Business 2021 Year-End Planning TipsDecember 7, 2021
With year-end approaching, there isn’t much time left to make many moves that may help lower your business tax bill for 2021. This year’s tax planning is more challenging than usual due to the pending legislation that could increase corporate tax rates starting next year as well as increase business owner’s individual tax rates.
Here are some tips that may be helpful:
- Taxpayers other than corporations may be entitled to a deduction of up to 20% of their qualified business income. For 2021, if taxable income exceeds $329,800 for a married couple filing jointly, (about half that for others), the deduction may be limited based on whether the taxpayer is engaged in a service-type trade or business (such as law, accounting, health, or consulting), the number of W-2 wages paid by the business, and/or the unadjusted basis of qualified property (such as machinery and equipment) held by the business. The limitations are phased in; for example, the phase-in applies to joint filers with taxable income up to $100,000 above the threshold, and to other filers with taxable income up to $50,000 above their threshold.
- Taxpayers may be able to salvage some or all of this deduction, by deferring income or accelerating deductions to keep income under the dollar thresholds (or be subject to a smaller deduction phaseout) for 2021. Depending on their business model, taxpayers also may be able to increase the deduction by increasing W-2 wages before year-end. The rules are quite complex, so don’t make a move in this area without consulting us.
- Businesses should consider making expenditures that qualify for the liberalized business property expensing option (Section 179 Expense). For tax years beginning in 2021, the expensing limit is $1,050,000, and the investment ceiling limit is $2,620,000. Expensing is generally available for most depreciable property (other than buildings) and off-the-shelf computer software. It is also available for interior improvements to a building (but not for its enlargement), elevators or escalators, or the internal structural framework), for roofs, and for HVAC, fire protection, alarm, and security systems.
- The generous dollar ceilings mean that many small and medium-sized businesses that make timely purchases will be able to currently deduct most if not all their outlays for machinery and equipment. What’s more, the expensing deduction is not prorated for the time that the asset is in service during the year. So, expensing eligible items acquired and placed in service in the last days of 2021, rather than at the beginning of 2022, can result in a full expensing deduction for 2021. This is a big positive for small business accounting.
- Businesses also can claim a 100% bonus first-year depreciation deduction for machinery and equipment bought used (with some exceptions) or new if purchased and placed in service this year, and for qualified improvement property, described above as related to the expensing deduction. This is great news for construction companies and restaurants. The 100% write-off is permitted without any proration based on the length of time that an asset is in service during the tax year. As a result, the 100% bonus first-year write-off is available even if qualifying assets are in service for only a few days in 2021
- A corporation (other than a large corporation) that anticipates a small net operating loss (NOL) for 2021 (and substantial net income in 2022) may find it worthwhile to accelerate just enough of its 2022 income (or to defer just enough of its 2021 deductions) to create a small amount of net income for 2021. This allows the corporation to base its 2022 estimated tax installments on the relatively small amount of income shown on its 2021 return, rather than having to pay estimated taxes based on 100% of its much larger 2022 taxable income
- Year-end bonuses can be timed for maximum tax effect by both cash- and accrual-basis employers. Cash-basis employers deduct bonuses in the year paid so that they can time the payment for maximum tax effect. Accrual-basis employers deduct bonuses in the accrual year, when all events related to them are established with reasonable certainty. However, the bonus must be paid within 2½ months after the end of the employer’s tax year for the deduction to be allowed in the earlier accrual year. Accrual employers looking to defer deductions to a higher-taxed future year should consider changing their bonus plans before year-end to set the payment date later than the 2.5-month window or change the bonus plan’s terms to make the bonus amount not determinable at year end.
One exception to these rules is that a closely held corporation must actually pay bonuses to shareholders by year-end. These bonuses cannot be accrued.
These are some of the year-end steps that can be taken to save taxes. Please contact us if you should have any additional questions.
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