gift

Understanding Gift Tax

Feeling generous? A gift is a transfer of money or property to another person, without receiving full monetary consideration in return. The federal gift tax’s purpose is to prevent individuals from avoiding estate tax by giving away that money prior to death. This tax is often misunderstood because of its interconnections with the estate tax.

Your yearly and lifetime gift totals would have to be rather lofty to incur taxes. You can gift up to $15,000 in 2019 without filling out the gift tax form. The annual exclusion applies to each recipient. Therefore, you could gift up to $15,000 to multiple individuals, and the annual exclusion will apply to each gift. There’s also a lifetime gift exclusion—which rises to $11.4 million in 2019.gift

Excluded gifts

There are certain gifts that are not taxable. These include tuition or medical expenses you pay for someone (paid directly to a qualified education or medical institution), gifts to your spouse, gifts to a political organization for its use or gifts to qualifying charities (considered charitable donations). These are the only form of gifts that are deductible on your return.

Gifting specifics

If you and your spouse wish to gift joint assets, like property, your annual exclusion rates are combined and applied to the gift. Meaning, in 2019, you could gift, together, money or property valuing up to $30,000. The lifetime exclusion amount doubles for married couples as well. Special rules also allow givers to spread a large, one-time gift across five years’ worth of tax returns (thus preserving their lifetime gift exclusion). Keep in mind that interest-free loans to friends and family are considered gifts in the eyes of the IRS.gift

The paperwork

Above the annual amount of $15,000, you must file IRS Form 709 to disclose a gift. This form will report the fair market value of the gift, the date of transfer, the donor’s tax basis and the identity of the recipient. If any taxes are incurred on the gift, it is the donor who is responsible for them.* The gift tax rate ranges from 18-40 percent. As with most aspects of your taxes, the IRS favors transparency of transactions and evidence. This means, in addition to Form 709, be prepared to provide copies of appraisals for the gift and any documents related to the gift’s transfer.

*some special arrangements allow the recipient to pay the gift tax instead

Lifetime exclusion

Over your lifetime, the IRS keeps a running total of your taxable gifts each year. The IRS does not want individuals to avoid estate taxes on their assets after death by gifting away these assets during their lifetime. From year to year, if you exceed the annual exclusion amount, the excess spills over into the lifetime exclusion category, whittling away at its total. At your time of death, your estate will be exempt from taxation in the amount of your remaining total lifetime gift tax exemption. Thus, amounts in excess of the annual exclusion each year count against both your lifetime gift tax exemption and your federal estate tax exemption.

Read More

business

Business Structure: Tax Implications

This post marks part three of our blog series debunking the business structure selection process. Today, we look at the tax implications of the structure you select. Perhaps less of an influence on your decision-making process and more an effect of the choice you’ve made, keep these items in mind this tax season and beyond. 

In a sole proprietorship situation, your business and personal taxes will not be separate because your sole proprietorship income is your income. Think of it as one income with one return. The business will not need to file its own return. This does allow you to receive the lowest tax rates of any of the business structures. Filing will involve a Schedule C (to report profits and losses) and the Form 1040 usually involved in your personal return. All profits will be taxed in the year they are earned. First-timers should prepare themselves to pay self-employment taxes. This means you are solely responsible for your social security and Medicare contributions. partner

Similarly, in a partnership arrangement, the partners will need to pay taxes on their share of profits from the business, even if that money is staying in the business. Like a sole proprietorship, an LLC is a pass-through entity. In this situation, Schedule K-1 of Form 1065 will be critical to filing.  Again, self-employment taxes will come into play on your personal return.

On the federal level, taxation of Limited Liability Companies will treat the business as either a corporation, partnership or disregarded entity. If there are two or more owners, the LLC will be taxed like a partnership: with pass-through taxation, and taxes paid on the personal tax returns of its owners rather than at a business level. If the LLC has only one member, it will be treated as an entity separate from its owner. In either case, if the LLC files Form 8832 it will affirmatively elect to be treated as a corporation. However, LLCs also have variable state tax implications based on your individual state.

Although a cooperative operates as a corporation, its operations pass-through income to its members. As we’ve seen in previous examples, this means the individual members will pay taxes on their cooperative gains when they file their personal returns. Certain cooperatives do obtain tax-exempt status. Based on these variables, tax forms for cooperatives may require 1099-PATR or 3491 Consume Cooperative Exemption Application. team

Electing to structure your business as a corporation will make it a separate legal entity from its owners. These entities will file taxes with a Form 1120 or 1120S. The primary difference between the two main types: S-Corps and C-Corps, is the tax implications.

S-Corps receive some tax savings compared to their C-Corp counterpart. Owners treat taxes on income as they would for a partnership or sole proprietorship. Shareholders are taxed on the dividends they are paid. Any remaining income is paid to owners as a distribution and thus taxed at a lower rate. Businesses might not elect to be a S-Corp because they have too many shareholders (there’s a 100 shareholder limit) or because they want to keep money in the business, a benefit to the C-Corp structure.

Corporate taxes are often lower than personal taxes, but C-Corps can incur double taxation. First, the corporation is taxed when it makes a profit. Second, these same funds are taxed when dividends are paid to shareholders or when owners draw a salary. Then again, owners will not be taxed personally if the money remains in the business.  

 

Read More

colleagues

Business Structures: Ownership and Liability Differences

The most common differences in business structures are ownership, liability and tax considerations. When it comes to liability, it’s important to consider where you, as an owner, could personally afford liability risks. Protecting personal assets is a key reason people incorporate their business, and while some structures are easier to form than others, it can be difficult to change your entity’s structure down the line, so avoid restricting your business’s ability to grow in your selection.

Sole Proprietorship: Sole proprietorships are simplest to form, and if you don’t register your business as another entity, you’ll automatically be considered a sole proprietorship. Owned by one individual, this structure comes with the greatest personal liability. As the business grows, your personal liability will increase. Therefore, this structure is best for lower risk businesses. Also consider that it is difficult to obtain outside funding for sole proprietorships.

Partnerships: Partnerships are owned by two or more people. The partners will share in any profits, losses and decision-making responsibilities. These entities require an operating agreement that outlines the roles of its owners and the percentage of profits they each receive. Consider that you will be held liable for both decisions you make, and those made by other owners. Funding for these entities will generally come from the personal accounts of its owners, their personal credit or by taking on more partners.board room

Limited Liability Company (LLC): Forming an LLC protects you from personal liability if you don’t act in a manner that is in any way illegal, unethical or irresponsible when carrying out business activities. Personal assets and company assets are deemed separate under this entity. This structure is great for medium-high risk businesses and owners with a lot of personal assets they want to protect.

Corporation: Incorporating your business makes it a separate entity from its owners. That entity can be sued, own and sell property, and sell ownership rights in the form of stocks. No individual owner has sole or primary control. Instead, most corporations have a Board of Directors to answer to. More specifics apply depending on the type of corporation…

C Corp: C-corps are ideal for medium-high risk businesses, businesses that need to raise outside funds and businesses that intend to go public or eventually be sold. As you can see, forecasting where you would like to see your business go or grow into, is important to many of these considerations.

S Corp: S-Corps are intended for smaller corporations. There can be no more than 100 owners, and all must be United States citizens.

B Corp: B-Corps differ from other types of corporation in purpose, accountability and transparency. In some states, B-Corps are required to submit annual benefit reports to demonstrate that they are indeed contributing to the public good.

Closed Corporations: Closed corporations are similar to B-Corporations. However, these generally smaller companies are usually barred from public trading.high rise

For a more simplified depiction of this breakdown, reference the following table:

Business structure Ownership Liability Taxes
Sole proprietorship One person Unlimited personal liability Personal tax only
Partnerships Two or more people Unlimited personal liability unless structured as a limited partnership Self-employment tax (except for limited partners)

Personal tax

Limited liability company (LLC) One or more people Owners are not personally liable Self-employment tax

Personal tax or corporate tax

Corporation – C corp One or more people Owners are not personally liable Corporate tax
Corporation – S corp One or more people, but no more than 100, and all must be U.S. citizens Owners are not personally liable Personal tax
Corporation – B corp One or more people Owners are not personally liable Corporate tax
Corporation – Nonprofit One or more people Owners are not personally liable Tax-exempt, but corporate profits can’t be distributed

 

Later this week, we’ll delve into the tax differences and implications of each of these business structures.

Read More

minneapolis

Choosing a Business Structure: Types of Entities

You’re starting your own business, but what type of legal entity will you establish for the business? It can be difficult to balance the advantages and disadvantages of these structures. So let’s review the options and simplify those considerations:

Sole proprietorship:

A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business entity. In this scenario, one person is responsible for the company, its profits and its debts. The most common way to structure your business, it is easy to form and gives complete managerial control to the owner. At the same time, the owner is then personally liable for all financial obligations to the business.

open sign

Partnership:

When the entity is owned by two or more individuals, it is a partnership. The partners agree to share in both the profits and losses of the business. These profits and losses are reported on the partners’ individual tax returns. However, each partner is still personally liable for the financial obligations of the business.

  1. Limited partnerships (LP): when one general partner has unlimited liability, and the other partners have limited liability. The limited liability partners also tend to have a limit on their controls over the company, as documented in a partnership agreement.
  2. Limited liability partnerships (LLP): limited liability is given to all owners of the company. An LLP protects partners from the partnership’s debts, so they are not responsible for the actions of their partners.

Limited liability company (LLC):

This business structure is a hybrid that limits personal liability for its owners, partners or shareholders, while enjoying the tax and flexibility benefits of a partnership. Therefore, personal assets will not be at risk if the LLC faces bankruptcy or lawsuits.

conference room

Corporation:

Corporations are viewed as entities that are separate from their owners. Therefore, a corporation has legal rights that are independent of its owners. Corporations come in five different types:

  1. C Corporations: these legal entities are separate from their owners. Therefore, they make profits, are taxed and can be held legally liable. Shareholders are provided with strong protection against personal liability, and the departure of a shareholder or sale of stock doesn’t disturb the continuation of business by the C Corporations.
  2. S Corporations: much like partnerships or LLCs, owners have limited liability protections and avoid double taxation by passing profits and some losses directly to the owners’ personal income while avoiding corporate tax rates. There are special limits on S Corporations.
  3. B Corporations: benefit corporations are driven by mission and profit. So while they service society in some way, they maintain a for-profit structure.
  4. Closed corporations: traditionally smaller companies with an informal corporate structure, closed corporations do not participate in public trading and are typically run by a few shareholders without a board of directors.
  5. Nonprofit corporations: organized for the purpose of charity, education, religious, literary or scientific works. As benefits to the public, they are tax-exempt.

Cooperative:

Cooperatives are owned and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Cooperatives are generally run by an elected board of directors or officers, while regular members have voting power to contribute to the direction of the cooperative. Members join by purchasing shares, but the amount of shares they hold does not increase or decrease the weight of their votes.

In our next blog, we will dive deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of these structures, and the tax implications of each. Visit the Simma Flottemesch & Orenstein blog to follow along.

Read More