tax savings

Translating the New Tax Bill for Small Businesses

“Am I going to benefit from the new business deduction?”

“Do I need to incorporate to take advantage of it?”

These are questions I’m hearing a lot since the passage of the massive new tax bill. Much of the worry centers around some misconceptions. So, I’d like to outline what’s in the new provision, who it affects, and why you likely don’t need to change a thing to benefit.

The most important outcome of the new tax law (officially the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA) was to give a large, permanent tax cut to corporations. The corporate tax rate went from 35% to 21%. Those numbers are a little deceptive, because most US corporations don’t pay nearly that rate once you factor in tax credits and loopholes. A 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office study found that between 67% and 72% of all active US Corporations between 2006 and 2012 had no tax liability after credits. In fact, the effective corporate tax rate (a much more meaningful number) is closer to 15%. But despite the fact that most corporations don’t pay anything close to the corporate tax rate, the point of the TCJA was largely to cut that rate.

But most businesses in the US are small businesses, not large corporations. In fact, 30.2 million businesses (or 99.9% of US businesses) are small businesses, according to a government-sponsored  2018 US Small Business Administration report. About half the private workforce in the US is employed by small businesses, and more than a quarter of the small businesses are minority-owned. However, the big corporate tax cut rate did not help these businesses at all. So rightfully, Congress introduced a provision into the TCJA to create a little more parity, called the deduction for Qualified Business Income (QBI) (also known as Section 199A). This provision, unlike the corporate tax cuts, is strictly for businesses known as “pass-through entities.” (More on that in a moment.)

But first, here’s what it does: …read more…

Set up For Your Best Year Ever: A Tax Day How-To

tax day help

Here we are at Tax Day. Your taxes are filed. (They aren’t? Here’s an IRS extension form – postmark it today. You’ll need one for your state, too.)

Last year you vowed to get your stuff in order. Then suddenly the tax deadline was upon you, and you scrambled through the process, and weren’t as careful as you intended to be. You suspected you should have been paying estimated quarterly taxes all year, but didn’t, and now your tax bill is surprisingly high.

You meant to set some money aside in a retirement account, but that shocking tax bill meant you didn’t have any cash to do it.

You suspect that there were deductions you missed.

If you’re being honest, your books were a mess (if you’re thinking “I need to keep books?” go back and read this.)

Now that the time pressure is off, let’s take a look at how you can make this year better. Plus some discounts on apps that can help you.  Read more...

The SEP IRA: A Lovesong

SEP IRA

We freelancers pay a lot of tax. We don’t just pay an income tax rate of anywhere from 0 to 39% on our freelance income – we also pay a flat 15.3% self-employment tax, no matter what our income bracket. Without tax planning, this can be a huge bite.

As artists and cultural workers, our freelancer tax strategy is generally to reduce the amount of our taxable self-employment income as much as legally possible. Tax planning is hard, because it’s about saving small bits in many places. There are few silver bullets. But the closest thing there is to a silver bullet is tax-sheltered retirement savings. Read full article

Rent Too Damn High? Deduct Your Home Studio.

One of the best tax breaks out there is the home office (or home studio) deduction. In tax terms, this essentially turns a portion of your nondeductible personal expenses (your home) into deductible business expenses (a workplace). A lot of people are confused about the rules, and some people are scared to take the deduction at all because they’ve heard that it can be a red flag to the IRS. As long as you are following the rules correctly, there is nothing wrong with taking the deduction. And it’s a big one! So here is some help.

First, when can you claim a home office/home studio?

You have to use it both exclusively and regularly.

Exclusive use means that the space is a dedicated workspace – no kids watching TV in there after hours, no guests staying there. There is no wiggle room on this part.  read full article