Real Estate Accounting

Important Facts About the New Laws on Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction

real estate accounting services duluth gaIf you are one of the millions of Americans who own your own home, you should be thinking about how President Trump’s latest tax bill helps or dents your finances; particularly when it comes to the ever-popular mortgage interest deductions. This article should put you ahead of the subject.

First off, if you are a homeowner with no intentions of changing anything soon, your mortgage deductions are unaffected (with a couple of exceptions we deal with below).

ISo in the main, the new laws apply only to those buying a home after 15th December 2017. If you fall into this category it boils down to understanding 3 key items:

  • There’s a cap of $750,000 (previously $1 million) on your total mortgage value (covering private and secondary homes in aggregate) that qualifies for interest deduction.
  • Discussing interest rate deduction on new home purchase goes hand-in-hand with the cap placed on Property Tax Deduction – now set at $10,000 (previously unlimited).
  • The Standard Deduction has been nearly doubled for all categories of tax filers in 2018 onwards.

Logically, anyone who intends buying in expensive locations or/and locations with property taxes above $10,000 should stop to think about it:

  • High property prices of course generally call for higher mortgage financing, And it often happens that premium locations are also the ones with the highest real estate taxes – a double whammy effect if you will.
  • In situations like this, it seems that the traditional enthusiasm around interest rate deductions may become somewhat jaded. It gives a whole new meaning to the popular realtor’s mantra, “location, location, location!”

The one escape hatch is to simply forget about itemizing interest payment and property tax claims; go to the expanded Standard Deduction now provided. But then again, the apparently increased relief offered by this new provision should be viewed alongside the knowledge that individual personal exemptions have been removed – which brings family size into the equation. If you have a lot of dependents (e.g. children or elderly parents) you may find yourself after all is said and done unchanged – or worse still, going backward.

Here’s another curveball that throws the cat amongst the pigeons: irrespective of when you bought or intend to buy your home/ homes (i.e. before or after the December 2017 law, it’s all the same) interest on second mortgages and on mortgages attached to unrented vacation residences is no longer deductible. Period. Given this, and all the other considerations are drawn into the conversation (as outlined above), it is impossible to provide a quick “catch-all” solution on interest rate deductibility. We can say this, however:

  • It is likely there’ll be a homebuyer movement away from expensive property purchases for the foreseeable future, resulting in a growing tendency to relocate to tax-friendlier regions.
  • The upper-middle class homebuyers will need to analyze these new tax provisions with a fine toothcomb, and even consider renting out vacation homes for part of the year to bring interest rate deduction back into the equation.
  • Those buying at home prices under the $750,000 cap limit with under-$10,000 property tax limits should have a far easier passage.

Conclusion: It’s at times like this that astute tax advice paves the way forward and dispels doubt. As you can see there are numerous considerations, especially for larger families and those fortunate enough to own more than one home. Also, those on the cusp of relocating should be looking at all the variables as well as state taxes before making the move. Our team is geared to answer your questions on every aspect of real estate related deductions. Contacting us sooner than later may be the wisest decision you can make this year.

Whether your business focuses on property management, development, investing, or if you’re a real estate broker or agent, Roe CPA, P.C. is ready to support all your tax and accounting needs. Call us at 404-504-7051 today for more information or request a free consultation online now.

Understanding The Financial Differences Between Home Renovations

Some improvements are likely to increase your home’s value. However, others may actually decrease potential buyers’ interest in your home. So, put away your toolbox until you know more about projects that typically don’t pay.

Too Much Improvement

When you remodel your house, it should be in keeping with your neighborhood. Having your house stand out as the nicest one by far is often not a good thing when you’re trying to sell. Too much improvement may not pay off since the market price of your house may be limited by your neighborhood’s home values.

House Unusual

Unusual renovations, such as converting a garage into a home gym or adding a backyard basketball court, could turn off potential buyers. Another thing to consider is keeping things standard shapes and sizes throughout the home. You also may want to stick with standard sizes and heights for countertops and kitchen and bathroom fixtures.

Amateur Workmanship

Don’t do it yourself if you’re not handy. First of all, the results will probably show that you didn’t hire a professional. And secondly, structural mistakes and building code errors will show up during a home inspection. If your home fails an inspection, you could either lose a sale or be forced to lower your selling price.

To learn more about how to make most of your home as an asset give us a call today. Our Atlanta Accounting and Tax team is always available to answer any questions you may have. Call us at 404-504-7051 or request a free consultation online.

Does The Sale of Your Home Qualify For A Federal Income Tax Exclusion?

So, you’ve sold your home and made a nice profit on the sale. Now you may be wondering if Uncle Sam is entitled to a cut of this profit. Although gain on a home sale is potentially taxable, you may qualify for a federal income-tax exclusion.

The Rules in General

If you’re a single taxpayer, you may qualify to exclude gain of up to $250,000 if you owned the home and used it as your principal residence for at least two of the five years before the sale. Married couples who file jointly may exclude up to $500,000 of gain as long as one spouse owned the home — and both spouses used the home as a principal residence — for two of the last five years.

The Frequency Factor

The exclusion is generally available to sellers only once during a two-year period. A married couple is entitled to the $500,000 exclusion only if neither partner used the exclusion within the two-year period that ended on the sale date.

Reduced But Available

Even if you don’t meet the criteria described above, you may still qualify for a reduced exclusion (of less than $250,000 or $500,000) if the primary reason for the home sale was a change in the location of your employment, a health condition, or certain other “unforeseen” circumstances. The affected individual can be you, your spouse, a co-owner of the residence, or a person sharing your household. You may also qualify for the reduced exclusion if you sell your home to care for a sick family member.

Additional restrictions on gain exclusion may apply if you’ve rented out your home, maintained a home office, or turned a second home into a principal residence.

For more help with individual or business taxes, connect with us today. Our team can help you with all your tax issues, large and small.

Know Your Tax Requirements for Your Rental Properties

Woman inspecting house interiorFor years, owners of rental properties that show a tax loss have had to contend with the tax law’s “passive loss” limitations. With limited exceptions, real estate rental losses may be used only to reduce passive income — the rental losses are not currently deductible against nonpassive income, such as salary.

Now, owners of real estate rental properties that show a profit also face a potential tax headache. In addition to regular taxes, their profits could be subject to the 3.8% surtax on net investment income first introduced in 2013.

A Break for Real Estate Professionals

Taxpayers who can demonstrate that they “materially participate” in their real estate rental activities as “real estate professionals” may be able to avoid both the passive loss limitations and the 3.8% surtax on rental income. However, the requirements are stringent.

Very generally, a real estate professional spends more hours working on real-estate- related trade or business activities during the year than working in non-real-estate trades or businesses. Additionally, the time spent on the real estate activities must total more than 750 hours during the year.

Material participation means regular, continuous, and substantial participation. IRS regulations contain seven tests for establishing material participation. Each rental property is separately evaluated for material participation unless the taxpayer makes an election to treat all rental real estate activities as one activity.

To avoid the 3.8% surtax, a real estate professional must also establish that his or her rental income was derived in the ordinary course of a trade or business. The IRS will presume this was the case if the taxpayer devotes more than 500 hours per year — or in five of the last ten years — to each real estate rental activity or to all real estate rental activities viewed as a group.

Give our Atlanta CPA firm a call today at 404-504-7051, so we can help you determine the right course of action for you. We specialized in Real Estate Accounting services, and understand the common financial issues real estate businesses are up against and will be ready to assist you with practical accounting solutions and tax strategies.

How Does Refinancing Your Home Affect Your Taxes?

ThinkstockPhotos-495007813As the real estate market improves and mortgage rates remain low, many homeowners are considering refinancing their home mortgages. Following are some of the general tax rules for deducting the charges associated with refinancing. Roe CPA, P.C. is an Atlanta CPA Accounting Firm that can help you with all your real estate tax and accounting needs.

Interest

Interest on a refinanced loan will be deductible to the extent the loan refinances up to $1 million of home acquisition debt, plus up to $100,000 of home equity debt (limits are $500,000/$50,000 for married taxpayers filing separately). Home acquisition debt is a mortgage loan used to buy, build, or substantially improve a first or second home. Home equity debt is generally any other debt secured by a first or second home.

These limits, however, operate separately. For example, if a couple had $300,000 remaining in principal on their original mortgage loan and then refinanced that debt with a new $450,000 mortgage, they would be able to deduct the interest on only $400,000 ($300,000 plus $100,000). Interest on the remaining $50,000 would be nondeductible because that portion is in excess of the combined limits.

Points

Points paid for the refinancing of a loan that does not exceed the above limits are deductible over the life of the loan. However, any points paid in connection with the portion of a mortgage used to finance home improvements may be deductible in the year of the refinancing.

Penalties and Fees

Generally, a prepayment fee paid on the old mortgage is considered a payment of interest on that mortgage and, therefore, is deductible in the year it is paid.

However, other fees, such as those for credit reports, appraisals, and loan origination, are not deductible.

For more help connect with us today at 404-504-7051. Our Atlanta CPA tax team can help you with all your tax issues, large and small.

Understand the Tax Breaks of Moving

New home owners with keyEverybody likes tax breaks. For many taxpayers, the tax break they get on the gain from selling a home is one of the most valuable of all. If you’re thinking the time is right to put your house on the market and it has appreciated in value, make sure your gain will qualify for the home-sale gain exclusion before you make your move.

Good Deal

Here’s how the home-sale gain exclusion works: If you make a profit when you sell your principal residence, all or part of your gain may be tax free. Eligible individual filers may exclude up to $250,000 of gain from their income; married couples filing jointly may exclude up to $500,000 of gain.

Ownership and Use Tests

In general, this tax break is available only once every two years. To qualify, you generally must have owned and used the home as your principal residence for at least two years (a total of 24 full months or 730 days) during the five-year period ending on the date of the sale. The ownership and use periods don’t necessarily have to coincide.

Only one spouse must pass the ownership test, although neither spouse may have excluded gain from a previous home sale during the two-year period ending on the sale date. As for the use test, both spouses must pass it. Note that short, temporary absences count as periods of use. So, for example, a three-week vacation tour of Europe would count as time spent in your principal residence.

Reduced Exclusion Possible

If you don’t meet the requirements for the full $250,000/$500,000 exclusion, you might qualify for a reduced exclusion under certain circumstances: if you have to sell your home because of a change in employment, you move for health reasons, or there are other qualifying “unforeseen circumstances.” The amount of the reduced exclusion is based on the portion of the two-year use and ownership periods you satisfy.

Call us today at 404-504-7051 for more tips on your tax and accounting needs. Our Atlanta CPA Firm is here to help!

IRS Going After Golf Courses for Tax Deduction

Golf Course Easement3It’s getting much tougher to successfully claim a charitable deduction for a conservation easement.  Unfortunately, this will further erode the construction of new golf course projects in 2016 and beyond.

Typically, a new golf course project will make consideration plans to conserve and protect the natural habitat of fish, wildlife, and natural ecosystem by preserving open space for the scenic enjoyment of the general public.   These easements often amount to sizeable charitable deductions which help offset the investment.

Although the IRS has lost several conservation easement cases regarding golf courses, they turned the tide in 2003 and 2005 and have become more aggressive fighting these situations.  In 2003 and 2005, the IRS went to Tax Court over two North Carolina golf course easements.  In both instances, the IRS disagreed with the taxpayers over charitable deductions.   The court, the IRS stated that “fairways, tee boxes and greens … are sodded or planted with 419 Bermuda and Tidwarf, which are Golf Course Easement2nonnative grasses and consequently do not provide a relatively natural habitat for the pitcher plants and Venus flytraps.”  Additionally, the court found that the use of pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and fertilizers not only does not preserve the natural habitat, but actually “injures or destroys” the habitat. And, being part of a gated community that is not open to the general public does not provide scenic enjoyment for the general public.  In both cases, the IRS won.

In 2009, a coastal Alabama golf course project, Kiva Dunes, won a three year court battle which vindicated their $28.7M tax break in exchange for leaving 141 acres of land undeveloped.  This setback created a round of legislative changes aimed at banning golf course easements altogether.  Fortunately, this effort was blunted by the golf industry.

Since the beginning of 2014, there have been 19 cases heard in US Tax or federal district court regarding conservation easements for golf courses.

If you are seeking to minimize your tax obligations legally, call 404-504-7051 and ask for John Charles Roe.

 

Roe CPA is a Georgia licensed CPA Firm with two convenient office locations, Atlanta and Norcross.  We work with all types of businesses and also have specialty services in golf course accounting, restaurant accounting, and real estate accounting.

Why Hire a Real Estate CPA Firm

Real Estate - BuckhdThe real estate industry is very different from other industries, especially when it comes to accounting and tax issues.

The tax incentives for real estate are very different than other industries.  The timing of expenses, specialized services like cost segregation and 1031 exchanges, debt restructuring and tax deferral strategies can have huge consequences.  For instance, a real estate CPA firm can pull together these strategic pieces that will improve your bottom line that a local generalist can’t replicate.

Second, working with a CPA Firm that works with a wide variety of real estate clients enables them to add more value to your day-to-day business and key business decisions.  If warranted, they can bring specialized services to the table that a local generalist can’t possibly provide.  In other words, working with a regional CPA Firm that works with the right specialists reduces the risk of making business mistakes, missing key tax incentives, and add value immediately to you.

Third, having a small team of accountants that specializes in real estate accounting reduces your annual costs because their depth of knowledge on the subject matter is deeper and without having to charge you more.

As in any industry, there are economies of scale that can be gleaned by working with a specialist.  It is important to let specialists and experts handle matters that require additional expertise and can save you money.  A real estate business can benefit from specialized services when it comes to tax planning, capital spending, budgeting, accounting and estate planning.

And after you hire the best CPA Firm for your industry, you’ll soon realize how easy they make it appear on the surface.

To learn more, call 404-504-7051 and ask for John Charles Roe.

 

Roe CPA is a licensed CPA Firm in Atlanta.  Our clients include property management, real estate investment trust companies, and developers.  Our real estate accounting expertise also applies to our hotel property and restaurant owner operators.

 

Office Space Decisions – Atlanta Biz Owners

Buy or lease?

Office SpaceIt’s a decision many small businesses face. Owning real estate certainly can have advantages, including the opportunity to build equity. But many small businesses in need of space choose the rental route instead.

Cash Flow Considerations

By leasing, a company can avoid taking on debt to acquire a property. Less debt on the balance sheet may allow the company to finance other things, such as receivables or inventory and equipment purchases. And the upfront cash commitment needed to enter a lease agreement may be much lower than the down payment required for a property purchase.

Shopping Tips

If your business is looking around for the right rental location, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind. Not all of these tips are appropriate for all businesses, but some may help you get a lead on a good spot — and a good deal.

  • Find an eager landlord. Rental spots that have been on the market for a while could have some negative features, but they may be worth a look. If you find a location that suits you, you might also find a landlord who is anxious to negotiate.
  • Think about the term. A long-term lease locks in your rental rate — and that can be an advantage if you expect the market to trend upward. But leasing for short periods is often less expensive than leasing for longer periods. If your business is in its formative years, significant changes may lie ahead, so a short-term arrangement could be more practical, too. Adding an “option to renew” clause can help keep your costs down and your options open.
  • Divide and conquer. Could you make do with two smaller spaces instead of one large space? The more flexible you can be, the better your chances of finding a good deal.
  • Check rental comps. Commercial property markets can be very localized. Rents may vary considerably between one locality and another just a few miles away. Unless you’re limited to a specific location, compare rates in several areas.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes, call 404-504-7051 and ask for John Charles Roe.

 

Roe CPA is a tax accountant with two convenient office locations, Lenox Square and Norcross.  We service self employed business owners of all types.  For additional complexity, we have specialty services in restaurant accounting, hotel accounting, real estate accounting and entertainment accounting.

3 Tasks Atlanta Entrepreneurs are Better Outsourcing

OutsourceAs a business owner, it can be difficult to delegate important tasks. When you complete them yourself, you know they will be done correctly and in a timely manner. Even so, if you want your business to grow, and keep expenses low, there are three tasks that you should consider outsourcing.

Website and Graphic Design

By outsourcing your website and graphic design, you will have access to an expert in the field, on demand. The person or company you outsource to will have the equipment, experience, training and knowledge to provide you with design concepts that would otherwise be beyond your reach.

You will also receive a professional product which is doubly important as your website is your online business card. This is one area that you want and need a professional’s assistance.

Payroll

As your company grows, the complexities of your payroll grow as well. In addition to saving time and money, payroll is one area of your business that the government takes great interest in. Payroll specialists make it their job to stay current in government regulations which means they will keep you and your company compliant.

In addition, payroll companies can provide you and your employees with an added layer of security. This can reduce the risk of embezzlement, identity theft, and interference, by an employee, with company records for financial gain.

Accounting and Tax Returns

Much like payroll, your accounting and tax returns are not an area of your business where you can afford errors. Without specialized tax knowledge, you run the risk of missing deductions leading to paying higher taxes than necessary or to making errors that result in penalties.

One of the main benefits of outsourcing any task is that while you may pay more per hour for the task to be completed, you will save much more money, in the long run, than if you hired a full-time employee when you take into consideration salary, benefits, taxes, health insurance, as well as the overhead to provide space for the employee to work. In the end, outsourcing can be a cost efficient way to expand your business.

If you’d like to learn more about outsourced accounting and outsourced payroll, call 404-504-7051 and ask for John Charles Roe.  Our initial consultation is free.

 

Roe CPA is a Georgia licensed certified public accounting firm with offices in Buckhead and Norcross.  We service all types of businesses.  For additional expertise, we have specialties in restaurant accounting, hotel accounting and real estate accounting.