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Provisions of the Second Coronavirus Relief Bill That Affect Small Businesses

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"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” -Robert Schuller

The passage of this relief bill brought some changes that we had been hoping to see for months (notably the deductibility of PPP-related expenses), but there is much more to this relief bill than merely that, and the $600 stimulus payments that get all of the press.

So I thought I'd delve a little deeper than I did last week on the high points of this CAA bill.

Eviction Relief
This new measure extends the moratorium on evictions under the CARES Act, designed to protect renters from eviction, until January 31, 2021. That means, if you are a renter, you have one more month to get right. For landlords, you need to know that you will have to wait one more month.

PPP-Related Provisions
As I mentioned, businesses are now allowed to deduct expenses associated with their forgiven PPP loans -- this is amazing news.

Further, the new law provides $284.45 billion to reopen and strengthen PPP for first and second time borrowers and reauthorizes the program through March 31, 2021. However, the requirement in order to receive a second PPP is that the small business has less than 300 employees and can demonstrate a revenue reduction of 25 percent.
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Last of the LAST Minute Tax Moves

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“Every task, goal, race and year comes to an end…therefore, make it a habit to FINISH STRONG.” - Gary Ryan Blair

As I mentioned, time is short, and some moves do require more than this week to pull off -- so I'm restricting myself to those items which you can realistically do something with before the end of the year.

And, again--these are focused on what will apply to your business

Also, the fact that expenses paid via PPP loan proceeds are now deductible might affect these calculations for you.

1) Buy Supplies in Advance (to increase expenses and offset income)
How much disposable equipment do you expect to use in 2021? Order it now so the cost is deductible in 2020 if you need to offset income. Buy what you think you'll need for the coming year, as long as you have the space to store it. This is especially easy to do with software, information courses, or other subscriptions that you know you want to keep.

A word of caution: Under a 12-month rule, you cannot deduct prepaid expenses that run more than the end of the year following the current year. For example, if you prepay a three-year subscription to a trade journal, the cost is deductible over three years (not just one).
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12 Year-End Todos...

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2021 is hurtling at us, isn't it? May it ever come sooner.

Well, except for this part:

I'm here to remind you to plan now for how to best position your income, assets, and other revenues for the most favorable tax positions possible.

Let's make some tax-smart moves before 2020 comes to a close.

Here's one not many people are talking about: tax-deductible, employer-paid student loan payments.

Hidden within the CARES Act was this gem: employers can pay up to $5,250 to employees as student loan repayment assistance and it will not be taxable income to the employee. Employers can ALSO deduct the amount and not pay federal payroll taxes on the payments.

So if you're an "employee" of your own a business, and you have outstanding student loans, here's what to do:

  1. Make a written plan (there are some provisos here -- more in a moment)
  2. Make a payment to your student loans up to $5,250
  3. If you’ve previously made a payment, cut a "reimbursement" check to yourself
  4. Deduct it as a benefit expense

Done.
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Good News Depends On Where The Fence Is

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There's both good news (for some) and bad news (for many) as we round the corner into December.

And I'm not talking about our culture, or politics, or sports, or anything like that.

I'm talking about TAXES.

I'll start with the good news. This is applicable to some of my readers only, but it is nice news for business owners in certain high tax states.

One of the difficult aspects of the TCJA was the "SALT" (state and local tax) deduction limitations. Specifically, in high-tax states, this represented a difficult setback in what could be deducted.

Well, one semi-sneaky way around this limitation has just been tentatively approved by the IRS in Notice 2020-75: paying these taxes on behalf of the owner or partners through an S-corp or partnership (pass through entity), and enabling them to be counted as a business expense.

This workaround immediately came into effect in MD, LA, CT, NJ, OK, RI and WI. Four more states already have legislation on the dockets: AL, AR, MI and MN. And (perhaps not surprisingly), NY and CA -- the two biggest states in this category -- are expected to act quickly.
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8 Important Steps for HOA & Other Non-Profits Before Year-End

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"Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is small.” -Ruth Gendler

When the dust settles on this year, chances are good that there will be a bunch of non-profits who have had to close their doors. Between lockdowns, massive unemployment, and general decreases in charitable deductions ... it's not easy out there.

Which is why it would be very wise for you to get "ahead of the game" if you are one of these organizations.

So, to do so, I suggest that you put these items on your "list" before Thanksgiving, so you're not caught in the flurry of holiday madness and year-end. Yes, we're already halfway through November...!

  1. Have your staff update tax withholdings.
    Nobody likes to get hit with a big tax bill in April, or be unnecessarily "loaning" Money to the US Treasury. Encourage your team to check on their withholdings and adjust as needed.
  2. Get info for any individuals/contractors to whom you paid more than $600. 
    You'll need to file a 1099 for any individual or contractor that you paid more than $600. Remember, professional fees of $600 also require a 1099, even if they are a corporation.

If you don't have their W-9, ask for it now.
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An Incomplete List of Potential Tax Moves To Make

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“When you know better, you do better.” -Maya Angelou

Ah, November. Cool weather, Thanksgiving, football. Even though 2020 still seems to be chugging along in all of its particular form of glory, we can at least get productive and distract ourselves from the political war games by making a positive impact on our financial world. Although, in Utah, Governor Gary Herbert is making Thanksgiving plans by Skype video.

Here are some things to consider as you do:

1) Look ahead to 2021. By that, I mean: what will your income potentially look like in 2021? For some, ANY income after a very rough 2020 would be welcome. But once you have that landed ... should I accelerate possible 2021 income into 2020 for tax reasons? Because the best of both tax worlds is to reduce your taxes in both years.
So take a look to see what you think your income will be looking like by the end of this year (including any investment year-end payouts, gig work, gambling winnings, etc. ) and what you expect it to be in 2021 (more, less or about the same). Next, check out the tax brackets and evaluate whether you need to defer current taxable income or accelerate write-offs into 2021 or vice versa. Keep more take-home through proper planning!
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Understanding Short-Term Rentals #4

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OK, this is our fourth blog on understanding rentals. If you haven’t, go back and read the previous three for a better understanding. We covered the possible local laws restricting short-term rentals, how they are taxed at the federal level, how to hold title and how to save Money on the self-employment tax.

This article is going to discuss another surprise tax that many investors don’t understand: sales and lodging taxes. These are the taxes all hotels have to pay, and they are at the city, county and state levels.

Short-term rentals, like those offered on services such as Airbnb and VRBO, have always been required to collect and remit sales and lodging taxes. Historically, the large vacation rental websites viewed these occupancy taxes as the responsibility of the host or homeowner responsibility, not the platform.

The platform was positioned simply as an advertising website or marketplace, and transactions occurred directly between homeowner and traveler. These taxes, however, were often overlooked and not well understood by homeowners and hosts.

As the short-term rental industry has continued to grow, these lodging taxes are increasingly part of the industry narrative and becoming much better understood. Short-term rentals are now ubiquitous, which has sparked pushback in some communities, with a new and heightened focus on regulation and lodging taxes.
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A Tax On Your Labor (Or Lack Thereof)

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“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” –Farraj Gray

This will be a bit of a scattershooting article, as there are a variety of things that I want to cover that all can be filed under the heading "labor".

As we all know, the "labor force" right now has been massively disrupted. And for those of my readers who are in that category, the word "disrupted" is far too tame. Let's call this for what it was: there was an unprecedented economic tsunami this spring and summer, and we have still to recover from it.

That said, recent data is encouraging. According to last week's DOL report, there was a 12+% decrease of seasonally-adjusted claims for unemployment compared to the week previous.
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Use These Financial Reports For Business Decisions

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A lie has speed, but truth has endurance. - Edgar J. Mohn

Some business owners never like to "look under the hood" of their finances, and their accountants or financial partners can sometimes encourage that behavior by keeping them in the dark.

Well, I hope that won't be you.

In fact, you need the kind of insight into financials to make strong decisions.

One way I'd like to help YOU is by pointing out different reports and metrics that you can find in most accounting software, that business owners or their bookkeepers often neglect. Knowing these numbers will help you avoid an embarrassing flub in YOUR business.

Even if you are using some of these reports, I'm sure you'll find a few more to add to your repertoire. Of course, this is just a very basic introduction, but hopefully it'll spark some ideas.

1) Profit & Loss Summary and Previous Year Comparison:Most business owners rely on the Profit & Loss Summary report, but comparing your results to last year can provide quick insight into whether your revenue is growing or contracting--as well as how fast expenses are rising.

2) Balance Sheet and Previous Year Comparison:As with your income statement, it's important to compare where certain balances stand now versus last year (such as Cash, Accounts Receivable and Payable, etc.).
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Guiding Principles For Raising Money Smart Children

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"One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning." - James Russell Lowell

Rather than seeing these ideas as "rules",  it might be helpful to think of them as principles when it comes to helping your kids see Money rightly.

And yes ... some of these may be difficult (the first ones, in particular, if they represent a shift for you), but after seeing many families do this well, these are some of the best things you can do with your children when it comes to financial education.

1. Talk openly about Money.
Parents make a mistake when they keep information from their children. The only way children learn what is a good deal and what is too expensive is by the experience of what their family earns and what items cost. Hiding this information robs children of the financial education they need.

2. Talk factually about Money.
Many parents have strong emotions about Money based on their childhood experiences. These emotions are always transmitted to children. Instead of helping children, they can cripple children from growing up to make sound financial decisions
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