Tax Deductions

Should you itemize this tax season? Some important things to keep in mind for 2020.

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Should you itemize this tax season? That is a common question for many taxpayers this season. Are you holding off seeing an accountant because you aren’t sure whether or not you will need to itemize?

I’m sorry to tell you, the only way you’ll truly know whether or not you should itemize is to ask a tax professional. But since (good) accountants charge by the hour, you might want to prepare the proper documentation before you step foot into an accountant’s office.

That’s understandable. We’ll help you navigate the big questions of deductions and whether or not you should itemize your tax return for the 2019 tax season. Then we’ll instruct you as to what types of documentation you’ll need to collect if you do decide to itemize.

Should you take the standard deduction? 

For the 2019 tax season, the standard deduction is up to $12,200 for a single person. This means most taxpayers are going to take the standard deduction.

Here is a chart breaking down both the standard deduction for the 2019 tax season (the taxes you’re currently prepping) and the 2020 tax season (next year’s tax return).

Status

2019

2020

Married Filing Jointly

$24,400

$24,800

Head of Household

$18,350

$18,650

Single

$12,200

$12,400

Married Filing Separately

$12,200

$12,400

If you’re wondering what makes this number change year to year, you can blame tax changes (the 2018 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act bumped the standard single person deduction from $6,000 to $12,000) and inflation.  Congress adjusts the amount of the standard deduction to accommodate inflation.

The big boost in the standard deduction means that anywhere between 85 and 95% of taxpayers won’t need to itemize. We’ll help you determine if you’re part of that approximately 13% that the IRS estimates will itemize for the 2019 tax season.

How do you know if you should itemize? 

You’ll have to add it up.

Check your filing status (and the filing status of a spouse or any dependents). Find out what the standard deduction is for your status. Then add up all your expenses and see if you come in under, close to, or over the standard deduction.

A good accountant would help you maximize what you can write off, but you can get a gist of what you’ll need if you prepare ahead of time.

Start by finding out if you can itemize these 4 major deductions:

  • Charitable contributions

  • Medical Expenses

  • Mortgage interest

  • State and local taxes (think property and sales tax)

Medical expenses and mortgage interest alone might be high enough to put you over the threshold.  If you haven’t made it over the approximate $12k yet, continue by assessing how much you can deduct from these expenses:

  • Casualty, disaster and theft losses

  • Business expenses

  • Tax preparation fees

  • Investment interest

  • Mileage on a vehicle

  • Home office deductions

This covers a lot of areas where you might commonly receive a deduction.  The business deduction point will be a particularly tricky one if you aren’t strict about your record-keeping.

Remember, you don’ t need to get an exact count, you just need to get a rough idea of what you’ll need. That way you spend less time in the accountant’s office and more time doing what you do best.

Who might want to itemize? 

If you aren’t into adding up all the numbers, here are some categories of person who might want to itemize:

  • You run your own business – You have to spend money to make money, which means you’re making less money than it looks like on paper.

  • You have a high-interest rate on your mortgage.

  • You had a lot of medical expenses in the past year.

  • You pay for your own healthcare out of pocket.

If you’re even questioning whether or not you meet the threshold to itemize, its time to schedule a meeting with an accountant. This post helped you determine whether or not your tax situation might warrant itemizing deductions, now talk to your local tax advisor to find out for certain.

 

3 Tax Benefits for New York Veterans

Current and former members of the military are eligible for certain tax exemptions.

“These exemptions and credits are one small way we can show our gratitude to the brave and dedicated individuals who currently serve or have served in our military,” said Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion in a 2017 press release.

Photo by Benjamin Faust on Unsplash

Photo by Benjamin Faust on Unsplash

In today’s post, we’ll examine a handful of the exemptions available for New York veterans.

Property Tax 

As many as half a million New York veterans benefit from property tax exemptions, many of which are offered by local governments.

Depending on the circumstance, the property tax burden of a wartime veteran could be up to 15% or even as high as 25% if the veteran serves in a combat zone.  Cold War veterans (between 1945 and 1991) could see up to 15% in exemptions.

If the veteran was disabled in the line of duty, they could see up to 50% off in exemptions.

How do these property tax exemptions work?

In September 2017, Gov. Cuomo signed a bill that allowed the 679 school districts the option to allow exemptions for Cold War veterans for the entirety of the time the veteran owns the property. Prior, it was 10 years.

To find out which of these exemptions applies to you, you’ll need to contact your local assessor’s office. Visit NYS’s Municipal Profiles website to get the contact information you need.

Military Pay  

If your permanent home was in NYS before you entered the military, you don’t have to pay income tax on your active-duty pay. But it isn’t quite that simple.

You have to meet ALL three of the following conditions:

  • Didn’t have a permanent home in NY

  • Maintained a permanent abode outside of NY (this excludes military quarters like barracks, BOQ, etc.)

  • Spent less than 30 days in New York during the year

Basically, you need have not lived in New York almost at all for the entirety of the year to be eligible for this perk. You also had to be living somewhere off-base/ship to not owe income taxes.

Hire a Veteran Credit 

There are two types of hire a veteran credit. They are:

  • Corporations subject to franchise tax

  • Individuals, estates and trusts under personal income tax laws

This credit applies if you or your business:

  • Hires a qualified veteran before January 1, 2020

  • Employees the qualified veteran for 35 hours

If the veteran is disabled, the credit is 15% of the total wages paid during the first full year of employment. That amount can’t exceed $15,000 per veteran.

If the veteran isn’t disabled, the credit is10%  of the total wages paid during the first full year of employment. For nondisabled veterans, the credit is capped at $5,000.

These are just a handful of the tax benefits, credits, and exemptions that veterans can take advantage of. Reach out to one of our tax professionals and we’ll ensure you’re getting the most tax benefits from your service.

 

6 FAQs About 529 College Savings Plans

College is a large expense and one worth planning for, especially if you want your future college graduate to start their lives with minimal debt. One common way to prepare for such an expense is to open a 529 college savings plan.

Photo by Ruijia Wang on Unsplash

Photo by Ruijia Wang on Unsplash

What is a 529 plan?

College savings 529 plans are state-sponsored savings accounts that offer both tax and financial aid benefits.

What states run a 529 program?  

Almost every state has a 529 program, each with different perks and benefits. You can pick based on perks and you don’t need to live in the state you opened the account in.

You can look at 529 plan options using this tool from SavingforCollege.com.

What are the two types of college 529 plans?

There are two types of 529 plans, they are:

  • College savings plans – This plan is similar to a Roth 401k or Roth IRA by allowing you to contribute after-tax income in the form of mutual funds and other types of investments. There are a number of investment options to choose from and the 529 account will go up and down and value according to those investment choices. The money is this account is available for tuition, books, and often housing.

  • College prepaid tuition-  This plan can be used to pre-pay all or part of the costs of an in-state public college education. Sometimes, they can be converted for use at private or out-of-state colleges.

What are the perks of using a 529 savings plan?

Each state provides slightly different incentives for its 529 programs. But some of the overall benefits include:

  • Large income tax breaks (for federal and often state taxes)

  • The donor stays in control of the account until its use

  • They’re low maintenance

When can you start them?

You can start one of these savings plans at any time. Most 529 programs are “set it and forget it” meaning the investments come straight out of your paycheck or bank account.

Where can I learn more about college 529 plans?

There are a lot of online resources for comparing and ranking different 529 programs. You can reference one of these, or reach out to your friendly neighborhood tax professionals. We can help you select the best option for you.

*Contact us here*

6 Tax Deductions That Went Extinct in 2018

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was called one of the largest tax overhauls in 30 years. It went into effect at the beginning of 2018, which means taxpayers are starting to feel the impact now. Some households will benefit from it, others will not. Here are some deductions that have been eliminated or reduced.

Moving Expenses
Unless you or a spouse is in the military and is currently on active duty, you won’t be able to take any deductions for moving. In the past, those who moved for a job and paid the moving cost could deduct most of their expenses.

Personal Deductions
Deductions for personal exemptions, which can be worth $4,050 for each exemption, were eliminated and replaced with a larger standard deduction and an expanded child tax credit.

Paying Alimony
If you’re paying alimony on a divorce finalized before December 31, 2019, then you can deduct those payments one last time.

Unreimbursed Job Expenses
This fell into the category of miscellaneous itemized deductions, an area that has been greatly reduced by the latest tax laws. It means that anything an employee pays for while on the job and doesn’t get reimbursed for, is not deductible.

State and Local Taxes
You used to be able to fully deduct any amount of state or local taxes. Now that cap is set at $10,000 meaning those with high state income and property taxes will get much less back.

Tax Preparation Fees
Tax preparation fee deductions were eliminated as part of the miscellaneous fees. This is will occur from 2018-2025. That means you cannot deduct payments to accountant, tax prep firms, or tax preparation software.

The Business & Tax Benefits of Westchester County

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Thinking of starting a business?

Westchester County is the perfect place to start a business. There are lots of countywide programs to get your business off the ground and geographical benefits from being in Westchester County.

Proximity to NYC

Depending on where you are in Westchester County, you’ll be close to the bustling economic center of New York City without having to deal with commuting to the city.

You’ll also be located close to Connecticut and parts of upstate New York.

That means you’ll be within drivable range for all of these areas.

Get Ahead With Westchester’s IDA Program Benefits

Westchester County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) can help you grow or start your business.

Use the benefits from this program to:

  • Build or renovate office parks or buildings
  • Develop mixed-use projects including hotels, marketers, medical office space, etc.
  • Support extensive multi-family and multi-use residential

This past January, the agency funded $391 million worth of residential projects in 2019. They’ve helped get hundreds of businesses off the ground and have given them a variety of benefits. For more details, check out IDA’s website.

Tax Exemptions

The IDA agency can also provide exemptions for use and sales tax in the following areas:

  • Construction
  • Furnishings
  • Business equipment
  • Related capital improvements

Check out the policy here.

Westchester County wants businesses to move in, so find out what both the county and the town/city you’re in offers in the way of incentives.

Image: Fred Murphy/C.C 2.0

Preparing for Tax Season 2019

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We know it’s not even Christmas yet, but some of you are probably wondering what the new tax law will mean for your finances heading into 2018. The news can’t decide if the changes are good or bad, but the answer for you will depend on your individual circumstances. Here is some basic information to help give you an idea of what to expect, but don’t worry. This is what we do best.

Standard Deduction Doubled

You may be familiar with the standard deduction. Many people use it rather than itemizing. For 2018, the amount of the standard deduction will roughly double:

  • $12,000 for single filers, up from $6,350
  • $24,000 for married filing jointly, up from $12,700
  • $12,000 for married filing separately, up from $6,350
  • $18,000 for heads of household, up from $9,350

This means that many of you may receive more money back when you file your taxes. This increase is balanced by changes to many deductions.

Deductions and Exemptions Removed

The increase in the standard deduction is balanced by the removal of several individual deductions and exemptions, including all of the miscellaneous itemized deductions. Many of these apply to specific life circumstances, so they may or may not affect you. Examples include:

  • The personal exemption (an amount claimed against income for the filer and each dependent;
  • The unreimbursed employee business expense (when an employee pays business expenses out of their personal funds—such as nurses, salespeople, and educators); and
  • The home office deduction (for those who work out of their homes and pay for services related to their work).

Deductions Changed

While many deductions were removed, some of the most commonly used were preserved, though altered.

  • The mortgage interest deduction was limited going forward. It will only apply to a mortgage to purchase, renovate, or build your home up to $750,000 (up to $375,000 if married filing jointly).
  • The medical expenses deduction was made more accessible by lowering the floor to deduct such expenses from 10% of income down to 7.5% of income.
  • The child tax credit was expanded to $2,000 per qualifying child and is potentially refundable up to $1,400.

Conclusion

There are many changes starting with your 2018 taxes that will affect whether you get more or less back when you file. It can seem very confusing and overwhelming, but we are here to help you when the time comes. You don’t have to do it alone.

When an Elderly Parent Might Qualify as Your Dependent

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

It’s not uncommon for adult children to help support their aging parents. If you’re in this position, you might qualify for an adult-dependent exemption to deduct up to $4,050 for each person claimed on your 2017 return.

Basic qualifications

For you to qualify for the adult-dependent exemption, in most cases your parent must have less gross income for the tax year than the exemption amount. (Exceptions may apply if your parent is permanently and totally disabled.) Social Security is generally excluded, but payments from dividends, interest and retirement plans are included.

In addition, you must have contributed more than 50% of your parent’s financial support. If you shared caregiving duties with one or more siblings and your combined support exceeded 50%, the exemption can be claimed even though no one individually provided more than 50%. However, only one of you can claim the exemption in this situation.

Important factors

Although Social Security payments can usually be excluded from the adult dependent’s income, they can still affect your ability to qualify. Why? If your parent is using Social Security money to pay for medicine or other expenses, you may find that you aren’t meeting the 50% test.

Also, if your parent lives with you, the amount of support you claim under the 50% test can include the fair market rental value of part of your residence. If the parent lives elsewhere — in his or her own residence or in an assisted-living facility or nursing home — any amount of financial support you contribute to that housing expense counts toward the 50% test.

Easing the burden

An adult-dependent exemption is just one tax break that you may be able to employ on your 2017 tax return to ease the burden of caring for an elderly parent. Contact us for more information on qualifying for this break or others.

Tax lesson for teachers: Educator expenses can be written off

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

By Bankrate

tax deductions for teachers

Teachers on average spend $530 of their own money during the school year to pay for supplies, snacks for students and other classroom items.

Teachers and other educators can get a tax deduction of up to $250 for some of those costs as well as continuing education expenses.

Even better, they don’t have to itemize to get the tax break. Educator expenses are one of the so-called above-the-line deductions claimed directly on a Form 1040 or via tax software.

Educator expenses deduction enhanced

Congress made the tax break for educators a permanent part of the tax code in 2015.

Lawmakers also indexed the $250 maximum deduction amount for inflation. It didn’t change for the 2016 tax year, because of low inflation, but it could increase in future years.

What items are deductible?

Besides teachers, counselors, principals and aides can take the deduction if, for the tax year, they were employed at a state-approved public or private school system from kindergarten through grade 12, and worked at least 900 hours during the school year.

Educators can write off unreimbursed costs for:

  • Books
  • Supplies
  • Computer and other equipment (including software and services)
  • Supplementary materials used in the classroom
  • Professional development programs

The IRS also applies its “ordinary and necessary” rule here. An item purchased for your classroom must be considered ordinary:  something that is common and accepted in the education profession.

It also must be necessary: defined as helpful and appropriate, though maybe not required.

So buying a recording of “Death of a Salesman” to help drive home Arthur Miller’s points to your students would likely meet tax muster. But purchasing a new HD television, instead of watching on your school’s working-but-old set, may raise some IRS eyebrows.

Couples who share education careers could get a double break if they file jointly. However, each spouse is limited to $250 of qualified expenses.

What about home schooling? Sorry, but the tax law specifically states that costs for this type of instruction don’t count toward the educator expenses deduction.

Circumstances could limit expenses

In addition to the eligibility requirements on expenses, the IRS has set some other restrictions on what’s deductible.

The tax agency says when an educator uses any tax-favored funds to pay for his or her own schooling, those amounts must be subtracted from the total the teacher claims under the educator expenses deduction.

Take for example Joe Jones, a high school English teacher who is working toward his master’s degree in literature during school breaks. He cashed in savings bonds to pay his tuition and excluded the bonds’ $150 interest from tax. He also spent $200 for books on Shakespeare to distribute to his 11th-grade students. He must subtract the $150 in tax-free interest from the $200 for the books, leaving him only $50 to claim under the educator expenses deduction.

The same rule applies to nontaxable earnings a teacher gets from qualified state tuition programs or tax-free withdrawals from a Coverdell education savings account.

Paul S. Herman CPA, a tax expert for individuals and businesses, is the founder of Herman & Company, CPA’s PC in White Plains, New York.  He provides guidance and strategies to improve clients’ financial well-being.

A Dozen Deductions For Your Small Business

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

By Bankrate

small business tax deductions

A small business offers plenty of opportunities for tax deductions. Just be sure to follow IRS rules.

Here are 12 that even savvy small-business owners and entrepreneurs sometimes forget.

the deductible dozen

1. Home office

To claim your home office on your taxes, the IRS says it must be a space devoted to your business and absolutely nothing else.

The deduction isn’t limited to a full room. Your home office can be part of a room. Measure your work area and divide by the square footage of your home.

That percentage is the fraction of your home-related business expenses — rent, mortgage, insurance, electricity, etc. — that you can claim.

There’s also a simpler way to claim a home office deduction. Consider both the regular and simplified methods of writing off your home office.

“I don’t agree that chances of getting audited are greater with a home office deduction,” says Zobel, a San Francisco Bay-area tax expert who specializes in serving the self-employed. The key is that you use the term “home office” the same way the IRS does. The tax agency says it must be a space devoted to your business and absolutely nothing else. Deducting the den that houses the family computer and serves as a guest bedroom won’t fly with Uncle Sam.

“If you only have one computer and you have a child over 4, the IRS is going to be pretty certain that the child is using the computer,” says Zobel. “And the burden of proof is on you.”

The deduction, however, isn’t limited to a full room. Your home office can be part of a room. Just how much of the space is deductible? Measure your work area and divide by the square footage of your home. That percentage is the fraction of your home-related business expenses — rent, mortgage, insurance, electricity, etc. — that you can claim.

There’s also a newer way to claim a home office deduction. Read “Use newer, simplified home office deduction” for details.

2. Office supplies

Even if you don’t take the home office deduction, you can deduct the business supplies you buy. Hang on to those receipts, because these expenditures will offset your taxable business income.

3. Furniture

Office-furniture acquisitions provide two choices:

  1. Deduct 100 percent of the cost in the year of the purchase.
  2. Deduct a portion of the expense over seven years, also known as depreciation.

To take the whole cost in one tax year, use the Section 179 deduction. There deduction cap for 2016 taxes is $500,000, but may be adjusted for inflation in future years.

If you choose instead to depreciate the desks and filing cabinets, you can’t simply split the cost into equal portions over the depreciation period. Instead, you must use an IRS chart to make separate calculations each year.

Which is better for you? Anticipate the times that your business will need these deductions the most. Both options are reported on IRS Form 4562.

4. Other equipment

Items such as computers, copiers, fax machines and scanners are tax-deductible. As with furniture, you can take 100 percent upfront or depreciate (this time over five years).

Does your business need a new copier? Put it on a business credit card.

5. Software and subscriptions

Section 179 provides another tax break. New computer software a business buys can be fully expensed in the year purchased.

For business and industry-related magazine subscriptions you can deduct the total costs as a full deduction in the year spent.

6. Mileage

If you drive for business, the IRS wants to give you some of your money back. You’ll need documentation, so keep a notebook in your vehicle to record the date, mileage, tolls, parking costs and the purpose of your trip.

At the end of the year, you have two choices:

  1. Total the mileage and add in the tolls and parking to calculate your deduction. Once you have your mileage total, multiply it by 54 cents for your 2016 deduction. For 2017 business tax purposes, the rate drops to 53.5 cents a mile.
  2. Measure your business usage against your personal driving and deduct that portion of your auto-related expenses. Remember to include gas, repairs and insurance.

If you are leasing, include those payments.

If you are buying the car, factor in the interest on your loan and depreciation on your vehicle.

If your company’s office is at your house, you can deduct the entire business-related mileage, from the minute you pull out of the driveway until you return home.

If your business is not home-based, your mileage meter starts at your first business-related destination and ends at your last. You can’t include the drive to and from home. In this case, try to schedule several business appointments on the same day to allow you to take the mileage between stops as a tax write-off.

7. Travel, meals, entertainment and gifts

Good news, small-business travelers. You might as well stay in a nice hotel, because the entire cost is tax-deductible. Likewise, the cost of travel — air, rail or auto — is 100 percent deductible, as are costs associated with life on the road (dry cleaning, rental cars and tipping the bellboy).

The only exception is dining out. You can deduct only 50 percent of your meals while traveling. So stay at the Ritz and eat at Wendy’s.

Once you get home, your on-the-job meals aren’t deductible — unless you bring along a client to talk business. In this case, you might consider splurging on a fancier meal because then you can write off half such work-related dining costs.

The 50 percent deduction limit applies to most other client entertainment expenses, too. But a direct gift to a client or employee is 100 percent deductible, up to $25 per person per year.

8. Insurance premiums

Self-employed and paying your own health insurance premiums? These costs are 100 percent deductible.

This break primarily benefits proprietorships, but there are limits. The deduction can’t be more than your business’ net profit. And it’s not allowed if you were eligible for other health care coverage, including that offered by your employed spouse’s medical plan.

Did your spouse work for you last year? You can get the full medical premiums deduction on your return. As an employee, your spouse’s premiums are 100 percent deductible; if you and the children were on his or her policy as dependents, so are those costs.

Two caveats:

  1. Your spouse’s employment must be real, not in name only, and you must offer coverage equally to any other employees.
  2. Failure to meet these requirements could result in a lawsuit, an audit or both.

You also can include some of the premiums you pay for long-term care insurance for yourself, your spouse or dependents.

9. Retirement contributions

Are you self-employed and saving for your own retirement with a SEP IRA or Keogh? Don’t forget to deduct your contribution on your personal income tax return.

10. Social Security

The bad news: If you’re self-employed or starting a small business, you have to pay double the Social Security contributions you would as an employee. That’s because federal law requires the employer pay half and the employee pay half. Self-employed workers are both, meaning the total will equal 15.3 percent of your net profits.

The good news: You can deduct half of the contribution on your 1040.

11. Telephone charges

You can deduct the cost of the business calls you make for business from home. When your bill comes in, circle the business-related calls, total them up and keep a copy. At the end of the year, tally your 12 bills and deduct 100 percent.

Regular fees and charges on your phone line don’t count toward your deduction. But if you have a second line installed and use it only for business, all of these charges are deductible.

If you use your cellphone for your business, you can claim those calls as a tax deduction. If 30 percent of your time on the phone is spent on business, you could deduct 30 percent of your phone bill.

12. Child labor

If you hire your children as employees at your business, you may be able to deduct their salaries from your business income if they meet certain requirements.

Also, there is no Social Security tax when you hire your child who is 17 or younger and you can deduct the salary as a business expense.

This break is available, however, only if you operate as a sole proprietor or as a partnership in which you and your spouse are the only partners. If your business runs as a corporation, then it, not you, is considered the employer and the corporation is not relieved of the tax liabilities.

Paul S. Herman CPA, a tax expert for individuals and businesses, is the founder of Herman & Company, CPA’s PC in White Plains, New York.  He provides guidance and strategies to improve clients’ financial well-being.

 

Tax law changes mean inflation adjustments

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

By Bankrate

taxes-blog-tax-law-changes-mean-inflation-adjustments

In addition to making some temporary tax breaks permanent, 2 measures that became law on Dec. 18, 2015, also provide for annual inflation adjustments to the tax benefits.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, or PATH, Act dealt primarily with tax extenders, those tax laws that expire and must be renewed. PATH was rolled into the Consolidated Appropriations Act, or the fiscal 2016 spending bill, which also included some tax provisions.

3 tax laws that are permanently in the Internal Revenue Code thanks to those laws now require the Internal Revenue Service to calculate the effect of inflation and annually adjust the tax breaks accordingly.

The IRS has now done that. Here are the inflation-adjusted amounts for the 2016 tax year for educators’ classroom expenses, commuting costs for workers who use public transportation as well as a popular business write-off.

No 2016 increase for teachers’ deduction

Teachers and certain other elementary and secondary school employees can deduct some of their out-of-pocket costs for classroom items. When this above-the-line deduction, meaning you don’t have to itemize to claim it, was made permanent, the long-standing $250 deduction amount was set as the base.

The expense amount also was tweaked so that it will increase as inflation dictates. That’s good news for educators. But since inflation in 2015 was low, the IRS says that there won’t be any bump up for the 2016 tax year. The deduction stays this year at $250.

Public transit benefit bump

Employers can subsidize their workers’ commuting or parking costs with pretax dollars up to an allowable monthly limit. Previously, the amount allowed for parking benefits was greater than that given employees who commuted using public transit.

As part of the tax extenders, that disparity was evened out. And as part of the December tax law changes, parity between the two transportation options was made permanent.

In addition, the amount allowed for van pool and other transit options are now pegged to inflation. In 2015 that monthly amount was $250. For 2016, it goes to $255. The increase applies to parking benefits, too.

Enhanced business expensing

One way businesses can reduce their tax bills is to write off the costs of new equipment. In many cases, this requires spreading the costs over several tax years through depreciation.

But section 179 expensing allows for some costs to be deducted in one tax year. And at the height (or depth) of the great recession that began in 2008, Congress increased the expensing amount to help economically struggling businesses continue to operate and grow their companies.

With the December extenders and spending bills, lawmakers permanently set the maximum amount of newly acquired property costs that a business can expense, or deduct, in one year at $500,000.

Once a business exceeds a certain amount of qualifying equipment purchases in a tax year, the deduction is reduced. Under the new law, that phaseout starts at $2 million in purchases

Both of those limits now were indexed for inflation.

For 2016, low inflation means that the IRS did not hike the $500,000 deduction amount. However, the $2 million phaseout threshold increases this year to $2.01 million.

Now that the new permanent tax breaks are on the books, look for these adjustments to be included in the annual announcement of other inflation-affected tax provisions that the IRS releases each fall.

Paul S. Herman CPA, a tax expert for individuals and businesses, is the founder of Herman & Company, CPA’s PC in White Plains, New York.  He provides guidance and strategies to improve clients’ financial well-being.

 

Any U.S. tax advice contained in the body of this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.