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Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – Highlights Affecting Businesses

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” bringing about numerous changes to the current tax law. The Act dramatically changes many tax provisions for individual and business taxpayers, including reducing tax rates, reducing or eliminating some deductions, while increasing or adding others, and changes to various credits and the alternative minimum tax (AMT). The following is a recap of some of those changes.

Business – most changes take effect beginning January 1, 2018

    • Beginning in 2018 the corporate tax rate for C-corporations is a flat 21% rate, down from an effective top rate of 35%.
    • The ‘dividends-received-deduction’ for dividends from another corporation is reduced to 50% (from 70%) and 65% (from 80%) when the receiving corporation owns at least 20% of the paying corporation.
    • The corporation alternative minimum tax is repealed.
    • There is a new deduction for non-corporate taxpayers for qualified business income (QBI). Known as the “pass-through deduction”, the deduction is generally 20% of QBI, but there are thresholds that may limit the 20% deduction, as well as additional calculations to arrive at QBI.
    • Farmers receiving income from a cooperative can get a deduction of 20% of the total income received from the cooperative, limited in some situations.
    • The Section 179 deduction for purchased business assets is increased from $500,000 to $1,000,000 (and the threshold for phase out is increased to $2,500,000). Property eligible for this deduction is expanded to include certain rental property previously excluded from eligibility for deduction under Section 179, as well as certain additions to existing commercial properties.
    • 100% bonus depreciation is allowed for qualifying business assets purchased after Sep. 27, 2017. Qualifying assets are expanded to include used property. The 100% deduction is scheduled to phase out over a four year period beginning in 2023. Taxpayers can elect to use 50% as a deduction in lieu of the 100% deduction.
    • Annual depreciation deduction limits for so-called “luxury” automobiles have been increased.
    • For most new farm equipment, the depreciation life has been shortened from 7 years to 5 years, and calculated using the 200% declining balance method as opposed to the previous 150% declining balance method.
    • For property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017, the separate definitions of qualified leasehold improvement, qualified restaurant, and qualified retail improvement property are eliminated. A general 15-year recovery period and straight-line depreciation method are provided for qualified improvement property, and a 20-year ADS recovery period is provided for such property. Thus, qualified improvement property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017, is generally depreciable over 15 years using the straight-line method and half-year convention, without regard to whether the improvements are property subject to a lease, placed in service more than three years after the date the building was first placed in service, or made to a restaurant building.
    • There is a new limitation on the deduction of business interest expense.

Business Interest Deduction

  • Businesses with average gross receipts that do not exceed $25,000,000 are exempt (test on a affiliated basis).
  • The proposal would disallow interest expense in excess of 30% of a business’s “adjusted taxable income”.
  • “Adjusted taxable income” is computed without regard to deductions allowable for depreciation, amortization, or depletion.
  • Any interest disallowed would be carried forward indefinitely.
  • Determined at the tax-filer level (e.g. the partnership not the partners would be subject to testing), but it is determined at the consolidated return level for affiliated corporations.
  • At the taxpayer’s election, certain real property and construction businesses and farms are exempt (but must use ADS).
  • The cash basis of accounting is expanded for taxpayers with gross receipts under $25,000,000 that were previously excluded from utilizing the cash method of accounting due to having inventories as a significant part of their business.
  • Generally, non-farm net operating losses will only be carried forward and can be applied to reduce only 80% of the current year taxable income. Farm NOLs can be carried back 2 years.
  • The domestic production activities deduction is repealed.
  • Like-kind (Section 1031) exchanges will only apply to real property.
  • Deductions for entertainment expenses are disallowed, but 50% of business meals expense is retained.
  • The law adds that no deduction is allowed for any settlement, payout, or attorney fees related to a sexual harassment or sexual abuse matter that is subject to a nondisclosure agreement.
  • A new tax credit is created for an employer’s payment of family and medical leave.
  • “Carried interests” (certain partnership interests acquired for services) must now be held for three years to receive long-term capital gain treatment.
  • The application of the uniform capitalization rules has been eliminated for producers and resellers that have less than $25,000,000 in gross receipts.

 

If you have any specific questions about these provisions of the Act, or any other questions, please contact us at Bowman & Company, LLP (209) 473-1040.

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