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In this edition
March 5, 2019

Weigh the Tax Impact of Income vs. Growth When Investing

Podcast: Where's My Refund

Did You Repair Your Business Property or Improve It?
Weigh the Tax Impact of Income vs. Growth When Investing
As the 2018 tax-filing season heats up, investors have much to consider. Whether you structured your portfolio to emphasize income over growth — or vice versa, or perhaps a balance of the two — will have a substantial impact on your tax liability. Let’s take a look at a couple of the most significant “big picture” issues that affect income vs. growth.

Differing Dividends

One benefit of dividends is that they may qualify for preferential long-term capital gains tax rates. For the 2018 tax year, the top rate is 20% for high-income taxpayers (income of $425,800 or more). For those with incomes between $38,601 and $425,800, the rate is 15%. Individuals with incomes of $38,600 and below pay 0% on long-term capital gains.

Keep in mind, however, that only “qualified dividends” are eligible for these rates. Nonqualified dividends are taxed as ordinary income at rates as high as 37% for 2018. Qualified dividends must meet two requirements. First, the dividends must be paid by a U.S. corporation or a qualified foreign corporation. Second, the stock must be held for at least 61 days during the 121-day period that starts 60 days before the ex-dividend date and ends 60 days after that date.

A qualified foreign corporation is one that’s organized in a U.S. possession or in a country that has a current tax treaty with the United States, or whose stock is readily tradable on an established U.S. market. The ex-dividend date is the cutoff date for declared dividends. Investors who purchase stock on or after that date won’t receive a dividend payment.

Timing is Everything

One disadvantage of dividend-paying stocks (or mutual funds that invest in dividend-paying stocks) is that they accelerate taxes. Regardless of how long you hold the stock, you’ll owe taxes on dividends as they’re paid, which erodes your returns over time.
When you invest in growth stocks (or mutual funds that invest in growth stocks), you generally have greater control over the timing of the tax bite. These companies tend to reinvest their profits in the companies rather than pay them out as dividends, so taxes on the appreciation in value are deferred until you sell the stock.

Keeping an Eye Out

Regardless of your investment approach, you need to understand the tax implications of various investments so you can make informed decisions. You should also keep an eye on Congress. As of this writing, further tax law reform beyond the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 isn’t on the horizon — but it’s being discussed. Contact our firm for the latest news and to discuss your tax and investment strategies.
Contact: Jay Kramer, CPA
Direct: 920.337.4551
Podcast: Where’s My Refund
As we get into the middle of tax season, returns are being filed and refunds are issued. But did you know that there are factors that can affect the timing of your refund? Listen in with Jeff Dvorachek here:
Did You Repair Your Business Property or Improve It?
Repairs to tangible property, such as buildings, machinery, equipment or vehicles, can provide businesses a valuable current tax deduction — as long as the so-called repairs weren’t actually “improvements.”

The costs of incidental repairs and maintenance can be immediately expensed and deducted on the current year’s income tax return. But costs incurred to improve tangible property must be capitalized and recovered through depreciation.

Betterment, Restoration or Adaptation

Generally, a cost must be depreciated if it results in an improvement to a building structure, or any of its building systems (for example, the plumbing or electrical system), or to other tangible property. An improvement occurs if there was a betterment, restoration or adaptation of the unit of property.

Under the “betterment test,” you generally must depreciate amounts paid for work that is reasonably expected to materially increase the productivity, efficiency, strength, quality or output of a unit of property or that is a material addition to a unit of property.

Under the “restoration test,” you generally must depreciate amounts paid to replace a part (or combination of parts) that is a major component or a significant portion of the physical structure of a unit of property.

Under the “adaptation test,” you generally must depreciate amounts paid to adapt a unit of property to a new or different use — one that isn’t consistent with your ordinary use of the unit of property at the time you originally placed it in service.

Safe Harbors

A couple of IRS safe harbors can help distinguish between repairs and improvements:

1.       Routine maintenance safe harbor .

Recurring activities dedicated to keeping property in efficient operating condition can be expensed. These are activities that your business reasonably expects to perform more than once during the property’s “class life,” as defined by the IRS.

Amounts incurred for activities outside the safe harbor don’t necessarily have to be depreciated, though. These amounts are subject to analysis under the general rules for improvements.

2.       Small business safe harbor .

For buildings that initially cost $1 million or less, qualified small businesses may elect to deduct the lesser of $10,000 or 2% of the unadjusted basis of the property for repairs, maintenance, improvements and similar activities each year. A qualified small business is generally one with gross receipts of $10 million or less.

More to Learn

To learn more about these safe harbors and other ways to maximize your tangible property deductions, contact us.
Contact: Heather Whitten, EA
Direct: 507.252.66776
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. 
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