It’s a gig economy. QuickBooks Online makes it easy to track and pay independent contractors.
In days past we used to call it “moonlighting” – taking on a second, part-time job for extra money. And we saw how prevalent this became was when millions of people had to resort to side gigs to keep afloat during the economic downturn of a decade ago. Some who had lost full-time employment even turned one or more of these part-time passions into a small business and became independent contractors for other companies.
If you’re thinking of hiring a freelancer to do some of your work, you’ll find that QuickBooks Online can accommodate your accounting needs for them nicely. Since they’re not W-2 workers, your paperwork needs are minimal. They’ll simply fill out an IRS Form W-9 and you’ll pay them for services provided, dispatching 1099-MISCs after the first of each year so they can pay their taxes.
Here’s how it works.
Creating Contractor Records
Warning: Be sure that any independent contractor you hire cannot be considered an actual employee. The IRS spells out the differences very clearly and takes this distinction very seriously. If you have any doubts, we can help you determine your new worker’s status.
You can either let a new contractor complete his or her own profile or do so yourself.
Like you would with anyone you employ, you’ll need to create records for contractors in QuickBooks Online. Click on Workers in the left navigation pane, then Contractors | Add a contractor. In the window that opens, enter the individual’s name and email address. If you want the contractor to complete his or her own profile, click on the box in front of Email this contractor…
Your contractor will receive an email with an invitation to create an Intuit account and enter W-9 information, which will be transmitted to your QuickBooks Online company account. This will make it easy to process 1099s when tax season arrives. He or she will also be able to use QuickBooks Self-Employed, an Intuit website designed for freelancers. We can walk you through how this works.
If you’d rather enter the worker’s contact details yourself, leave the box blank. A vertical panel containing fields for this information will slide out from the right.
Contractors are also considered vendors. So when you create a record for a contractor, it will also appear in your Vendors list in QuickBooks Online. In fact, you can complete a contractor profile by clicking Expenses in the left vertical pane, then Vendors. Click New Vendor in the upper right and fill in the relevant fields there. Be sure to check the box in front of Track payments for 1099. An abbreviated version of your new record will also be available on the Contractors screen as the two are synchronized.
When you create a Vendor record for an independent contractor, be sure to check the Track payments for 1099 box.
Working with Contractors
You’ll notice in the screenshot above that Brenda Cooper had an Opening balance of $2,450 when you created her record. That’s money you already owed her, and for which she had probably sent you an invoice. QuickBooks Online turned that into an Accounts Payable item that you could find in multiple reports and on both the Vendors and Expenses screens. It will be listed as a Bill in reports, though you haven’t actually created one yet.
You have three options here. You can create a Bill and fill in any missing details if you don’t plan to pay Brenda immediately. If you want to send her the money right away, you can either enter an Expense or write a Check. There are many places in QuickBooks Online where you can do the latter two. We think it’s easiest to return to the Contractors screen since you can accomplish all three from there.
The Contractors screen contains links to the three ways you can handle compensation due to a contractor.
Whenever you receive an invoice from a contractor, you can visit this same screen and choose one of the three options.
You’ll have to select a Category for your payment from the list provided in each of these three types of transactions. The Chart of Accounts contains one called Subcontractors, which may or may not work for your purposes.
We strongly encourage you to consult with us as you begin the process of managing independent contractor compensation to deal with this issue as well as others. QuickBooks Online offers multiple ways to get to the same end result, and it can be confusing. Contact us, and we can schedule a consultation.
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Hiring independent contractors? Be sure they should be classified as such, and not employees. We can help you determine how to do this.
QuickBooks Online offers many ways to do the same tasks when you’re working with independent contractors. Here is how we can help you figure this out.
There are three ways to record financial obligations to independent contractors: bill, check, and expense. Do you know the differences? We can help you figure this out.
Though you don’t have the same payroll requirements for contractors as you do employees, it’s very important to get it right. Here are a few ways we can help you with this.
Many people are taking a closer look at buying long-term care insurance to protect themselves and their families — just in case. If you are thinking about buying long-term care insurance, you’ll be interested to know that, within limits, premiums paid for qualified policies are deductible as an itemized medical expense. For 2019, premiums for qualified policies are tax-deductible to the extent that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses, exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income.
The typical long-term care insurance policy will pay for the nursing home, home care, or other long-term care arrangements after a waiting period has expired, reimbursing expenses up to a maximum limit specified in the policy. Eligibility for reimbursement usually hinges on the covered individual’s inability to perform several activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing.
Premiums are eligible for a deduction only up to a specific dollar amount (adjusted for inflation) that varies depending upon the age of the covered individual. The IRS limits for 2019 are:
|Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Deduction Limits, 2019|
|40 or under||$420|
Source: Internal Revenue Service
These limits apply on a per-person basis. For example, a married couple over age 70 filing a joint tax return could potentially deduct up to $10,540 ($5,270 × 2). Keep in mind, however, that, for individuals under age 65, itemized medical expenses are deductible only to the extent that they, in total, exceed 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI).
As everyone’s situation is different, consider contacting your tax and legal professionals to discuss your personal circumstances.
…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).v
Typically, at least a portion of an annuity payment is taxable.* Taxpayers should be careful to distinguish between the portion that represents a nontaxable return of the amount paid for the annuity and the taxable portion.
To do this, the taxpayer generally divides the original, after-tax contribution by the expected return on the date the annuity begins. The cost/payout ratio, or “exclusion ratio,” is then multiplied by each installment payment to determine the nontaxable amount.
Example. Mary paid $10,800 for an annuity that will pay her $100 per month for 20 years. Mary’s expected return is $24,000. The exclusion ratio is 45% ($10,800/$24,000). For each $100 installment, $45 will be nontaxable, and the remaining $55 will be taxable.
Note that the expected returns on annuities may vary with the amount and the measuring term. Where the measuring term is someone’s lifetime or joint lifetimes, the IRS has tables for determining the expected return.
With variable annuities, the payout may vary based on such things as investment performance or changes in a particular index. Generally, the exclusion ratio is calculated by dividing the cost of the annuity contract by the total number of anticipated payments. However, if the nontaxable portion exceeds the actual payment, the taxpayer may elect to recompute the exclusion ratio for later years.
Individuals sometimes receive all or a portion of the money in their qualified retirement plan accounts as an annuity. Such annuities are referred to as “qualified” annuities, and the method for calculating the exclusion ratio is similar to those described above. Note, however, that if the account assets consist entirely of pretax salary contributions (and earnings on those contributions), the exclusion ratio will be zero, and each installment will be fully taxable.
For more information about investments and taxes, give our tax professional a call today.
* Different rules apply to withdrawals, dividends, and loans from annuity contracts.
…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).v
If you’re one of the millions of American households who own either a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) or a Roth IRA, then the onset of tax season should serve as a reminder to review your retirement savings strategies and make any changes that will enhance your prospects for long-term financial security. It’s also a good time to start an IRA if you don’t already have one. The IRS allows you to contribute to an IRA up to April 15, 2019, for the 2018 tax year.
This checklist will provide you with information to help you make informed decisions and implement a long-term retirement income strategy.
Which Account: Roth IRA or Traditional IRA?
There are two types of IRAs available: the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. The primary difference between them is the tax treatment of contributions and distributions (withdrawals). Traditional IRAs may allow a tax deduction based on the amount of a contribution, depending on your income level. Any account earnings compound on a tax-deferred basis and distributions are taxable at the time of withdrawal at then-current income tax rates. Roth IRAs do not allow a deduction for contributions, but account earnings and qualified withdrawals are tax-free .1
In choosing between a traditional and a Roth IRA, you should weigh the immediate tax benefits of a tax deduction this year against the benefits of tax-deferred or tax-free distributions in retirement.
If you need the immediate deduction this year — and if you qualify for it — then you may wish to opt for a traditional IRA. If you don’t qualify for the deduction, then it’s almost certainly a better idea to fund a Roth IRA.
Case in point: Your ability to deduct traditional IRA contributions may be limited not only by income but by your participation in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. (See callout box below.) If that’s the case, a Roth IRA is likely to be the better solution.
On the other hand, if you expect your tax bracket to drop significantly after retirement, you may be better off with a traditional IRA if you qualify for the deduction. You could claim an immediate deduction now and pay taxes at the lower rate later. Nonetheless, if your anticipated holding period is long, a Roth IRA might still make more sense. That’s because a prolonged period of tax-free compounded earnings could more than makeup for the lack of a deduction.
|Traditional IRA Deductible Contribution Phase-Outs|
|Your ability to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA is affected by whether you are covered by a workplace retirement plan.
If you are covered by a retirement plan at work, your deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA will be reduced (phased out) if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is:
If you are not covered by a retirement plan at work but your spouse is covered, your 2017 deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA will be reduced if your MAGI is between $189,000 and $199,000.
If your MAGI is higher than the phase-out ceilings listed above for your filing status, you cannot claim the deduction.
|Roth IRA Contribution Phase-Outs|
|Your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA is affected by your MAGI. Contributions to a Roth IRA will be phased out if your MAGI is:
If your MAGI is higher than the phase-out ceilings listed above for your filing status, you cannot make a contribution.
Should You Convert to Roth?
The IRS allows you to convert — or change the designation of — a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, regardless of your income level. As part of the conversion, you must pay taxes on any investment growth in — and on the amount of any deductible contributions previously made to — the traditional IRA. The withdrawal from your traditional IRA will not affect your eligibility for a Roth IRA or trigger the 10% additional federal tax normally imposed on early withdrawals.
The decision to convert or not ultimately depends on your timing and tax status. If you are near retirement and find yourself in the top income tax bracket this year, now may not be the time to convert. On the other hand, if your income is unusually low and you still have many years to retirement, you may want to convert.
If possible, try to contribute the maximum amount allowed by the IRS: $5,500 per individual, plus an additional $1,000 annually for those age 50 and older for the 2018 tax year. Those limits are per individual, not per IRA.
Of course, not everyone can afford to contribute the maximum to an IRA, especially if they’re also contributing to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. If your workplace retirement plan offers an employer’s matching contribution, that additional money may be more valuable than the amount of your deduction. As a result, it might make sense to maximize plan contributions first and then try to maximize IRA contributions.
Review Distribution Strategies
If you’re ready to start making withdrawals from an IRA, you’ll need to choose the distribution strategy to use: a lump-sum distribution or periodic distributions. If you are at least age 70½ and own a traditional IRA, you may need to take required minimum distributions every year, according to IRS rules.
Don’t forget that your distribution strategy may have significant tax-time implications if you own a traditional IRA because taxes will be due at the time of withdrawal. As a result, taking a lump-sum distribution will result in a much heftier tax bill this year than taking a minimum distribution.
The April filing deadline is never that far away, so don’t hesitate to use the remaining time to shore up the IRA strategies you’ll rely on to live comfortably in retirement.
1Early withdrawals (before age 59½) from a traditional IRA may be subject to a 10% additional federal tax. Nonqualified withdrawals from a Roth IRA may be subject to ordinary income tax as well as the 10% additional tax.
…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).v
If you are a volunteer board member for a nonprofit organization, one specific issue to keep in mind is the IRS’s trust fund recovery penalty. If any entity — nonprofit or for-profit — fails to properly remit Social Security taxes and/or income taxes withheld from employees’ wages, the IRS will directly approach the organization’s “responsible persons” for the tax payments and a potential 100% penalty… Learn about nonprofit bookkeeping at this Dave Burton article.
In general, the penalty will not be imposed on any unpaid, volunteer member of the board of a tax-exempt organization if the member: (1) is solely serving in an honorary capacity, (2) does not participate in the day-to-day operations of the organization, (3) does not participate in the financial operations of the organization, and (4) does not have actual knowledge of the failure on which the penalty is based.
However, for an active member who has governing responsibilities, it is still important to ask questions about who is handling these tax payments (a staff member, the executive director, a payroll service, an accountant?) and what checks and balances are in effect to make sure no problems arise. Annual reviews or audits may also be helpful to verify compliance.
To learn more about non-profit compliance issues, give us a call today. We look forward to helping your non-profit grow.
It was one of the greatest financial bets of all time. Hedge fund manager John Paulson bet big against subprime mortgages ahead of last decade’s financial crisis, earning billions in profits for his funds. It was a gamble that, in the long run, didn’t pay off.
Along with the $4 billion he earned for himself, he nailed a second record-breaking honor when he was slapped with one of the largest personal tax bills in history.
According to people close to the firm, Paulson used a tax provision available at the time to hedge fund managers. After deferring the bulk of taxes on the profits, Paulson’s personal tax bill came due on April 17th when he was required to pay about a billion dollars. This is on top of $500,000 he paid late the year before.
Only one problem.
The sum of his payment surpasses the maximum amount allowable by the IRS for payment by a single taxpayer with a single check. That amount is $99,999,999.
Like many investment managers, Hedge fund managers profit from fees amounting to a percentage of gains generated for their clients. In the case of Paulson & Co. that percentage is 20%.
For years—decades actually—tax authorities allowed hedge funds to defer receipt of this type of income. The reason the IRS permits this deferment of compensation by executives is that it tends to lower the company’s compensation costs, forcing them to pay higher taxes on profits. This offsets income taxes not paid right away by the employees.
Sounds like a win-win situation, right?
Well, maybe not this time.
In the case of offshore hedge funds that don’t pay offsetting U.S. taxes, such as some of those operated by Paulson, the treasury was not on the winning team.
A tax change mandated by Congress in 2008 gave hedge fund managers like Paulson until April 17, 2018 to pay taxes on money accumulated before the law changed. People close to the firm say Paulson turned to his Credit Opportunities fund, which is one of several he operates.
Word has it this fund held about $3.5 billion in assets late last year. The bulk was represented by Paulson’s own interests. He made an initial tax payment late last year by pulling funds from this account. He pulled another $1 billion from the fund and used it for the money due on April 17th.
Guess who was said to be the largest investor in the fund?
The government wants its money, but paying Paulson’s bill might not be easy. He could wire it if he wanted but might prefer paying by check if he’ll earn interest on the money until authorities cash the check. If so, he might have to submit multiple payments because the IRS will only accept a payment of less than $100 million.
He could do that if he can get past the most common problem: fitting such huge numbers onto the appropriate line on a check.
We should all have such problems….
Here’s an idea: Why not purchase a motorhome or recreational vehicle and deduct it as a business expense?
As long as you use it for business this could be a really sweet deal. And if you just happen to use it for pleasure once or twice, that’s no big deal, right?
You won’t be the first person to think of this and if you don’t follow the IRS rules, you won’t be the last to experience the consequences. The courts and the IRS have battled this discussion out several times. Both have been challenged trying to confirm when the motor home is a business vehicle and when it is a business lodging facility.
Does it matter?
It does. The business aspects of owning a motorhome will qualify for tax deductions, but this comes with a set of rules.
Bear this in mind: if you travel for business and plan to deduct your motorhome as a lodging facility, be sure to count the number of nights you use it for business purposes and use that to measure the number of permissible deductions.
On the other hand, if you use your motor home or RV as a second home, you would deduct the business percentage of its use for business travel without having to consider Section 280A impediments.
It can be complicated, so be sure you understand the guidelines.
Before you can deduct the business expenses associated with your motorhome you need to determine what it actually costs to operate the business-related usage. Along with depreciation and interest or lease payments, be sure to add insurance to the equation.
Take into consideration all of the expenses associated with maintaining your RV. Here are a few other expenses to include in your calculation:
- Motor oil
- Car Washes
- Licensing Fees
- Property Tax
Of course, you’ll only be limited to deducting your business-related expenses. Will painting or wrapping your recreational vehicle with advertisements qualify when deducting personal miles?
You know the answer….
It will not.
Maintain Good Records
The best way to ensure you maximize your allowable deductions on your motorhome or RV is to keep impeccable records. Keep a mileage log and record every single trip—business and pleasure. Make sure you have accrued more than 50 percent business nights.
Even if you think you have a great memory, don’t store this information in your head. Record every single night you use your motorhome for business or personal lodging.
Last but certainly not least, keep IRS Section 280(f)(4) top of mind. This section says the use of your motorhome for overnight business lodging produces deductions for business travel and that business travel is not subject to the vacation home rules.
For a clear explanation of tax deductions for motorhomes or RVs, contact one of our tax professionals. Better to plan ahead than to clean up a mess after the fact.
In an effort to even the playing field, a unanimous decision by the California Supreme Court recently put business owners across the state in somewhat of a chokehold. With a ruling that could change the workplace status of people across the state, they’ve made it harder to classify workers as independent contractors.
The ruling came as a result of a class-action lawsuit against Dynamex Operations West, Inc. The suit charged that Dynamex, a package, and document delivery company, misclassified its delivery drivers, calling them independent contractors when they were actually employees.
If they did misclassify, they are not the only company doing the same thing. The ruling has implications for the expanding gig economy, an environment in which organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.
Companies such as Uber and Lyft are also being targeted but it could extend to other business models. Hiring independent contractors versus employees is a swiftly growing trend.
The trend is popular in part because it makes good financial sense for businesses. With employment overhead rising over the last couple of decades, employers are backing away from the would-be money-suck and instead of hiring independent contractors for the jobs once held by full-time and part-time employees.
In recent years, the trend toward hiring independent contractors instead of employees has gone through the roof. A 2016 study by economists at Harvard and Princeton universities estimated 8.4% of the U.S. workforce is classified as independent contractors.
That’s 12.5 million people.
It’s a no-brainer really. Companies that hire independent contractors are not bound by the rules governing employment.
No workers comp.
No piles of paperwork.
No minimum wage or overtime pay.
A 1099 at the end of the year does it, and they’re good to go. Contractors are in charge of managing their own responsibilities to the IRS and state governments.
End of story.
But the story doesn’t always have a happy ending.
If workers are misclassified, the business doing the hiring faces stiff fines. Employment lawyers say many are questioning whether it would be best to reclassify before someone waves a red flag in their direction.
What is an Independent Contractor?
According to the court ruling, independent contractors:
- Perform work outside of the hirer’s core business
- Engage in an independently established trade, occupation or business.
- Would not reasonably be viewed as working for the hiring business.
The court says businesses that hire workers must show that the workers are working in their own established businesses, free from the control and direction of the employer. That means no established hours or expectations as would be expected of an employee.
The aforementioned ruling did not resolve the Dynamex case, but it did help define independent contractors for lower courts grappling with the dispute. The court said wage and hour laws were adopted to enable people to earn a subsistence standard of living and to protect workers’ health and safety. The laws also shield the public from having to assume financial responsibility for workers earning substandard wages or working in unhealthy or unsafe conditions, the court noted.
“This is an effort to level the unequal playing field — misclassified workers have been taken advantage of for decades,” said Gutman Dickinson, a partner at Bush Gottlieb.
The risk of misclassifying workers—intentionally or otherwise—is substantial. A worker may be denied the status of employee “only if the worker is the type of traditional independent contractor — such as an independent plumber or electrician — who would not reasonably be viewed as working in the hiring business,” the court said.
Examples of Independent Contractors:
- Computer Tech
As long as the worker is temporarily hired he or she would be classified as an independent contractor. But a cake decorator who works on a regular basis custom-designing cake—even from home—would be an employee.
This discussion is significant on many levels, not the least of which concerns the California Labor Commission. According to their website, the misclassification of workers as independent contractors costs the state roughly $7 billion in lost payroll taxes each year.
To follow these changes and others, connect with one of our tax experts.
There can be no more exciting a time than to go from punching a clock to being your own boss. But starting a business means more than deductible lunch dates and setting your own hours. If you think self-employment means you get to kick back and relax, it won’t happen. Most entrepreneurs will tell you they have never worked harder.
Starting a new business takes time and money. If you do nothing else, begin with a business plan. Your investment of blood, sweat, and tears can pay off for the life of your business—as long as you make prudent choices, and a business plan will help you calculate what you’ll need and how much it will cost.
The money you invest is tax deductible, right?
Well … not always.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming all your startup costs are deductible. As long as your total startup costs are $50,000 or less, the IRS allows you to deduct a limited amount of startup costs, and also organizational costs.
On the other hand, if your startup costs for either area exceed $50,000, your allowable deductions are reduced by that dollar amount. Once you make your first sale, however, you can claim all of your business startup expenses. Read on for details.
What Are Startup Expenses?
These days no business can operate without using some form of technology. Unless you plan to use your 3-year-old laptop to run your online business, you’re going to need to purchase equipment to help facilitate your business. Oh, and you’ll need a smartphone if you want to keep up.
Of course, computers and office equipment would qualify as startup expenses. If you need to rent office space or even a cubicle in a cooperative setting, they would also qualify. However, shelf any plans to stand by the mailbox waiting for your hefty check from the IRS. Neither of these expenses can be deducted until after your first sale, at which time they will be deducted over a period of 15 years.
You can choose to deduct the first $5,000 in your first year of business for startup costs, and another $5,000 for organizational costs. Expenses such as legal fees, corporate filing, DBA, and related expenses fall under this designation, but only if your total startup costs are $50,000 or less. If your expenses were over $55,000 you lose the right to any deduction at all.
Make sure you save all receipts for purchases. The laws change so it’s in your best interest to be aware. Check with your tax professional, who will be aware of the latest IRS tax laws. He or she will advise as to whether your startup expenses qualify for a deduction.
Want the attention of the IRS? All you have to do is make personal transactions on your business account. RED FLAG!
It’s called comingling funds, and it can get you into big trouble at tax time.
No, pleading ignorance will not save you.
What’s The Difference?
Expenses associated with personal products or services, living expenses or family expenses are not business expenses and generally non-deductable. Buying a new TV, even if you watch a program or two focused on your industry, is no more a business expense than taking Grandma to dinner.
However, if you have expenses that are partly personal and partly business, as long as you divide the total cost appropriately, the IRS permits deduction of the business portion. Doable, yes, but keep in mind this complicates things during tax season.
For example, let’s say you use your credit card to borrow money. You spend 90 percent of it buying a new office phone system and the other 10 percent for a cordless home phone. The 90 percent used for business is deductible. The remaining 10 percent is a personal expense must be divided out. It’s not deductible.
Home-Based Business Expenses
Here is another potentially sticky spot if you try to fudge.
Do you work from home? Many people do these days. It makes good sense, and not only for entrepreneurs. Many corporations allow employees to sign onto their computers and work from home. The company saves money and ultimately, employees can be more productive in a home setting.
It gets sticky when home-based business owners try to claim all of their home expenses and utilities and file for business deductions on the lump sum.
The IRS sees RED.
It’s best not to comingle funds, but if you find yourself needing to make separate calculations for personal and business expenses from the same account, accuracy is paramount, i.e. don’t make mistakes.
There are two options for home-based businesses at tax time. Which one is right for you?
When using the regular method to calculate expenses, home office deductions will be based on the percentage of your home devoted to business use. Whether you use a part of a room or the whole second floor of your home for conducting business, figure out the percentage of that space and related expenses to determine deductions.
There’s also a simplified option that makes things easier for many small business owners. It was designed to cut out some of the burdens of tedious recordkeeping associated with the regular method.
In lieu of calculating and dividing expenses, the simplified method allows qualified taxpayers to multiply a prescribed rate by the allowable square footage of the business space.
Mixing Business with Pleasure
Be aware that mixing personal expenses in with business expenses by running them through your business will likely NOT go unnoticed. You won’t be the first to try and the IRS is paying attention.
Never use your business account for personal purposes, and if you do, don’t claim those expenses on your taxes. Home rent, pet care, and other personal expenses are blatantly disallowed.
What surprises many new business owners is that clothing (yes, even though you get dressed for meetings) and groceries are not deductible. Don’t even try.
Certain items, such as gifts and entertainment, may be allowable if they are business expenses. Hold onto receipts and keep good records. Always talk to your tax professional to be sure.
You can avoid a red flag by keeping business and personal accounts separate. Right. Two different accounts. This will minimize issues at tax time, and help you avoid an IRS audit.