TMTW #455 – Creating More Business Meal Tax Deductions After the TCJA

Tax and Money Tip of the Week:
Creating More Business Meal Tax Deductions After the TCJA
October 16, 2019 | No. 455

Here’s good news for business meals: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) removed the “directly related and associated with” requirements from business meals.

The net effect of this change is to subject business meals once again to the pre-1963 “ordinary and necessary” business expense rules.

You are going to like these rules.

Restaurants and Bars

Question 1. If, for business reasons, you take a customer to breakfast, lunch, or dinner at a restaurant or hotel, or to a bar for a few drinks, but you do not discuss business, can you deduct the costs of the meals and drinks?

Answer 1. Yes. Even though you did not discuss business, the law provides that if the circumstances are of a type generally considered conducive to a business discussion, you may deduct the expenses for meals and beverages to the extent they are ordinary and necessary expenses. Consider this “no discussion” meal a “quiet business meal.”

Question 2. What are circumstances conducive to a business discussion?

Answer 2. This depends on the facts, taking into account the surroundings in which the meals or beverages are furnished, your business, and your relationship to the person entertained. The surroundings should be such that there are no substantial distractions to the discussion.

Generally, a restaurant, a hotel dining room, or a similar place that does not involve distracting influences, such as a floor show, is considered conducive to a business discussion. On the other hand, business meals at nightclubs, sporting events, large cocktail parties, and sizable social gatherings would not generally be conducive to a business discussion.

Meals Served in Your Home

Question 3. Does a business meal served in your home disqualify the deduction?

Answer 3. No, as long as you serve the food and beverages under circumstances conducive to a business discussion. But because you are in your home, the IRS adds that you must clearly show that the expenditure was commercially rather than socially motivated.

Goodwill Meals

Question 4. If, for goodwill purposes, you take a customer and his or her spouse to lunch and don’t discuss business, will the cost of the lunch become non-deductible?

Answer 4. Not if, in light of all facts and circumstances, the surroundings are considered conducive to a business discussion, and the expenses are ordinary and necessary expenses of carrying on the business rather than socially motivated expenses.

Question 5. Is the situation the same if the taxpayer’s spouse accompanies the taxpayer at a dinner for business goodwill reasons?

Answer 5. Yes, the meal is deductible. This is true whether or not the customer’s spouse is present. Again, the meal must meet the ordinary and necessary business expense standards.

Document the Meal Deductions

You need to keep records that prove your business meals are ordinary and necessary business expenses. You can accomplish this by keeping the following:

  1. Receipts that show the purchases (food and drinks consumed)

 

  1. Proof of payment (credit card receipt/statement or canceled check)

 

  1. Note of the name of the person or persons with whom you had the meals

 

  1. Record of the business reason for the meal (a short note—say, seven words or fewer)

The costs of your business meals continue to be 50 percent deductible (as they were before the TCJA).

Questions or Comments?
You can add comments on the blog, call 919-847-2981, or visit our web site. We look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Vitek, CPA/PFS, CFP®
…until next week

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TMTW #454 – Rollovers are all bad! Use only direct transfers

Tax and Money Tip of the Week:
Rollovers are all bad! Use only direct transfers
October 9, 2019 | No. 454

Click Here to read an article in Investment News by Ed Slott regarding IRA rollovers.

Questions or Comments?
You can add comments on the blog, call 919-847-2981, or visit our web site. We look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Vitek, CPA/PFS, CFP®
…until next week

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TMTW #453 – The October 15th Deadline is Fast Approaching

Tax and Money Tip of the Week:
The October 15th Deadline is Fast Approaching
October 2, 2019 | No. 453

Final Filing Deadline Reminder

If you need to file a Form 1040 (individual return), the deadline to file is October 15, 2019.  This assumes you had filed for an extension prior to April 15, 2019.  You also have until October 15, 2019 to fund a SEP-IRA for tax year 2018.

As a reminder, putting your tax returns on extension can be a good thing – but penalties to miss the extension deadline can be steep, up to 25% penalty of taxes owed, so make sure that you make the October 15th deadline.

Give us a call if you need help meeting your deadline.

Questions or Comments?
You can add comments on the blog, call 919-847-2981, or visit our web site. We look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Vitek, CPA/PFS, CFP®
…until next week

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TMTW #452 – Don’t Miss the October 15th Deadline

Tax and Money Tip of the Week:
Don’t Miss the October 15th Deadline
September 25, 2019 | No. 452

Final Filing Deadline Reminder

If you need to file a Form 1040 (individual return), the deadline to file is October 15, 2019.  This assumes you had filed for an extension prior to April 15, 2019.  You also have until October 15, 2019 to fund a SEP-IRA for tax year 2018.

As a reminder, putting your tax returns on extension can be a good thing – but penalties to miss the extension deadline can be steep, up to 25% penalty of taxes owed, so make sure that you make the October 15th deadline.

Give us a call if you need help meeting your deadline.

Questions or Comments?
You can add comments on the blog, call 919-847-2981, or visit our web site. We look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Vitek, CPA/PFS, CFP®
…until next week

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TMTW #451 – Know a Teacher? Tell Them About This Tax Break

Tax and Money Tip of the Week:
Know a Teacher? Tell Them About This Tax Break
September 18, 2019 | No. 451

Know a Teacher? Tell Them About This Tax Break

When teachers are setting up their classrooms for the new school year, it’s common for them to pay for a portion of their classroom supplies out of pocket. A special tax break allows these educators to deduct some of their expenses. This educator expense deduction is especially important now due to some changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

Old school

Before 2018, employee business expenses were potentially deductible if they were unreimbursed by the employer and ordinary and necessary to the “business” of being an employee. A teacher’s out-of-pocket classroom expenses could qualify.

But these expenses had to be claimed as a miscellaneous itemized deduction and were subject to a 2% of adjusted gross income (AGI) floor. This meant employees, including teachers, could enjoy a tax benefit only if they itemized deductions (rather than taking the standard deduction) and only to the extent that all their deductions subject to the floor, combined, exceeded 2% of their AGI.

Now, for 2018 through 2025, the TCJA has suspended miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% of AGI floor. Fortunately, qualifying educators can still deduct some of their unreimbursed out-of-pocket classroom costs under the educator expense deduction.

New school

Back in 2002, Congress created the above-the-line educator expense deduction because, for many teachers, the 2% of AGI threshold for the miscellaneous itemized deduction was difficult to meet. An above-the-line deduction is one that’s subtracted from your gross income to determine your AGI.

You don’t have to itemize to claim an above-the-line deduction. This is especially significant with the TCJA’s near doubling of the standard deduction, which means fewer taxpayers will benefit from itemizing.

Qualifying elementary and secondary school teachers and other eligible educators (such as counselors and principals) can deduct above the line up to $250 of qualified expenses. If you’re married filing jointly and both you and your spouse are educators, you can deduct up to $500 of unreimbursed expenses — but not more than $250 each.

Qualified expenses include amounts paid or incurred during the tax year for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom. For courses in health and physical education, the costs of supplies are qualified expenses only if related to athletics.
Questions or Comments?
You can add comments on the blog, call 919-847-2981, or visit our web site. We look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Vitek, CPA/PFS, CFP®
…until next week

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TMTW # 450 – Tax Benefits of Employing Your Child

Tax and Money Tip of the Week:
Tax Benefits of Employing Your Child
September 11, 2019 | No. 450

Tax Reform Increases the Tax Benefits of Employing Your Child

The recent tax reform eliminated personal exemptions for taxable years after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. This makes your child worthless to you on your Form 1040. But there is a way to get even or, perhaps, much more than even.

Let’s set the stage first. For taxable years after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026, the standard deduction for a single taxpayer begins at $12,000 in 2018 and increases every year for inflation. The new standard deduction means that a single taxpayer such as your child can earn up to $12,000 in W-2 wages and pay not a penny in federal taxes.

As the owner of a business, you have the advantage of being able to hire your child to work in your business, and that creates tax-saving opportunities for both you and your child. The big dollar benefits of hiring your child go to the Form 1040, Schedule C taxpayer and the husband-and-wife partnership because such businesses are exempt from FICA when they employ their children who are under age 18.

S and C corporations and non-spouse partnerships do not qualify for this benefit. They have to pay the payroll taxes on all employees—period. There is no parental benefit
Questions or Comments?
You can add comments on the blog, call 919-847-2981, or visit our web site. We look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Vitek, CPA/PFS, CFP®
…until next week

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TMTW # 449 – Protect Yourself (And Get Paid) By Equifax

Tax and Money Tip of the Week:
Protect Yourself (And Get Paid) By Equifax
September 4, 2019 | No. 449

Click Here to read an article by Robert Rapier from Investing Daily regarding the Equifax data breach and the settlement reached by the FTC and Equifax.
Questions or Comments?

You can add comments on the blog, call 919-847-2981, or visit our web site. We look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Vitek, CPA/PFS, CFP®
…until next week

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