Year-End Tax Planning for Businesses
Taxpayers are well-advised to consider how to make the most of tax breaks that are available this year but may not be around next year, or may survive only in diluted form. Given the wrenching political battle that played out this year over deficits and the debt ceiling, many tax provisions expiring at the end of this year may not be given another lease on life. We will review the tax breaks for businesses that are available right now but may sunset on December 31, 2011.
- Businesses should consider making expenditures that qualify for the business property expensing option. For tax years beginning in 2011, the expensing limit is $500,000 and the investment ceiling limit is $2,000,000. A limited amount of expensing may be claimed for qualified real property. However, unless Congress changes the rules, for tax years beginning in 2012, the dollar limit will drop to $139,000, the beginning-of-phaseout amount will drop to $560,000, and expensing won't be available for qualified real property. The generous dollar ceilings that apply this year mean that many small and medium sized businesses that make timely purchases will be able to currently deduct most if not all their outlays for machinery and equipment. What's more, the expensing deduction is not prorated for the time that the asset is in service during the year. This opens up significant year-end planning opportunities.
- Businesses also should consider making expenditures that qualify for 100% bonus first-year depreciation if bought and placed in service this year. This 100% first-year writeoff generally won't be available next year unless Congress acts to extend it. Thus, enterprises planning to purchase new depreciable property this year or the next should try to accelerate their buying plans, if doing so makes sound business sense.
- Nail down a work opportunity tax credit (WOTC) by hiring qualifying workers (such as certain veterans) before the end of 2011. Under current law, the WOTC won't be available for workers hired after this year.
- Make qualified research expenses before the end of 2011 to claim a research credit, which won't be available for post-2011 expenditures unless Congress extends the credit.
- If you are self-employed and haven't done so yet, set up a self-employed retirement plan.
- Depending on your particular situation, you may also want to consider deferring a debt-cancellation event until 2012, and disposing of a passive activity to allow you to deduct suspended losses.
- If you own an interest in a partnership or S corporation, you may need to increase your basis in the entity so you can deduct a loss from it for this year.
Give us a call and let our experienced tax professionals guide you toward a year-end tax plan that works best for your business.