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As the end of the year approaches, small business owners need to meet with accountants or tax preparers to review tax-planning strategies. “Every accountant is going to be sitting with their entrepreneur clients in the next few weeks to see what they can do, both on the business- and the personal-tax side, before the end of the calendar year,” says Michael Custer, a CPA and principal at Kaufman Rossin & Co. in Miami.
Because so many small businesses are organized as “flow-through” legal entities such as S-Corps and LLCs—meaning that business income is reported on the owner’s personal tax return—it is helpful to have the same person do all your tax preparation, Custer says. “If you don’t have one accountant working on your business and your personal returns, at least watch out and make sure both of your accountants are aware of everything you’re doing. I have inherited situations where this hasn’t happened and I’ve found missed opportunities,” Custer says.
Here are some crucial items owners should include on their checklist:
For tax year 2011, the amount of equipment that can be deducted is $500,000, double the figure for 2010, and the total amount of equipment that can be purchased increased to $2 million, from $800,000 previously. The deduction begins to phase out, dollar-for-dollar, after the $2 million threshold because it is targeted specifically at small and midsized companies that typically have limited budgets for capital purchases, Custer says: “If you buy $2.1 million, that hundred thousand in excess reduces your deduction down to $400,000.”
In 2012, the deduction is scheduled to drop to $125,000. In 2013, it’s expected to go back to the 2002 level of $25,000, unless Congress takes action to raise it again.
Bonus depreciation allows businesses that have no taxable profits in 2011 to carry a net loss forward to future years if they claim it this year, Custer says. This would make it useful for startups that are investing for the future and companies that have struggled during the recession but see the potential for growth in the coming years.
Keep receipts for purchases, leases, and installations to document that your equipment was paid for and put into service in 2011, Custer says.