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Can you pay bonuses in 2017 but deduct them this year?

You may be aware of the rule that allows Continue Reading

New Version of Form I-9 Issued

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Continue Reading

Ensure your year-end donations will be deductible on your 2016 return

Donations to qualified charities are Continue Reading

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Can you pay bonuses in 2017 but deduct them this year?

You may be aware of the rule that allows businesses to deduct bonuses employees have earned during a tax year if the bonuses are paid within 2½ months after the end of that year (by March 15 for a calendar-year company). But this favorable tax treatment isn’t always available.

For one thing, only accrual-basis taxpayers can take advantage of the 2½ month rule — cash-basis taxpayers must deduct bonuses in the year they’re paid, regardless of when they’re earned. Even for accrual-basis taxpayers, however, the 2½ month rule isn’t automatic. The bonuses can be deducted in the year they’re earned only if the employer’s bonus liability is fixed by the end of the year.

The all-events test

For accrual-basis taxpayers, the IRS determines when a liability (such as a bonus) has been incurred — and, therefore, is deductible — by applying the “all-events test.” Under this test, a liability is deductible when:

  1. All events have occurred that establish the taxpayer’s liability,
  2. The amount of the liability can be determined with reasonable accuracy, and
  3. Economic performance has occurred.

Generally, the third requirement isn’t an issue; it’s satisfied when an employee performs the services required to earn a bonus. But the first two requirements can delay your tax deduction until the year of payment, depending on how your bonus plan is designed.

For example, many bonus plans require an employee to remain in the company’s employ on the payment date as a condition of receiving the bonus. Even if the amount of the bonus is fixed at the end of the tax year, and employees who leave the company before the payment date forfeit their bonuses, the all-events test isn’t satisfied until the payment date. Fortunately, it’s possible to accelerate deductions with a carefully designed bonus pool arrangement.

How a bonus pool works

In a 2011 ruling, the IRS said that employers may deduct bonuses in the year they’re earned — even if there’s a risk of forfeiture — as long as any forfeited bonuses are reallocated among the remaining employees in the bonus pool rather than retained by the employer. Under such a plan, an employer satisfies the all-events test because the aggregate bonus amount is fixed at the end of the year, even though amounts allocated to specific employees aren’t determined until the payment date.

Additional rules and limits apply to this strategy. To learn whether your current bonus plan allows you to take 2016 deductions for bonuses paid in early 2017, contact us. If you don’t qualify this year, we can also help you design a bonus plan for 2017 that will allow you to accelerate deductions next year.

New Version of Form I-9 Issued

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a new version of Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification,” that is dated November 14, 2016 and has an August 31, 2019 expiration date. Employers must use the new form beginning on January 22, 2017. Until then, the version dated March 8, 2013 may also be used. […]

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Ensure your year-end donations will be deductible on your 2016 return

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Donations to qualified charities are generally fully deductible, and they may be the easiest deductible expense to time to your tax advantage. After all, you control exactly when and how much you give. To ensure your donations will be deductible on your 2016 return, you must make them by year end to qualified charities. When’s […]

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Year-End Reminder: Don’t Forget FSAs

The holidays can be a joyous — but hectic — time of year. While you’re juggling shopping for gifts, decorating your home and planning get-togethers with friends and family, it’s easy to forget to spend any remaining funds in your Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) before New Year’s Day. However, if you fail to observe the […]

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Year-end tax strategies for accrual-basis taxpayers

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The last month or so of the year offers accrual-basis taxpayers an opportunity to make some timely moves that might enable them to save money on their 2016 tax bill. Record and recognize The key to saving tax as an accrual-basis taxpayer is to properly record and recognize expenses that were incurred this year but […]

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Report Predicts Record Contributions on Giving Tuesday 2016

November 29, 2016, is Giving Tuesday. Never heard of it? Known on social media as #GivingTuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has grown into one of the biggest fundraising drives for the not-for-profit industry. Two is Better than One Does your employer offer a charitable contribution matching program? Many employers offer programs that match employee donations […]

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A quick look at the President-elect’s tax plan for businesses

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The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States could result in major tax law changes in 2017. Proposed changes spelled out in Trump’s tax reform plan released earlier this year that would affect businesses include: Reducing the top corporate income tax rate from 35% to 15%, Abolishing the corporate alternative minimum tax, […]

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Get Ready Businesses: Some Filing Due Dates Are Changing

Thanks to recent legislation, the due dates have been changed for some information returns and related statements and for some business tax returns. Here’s what you need to know. Two Laws Are Responsible for the Changes 1. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act.Enacted on December 18, 2015, the PATH Act extended or made […]

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Fraud Alert: The ACFE Puts a Spotlight on White Collar Crime

The average organization loses 5% of its annual revenues to fraud, according to the 2016 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse published by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Bear in mind, that’s the top line of your income statement, not the bottom. So, for every $1 million in annual revenue, […]

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