When do valuable gifts to charity require an appraisal?

If you donate valuable items to charity and you want to deduct them on your tax return, 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.

How can you protect your deduction?

First, be aware that in order to deduct charitable donations, you must itemize deductions. Due to today’s relatively high standard deduction amounts, fewer taxpayers are itemizing deductions on their federal returns than before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became effective in 2018.

If you clear the itemizing hurdle and 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 following these rules, you should aim for exact compliance.

The qualified appraisal isn’t submitted 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 of art 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.

What if you don’t 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.

Are there exceptions to the requirements?

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.”

What if you have 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 charitable giving plans.

Selling an appreciated vacation home?

Vacation homes in upscale areas may be worth way more than owners paid for them. That’s great, but what about taxes? Here are three scenarios to illustrate the federal income tax issues you face when selling an appreciated vacation home.

Scenario 1: You’ve never used the home as your primary residence

In this case, the home sale gain exclusion tax break (up to $250,000 or $500,000 for a married couple) is unavailable. Your vacation home sale profit will be treated as a capital gain.

If you’ve owned the property for more than one year, the gain will be taxed at no more than the 20% maximum federal rate on long-term capital gains (LTCGs), plus the net investment income tax (NIIT), if applicable. However, the 20% rate only applies to the lesser of:

  • Your net LTCG for the year, or
  • The excess of your taxable income, including any net LTCG, over the applicable threshold.

For 2024, the thresholds are $518,900 for single filers, $583,750 for married joint filers and $551,350 for heads of households. If your taxable income is below the applicable threshold, the maximum federal rate on net LTCGs is 15%.

If you also owe the 3.8% NIIT, the effective federal rate on some or all of your net LTCG will be 18.8% (15% + 3.8%) or 23.8% (20% + 3.8%).

You may owe state income tax, too.

Scenario 2: You’ve rented out the vacation home

In this situation, you probably deducted depreciation for rental periods. If so, the federal rate on gain attributable to depreciation (so-called unrecaptured Section 1250 gain) can be up to 25%, assuming you’ve held the property for over one year. You may also owe the 3.8% NIIT on the unrecaptured Section 1250 gain. Any remaining gain will be taxed at the federal rates explained earlier.

Plus, if you rented out the vacation home but used it only a little for personal purposes, it has probably been classified as a rental property for federal tax purposes. If so, you may have had rental losses that couldn’t be deducted currently due to the passive activity loss (PAL) rules. You can deduct these suspended PALs when the property is sold.

Scenario 3: You used the vacation home as a principal residence for a time

In this case, you might be able to claim the tax-saving principal residence gain exclusion break. Specifically, if you owned and used the property as your principal residence for at least two years during the five-year period ending on the sale date, you probably qualify for the exclusion.

There’s another major qualification rule for the home sale gain exclusion tax break. The exclusion is generally available only when you’ve not excluded an earlier gain within the two-year period ending on the date of the later sale. In other words, you generally cannot claim the gain exclusion until two years have passed since you last used it.

Of course, if you have a really big gain from selling your vacation home, it may be too big to fully shelter with the gain exclusion — even if you qualify for the maximum $250,000/$500,000 break. Assuming you’ve owned the property for more than one year, the part of the gain that can’t be excluded will be an LTCG taxed under the rules explained earlier.

Conclusion

Taxes on vacation home sales can get complicated, and we haven’t covered all the potential issues here. However, the tax results are simple if you’ve never rented out the property and never used it as a principal residence. We can fill in the blanks in your situation and answer any questions that you may have.

How renting out a vacation property will affect your taxes

Are you dreaming of buying a vacation beach home, lakefront cottage or ski chalet? Or perhaps you’re fortunate enough to already own a vacation home. In either case, you may wonder about the tax implications of renting it out for part of the year.

Count the days

The tax treatment depends on how many days it’s rented and your level of personal use. Personal use includes vacation use by your relatives (even if you charge them market rate rent) and use by nonrelatives if a market rate rent isn’t charged.

If you rent the property out for less than 15 days during the year, it’s not treated as “rental property” at all. In the right circumstances, this can produce significant tax benefits. Any rent you receive isn’t included in your income for tax purposes (no matter how substantial). On the other hand, you can only deduct property taxes and mortgage interest — no other operating costs and no depreciation. (Mortgage interest is deductible on your principal residence and one other home, subject to certain limits.)

If you rent the property out for more than 14 days, you must include the rent you receive in income. However, you can deduct part of your operating expenses and depreciation, subject to several rules. First, you must allocate your expenses between the personal use days and the rental days. For example, if the house is rented for 90 days and used personally for 30 days, then 75% of the use is rental (90 days out of 120 total days). You would allocate 75% of your maintenance, utilities, insurance, etc. costs to rental. You would allocate 75% of your depreciation allowance, interest and taxes for the property to rental as well. The personal use portion of taxes is separately deductible. The personal use portion of interest on a second home is also deductible if the personal use exceeds the greater of 14 days or 10% of the rental days. However, depreciation on the personal use portion isn’t allowed.

Income and expenses

If the rental income exceeds these allocable deductions, you report the rent and deductions to determine the amount of rental income to add to your other income. If the expenses exceed the income, you may be able to claim a rental loss. This depends on how many days you use the house personally.

Here’s the test: if you use it personally for the greater of more than 14 days, or 10% of the rental days, you’re using it “too much,” and you can’t claim a loss. In this case, you can still use your deductions to wipe out rental income, but you can’t go beyond that to create a loss. Any unused deductions are carried forward and may be usable in future years.

If you’re limited to using deductions only up to the amount of rental income, you must use the deductions allocated to the rental portion in the following order:

  • Interest and taxes,
  • Operating costs, and
  • Depreciation.

If you “pass” the personal use test (that is, you don’t use the property personally more than the greater of the figures listed above), you must still allocate your expenses between the personal and rental portions. In this case, however, if your rental deductions exceed rental income, you can claim a loss. (The loss is “passive,” however, and may be limited under the passive loss rules.)

Plan ahead for best results

As you can see, the rules are complex. Contact us if you have questions or would like to plan ahead to maximize deductions in your situation.

Important: Filing for Tax Extensions Before Original Due Dates

As we approach the tax season, I want to ensure that you’re fully informed about the strategies we’re implementing to manage your tax filings effectively, especially considering the recent storms and flooding in January in San Diego County.

Given the IRS’s extension due to the storms and flooding in San Diego County, San Diego County taxpayers have been granted an extended filing due date of June 17, 2024, for their 2023 federal income tax returns along with the payment dues listed below.  While this extension provides some leeway, we want to take a proactive approach to ensure your tax matters are handled smoothly and without any potential issues.

  • Individual income tax returns and payments normally due on April 15, 2024.
  • 2023 contributions to IRAs and health savings accounts for eligible taxpayers.
  • 2024 estimated tax payments normally due on April 15, 2024.
  • Quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Jan. 31 and April 30, 2024.
  • Calendar-year partnership and S corporation returns normally due on March 15, 2024.
  • Calendar-year corporation and fiduciary returns and payments normally due on April 15, 2024.
  • Calendar-year tax-exempt organization returns normally due on May 15, 2024.
  • Also, penalties for failing to make payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Jan. 21, 2024, and before Feb. 5, 2024, will be abated as long as the deposits were made by Feb. 5, 2024.

Who is affected?

This extended due date applies to taxpayers who have their address in San Diego County. However, it is possible an affected taxpayer may not have an IRS address of record located in the disaster area, for example, because they moved to the disaster area after filing their return. In these kinds of unique circumstances, the affected taxpayer could receive a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS for the postponement period. The taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

Filing Extensions by the Original Due Dates:

To provide you with the utmost certainty and to avoid any unnecessary complications, we are planning to file extensions by the original due dates for your tax returns. This approach guarantees that your extended filing date will be either September 15, 2024, or October 15, 2024, depending on your entity type and personal return requirements.

Why We’re Taking This Step:

Relying solely on the extended due date of June 17, 2024, poses a risk. Should there be a need to seek an extension beyond this date and it is not filed by March 15, 2024 or April 15, 2024, most of the cases, we would be required to file the extension request on paper. This not only introduces potential delays but also additional hassle for both you and our team.

The most prudent action is to file electronically by the original due dates to ensure a hassle-free process. This preemptive measure avoids the complexities of paper filing and ensures everything is in order for your 2023 tax filings.

Reminder About Extensions and Payments:

It’s important to remember that while an extension grants additional time to file, it does not extend the time to pay any taxes owed. The IRS urges those who need an extension beyond the initial extended due date to request it electronically by March 15, 2024, and April 15, 2024, to avoid needing paper filing. Please note that any payments due are still required by June 17, 2024. For more information, you can visit www.IRS.gov/extensions.

Our team is here to assist you through this process and to ensure that your tax filing experience is as smooth and efficient as possible. Our team has been sending the extension reminder along with any payment vouchers if required. We believe that taking these steps now will provide you with peace of mind and a clear path forward in managing your tax obligations.

Should you have any questions or require further clarification, please do not hesitate to reach out. Your peace of mind and financial well-being are our top priorities, and we are here to support you every step of the way.

Stay Safe and Informed During Southern CA Winter Storms

Dear Valued Clients and Colleagues,

I hope you’re doing well and staying dry amidst the severe winter storms sweeping through Southern California. We understand that these weather conditions can bring unexpected challenges, not least of which may include delays or difficulties in gathering necessary tax documents.

Please know that during this turbulent time, our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our clients. We recognize that the storms may impact your ability to meet certain deadlines or gather documents required for tax preparation. We want to assure you that we are here to assist and support you through these challenges.

Should you find yourself in need of additional time, have questions regarding your tax preparation or services, or if there are any specific issues you’re facing due to the weather, please feel free to reach out to us. Our team is prepared to offer the flexibility and support needed to navigate this period, including extending deadlines where possible or assisting in document retrieval and tax filing procedures.

Furthermore, if you have any immediate concerns or questions, whether tax-related or pertaining to how the storms might affect your financial planning, our lines are open. We’re committed to providing the guidance and assistance you require to manage your tax obligations and ensure your financial well-being during such challenging times.

Your safety is important to us, so please take all necessary precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones during the storms. We look forward to continuing to serve you and are ready to help in any way we can.

Stay safe and take care!!

Betty Kim, CPA

Managing Partner

Tax Return Red Flags for Schedule C Filers

In the complex landscape of business taxes, Schedule C expenses and entity optimization hold significant weight. Proper documentation and reconciliation, guided by a trusted accounting professional, are more than just best practices – they are vital for audit prevention and ensuring a successful financial trajectory.

Why Is This So Important?

  1. Audit Triggers for Schedule C Filers: The IRS closely examines Schedule C filers to ensure the accuracy of reported income and deductions.

Specific scenarios increase the likelihood of triggering an audit:

  • Income exceeding $100,000
  • Taking disproportionately large deductions to offset income
  • Multiple-year hobby loss write-offs
  • Claiming 100% business use of a vehicle
  • Large deductions for meals, travel, and entertainment
  • Home office deductions
  • Claiming rental losses
  • Opting for the Research and Development Credit
  • Receipt of significant cash income (especially without filing Form 8300 for amounts over $10,000)
  1. Entity Optimization: Choosing the right business entity affects your liability and how much you pay in taxes. For instance, an LLC might benefit a sole proprietor more than remaining a Schedule C filer. Making the right decision in entity selection can lead to tax savings.

The Role of Accounting Professionals

  1. Documentation: Accurate and timely documentation of expenses ensures that you take advantage of all legitimate deductions, reducing the chance of errors that might trigger an audit.
  2. Reconciliation: Regular reconciliation of business accounts helps in early detection of discrepancies, ensuring that income and expenses align with bank and credit card statements.
  3. Guidance: Professionals can offer advice on structuring your business, potential deductions, and best practices to remain compliant with IRS regulations.
  4. Audit Support: In the unlikely event of an audit, having a professional by your side provides a sense of security. They can guide you through the process, answer questions, and ensure all paperwork is in order.

Proper handling of Schedule C expenses and entity optimization is not just about keeping the IRS at bay; it’s about ensuring that your business is on a secure and profitable path. Leveraging the expertise of an accounting professional can be a game-changer for your business’s financial health and success.

Stay informed, stay compliant, and remember – we’re here to help.

Important Update: IRS Focus on High-Net-Worth Individuals and Pass-Throughs

We wanted to bring your attention to a recent development that may be of interest to you as a high-net-worth individual or a pass-through entity.

The IRS has shifted its focus towards high-net-worth individuals and pass-through entities, aiming to enhance compliance and enforcement in this area. This change in focus may have implications for your tax planning and financial strategies.

I want to inform you that I currently have an ongoing audit case with the IRS concerning high-net-worth individuals and pass-through entities. Through this experience, I’ve observed that the IRS is still in the process of fine-tuning their approach to auditing these cases. Their primary focus continues to be on small businesses and Schedule C filers, particularly concerning tax compliance and deductions categories.

For those of you who operate Schedule C businesses, this could be an opportune time to consider revisiting your business structure. Making informed choices about your business structure can help you navigate these evolving IRS priorities and ensure compliance while optimizing your tax position.

To gain a deeper understanding of the IRS’s new focus and its potential implications, we encourage you to read the recent IRS announcement available on the following link.

IR-2023-176

As always, we are here to assist you in navigating any changes or challenges that may arise as a result of this shift in IRS priorities. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns or if you would like to discuss how this development might affect your specific financial circumstances.

We remain committed to providing you with expert guidance and support to help you achieve your financial goals and maintain compliance with tax regulations.

Thank you for entrusting us with your financial needs, and we look forward to assisting you further.

Important IRS Enforcement Update – Let’s stay compliant together!

September is off to a strong start for us and as usual, we are staying busy with the upcoming tax deadline!

We wanted to bring to your attention a recent announcement from the IRS regarding their updated enforcement priorities. This information is crucial for all taxpayers, and we’re here to assist you in navigating these changes.

The IRS has outlined a “sweeping” shift in their enforcement focus, which includes the following key areas:

  1. Increased Audits: High-net worth taxpayers, large partnerships, and those with suspected nonreporting foreign bank accounts can expect heightened audit scrutiny.
  2. Aggressive Collection: The IRS is stepping up collection efforts against high-income individuals who owe tax debts.
  3. Artificial Intelligence: The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a significant role in detecting non-compliance.
  4. Digital Asset Reporting: The IRS continues to focus on digital asset reporting non-compliance, making it vital for those involved in the digital asset space to stay compliant.
  5. 1099 Fraud: The construction sector is under increased scrutiny for 1099 fraud, emphasizing the importance of accurate reporting.
  6. FBAR Violations: The IRS will continue to scrutinize Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) violations.

You can read the full IRS News Release here: IRS News Release Link.

In light of these changes, we strongly recommend that you work closely with us to ensure your tax compliance and reporting are up to date. Our team is well-equipped to help you navigate these evolving tax landscapes, and we’re here to provide guidance, answer questions, and assist you in staying compliant.

Our commitment to you is to make this process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Should you have any concerns or questions about your tax situation, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to support you and ensure that you remain in good standing with the IRS.

Thank you for entrusting us with your tax and financial needs. We look forward to working together to ensure your continued compliance and financial success.

Questions you may still have after filing your tax return

If you’ve successfully filed your 2022 tax return with the IRS, you may think you’re done with taxes for another year. But some questions may still crop up about the return. Here are brief answers to three questions that we’re frequently asked at this time of year.

When will your refund arrive?

The IRS has an online tool that can tell you the status of your refund. Go to irs.gov and click on “Get Your Refund Status.” You’ll need your Social Security number, filing status and the exact refund amount.

Which tax records can you throw away now?

At a minimum, keep tax records related to your return for as long as the IRS can audit your return or assess additional taxes. In general, the statute of limitations is three years after you file your return. So you can generally get rid of most records related to tax returns for 2019 and earlier years. (If you filed an extension for your 2019 return, hold on to your records until at least three years from when you filed the extended return.)

However, the statute of limitations extends to six years for taxpayers who understate their gross income by more than 25%.

You should hang on to certain tax-related records longer. For example, keep the actual tax returns indefinitely, so you can prove to the IRS that you filed legitimate returns. (There’s no statute of limitations for an audit if you didn’t file a return or you filed a fraudulent one.)

When it comes to retirement accounts, keep records associated with them until you’ve depleted the account and reported the last withdrawal on your tax return, plus three (or six) years. And retain records related to real estate or investments for as long as you own the asset, plus at least three years after you sell it and report the sale on your tax return. (You can keep these records for six years if you want to be extra safe.)

Can you still collect a refund for a tax credit or deduction if you overlooked claiming it?

In general, you can file an amended tax return and claim a refund within three years after the date you filed your original return or within two years of the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.

However, there are a few opportunities when you have longer to file an amended return. For example, the statute of limitations for bad debts is longer than the usual three-year time limit for most items on your tax return. In general, you can amend your tax return to claim a bad debt for seven years from the due date of the tax return for the year that the debt became worthless.

Help available all year long

Contact us if you have questions about retaining tax records, receiving your refund or filing an amended return. We’re not just here at tax filing time. We’re here all year long.

Tax news for investors and users of cryptocurrency

If you’re a crypto investor or user, you may have noticed something new on your tax return this year. And you may soon notice a new form reporting requirements for digital assets.

Check the box

Beginning with tax year 2022, taxpayers must check a box on their tax returns indicating whether they received digital assets as a reward, award or payment for property or services or whether they disposed of any digital assets that were held as capital assets through sales, exchanges or transfers. If the “yes” box is checked, taxpayers must report all income related to the digital asset transactions.

New information form

Under the broker information reporting rules, brokers must report transactions in securities to both the IRS and investors. Transactions are reported on Form 1099-B. Legislation enacted in 2021 extended these reporting rules to cryptocurrency exchanges, custodians and platforms and to digital assets such as cryptocurrency. The new rules were scheduled to be effective for returns required to be filed, and statements required to be furnished, for post-2022 transactions. But the IRS has postponed the effective date until it issues new final regulations that provide instructions.

In addition to extending this reporting requirement to cryptocurrency, the legislation also extended existing cash reporting rules (for cash payments of $10,000 or more) to cryptocurrency. That means businesses that accept crypto payments of $10,000 or more must report them to the IRS on Form 8300. These rules apply to transactions that take place in 2023 and later years.

Existing rules and new reporting for digital assets

Currently, if you have a stock account, whenever you sell securities, you receive a Form 1099-B. On the form, your broker reports details of transactions, such as sale proceeds, relevant dates, your tax basis for the sale and the gain or loss.

The 2021 legislation expanded the definition of “brokers” who must furnish Forms 1099-B to include businesses that regularly provide services accomplishing transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person. Thus, once the IRS issues final regulations, any platform where you buy and sell cryptocurrency will have to report digital asset transactions to you and the IRS.

These exchanges/platforms will have to gather information from customers, so they can issue Forms 1099-B. Specifically, they will have to get customers’ names, addresses and phone numbers, the gross proceeds from sales, capital gains or losses and whether they were short-term or long-term.

Note: It’s not yet known whether exchanges/platforms will have to file Form 1099-B (modified to include digital assets) or a new IRS form.

Cash transaction reporting

Under a set of rules separate from the broker reporting rules, when a business receives $10,000 or more in cash, it must report the transaction to the IRS, including the identity of the person from whom the cash was received. This is done on Form 8300. For this reporting requirement, businesses will have to treat digital assets like cash.

Form 8300 requires reporting information including address, occupation and taxpayer identification number. The current rules that apply to cash usually apply to in-person payments in actual cash. It may be difficult for businesses seeking to comply with the reporting rules to collect the information needed for crypto transactions.

What you should know

If you use a cryptocurrency exchange or platform, and it hasn’t already collected a Form W-9 from you, expect it to do so. In addition to collecting information from customers, these businesses will need to begin tracking the holding periods and the buy-and-sell prices of digital assets in customers’ accounts. Contact us for more information in your situation.