Archive for June 2024

Buckle up, America: Major tax changes are on the horizon. The reason has to do with tax law and the upcoming elections.

Our current situation

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which generally took effect in 2018, made sweeping changes. Many of its provisions are set to expire on December 31, 2025.

With this date getting closer each day, you may wonder how your federal tax bill will be affected in 2026. The answer isn’t clear because the outcome of this November’s presidential and congressional elections is expected to affect the fate of many expiring provisions. A new political landscape in Washington could also mean other tax law changes.

Corporate vs. individual taxes

The TCJA cut the maximum corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. It also lowered rates for individual taxpayers, with the highest tax rate reduced from 39.6% to 37%. But while the individual rate cuts expire in 2025, the law made the corporate tax cut “permanent.” (In other words, there’s no scheduled expiration date. Tax legislation could still change the corporate tax rate.)

In addition to lowering rates, the TCJA revised tax law in many other ways. On the individual side, standard deductions were increased, significantly reducing the number of taxpayers who benefit from itemizing deductions for certain expenses, such as charitable donations and medical costs. (You benefit from itemizing on your federal income tax return only if your total allowable itemized write-offs for the year exceed your standard deduction.)

In addition, through 2025, certain itemized deductions are eliminated. Others are more limited, including those for home mortgage interest and state and local tax (SALT).

For small business owners, one of the most significant changes is the potential expiration of the Section 199A qualified business income (QBI) deduction. This is the write-off for up to 20% of QBI from noncorporate pass-through entities, including S corporations and partnerships, as well as from sole proprietorships.

The expiring provisions will affect many taxpayers’ tax bills in 2026, unless legislation extending them is signed into law.

Possible scenarios

The outcome of the presidential election in less than five months, as well as the balance of power in Congress, will determine the TCJA’s future. Here are four possible scenarios:

  1. All of the TCJA provisions scheduled to expire will actually expire at the end of 2025.
  2. All of the TCJA provisions scheduled to expire will be extended past 2025 (or made permanent).
  3. Some TCJA provisions will be allowed to expire, while others will be extended (or made permanent).
  4. Some or all of the temporary TCJA provisions will expire — and new laws will be enacted that provide different tax breaks and/or different tax rates.

How your tax bill will be affected in 2026 will partially depend on which one of these scenarios becomes reality and whether your tax bill went down or up when the TCJA became effective back in 2018. That was based on a number of factors including your income, your filing status, where you live (the SALT limitation negatively affects more taxpayers in certain states), and whether you have children or other dependents.

Your tax situation will also be affected by who wins the presidential election and who controls Congress. Democrats and Republicans have competing visions about how to proceed when it comes to taxes. Proposals can become law only if tax legislation passes both houses of Congress and is signed by the President (or there are enough votes in Congress to override a presidential veto).

The tax horizon

As the TCJA provisions get closer to expiring, it’s important to know what might change and what tax-wise moves you can make if the law does change. We’ll keep you informed about what’s ahead. We’re here to answer any questions you may have.

© 2024

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the third quarter of 2024. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and to learn more about the filing requirements.

July 15

  • Employers should deposit Social Security, Medicare and withheld income taxes for June if the monthly deposit rule applies. They should also deposit nonpayroll withheld income tax for June if the monthly deposit rule applies.

July 31

  • Report income tax withholding and FICA taxes for second quarter 2024 (Form 941) and pay any tax due. (See the exception below, under “August 12.”)
  • File a 2023 calendar-year retirement plan report (Form 5500 or Form 5500-EZ) or request an extension.

August 12

  • Report income tax withholding and FICA taxes for second quarter 2024 (Form 941), if you deposited on time and in full all the associated taxes due.

September 16

  • If a calendar-year C corporation, pay the third installment of 2024 estimated income taxes.
  • If a calendar-year S corporation or partnership that filed an automatic six-month extension:
    • File a 2023 income tax return (Form 1120-S, Form 1065 or Form 1065-B) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due.
    • Make contributions for 2023 to certain employer-sponsored retirement plans.
  • Employers should deposit Social Security, Medicare and withheld income taxes for August if the monthly deposit rule applies. They should also deposit nonpayroll withheld income tax for August if the monthly deposit rule applies.

© 2024

Social Security tax update: How high can it go?

Employees, self-employed individuals and employers all pay Social Security tax, and the amounts can get bigger every year. And yet, many people don’t fully understand the Social Security tax they pay.

If you’re an employee

If you’re an employee, your wages are hit with the 12.4% Social Security tax up to the annual wage ceiling. Half of the Social Security tax bill (6.2%) is withheld from your paychecks. The other half (also 6.2%) is paid by your employer, so you never actually see it. Unless you understand how the Social Security tax works and closely examine your pay statements, you may be blissfully unaware of the size of the tax. It’s potentially a lot!

The Social Security tax wage ceiling for 2024 is $168,600 (up from $160,200 for 2023). If your wages meet or exceed that ceiling, the Social Security tax for 2024 will be $20,906 (12.4% x $168,600). Half of that comes out of your paychecks and your employer pays the other half.

If you’re self employed

Self-employed individuals (sole proprietors, partners and LLC members) know all too well how hard the Social Security tax can hit. That’s because they must pay the entire Social Security tax bill out of their own pockets, based on their net self-employment income. For 2024, the Social Security tax ceiling for net self-employment income is $168,600 (same as the wage ceiling for employees). So, if your net self-employment income for 2024 is $168,600 or more, you’ll pay the maximum $20,906 Social Security tax.

Projected future ceilings

The Social Security tax on your 2024 income is expensive enough, but it could get worse in future years — much worse, according to Social Security Administration (SSA) projections. That’s because the Social Security tax ceiling will continue to go up based on the inflation factor that’s used to determine the increases. In turn, maximum Social Security tax bills for higher earners will go up. The latest SSA projections for Social Security tax ceilings for the next nine years are:

  • $174,900 for 2025,
  • $181,800 for 2026,
  • $188,100 for 2027,
  • $195,900 for 2028,
  • $204,000 for 2029,
  • $213,600 for 2030,
  • $222,900 for 2031,
  • $232,500 for 2032 and
  • $242,700 for 2033.

These projected ceilings are not always accurate (they could be higher or lower). If the projected numbers pan out, the maximum Social Security tax on wages and net self-employment income in 2033 will be $30,095 (12.4% x $242,700).

Your future benefits

Despite what you pay in, you might receive more in Social Security benefits than you pay into the system. An Urban Institute report looked at some average situations. For example, a single man who earned average wages every year of his adult life and retired at age 65 in 2020 would have paid about $466,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes. But he can expect to receive about $640,000 in benefits during retirement. Of course, there are many factors involved and each situation is unique. Plus, these calculations don’t account for the interest the Social Security tax dollars would have earned over the years.

Some people think the government has set up an account with their name on it to hold money to pay their future Social Security benefits. After all, that must be where those Social Security taxes on wages and self-employment income go. Sorry, but this is incorrect. There are no individual accounts — just a promise from the government.

Is the Social Security system financially solid? It’s on shaky ground. Congress has known that for years and has done nothing about it (although there have been many proposals on how to fix things). A Social Security Administration report states that “benefits are now expected to be payable in full on a timely basis until 2037, when the trust fund reserves are projected to become exhausted. At the point where the reserves are used up, continuing taxes are expected to be enough to pay 76% of scheduled benefits.”

The agency adds that “Congress will need to make changes to the scheduled benefits and revenue sources for the program in the future.” These changes could include a higher age to receive full benefits, additional Social Security tax hikes in the form of higher rates, some tax-law revision that effectively implements higher ceilings or a combination of these.

Stay tuned

The Social Security tax paid by many individuals will continue to go up. If you operate a small business, there may be some strategies than can potentially cut your Social Security tax bill. If you’re an employee, you need to take Social Security into account in your financial planning. Contact us for details.

© 2024

With school out, you might be hiring your child to work at your company. In addition to giving your son or daughter some business knowledge, you and your child could reap some tax advantages.

Benefits for your child

There are special tax breaks for hiring your offspring if you operate your business as one of the following:

  • A sole proprietorship,
  • A partnership owned by both spouses,
  • A single-member LLC that’s treated as a sole proprietorship for tax purposes, or
  • An LLC that’s treated as a partnership owned by both spouses.

These entities can hire an owner’s under-age-18 children as full- or part-time employees. The children’s wages then will be exempt from the following federal payroll taxes:

  • Social Security tax,
  • Medicare tax, and
  • Federal unemployment (FUTA) tax (until an employee-child reaches age 21).

In addition, your dependent employee-child’s standard deduction can shelter from federal income tax up to $14,600 of 2024 wages from your business.

Benefits for your business

When hiring your child, you get a business tax deduction for employee wage expense. The deduction reduces your federal income tax bill, your self-employment tax bill and your state income tax bill, if applicable.

Note: There are different rules for corporations. If you operate as a C or S corporation, your child’s wages are subject to Social Security, Medicare and FUTA taxes, like any other employee’s. However, you can deduct your child’s wages as a business expense on your corporation’s tax return, and your child can shelter the wages from federal income tax with the $14,600 standard deduction for single filers.

Traditional and Roth IRAs

No matter what type of business you operate, your child can contribute to an IRA or Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, contributions are made with after-tax dollars. So, taxes are paid on the front end. After age 59½, the contributions and earnings that have accumulated in the account can be withdrawn free from federal income tax if the account has been open for more than five years.

In contrast, contributions to a traditional IRA are deductible, subject to income limits. So, unlike Roth contributions, deductible contributions to a traditional IRA lower the employee-child’s taxable income.

However, contributing to a Roth IRA is usually a much better idea for a young person than contributing to a traditional IRA for several reasons. Notably, your child probably won’t get any meaningful write-offs from contributing to a traditional IRA because the child’s standard deduction will shelter up to $14,600 of 2024 earned income. Any additional income will likely be taxed at very low rates.

In addition, your child can withdraw all or part of the annual Roth contributions — without any federal income tax or penalty — to pay for college or for any other reason. Of course, even though your child can withdraw Roth contributions without adverse tax consequences, the best strategy is to leave as much of the Roth balance as possible untouched until retirement to accumulate a larger tax-free sum.

The only tax law requirement for your child when making an annual Roth IRA contribution is having earned income for the year that at least equals what’s contributed for that year. There’s no age restriction. For the 2024 tax year, your child can contribute to an IRA or Roth IRA the lesser of:

  • His or her earned income, or
  • $7,000.

Making modest Roth contributions can add up over time. For example, suppose your child contributes $1,000 to a Roth IRA each year for four years. The Roth account would be worth about $32,000 in 45 years when he or she is ready to retire, assuming a 5% annual rate of return. If you assume an 8% return, the account would be worth more than three times that amount.


Hiring your child can be a tax-smart idea. However, your child’s wages must be reasonable for the work performed. Be sure to maintain the same records as you would for other employees to substantiate the hours worked and duties performed. These include timesheets, job descriptions and W-2 forms. Contact us with any questions you have about employing your child at your small business.

© 2024

Figuring corporate estimated tax

The next quarterly estimated tax payment deadline is June 17 for individuals and businesses, so it’s a good time to review the rules for computing corporate federal estimated payments. You want your business to pay the minimum amount of estimated tax without triggering the penalty for underpayment of estimated tax.

Four possible options

The required installment of estimated tax that a corporation must pay to avoid a penalty is the lowest amount determined under one of the following four methods:

  • Current year method. Under this option, a corporation can avoid the estimated tax underpayment penalty by paying 25% of the tax shown on the current tax year’s return (or, if no return is filed, 25% of the tax for the current year) by each of four installment due dates. The corporate due dates are generally April 15, June 15, September 15 and December 15. If a due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the payment is due the following business day.
  • Preceding year method. Under this option, a corporation can avoid the estimated tax underpayment penalty by paying 25% of the tax shown on the return for the preceding tax year by each of four installment due dates. (Note, however, that for 2022, certain corporations can only use the preceding year method to determine their first required installment payment. This restriction is placed on corporations with taxable income of $1 million or more in any of the last three tax years.) In addition, this method isn’t available to corporations with a tax return that was for less than 12 months or a corporation that didn’t file a preceding tax year return that showed some tax liability.
  • Annualized income method. Under this option, a corporation can avoid the estimated tax underpayment penalty if it pays its “annualized tax” in quarterly installments. The annualized tax is computed on the basis of the corporation’s taxable income for the months in the tax year ending before the due date of the installment and assumes income will be received at the same rate over the full year.
  • Seasonal income method. Under this option, corporations with recurring seasonal patterns of taxable income can annualize income by assuming income earned in the current year is earned in the same pattern as in preceding years. There’s a somewhat complicated mathematical test that corporations must pass in order to establish that they meet the threshold and therefore qualify to use this method. If you think your corporation might qualify for this method, don’t hesitate to ask for our assistance in determining if it does.

Also, note that a corporation can switch among the four methods during a given tax year.

We can examine whether your corporation’s tax bill can be reduced. If you’d like to discuss this matter further, contact us.

© 2024

Are you an older taxpayer who owns a house that has appreciated greatly? At the same time, you may need income. Thankfully, there could be a solution with a tax-saving bonus. It involves taking out a reverse mortgage.

Reverse mortgage basics

With a reverse mortgage, the borrower doesn’t make payments to the lender to pay down the mortgage principal over time. Instead, the reverse happens. The lender makes payments to you and the mortgage principal gets bigger over time. Interest accrues on the reverse mortgage and is added to the loan balance. But you typically don’t have to repay anything until you permanently move out of the home or pass away.

You can receive reverse mortgage proceeds as a lump sum, in installments over a period of time or as line-of-credit withdrawals. So, with a reverse mortgage, you can stay in your home while converting some of the equity into much-needed cash. In contrast, if you sell your highly appreciated residence to raise cash, it could involve relocating and a big tax bill.

Most reverse mortgages are so-called home equity conversion mortgages, or HECMs, which are insured by the federal government. You must be at least 62 years old to be eligible. For 2024, the maximum amount you can borrow with an HECM is a whopping $1,141,825. However, the maximum you can actually borrow depends on the value of your home, your age and the amount of any existing mortgage debt against the property. Reverse mortgage interest rates can be fixed or variable depending on the deal. Interest rates can be higher than for regular home loans, but not a lot higher.

Basis step-up and reverse mortgage to the rescue

An unwelcome side effect of owning a highly appreciated home is that selling your property may trigger a taxable gain well in excess of the federal home sale gain exclusion tax break. The exclusion is up to $250,000 for unmarried individuals ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly). The tax bill from a really big gain can be painful, especially if you live in a state with a personal income tax. If you sell, you lose all the tax money.

Fortunately, taking out a reverse mortgage on your property instead of selling it can help you avoid this tax bill. Plus, you can raise needed cash and take advantage of the tax-saving basis “step-up” rule.

How the basis step-up works. The federal income tax basis of an appreciated capital gain asset owned by a person who dies, including a personal residence, is stepped up to fair market value (FMV) as of the date of the owner’s death.

If your home value stays about the same between your date of death and the date of sale by your heirs, there will be little or no taxable gain — because the sales proceeds will be fully offset (or nearly so) by the stepped-up basis.

The reverse mortgage angle. Holding on to a highly appreciated residence until death can save a ton of taxes thanks to the basis step-up rule. But if you need cash and a place to live, taking out a reverse mortgage may be the answer. The reason is payments to the lender don’t need to be made until you move out or pass away. At that time, the property can be sold and the reverse mortgage balance paid off from the sales proceeds. Any remaining proceeds can go to you or your estate. Meanwhile, you stay in your home.

Consider the options

If you need cash, it has to come from somewhere. If it comes from selling your highly appreciated home, the cost could be a big tax bill. Plus, you must move somewhere. In contrast, if you can raise the cash you need by taking out a reverse mortgage, the only costs are the fees and interest charges. If those are a fraction of the taxes that you could permanently avoid by staying in your home and benefitting from the basis step-up rule, a reverse mortgage may be a tax-smart solution.

© 2024