Archives for May 2017

Tax Breaks for Hiring New Employees


If you’re thinking about hiring new employees this year, you won’t want to miss out on these tax breaks:


  1. Work Opportunity Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit for employers that hire employees from the following targeted groups of individuals:

  • A member of a family that is a Qualified Food Stamp Recipient
  • A member of a family that is a Qualified Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Recipient
  • Qualified Veterans
  • Qualified Ex-Felons, Pardoned, Paroled or Work Release Individuals
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Referrals
  • Qualified Summer Youths
  • Qualified Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients
  • Qualified Individuals living within an Empowerment Zone or Rural Renewal Community
  • Long Term Family Assistance Recipient (TANF) (formerly known as Welfare to Work)

The tax credit (a maximum of $9,600) is taken as a general business credit and is applied against tax liability on business income. It is limited to the amount of the business income tax liability or social security tax owed. Normal carry-back and carry-forward rules apply.
For qualified tax-exempt organizations, the credit is limited to the amount of employer social security tax owed on wages paid to all employees for the period the credit is claimed.
Also, an employer must obtain certification that an individual is a member of the targeted group before the employer may claim the credit.
Note: The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act) retroactively allows eligible employers to claim the

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for all targeted group employee categories that were in effect prior to the enactment of the PATH Act, if the individual began or begins work for the employer after December 31, 2014 and before January 1, 2020.

For tax-exempt employers, the PATH Act retroactively allows them to claim the WOTC for qualified veterans who begin work for the employer after December 31, 2014, and before January 1, 2020.


  1. Empowerment Zones

This tax credit provides businesses with an incentive to hire individuals who live and work (either full-time or part-time) in a federally designated Empowerment Zone (EZ). The credit is equal to 20 percent of the first $15,000 (up to $3,000) in wages earned in a taxable year if the employee lives and works in an empowerment zone (urban or rural). This credit can be combined with state enterprise zone credits as well.
(Note: In Virginia, there are Empowerment Zones located in

portions of Norfolk and Portsmouth.)


Note: The PATH Act extended the tax credit retroactively to apply to the period from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2016.


  1. Disabled Access Credit and the Barrier Removal Tax Deduction

Employers that hire disabled workers might also be able to take advantage of two additional tax credits in addition to the WOTC.


The Disabled Access Credit is a non-refundable credit for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing

access to persons with disabilities. An eligible small business is one that earned $1 million or less or had no more than 30 full-time employees in the previous year; they may take the credit each and every year they incur access expenditures. Eligible expenditures include amounts paid or incurred to:


  1. Remove barriers that prevent a business from being accessible to or usable by individuals with disabilities;
  2. Provide qualified interpreters or other methods of making audio materials available to hearing-impaired individuals;
  3. Provide qualified readers, taped texts, and other methods of making visual materials available to individuals with

visual impairments; or

  1. Acquire or modify equipment or devices for individuals with disabilities.

The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly. Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses for items that normally must be capitalized. Businesses claim the deduction by listing it as a separate expense on their income tax return.


Businesses may use the Disabled Tax Credit and the architectural/transportation tax deduction together in the same tax year if the expenses meet the requirements of both sections. To use both, the deduction is equal to the difference between the total

expenditures and the amount of the credit claimed.


  1. State Tax Credits

Many states use tax credits and deductions as incentives for hiring and job growth. Employers are eligible for these credits and

deductions when they create new jobs and hire employees that meet certain requirements. Examples include the New Employment Credit (NEC) in California and Empire Zone tax credits in New York.  Virginia includes numerous tax credits, including the Worker Retraining Tax Credit.


Wondering what tax breaks your business

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Don’t Miss Out on Miscellaneous Expense Deductions

Are you scraping the bottom of the barrel of your itemized deductions? The IRS allows you to deduct a mixture of expenses that don’t fit neatly into any other basket. They’re called, appropriately enough, “miscellaneous expenses.” But you can’t just lump these expenses together and write off the full amount on your return.

After you add up all your miscellaneous expenses, you can deduct only the excess above 2 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI) for the year.

For instance, let’s say your annual AGI is $100,000 and you incur $1,900 of miscellaneous expenses during the year. In this case, your deduction is zero because you don’t clear the tax law threshold. On the other hand, if you have $2,500 in miscellaneous expenses, you’re entitled to deduct $500.

Which expenses are deductible? The list is a long one and it’s a hodgepodge. However, miscellaneous expenses can generally be divided into two main groups: unreimbursed employee business expenses and production-of-income expenses.

  1. Unreimbursed employee business expenses.
    These are job-related expenses that you pay out of your own pocket. Some common examples are as follows:
  • Cellphones and home computers when required as a condition of employment.
  • Dues for a professional organization.
  • Education related to employment.
  • Home-office expenses (subject to business-use limits).
  • Licenses and regulatory fees.
  • Malpractice insurance premiums.
  • Subscriptions to professional journals and magazines.
  • Travel and entertainment for your business (limited to 50 percent for meals).
  • Union dues.
  • Work clothes or uniforms.

You can also deduct the cost of seeking employment – for example, printing out resumes and fees for an employment agency – whether or not you actually get a job.

  1. Production-of-income expenses. This category covers the cost of various investment, financial, and tax services. It includes the following common examples:
  • Accounting fees.
  • Appraisal fees for charitable donations of property and casualties.
  • Custodial fees for IRAs.
  • Investment and financial planning fees.
  • Legal fees.
  • Safe deposit rentals for storing non-tax-exempt securities.
  • Subscriptions to financial planning magazines and journals.
  • Tax assistance fees.

The cost of having your tax return prepared, as well as obtaining professional advice relating to tax matters, both count as miscellaneous expenses.

It’s easy for some of these random expenses to fall through the cracks. You are advised to scour your records – and check things twice – before your return is filed. Just one or two extra items could put you over the 2 percent-of-AGI threshold or increase an existing deduction.

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