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The SECURE Act Brings Changes in 2020 to Retirement Rules and Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

If you turn 70½ after December 31, 2019, you can now wait until you turn 72 to begin taking RMDs from your retirement account. There are more changes that may affect your retirement savings. We are updating our website to reflect these developments. Learn more about the SECURE Act and retirement changes.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019. This month it was unexpectedly included in an appropriations bill passed by the Senate on December 19, 2019 and signed into law the next day.

The SECURE Act brings substantial changes to the retirement system—and could affect your own retirement planning efforts. Here are some of the changes to watch out for.

5 Ways the SECURE Act Could Impact Your Retirement Planning

1. RMD Age (for Some) Pushed Back to Age 72

Right now, those with traditional IRAs have to start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) by April 1 following the year in which they turned 70 ½. The SECURE Act, recognizing that people live longer, pushes back the age at which you have to start taking RMDs. Starting in 2020, you may begin taking them by April 1 in the year following the year in which you turn 72.

This provision takes effect on January 1, 2020. So, if you’re slated to turn 70 ½ in 2020, you’ll receive a reprieve until age 72. However, if you’re already 70 ½ as of the end of 2019, you’re stuck with the old rules and must take your first RMD no later than April 1, 2020. And if you’re already receiving RMDs (or required to) because you’re over 70 ½, you must still continue to receive your RMDs or face the 50% penalty.  To sum it up, anyone born on or before June 30, 1949 will be age 70 ½ by December 31, 2019 and must begin/continue taking RMDs. The new rule does NOT affect you.

If you’re in a 401(k) or other employer qualified plan, you already had an exception to the normal 70 ½ required beginning date for RMDs, but you had to still be working for the company to take advantage of it. If you’re still working for the company with the 401(k) plan, and age 70 ½ or older, you can postpone your RMD until you quit/retire from your employer.  This ability to delay RMDs until you actually quit/retire remains the same under the SECURE Act.

So what’s changed?  If you’re no longer working for the company that offered you the 401(k), then you can wait until age 72 to take your first RMD.  But remember, just like in an IRA if you’re already taking RMDs because you had reached age 70 1/2, then you must continue, no matter your age in 2020.  Also if you turn 70 1/2 by December 31, 2019 (and are no longer working), then you’ll have to start RMDs no later than April 1, 2020. Thus, if you were born on or before June 30, 1949, you won’t be able to delay until age 72.

2. Removal of Traditional IRA Contribution Age Limit


Currently, if you're age 70 1/2 or older, you can't make contributions to a traditional IRA. However, as of January 1, 2020, that restriction is no longer in place. There will no longer be age restrictions on making IRA contributions. So, it’s possible that you could be taking RMDs at some point and still able to put money into your traditional IRA. Whether it’s deductible still will depend upon your modified adjusted gross income. (See IRS Pub 590-A for income limits for deductions.)

3. Part-Time Workers Might Be Able to Access Retirement Benefits


The SECURE Act also expands access to certain employer-sponsored retirement plans. Starting with the 2021 plan year, employers are expected to offer retirement benefits to workers who have been with the company for at least three years, and who work 500 hours or more each year. Employers may not have to contribute for these employees, but will be required to allow employees to contribute for themselves. More information will be needed on this aspect of law, so stay tuned for more.

Right now, some employers aren’t required to offer coverage to those who work less than 1,000 hours for the company in a year. This may change the landscape for part-time workers, including older employees who work part-time during retirement.

4. Elimination of Stretch IRAs


Many folks save in IRA accounts for themselves but also because at their death they want to leave some of their savings to heirs or beneficiaries. Beneficiaries who receive an inherited IRA are generally able to elect how frequently they receive the money. One option is what is known as a "stretch" IRA, which allows beneficiaries to withdraw money based on life expectancy. With the SECURE Act in place, however, this option goes away for many.

Instead, non-spouse beneficiaries have to draw down the IRA by the end of the 10th year following the plan owner’s death. These beneficiaries can take the money out of the account on any schedule they choose. It just has to be fully depleted by the end of the 10 year time horizon. There are some exceptions, such as for disability and beneficiaries not more than 10 years younger than the original account owner. Also minors won’t see that 10-year clock start until they reach the age of majority.

The elimination of stretch IRAs has the potential to force beneficiaries to take larger distributions from inherited IRAs and might result in higher taxes, depending on the situation. For example, Roth IRA distributions are generally not taxable to beneficiaries, so taking the money out of the Inherited Roth IRA account probably has minimal impact on Roth beneficiaries. Traditional IRA beneficiaries do have to pay taxes on most  or all of their payments though.

5. Easier to Include Annuities in Plans


Right now, many employers don’t include annuity choices in their workplace retirement plans because of some of the legal and fiduciary requirements.

However, the SECURE Act reduces some of the fear of liability, and the result could be more lifetime income products being included in employer-sponsored retirement plans, like 401(k) plans. For those hoping to include these types of products in their retirement planning, the SECURE Act could be helpful.

Other Provisions of the SECURE Act

In addition to the above changes, the SECURE Act also includes other provisions designed to encourage small businesses in offering retirement benefits to employees. These provisions have different effective dates, so do your research before trying to utilize these provisions.  Here are some of the other key ways this legislation impacts the retirement landscape:

  • Increases the tax credit cap for small plan startup costs to $5,000 from $500.

  • Provides a tax credit of up to $500 per year for employers who use automatic enrollment in their 401(k) or SIMPLE IRA plan.

  • Encourages small businesses to set up retirement plans by increasing access to “safe harbor” plans.

  • Allows penalty-free withdrawals from 401(k) to help offset costs related to having or adopting a child — up to $5,000.

  • Allows for the use of up to $10,000 per year from 529 accounts to make student loan payments.

  • Requires plan administrators to begin offering projections for lifetime income at least once a year, in addition to providing information about the size of the nest egg


What’s Next for Your Retirement?


With the effective date of January 1, 2020 for some of the provisions, some planners and experts have been scrambling to make adjustments. And remember many of these law changes require operational changes, so please be patient and ask questions if you get information in conflict with what you learned about the SECURE Act. When making your own retirement plans, take into account some of the new provisions, including the later date for RMDs, as well as the possibility of continuing to make traditional IRA contributions later in life.


Key Takeaways

  • The Act pushes the RMD age to 72 from 70 1/2 

  • Under new rules, it’s possible to continue making traditional IRA contributions, no matter your age

  • Stretch IRAs, which allow beneficiaries of inherited IRAs to withdraw money based on life expectancy, are being eliminated for many







Year in Review: Tax Changes for Individuals

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) eliminated or modified numerous tax provisions starting in 2018. Here's what individuals and families need to know as they get ready for tax season.

Personal Exemptions

Personal exemptions are eliminated for tax years 2018 through 2025.

Standard Deductions
The standard deduction for married couples filing a joint return in 2018 is $24,000. For singles and married individuals filing separately, it is $12,000, and for heads of household, the deduction is $18,000.

The additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens in 2018 is $1,300 for married individuals and $1,600 for singles and heads of household.

Income Tax Rates
In 2018 the top tax rate of 37 percent affects individuals whose income exceeds $500,000 ($600,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return). Marginal tax rates for 2018 are as follows: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. While the tax rate structure remains similar to prior years (i.e., with seven tax brackets), the tax-bracket thresholds increased significantly for each filing status under tax reform.

Estate and Gift Taxes
In 2018 there is an exemption of $11.18 million per individual for estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes, with a top tax rate of 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts is $15,000.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
For 2018, exemption amounts increased to $70,300 for single and head of household filers, $109,400 for married people filing jointly and for qualifying widows or widowers, and $54,700 for married taxpayers filing separately.

Pease and PEP (Personal Exemption Phaseout)
Both Pease (limitations on itemized deductions) and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) have been eliminated under TCJA.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is limited to $2,650 per year in 2018 (up from $2,600 in 2017) and applies only to salary reduction contributions under a health FSA. The term "taxable year" as it applies to FSAs refers to the plan year of the cafeteria plan, which is typically the period during which salary reduction elections are made.

Long-Term Capital Gains
In 2018 tax rates on capital gains and dividends remain the same as 2017 rates (0%, 15%, and a top rate of 20%); however, threshold amounts are different in that they don't correspond to the tax bracket structure as they did in the past. For example, taxpayers whose income is below $38,600 for single filers and $77,200 for married filing jointly pay 0% capital gains tax. For individuals whose income is at or above $425,800 ($479,000 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.

Miscellaneous Deductions
Miscellaneous deductions exceeding 2% of AGI (adjusted gross income) are eliminated for tax years 2018 through 2025. As such, you can no longer deduct on Schedule A expenses related to tax preparation, moving (except for members of the Armed Forces on active duty who move because of a military order), job hunting, or unreimbursed employee expenses such as tools, supplies, required uniforms, travel, and mileage. Business owners are not affected and can still deduct business-related expenses on Schedule C.


Individuals - Tax Credits

Adoption Credit

In 2018 a nonrefundable (i.e., only those with tax liability will benefit) credit of up to $13,810 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.

Child and Dependent Care Credit
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit was permanently extended for taxable years starting in 2013 and remained under tax reform. As such, if you pay someone to take care of your dependent (defined as being under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year or incapable of self-care) in order to work or look for work, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 or 35 percent of $3,000 of eligible expenses.

For two or more qualifying dependents, you can claim up to 35 percent of $6,000 (or $2,100) of eligible expenses. For higher income earners the credit percentage is reduced, but not below 20 percent, regardless of the amount of adjusted gross income.

Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents
For tax years 2018 through 2025, the Child Tax Credit increases to $2,000 per child, up from $1,000 in 2017, thanks to the passage of the TCJA. The refundable portion of the credit increases from $1,000 to $1,400 - 15 percent of earned income above $2,500, up to a maximum of $1,400 - so that even if taxpayers do not owe any tax, they can still claim the credit. Please note, however, that the refundable portion of the credit (also known as the additional child tax credit) applies only when the taxpayer isn't able to fully use the $2,000 nonrefundable credit to offset their tax liability.

Under TCJA, a new tax credit - Credit for Other Dependents - is also available for dependents who do not qualify for the Child Tax Credit. The $500 credit is nonrefundable and covers children older than age 17 as well as parents or other qualifying relatives supported by a taxpayer.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
For tax year 2018, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate-income workers and working families increased to $6,431 (up from $6,318 in 2017). The maximum income limit for the EITC increased to $54,884 (up from $53,930 in 2017) for married filing jointly. The credit varies by family size, filing status, and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.


Individuals - Education Expenses

Coverdell Education Savings Account
You can contribute up to $2,000 a year to Coverdell savings accounts in 2018. These accounts can be used to offset the cost of elementary and secondary education, as well as post-secondary education.

American Opportunity Tax Credit
For 2018, the maximum American Opportunity Tax Credit that can be used to offset certain higher education expenses is $2,500 per student, although it is phased out beginning at $160,000 adjusted gross income for joint filers and $80,000 for other filers.

Lifetime Learning Credit
A credit of up to $2,000 is available for an unlimited number of years for certain costs of post-secondary or graduate courses or courses to acquire or improve your job skills. For 2018, the modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the Lifetime Learning Credit begins to phase out is $112,000 for joint filers and $56,000 for singles and heads of household.

Employer-Provided Educational Assistance
As an employee in 2018, you can exclude up to $5,250 of qualifying postsecondary and graduate education expenses that are reimbursed by your employer.

Student Loan Interest
In 2018 you can deduct up to $2,500 in student-loan interest as long as your modified adjusted gross income is less than $65,000 (single) or $135,000 (married filing jointly). The deduction is phased out at higher income levels.

Individuals - Retirement

Contribution Limits
For 2018, the elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan is $18,500 ($18,000 in 2017). For persons age 50 or older in 2018, the limit is $24,500 ($6,000 catch-up contribution).

Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver's Credit)
In 2018, the adjusted gross income limit for the saver's credit for low and moderate-income workers is $63,000 for married couples filing jointly, $47,250 for heads of household, and $31,500 for married individuals filing separately and for singles. The maximum credit amount is $2,000 ($4,000 if married filing jointly). Also of note is that starting in 2018, the Saver's Credit can be taken for your contributions to an ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) account if you're the designated beneficiary. However, keep in mind that your eligible contributions may be reduced by any recent distributions you received from your ABLE account.

If you have any questions about these and other tax provisions that could affect your tax situation, don't hesitate to call.



Recap of Business Tax Provisions for 2018


Here's what business owners need to know about tax changes for 2018.

Standard Mileage Rates
The standard mileage rate in 2018 is 54.5 cents per business mile driven.

Health Care Tax Credit for Small Businesses
Small business employers who pay at least half the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit as long as they employ fewer than the equivalent of 25 full-time workers and average annual wages do not exceed $50,000 (adjusted annually for inflation). In 2018 this amount is $53,200.

In 2018 (as in 2014-2017), the tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees' premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers. For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit was 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.

Section 179 Expensing and Depreciation

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Section 179 expense deduction increases to a maximum deduction of $1 million of the first $2,500,000 of qualifying equipment placed in service during the current tax year. The deduction was indexed to inflation after 2018 and enhanced to include improvements to nonresidential qualified real property such as roofs, fire protection, and alarm systems and security systems, and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.

Businesses are allowed to immediately deduct 100% of the cost of eligible property placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023, after which it will be phased downward over a four-year period: 80% in 2023, 60% in 2024, 40% in 2025, and 20% in 2026. The standard business depreciation amount is 25 cents per mile (same as 2017).

Please call if you have any questions about Section 179 expensing and the bonus depreciation.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)

Extended through 2019, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit remained under tax reform and can be used by employers who hire long-term unemployed individuals (unemployed for 27 weeks or more). It is generally equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to a new hire. Please call if you have any questions about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

SIMPLE IRA Plan Contributions
Contribution limits for SIMPLE IRA plans increased to $12,500 for persons under age 50 and $15,500 for persons age 50 or older in 2018. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions is $275,000.

Please contact the office if you would like more information about these and other tax deductions and credits to which you are entitled.



Avoid these Five Common Budgeting Errors


When it comes to creating a budget, it's essential to estimate your spending as realistically as possible. Here are five budget-related errors commonly made by small businesses and some tips for avoiding them.

  1. Not Setting Goals. It's almost impossible to set spending priorities without clear goals for the coming year. It's important to identify, in detail, your business and financial goals and what you want to achieve in your business.

  2. Underestimating Costs. Every business has ancillary or incidental costs that don't always make it into the budget. A good example of this is buying a new piece of equipment or software. While you probably accounted for the cost of the equipment in your budget, you might not have remembered to budget time and money needed to train staff or for equipment maintenance.

  3. Forgetting about Tax Obligations. While your financial statements may seem adequate, don't forget to set aside enough money for tax (e.g., payroll and sales and use taxes) owed to state, local, and federal entities. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is "money in the bank" and use it to pay for expenses you can't afford or worse, including it in next year's budget and later finding out that you don't have the cash to pay for your tax obligations.

  4. Assuming Revenue Equals Positive Cash Flow. Revenue on the books doesn't always equate to cash in hand. Just because you've closed the deal, it may be a long time before you are paid for your services and the money is in your bank account. Easier said than done, perhaps, but don't spend money that you don't have.

  5. Failing to Adjust Your Budget. Don't be afraid to update your forecasted expenditures whenever new circumstances affect your business. Several times a year you should set aside time to compare budget estimates against the amount you spent, and then adjust your budget accordingly.

Please call if you need assistance in setting up a budget to meet your business financial goals.



Eight Tax Breaks for Parents


If you have children, you may be able to reduce your tax bill using these tax credits and deductions.


  1. Child Tax Credit: You may be able to take this credit on your tax return for each of your children under age 17. Qualifying dependents must have a valid Social Security Number. This credit is refundable, which means you may a refund even if you don’t owe any tax.

  2. Credit for Other Dependents: This is a new tax credit under tax reform and is available for dependents for whom taxpayers cannot claim the Child Tax Credit. These dependents may include dependent children who are age 17 or older at the end of 2018 or parents or other qualifying relatives supported by the taxpayer. This credit is nonrefundable.

  3. Child and Dependent Care Credit: You may be able to claim this credit if you pay someone to care for your child under age 13 while you work or look for work. To claim this credit you will need to accurately track your child care expenses.

  4. Earned Income Tax Credit: The EITC is a benefit for certain people who work and have earned income from wages, self-employment, or farming. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund.

  5. Adoption Credit: You may be able to take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt a child.

  6. Coverdell Education Savings Account: This savings account is used to pay qualified expenses at an eligible educational institution, which starting in 2018, includes primary and secondary schools as well as colleges and vocational schools. Contributions are not deductible; however, qualified distributions generally are tax-free.

  7. Higher Education Tax Credits: Education tax credits can help offset the costs of education. The American Opportunity and the Lifetime Learning Credits are education tax credits that reduce your federal income tax dollar for dollar, unlike a deduction, which reduces your taxable income.

  8. Student Loan Interest: You may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income, so you do not need to itemize your deductions.

As you can see, having children can impact your tax situation in multiple ways. Make sure that you're taking advantage of credits and deductions you're entitled to by speaking to a tax professional today.



Tax Transcript Email Scam Alert


Taxpayers should be aware of a new round of fraudulent emails that impersonate the IRS and use tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malware. The scam is especially problematic for businesses whose employees might open the emails infected with malware as it can spread throughout the network and may take months to remove.

This well-known malware, which is called Emotet, typ[ically tricks people into opening infected documents by posing as specific banks and financial institutions. However, in the past few weeks, the scam has masqueraded as the IRS, pretending to be from "IRS Online." Many of these malicious Emotet emails were recently forwarded to

The scam email carries an attachment labeled "Tax Account Transcript" or something similar, and the subject line uses some variation of the phrase "tax transcript." The exact wording often changes with each version of the malware.

Taxpayers should remember that the IRS does not send unsolicited emails to the public, nor would it email a sensitive document such as a tax transcript (a summary of a tax return). Taxpayers receiving a suspicious email are urged not to open the email or the attachment. If using a personal computer, delete or forward the scam email to If you see these types of emails when using an employer's computer, notify your company's internet technology (IT) department immediately.

In July, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a warning in July about earlier versions of the Emotet, which it has called one of the most costly and destructive malware affecting the private and public sectors.



Retirement Contributions Limits Announced for 2019


Dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for 2019 are as follows:

In general, income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs, and to claim the saver's credit all increased for 2019. The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan also increases from $18,500 to $19,000. Contribution limits for SIMPLE retirement accounts for self-employed persons increase in 2019 as well - from $12,500 to $13,000.

Traditional IRAs

The limit on annual contributions to an IRA increases from $5,500 to $6,000. The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.

Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions; however, if during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. If a retirement plan at work covers neither the taxpayer nor their spouse, the phase-out amounts of the deduction do not apply.

Here are the phase-out ranges for 2019:

  • For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $64,000 to $74,000, up from $63,000 to $73,000.

  • For married couples filing jointly, where a workplace retirement plan covers the spouse making the IRA contribution, the phase-out range is $103,000 to $123,000, up from $101,000 to $121,000.

  • For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple's income is between $193,000 and $203,000, up from $189,000 and $199,000.

  • For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

Roth IRAs

The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $122,000 to $137,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $120,000 to $135,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $193,000 to $203,000, up from $189,000 to $199,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

Saver's Credit

The income limit for the Saver's Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $64,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $63,000; $48,000 for heads of household, up from $47,250; and $32,000 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $31,500.

Limitations that remain unchanged from 2018

  • The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $6,000.

Don't hesitate to contact the office if you have any questions about retirement plan contributions.



Transition Rule for Rehabilitation Tax Credit


The Rehabilitation Tax Credit offers an incentive for owners to renovate and restore old or historic buildings. Tax reform legislation passed in December 2017 changed when the credit is claimed and provides a transition rule, which is summarized below:

1. The credit is 20 percent of the taxpayer's qualifying costs for rehabilitating a building.


2. The credit doesn't apply to the money spent on buying the structure.


3. The legislation now requires taxpayers take the 20 percent credit spread out over five years beginning in the year they placed the building into service.


4. The law eliminates the 10 percent rehabilitation credit for pre-1936 buildings.


5. A transition rule provides relief to owners of either a certified historic structure or a pre-1936 building by allowing owners to use the prior law if the project meets these conditions:


  • The taxpayer owned or leased the building on January 1, 2018, and the taxpayer continues to own or lease the building after that date.

  • The 24 or 60-month period selected by the taxpayer for the substantial rehabilitation test begins by June 20, 2018.

6. Taxpayers should use Form 3468, Investment Credit, to claim the rehabilitation tax credit in addition to a variety of other investment credits.

Please call if you have any questions about this tax credit.



Depreciating Farming Business Property


Farmers and ranchers should be aware of changes in how they depreciate their farming business property. These changes took effect in 2018 as a result of tax reform legislation passed in December 2017.

Depreciation is an annual income tax deduction that allows a taxpayer to recover the cost or other basis of certain property over the time that they use it. When figuring depreciation, there are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration such as wear and tear and deterioration of the property, as well as whether it is now obsolete.

Here are nine facts about these tax law changes to depreciation that could affect farmers and their bottom line:

1. New farming equipment and machinery is five-year property. For property placed in service after December 31, 2017, the recovery period is shortened from seven to five years for machinery and equipment.

2. The shorter recovery period does not apply to grain bins, cotton ginning equipment, fences, and other land improvements.

3. Used equipment remains seven-year property.

4. Property used in a farming business and placed in service after December 31, 2017, is not required to use the 150-percent declining balance method. Farmers and ranchers must continue to use the 150-percent declining balance method for property that is 15 or 20 years old to which the straight-line method does not apply and for property that the taxpayer elects.

5. New and certain used equipment acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, qualifies for 100 percent first-year bonus depreciation for the tax year in which the property is placed in service.

6. A taxpayer may elect to expense the cost of any section 179 property and deduct it in the year the property is placed in service. The new law increased the maximum deduction from $500,000 to $1 million. It also increased the phase-out threshold from $2 million to $2.5 million. These amounts ($1 million and $2 million) will be adjusted for inflation for taxable years beginning after 2018.

7. The new law increases the bonus depreciation percentage from 50 percent to 100 percent for qualified property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017. The bonus depreciation percentage for qualified property that a taxpayer acquired and placed in service before September 28, 2017, remains at 50 percent. Special rules apply for longer production period property and certain aircraft.

8. The definition of property eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation was expanded to include used qualified property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, as long as certain requirements are met.

9. Farming businesses that elect out of the interest deduction limit must use the alternative depreciation system to depreciate any property with a recovery period of 10 years or more. This provision applies to tax years starting in 2018 and refers to property such as single purpose agricultural or horticultural structures, trees or vines bearing fruit or nuts, farm buildings, and certain land improvements.

Questions? Don't hesitate to call.



Take Retirement Plan Distributions by December 31


Taxpayers born before July 1, 1948, generally must receive payments from their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by December 31.

Known as required minimum distributions (RMDs), typically these distributions must be made by the end of the tax year, in this case, 2018. The required distribution rules apply to owners of traditional, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs but not Roth IRAs while the original owner is alive. They also apply to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.

An IRA trustee must either report the amount of the RMD to the IRA owner or offer to calculate it for the owner. Often, the trustee shows the RMD amount on Form 5498 in Box 12b. For a 2018 RMD, this amount is on the 2017 Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information, normally issued to the owner during January 2018.

A special rule allows first-year recipients of these payments, those who reached age 70 1/2 during 2018 to wait until as late as April 1, 2019, to receive their first RMDs. What this means that those born after June 30, 1947, and before July 1, 1948, are eligible. The advantage of this special rule is that although payments made to these taxpayers in early 2019 (up to April 1, 2019) can be counted toward their 2018 RMD, they are taxable in 2019.

The special April 1 deadline only applies to the RMD for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by December 31. So, for example, a taxpayer who turned 70 1/2 in 2017 (born after June 30, 1946, and before July 1, 1947) and received the first RMD (for 2017) on April 1, 2018, must still receive a second RMD (for 2018 by December 31, 2018.

The RMD for 2018 is based on the taxpayer's life expectancy on December 31, 2018, and their account balance on December 31, 2017. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. For most taxpayers, the RMD is based on Table III (Uniform Lifetime Table) in IRS Publication 590-B. For a taxpayer who turned 72 in 2018, the required distribution would be based on a life expectancy of 25.6 years. A separate table, Table II, applies to a taxpayer whose spouse is more than ten years younger and is the taxpayer's only beneficiary. If you need assistance with this, don't hesitate to call.

Though the RMD rules are mandatory for all owners of traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs and participants in workplace retirement plans, some people in workplace plans can wait longer to receive their RMDs. Usually, employees who are still working can, if their plan allows, wait until April 1 of the year after they retire to start receiving these distributions; however, there may be a tax on excess accumulations. Employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) plan accruals before 1987 should check with their employer, plan administrator or provider to see how to treat these accruals.

For more information on RMDs, please contact the office.



New Depreciation Deduction Benefits Business


Tax reform legislation passed in December 2017 included numerous changes that affect businesses this year. One of them allows businesses to write off most depreciable business assets in the year they place them in service. Here are five facts to help businesses better understand this deduction:

1. The 100-percent depreciation deduction generally applies to depreciable business assets with a recovery period of 20 years or less and certain other property.

2. Machinery, equipment, computers, appliances, and furniture generally qualify.

3. The 100-percent depreciation deduction applies to qualifying property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017.

4. Taxpayers who elect out of the 100-percent depreciation deduction for a class of property must do so on a timely filed return.

5. The IRS has issued proposed regulations with guidance on what property qualifies and rules for qualified film, television and live theatrical productions, and certain plants.

For more details about the 100-percent depreciation deduction or electing out of claiming it, please call.


Tax Due Dates for December 2018

December 10

Employees who work for tips - If you received $20 or more in tips during November, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

December 17

Corporations - Deposit the fourth installment of estimated income tax for 2018. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.

Employers Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax - If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

Employers Nonpayroll withholding - If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
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