Deducting Home Office Expenses

New home owners with keyIf you’re one of the many people working from home this year, you may have questions about the home office tax deduction and whether you can qualify for it. Here’s a rundown of the rules.

Employees

Unfortunately, home office expenses incurred while working as an employee are not currently deductible. The reason: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act temporarily suspended the itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee business expenses (and various other miscellaneous expenses). Unless lawmakers make a change, the deduction won’t become available again until 2026.

Self-Employed Individuals

The news is better if you are self-employed. You will be eligible for a home office deduction provided you can satisfy certain requirements. If you do, you can deduct all direct expenses and part of the indirect expenses involved in working from home. The deduction is generally limited to income from the business, and excess expenses may be carried over to the next year.

Direct expenses are costs that apply only to your home office. The cost of painting your home office is an example of a direct expense. Indirect expenses include expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, maintenance, and homeowners insurance. You can deduct only the business portion of your indirect expenses. These expenses are typically allocated between business and personal use based on square footage.

IRS Requirements

To qualify, a home office — a room or another separately identifiable space — generally has to be used regularly and exclusively for business purposes. The home office also must be (1) your principal place of business; (2) a place where you meet patients, clients, or customers; (3) a separate unattached structure that you use in connection with your business; or (4) a space within your residence that you regularly use to store inventory or product samples in connection with the business, if the residence is the only fixed location of your business (in this situation, the space doesn’t have to be used exclusively for storage).

You don’t necessarily have to spend most of your work hours in your home office for it to meet the principal place of business requirement. A home office can qualify if you use it for administrative or management activities and it is the only fixed location where you conduct those activities. Some examples of administrative or management activities include: billing customers, clients, or patients; keeping books and records; ordering supplies; setting up appointments; forwarding orders or writing reports.

Simplified Option

If you prefer not to keep track of your expenses, there’s a simplified method that allows qualifying taxpayers to deduct $5 for each square foot of office space, up to a maximum of 300 square feet. When the simplified method is used, qualified mortgage interest and property taxes are separately deductible as itemized deductions.

Your tax professional can help you determine whether you qualify for a deduction and what you may need to do to take advantage of it.

Selling Inherited Property? Tax Rules That Make a Difference

Sooner or later, you may decide to sell property you inherited from a parent or other loved one. Whether the property is an investment, an antique, land, or something else, the sale may result in a taxable gain or loss. But how that gain or loss is calculated may surprise you.

Your Basis

When you sell property you purchased, you generally figure gain or loss by comparing the amount you receive in the sale transaction with your cost basis (as adjusted for certain items, such as depreciation). Inherited property is treated differently. Instead of cost, your basis in inherited property is generally its fair market value on the date of death (or an alternate valuation date elected by the estate’s executor, generally six months after the date of death).

These basis rules can greatly simplify matters, since old cost information can be difficult, if not impossible, to track down. Perhaps even more important, the ability to substitute a “stepped up” basis for the property’s cost can save you federal income taxes. Why? Because any increase in the property’s value that occurred before the date of death won’t be subject to capital gains tax.

For example: Assume your Uncle Harold left you stock he bought in 1986 for $5,000. At the time of his death, the shares were worth $45,000, and you recently sold them for $48,000. Your basis for purposes of calculating your capital gain is stepped up to $45,000. Because of the step-up, your capital gain on the sale is just $3,000 ($48,000 sale proceeds less $45,000 basis). The $40,000 increase in the value of the shares during your Uncle Harold’s lifetime is not subject to capital gains tax.

What happens if a property’s value on the date of death is less than its original purchase price? Instead of a step-up in basis, the basis must be lowered to the date-of-death value.

Holding Period

Capital gains resulting from the disposition of inherited property automatically qualify for long-term capital gain treatment, regardless of how long you or the decedent owned the property. This presents a potential income tax advantage, since long-term capital gain is taxed at a lower rate than short-term capital gain.

Be cautious if you inherited property from someone who died in 2010 since, depending on the situation, different tax basis rules might apply.

5 Topics Every Business Owner Should Discuss with An Accountant

Serious asian businesswoman and caucasian businessman in formal suit sitting together on couch using computer talking discussing solving business issues having problem searching looking for solutionYour accountant or CPA is a business asset that you should put to good use year-round, not just at tax time. There are several topics beyond taxes that business owners should discuss with their trusted financial professionals. In this article, we cover five of them for you. While the new year is traditionally when business owners think of making financial, strategic, and other business-related plans, any time is the right time to speak to your accountant to discuss the following aspects of your business. You can’t begin the conversation too early, but it could be too late in some cases, so don’t put aside these five essential talking points.

1. Financial Planning

Budget is front of mind for business owners, but other financial issues impact your business, too. Consider a full portfolio review with your accountant to plan your financial future. Some critical topics to cover include strategies to improve cash flow, existing business loans, capital investment, charitable contributions, employee-related expenses like bonuses and health care, retirement planning, and asset management.

2. Company Growth

The goal of all businesses is growth. With growth comes change. As your business objectives shift, your valuation and tax liability often shift, too. Any changes you experience in your business should be conveyed to your accountant or CPA so that they can apprise you of liabilities or status changes. For example, suppose you plan to expand, add additional locations, make significant staffing changes, merge companies, acquire new businesses, or plan to sell your business. In that case, you should set up an appointment with your accountant to develop a logical strategy to address the change.

3. Inventory

If your business sells or resells tangible goods, inventory is vital. Sales tax laws and regulations can be challenging. Many states have rules about nexus (i.e., how much presence a business has in a city or state) related to where businesses warehouse inventory and fulfill orders. Your accountant can assess your order process to verify your restocking and ordering processes to maximize cash flow, ensure unsold inventory is accounted for, and ensure that sales tax is collected everywhere your company has nexus.

4. Risk Management

Do you have a plan in place to protect your business from disruption? Many do not. If that applies to your business, contact your accountant to discuss continuity planning to protect your business. They can provide professional insight regarding how to mitigate risks should a disruption occur. Some topics to address are whether your insurance policies are up to date, if all compliance, security, and privacy standards are met, whether your business has fraud protection in place, and if the existing internal controls protect your business. Given the time and capital small business owners invest in their passion, they must take time to manage any potential risk that could destroy what they worked so hard to create and build.

5. Tax Compliance

Lastly, as a business owner, you always want to be tax compliant. And this doesn’t apply only to federal taxes. It is just as essential to make sure state-imposed taxes are addressed on time. Regulations and tax laws change frequently, so it is vital to have a firm grasp on these. The best way to ensure you do this is to have your accountant guide you. They can inform you of any changes that affect your business and advise you on addressing them. Discuss collecting and filing W2s and 1099s for any contract employees; ensure exemption and resale certifications are collected and stored correctly; comply with online sales and nexus rules; and have an internal review to find any issues that might trigger a sale tax audit.


It helps to think of your business accountant as an extension of your team, an impartial adviser who will assess the risks and rewards associated with your business. They will answer your questions and illuminate unclear topics for you. They may bring up important points you’ve yet to consider, so make that call today and get a meeting on the calendar to discuss these critical points with your accountant. And remember, you can do your part by making sure you keep business and personal finances separate and maintaining complete, organized records.

Give Roe CPA, P.C. a call at 678-969-0523. We’ll set up a confidential, free initial consultation to discuss how we might make running your business a little bit easier.

 

 

Customers Paying Late? How to Create Statements

There are many ways to encourage delinquent customers to pay. QuickBooks Online’s statements may be effective for you.

After the year-plus you’ve just experienced, the last thing your small business needs is customers who are behind on their payments to you. You may have been giving them a break because you know that they’re struggling, too, but things have been looking up for many companies in the past few months. It’s time for you to be more proactive about calling in your debts.

There are numerous ways you can accomplish this. One of the best is to send statements in QuickBooks Online, which are detailed reminder forms that contain multiple transactions. These can be especially helpful if you’ve sent multiple invoices with no response. There are three different types you can send, depending on your needs. Here’s how you create them.

Before You Start

QuickBooks Online offers a couple of options for formatting your statements. To see these, click the gear icon in the upper right corner and select Your Company | Account and Settings. Click the Sales tab and scroll down to the Statements section. Click the pencil icon over to the far right to make any changes needed. You can:

  • List each transaction as a single line or include all of the detail lines.
  • Display an aging table at the bottom of each statement.

Click the buttons to specify your preference and then click Save and Done.

Three Statement Types

You can choose from among three different types of statements in QuickBooks Online: Balance Forward includes invoices with outstanding balances for a specified range of dates. Open Item statements contain information about all unpaid (open) invoices from the last 365 days. And Transaction Statements show every transaction in a date range that you specify. We’ll describe how to create them so you can decide which makes the most sense for a particular situation.

One Way to Create Statements

Like it does for many other actions, QuickBooks Online offers two ways to create statements. The first is easier. Click the New button in the upper left and select Statement (under Other). Click the down arrow in the field under Statement Type to see the three options there.

If you select Balance Forward, you’ll need to define three criteria (there will be similar options for the other two types):

  • Statement Date
  • Customer Balance Status (Open, Overdue, or All)
  • Start Date and End Date

When you’re satisfied with your statement parameters, click Apply. QuickBooks Online will display a list of the transactions that meet your criteria, along with the number of them that will be generated. Each row in the list will display the recipient’s name, email address, and balance. In the upper right corner, you’ll see the number of statements again and the total balance these customers represent.

If you want to exclude any of these customers, click in the box in front of each to unselect them and delete the checkmark. When you’re satisfied with your list, click Save, Save and send, or Save and close. If you click Save and send, a window will open containing a preview of your statements. Thumbnails of each will appear in the left pane. Click on any to see their previews. When you’re ready, you can download, print, or send them.

If you click Save or Save and close, you’ll still be able to see the statements you’ve just generated. Click the Sales tab in the toolbar, then All Sales. Click the down arrow next to Filter and open the drop-down list under Type. Select Statements, and your list will appear. You can print or send one by selecting the correct option in the Action column. If you want to dispatch multiple statements, click in the box in front of each, and then click the down arrow next to Batch actions.

Another Method

There’s an alternate way to create statements. Click the Sales tab in the toolbar, then Customers. Select any or all of the customers in the list, then click the down arrow next to Batch actions and select Create statements. QuickBooks Online will open the Create Statements window again so you can select the type and process your statements like you did using the previous method.

We don’t expect that you’ll have much trouble working with statements, though you may want to consult with us on when they’re appropriate. We can also suggest other ways to bring your accounts receivable up to date. As always, we’re available to help you maximize and streamline your use of QuickBooks Online. Keeping your financial books current and organized is one way to ensure that you don’t fall too far behind with customer payments.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Are too many of your customers behind in their payments to you? Consider sending statements in QBO. We can show you how.

QuickBooks Online supports statements, reminder forms you can send to customers whose payments are past due.

Don’t know how many customers are past due on their payments to you? Run QuickBooks Online’s A/R Aging reports.

There are two ways to create three different types of statements in QuickBooks Online. We can help you sort it out.

Avoiding Capital Gains Taxes with a 1031 Exchange

Smiling businesswoman at meetingSavvy investors can build wealth by deferring capital gains taxes via a 1031 exchange. Learn how it works and how it can help you as a real estate investor. For the in-depth information required to execute a 1031 exchange, a qualified intermediary is necessary.

What is a 1031 Exchange?

A 1031 exchange allows real estate investors to avoid paying capital gains taxes when selling an investment property and reinvesting in a replacement property. The name 1031 exchange comes from Section 1031 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

A 1031 is also called a like-kind exchange. It is essentially a swap of one investment property for another. The “like-kind” refers to the fact that the properties in the exchange must be similar (i.e., of like kind) and the exchange property must be of equal or greater value as the property sold.

How Does a 1031 Exchange Work?

Under IRS code section 1031, which applies to real estate, investors can reinvest proceeds from the sale of one property into another property within a specified time frame to avoid paying capital gains taxes (the taxes on the growth of an investment when it is sold). Because it is rare for an even property swap to occur between parties, the most common type of exchange is the delayed “forward” exchange. In this case, the sold property funds are sent to a qualified intermediary and later used to acquire a replacement property from a seller.

What is a Qualified Intermediary?

A qualified intermediary facilitates a 1031 exchange. They hold the transaction funds from the sale of the first property until those funds are transferred to the seller of a replacement property. The qualified intermediary also prepares the legal documents required for the exchange. The qualified intermediary can have no formal relationship with the exchange parties outside of the exchange.

1031 Exchange Important Deadlines

  • The seller of the first property (the relinquished property) must identify a replacement property (their new investment property) within 45 days of the transfer of the relinquished property.
  • The replacement property must be received by the exchanger within either (1) 180 days of the date the exchanger transferred the first Relinquished Property or (2) the due date of the exchanger’s tax return for the year that the transfer of the first relinquished property occurs.
  • These are strict timelines and are not extended even if the 45th or 180th days fall on a weekend or holiday.

What You Need to Know about a 1031 Exchange

1031 exchange transactions should be handled by a professional qualified intermediary that is a third party (i.e., not a family member, friend, acquaintance, or business associate of either party involved in the exchange).

Exceptions

The IRS does not allow capital gains tax avoidance if the exchange:

  • is U.S. real estate for real estate in another country
  • involves property for personal use
  • is between related parties and either disposes of the property within two years

Why Do Investors Use a 1031 Exchange?

  • They can use what they would have paid in capital gains taxes to put more down on a replacement property to improve their buying power.
  • The savings on federal capital gains taxes could be 15 to 20 percent.
  • There could be savings at the state level (this varies by state, so your qualified intermediary should be consulted for this information).
  • The amount of income taxes paid could be reduced due to depreciation of the investment property.

A 1031 exchange is a tool that savvy real estate investors use to build wealth over time. To further understand how a 1031 exchange can benefit you, ask your CPA or accountant to help put you in touch with a qualified intermediary. Their guidance is critical in executing a 1031 whether you’re swapping two properties or working with a full portfolio of investment real estate properties.

Don’t wait until the next filing deadline approaches! Call us today at 678-969-0523 and get ahead of the game by developing next year’s tax strategies today. We offer a free initial consultation to all kinds of real estate agents, investors, architects and professionals in the Atlanta and Norcross area.

 

Why Business Structure Matters

When you start a businesBusiness people talking in offices, there are endless decisions to make. Among the most important is how to structure your business. Why is it so significant? Because the structure you choose will affect how your business is taxed and the degree to which you (and other owners) can be held personally liable. Here’s an overview of the various structures.

Sole Proprietorship

This is a popular structure for single-owner businesses. No separate business entity is formed, although the business may have a name (often referred to as a DBA, short for “doing business as”). A sole proprietorship does not limit liability, but insurance may be purchased.

You report your business income and expenses on Schedule C, an attachment to your personal income tax return (Form 1040). Net earnings the business generates are subject to both self-employment taxes and income taxes. Sole proprietors may have employees but don’t take paychecks themselves.

Limited Liability Company

If you want protection for your personal assets in the event your business is sued, you might prefer a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC is a separate legal entity that can have one or more owners (called “members”). Usually, income is taxed to the owners individually, and earnings are subject to self-employment taxes.

Note: It’s not unusual for lenders to require a small LLC’s owners to personally guarantee any business loans.

Corporation

A corporation is a separate legal entity that can transact business in its own name and files corporate income tax returns. Like an LLC, a corporation can have one or more owners (shareholders). Shareholders generally are protected from personal liability but can be held responsible for repaying any business debts they’ve personally guaranteed.

If you make a “Subchapter S” election, shareholders will be taxed individually on their share of corporate income. This structure generally avoids federal income taxes at the corporate level.

Partnership

In certain respects, a partnership is similar to an LLC or an S corporation. However, partnerships must have at least one general partner who is personally liable for the partnership’s debts and obligations. Profits and losses are divided among the partners and taxed to them individually.

Give Roe CPA, P.C. a call at 678-969-0523. We’ll set up a confidential, free initial consultation to discuss how we might make running your business a little bit easier.

 

 

A Quick Guide to What Paper You Need to Keep and What You Can Toss

Roe CPAIf you’re like most people, you’ve got lots of paper. Some of it you need to keep, and some of it you don’t. Here’s a look at what to hang on to and the best place to store it.

It’s in the Box

A safe deposit box at your bank or a fireproof box in your home should hold birth ­certificates for you and other family members, marriage and divorce documents, naturalization papers, adoption papers, and death certificates. You may also want to keep property deeds and vehicle titles there as well. And you may want to include stock certificates and bonds that aren’t held by your broker.

Let Your Lawyer Hold It

Your will, power of attorney, health care proxy, trust documents, and other legal papers should be on file with your lawyer. You’ll probably want to keep copies of these documents in your home files and give copies to your personal representative or executor.

On Your Own

Keep records of stock purchases used for determining cost basis, income-tax returns and supporting documents, insurance policies, warranties, and receipts for home improvements in your home filing cabinet where they’re easy to access if you need them.

What To Toss

Credit card statements, receipts, and similar items can be tossed quarterly if you won’t need them for tax purposes. Consider shredding these and other sensitive records before putting them in the trash.

Whether you need individual or business tax advice, give us a call. We’ve got the answers you’re looking for, so don’t wait. Call us today.

Give Roe CPA, P.C. a call at 678-969-0523. We’ll set up a confidential, free initial consultation to discuss how we might make running your business a little bit easier.

 

 

Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)

performance reviewEligible employers are entitled to an Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) of up to 70 percent of the first $10,000 in wages and certain health care plan expenses paid per employee for each of the first two quarters of 2021 according to the New Stimulus Act.

What is the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)?

Designed to incentivize businesses to keep employees on the payroll during the pandemic, the ERTC is a fully-refundable tax credit that is part of the federal government’s COVID-19 relief plan. As part of this plan, the New Stimulus Act includes the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, which became effective January 1, 2021. This Act amends and extends the former ERTC and the availability of advance payments of the tax credits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Is My Company Eligible for the ERTC?

Previously, employers could only take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) OR the ERTC, so the ERTC was not widely used. However, Congress revised this provision to make both plans available to qualifying businesses.

As of December 2020, small businesses (with 500 or fewer employees) that suffered a revenue reduction in 2020 can claim the ERTC. A revenue reduction specifically means a business experienced a decline in gross receipts by more than 20 percent in any quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019. (Note this is a change from the previous ERTC rule that required a gross receipts decline of at least 50 percent.)

Further, the tax credit applies to employers, including tax-exempt organizations, that conducted business during 2020 and were forced to fully or partially suspend operation during any quarter due to government orders related to COVID-19, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

How is the Maximum Amount of ERTC Determined?

As mentioned, under the New Stimulus Act, eligible employers are entitled to a tax credit equal to 70 percent of the first $10,000 in wages and qualifying health plan expenses paid per employee for each of the first two quarters of 2021 (up to $14,000).

Note that the combined maximum $14,000 credit for the first two quarters of 2021 is available even if the employer previously received the $5,000 maximum credit for wages paid in 2020.

In addition to the aforementioned changes to the ERTC, the wage period has been extended. Under the New Stimulus Act, qualified wages are those paid after March 12, 2020 up until July 1, 2021. The previous cutoff date was January 1, 2021.

What are Qualified Wages?

Qualified wages are wages, compensation, and qualified health plan expenses paid by an eligible employer after March 12, 2020 and before July 1, 2021 for time that the employee did not provide services due to a full or partial COVID-19-related government suspension of operations OR a 20 percent or greater decline in gross receipts.

For specific determinants, see sections 3121(a) and 3231(e) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The determination of qualified health plan expenses is the same as qualified health plan expenses for the Family and Medical Leave Tax Credit under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Number of Employees Matters

Under the CARES Act, companies with 100 or fewer employees were eligible for the ERTC; however, under the New Stimulus Act, the threshold increased to 500 employees. In other words, for the first two quarters of 2021, a company with 500 or fewer employees is eligible for the ERTC. This is true whether those employees are working or not.

Other Notable Changes to the ERTC

  • Previously, governmental entities were not eligible for the ERTC under the CARES Act; however, under the New Stimulus Act this tax credit is available to state or local run colleges, universities, and organizations providing medical or hospital care.
  • While the New Stimulus Act allows businesses with a PPP loan to qualify for the ERTC, the tax credit may not be claimed on wages paid with the PPP loan that has been or will be forgiven.

As always, seek counsel from your trusted accountant, tax preparer, or CPA to be certain your business is in compliance with current laws related to the ERTC or any tax matter.

Billing Customers for Time and Expenses in QuickBooks Online

Sometimes, you have to spend money on your customers. Make sure you’re billing them for it.

In the first two cases, you’re spending money upfront that will eventually be paid back. In all three cases, QuickBooks Online calls these billable expenses and billable time, and it does a good job of tracking these transactions – much better than if you were scribbling notes on a receipt or a paper timecard.

Obviously, you want to be paid for these expenditures as soon as possible to minimize their impact on your own cash flow. So QuickBooks Online “reminds” you that they need to be billed when you create an invoice for a customer. It also offers reports that help you track unbilled time and expenses. Here’s a look at how it works.

Tracking Billable Time

It’s easy to create a billable time activity. Click +New, then Single time activity. Fill in the blanks and select items from drop-down lists until you’ve completed a form. The critical section of this screen is pictured below:

In this example, the employee will receive $50/hour for the work done (Cost rate). Because the Service being provided will be billed back to the customer, you click in the box in front of Billable to create a checkmark. You’re charging the customer $65/hour (a $15/hour markup), so you enter that number in the Billable field. You don’t have to worry about remembering that. QuickBooks Online, as it does with all of your other company information, retains that and makes it available to you.

Tracking Expenses

You probably already know how to record expenses in QuickBooks Online. You can either click the +New button and then Expense, or you can click the Expenses link in the toolbar and the New transaction | Expense. Just as you did in recording time activities, you complete the fields and place a checkmark in the Billable column and select the Customer/Project from the drop-down list.

Once you’ve saved a billable expense, it will appear in the table on the Expense Transactions page. To display is again, click View/Edit at the end of the corresponding row. The transaction will open, and you’ll notice that there’s a small View link in the Billable column. Click it, and you’ll see this:

 

 

In this example, there’s been no markup applied to the transaction. If you want to add markup costs to all billable expenses, click the gear icon in the upper right and go to Account and settings | Expenses. Click the pencil icon to the far right of the Bills and expenses block of options. Click the box in front of Markup with a default rate of to create a checkmark and enter a percentage. All of your billable expenses will now include a markup of that percentage.

Invoicing Time and Expenses

The next time you invoice a customer who has outstanding time and expenses, QuickBooks Online will remind you that they’re pending. Open an invoice form and select a customer who you know has billables. The right vertical pane will contain a box containing information like this:

 

Click Open if you want to see the original expense record. Clicking Add will, of course, include that transaction on the invoice.

QuickBooks Online offers another way to see your pending billables. Click the Reports link in the toolbar and scroll down to the Who owes you section. You’ll see two related reports here: Unbilled charges and Unbilled time.

We want you to make sure that you’re getting reimbursed for all of the time and expenses you incur on behalf of your clients. So please let us know if you have further questions on this topic or if you have other QuickBooks Online issues.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Do you ever spend money on behalf of your customers? QuickBooks Online calls these billable expenses, and it can track them. Here’s how.

If you provide services for customers, you’ll have to invoice those hours as billable time. Did you know you can record this activity in QuickBooks Online? Here’s how.

Did you know when you invoice customers with outstanding time and expense charges, QuickBooks Online reminds you about them? Find out more here.

Confused about which customers owe you for billable time and expenses? QuickBooks Online provides specific reports for that. Find out more here.

Call Roe CPA, P.C. today at 678-969-0523 and learn why our clients would not think of using another Atlanta CPA firm for QuickBooks training and support.

 

 

6 Ways Income Taxes Will Be Different in 2021

Every year brings some degree of change regarding filing income taxes. While 2020 taxes are a done deal, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the next tax year. To help you be prepared for next year’s filing, here are 6 Ways Income Taxes Will Be Different for 2021.

Standard Deduction Increase

Standard deductions reduce the amount of your income that is subject to federal tax. Most taxpayers do not have enough deductions to itemize, so they take the standard deduction. Annual adjustments for inflation cause the standard deduction to increase slightly each tax year. For 2021, here are the standard deductions and the amount of the increase from the prior year.

  • Married filing jointly $25,100, up $300
  • Single and married filing separately $12,550, up $150
  • Head of household $18,800, up $150

While itemizing is more work, if your itemized deductions exced the standard deduction allowance for your tax filing category, itemizing makes sense.

Higher Tax Brackets

You already know the more money you earn, the more you pay in taxes. How much you earn, your income, along with your filing status, determines your tax bracket. There are seven tax brackets with the top tax rate being 37 percent for taxable income over $518,400. Brackets are adjusted annually to account for inflation. For 2021, tax bracket thresholds were increased by about 1 percent over 2020 levels.

Capital gains

When you sell an investment like real estate, stocks, or bonds, for more than you paid the net profit you make is taxed as either short- or long-term capital gains. If you held your investment for less than one year, you pay short-term capital gains. For investments held more than one year and one day, the capital gains tax on the profit you made is long-term. Short-term capital gains are taxed like regular income and up to $3,000 of short-term losses can be deducted. However, long-term capital gains are taxed different rates (0 – 20 percent) depending on taxable income and marital status.

For example, if you’re single and your income is below $40,400 in 2021, you fall into the 0 percent capital gains tax bracket. However, if you’re single and earn between $40,401 and $445,850, you move into the 15 percent bracket. Above that, it’s the 20 percent bracket for you.

The 0 percent bracket is approximately double for married couples ($80,800), but above that, brackets are close to the single filer brackets (15 percent up to $501,600 and 20 percent above that).

Individual Tax Credits

Tax credits lower your overall tax bill. There are quite a few credits to consider, but the most popular ones are the earned income tax credit, the saver’s tax credit, and the lifetime learning tax credit.

Earned income credit is for low- and middle-income taxpayers and is based on income, filing status, and number of children, although taxpayers without children can qualify. For 2021, the earned income credit ranges are up very slightly over 2020 and range from $543 to $6,728. Some criteria for the credit are having at least $1 of earned income, investment income must be $3,650 or less. Other stipulations apply, so check with your tax preparer to see if you qualify.

Saver’s credit is also designed for low- and middle-income taxpayers and is to encourage retirement contributions. Taxpayer adjusted gross income (AGI) must be less than $33,000 in 2021 (up slightly from $32,500 in 2020) to qualify for the credit for single or married filing separately. Married filing jointly AGI must be less than $66,000 in 2021 (up from $65,000 in 2020).

Lifetime learning credit is for taxpayers who incur education expenses during the year. There was little change in this credit for 2021. Married filing jointly income limits increased $1,000 (from $118,000 to $119,000 for full credit and from $138,000 to $139,000 for partial credit). Other filing statuses will see no change for 2021.

Alternative Minimum Tax

The AMT exemption amount for 2021 is $73,600 for singles and $114,600 for married couples filing jointly. This is a change from 2020 when the exemption amount was $72,900 and $113,400 for married couples filing jointly.

Fringe Benefits, Medical Savings Accounts, and Estates

Most employee fringe benefits allowances for 2021 will continue at their 2020 levels; however, changes occur in health savings account (HSA) contributions, which increase by $50 for single and $100 for families from 2020.

The maximum out-of-pocket amounts for high-deductible health plans (HDHP) increases by $100 for single and $200 for families.

The federal estate tax targets the amount of wealth you can pass along when you die. It is no concern unless your estate is worth more than $11.7 million when you die. That figure is up from $11.58 million in 2020.

Retirement Plans

Contributions for 401(k) plans will not change from 2020 top off amount of $19,500 with a $6,500 catch-up contribution allowed for individuals 50 or older. Maximum contributions from all sources (employer and employee) rise by $1,000.


Of course, these are an overview of changes for the 2021 tax year. To be sure you’re up to speed on all the tax changes that impact you, be sure to speak to your trusted accountant.

Call 678-969-0523 to set up a free initial consultation with Roe CPA, P.C..