Home Contributors Fairfield Norman G. Grill: Year-end business tax planning strategies, Part 1

Norman G. Grill: Year-end business tax planning strategies, Part 1

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There are a number of end-of-year tax planning strategies that might reduce your business tax liability. Here are a few of them:

Deferring income
Businesses using the cash method of accounting can defer income into 2020 by delaying end-of-year invoices, so payment is not received until 2020. Businesses using the accrual method can defer income by postponing delivery of goods or services until January 2020.

Buying new business equipment
Section 179 expensing. Businesses should take advantage of Section 179 expensing this year for a couple of reasons. First, is that in 2019 businesses can elect to expense (deduct immediately) the entire cost of most new equipment up to a maximum of $1.02 million for the first $2.55 million of property placed in service by Dec. 31, 2019. Keep in mind that the Section 179 deduction cannot exceed net taxable business income. The deduction is phased out dollar for dollar on amounts exceeding the $2.55 million threshold and eliminated above amounts exceeding $3.57 million.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) removed computer or peripheral equipment from the definition of listed property. This change applies to property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017.

Tax reform legislation also expanded the definition of Section 179 property to allow a taxpayer to elect to include certain improvements made to nonresidential real property after the date when the property was first placed in service (see below). These changes apply to property placed in service in taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017.

  1. Qualified improvement property, which means any improvement to a building’s interior. However, improvements do not qualify if they are attributable to:
  • the enlargement of the building,
  • any elevator or escalator or
  • the internal structural framework of the building.
  1. Roofs, HVAC, fire protection systems, alarm systems and security systems.

Bonus depreciation. Businesses are allowed to immediately deduct 100% of the cost of eligible property placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2023, after which it will be phased downward over a four-year period: 80% in 2023, 60% in 2024, 40% in 2025, and 20% in 2026.

If you plan to purchase business equipment this year, consider the timing. You might be able to increase your tax benefit if you buy equipment at the right time. Here’s a simplified explanation:

Conventions. The tax rules for depreciation include “conventions” or rules for figuring out how many months of depreciation you can claim. There are three types of conventions. To select the correct convention, you must know the type of property and when you placed the property in service.

  1. The half-year convention: This convention applies to all property except residential rental property, nonresidential real property, and railroad gradings and tunnel bores (see mid-month convention below) unless the mid-quarter convention applies. All property that you begin using during the year is treated as “placed in service” (or “disposed of”) at the midpoint of the year. This means that no matter when you begin using (or dispose of) the property, you treat it as if you began using it in the middle of the year.
  2. You buy a $70,000 piece of machinery on Dec. 15. If the half-year convention applies, you get one-half year of depreciation on that machine.
  3. The mid-quarter convention: The mid-quarter convention must be used if the cost of equipment placed in service during the last three months of the tax year is more than 40 percent of the total cost of all property placed in service for the entire year. If the mid-quarter convention applies, the half-year rule does not apply, and you treat all equipment placed in service during the year as if it were placed in service at the midpoint of the quarter in which you began using it.
  4. The mid-month convention: This convention applies only to residential rental property, nonresidential real property, and railroad gradings and tunnel bores. It treats all property placed in service (or disposed of) during any month as placed in service (or disposed of) on the midpoint of that month.

This discussion is offered for information only and should not be taken as advice. Taxes are complex so consider discussing your particular circumstances with your tax advisor.

Norm Grill, CPA, (N.Grill@GRILL1.com) is managing partner of Grill & Partners LLC, (GRILL1.com) certified public accountants and advisors to closely held companies and high-net-worth individuals, with offices in Fairfield and Darien, 203-254-3880.

Editor’s note: The second half of this column will appear next week.

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