Evaluating an ESOP from a succession planning perspective

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve probably considered many different employee benefits. One option that might have crossed your desk is an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

Strictly defined, an ESOP is considered a retirement plan for employees. But it can also play a role in succession planning by facilitating the transfer of a business to the owner’s children or employees over a period of years in a tax-advantaged way.

Not a buyout

Although an ESOP is a retirement plan, it invests mainly in your own company’s stock. ESOPs are considered qualified plans and, thus, subject to the same IRS and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rules as 401(k)s and the like. This includes minimum coverage requirements and contribution limits.

Generally, ESOP distributions to eligible employees are made in stock or cash. For closely held companies, employees who receive stock have the right to sell it back to the company — exercising “put” options or an “option to sell” — at fair market value during certain time windows.

While an ESOP involves transferring ownership to employees, it’s different from a management or employee buyout. Unlike a buyout, an ESOP allows owners to cash out and transfer control gradually. During the transfer period, owners’ shares are held in an ESOP trust and voting rights on most issues other than mergers, dissolutions and other major transactions are exercised by the trustees, who may be officers or other company insiders.

Mandatory valuations

One big difference between ESOPs and other qualified retirement plans is mandated valuations. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act requires trustees to obtain appraisals by independent valuation professionals to support ESOP transactions. Specifically, an appraisal is needed when the ESOP initially acquires shares from the company’s owners and every year thereafter that the business contributes to the plan.

The fair market value of the sponsoring company’s stock is important, because the DOL specifically prohibits ESOPs from paying more than “adequate consideration” when investing in employer securities. In addition, because employees who receive ESOP shares typically have the right to sell them back to the company at fair market value, the ESOP essentially provides a limited market for its shares.

Costs and entity choice

Although ESOPs can be an important part of a succession plan, they have their drawbacks. You’ll incur costs and considerable responsibilities related to plan administration and compliance. Plus, there are costs associated with annual stock valuations and the need to repurchase stock from employees who exercise put options.

Another disadvantage is that ESOPs are available only to corporations of either the C or S variety. Limited liability companies, partnerships and sole proprietorships must convert to the corporate form to establish one of these plans. This raises a variety of financial and tax issues.

It’s also important to consider the potential negative impact of ESOP debt and other expenses on your financial statements and ability to qualify for loans.

A popular choice

There are about 6,500 ESOPs and equivalent plans in the United States today, with roughly 14 million participants, according to the National Center for Employee Ownership. So, if you decide to launch one, you won’t be alone. However, careful planning and expert advice is critical. We can help you evaluate whether an ESOP would be a good fit for your business and succession plan.

© 2022

5 steps to take now to cut your 2022 tax liability

It has been quite a year — high inflation, rising interest rates and a bear stock market. While there’s not a lot you can do about any of these financial factors, you may have some control over how your federal tax bill for the year turns out. Here are some strategies to consider executing before year end that may reduce your 2022 or future tax liability.

1. Convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA

The down stock market could make this an especially lucrative time to convert all or some of the funds in a traditional pre-tax IRA to an after-tax Roth IRA. Although you must pay income tax on the amount converted in 2022, Roth accounts hold some significant advantages over their traditional counterparts.

Unlike traditional IRAs, for example, Roths aren’t subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs). The funds in a Roth will appreciate tax-free. Qualified future distributions also will be tax-free, which will pay off if you’re subject to higher tax rates at that time, whether due to RMDs or other income.

How does the poorly performing stock market incentivize a Roth conversion? If your traditional IRA contains stocks or mutual funds that have lost significant value, you can convert more shares than you could if they were worth more, for the same amount of tax liability.

Roth conversions are also advisable if you have lower income and therefore are in a lower tax bracket this year. Perhaps you lost your job at the end of 2021 and didn’t resume working until this past summer, or you’re retired but not yet receiving Social Security payments. You may be able to save by converting before the end of the year.

Currently, you can use a Roth conversion as a workaround for the income limits on your ability to contribute to Roth IRAs — what’s known as a backdoor Roth IRA — because converted funds aren’t treated as contributions. But be aware that, if you’re under age 59½, you can’t access the transferred funds without penalty.

Further, be aware that a Roth conversion will likely increase your adjusted gross income (AGI). As such, it could affect your eligibility for tax breaks that phase out based on AGI or modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).

2. Defer or accelerate income and deductions

A common tax reduction technique is to defer income into the next year and accelerate deductions into the current year. Doing so can allow you to make the most of tax breaks that phase out based on income (such as the IRA contribution deduction, child tax credits and education tax credits). If you’re self-employed, for example, you might delay issuing invoices until late December (increasing the odds they won’t be paid until 2023) and make equipment purchases in December, rather than January (assuming you use cash-basis accounting).

On the other hand, you might want to defer deductions and accelerate income if you expect to land in a higher tax bracket in the future. You can accelerate income by, for example, realizing deferred compensation, exercising stock options, recognizing capital gains or engaging in a Roth conversion.

High-income individuals should think about income deferral from the perspective of the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT), too. The NIIT kicks in when MAGI is more than $200,000 for single and head of household filers, $250,000 for married filing jointly and $125,000 for married filing separately. Deferring investment income could mean escaping that potentially hefty tax bite.

3. Manage your itemized deductions wisely

Accelerating deductions generally is helpful only if you itemize your deductions, of course. If you don’t think you’ll qualify to itemize, think about “bunching” itemized deductions so that they exceed the standard deduction (in 2022, $12,950 for single filers, $25,900 for married filing jointly and $19,400 for heads of household). If you claim itemized deductions this year and the standard deduction next year, you could end up with a larger two-year total deduction than if you took the standard deduction both years.

Potential expenses ripe for bunching include medical and dental expenses (if you qualify to deduct eligible expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI), charitable contributions, and state and local tax (SALT). For example, you could get dental services before year end, make your 2022 and 2023 charitable donations in December of this year, and pre-pay property taxes due next year, if possible.

The deduction for SALT-like property tax generally is subject to a $10,000 cap. Check, though, to determine if you might be able to take advantage of a pass-through entity (PTE) tax. More than two dozen states and New York City have enacted these laws, which permit a PTE to pay state tax at the entity level, rather than the individual taxpayer level. PTEs aren’t subject to a federal limit on SALT deductions.

4. Give to charity

The AGI limit for deductible cash donations has returned to 60% of AGI for 2022. But the possibility for substantial savings from making a charitable donation remains. For example, if you donate appreciated assets that you’ve held at least one year, you can deduct their fair market value and avoid income tax on the amount of appreciation if you itemize.

A qualified charitable distribution (QCD) from your IRA may confer tax benefits. Taxpayers who are age 70½ years or older can make a direct transfer of up to $100,000 per year from their IRAs to a qualified charity — and exclude the transferred amount from their gross income. (Note that transfers to a donor-advised fund or supporting organization don’t qualify). If you’re age 72 or older, a QCD can count toward your RMDs, as well.

You also may want to explore establishing a donor-advised fund. You can set it up and contribute assets in 2022 to claim a deduction for this year, while delaying your selection of the recipient charity and the actual contribution until 2023.

5. Harvest your capital losses

This is another way to leverage the poor market performance in 2022 — selling off your investments that have lost value to offset any capital gains. If your capital losses exceed your capital gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 ($1,500 for married filing separately) a year from your ordinary income and carry forward any remaining excess indefinitely.

You could further juice the benefit of loss harvesting by donating the proceeds from the sale to charity. You’ll offset realized gains while boosting your charitable contribution deduction (subject to AGI limitations on the charitable contribution deduction).

Take heed of the wash-rule, though. It says you can’t write-off losses if you acquire “substantially identical” securities within 30 days before or after the sale.

Act now

It’s been a rocky financial year for many people, and uncertainty about the economy will continue into next year. One thing is certain, though — everyone wants to cut their tax bills. Contact us to help you with your year-end tax planning.

© 2022

2023 limits for businesses that have HSAs — or want to establish them

No one needs to remind business owners that the cost of employee health care benefits keeps going up. One way to provide some of these benefits is through an employer-sponsored Health Savings Account (HSA). For eligible individuals, an HSA offers a tax-advantaged way to set aside funds (or have their employers do so) to meet future medical needs. Here are the key tax benefits:

  • Contributions that participants make to an HSA are deductible, within limits.
  • Contributions that employers make aren’t taxed to participants.
  • Earnings on the funds in an HSA aren’t taxed, so the money can accumulate tax-free year after year.
  • Distributions from HSAs to cover qualified medical expenses aren’t taxed.
  • Employers don’t have to pay payroll taxes on HSA contributions made by employees through payroll deductions.

Eligibility and 2023 contribution limits

To be eligible for an HSA, an individual must be covered by a “high deductible health plan.” For 2023, a “high deductible health plan” will be one with an annual deductible of at least $1,500 for self-only coverage, or at least $3,000 for family coverage. (These amounts in 2022 were $1,400 and $2,800, respectively.) For self-only coverage, the 2023 limit on deductible contributions will be $3,850 (up from $3,650 in 2022). For family coverage, the 2023 limit on deductible contributions will be $7,750 (up from $7,300 in 2022). Additionally, annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits for 2023 will not be able to exceed $7,500 for self-only coverage or $15,000 for family coverage (up from $7,050 and $14,100, respectively, in 2022).

An individual (and the individual’s covered spouse, as well) who has reached age 55 before the close of the tax year (and is an eligible HSA contributor) may make additional “catch-up” contributions for 2023 of up to $1,000 (unchanged from the 2022 amount).

Employer contributions

If an employer contributes to the HSA of an eligible individual, the employer’s contribution is treated as employer-provided coverage for medical expenses under an accident or health plan. It’s also excludable from an employee’s gross income up to the deduction limitation. Funds can be built up for years because there’s no “use-it-or-lose-it” provision. An employer that decides to make contributions on its employees’ behalf must generally make comparable contributions to the HSAs of all comparable participating employees for that calendar year. If the employer doesn’t make comparable contributions, the employer is subject to a 35% tax on the aggregate amount contributed by the employer to HSAs for that period.

Making withdrawals

HSA withdrawals (or distributions) can be made to pay for qualified medical expenses, which generally means expenses that would qualify for the medical expense itemized deduction. Among these expenses are doctors’ visits, prescriptions, chiropractic care and premiums for long-term care insurance.

If funds are withdrawn from the HSA for other reasons, the withdrawal is taxable. Additionally, an extra 20% tax will apply to the withdrawal, unless it’s made after reaching age 65, or in the event of death or disability.

HSAs offer a flexible option for providing health care coverage and they may be an attractive benefit for your business. But the rules are somewhat complex. Contact us if you have questions or would like to discuss offering HSAs to your employees.

© 2022



Home sweet home: Do you qualify for office deductions?

If you’re a business owner working from home or an entrepreneur with a home-based side gig, you may qualify for valuable home office deductions.

But not everyone who works from home gets the tax break. Employees who work remotely can’t deduct home office expenses under current federal tax law.

To qualify for a deduction, you must use at least part of your home regularly and exclusively as either:

  • Your principal place of business, or
  • A place to meet with customers, clients or patients in the normal course of business.

In addition, you may be able to claim deductions for maintaining a separate structure — such as a garage — where you store products or tools used solely for business purposes.

Notably, “regular and exclusive” use means you must consistently use a specific identifiable area in your home for business. However, incidental or occasional personal use won’t necessarily disqualify you.

Rules for employees

What if you work remotely from home as an employee for an organization? Previously, people who itemized deductions could claim home office deductions as a miscellaneous expense, if the arrangement was for their employer’s convenience.

But the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended miscellaneous expense deductions for 2018 through 2025. So, employees currently get no tax benefit if they work from home. On the other hand, self-employed individuals still may qualify if they meet the tax law requirements.

Direct and indirect expenses

If you qualify, you can write off the full amount of your direct expenses and a proportionate amount of your indirect expenses based on the percentage of business use of your home.

Indirect expenses include:

  • Mortgage interest,
  • Property taxes,
  • Utilities (electric, gas and water),
  • Insurance,
  • Exterior repairs, maintenance, and
  • Depreciation or rent under IRS tables.

Important: If you itemize deductions, mortgage interest and property taxes may already be deductible. If you claim a portion of these expenses as home office expenses, the remainder is deductible on your personal return. But you can’t deduct the same amount twice as a personal deduction and again as a home office expense.

Calculating your deduction

Typically, the percentage of business use is determined by the square footage of your home office. For instance, if you have a 3,000 square-foot home and use a room with 300 square feet as your office, the applicable percentage is 10%. Alternatively, you may use any other reasonable method for determining this percentage, such as a percentage based on the number of comparably sized rooms in the home.

The simplified method

Keeping track of indirect expenses is time-consuming. Some taxpayers prefer to take advantage of a simplified method of deducting home office expenses. Instead of deducting actual expenses, you can claim a deduction equal to $5 per square foot for the area used as an office, up to a maximum of $1,500 for the year. Although this method takes less time than tracking actual expenses, it generally results in a significantly lower deduction.

When you sell

Keep in mind that if you claim home office deductions, you may be in for a tax surprise when you sell your home.

If you eventually sell your principal residence, you may qualify for a tax exclusion of up to $250,000 of gain for single filers ($500,000 for married couples who file jointly). But you must recapture the depreciation attributable to a home office for the period after May 6, 1997.

Contact us. We can address questions related to writing off home office expenses, the best way to compute deductions and the tax implications when you sell your home.

© 2022

IRS offers penalty relief for 2019, 2020 tax years

While the recently announced student loan debt relief has captured numerous headlines, it’s estimated that another federal relief program announced on the same day will provide more than $1.2 billion in tax refunds or credits. Specifically, IRS Notice 2022-36 extends penalty relief to both individuals and businesses who missed the filing deadlines for certain 2019 and/or 2020 tax and information returns. The relief covers many of the most commonly filed forms.

Broad relief for late taxpayers

The intent behind the penalty relief is two-fold: 1) to help taxpayers negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2) to allow the IRS to focus on processing backlogged tax returns and taxpayer correspondence. As recently as late May 2022, the IRS had a backlog of more than 21 million unprocessed paper returns. The goal is for the IRS to return to normal operations for the 2023 filing season.

To that end, the notice provides relief from the failure-to-file penalty. The penalty is typically assessed at a rate of 5% per month and up to 25% of the unpaid tax when a federal income tax return is filed late. To qualify for the relief, an income tax return must be filed on or before Sept. 30, 2022.

Banks, employers and other businesses that are required to file various information returns (for example, the Form 1099 series) also may qualify for relief. Eligible 2019 returns must have been filed by Aug. 3, 2020, and eligible 2020 returns must have been filed by Aug. 2, 2021.

Potentially eligible forms include:

  • Form 1040, “U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” and other forms in the Form 1040 series
  • Form 1041, “U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts,” and other forms in the Form 1041 series
  • Form 1065, “U.S. Return of Partnership Income”
  • Returns filed in the Form 1120 series including:
    • Form 1120, “U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return”
    • Form 1120-C, “U.S. Income Tax Return for Cooperative Associations”
    • Form 1120-F, “U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation”
    • Form 1120-FSC, “U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Sales Corporation”
    • Form 1120-H, “U.S. Income Tax Return for Homeowners Associations”
    • Form 1120-L, “U.S. Life Insurance Company Income Tax Return”
    • Form 1120-ND, “Return for Nuclear Decommissioning Funds and Certain Related Persons”
    • Form 1120-PC, “U.S. Property and Casualty Insurance Company Income Tax Return”
    • Form 1120-POL, “U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Political Organizations”
    • Form 1120-REIT, “U.S. Income Tax Return for Real Estate Investment Trusts”
    • Form 1120-RIC, “U.S. Income Tax Return for Regulated Investment Companies”
    • Form 1120-SF, “U.S. Income Tax Return for Settlement Funds (Under Section 468B)”
    • Form 1120-S, “U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation”
  • Form 1066, “U.S. Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (REMIC) Income Tax Return”
  • Forms concerning exempt organizations
  • Certain international information returns

Notably, the relief doesn’t extend to failure-to-file penalties for Form 8938, “Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets,” or FinCEN Report 114, “Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts.”

Exceptions to the rule

Some other exceptions apply. Penalty relief isn’t available if:

  • A fraudulent return was filed,
  • The penalty was part of an accepted offer-in-compromise or a closing agreement with the IRS, or
  • The penalty was finally determined by a court.

In addition, the IRS isn’t providing relief for the failure-to- pay penalty or other penalties. Such ineligible penalties may, however, qualify for previously existing penalty relief procedures, including the reasonable cause defense or the IRS’s First Time Abatement Program.

No action required

The penalty relief is automatic. If you qualify, you need not apply for it or reach out to the IRS in any way. Penalties that have already been assessed will be abated. If you’ve already paid a covered penalty, the IRS says, you should receive a refund or credit by Sept. 30, 2022.

© 2022

Employee Spotlight – Amanda Bartley

What year did you join Slattery & Holman? 


Tell me a little about where you attended college and the degree(s) you earned? Any special accomplishments.

IUPUI double major in Accounting and Finance

What is your favorite thing about living in Indiana?

The people – “Midwest nice”

Tell me a little about your family.

I’ve been married to Rob since 2005.  Andrew is a sophomore at Carmel High School and Bella is in 5th grade.  Our pets include Hera the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Petey the leopard gecko, and 2 gerbils that I refer to as “the girls” because I can’t tell them apart or remember their names.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

A combination of read more and cook more

What is a new skill that you would like to master?

Some kind of cool Taekwondo board-breaking kick

What do you wish you knew more about?

Gardening, plants, and flowers

What is the most impressive thing you know how to do? Break a board with my hand or parent a teenager – it’s a toss-up 😀

What was the best compliment you’ve ever received?

“You are the perfect mom for me.”

What is your favorite smell?

Some type of yummy food that I didn’t have to cook. A close second is that fabulous smell in the lobby of the Grand Floridian at Disney.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?

I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food.

What was your first job?

Running the Kids Zone at corporate events (games, cotton candy machine, face painting, etc.)

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Superhuman strength

Valuable gifts to charity may require an appraisal

If you donate valuable items to charity, you may be required to get an appraisal. The IRS requires donors and charitable organizations to supply certain information to prove their right to deduct charitable contributions. If you donate an item of property (or a group of similar items) worth more than $5,000, certain appraisal requirements apply. You must:

  • Get a “qualified appraisal,”
  • Receive the qualified appraisal before your tax return is due,
  • Attach an “appraisal summary” to the first tax return on which the deduction is claimed,
  • Include other information with the return, and
  • Maintain certain records.

Keep these definitions in mind. A qualified appraisal is a complex and detailed document. It must be prepared and signed by a qualified appraiser. An appraisal summary is a summary of a qualified appraisal made on Form 8283 and attached to the donor’s return.

While courts have allowed taxpayers some latitude in meeting the “qualified appraisal” rules, you should aim for exact compliance.

The qualified appraisal isn’t submitted separately to the IRS in most cases. Instead, the appraisal summary, which is a separate statement prepared on an IRS form, is attached to the donor’s tax return. However, a copy of the appraisal must be attached for gifts of art valued at $20,000 or more and for all gifts of property valued at more than $500,000, other than inventory, publicly traded stock and intellectual property. If an item has been appraised at $50,000 or more, you can ask the IRS to issue a “Statement of Value” that can be used to substantiate the value.

Failure to comply with the requirements

The penalty for failing to get a qualified appraisal and attach an appraisal summary to the return is denial of the charitable deduction. The deduction may be lost even if the property was valued correctly. There may be relief if the failure was due to reasonable cause.

Exceptions to the requirement

A qualified appraisal isn’t required for contributions of:

  • A car, boat or airplane for which the deduction is limited to the charity’s gross sales proceeds,
  • stock in trade, inventory or property held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business,
  • publicly traded securities for which market quotations are “readily available,” and
  • qualified intellectual property, such as a patent.

Also, only a partially completed appraisal summary must be attached to the tax return for contributions of:

  • Nonpublicly traded stock for which the claimed deduction is greater than $5,000 and doesn’t exceed $10,000, and
  • Publicly traded securities for which market quotations aren’t “readily available.”

More than one gift

If you make gifts of two or more items during a tax year, even to multiple charitable organizations, the claimed values of all property of the same category or type (such as stamps, paintings, books, stock that isn’t publicly traded, land, jewelry, furniture or toys) are added together in determining whether the $5,000 or $10,000 limits are exceeded.

The bottom line is you must be careful to comply with the appraisal requirements or risk disallowance of your charitable deduction. Contact us if you have any further questions or want to discuss your contribution planning.

© 2022

Your estate plan: Don’t forget about income tax planning

As a result of the current estate tax exemption amount ($12.06 million in 2022), many people no longer need to be concerned with federal estate tax. Before 2011, a much smaller amount resulted in estate plans attempting to avoid it. Now, because many estates won’t be subject to estate tax, more planning can be devoted to saving income taxes for your heirs.

Note: The federal estate tax exclusion amount is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2025. Beginning on January 1, 2026, the amount is due to be reduced to $5 million, adjusted for inflation. Of course, Congress could act to extend the higher amount or institute a new amount.

Here are some strategies to consider in light of the current large exemption amount.

Gifts that use the annual exclusion

One of the benefits of using the gift tax annual exclusion to make transfers during life is to save estate tax. This is because both the transferred assets and any post-transfer appreciation generated by those assets are removed from the donor’s estate.

As mentioned, estate tax savings may not be an issue because of the large estate exemption amount. Further, making an annual exclusion transfer of appreciated property carries a potential income tax cost because the recipient receives the donor’s basis upon transfer. Thus, the recipient could face income tax, in the form of capital gains tax, on the sale of the gifted property in the future. If there’s no concern that an estate will be subject to estate tax, even if the gifted property grows in value, then the decision to make a gift should be based on other factors.

For example, gifts may be made to help a relative buy a home or start a business. But a donor shouldn’t gift appreciated property because of the capital gains that could be realized on a future sale by the recipient. If the appreciated property is held until the donor’s death, under current law, the heir will get a step-up in basis that will wipe out the capital gains tax on any pre-death appreciation in the property’s value.

Spouse’s estate

Years ago, spouses often undertook complicated strategies to equalize their estates so that each could take advantage of the estate tax exemption amount. Generally, a two-trust plan was established to minimize estate tax. “Portability,” or the ability to apply the decedent’s unused exclusion amount to the surviving spouse’s transfers during life and at death, became effective for estates of decedents dying after 2010. As long as the election is made, portability allows the surviving spouse to apply the unused portion of a decedent’s applicable exclusion amount (the deceased spousal unused exclusion amount) as calculated in the year of the decedent’s death. The portability election gives married couples more flexibility in deciding how to use their exclusion amounts.

Estate or valuation discounts

Be aware that some estate exclusion or valuation discount strategies to avoid inclusion of property in an estate may no longer be worth pursuing. It may be better to have the property included in the estate or not qualify for valuation discounts so that the property receives a step-up in basis. For example, the special use valuation — the valuation of qualified real property used for farming or in a business on the basis of the property’s actual use, rather than on its highest and best use — may not save enough, or any, estate tax to justify giving up the step-up in basis that would otherwise occur for the property.

Contact us if you want to discuss these strategies and how they relate to your estate plan.

© 2022

Inflation enhances the 2023 amounts for Health Savings Accounts

The IRS recently released guidance providing the 2023 inflation-adjusted amounts for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). High inflation rates will result in next year’s amounts being increased more than they have been in recent years.

HSA basics

An HSA is a trust created or organized exclusively for the purpose of paying the “qualified medical expenses” of an “account beneficiary.” An HSA can only be established for the benefit of an “eligible individual” who is covered under a “high deductible health plan.” In addition, a participant can’t be enrolled in Medicare or have other health coverage (exceptions include dental, vision, long-term care, accident and specific disease insurance).

A high deductible health plan (HDHP) is generally a plan with an annual deductible that isn’t less than $1,000 for self-only coverage and $2,000 for family coverage. In addition, the sum of the annual deductible and other annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid under the plan for covered benefits (but not for premiums) can’t exceed $5,000 for self-only coverage, and $10,000 for family coverage.

Within specified dollar limits, an above-the-line tax deduction is allowed for an individual’s contribution to an HSA. This annual contribution limitation and the annual deductible and out-of-pocket expenses under the tax code are adjusted annually for inflation.

Inflation adjustments for next year

In Revenue Procedure 2022-24, the IRS released the 2023 inflation-adjusted figures for contributions to HSAs, which are as follows:

Annual contribution limitation. For calendar year 2023, the annual contribution limitation for an individual with self-only coverage under an HDHP will be $3,850. For an individual with family coverage, the amount will be $7,750. This is up from $3,650 and $7,300, respectively, for 2022.

In addition, for both 2022 and 2023, there’s a $1,000 catch-up contribution amount for those who are age 55 and older at the end of the tax year.

High deductible health plan defined. For calendar year 2023, an HDHP will be a health plan with an annual deductible that isn’t less than $1,500 for self-only coverage or $3,000 for family coverage (these amounts are $1,400 and $2,800 for 2022). In addition, annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums) won’t be able to exceed $7,500 for self-only coverage or $15,000 for family coverage (up from $7,050 and $14,100, respectively, for 2022).

Reap the rewards

There are a variety of benefits to HSAs. Contributions to the accounts are made on a pre-tax basis. The money can accumulate tax free year after year and can be withdrawn tax free to pay for a variety of medical expenses such as doctor visits, prescriptions, chiropractic care and premiums for long-term care insurance. In addition, an HSA is “portable.” It stays with an account holder if he or she changes employers or leaves the workforce. If you have questions about HSAs at your business, contact your employee benefits and tax advisors.

© 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act includes wide-ranging tax provisions

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law shortly. The IRA includes significant provisions related to climate change, health care, and, of course, taxes. The IRA also addresses the federal budget deficit. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the IRA is projected to reduce the deficit by around $90 billion over the next 10 years.

Although the IRA falls far short of Biden’s originally proposed $2 trillion Build Back Better Act, the $430 billion package nonetheless is a sprawling piece of legislation bound to affect most Americans over time. Here’s an overview of some of what the bill includes.

Significant tax provisions

For starters, how is the federal government going to pay for all of it? Not surprisingly, new taxes are part of the equation (along with savings from, for example, lower drug prices). But the bill is designed to not raise taxes on small businesses or taxpayers earning less than $400,000 per year. Rather, wealthier targets are in the crosshairs.

The first target is U.S. corporations (other than S corporations) that have more than $1 billion in annual earnings over the previous three years. While the current corporate tax rate is 21%, it’s been well documented that many such companies pay little to no federal income tax, due in part to deductions and credits. The IRA imposes a corporate alternative minimum tax of 15% of financial statement income (also known as book income, as opposed to tax income) reduced by, among other things, depreciation and net operating losses. The new minimum tax is effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2022.

As a result of last-minute negotiations, private equity firms and hedge funds are exempt from the minimum tax. They could have been covered by a provision that generally includes subsidiaries when determining annual earnings. The tradeoff is that the IRA now will extend the excess business loss limitation for certain businesses for two years.

Although the initial bill language also closed the so-called “carried interest” loophole that permits these interests to be taxed as long-term capital gains rather than ordinary income, the loophole ultimately survived. Democrats agreed to remove the provision closing it to secure the vote of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — but they added another tax to make up for the lost revenue. The IRA will now impose a 1% excise tax on the fair market value when corporations buy back their stock.

In a statement, Sinema said she would work with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on separate legislation to enact carried interest tax reform. To do so outside of the budget reconciliation process, however, would require 60 votes in the Senate in addition to a majority of the House. With midterm elections in the fall, and control of both houses of Congress hanging in the balance, imminent action on that front seems unlikely.

The IRA also provides about $80 billion over 10 years to fund the IRS and improve its “tax enforcement activities” and technology. Notably, the IRS budget has been dramatically slashed in recent years, dropping by 20% in 2020, compared to 2010. The CBO estimates that the infusion of funds will allow the IRS to collect $203 billion over the next decade from corporations and wealthy individuals.

Climate and energy provisions

The IRA dedicates about $370 billion to combating climate change and boosting domestic energy production. It aims to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.

The legislation includes new, extended and increased tax credits intended to incentivize both businesses and individuals to boost their use of renewable energy. For example, the bill provides tax credits to private companies and public utilities to produce renewable energy or manufacture parts used in renewable projects, such as wind turbines and solar panels. Clean energy producers that pay a prevailing wage also may qualify for tax credits.

Clean vehicle credit

The current tax credit for qualified plug-in electric vehicles has been significantly revised in the IRA. Currently, a taxpayer can claim a credit for each new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle placed in service during the tax year. The maximum credit amount is $7,500. Certain vehicle requirements must be met.

The credit phases out beginning in the second calendar quarter after a manufacturer sells more than 200,000 plug-in electric drive motor vehicles for use in the U.S. after 2009. Under the IRA, the plug-in vehicle credit has been renamed the clean vehicle credit and the manufacturer limitation on the number of vehicles eligible for the credit has been eliminated after December 31, 2022.

The bill changes how the clean vehicle credit is calculated. Specifically, a vehicle must meet critical mineral and battery component requirements. There are also price and income limitations. The clean vehicle credit isn’t allowed for a vehicle with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price above $80,000 for vans, sport utility vehicles and pickups, and above $55,000 for other vehicles.

The clean vehicle credit isn’t allowed if a taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for the current or preceding tax year exceeds $150,000 for single filers, $300,000 for married couples filing jointly and $225,000 for heads of household.

The IRA also contains a tax credit for a used plug-in electric drive vehicle purchased after 2022. The tax credit is $4,000 or 30% of the vehicle’s sale price, whichever is less. There are also price and income limitations.

Home energy improvements

Individual taxpayers can also receive tax breaks for home energy efficiency improvements, such as installing solar panels, energy-efficient water heaters, heat pumps and HVAC systems. And a “Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator” will use public and private funds to invest in clean energy technologies and infrastructure.

Health care provisions

The IRA allows Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and prohibits future administrations from refusing to negotiate. It also caps Medicare enrollees’ annual out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 and monthly insulin costs at $35 and provides them free vaccines. Additional provisions to rein in drug costs include a requirement that pharmaceutical companies that raise the prices on drugs purchased by Medicare faster than the rate of inflation rebate the difference back to the program.

The IRA also should reduce health care costs for Americans of all ages who obtain health insurance coverage from the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. It extends the expansion of subsidies — in the form of refundable premium tax credits — under the America Rescue Plan Act through 2025. These subsidies had been scheduled to expire at the end of 2022.

Much more to come

The IRA is a sweeping piece of legislation that affects many sectors of U.S. business, as well as most citizens. Additional information, guidance and regulations related to its numerous, far-reaching provisions are inevitable. We’ll keep you up to date on the developments that could affect your finances and federal tax liability.

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