Reminder of Special Tax Breaks

The December 2020 stimulus package provided a few noteworthy tax breaks for companies.

A temporary tax break for 2021 and 2022 allows businesses to deduct 100% of business meals eaten at a restaurant, up from the usual 50%.

For businesses hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Employee Retention Tax Credit is available for the first half of 2021. Eligible businesses that were either shut down by the government or incurred at least a 20% reduction in gross receipts for one of the first two quarters of 2021 may qualify for this credit of up to $14,000 per employee. Claim this credit when you file quarterly form 941.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit and the Family Medical Leave Tax Credit were extended to December 31, 2025.

Employers who pay qualified education expenses, including student loan payments, for employees can deduct up to $5,250 per employee through 2025.

Tax Benefits for Education

The IRS provides numerous tax breaks for higher education expenses. Tax credits and tax-deferred savings plans take some of the sting out of paying for college.

TAX CREDITS

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is available to students in the first four years of higher education. Using this credit can offset up to $2,500 of qualified education expenses per year. Students pursuing a degree or other education credential who are enrolled at least half time for one academic period are eligible. Although there are additional requirements to claim this credit, including income limitations, up to $1,000 of this credit is refundable.

The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) is another educational tax credit. It’s available to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled for at least one academic period in the year. The LLC isn’t limited to degree-seekers. Costs related to acquiring or improving job skills qualify. While this credit isn’t refundable, there is no limit to the number of years you can claim it.

TAX-DEFERRED SAVINGS PLANS

Qualified tuition plans, commonly known as 529 plans, come in two forms: prepaid tuition plans and education savings plans. Tuition plans allow savers to buy tuition credits at participating universities at current prices, while education savings plans use investment accounts to save cash for future education expenses.

Education savings plans are the more versatile of the two types of 529 plans. They can be used at any university and up to $10,000 per year can be used for elementary and secondary school tuition.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts allow savers to put away up to $2,000 for each beneficiary per year that can be used for college, secondary, or elementary school expenses and qualified distributions are tax-free.

You can only claim one of the tax credits each year per student but the credit can be used together with savings plans, as long as there is no double-dipping.

Business highlights in the new American Rescue Plan Act

President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) on March 11. While the new law is best known for the provisions providing relief to individuals, there are also several tax breaks and financial benefits for businesses.

Here are some of the tax highlights of the ARPA.

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC). This valuable tax credit is extended from June 30 until December 31, 2021. The ARPA continues the ERC rate of credit at 70% for this extended period of time. It also continues to allow for up to $10,000 in qualified wages for any calendar quarter. Taking into account the Consolidated Appropriations Act extension and the ARPA extension, this means an employer can potentially have up to $40,000 in qualified wages per employee through 2021.

Employer-Provided Dependent Care Assistance. In general, an eligible employee’s gross income doesn’t include amounts paid or incurred by an employer for dependent care assistance provided to the employee under a qualified dependent care assistance program (DCAP).

Previously, the amount that could be excluded from an employee’s gross income under a DCAP during a tax year wasn’t more than $5,000 ($2,500 for married individuals filing separately), subject to certain limitations. However, any contribution made by an employer to a DCAP can’t exceed the employee’s earned income or, if married, the lesser of employee’s or spouse’s earned income.

Under the ARPA, for 2021 only, the exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance is increased from $5,000 to $10,500 (from $2,500 to $5,250 for married individuals filing separately).

This provision is effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2020.

Paid Sick and Family Leave Credits. Changes under the ARPA apply to amounts paid with respect to calendar quarters beginning after March 31, 2021. Among other changes, the law extends the paid sick time and paid family leave credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act from March 31, 2021, through September 30, 2021. It also provides that paid sick and paid family leave credits may each be increased by the employer’s share of Social Security tax (6.2%) and employer’s share of Medicare tax (1.45%) on qualified leave wages.

Grants to restaurants. Under the ARPA, eligible restaurants, food trucks, and similar businesses that provide food and drinks may receive restaurant revitalization grants from the Small Business Administration. For tax purposes, amounts received as restaurant revitalization grants aren’t included in the gross income of the person who receives the money.

Much more

These are only some of the provisions in the ARPA. There are many others that may be beneficial to your business. Contact us for more information about your situation.

© 2021

Home Ownership Comes With Tax Breaks

Your house can provide you with more than just shelter. It can provide you with some significant tax breaks if you itemize deductions. Learn more about the most common tax deductions your home can deliver.

MORTGAGE INTEREST

To be deductible, mortgage interest can be for your first and second home. However, only interest on $750,000 of indebtedness is deductible if your mortgage was taken out after December 15, 2017. There are similar limitations on older debt and if you rent your home out, there are use requirements that you must meet in order to deduct the interest.

MORTGAGE POINTS

You can pay “points” to lower your monthly mortgage payments. However, points are complicated, affect your taxes and too often, homeowners do not recoup their upfront investment. If you refinance, pay off or sell your home before you reach the break-even point, you will not regain your money. A good lender can help guide your decision.

MORTGAGE INSURANCE

For borrowers who pay mortgage insurance as part of their mortgage, the good news is that it can be deductible if the mortgage was obtained after 2006. And this deduction begins to phase out for adjusted gross incomes above $50,000 for single filers.

PROPERTY TAXES

Most homeowners who itemize deductions will be able to deduct property taxes paid to their state and local governments. But the maximum amount of property taxes that are deductible is $10,000. The taxes must have been due and paid by the end of the year to be deductible. So, unfortunately, any prepaid taxes will be deductible in the year it was due, not paid.