Passive Activities Discussed by Denver Tax Attorney

Many individuals do not understand passive activities & passive losses and the Internal Revenue Code Sections and Treasury Regulations that provide the tax law surrounding passive activities.  Further, you may not be aware that losses from passive activities may be disallowed or “suspended” so to speak.  John McGuire, is a tax attorney at The McGuire Law Firm and has prepared the article below to provide information regarding passive activities.

Passive activities would be considered business activities or other trade activities whereby you do not materially participate in the business.  Material participation involves regular, continuous and substantial involvement in the operation of the business or trade.  A common passive activity could be your involvement with rental properties and real estate.  Generally, rental properties and real estate activity is considered passive even if you are materially participating in the activity.  It is important to note that you may be considered a real estate professional and with such designation your rental activities may not be considered a passive activity. Below are some common questions and issues related to passive activities.

Who do the passive activity rules apply to?  The rules will apply to the following:

  • Individuals
  • Trusts (other than grantor trusts)
  • Estates
  • Closely held corporations
  • Personal Service Corporations

Although, the passive activity rules do not apply directly to a partnership, S corporation or grantor trust, it should be noted and understood how the passive activity rules can apply to the owners of these entities.

In general, a passive activity loss will be disallowed.  Your passive loss would be the excess of your passive deductions over the gross income from your passive activities.  Certain passive losses may be allowed, which are issues for a separate article.  So, if a passive loss is disallowed, what happens to the loss or do you ever get to use or take advantage of the loss.  In general, you may be able to take the disallowed loss or losses when you dispose of your entire and total interest in the property.  For example, assume you could not take certain losses from real estate due to your adjusted gross income or other issues.  When you do sell the property and dispose of your entire interest in that real estate whereby the loss has been disallowed, you may be able to claim the previously disallowed passive activity losses.  This is different from unused passive activity credits.  You cannot claim unused passive activity credits when you dispose of property with the unused credits.

You can contact The McGuire Law Firm to speak with a tax attorney regarding your individual and/or business tax matters.  In addition to his law degree, John McGuire holds an LL.M., which is an advanced degree in taxation. Mr. McGuire’s practice focuses primarily on tax issues before the IRS, individual & business income tax matters & law and business transactions.

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Contact The McGuire Law Firm at 720-833-7705 or http://jmtaxlaw.com/ to speak with a tax attorney in Denver, Colorado or Golden, Colorado.

 

 

IRS Audit Tip On Mileage Deduction

If you take mileage as a deduction on your income tax return, the IRS audit tip below may help you.  Many individuals will claim mileage as a non-reimbursed employee expense on Form 2106, or if self-employed, on a Schedule C, or the deduction may even be stated on another business income tax return.  Most individuals know that to substantiate the mileage deduction they need to keep a mileage log stating where they drove, the total mileage and other information such as the business purpose for the travel.  What many individuals may not be aware of is that the IRS may also request them to verify the total mileage driven on their vehicle with third party records.  This issue is discussed below in greater detail.

Recently, I was involved with an individual income tax audit with a client over multiple periods of 1040 Schedule C (self-employed) filings.  The individual drove a decent amount in their business and had taken the mileage deduction on multiple vehicles that were used for business purposes.  The individual had maintained mileage logs for each vehicle and properly claimed the deduction on their schedule C.  During the audit, the IRS examiner requested that the individual obtain maintenance records to substantiate the total miles driven in each vehicle during the year.  This request was not to produce a mileage log of business miles driven, but records from oil changes and other maintenance records to show and verify the total number of miles, personal, business and commuting, over the course of the year.  For example, the examiner wanted to see the report from Grease Monkey stating the total mileage on the vehicle and be able to track and substantiate the mileage driven to see if the business miles claimed appeared reasonable and within the total mileage driven on the vehicle.

After the above incident, it is apparent the IRS is not only requiring a mileage log, but some form of 3rd party document to verify that the miles claimed are in line with the actual miles driven.  This being said, in addition to maintaining a mileage log, it is apparent that taxpayers taking the mileage deduction would be best served by maintaining all reports and maintenance records to verify their mileage.  Remember this the next time you take your car to the shop for an oil change or any repair!  It is probably best to even make a copy of the maintenance records and maintain the document with your mileage log and other tax related documents.  Tell your mechanic to keep the receipt clean!

John McGuire is a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm.  Mr. McGuire’s practice focuses on tax issues before the IRS, tax planning, business transactions and tax implications to his individual and business clients.

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How is my Settlement Taxed?

How is my settlement taxed?  If you are involved in a lawsuit and are anticipating compensation for damages, this is a question you may be asking yourself and it is important to understand the tax implications related to your settlement.  The article below has been prepared by John McGuire, a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm to discuss the taxation of settlements for lost wages, lost profits and loss in value of property.  Please remember that this article is for informational purposes only and to consult directly with your attorney and tax advisors.

If your lawsuit is an employment related lawsuit for a claim such as involuntary termination or unlawful discrimination, the proceeds received for lost wages, severance pay or back pay are considered taxable wages and are subject to self-employment tax.  Thus, these settlement proceeds are subject to federal income tax, social security tax and Medicare tax.  Furthermore, these proceeds should be subject to withholding and therefore the payor (generally the employer) should issue a W-2 to reporting the wages or salary (income) and taxes withheld.  You would thereafter need to report this income on your 1040 individual income tax return.

What about lost profits from a trade or business.  Settlement proceeds received from lost profits will also be subject to self-employment tax and would be included in your business income.  Issues and facts may vary, but in general, proceeds for lost profit would be reported as income to your business as if the business had made the money.

What if your lawsuit involves property and the lost value of property or loss in value of property?  If the settlement amount for a loss in value of property is less than the adjusted basis in the property, than the settlement amount should not be taxable, but you need to remember to thereafter reduce the adjusted basis in the property by the settlement amount for future gain or loss determinations.  On the other hand, if the settlement amount you receive exceeds the adjusted basis in the property, this excess amount is income.  The income may be capital gain income, and a full discussion of this issue would be better served in a separate article.  You can review the instructions for Form 4797 and Schedule D, which discuss capital gain & loss, and the Sale of Business Property.

What if a portion of my settlement proceeds are allocated for interest?  Generally, the interest portion of the settlement would be taxable as interest income, and thus would subject to ordinary income tax.

What about punitive damages?  Punitive damages are generally considered “other income” and thus would be subject to ordinary income tax.Please note, you may be required to make estimated tax payments based upon your settlement amount, which you can review under IRS Publication 505.

John R. McGuire is a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm.  John’s practice focuses primarily on tax issues & matters before the IRS, tax planning for businesses & individuals and business transactions and contracts from the formation of a business to the sale of a business.  John can be reached at John@jmtaxlaw.com

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You can contact The McGuire Law Firm to schedule a free consultation with a tax attorney in Denver, Colorado or Golden, Colorado.