TAX+BUSINESS ALERT
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In this edition
June 4, 2019

Vacation Homes: Do You Understand the Tax Nuances?

Podcast: Airbnb and Your Taxes

TCJA Inspires Many Business Owners to Reconsider Entity Choice
Vacation Homes: Do You Understand the Tax Nuances?
Owning a vacation home can offer tax breaks, but they may differ from those associated with a primary residence. The key is whether a vacation home is used solely for personal enjoyment or is also rented out to tenants.

Sorting It Out
If your vacation home is not rented out, or if you rent it out for no more than 14 days a year, the tax benefits are essentially the same as those you’d receive if you own your primary residence. In this scenario, you’d generally be able to deduct your mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A of your federal income tax return, up to certain limits. Also, you may exclude all your rental income.

But the rules are different if you rent out your vacation home for 15 or more days annually. First, the rental income must be reported. Second, in this scenario, the IRS considers your vacation home to be an investment property and, thus, allows deductions related to the rental of the property, with certain limitations. In addition to mortgage interest and real estate taxes, these deductions generally include insurance, utilities, housekeeping, repairs and depreciation. Also, the deduction for certain categories of expenses cannot exceed the rental income.

If you exceed this number of days of rentals and use your vacation home for personal use, these deductions will be limited by the ratio of actual rental days to the total days of use of the home. Suppose, for example, that you personally use your vacation home for 25 days and rent it for 75 days in a year, so the home is used for 100 total days. Here, you would be allowed to deduct 75% of the expenses listed above as rental expenses. Be aware that a portion of the mortgage interest and real estate taxes may be deductible on Schedule A. In certain circumstances, however, the personal portion of your mortgage interest may not be deductible.

Bottom Line
If you want to maximize the tax benefits of your vacation home, limit your personal use of the home to no more than 14 days or 10% of the total rental days. If you want to personally use the home more than this, you can still realize some limited tax benefits.

Contact our firm for details about your specific situation.
Contact: Heather Whitten, EA
Direct: 507.252.6677
Email: hwhitten@hawkinsashcpas.com
Podcast: Airbnb and Your Taxes
Renting out your personal residence as a vacation rental on Airbnb or another site will affect your taxes. Learn more about the impact in this podcast.
TCJA Inspires Many Business Owners to Reconsider Entity Choice
For tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) created a flat 21% federal income tax rate for C corporations. Under prior law, C corporations were taxed at rates as high as 35%.

Meanwhile, the TCJA also reduced individual income tax rates, which apply to sole proprietorships and owners of pass-through entities, including partnerships, S corporations, and, typically, limited liability companies (LLCs). The top rate, however, dropped only slightly, from 39.6% to 37%.

What does all of this mean for business owners? Among other things, it means now might be a good time to reconsider your company’s entity choice — if not this year, then perhaps for the 2020 tax year. On the surface, switching to (or staying) a C corporation may seem like a no-brainer. But there are many other considerations involved.

Conventional Wisdom
Under prior tax law, conventional wisdom was that most small businesses should be set up as sole proprietorships or pass-through entities to avoid the double taxation of C corporations. A C corporation pays entity-level income tax and then shareholders pay tax on dividends — and on capital gains when they sell the stock. For pass-through entities, there’s no federal income tax at the entity level.

Although C corporations are still potentially subject to double taxation under the TCJA, their new 21% tax rate helps make up for it. This issue is further complicated, however, by another provision of the TCJA that allows noncorporate owners of pass-through entities to take a deduction equal to as much as 20% of qualified business income (QBI), subject to various limits. But, unless Congress extends it, the break is available only for tax years beginning in 2018 through 2025.

Scenarios to Ponder
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when deciding how to structure a business. The best choice depends on your company’s distinctive circumstances, as well as your financial situation and objectives as owner.

For instance, if your business consistently generates tax losses, there’s no advantage to operating as a C corporation. Losses from C corporations can’t be deducted by their owners. So, converting to a pass-through entity may make sense because, as their name indicates, these business structures allow losses to  pass through  to the owners’ personal tax returns.

Another example involves companies that distribute profits to owners. For a profitable business that does so, operating as a pass-through entity generally will be better if significant QBI deductions are available. If not, it’s probably a toss-up in terms of tax liability.

Many Considerations
These are only a few of the issues to consider when rethinking your company’s business structure. We can help you evaluate your options.
Contact: Dan Moriarty, CPA
Direct: 262.404.2111
Email: dmoriarty@hawkinsashcpas.com
More Resources from CPA-HQ
Updating SUTA Rates
Make sure you have the current SUTA tax rate updated in your QuickBooks file.

Deducting Business Losses for Pass-Through Entities
The tax law limits deductible losses in some situations.

Podcast: Required Minimum Distributions
Learn more details about the different ways to delay or not be required to take the distributions.
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