Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Benefits of operating an LLC as an S corp

Combining the Benefits of the LLC and the S Corporation
If you think you can benefit from the combined features of an LLC and an S corporation, the surprising possibility exists to establish your business as an LLC, but then make the election to have it treated as an S corporation by the IRS for tax purposes. You'll have to make the special election with the IRS using Form 2553. It's no more difficult that setting up a corporation and then electing S corporation status. But it may have some added benefits. Let's take a look.
  • From a legal standpoint, your enterprise will be an LLC rather than a corporation. Therefore, you will have the benefit of ease of administration--fewer filings, fewer forms, fewer start-up costs, fewer formal meetings and record keeping requirements. I can hear your sigh of relief!
  • From a tax perspective, your enterprise will be treated as an S corporation. You'll still have the pass-through of income, avoiding double taxation, same as if your LLC was treated as a proprietorship or partnership.
  • Without the administrative hassles of actually being a corporation, you will still benefit from the IRS treating your business as one. To the IRS, your business will exist separate and independent from you--its owner. Therefore, the business entity can pay wages and salaries to you or to other owners. This amount will be subject to FICA tax and other withholding requirements. But then, it can distribute the remaining net earnings to you and the other owners as passive dividend income, not subject to SECA tax.
  • Being treated as an S corporation may provide opportunities for tax planning to minimize the overall tax liability for your business and you. It may allow your business to take advantage of better tax treatment for certain fringe benefits, too.
Obviously, you need to carefully consider the pros and cons of different forms of business organization. Be sure to consider how all the aspects--legal, tax and operational--of each organizational form will impact your unique business enterprise. Seeking professional advice from a CPA or tax attorney is always a wise practice when making choices like this that can affect your business for many years to come.
But setting up an LLC and then electing treatment as an S corporation may just give you the best of both worlds--the ease of administration of the LLC and the tax planning opportunities of the S corporation. Talk to your professional advisor today.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Closing the books on the sale of an LLC

Normally, an LLC closes its books at the end of its tax year.  However, under certain circumstances a LLC partner who sells all of his share may "close the books on the LLC tax year upon sale to the new owner.  This is from the Internal Revenue Code and you can read more if it sounds like a strategy that may help your position.  Note, it wasn't in the Code below, but I have read elsewhere that it is good to have a signed document from all of those involved in the sale deeming that the books are closed upon the sale date and that the selling partner has no ownership beyond that date.
Reference: 26 CFR 1.706-1 (11) (c)(2)(i)

c) Closing of partnership year—
(1) General rule. Section 706(c) and this paragraph provide rules governing the closing of partnership years. The closing of a partnership taxable year or a termination of a partnership for Federal income tax purposes is not necessarily governed by the “dissolution”, “liquidation”, etc., of a partnership under State or local law. The taxable year of a partnership shall not close as the result of the death of a partner, the entry of a new partner, the liquidation of a partner's entire interest in the partnership (as defined in section 761(d)), or the sale or exchange of a partner's interest in the partnership, except in the case of a termination of a partnership and except as provided in subparagraph (2) of this paragraph. In the case of termination, the partnership taxable year closes for all partners as of the date of termination. See section 708(b) and paragraph (b) of § 1.708-1.
(2) Partner who retires or sells interest in partnership—
(i) Disposition of entire interest. A partnership taxable year shall close with respect to a partner who sells or exchanges his entire interest in a partnership, and with respect to a partner whose entire interest is liquidated. However, a partnership taxable year with respect to a partner who dies shall not close prior to the end of such partnership taxable year, or the time when such partner's interest (held by his estate or other successor) is liquidated or sold or exchanged, whichever is earlier. See subparagraph (3) of this paragraph.
(ii) Inclusions in taxable income. In the case of a sale, exchange, or liquidation of a partner's entire interest in a partnership, the partner shall include in his taxable income for his taxable year within or with which his membership in the partnership ends, his distributive share of items described in section 702(a), and any guaranteed payments under section 707(c), for his partnership taxable year ending with the date of such sale, exchange, or liquidation. In order to avoid an interim closing of the partnership books, such partner's distributive share of items described in section 702(a) may, by agreement among the partners, be estimated by taking his pro rata part of the amount of such items he would have included in his taxable income had he remained a partner until the end of the partnership taxable year. The proration may be based on the portion of the taxable year that has elapsed prior to the sale, exchange, or liquidation, or may be determined under any other method that is reasonable. Any partner who is the transferee of such partner's interest shall include in his taxable income, as his distributive share of items described in section 702(a) with respect to the acquired interest, the pro rata part (determined by the method used by the transferor partner) of the amount of such items he would have included had he been a partner from the beginning of the taxable year of the partnership. The application of this subdivision may be illustrated by the following example:
Assume that a partner selling his partnership interest on June 30, 1955, has an adjusted basis for his interest of $5,000 on that date; that his pro rata share of partnership income up to June 30 is $15,000; and that he sells his interest for $20,000. Under the provisions of section 706(c)(2), the partnership year with respect to him closes at the time of the sale. The $15,000 is includible in his income as his distributive share and, under section 705, it increases the basis of his partnership interest to $20,000, which is also the selling price of his interest. Therefore, no gain is realized on the sale of his partnership interest. The purchaser of this partnership interest shall include in his income as his distributive share his pro rata part of partnership income for the remainder of the partnership taxable year.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tax effects of Obamacare!

Thanks to my CPA colleague, Jim Newland in Ohio, for this update on the forthcoming Obamacare tax issues:
In 2010, when Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare), the effects seemed far away to many of us. Now that 2014 is here, there will be several direct effects upon every American, with the requirement that all Americans of all ages obtain qualified health insurance for the entire year. The requirement to obtain health insurance applies to you individually as well as to anyone you claim as a dependent on your return.

Several new forms will be issued to taxpayers this year, primarily Form 1095-A, B and C.
In order to complete your 2014 return we must have all copies of Form 1095. These forms provide us with the necessary information to report your health insurance coverage, calculate any credit and calculate any penalty that may apply.

Because much of the reporting for 2014 will be voluntary you may not receive any Forms 1095. We therefore need to also obtain from you the following information in order to complete your return:

  1. Health insurer(s) for the year;
  2. Number of months of coverage;
  3. Members of your family covered by the above health insurance throughout the year;
  4. Your county of residence all year;
  5. Signed health insurance information form for our records.

Of equal importance for 2014 are the multiple possibilities of tax mistakes made primarily by your dependent children who may work in 2014. The simplest guidance we can provide you to avoid this mistake is: Do not allow any dependent children to file their own return, particularly college students, and do not file them yourself. Although this guidance appears self-serving for us, let us assure you this guidance is meant to protect you from your children inadvertently costing you literally thousands of dollars in potential health care tax credits. The IRS recently released new Form 8962 to calculate the credit and in our continuing education classes we have learned how difficult it is to calculate the credit and how easy it is to make a mistake and lose the credit. We are estimating this new form will require substantially more preparation time for this year’s return which means, as expected, that we will be once again raising your fee. We are sorry about the fee increase but this is one of the costs of compliance with these new requirements.

For those of you who have received an advance payment of the Health Care credit by purchasing insurance through the Exchange we also need to warn you in advance that if you received a greater credit than allowed you will be forced to repay the excess with this year’s return.

We also encourage you to visit www.Healthcare.gov when you have a chance just to see what is available to you in the form of insurance, and what premiums will really cost for your family so that you have a clear idea of the facts without a political or media based bias.

The other aspects of the Affordable Care Act that no one is talking about are the two new surtaxes. Many people incorrectly believe that only high income Americans pay these surtaxes, but because the tax is not adjusted for inflation, within a few years all Americans will pay the additional surtaxes. You need to take steps now to plan for this event and our advice is to utilize every fringe benefit your employer offers, maximize 401-k deferrals and call us if you are expecting a big bonus, stock or asset sale or other major income change so that we can work with you to minimize the effects of these new taxes.