Summary of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

On January 2, 2013, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which was passed by Congress on New Year’s Day. After almost a decade of uncertainty surrounding temporary tax legislation, the new law makes permanent many provisions of prior law which had previously been extended a year or two at a time, making tax and estate planning very difficult. Click here for a brief summary of the highlights.

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© 2013 Casey W. Riggs — This article is for general information only. The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

How the Federal Government Taxes LLCs

One of the benefits to using a limited liability company is the flexibility of being able to choose how the entity is taxed. After a new LLC is formed, its owners must decide the method by which they would like their business taxed. By default, an LLC is treated as a pass-through entity, which means that it does not pay federal taxes directly, but its income or loss is allocated to the owners, who then pay taxes on that income. If the LLC has only one member, it files no tax return and all transactions of the LLC are treated as transactions of the owner for tax purposes. If the LLC has more than one member, the LLC files a partnership tax return, which reports the LLC’s income and how that income is to be allocated to each owner. Partnership style taxation is governed by Subchapter K of the Internal Revenue Code. However, the owner(s) of an LLC, whether the LLC has a single member or multiple members, may choose to have their LLC taxed as a corporation. In this case, the LLC can be taxed as a so-called “C Corporation,” which is governed under Subchapter C of the Internal Revenue Code, or an “S Corporation,” which is governed by Subchapter S. This ability of LLC owners to elect the company’s means of taxation is called the “check the box” regulations. [Read more…]

Obama’s Proposed American Jobs Act Contains Tax Increase on Private Fund Managers

The American Jobs Act, recently proposed by President Obama, contains a provision closing the co-called “carried interest tax loophole” that benefits many investment fund managers.  Just about all hedge funds, real estate investment partnerships, private equity funds, and venture capital funds in the U.S. are structured as partnerships for tax purposes.  The incentive fee that the manager is paid (usually 20% of all net gains of the partnership) isn’t actually a fee at all.  Rather, when the partnership is formed, it is structured so that the manager (or an affiliate of the manager) owns a 20% interest in all profits generated by the fund.  The benefit to the manager in structuring the incentive fee this way is that all favorable tax treatment that the fund may receive for certain types of income are preserved for the fund manager.  For instance, if the fund earns a gain on the sale of assets that it owned for over one year or if the fund receives qualified dividends from stock, those gains and dividends are taxed at the lower capital gains rate (15%) rather than being treated as ordinary income.  In addition, the manager of the fund does not pay social security or Medicare taxes on the portion of the fund’s profits allocated to the manager, as he would if he were earning it as wages or were otherwise self-employed.  As a result, the fund manager only pays federal income taxes at a rate of 15% on a large portion of his income, and also pays no social security and Medicare taxes on any of the incentive fee earned by him. [1]  If the law were changed, fund manager incentive allocations would be taxed as ordinary income and would also be subject to the self-employment tax (ordinarily 15.3%) to pay both the employee and employer portions of social security and Medicare taxes on such income. [Read more…]

Even in deals with “yourself,” you still need proper legal documents.

One situation I often encounter with small businesses is that sometimes they don’t always document the transactions they enter into with their owners and other related parties. For instance, let’s say that two owners of a corporation decide that their corporation needs more funding. However, they don’t want to invest more equity into the business. [Read more…]

There is no such thing as a “1099 employee.”

Business owners will often say that they hired someone as a “1099 employee.” What they actually mean is that the business came to an arrangement with a worker that deems him to be an independent contractor, and as a result, it doesn’t have to follow any of the laws involved in hiring an employee. This includes not having to withhold any amounts for taxes, not having to pay the employer’s portion of social security and Medicare taxes, and not having to pay any premiums for workers compensation or unemployment insurance. It becomes the worker’s responsibility to pay the employer’s portion of social security and Medicare taxes through the self employment tax. The worker must also perform their own withholding through quarterly payments to the IRS. From the employer’s perspective, this seems to be a great arrangement. They avoid administrative and tax expenses. The only problem is that it is often illegal. [Read more…]