5 ways to turn your Vacation into a Tax Deduction


refundpic

Tim, who owns his own business, decided he wanted to take a two-week trip around the US. So he did–and was able to legally deduct every dime that he spent on his vacation. Here’s how he did it.

1. Make all your business appointments before you leave for your trip.
Most people believe that they can go on vacation and simply hand out their business cards in order to make the trip deductible.

Wrong.

You must have at least one business appointment before you leave in order to establish the “prior set business purpose” required by the IRS. Keeping this in mind, before he left for his trip, Tim set up appointments with business colleagues in the various cities that he planned to visit.

Let’s say Tim is a manufacturer of green office products and is looking to expand his business and distribute more of his products. One possible way to establish business contacts–if he doesn’t already have them–is to place advertisements looking for distributors in newspapers in each location he plans to visit. He could then interview those who respond when he gets to the business destination.

Example: Tim wants to vacation in Hawaii. If he places several advertisements for distributors, or contacts some of his downline distributors to perform a presentation, then the IRS would accept his trip for business.

Tip: It would be vital for Tim to document this business purpose by keeping a copy of the advertisement and all correspondence along with noting what appointments he will have in his diary.

2. Make sure your Trip is all “Business Travel.”Tax Credits Tax Deductions
In order to deduct all of your on-the-road business expenses, you must be traveling on business. The IRS states that travel expenses are 100 percent deductible as long as your trip is business related and you are traveling away from your regular place of business longer than an ordinary day’s work and you need to sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away from home.

Example: Tim wanted to go to a regional meeting in Boston, which is only a one-hour drive from his home. If he were to sleep in the hotel where the meeting will be held (in order to avoid possible automobile and traffic problems), his overnight stay qualifies as business travel in the eyes of the IRS.

Tip: Remember: You don’t need to live far away to be on business travel. If you have a good reason for sleeping at your destination, you could live a couple of miles away and still be on travel status.

3. Be sure to deduct all of your on-the-road-expenses for each day you’re away.
For every day you are on business travel, you can deduct 100 percent of lodging, tips, car rentals, and 50 percent of your food. Tim spends three days meeting with potential distributors. If he spends $50 a day for food, he can deduct 50 percent of this amount, or $25.

Tip: The IRS doesn’t require receipts for travel expense under $75 per expense–except for lodging.

Example: If Tim pays $6 for drinks on the plane, $6.95 for breakfast, $12 for lunch, $50 for dinner, he does not need receipts for anything since each item was under $75.

Tip: He would, however, need to document these items in your diary. A good tax diary is essential in order to audit-proof your records. Adequate documentation includes amount, date, place of meeting, and business reason for the expense.

Example: If, however, Tim stays in the Bates Motel and spends $22 on lodging, will he need a receipt? The answer is yes. You need receipts for all paid lodging.

Tip: Not only are your on-the-road expenses deductible from your trip, but also all laundry, shoe shines, manicures, and dry-cleaning costs for clothes worn on the trip. Thus, your first dry cleaning bill that you incur when you get home will be fully deductible. Make sure that you keep the dry cleaning receipt and have your clothing dry cleaned within a day or two of getting home.

mortgage-insurance-tax-deduction4. Sandwich weekends between Business days.
If you have a business day on Friday and another one on Monday, you can deduct all on-the-road expenses during the weekend.

Example: Tim makes business appointments in Florida on Friday and one on the following Monday. Even though he has no business on Saturday and Sunday, he may deduct on-the-road business expenses incurred during the weekend.

5. Make the majority of your trip days count as Business days.
The IRS says that you can deduct transportation expenses if business is the primary purpose of the trip. A majority of days in the trip must be for business activities; otherwise, you cannot make any transportation deductions.

Example: Tim spends six days in San Diego. He leaves early on Thursday morning. He had a seminar on Friday and meets with distributors on Monday and flies home on Tuesday, taking the last flight of the day home after playing a complete round of golf. How many days are considered business days?

All of them. Thursday is a business day, since it includes traveling – even if the rest of the day is spent at the beach. Friday is a business day because he had a seminar. Monday is a business day because he met with prospects and distributors in pre-arranged appointments. Saturday and Sunday are sandwiched between business days, so they count, and Tuesday is a travel day.

Since Tim accrued six business days, he could spend another five days having fun and still deduct all his transportation to San Diego. The reason is that the majority of the days were business days (six out of eleven). However, he can only deduct six days’ worth of lodging, dry cleaning, shoe shines, and tips. The important point is that Tim would be spending money on lodging, airfare, and food, but now most of his expenses will become deductible.

Consult us before you plan your next trip. We’ll show you the right way to legally deduct your vacation when you combine it with business. Bon Voyage!

The Affordable Care Act and You

legislation-image-460x250The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 resulted in several changes to the U.S. tax code that affect individuals purchasing health care insurance through the health care exchanges. Let’s take a closer look at what it all means for you.

Individual Shared Responsibility Payment

Starting January 2014, United States citizens and legal residents must obtain minimum essential health care coverage for themselves and their dependents, have an exemption from coverage, or make a payment when filing a 2014 tax return in 2015. The Individual Mandate is also known as the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment.

The payment varies and is based on income level. In 2014, the basic penalty for an individual (no dependents) is $95 or 1 percent of your yearly income (whichever is higher), with substantial increases in subsequent years. For example, in 2015, the penalty is $325 or approximately 2 percent of income, whichever is higher. In 2016, it increases to $695 or 2.5 percent of income (again, whichever is higher), indexed for inflation thereafter.

The individual shared responsibility payment is capped at the cost of the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2014. You will make the payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.

For example, a single adult under age 65 with household income less than $19,650 (but more than $10,150) would pay the $95 flat rate. However, a single adult under age 65 with household income greater than $19,650 would pay an annual payment based on the 1 percent rate.

For any month in 2014 that you or any of your dependents don’t maintain coverage and don’t qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your 2014 tax return filed in 2015.

However, if you went without coverage for less than three consecutive months during the year you may qualify for the short coverage gap exemption and will not have to make a payment for those months. If you have more than one short coverage gap during a year, the short coverage gap exemption only applies to the first.

Most people already have qualifying health care coverage and will not need to do anything more than maintain that coverage throughout 2014. Self-insured ERISA policies used by larger employers, as well as Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), and all of the health insurance plans offered by the exchanges, fall under the category of minimum essential health care coverage.

Qualifying coverage does not include coverage that may provide limited benefits, such as coverage only for vision care or dental care, workers’ compensation, or coverage that only covers a specific disease or condition.

Note: Certain individuals are exempt from the tax and include: (1) people with religious objections; (2) American Indians with coverage through the Indian Health Service; (3) undocumented immigrants; (4) those without coverage for less than three months; (5) those serving prison sentences; (6) those for whom the lowest-cost plan option exceeds 8 percent of annual income; and (7) those with incomes below the tax filing threshold who do not file a tax return($10,000 for singles and $20,000 for couples under 65 in 2013).

A special hardship exemption applies to individuals who purchase their insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace during the initial enrollment period for 2014 but due to the enrollment process have a coverage gap at the beginning of 2014.

Premium Tax Credit

Effective in 2014, certain taxpayers will be able to use a refundable tax credit to offset the cost of health insurance premiums so that their insurance premium payments do not exceed a specific percentage of their income. Qualified individuals are those with incomes between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. A sliding scale based on family size will be used to determine the amount of the credit. In addition, married taxpayers must file joint returns to qualify.

If you purchased coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace (sometimes referred to as health care exchanges), you may be eligible for the premium tax credit. This refundable tax credit helps people with moderate incomes afford health insurance coverage they purchase through the exchange.

The premium tax credit can help make purchasing health insurance coverage more affordable for people with moderate incomes. To be eligible for the credit, you generally need to satisfy three rules.

First, you need to get your health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The open enrollment period to purchase health insurance coverage for 2014 through the Health Insurance Marketplace runs from October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014.

Second, you need to have household income between one and four times the federal poverty line. For a family of four for tax year 2014, that means income from $23,550 to $94,200.

Third, you can’t be eligible for other coverage, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or sufficiently generous employer-sponsored coverage.

If you are eligible for the credit, you can choose to “get it now” by having some or all of the credit paid in advance. These payments go directly to your insurance company to lower what you pay out-of-pocket for your monthly premiums during 2014. Or you “get it later” by waiting to get the credit when you file your 2014 tax return in 2015.

If you wait to get the credit, it will either increase your refund or lower your balance due. Your 2014 tax return will ask if you had insurance coverage or qualified for an exemption. If not, you may owe a shared responsibility payment when you file in 2015.

If you choose to receive the credit in advance, changes in your income or family size will affect the credit that you are eligible to receive. If the credit on your tax return you file in 2015 does not match the amount you have received in advance, you will have to repay any excess advance payment, or you may get a larger refund if you are entitled to more.

Reporting Changes

It is important to notify the Health Insurance Marketplace about changes in your income or family size as they happen during 2014 because these changes may affect your premium tax credit.

Changes in circumstances that you should report to the Health Insurance Marketplace include, but are not limited to:

  • an increase or decrease in your income
  • marriage or divorce
  • the birth or adoption of a child
  • starting a job with health insurance
  • gaining or losing your eligibility for other health care coverage
  • changing your residence

Reporting the changes will help you avoid getting too much or too little advance payment of the premium tax credit. Getting too much means you may owe additional money or get a smaller refund when you file your taxes. Getting too little could mean missing out on premium assistance to reduce your monthly premiums.

Repayments of excess premium assistance may be limited to an amount between $400 and $2,500 depending on your income and filing status. However, if advance payment of the premium tax credit was made but your income for the year turns out to be too high to receive the premium tax credit, you will have to repay all of the payments that were made on your behalf, with no limitation. Therefore, it is important that you report changes in circumstances that may have occurred since you signed up for your plan.

Changes in circumstances also may qualify you for a special enrollment period to change or get insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. In most cases, if you qualify for the special enrollment period, you will have sixty days to enroll following the change in circumstances.

Don’t hesitate to call us if you need assistance navigating the complexities of the Affordable Care Act. We’re here for you!

Small Business and the Affordable Care Act

mythsfacts_07_0

Whether you’re self-employed or run a small business, here’s a quick look at what you need to know about the Affordable Care Act.

Self-Employed

If you run an income-generating business with no employees, then you’re considered self-employed. You can get coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace and use it to find coverage that fits your needs.

Note: You are still considered self-employed even if you hire independent contractors to do work for you.

If you currently have individual insurance–a plan you bought yourself and not the kind you get through an employer–you may be able to change to a Marketplace plan.

Note: You can’t be denied coverage or charged more because you have a pre-existing health condition.

Small Businesses (50 or Fewer Employees)

If you have 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (generally, workers whose income you report on a W-2 at the end of the year) you are considered a small business under the health care law.

As a small business, you may get insurance for yourself and your employees through the SHOP (Small Business Health Options Programs) Marketplace. This applies to non-profit organizations as well.

Note: Beginning in 2016, the SHOP Marketplace will be open to employers with 100 or fewer FTEs.

As an employer, you must provide notification to your employees of coverage options available through the Marketplace and are required to provide this notice to all current employees and to each new employee regardless of plan enrollment status or full or part-time employment. The Department of Labor has sample notices that employers can use to comply with this regulation. One notice is for employers who do not offer a health care plan and the second for employers who offer a health care plan.

If you have fewer than 25 employees, you may qualify for the Small Business Tax Credit (see next section). Non-profit organizations may be eligible for the tax credit as well.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

Small businesses and tax-exempt organization that employ 25 or fewer, full-time equivalent workers with average incomes of $51,000 or less (adjusted annually for inflation), and that pay at least half (50 percent) of the premiums for employee health insurance coverage are eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

Starting in 2014, the tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees’ premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers). The tax credit is highest for companies with fewer than 10 employees who are paid an average of $25,000 or less. The smaller the business, the bigger the credit is.

For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit was 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.

Businesses that have already filed and later find that they qualified in 2013 or an earlier year can still claim the credit by filing an amended return for the affected years. A three-year statute of limitations normally applies to these refund claims.

Note: The credit is available only if you get coverage through the SHOP Marketplace and is available to eligible employers for two consecutive taxable years.

If you are a small business employer who did not owe tax during the year, you can carry the credit back or forward to other tax years. In addition, because the amount of the health insurance premium payments is more than the total credit, eligible small businesses can still claim a business expense deduction for the premiums in excess of the credit–in other words, both a credit and a deduction for employee premium payments.

The credit is refundable for small tax-exempt employers as well, so even if you have no taxable income, you may be eligible to receive the credit as a refund as long as it does not exceed your income tax withholding and Medicare tax liability.

Additional Tax on Businesses Not Offering Minimum Essential Coverage

Effective January 1, 2015 an additional tax will be levied on businesses with 100 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees that do not offer minimum essential coverage. However, it will not apply until 2016 to employers with at least 50 but fewer than 100 full-time employees.

Employers subject to the employer responsibility provisions in 2015 must offer coverage to at least 70 percent of full-time employees as one of the conditions for avoiding an assessable payment, rather than 95 percent which begins in 2016.

This penalty is sometimes referred to as the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment.

You may have to pay this additional tax if you have 50 or more full-time equivalent employees and at least one of your full-time employees gets lower costs on their monthly premiums through the Marketplace.

Note: Employers with fewer than 50 FTE employees are considered small businesses and are exempt from the additional tax.

The amount of the annual Employer Shared Responsibility Payment is based partly on whether you offer insurance.

  • If you don’t offer insurance, the annual payment is $2000 per full-time employee (excluding the first 30 employees for business with 50-99 full time employees and excluding the first 80 employees for those with 100 or more full time employees)

Note: For purposes of this calculation, a full-time employee does not include a full-time equivalent.

  • If you do offer insurance, but the insurance doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, the annual payment is the lesser of $3000 per full-time employee who qualifies for premium savings in the Marketplace or $2,000 per full-time employee (minus 30 full-time employees for businesses with 50-99 full-time employees and minus 80 full-time employees for businesses with 100 or more full-time employees).

Note: Unlike employer contributions to employee premiums, the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment is not tax deductible.

A health plan meets minimum value if it covers at least 60 percent of the total allowed costs of benefits provided under the plan. To determine whether other coverage meets minimum value, please contact us for assistance.

Note: All plans in the Marketplace meet minimum value, so any coverage offered through the SHOP Marketplace should qualify.

Excise Tax on High Cost Employer-Sponsored Insurance

Effective in 2018, a 40 percent excise tax indexed for inflation will be imposed on employers with insurance plans where the annual premium exceeds $10,200 (individual) or $27,500 (family). For retirees age 55 and older, the premium levels are higher, $11,850 for individuals and $30,950 for families.

Excise Tax on Medical Devices

Effective January 1, 2014, a 2.3 percent tax will be levied on manufacturers and importers on the sale of certain medical devices.

Indoor Tanning Services

A 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning services went into effect on July 1, 2010. The tax doesn’t apply to phototherapy services performed by a licensed medical professional on his or her premises. There’s also an exception for certain physical fitness facilities that offer tanning as an incidental service to members without a separately identifiable fee.

Don’t hesitate to call us if you need assistance navigating the complexities of the new health care act. We’re here to help.

 

 

Ratio Analysis

Ratio analysis

ratio analysis basics

 

Ratios act as a useful tool to measure business performance. Ratios are a quotient of two numbers and the relation expressed between the two accounting figure is known as ‘Accounting Ratio’. There will be a natural difference between ratios according to the nature of the business, the size of the business, its age and the industry within which it operates.Ration analysis is a very important part of the accounting services, bookkeeping services. Different reports can be prepared and memorized for future use, using QuickBooks Statement writer which is part of QuickBooks Accountants edition. They are generally assessed in relation to a comparator or benchmark such as
• Analyzing the past performance of the Firm
• The budget
• Internal division of department
• A competitor
Ratios are useful in a way that
i. They provide an easy way to estimate the present performance with the past.
ii. They depict the areas in which a particular business is competitively advantaged or disadvantaged through comparing ratios to those of the other businesses of the same size within the same industry.
A few limitations could be
i. Ratios do not provide answers to every question and their interpretation can be subjective.
ii. They are calculated on the basis of historic accounting information which may itself include assumptions and interpretations.
The ratio analysis could be made under a few broad categories.
A. Measuring short term solvency / liquidity
Short term solvency is the ability of the firm to meet its short term debts from its liquid assets. These could include cash in hand cash at bank trade receivables, but not inventories since they can’t be converted quickly into cash.
1) Current Ratio:Current assets are assets that can be converted into cash within a year. Current liabilities and provisions are those that are payable within a year. A current ratio of 2:1 indicates a high solvency of the company. This ratio can be calculated as
Current assets / Current liabilities

B. Measuring Long term solvency through leverage ratios:Long term solvency ratios measure the risk a business faces from its debt burden. It is essentially the proportion of the business financed via debt compared to equity.
1. Debt – equity ratio: It indicates the relationship between the loan funds and the net worth of the company, which is known as the ‘gearing’. If the proportion of debt to equity is low,a company is said to be low geared and the vice- versa. The formula used to impute the debt – equity ratio is
Long term debts / Shareholder’s Fund

2. Net Debt to EBITDA: Although not a traditional measure of long term solvency, the net debt to EBITDA ratio has become popular with banks as a measure of Gearing. Banks will typically lend a business up to five times its earnings. Hence, Cash generated from operations can be substituted for EBITDA. (EBITDA stands for Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization.)
Net Debt to EBIDTA (tines) = Interest bearing Debt – Cash/ EBITDA
3. Interest Coverage Ratio
This ratio measures how many times a business can pay its interest charges from its operating profit. Ideally a business should be able to cover its interest at least or more times. The formula used to compute this ratio is

Interest Cover [times] = Operating Profit (i.e. Profit before interest, depreciation, and Tax) / Interest (Finance expenses)

C. Investor Ratios

These ratios are used mostly by existing and potential investors of mostly publically listed companies. They can be obtained or calculated where necessary from publically available information.

1. Earnings per Share:-

The EPS is an important measure of economic performance of a corporate entity. The flow of capital to the companies under present imperfect capital market conditions would be made on the evaluation of EPS. It measures the net profit measured per share. It is one of the major factors that effect’s the dividend policy of the firm and the market prices of the companies. A steady growth in EPS year after year indicates a good track of profitability. Investors who lack inside and detailed information of a company can always look at the EPS, as their best base to take their investment decisions. A higher EPS means better capital productivity.
Its can be measured as
Net profit after tax and preference Dividend / No. of equity shares

2. Dividend Payout Ratio

Dividend payout indicates the extent of net profits distributed to the shareholders as dividend. A high payout signifies a liberal distribution policy and a low payout reflects a conservative dividend policy. It is the dividend per share by earning per share; written as

Dividend per Share / Earnings per share

3. Book Value

This ratio indicates net worth per equity share. The book value is the reflection of the past earnings and the distributed policy of the company. A huge book value indicates that a company has huge reserves whereas a lower book value suggests a liberal distribution policy of bonus and dividends, or alternatively a poor track record of profitability.
Book value is considered to be less significant than the EPS, as it reflects the past records, whereas the market discounts the future prospects. The book value of a company can be derived from

Equity Capital + Reserves – Profit and Loss A/c Debit Balance / Total No. of Equity Shares