Tax Planning

The Smart Tax Planning Newsletter September 2023

by | Sep 26, 2023

In This Issue:

  • HSAs for Business Owners
  • Act Now! Get Your Safe-Harbor Expensing in Place
  • Key Insights into Depreciation

    HSAs for Business Owners

    When enacted, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) eliminated most small-business health plans that reimbursed individually purchased health insurance. Consequently, many small business owners with fewer than 50 employees chose health savings accounts (HSAs) or opted to provide no health coverage at all.

    As of 2022, over 35 million HSAs were active, with assets amounting to $104 billion. A 2022 Devenir survey expects this to increase to 43 million accounts with $150 billion in assets by 2025.

    HSA Basics:

    • To open an HSA, you must have high-deductible health insurance.
    • 2023 contribution limits are $3,850 for individuals and $7,750 for families.
    • If you’re 55 or older by the end of the year, you can contribute an extra $1,000.
    • HSAs come with substantial tax benefits, including deductible contributions, tax-free earnings, and tax-free withdrawals for qualified health expenses.

    Monies taken from HSAs are tax-free when used for qualified medical expenses.  If you don’t use the funds for medical expenses, those funds can be invested for potential growth.  Similar to retirement plans, these HSA funds can be invested in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, or alternative investments like real estate, gold, or even crypto.

    Once you reach Medicare age, you can:

    • Withdraw the funds and pay taxes, or
    • Use the funds tax-free for medical expenses

    You generally cannot make HSA contributions if you have a non-high-deductible health plan that overlaps with the high-deductible plan.  Similarly, you cannot contribute to an HSA and a general-purpose healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) in the same year.

    The benefits of HSAs have grown significantly in recent years, making them a mainstream and advantageous choice for many.  Given their tax advantages and flexibility, the HSA could be a good fit for you as a business owner.

    Act Now! Get Your Safe-Harbor Expensing in Place

    For 2024, you can elect the de minimis safe harbor to expense assets costing $2,500 or less ($5,000 with audited financial statements or similar).

    The term “safe harbor” means that the IRS will accept your expensing of the qualified assets if you properly abided by the safe harbor rules.

    Here are three benefits of this safe harbor:

    1. Safe-harbor expensing is superior to Section 179 expensing and depreciation because you don’t have the recapture period that can complicate your taxes.
    2. Safe-harbor expensing simplifies your tax and business records because you don’t have the assets cluttering your books.
    3. The safe harbor does not reduce your overall ceiling on Section 179 expensing.

    Here’s how the safe harbor works:

    Say you are a small business that elects the $2,500 ceiling for safe-harbor expensing, and you buy two desks costing $2,100 each. On the invoice, you see the quantity “two” and the total cost of $4,200, plus sales tax of $378 and a $200 delivery and setup charge, for a total of $4,778.

    Before this safe harbor, you would have capitalized each desk at $2,389 ($4,778 ÷ 2), and then either Section 179 expensed or depreciated it.  You would have kept the desks in your depreciation schedule until you disposed of them.

    With the safe harbor, you expense the desks as office supplies—your tax records life is easier.

    To benefit from the safe harbor, you and your tax preparer must perform a two-step process. It works like this:

    Step 1 — For safe harbor protection, you must have in place an accounting policy—at the beginning of the tax year—that requires expensing an amount of your choosing, up to the $2,500 or $5,000 limit. We can help you with this.

    Step 2 — When we prepare your tax return, we make the election on your tax return for you to use safe harbor expensing. Your tax-preparer will do this with an election statement on your federal tax return and then file that tax return by the due date (including extensions).

    Key Insights into Depreciation

    Here are some crucial insights into depreciation, particularly regarding business or rental assets.

    When Does Depreciation Start?

    Technically, depreciation begins not when you use an asset, but when it’s ready and available for its intended purpose. For instance:

    • A rental property begins depreciating when it’s available to rent, even if it hasn’t been rented yet.
    • A farming tool is set to begin depreciation when you receive it, regardless of when you’ll use it.
    • A business vehicle begins to depreciate when bought for business purposes, even if not driven yet.

    Best Practices

    To prevent any ambiguity, if a property is ready for rent, list it.  For business vehicles, it’s ideal to drive them for business soon after purchase.  This ensures there’s no question about their intent and use.

    Assets That Are Vacant, Idle, or Standing-By for Use

    Even if your asset is temporarily not in use, it doesn’t mean you stop claiming its depreciation.  The continued depreciation applies to machines that are momentarily idle because of a lack of demand and to a vacant rental property while you search for tenants.

    When Does Depreciation End?

    Business and rental properties typically remain depreciable until you remove them from their designated use, often when you sell or dispose of them.

    Tax Tips May 2023


    The information contained in this post is for general use and educational purposes only.  However, we do offer specific services to our clients to help them implement the strategies mentioned above.  For specific information and to determine if these services may be a good fit for you, please select any of the services listed below. 

    The 4x4 Financial Independence Plan ℠

    Estate Planning

    Retirement Planning

    Tax Planning

    Coaching and Consulting

    You May Also Like…

    Investment Advisory Services are offered through Lifetime Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisory. Insurance and other financial products and services are offered through Lifetime Paradigm, Inc. or Lifetime Paradigm Insurance Services. Neither Lifetime Financial, Inc. nor Lifetime Paradigm, Inc., or its associates and subsidiaries provide any specific tax or legal advice. Only guidance is provided in these areas. For specific recommendations please consult with a qualified, licensed Advisor. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Your results can and will vary. Investments are subject to risk, including market and interest rate fluctuations. Investors can and do lose money and, unless otherwise noted, they are not guaranteed. Information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended for the sale or purchase of any specific securities product, service or investment strategy. BE SURE TO FIRST CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED FINANCIAL ADVISER, TAX PROFESSIONAL, OR ATTORNEY BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ANY STRATEGY OR RECOMMENDATION DISCUSSED HEREIN.

    This message is intended for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you think you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by reply e-mail or by telephone (800) 810-1736 and delete the original message.

    This notice is required by IRS Circular 230, which regulates written communications about federal tax matters between tax advisors and their clients. To the extent the preceding correspondence and/or any attachment is a written tax advice communication, it is not a full "covered opinion." Accordingly, this advice is not intended and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by the IRS.