easier to choose between keeping your old trucks vs. purchasing new ones. Sometimes repair expenses are more expensive than a new purchase, Grimbleby says.

Curious about the second most common question Grimbleby receives? It is a follow-up question about vehicles! "So, if I decide to buy a vehicle, how much can I 'write-off' this year?" Vehicles have very specific tax depreciation treatments, which can be complicated to interpret and worth giving us a call to review.

RETIREMENT PLANNING

Saving for retirement is important to most people, and is a common discussion point with our clients. Retirement plans, such as a 401(k) plan, are a great way to reduce income tax now and save for the future; however, knowing what plan type and options to pick for your business can be complicated. In the construction industry, it gets even more complicated if you have government contracts with prevailing wages. We would be pleased to discuss your options.   

SOFTWARE

If you're using a white board or an Excel spreadsheet, you're in grave danger. Those antiquated methods are not a recipe for success in this day and age. The first step to automating the books is to use a tool such as QuickBooks or industry specific accounting software.

"Every company is unique, however, as a general rule, once a construction company reaches the $10 million annual revenue mark, it is time to invest in specialized construction software tools," Grimbleby says. "The software will provide project management, profitability per project, benchmarking, reporting and tax preparation assistance."

 Grimbleby also notes that "$10m in revenue is also the point when you can no longer be taxed based on 'cash' books." Several highly regarded construction software tools to look into are Dexter + Chaney, Jonas, Foundation Software, Sage and Viewpoint.

 Please contact Ian Grimbleby and the Construction Team to learn more tips and recommendations for implementing savvy tax preparation tips into your business practices. 

New Online Conveniences for Clients

We have several exciting announcements to share with you! 

We have an updated website to better serve you.   Of particular note is our Client Corner (top right corner of website), allowing you a single place to login to our various tools, including Portal, Share Files, Bill.com and Intacct.  We are also now offering online credit card payments through our Client Corner. 

As you are likely aware, in response to client demand we will now be delivering tax returns electronically through our secure client portal.  We are pleased to offer you this option to access your information anytime through the Client Corner (Portal/Payroll Login section) of our new website.  We hope you will appreciate the convenience of this new portal service, which will allow us to better secure your documents (avoiding mailing challenges) and continue our efforts to "go green."  In order to utilize the portal, you must be registered; feel free to contact our office for assistance.   For instructions on how to utilize the Portal, please visit the Client Corner, Instructions section. 

We are also able to accept your documents electronically through our Client Portal or our Share Files program (both located in the Client Corner of the website). 

We are excited about these new tools that will allow us to serve you better.  Please contact us (contactus@gccpas.net) with any questions.

Tax Implications of the President's 2015 Budget Proposal

On March 4th, 2014, President Obama released his proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year. The proposal included numerous tax benefits for both individuals and businesses. However, there are other provisions of the proposal that reduce or eliminate other benefits or alter previously “permanent” tax credits, deductions, or deferrals.

Some highlights include:

  • Sec. 179 Depreciation Expense “permanently” increased from $25,000 to $500,000 annually, possibly retroactive back to 1/1/14
  • Increase of the Estate Tax rate from 40% to 45%, while decreasing the exclusion amount from $5 million to $3.5 million for estate taxes, and down to $1 million for gift taxes
  • Requiring minimum distributions from some Roth IRAs
  • Placing a cap on the amount of deferred capital gain from like-kind exchanges of real property to $1 million per taxpayer per year
  • Expanding the eligibility for the Small Employer Health Insurance Credit by defining a qualified employer as a group with 50 full time equivalents rather than 25
  • Subjecting owners that materially participate in a professional service business (health, law, engineering, performing arts, accounting, architectural, actuarial services, brokerage and consulting) to self-employment taxes regardless of the form of ownership (i.e. S Corporations, Limited Partners and LLC Members)
  • Tax carried (profits) interests as ordinary income, rather than capital gain, and subject the income to self-employment taxes
  • Repeal LIFO method of accounting for inventories

Commerce Clearing House (CCH) has produced a more in-depth overview of the President’s proposal that is available online at http://tax.cchgroup.com/downloads/files/pdfs/legislation/2015-Federal-Budget-Proposals.pdf

Should you have any questions regarding how these proposed changes could affect you or your business, please contact us at (209) 527-4220 or contactus@gccpas.net

Same-Sex Couples: IRS Provides Additional Guidance on Tax Implications

On June 26th, 2013, the Supreme Court found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, unconstitutional. As a result of this ruling, the Internal Revenue Service has announced full recognition of same-sex marriages for federal tax purposes even if the state in which they are domiciled does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriages. The terms “spouse”, “husband and wife”, “husband”, and “wife” will now include an individual married to a person of the same sex.  These conclusions do not apply to registered domestic partners, civil unions, or other similar formal relationships.

Here are just a few of the major implications of this ruling:

  • Income Tax: Married same-sex couples will now be required to file a joint return or as married individuals filing separately. Couples involved in legal separations or living apart for more than six months will not be treated as married. Filing as married may result in increased income tax liability due to the “marriage penalty” phenomenon, thus making this ruling advantageous for some couples and detrimental for others.
  • Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Considerations: An individual is eligible for an unlimited marital deduction for gifts made to a United States citizen spouse or for property passing to a United States citizen surviving spouse upon the individual’s death. Under the “portability” provisions of the estate tax, the unused estate tax exemption of the first spouse to die may be used upon the death of the surviving spouse. A number of other transfer tax provisions are premised upon the treatment of an individual as the spouse of another individual. This is due to the marital status of an individual being a significant factor in estate and transfer tax planning.
  • Qualified Plans and Fringe Benefits: Some employers have extended health insurance and other fringe benefit coverage for same-sex domestic partners of their employees, whether their relationship is described as a legal marriage or civil union or the other individual is simply identified as a domestic partner by the employee. However, under section 3 of DOMA, such employers could not treat the benefits as being provided to a spouse and have generally been required to treat the value of these benefits as taxable compensation to the employee. Such taxable income was likely reported on Form W-2 subject to federal income tax and employment tax withholding and reporting. These benefits provided to legally-married same-sex couples are not taxable to employees in light of the Windsor decision, and the guidance from the IRS advises individuals and employers as to the process for seeking refunds of income taxes and employment taxes. Many employers will be required to amend their qualified plans in order to maintain their qualified status and may be required to make corrections to their plan operations. No such changes will be required until further guidance is provided.
  • Effective Dates and Amended Returns: The IRS’ new guidelines will be published on September 16, 2013, and will become effective on that date. However, the IRS will allow taxpayers to claim federal benefits retroactively in cases where it would prove advantageous to the taxpayer.

For any original income tax return filed on or after September 16, whether for 2012 or an earlier taxable year, an individual’s marital status must be determined consistent with the guidance. In other words, if the individual is legally married under applicable state or foreign law as of the end of the taxable year for which the return is filed, the individual must file a joint return or as a married individual filing separately. For Individual returns filed before September 16th, a same-sex couple may file as two single individuals or as married individuals.

In a situation where an original return has already been filed, an amended return may be filed at the taxpayer’s discretion in order to file as a married individual filing separately or a married couple filing a joint return, however, potentially significant limitations may apply.

The IRS has published online the full text of the revenue ruling, as well as answers to frequently asked questions of legally married same-sex couples and registered domestic partners and individuals in civil unions. Due to the many complex tax implications brought about by the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling, we highly recommend individuals and employers seek the tax planning advice of a seasoned tax professional.  Please let us know if we can assist you or answer any questions. Contact us at (209) 527-4220 or contactus@gccpas.net

New Fiscal Cliff Legislation Will Affect Many Taxpayers in Coming Years

As you may have already heard, the foreboding “Fiscal Cliff” was narrowly avoided recently with the passing of legislation on January 1, 2013. The legislation, titled the American Taxpayer Relief Act, allows Bush-era tax rates to sunset for individuals in the top tax brackets; permanently patches the alternative minimum tax (AMT); revives expired or expiring tax extenders; provides for a maximum estate tax of 40 percent with a $5 million exclusion; and delays sequestration. Below, we outline some of the most iinfluential changes brought about by this federal legislation. Details can be found online on the CCH website.


For Individuals

Individual Income Tax Rates

The lowered Bush Era income tax rates will be carried forward for all individuals, with the exception of taxpayers with taxable income above $400,000 ($450,000 for married taxpayers or $425,000 for heads of households), who will be taxed at a 39.6 percent rate.

Dividends and Capital Gains

Taxpayers in the 39.6 percent tax bracket will be subject to a higher dividends and capital gains tax rate of 20 percent, up from 15 percent. All other taxpayers will continue to pay a maximum rate of 15 percent. A zero percent rate will apply to all capital gains and dividends for taxpayers below  the 15 percent income tax bracket.   

Marriage Penalty Relief

The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act’s (EGTRRA) increased basic standard deductions for married couples filing jointly, will be extended.

Permanent Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Relief

A permanent AMT patch, adjusted for inflation, will be retroactive to 2012.  Without this relief, taxpayers would have been limited to the previous exclusion amount of $33,750 for single taxpayers and $45,000 for married taxpayers.  The act increases this amount to $50,600 for single taxpayers and $78,750 for married taxpayers.

Pease Limitation

The “Pease” limitation on itemized deductions will be revived. The Pease limitation trims the deductibility of most itemized deductions by the lesser of three percent of adjusted gross income above a specified threshold or 80 percent of a person’s itemized deductions. The limit would apply to individual taxpayers with income of more than $250,000 and couples with income of $300,000 or more. Although most itemized deductions are affected, the provision exempts deductions for medical expenses, investment interest, and casualty losses.

Personal Exemption Phase-Out

The personal exemption phase-out will be reinstated, but with slightly higher AGI starting thresholds (adjusted for inflation): $300,000 for married filing jointly, $275,000 for head of household, and $250,000 for single.

Federal Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Transfer (GST) Taxes

Federal estate tax rates will be permanently set at 40 percent with an annually (inflation) adjusted $5 million exclusion for estates of descendents dying after December 31, 2012.  “Portability” between spouses will be extended permanently. Deductions for state estate taxes will be extended. A number of other provisions affecting conservation easements, qualified family-owned business easements, the installment payment of estate tax for closely-held businesses, and repeal of the 5 percent surtax on estates larger than $10 million have also been extended. A 40 percent tax rate and unified estate and gift tax exemption of $5 million (inflation adjusted) for gifts made after 2012 has been provided for.  A number of GST tax-related provisions are also extended.

State and Local Sales Tax Deductions

The election to claim an itemized deduction for state and local general sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes has been extended through 2013.

Child Tax Credit

The $1,000 child tax credit will be extended permanently.

Earned Income Credit

Enhancements to the earned income credit (EIC) will be extended through 2017. These enhancements include a simplified definition of earned income, reform of the relationship test and modification of the tie breaking rule.

Adoption Credit

Bush-era enhancements to the adoption credit and the income exclusion for employer-paid or reimbursed adoption expenses up to $10,000 will be extended permanently.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

The current 35 percent credit rate and $3,000 cap on expenses for one qualifying individual and the $6,000 cap on expenses for two of more qualifying individuals will be extended permanently.

Employer-Provided Child Care Credit

Credit for employer-provided child care facilities and services will permanently be extended.

American Opportunity Tax Credit

The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), an enhanced version of the HOPE education credit, will be extended through 2017.

Education Incentives

A number of enhancements to tax incentives designed to promote education have been extended, including:

  • Deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses (extended through 12/31/2013)
  • Suspension of the 60-month rule for the $2,500 above-the-line student loan interest deduction (permanently extended)
  • Enhancements to the Coverdell Education savings accounts (permanently extended)
  • Exclusion from income and employment taxes of employer-provided education expenses up to $5,250 (permanently extended)

Other Individual Tax Extenders

A variety of other individual tax extenders have been extended either through 2013 or permanently. Read the CCH Legislation Update, page 8, for details.

 

For Businesses

Code Sec. 179 Small Business Expensing

The enhanced Code Sec. 179 small business expensing will be extended through 2013. The dollar limit for 2012 and 2013 is $500,000 with a $2 million investment limit. The rule allowing off-the-shelf computer software is also extended.

Bonus Depreciation

50 percent bonus depreciation will be extended through 2013. Some transportation and longer period production property is eligible for 50 percent bonus depreciation through 2014.

Research Tax Credit

The Code Sec. 41 research tax credit will be extended through 2013.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)

The WOTC, which rewards employers that hire individuals from targeted groups with a tax credit, will be extended through 2013.

Qualified Leasehold/Retail Improvements, Restaurant Property

The 15-year recovery period for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified retail improvements, and qualified restaurant property will be extended through 2013.

Other Business Tax Extenders

A variety of other business tax extenders have been extended through 2013. Read the CCH Legislation Update, page 10, for details.

 

Energy Incentives

For Individuals

The Code Sec. 25C credit, available to individuals who make energy efficiency improvements to their existing residence, has been extended at the $500 credit limit level through December 31, 2013.

Renewable Resources

The Sec. 45 production tax credit for facilities that produce energy from wind facilities has been extended through 2013.

Other Energy Tax Incentives

A variety of other energy incentives have been extended through 2013. Read the CCH Legislation Update, page 10, for details.

 

To find out more about how the American Taxpayer Relief Act could affect your financial future, please contact our office at (209) 572-4220 or ContactUs@gccpas.net. We will be happy to assist you.

 

 

Featured Article

Top 3 Tax Planning Tips for Construction Companies
We're smack in the middle of another busy tax season, but you might already be wondering how you can do a better job of tax planning for your construction company next year. Ian Grimbleby - Principal, CPA, and Construction Team Leader - offers his top tips.       Ian Grimbleby, Principal, CPA and Construction Team Lead       VEHICLES It's the most common question Grimbleby hears: "Should I buy or lease a new truck for the business?" Grimbleby recommends carefully tracking the miles, gas, and maintenance per vehicle. Knowing those numbers will make it easier to choose between keeping your old trucks vs. purchasing new ones. Sometimes repair expenses are more expensive than a new purchase, Grimbleby says. Curious about the second most common question Grimbleby receives? It is a follow-up question about vehicles! "So, if I decide to buy a vehicle, how much can I 'write-off' this year?" Vehicles have very specific tax depreciation treatments, which can be complicated to interpret and worth giving us a call to review. RETIREMENT PLANNING Saving for retirement is important to most people, and is a common discussion point with our clients. Retirement plans, such as a 401(k) plan, are a great way to reduce income tax now and save for the future; however, knowing what plan type and options to pick for your business can be complicated. In the construction industry, it gets even more complicated if you have government contracts with prevailing wages. We would be pleased to discuss your options.    SOFTWARE If you're using a white board or an Excel spreadsheet, you're in grave danger. Those antiquated methods are not a recipe for success in this day and age. The first step to automating the books is to use a tool such as QuickBooks or industry specific accounting software. "Every company is unique, however, as a general rule, once a construction company reaches the $10 million annual revenue mark, it is time to invest in specialized construction software tools," Grimbleby says. "The software will provide project management, profitability per project, benchmarking, reporting and tax preparation assistance."  Grimbleby also notes that "$10m in revenue is also the point when you can no longer be taxed based on 'cash' books." Several highly regarded construction software tools to look into are Dexter + Chaney, Jonas, Foundation Software, Sage and Viewpoint.  Please contact Ian Grimbleby and the Construction Team to learn more tips and recommendations for implementing savvy tax preparation tips into your business practices. 

Featured News

Make-A-Wish "Wishmaker's Ball"
      

The Make-A-Wish "Wishmaker's Ball" is February 28th at the DoubleTree Hotel. Grimbleby Coleman is particularly supportive of Make-A-Wish, while Scott Zehner, CPA is a member of the Board. Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. Grimbleby Coleman is proud to be part of this year's Wishmaker's Ball, and we invite you to learn more about this special organization.  We are continually inspired by the difference this organization makes in the lives of the kids and the families that it serves. 

To learn more about this organization and event, please visit: http://necannv.wish.org/ 

Featured Staff

Lori is an Experienced Senior Associate at Grimbleby Coleman, helping clients resolve accounting and internal control issues.  She's a graduate of Golden Gate University and has her CPA and CPR, "just in case someone gets a big tax bill and needs to be revived." We assure she is joking!

Outside of the office, Lori is a member of the Fun Sport Bike Club of Modesto. She spends much of her time outdoors biking and running. In the summer, you might even find her "taking my best attempt at swimming" for a triathlon. 

Lori admires Bill Crosby for his high level of education and belief that the future lies in education, Stephen King for his books and imagination, and her husband because he's simply "incredible". 

Her favorite number is 13. "I feel sorry for it and believe in giving all a fair chance."

Lori Bateman, CPA Experienced Senior Associate read more

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