The week of September 13-17 has been declared National Small Business Week by the Small Business Administration. To commemorate the week, here are three tax breaks to consider.

1. Claim bonus depreciation or a Section 179 deduction for asset additions

Under current law, 100% first-year bonus depreciation is available for qualified new and used property that’s acquired and placed in service in calendar year 2021. That means your business might be able to write off the entire cost of some or all asset additions on this year’s return. Consider making acquisitions between now and December 31.

Note: It doesn’t always make sense to claim a 100% bonus depreciation deduction in the first year that qualifying property is placed in service. For example, if you think that tax rates will increase in the future — either due to tax law changes or a change in your income — it might be better to forgo bonus depreciation and instead depreciate your 2021 asset acquisitions over time.

There’s also a Section 179 deduction for eligible asset purchases. The maximum Section 179 deduction is $1.05 million for qualifying property placed in service in 2021. Recent tax laws have enhanced Section 179 and bonus depreciation but most businesses benefit more by claiming bonus depreciation. We can explain the details of these tax breaks and which is right for your business. You don’t have to decide until you file your tax return.

2. Claim bonus depreciation for a heavy vehicle 

The 100% first-year bonus depreciation provision can have a sizable, beneficial impact on first-year depreciation deductions for new and used heavy SUVs, pickups and vans used over 50% for business. For federal tax purposes, heavy vehicles are treated as transportation equipment so they qualify for 100% bonus depreciation.

This option is available only when the manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is above 6,000 pounds. You can verify a vehicle’s GVWR by looking at the manufacturer’s label, usually found on the inside edge of the driver’s side door.

Buying an eligible vehicle and placing it in service before the end of the year can deliver a big write-off on this year’s return. Before signing a sales contract, we can help evaluate what’s right for your business.

3. Maximize the QBI deduction for pass-through businesses 

A valuable deduction is the one based on qualified business income (QBI) from pass-through entities. For tax years through 2025, the deduction can be up to 20% of a pass-through entity owner’s QBI. This deduction is subject to restrictions that can apply at higher income levels and based on the owner’s taxable income.

For QBI deduction purposes, pass-through entities are defined as sole proprietorships, single-member LLCs that are treated as sole proprietorships for tax purposes, partnerships, LLCs that are treated as partnerships for tax purposes and S corporations. For these taxpayers, the deduction can also be claimed for up to 20% of income from qualified real estate investment trust dividends and 20% of qualified income from publicly traded partnerships.

Because of various limitations on the QBI deduction, tax planning moves can unexpectedly increase or decrease it. For example, strategies that reduce this year’s taxable income can have the negative side-effect of reducing your QBI deduction. 

Plan ahead

These are only a few of the tax breaks your small business may be able to claim. Contact us to help evaluate your planning options and optimize your tax results.

© 2021 Covenant CPA

Small businesses, big fraud risks

It’s not always easy being small. For one thing, small businesses (with fewer than 100 employees) experience higher occupational fraud losses: a median $150,000 vs. $140,000 for larger companies, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. That’s because they don’t always have the staffing or financial resources to implement fraud-prevention programs. Small businesses are also much more likely to fall victim to certain types of fraud — including check tampering and payroll schemes.

Ask your advisor

Private companies aren’t required to have annual audits, but your small business can still work with your CPA to determine where you might be at risk. He or she can train you to recognize the warning signs and help you reduce opportunities for fraud by, for example, segregating duties in your accounting department.

Periodically ask your CPA to review your receipts and disbursements with an eye toward uncovering irregularities. And if you have inventory that could tempt thieves, ask your advisor to verify inventory counts and observe inventory procedures for potential loopholes.

Don’t fall short

One area where many small businesses fall short is in conducting background checks on potential employees. Check all work references and consider running criminal background checks. Workers with a history of occupational theft often seek jobs with small businesses because they think pre-employment screening likely will be minimal.

Even if you don’t have a large enough staff to implement strict segregation of duties, you can still establish oversight procedures that allow you to understand and verify financial information. This might mean reviewing bank statements before they go to your bookkeeper and reconciling them yourself every month. Also set a dollar limit on the checks that employees can write without authorization to protect against check alteration.

Finally, don’t overlook the value of treating employees fairly. Many employees rationalize fraudulent activities because they feel underpaid or underappreciated. Make sure your pay scale is competitive by comparing it with prevailing wages in your area. And take employee complaints — particularly if they’re about possible illicit activities — seriously.

Give employees a voice

One of the best ways to provide employees with a voice and catch fraud before it leads to major losses is an anonymous reporting mechanism — such as a hotline or web portal. We can suggest affordable reporting solutions and help you establish an effective anti-fraud plan.

© 2021 Covenant CPA