Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: What’s New and How Will It Affect Your 2018 Tax Return?

We recently had the pleasure of presenting a seminar on the effect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts on businesses and individuals. This is the first in a series of blog posts highlighting the information covered.

While we were all focused on the changes that were coming courtesy of the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a number of additional tax law revisions took effect. The following is a brief recap.

Partnership Audit Regime Laws – Federal Law

Starting January 1, 2018, this Federal Law allows tax to now be accessed at the partnership level. While this is an administrative win, it comes with hidden ramifications to the taxpayer:

  • Assessed at the highest individual rate of tax – which is currently 37%
  • The 20% 199A (flow-through) deduction is no longer applicable
  • Current partners can be assessed for deficiencies from the year prior.

As a result, we recommend that all partnerships evaluate your partnership agreements.

1099 Withholding and Filing Requirements – State (Pennsylvania) Law

These requirements also went into effect on January 1, 2018.

The 1099 Withholding Requirement means you must engage in withholding on Pennsylvania-sourced non-employee compensation to non-residents. This includes business income and leases of real estate. This withholding is currently on a volunteer basis if the entity receiving payment is receiving $5,000 or less per year.

The new filing requirements state that starting in 2018, 1099s and W2s are required to be filed electronically if you are filing 10 or more forms. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is granting a waiver for the 2018 filing period. Learn more about this requirement in one of our previous blog posts.

Wayfair Decision Affecting Revenue from Online Sources

The Wayfair Decision brings economic nexus to online transactions. “Physical nexus” is when the consumer is making a purchase from a store or transacting with a business with a physical location. With the growth of online shopping, many B2C and B2B transactions take place with companies who do not have a physical presence in Pennsylvania, but their product is coming into Pennsylvania. With the Wayfair Decision, if you are a Pennsylvania-based business conducting online sales with people or companies outside of Pennsylvania, you may have multi-state filing requirements. Most states have differing thresholds, so if you are selling one or two items in a year and do not reach their particular threshold, you would not be required to file.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding these changes, please call us at 215-723-4881. You may also consult our free online 2018-19 Tax Planning, which can be found here.

To view the portions of his seminar that were broadcast via Facebook Live, please visit our Facebook page.

Join us January 29 for a Free Seminar – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: What’s New?

Are you a business owner curious about what the new developments will mean for your 2018 return? Then join us Tuesday, January 29 as we, along with QNB Bank and the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce, share the latest updates, including:

  • NEW Section 199A 20% Passthrough Deduction for S Corps, Partnerships, LLC’s and sole proprietors
  • NEW Partnerships Audit Examination Rules and How to Protect Yourself
  • NEW Bonus Depreciation and Section 179 Limits
  • NEW Pennsylvania 1099 Withholding Requirements
  • NEW Changes in Capital Gains, Mortgage Interest, State and Local Tax Deductions and More

Register with the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce online or via phone at 215-723-9472 by January 22, 2019.

(Download the event flyer.)

We’ll Soon be One Source, Many Services, the Right Decision — All Under One Roof at our New Harleysville Location

We are excited to inform you that later this year, we are looking forward to moving from our Souderton and Hatfield offices to combine under one roof at our newly-acquired Harleysville location.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress with the building renovations as we work to make it our own before settling in. Until then, we are happy to continue to serve you at our Souderton and Hatfield locations.

One Source. Many Services. The Right Decision. This is our motto, which we strive to embody each and every day as our four business units work to serve your Accounting, Computer Solutions, Payroll, and Wealth Management needs.

Time for a “Paycheck Check-up” – IRS Issues New W-4 Form and Updated Withholding Calculator

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, you might be receiving a higher net amount of money in your paycheck. To ensure you’re having the right amount of funds withheld in order to avoid a surprise during next year’s tax season, please follow the recommended steps in this message from the IRS:

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made changes to the tax law, including increasing the standard deduction, removing personal exemptions, increasing the child tax credit, limiting or discontinuing certain deductions and changing the tax rates and brackets.

If changes to withholding should be made, the Withholding Calculator gives employees the information they need to fill out a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Employees will submit the completed W-4 to their employer.

The withholding changes do not affect 2017 tax returns due this April. However, having a completed 2017 tax return can help taxpayers work with the Withholding Calculator to determine their proper withholding for 2018 and avoid issues when they file next year.

Steps to Help Taxpayers: Do a ‘Paycheck Checkup’ 

The IRS encourages employees to use the Withholding Calculator to perform a quick ‘paycheck checkup.’  An employee checking their withholding can help protect against having too little tax withheld and facing an unexpected tax bill or penalty at tax time in 2019. It can also prevent employees from having too much tax withheld; with the average refund topping $2,800, some taxpayers might prefer to have less tax withheld up front and receive more in their paychecks.

The Withholding Calculator can be used by taxpayers who want to update their withholding in response to the new law or who start a new job or have other changes in their personal circumstances in 2018.

As a first step to reflect the tax law changes, the IRS released new withholding tables in January. These tables were designed to produce the correct amount of tax withholding — avoiding under- and over-withholding of tax — for those with simple tax situations. This means that people with simple situations might not need to make any changes. Simple situations include singles and married couples with only one job, who have no dependents, and who have not claimed itemized deductions, adjustments to income or tax credits.

People with more complicated financial situations might need to revise their W-4.  With the new tax law changes, it’s especially important for these people to use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov to make sure they have the right amount of withholding.

Among the groups who should check their withholding are:

  • Two-income families.
  • People with two or more jobs at the same time or who only work for part of the year.
  • People with children who claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit.
  • People who itemized deductions in 2017.
  • People with high incomes and more complex tax returns.

Taxpayers with more complex situations might need to use Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, expected to be available on IRS.gov in early spring, instead of the Withholding Calculator.  This includes those who owe self-employment tax, the alternative minimum tax, or tax on unearned income from dependents, and people who have capital gains and dividends.

Plan Ahead: Tips for Using the Withholding Calculator

The Withholding Calculator asks taxpayers to estimate their 2018 income and other items that affect their taxes, including the number of children claimed for the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and other items.

Take a few minutes and plan ahead to make using the calculator on IRS.gov as easy as possible. Here are some tips:

  • Gather your most recent pay stub from work. Check to make sure it reflects the amount of Federal income tax that you have had withheld so far in 2018.
  • Have a completed copy of your 2017 (or possibly 2016) tax return handy. Information on that return can help you estimate income and other items for 2018.  However, note that the new tax law made significant changes to itemized deductions.
  • Keep in mind the Withholding Calculator results are only as accurate as the information entered. If your circumstances change during the year, come back to the calculator to make sure your withholding is still correct.
  • The Withholding Calculator does not request personally-identifiable information such as name, Social Security number, address or bank account numbers. The IRS does not save or record the information entered on the calculator. As always, watch out for tax scams, especially via email or phone calls and be especially alert to cybercriminals impersonating the IRS. The IRS does not send emails related to the calculator or the information entered.
  • Use the results from the Withholding Calculator to determine if you should complete a new Form W-4 and, if so, what information to put on a new Form W-4. There is no need to complete the worksheets that accompany Form W-4 if the calculator is used.
  • As a general rule, the fewer withholding allowances you enter on the Form W-4 the higher your tax withholding will be. Entering “0” or “1” on line 5 of the W-4 means more tax will be withheld. Entering a bigger number means less tax withholding, resulting in a smaller tax refund or potentially a tax bill or penalty.
  • If you complete a new Form W-4, you should submit it to your employer as soon as possible. With withholding occurring throughout the year, it’s better to take this step early on.”

If you have any questions about your specific situation, please consult with your tax advisor. If you do not currently have a tax advisor, we welcome the opportunity to serve you. Please call 215-723-4881 or contact us online.

Beware a New Kind of Tax Scam

Cybercriminals are stepping up their game this tax season. The IRS is reporting a new kind of tax scam that began only a few days into this year’s filing season. It involves stealing data from the computers of tax preparers and using the data to file fraudulent returns.

“In a new twist, the fraudulent returns in a few cases used the taxpayers’ real bank accounts for the deposit. A woman posing as a debt collection agency official then contacted the taxpayers to say a refund was deposited in error and asked the taxpayers to forward the money to her.”

Here at Canon Capital, we take every possible precaution to ensure that your data remains safe and secure. Steps that you can take to protect your personal data include these steps:

  • Use strong, unique passwords. Better yet, use a phrase instead of a word. Use different passwords for each account. Use a mix of letters, numbers and special characters.
  • If an email contains a link, hover your cursor over the link to see the web address (URL) destination. If it is not a URL you recognize or if it is an abbreviated URL, don’t open it.
  • Use security software to help defend against malware, viruses and known phishing sites and update the software automatically.
  • Send suspicious tax-related phishing emails to phishing@irs.gov.
  • Do not return or click on emails or return a phone call from someone saying they are from the IRS. They simply do not work that way.

If you have any questions about this or any other topic related to your tax planning, we are happy to help. Call 215-723-4881 or contact us online.

IRS Standard Mileage Rates Increase for 2018

The IRS has announced standard mileage rates for 2018. As of January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a vehicle (car, van, pick-up truck, or panel truck) for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes are:

  • 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven (an increase of 1 cent from the 2017 rate)
  • 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (an increase of 1 cent from the 2017 rate)
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

We’ve touched on the importance of keeping good mileage logs and recommend using a mobile app such as TripLog or MileIQ. It’ll save you a lot of time and stress as you gather your financial data for tax preparation.

We’re happy to answer any questions you might have about this or any of your financial service needs. Call 215-723-4881 or contact us online.

Tax Filing Season is Officially Open

Yesterday — Monday, January 29, 2018 –- marked the first day the IRS began accepting tax returns for the 2017 tax year. This year’s deadline to file your taxes is Tuesday, April 17. BusinessInsider.com has this recap on what you can expect for this year’s filing.

Keep in mind that the changes that come with the new tax law do not apply to your 2017 tax year returns. As always, our team of CPAs are here to help. Contact us with any questions.

Prepay Your Property Taxes? It Depends

You’ve probably seen or heard news reports about prepaying 2018 state and local real estate taxes in reaction to the recently-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

With this new legislation, beginning in 2018, taxpayers will be allowed to deduct up to $10,000 of state and local taxes paid, including property taxes and either income taxes or sales taxes. The bill will preserve the deduction for existing home mortgages and cap it at $750,000 for newly purchased homes starting January 1, 2018. The plan will also end the deduction for interest on home equity loans.

So, can you prepay your 2018 real estate taxes in 2017? Yes, and no. If you live in Montgomery or Bucks counties in Pennsylvania, the answer is “No.” Montgomery County has posted the following statement on their website:

The county has received a number of inquiries from individuals seeking to prepay their 2018 county real estate taxes. While the county understands and supports these efforts, Montgomery County is not permitted under Pennsylvania Law to accept such prepayments. Unlike Philadelphia, Delaware, and Allegheny counties, which are governed by Home Rule charters and thus permitted to allow the prepayment of taxes, Montgomery County, as well as Bucks, Chester, and other counties which are not Home Rule, must work within the confines of the tax collection requirements imposed by the Commonwealth. As these requirements explicitly prohibit the prepayment of real estate taxes, Montgomery County is prohibited from accepting 2018 real estate taxes until after the first of the year.

If you pay property taxes in a region where prepayment is permitted, you may only do so if you’ve received your 2018 tax assessment, as this article from Yahoo Finance explains:

But many residents trying to avoid that deduction limit on their state and local taxes will be disappointed: the IRS on Wednesday announced that taxpayers can prepay their 2018 property taxes only if they have already received a tax assessment from their local government and they make payment by the end of the year.

As always, we are here to help. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your tax plan for 2018, please contact us online or call 215-723-4881.

Tax Reform Update: Year-end Moves

As you might be aware, tax reform bills have passed in both the House and Senate.  Both of these bills have some differences and are currently in the process called “reconciliation” to bring one bill to the President for his signature. We will have to wait and see what the final bill includes, but as 2017 is coming to a close rather quickly, there are some year-end “moves” you might want to consider in anticipation of the coming changes for 2018.  Most items included in a new tax law will be effective January 1 of 2018, so this year-end’s planning becomes important to obtain the maximum tax benefits.  Otherwise, certain deductions may be lost forever.

Here are some planning points for you to consider in light of the anticipated tax law changes:

State and Local Taxes

Currently, real estate taxes are deductible for all property owned by a taxpayer, and all state and local income taxes are deductible.

Under the House and Senate plans, there would be a cap of $10,000 for state and local property taxes  ($5,000 for married taxpayers filing separately). The deduction for state and local income taxes potentially might be eliminated altogether.

Therefore, if you are an itemizer, you may want to pay your property tax payments for 2018 ahead of time to include the deduction in your 2017 return. You may also want to consider paying any state and local estimated income taxes in 2017, since the deduction may be lost if you wait until 2018.

Charitable Donations

Since the tax bills are both doubling the standard deduction for all taxpayers (married filing joint to $24,000 and single to $12,000), many taxpayers will no longer be able to itemize deductions, but will instead just take the increased standard deductions.   As a result, this may be the last year many taxpayers obtain a tax benefit for charitable contributions.

Therefore, you may want to consider accelerating any planned donations from 2018 into 2017.  This will also make the ability for taxpayers who are taking required minimum distributions from IRA’s to make their charitable contributions directly from an IRA account.

Mortgage Interest and Home Equity Loans

Currently, mortgage interest is deductible for mortgages on a first or second home. The acquisition debt – that is, mortgages obtained to acquire the property – is capped at $1M and home equity indebtedness – defined as debt secured by the home in excess of acquisition debt – is capped at $100K.

The House plan would reduce the mortgage interest deduction limitation to $500K of debt and limit it to the taxpayer’s primary residence only. It would eliminate the interest deduction on home equity indebtedness altogether.

The Senate plan would keep the limitation of $1M on acquisition debt, but would also limit the deduction on home equity indebtedness.

Therefore, you may want to consider paying down any loans where the interest deduction would be eliminated next year.

Medical Expenses

Currently, medical expenses in excess of 10% of adjusted gross income (7.5% for ages 65 or older) are deductible as an itemized deduction.

Under the House Bill, medical expense deductions would be eliminated. Under the Senate Bill, the deduction is preserved, and the threshold is reduced to 7.5% of adjusted gross income for 2018.

Between the potential for the elimination of the deduction altogether and the increase in the standard deduction, if you currently are near or are close to the 10% limit for 2017, you may want to consider accelerating payments for medical expenses prior to year-end. You may also want to consider scheduling any elective procedures before year-end for you or your dependents.

Other Items to Consider

You will still have the usual decisions to delay or accelerate income and expenses – such as increasing or decreasing 401k or retirement plan contributions, Health Savings Accounts, etc. Investment and capital gain planning will take on a new wrinkle as both bills will now require the use of the FIFO method, instead of the taxpayer having options of methods to recognize gains. If you’re in business, should you buy new assets this year by December 31 when the tax rates are higher, or wait until the rates potentially drop next year?

Both the House and Senate Bills are extremely comprehensive and touch on many other areas, including Alternative Minimum Tax, elimination of other itemized deductions, Alimony, Child Tax Credits, Education Credits, and so on.

Of course, we cannot touch on all topics and scenarios here.  Therefore, we would encourage you to reach out to us with any specific questions you may have on your own situation.  As these two Bills are reconciled and potentially become law, we will continue to keep you informed. Please contact us with any questions. We are happy to be of service.