News for your business and your life. | Hawkins Ash CPAs
In this edition
February 19, 2019

Fewer Taxpayers to Qualify for Home Office Deduction

Podcast: Pre-Tax Deductions for Employees

Throwing Snowballs at Your Mountain of Debt
Fewer Taxpayers to Qualify for Home Office Deduction
Working from home has become commonplace for people in many jobs. But just because you have a home office space doesn’t mean you can deduct expenses associated with it. Beginning with the 2018 tax year, fewer taxpayers will qualify for the home office deduction. Here’s why.

Changes Under the TCJA

For employees, home office expenses used to be a miscellaneous itemized deduction. Way back in 2017, this meant one could enjoy a tax benefit only if these expenses plus other miscellaneous itemized expenses (such as unreimbursed work-related travel, certain professional fees and investment expenses) exceeded 2% of adjusted gross income.

Starting in 2018 and continuing through 2025, however, employees can’t deduct any home office expenses. Why? The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) suspends miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% floor for this period.

Note: If you’re self-employed, you can still deduct eligible home office expenses against your self-employment income during the 2018 through 2025 period.

Other Eligibility Requirements

If you’re self-employed, generally your home office must be your principal place of business, though there are exceptions.

Whether you’re an employee or self-employed, the space must be used regularly (not just occasionally) and exclusively for business purposes. If, for example, your home office is also a guest bedroom or your children do their homework there, you can’t deduct the expenses associated with that space.

Deduction Options

If eligible, you have two options for claiming the home office deduction. First, you can deduct a portion of your mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, utilities and certain other expenses, as well as the depreciation allocable to the office space. This requires calculating, allocating and substantiating actual expenses.

A second approach is to take the “safe harbor” deduction. Here, only one simple calculation is necessary: $5 multiplied by the number of square feet of the office space. The safe harbor deduction is capped at $1,500 per year, based on a maximum of 300 square feet.

More Rules and Limits

Be aware that we’ve covered only a few of the rules and limits here. If you think you may qualify for the home office deduction on your 2018 return or would like to know if there’s anything additional you need to do to become eligible, contact us.
Contact: Boyd Lord, CPA
Direct: 507.453.5968
Podcast: Pre-Tax Deductions for Employees
When a young person gets a job for the first time, it amazes them how much comes off in taxes. They make $10 per hour and work 20 hours per week. They expect to get a $200 paycheck, but instead they only get $150 after taxes. Listen to this podcast to learn about payroll taxes and how taking advantage of your employer’s benefits can reduce the tax.
Throwing Snowballs at Your Mountain of Debt
Many people start the year intending to get out of debt, yet end the year owing just as much, if not more. One approach that might yield success is called “throwing snowballs.”

Under this method, you organize your debts from the lowest balance to the highest balance and begin paying off the debt on top of the list. The idea is to throw as many “snowballs” as you can gather or earn at that first creditor until the debt is gone.

While you hurl these snowballs, pay the minimum amount to your other creditors. Avoid trying to send an extra $20 or so a month to each one. If you want to contribute extra money, throw it at your primary target.

Once the first debt is paid off, you should have even more money to send to the next one. Over time you can start heaving bigger and bigger snowballs at the remaining targets because, as you pay off each debt, you’ll have more money to pay toward remaining debts.

The objective is to start an avalanche of payoffs until your debts disappear. Under this method, the best predictor of success isn’t the number of dollars you pay off but rather the number of accounts that you close.

Please note: There’s some debate on the practicality of throwing snowballs. Opponents argue that you should first pay off debts with the highest interest rates. We can help you choose a debt-reduction strategy that’s right for you.
Contact: Randy Juedes, CPA
Direct: 715.748.1346
Working Through Tax Reform Together
At Hawkins Ash CPAs, our success is measured by your success, and this year, when it comes to taxes, it's our goal to ensure you and your business are able to make the most of all the changes tax reform thrust onto the playing field. Many final regulations and guidance on the new tax law are still in process. In order to make the best decisions for our clients, we are doing our very best to interpret the information that is so far released.
With this, it may be necessary for our professionals to devote additional time to analyze your individual tax situation and develop strategies to deal with tax reform on your behalf. If this is the case, please be aware that you will be billed an additional amount for any such assistance we provide. We look forward to working closely with you and your business to get through these changes together.
As always, if you have questions, please contact your Hawkins Ash CPAs professional. 
More Resources from CPA-HQ
Notice 2018-99 “Parking Tax”
The tax applies to employer-provided parking expenses incurred from January 1, 2018 forward. This tax could also have an effect on not-for-profits.

Multistate Resident? Watch Out for Double Taxation
If you maintain residences in more than one state, here are some points to keep in mind.

You’ve Got Time: Small Businesses Can Still Set Up a 2018 SEP Plan
Are you a high-income small-business owner who doesn’t currently have a tax-advantaged retirement plan for yourself? A SEP plan may be just what you need!
Part of your business. Part of your life. |