Seven Proven Steps
Does it seem like the rich know a secret that others don't? They do! They have learned that the secrets of wealth come from thinking differently about wealth creation. They have to take all of the tax-advantages available to them. We call these the Seven Proven Steps. They are:
- Create a Business.
- Discover Your Hidden Business Deductions.
- Pay Your Taxes.
- What's Left Goes Into Real Estate.
- Real Estate Income Comes Out Tax-Free.
- Buy a House the Right Way.
- Make Your House Give You Money.
In this month's edition, we'll review what it means to create a business and the key points to setting it up for the tax loopholes.
Create a Business
As a CPA, I see a lot of financial statements and tax returns of other people. One thing is very clear. An employee, no matter how much money he makes, has very limited tax-planning opportunities. And, taxes are the #1 expense for most Americans. In fact, as an employee's income increases, he will lose the ability to write-off deductions such as mortgage interest, property tax, charitable donations and the like. And, if he makes enough money, he'll also lose the exemptions for his dependents and himself.
But, the business owner can actually control when he pays his taxes and how much he pays in taxes. When you have a business, it is also possible to take deductions for items that were previously personal expenses. We call those the "hidden business deductions." That's the second step of the Seven Proven Steps.
What is a Business?
You might be able to start your business simply by having your employer change your status from an employee to an independent contractor. Or, you might be able to begin a business by taking your hobby up a notch. Or, you might start a part-time business on the weekends.
Before you can start taking all of the deductions available through having your own business, you must first prove that your business is really a business. If the IRS decides that your business is just a glorified hobby, then you will not be able to offset any loss from the business against your other income. In the beginning, most new businesses lose money. In fact, the average business will lose money for the first three years. You will want to make sure you can take advantage of those losses by offsetting them against your other income. If you have more loss than other income, you can roll this loss forward into the future until you start making money. This is referred to as a net operating loss.
The IRS is looking at Nine Factors to determine if you really have a business. These Nine Factors are:
- You carry on the activity in a businesslike manner;
- The time and effort you put into the activity indicate you intend to make it profitable;
- You depend on income from the activity for your livelihood;
- Your losses are due to circumstances beyond your control (or are normal in the start-up phase of your type of business);
- You change your methods of operation in an attempt to improve
- You, or your advisors, have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business;
- You were successful in making a profit in similar activities in the past;
- The activity makes a profit in some years, and how much profit it makes; and
- You can expect to make a future profit from the appreciation of the assets used in the activity.
My book, Loopholes of the Rich – How the Rich Legally Make More Money and Pay Less Tax, has a questionnaire you can use to ensure that you will pass this test if you are ever questioned.
One of my clients used to be employed making $50,000 per year. He was able to change his status to that of an Independent Contractor. At the end of the year, he had a very pleasant surprise when he discovered that he actually had $10,000 more in spending cash because of the change. That is even though he made exactly the same amount of money. Creating a business had given him more cash through the use of additional write-offs for items that he already was spending money on.
If you are considering this type of change, remember that you need to factor in the cost of benefits that you might be giving up.
But, you can't simply declare, "I'm in business" and then wait for all the tax savings to come rolling in the door. In fact, if you set your business up wrong, you could end up paying even more in taxes than you did before. If you are self-employed, and operating as a Sole Proprietor (Schedule C) business you will have to pay self-employment tax in the amount of 15.3% on top of your normal federal and state income tax. The same is true if you are operating in the form of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and are being taxed as either a Sole Proprietorship or a Partnership. (The LLC can elect how it wishes to be taxed, depending on applicable state law.)
Unfortunately, it's not a simple answer to determine the correct business structure. There is no "one size fits all" answer. You need to take into account the amount and type of business income, income that you have from other sources, how you will fund the business, what you intend to do with the monthly cash flow from the business and what your exit strategy is. After you know these factors, it's time to talk to a qualified tax advisor to determine the best structure for your state and circumstances.
The Next Step
After you have your business set up in the correct structure, it's time to look for those hidden business deductions. That's the topic for next month's edition of Healthy Wealthy nWise.
Diane Kennedy is a CPA/Tax Strategist and the author of the best-selling book Loopholes of the Rich: How the Rich Legally Make More Money and Pay Less Tax and co-author of the best-selling book
Real Estate Loopholes: Secrets of Successful Real Estate Investing. For more information on how to legally use the tax loopholes and make the IRS your partner, contact Diane's CPA firm, DKA, at 888-592-4769 or www.dkacpa.com. Tax law is constantly changing! Keep up to date for free by signing up for a free e-newsletter at www.taxloopholes.com