Weekly Digest – September 1st, 2023

It’s labor day weekend and I can imagine that many families are planning a long weekend as the kids will be heading back to school next week.   We often talk about planning, tax planning, vacation planning, retirement planning, etc.  I never reccomend doing something “just for tax purposes” but with proper planning you just might take a partial business deduction for a portion of your trip expenses.  Summer travel  plans can be an opportunity to take a much needed vacation while also taking care of business and getting a little tax benefit too.  Last week I pointed out how Elizabeth’s trip to our New York office to work on some projects enabled her to attend a wedding during her stay or was it the other way around?    Myriam took advantage of her vacation to come to our New York Office to work on some year-end projects with me and mix business with pleasure.   It’s so nice when the stars align and we can get some tax benefit from travel, I too was able to visit my daughter on the west coast when I traveled to Seattle for a conference (see my August 25th blog post). Good planning with proper documentation matters…

I am glad to say the beach construction is going well and the beaches are wider and the berms are shaping up…

Beautiful Morning Sky Last Weekend & Our New Jetty
Beautiful Morning Sky Last Weekend & Our New Jetty

 

Rising Sun This Morning
Rising Sun This Morning

I am certainly enjoying my garden this year as daily picking provides some great tomatioes and cukes to share and enjoy…

Tomatoes, Cukes, Peppers and Foot Long String Beans Picked on Wednesday
Tomatoes, Cukes, Peppers and Foot Long String Beans Picked on Wednesday
Add a Chunk of Feta & Cage Free Eggs & I Will Have Fresh Picked Healthy Breakfast Today
Add a Chunk of Feta & Cage Free Eggs & I Will Have Fresh Picked Healthy Breakfast Today

It’s always a nice surprise to see a praying mantis in my backyard, so cool, but I never see 2…

Uninvited But Always Welcome Garden Helper
Uninvited But Always Welcome Garden Helper

I am looking forward to a long weekend and hope some of you are too, seems like the right time for a bar-b-que, or 2.

Weekly Take Away

I have great plans for the next 2 weekends even though it is tax crunch time yet again as we count down 15 more days to the 2022 filing deadline for corporate, partnership, and trust tax returns, plus corporate and personal 2023 estimate #3 (September 15th) .  We are invited to a birthday bar-b-que on Saturday night (Happy Birthday Mark)🎊 and have a flight and hotel reservations booked for an out-of-town wedding next weekend.  I keep in mind my August 26th 2022 weekly take-away “No Regrets” and try to make time for what is really important including morning walks on the beach, picking vegetables and showing off my garden to friends, gabbing around the breakfast table as I read the paper, sharing a lunch break with Raquel as we agonize over the NYT crossword puzzle, impromptu visits with friends and of course my daily workout💪🚴‍♀️🚶‍♀️🌅.  I know I can never get the time back, so I am deliberate about taking the time when I have the opportunity; Work Can Wait!💼🏖️🩴

No Regrets; Work Can Wait
No Regrets; Work Can Wait

TAX ISSUES/TAX PLANNING

 Student Loan Assistance A Valuable Employee Benefit for Your New Hires

Employers can provide up to $5,250 in student loan repayment annually as a tax-free benefit for employees under IRS code section 127 (Educational Assistance Program).  This is an increasingly popular perk that may help your small business attract and retain talent.  Please note that the tax-free amount of $5,250 is the combined limit for loan repayment and other types of education assistance. Check out the IRS fringe benefit guide Publication 5137 for more ways to attract and keep good talent.  Free or reduced tuition assistance is covered under IRS code section 117 (d) and 132 (h) when educational institutions provide this benefit.

It Bears Repeating: A Portion of Your Personal Travel May Be Deductible

IRS Tax Topic #511 Business Travel Expenses encompasses IRS code sections 162(a)(2)274(d), and others included in IRS Publication 535 :

It is critical to:

  • Distinguish between business and personal expenses and properly document them in order to accurately allocate between the two.  Carefully allocate your expenses between the business portion and the personal portion of the trip. The expenses directly related to your business activities, such as attending meetings, conducting research, or participating in conferences, would be considered business expenses and may be eligible for a business deduction.
  • Understand that only ordinary and necessary business expenses are deductible; establish a clear business purpose for the trip and separate personal and business expenses.
  • Travel expenses include: airfare, train tickets, or car rentals, lodging can be deductible if the primary purpose of the travel is for business. If the trip involves both business and personal activities, only the business portion of the trip expenses are deductible.
  • Travel meals are subject to the meals deduction, however the IRS provides a standard per diem rate for meals and incidental expenses incurred during domestic travel. Taxpayers have the option to use the per diem rate instead of keeping detailed records of actual expenses. The per diem rate varies based on the location of travel.
  • Document, Document, Document.  It is crucial to keep detailed records of your itinerary, receipts, and any other documentation that supports the business purpose of the trip and the amount of each expense. This will help you during your tax filing and in case of an audit.

Remember that personal expenses incurred during your personal time, such as sightseeing, entertainment, or personal meals are not deductible.  As with any tax-related matters, we always recommend that you consult with a qualified tax professional to ensure that you structure your travel and allocate expenses correctly in accordance with the latest IRS guidelines and tax regulations.

ECONOMY

  Per Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell: “Economy’s Solid Growth Could Require More Fed Hikes to Fight Inflation”

The continued strength of the U.S. economy could require further interest rate increases, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said. Powell noted that the economy has been growing faster than expected and that consumers have kept spending briskly — trends that could keep inflation pressures high. He reiterated the Fed’s determination to keep its benchmark rate elevated until inflation is reduced to its 2% target.

Mortgage Rates Are at a 21-Year High And…

Mortgage rates hit a 21-year high this week, a milestone that makes home buying a much more expensive prospect for those who are interested in doing so. What does it mean for those who want to buy a home? What about those who want to sell?

Per Survey, the US economy Near Stalling Point as Consumer Demand Weakens

U.S. business activity approached the stagnation point in August, with growth at its weakest since February as demand for new business in the vast service sector contracted. “S&P Global said its flash U.S. Composite PMI index, which tracks manufacturing and service sectors, fell to a reading of 50.4 in August from 52 in July, the biggest drop since November 2022. While August’s reading was the seventh straight month of growth, it was only fractionally above the 50 level separating expansion and contraction as demand weakened for both manufactured goods and services.”

Over the Past Year the US Economy Added 306,000 Fewer Jobs Than Previously Believed

U.S. job growth was weaker than previously projected over much of the past year.

Fannie Mae is Forcasting  the Housing Market May Provide a “Downside Cushion” for the US Economy

A recession is still in the cards for the U.S. economy, but the housing market’s resilience is likely to assist in making it less unfavorable according to a recent Fannie Mae economic forecast report. “With an ongoing tight supply of existing homes for sale on the market, we expect overall home sales in 2023 to remain near the lowest annual level since 2009. This lack of supply is driving a resurgence of home price growth and supporting increases in new home construction. As such, we have upwardly revised both our home price and single-family housing starts outlook. As measured by the Fannie Mae Home Price Index (FNM-HPI), we forecast 2023 and 2024 home price growth will be positive 3.9 percent and negative 0.7 percent on a Q4/Q4 basis, respectively, up from negative 1.2 percent and negative 2.2 percent in our prior quarterly update.”

Average Long-Term US Mortgage Rate Jumps to 7.23% this Week to Highest Level Since June 2001

The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate climbed further above 7% this week to its highest level since 2001, another blow to prospective homebuyers grappling with rising home prices and a stubbornly low supply of properties on the market. “Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan jumped to 7.23% from 7.09% last week. A year ago, the rate averaged 5.55%.It’s the fifth consecutive weekly increase for the average rate, which is now at its highest level since early June 2001, when it averaged 7.24%. Back then, the median sales price of a previously occupied U.S. home was $157,500. As of last month, it was $406,700.

The Majority of Small Businesses Believe US is in a Recession

More than half of U.S. small business owners believe the economy is already in a recession, marking a slight decrease between July and April, despite most firms reporting their own financial condition was strong, a survey showed.

GENERAL RESOURCES

We sincerely hope that you and your family are well and remain well. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here for you.

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