9 Tax Rules to Consider If You’re Your Own Boss

Does the idea of being your own boss and being in business for yourself appeal to you? 

Many people who launch small businesses start out as sole proprietors. However, there are tax rules and considerations to consider if you’re a sole proprietor.

Here are nine things to consider if you are your own boss

1 – You may qualify for the pass-through deduction

To the extent your business generates qualified business income, you are eligible to claim the 20% pass-through deduction, subject to limitations. 

There are tax rules to consider if you're your own boss

The deduction is taken “below the line,” meaning it reduces taxable income, rather than being taken “above the line” against your gross income.

However, you can take the deduction even if you don’t itemize deductions and instead claim the standard deduction.

2 – Report income and expenses on Schedule C of Form 1040 

The net income will be taxable to you regardless of whether you withdraw cash from the business. 

Your business expenses are deductible against gross income and not as itemized deductions. 

If you have losses, they will generally be deductible against your other income, subject to special rules related to hobby losses, passive activity losses, and losses in activities in which you weren’t “at risk.”

3 – Pay self-employment taxes

For 2020, you pay self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare) at a 15.3% rate on your net earnings from self-employment of up to $137,700, and Medicare tax only at a 2.9% rate on the excess. 

An additional 0.9% Medicare tax (for a total of 3.8%) is imposed on self-employment income in excess of $250,000 for joint returns; $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separate returns; and $200,000 in all other cases. 

Self-employment tax is imposed in addition to income tax, but you can deduct half of your self-employment tax as an adjustment to income. 

4 – Make quarterly estimated tax payments 

For 2019, these are due April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15, 2021. 

5 – You may be able to deduct home office expenses 

If you work from a home office, perform management or administrative tasks there, or store product samples or inventory at home, you may be entitled to deduct an allocable portion of some costs of maintaining your home. 

And if you have a home office, you may be able to deduct expenses of traveling from there to another work location.

6 – You can deduct 100% of your health insurance costs as a business expense 

This means your deduction for medical care insurance won’t be subject to the rule that limits medical expense deductions.

7 – Keep complete records of your income and expenses

Specifically, you should carefully record your expenses in order to claim all the tax breaks to which you’re entitled. 

Certain expenses, such as automobile, travel, meals, and office-at-home expenses, require special attention because they’re subject to special recordkeeping rules or deductibility limits. 

8 – Requirements change if you hire employees

When you hire employees, you need to get a taxpayer identification number and withhold and pay employment taxes. 

9 – Consider establishing a qualified retirement plan 

The advantage is that amounts contributed to the plan are deductible at the time of the contribution and aren’t taken into income until they’re are withdrawn. 

Because many qualified plans can be complex, you might consider a SEP plan, which requires less paperwork. 

A SIMPLE plan is also available to sole proprietors that offers tax advantages with fewer restrictions and administrative requirements. 

If you don’t establish a retirement plan, you may still be able to contribute to an IRA. 

David Mills CPA, LLC has the expertise to assist small businesses

At David Mills CPA, LLC, we work with small businesses throughout the Central Illinois.

We have offices in Morton and East Peoria and can assist business owners with advice, bookkeeping, payroll, income tax planning and preparations, and business valuations

We can also help business owners understand the various business structures to ensure their business is structured to best meet their needs.

For more information, contact David Mills CPA, LLC today.

Business Cents-Per-Mile Rate Decreases for 2020

In 2020, the optional standard mileage rate used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business decreased by one-half cent, to 57.5 cents per mile.

As a result, you might claim a lower deduction for vehicle-related expenses for 2020 than you can for 2019.

Calculating your deduction

Businesses can generally deduct the actual expenses attributable to the business use of vehicles. This includes gas, oil, tires, insurance, repairs, licenses and vehicle registration fees.

In addition, you can claim a depreciation allowance for the vehicle. However, in many cases, depreciation write-offs on vehicles are subject to certain limits that don’t apply to other types of business assets.

The cents-per-mile rate comes into play if you don’t want to keep track of actual vehicle-related expenses.

With this approach, you don’t have to account for all your actual expenses, although you still must record certain information, such as the mileage for each business trip, the date, and the destination.

Using the mileage rate is also popular with businesses that reimburse employees for business use of their personal vehicles.

Such reimbursements can help attract and retain employees who drive their personal vehicles extensively for business purposes.

Why? Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employees can no longer deduct unreimbursed employee business expenses, such as business mileage, on their own income tax returns.

Rules apply for cents-per-mile rate

If you do use the cents-per-mile rate, be aware that you must comply with various rules. If you don’t, the reimbursements could be considered taxable wages to the employees.

How is the rate determined?

The rate for 2020 Beginning on January 1, 2020, the standard mileage rate for the business use of a car (van, pickup or panel truck) is 57.5 cents per mile.

It was 58 cents for 2019 and 54.5 cents for 2018. The business cents-per-mile rate is adjusted annually.

It’s based on an annual study commissioned by the IRS about the fixed and variable costs of operating a vehicle, such as gas, maintenance, repair and depreciation.

Occasionally, if there’s a substantial change in average gas prices, the IRS will change the mileage rate midyear.

Factors to consider

There are some situations when you can’t use the cents-per-mile rate. In some cases, it partly depends on how you’ve claimed deductions for the same vehicle in the past.

In other cases, it depends on if the vehicle is new to your business this year or whether you want to take advantage of certain first-year depreciation tax breaks on it.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider in deciding whether to use the mileage rate to deduct vehicle expenses.

At David Mills CPA, LLC, our expert can help if you have questions about tracking and claiming such expenses in 2020 — or claiming them on your 2019 income tax return.

David Mills CPA, LLC has offices in Morton and East Peoria.

Doing Business Across State Lines? Reexamine Your Sales Tax Obligations

Does your company do business across state lines? If so, it’s a good idea to reexamine your sales tax obligations.

In its 2018 decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld South Dakota’s “economic nexus” statute, expanding the power of states to collect sales tax from remote sellers.

Today, nearly every state with a sales tax has enacted a similar law, which makes it prudent for companies doing business across state lines to review their tax obligations.

What Does Nexus Mean?

South Dakota’s economic nexus statute was upheld, but what’s nexus? A state is constitutionally prohibited from taxing business activities unless those activities have a substantial “nexus,” or connection, with the state.

Even without a physical presence in a state, businesses could still be required to pay tax.

Before Wayfair, simply selling to customers in a state wasn’t enough to establish nexus. The business also had to have a physical presence in the state, such as offices, retail stores, manufacturing or distribution facilities, or sales reps.

In Wayfair, the Supreme Court ruled that a business could establish nexus through economic or virtual contacts with a state, even if it didn’t have a physical presence.

The Court didn’t create a bright-line test for determining whether contacts are “substantial,” but found that the thresholds established by South Dakota’s law are sufficient.

Out-of-state businesses must collect and remit South Dakota sales taxes if, in the current or previous calendar year, they have

  1. more than $100,000 in gross sales of products or services delivered into the state, or
  2. 200 or more separate transactions for the delivery of goods or services into the state.

What Are the Next Steps?

The vast majority of states now have economic nexus laws, although the specifics vary. Many states adopted the same sales and transaction thresholds accepted in Wayfair, but a number of states apply different thresholds.

And some chose not to impose transaction thresholds, which many view as unfair to smaller sellers (an example of a threshold might be 200 sales of $5 each would create nexus).

How are Illinois Businesses Affected?

In Illinois, Public Acts 101-0009 and 101-0604 “expanded nexus to include marketplace facilitators that meet certain thresholds effective Jan. 1, 2020.”

map of the United States
The nexus tax laws can vary by state.

According to state officials, marketplace facilitators who meet state nexus thresholds are required to register to collect and remit Illinois Use Tax for sales made through their marketplace.

Marketplace sellers selling through the marketplace are not responsible for collecting and remitting Illinois Use Tax on these sales. (Read more about Illinois nexus requirements)

What Business Owners Should Know

If your business makes online, telephone or mail-order sales in states where it lacks a physical presence, it’s critical to find out whether those states have economic nexus laws and determine whether your activities are sufficient to trigger them.

If you have nexus with a state, you’ll need to register with the state and collect state and applicable local taxes on your taxable sales there. Even if some or all of your sales are tax-exempt, you’ll need to secure exemption certifications for each jurisdiction where you do business.

Alternatively, you might decide to reduce or eliminate your activities in a state if the benefits don’t justify the compliance costs.

What if You Sell on Amazon or Ebay?

If you make sales through a “marketplace facilitator,” such as Amazon or Ebay, be aware that an increasing number of states have passed laws that require such providers to collect taxes on sales they facilitate for vendors using their platforms.

David Mills, CPA, LLC Can Help Small Businesses

If you need assistance in setting up processes to collect sales tax or you have questions about your responsibilities, call David Mills, CPA, LLC. Our experts can help answer all your small business tax questions.

Contact David Mills, CPA LLC’s Morton or East Peoria offices today.

Plan Your 2020 Q1 Tax Calendar Key Deadlines

Keeping track of key tax-related deadlines for your business is an ongoing concern. Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the first quarter of 2020.

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.

Key Dates to Know

January 31 is the deadline to File 2019 Forms W-2 “Wage and Tax Statement,” with the Social Security Administration and provide copies to your employees.

Provide copies of 2019 Forms 1099-MISC, “Miscellaneous Income,” to recipients of income from your business where required.

File 2019 Forms 1099-MISC reporting nonemployee compensation payments in Box 7 with the IRS. File Form 940, “Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return,” for 2019.

If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it’s more than $500, you must deposit it.

However, if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.

File Form 941, “Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return,” to report Medicare, Social Security and income taxes withheld in the fourth quarter of 2019.

If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.

If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return. (Employers that have an estimated annual employment tax liability of $1,000 or less may be eligible to file Form 944, “Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return.”)

File Form 945, “Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax,” for 2019 to report income tax withheld on all nonpayroll items, including backup withholding and withholding on accounts such as pensions, annuities and IRAs.

If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.

February 28 File 2019 Forms 1099-MISC with the IRS if 1) they’re not required to be filed earlier and 2) you’re filing paper copies. (Otherwise, the filing deadline is March 31.)

March 16 If a calendar-year partnership or S corporation, file or extend your 2019 tax return and pay any tax due.

If the return isn’t extended, this is also the last day to make 2019 contributions to pension and profit-sharing plans.

Contact David Mills CPA for Small Business Tax Advice

If you have questions about meeting applicable deadlines or to learn more about filing requirements, contact David Mills CPA, LLC. We have offices in Morton and East Peoria or can arrange a video conference with you.

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Can’t Meet in Person? Try a Video Conference

Video conference options mean meeting with the professionals at David Mills CPA, LLC is as easy as looking at your phone.

We utilize the Zoom software to host video conference meetings with clients. It’s an easy-to-use program, where no account or password is created.

Laptops, tablets and cell phones are designed for video conferences

Because most laptops, tablets and cell phones have built-in cameras, there’s no additional hardware to purchase.

We understand individuals and business owners lead busy lives. Finding time to come to either our Morton or East Peoria location can be difficult.

With a video conference, you can have a meeting wherever you are. We will send you a link to directly connect to your tax preparer. It’s the ideal solution for those out of town or with busy schedules.

Set up your video conference appointment today

Contact David Mills CPA, LLC today to learn more about video conferencing or to set up an appointment.

Small Businesses: It May Not Be Too Late to Cut Your 2019 Taxes

Don’t let the holiday rush keep you from taking some important steps to reduce your 2019 tax liability.

You still have time to execute a few strategies, including:

1. Buying assets

Thinking about purchasing new or used heavy vehicles, heavy equipment, machinery or office equipment in the new year? Buy it and place it in service by December 31, and you can deduct 100% of the cost as bonus depreciation.

Although “qualified improvement property” (QIP) — generally, interior improvements to nonresidential real property — doesn’t qualify for bonus depreciation, it’s eligible for Sec. 179 immediate expensing. And QIP now includes roofs, HVAC, fire protection systems, alarm systems and security systems placed in service after the building was placed in service.

You can deduct as much as $1.02 million for QIP and other qualified assets placed in service before January 1, not to exceed your amount of taxable income from business activity.

Once you place in service more than $2.55 million in qualifying property, the Sec. 179 deduction begins phasing out on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Additional limitations may apply.

2. Making the most of retirement plans

If you don’t already have a retirement plan, you still have time to establish a new plan, such as a SEP IRA, 401(k) or profit-sharing plans (the deadline for setting up a SIMPLE IRA to make contributions for 2019 tax purposes was October 1, unless your business started after that date).

If your circumstances, such as your number of employees, have changed significantly, you also should consider starting a new plan before January 1.

Although retirement plans generally must be started before year-end, you usually can deduct any contributions you make for yourself and your employees until the due date of your tax return. You also might qualify for a tax credit to offset the costs of starting a plan.

3. Timing deductions and income

If your business operates on a cash basis, you can significantly affect your amount of taxable income by accelerating your deductions into 2019 and deferring income into 2020 (assuming you expect to be taxed at the same or a lower rate next year).

For example, you could put recurring expenses normally paid early in the year on your credit card before January 1 — that way, you can claim the deduction for 2019 even though you don’t pay the credit card bill until 2020.

In certain circumstances, you also can prepay some expenses, such as rent or insurance and claim them in 2019.

As for income, wait until close to year-end to send out invoices to customers with reliable payment histories. Accrual-basis businesses can take a similar approach, holding off on the delivery of goods and services until next year.

Proceed with caution
Bear in mind that some of these tactics could adversely impact other factors affecting your tax liability, such as the qualified business income deduction.  For more information about small business tax liability or other business advisement services, contact the experts at David Mills CPA, LLC. 

© 2019

 

New Law Provides Variety of Tax Breaks to Businesses and Employers

While you were celebrating the holidays, you may not have noticed that Congress passed a law with a grab bag of provisions that provide tax relief to businesses and employers.

The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 was signed into law on December 20, 2019. It makes many changes to the tax code, including an extension (generally through 2020) of more than 30 provisions that were set to expire or already expired.

Two other laws were passed as part of the law (The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019 and the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act – SECURE).

Here are five highlights:

1. Long-term part-timers can participate in 401(k)s

Under current law, employers generally can exclude part-time employees (those who work less than 1,000 hours per year) when providing a 401(k) plan to their employees.

A qualified retirement plan can generally delay participation in the plan based on an employee attaining a certain age or completing a certain number of years of service but not beyond the later of completion of one year of service (that is, a 12-month period with at least 1,000 hours of service) or reaching age 21.

Qualified retirement plans are subject to various other requirements involving who can participate.

For plan years beginning after Dec. 31, 2020, the new law requires a 401(k) plan to allow an employee to make elective deferrals if the employee has worked with the employer for at least 500 hours per year for at least three consecutive years and has met the age-21 requirement by the end of the three-consecutive-year period.

There are a number of other rules involved that will determine whether a part-time employee qualifies to participate in a 401(k) plan.

2. The employer tax credit for paid family and medical leave is extended

Tax law provides an employer credit for paid family and medical leave. It permits eligible employers to claim an elective general business credit based on eligible wages paid to qualifying employees with respect to family and medical leave.

The credit is equal to 12.5% of eligible wages if the rate of payment is 50% of such wages and is increased by 0.25 percentage points (but not above 25%) for each percentage point that the rate of payment exceeds 50%. The maximum leave amount that can be taken into account for a qualifying employee is 12 weeks per year.

The credit was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2019. The new law extends it through 2020.

3. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is extended

Under the WOTC, an elective general business credit is provided to employers hiring individuals who are members of one or more of 10 targeted groups. The new law extends this credit through 2020.

4. The medical device excise tax is repealed

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contained a provision that required that the sale of a taxable medical device by the manufacturer, producer or importer is subject to a tax equal to 2.3% of the price for which it is sold.

This medical device excise tax originally applied to sales of taxable medical devices after Dec. 31, 2012.

The new law repeals the excise tax for sales occurring after December 31, 2019.

5. The high-cost, employer-sponsored health coverage tax is repealed

The ACA also added a nondeductible excise tax on insurers when the aggregate value of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for an employee, former employee, surviving spouse or other primary insured individual exceeded a threshold amount.

This tax is commonly referred to as the tax on “Cadillac” plans.The new law repeals the Cadillac tax for tax years beginning after December 31, 2019.

Stay tuned

These are only some of the provisions of the new law. We will be covering them in the coming weeks. If you have questions about your situation, don’t hesitate to contact us at David Mills CPA, LLC.
© 2019

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Who Can I Contact for QuickBooks Help?

Are you a QuickBooks user who just needs a little help? Does your business bookkeeper need a resource for her QuickBook questions? The QuickBooks-certified ProAdvisors at David Mills, CPA, LLC, are your central Illinois QuickBooks help experts.

No matter what your needs are – from beginner to advanced QuickBooks – we’re here to help.

We Offer Phone, In-Person and Remote-Access QuickBooks Support

At David Mills, CPA, LLC, we offer one-on-one in-person training. We can also answer your QuickBook questions over the phone.

If you require us to come to your business to provide on-site Quickbooks support, we’re more than willing to accommodate your needs.

We also can remotely login to your computer and talk you through an issue step-by-step.

Searching for answers to your QuickBook questions online can be time-consuming and frustrating. Finding the answer to your specific question or situation may be nearly impossible.

For QuickBooks Help, ProAdvisors Can Answer Your Questions

To become a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, our staff members had to study and pass an intensive exam. Earning the certification ensures they know the QuickBooks program and can answer any questions you may have.

We understand small-business bookkeepers often find themselves in a department of one. Having a resource they can reach out to for help is ideal. 

If you need QuickBooks assistance for your business, contact us to see how we can help. David Mills, CPA, LLC, has offices in both Morton and East Peoria

Read more about QuickBooks.

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QuickBooks Training Can Organize Your Accounts

Is your desk a mess? Piles of papers and bill stacked precariously, Post-it notes covering every available surface and scraps of papers with mysterious names, numbers, and figures? Perhaps you know you need QuickBooks, but where to start?

The professional staff at David Mills, CPA, LLC are QuickBooks-certified ProAdvisor experts. Their QuickBooks training is geared toward helping small-business owners and staff use and utilize QuickBooks.

The key to business success is organization. Not every business owner is an accounting expert, but the QuickBooks software is designed to keep everything organized and in one place.

David Mills’ Staff are QuickBooks ProAdvisors

QuickBooks offers desktop and cloud-based online versions, and the QuickBooks ProAdvisors at David Mills, CPA, LLC, know and understand both and can make sure you have the correct program for your business.

Using QuickBooks, businesses can manage and pay bills, accept business payments, track employee time, and organize payroll functions.

On-Site and One-on-One QuickBooks Training Available

Untidy stack of papers

Make 2020 the year you get your business finances in order. Schedule your QuickBooks training with David Mills, CPA, LLC.

David Mills CPA provides one-on-one QuickBooks training or training with multiple members of your staff. We travel to your location and can help install the software. Our in-person QuickBooks training is geared toward you.

Our ProAdvisors will help design and set up the chart of accounts as well as set up payroll, receivables, payables, inventory and other features needed by your business.

We use your actual data, not generic information, so you can be sure the QuickBooks training your receive appropriately fits your business. 

David Mills’ QuickBook ProAdvisors can answer your specific questions and needs. 

Give your business a clear vision for 2020. Start the new year with QuickBooks set up and training from David Mills, CPA, LLC.

Contact us today for more information. David Mills, CPA, LLC, has offices in both Morton and East Peoria.

Read more about our QuickBook services.

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How do Business Structures Differ?

Starting a new business is an exciting venture, but with so many business structures, deciding the legal structure of your company can seem overwhelming. Will it be a sole proprietorship? A corporation? Is it an LLC?

Trying to figure out the various business legal structures can seem complex. However, the experts at David Mills, CPA, LLC have the experience and knowledge to provide expert advice and guidance

Two sets of hands, one holding a phone and the other holding a business document

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says there are five primary types of business structures. Which one you chose will affect which income tax return form you have to file.

The five most common business legal structures are:

Sole Proprietorship

In a sole proprietorship, the individual who owns the business is an unincorporated business by themselves. 

This type of business structure is sometimes known as the sole trader, individual entrepreneurship or proprietorship. There is no legal distinction between the owner and the business entity. 

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a sole proprietorship is “the simplest and most common structure chosen to start a business.” 

Partnership

A partnership is when two or more individuals join together to create a business. According to the IRS, in a partnership “each person contributes money, property, labor or skill, and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business.”

Within a partnership, there are two common types: limited partnerships (LP) and limited liability partnerships (LLP). 

The U.S. Small Business Administration notes a limited partnership has one partner with unlimited liability and all others with limited liability. 

In a limited partnership, the partners with limited liability tend to have limited control over the company. Profits are passed through to personal tax returns, and the general partner — the partner without limited liability — must also pay self-employment taxes.

A limited liability partnership (LLP) gives limited liability to every owner. This structure protects each partner from debts against the partnership.

Corporation

When a corporation is formed, prospective shareholders exchange money, property or both, for the corporation’s capital stock. 

Sometimes called a “C-corp” a corporation is a legal entity separate from its owners. 

The Small Business Administration notes corporations offer “the strongest protection to its owners from personal liability” but “the cost to form a corporation is higher than other structures.”

Operating a corporation requires more extensive record-keeping and reporting.

S Corporation

The IRS says S Corporations “are corporations that elect to pass corporate income, losses, deductions, and credits through to their shareholders for federal tax purposes.”

Becoming an S Corporation requires a business to meet certain qualifications including being a domestic corporation and having no more than 100 shareholders.

Businesses must file with the IRS to earn S Corporation status.

Limited Liability Company

A limited liability company, more commonly referred to as an “LLC” combines the advantages of both the corporation and partnership business structures.

An LLC can protect an individual from personal liability in most instances. 

Owners of an LLC are known as “members” and the members can be individuals, corporations, other LLCs or foreign entities. Most states, including Illinois, permit “single-member” LLCs, in which there is only one owner.

Let the Experts at David Mills, CPA, LLC Help

The professionals at David Mills, CPA, LLC, have offices in both Morton and East Peoria. They work with business clients in the Tri-County (Peoria, Woodford and Tazewell) area as well as beyond.

When establishing a business, contact David Mills, CPA, LLC to ensure the legal entity you select best matches your professional goals.