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10 topics to talk through with your tax preparer

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TIME TO PLAN: The new tax law includes changes that will affect your farm. Don’t wait until the end of this year to look at them; start paying attention now.
Time to assess the farm for 2018 under the new tax law.

Don’t get too far into 2018 before sitting down with a professional who knows the new tax law.

Randy Eikermann hasn’t finished filing taxes for 2017, and he is already talking to farmers and ranchers about 2018 tax implications. Speaking at the University of Missouri Computers on the Farm event, the certified public accountant with Eikermann & Associates in Hermann, Mo., told farmers the new tax law has provisions that will affect their businesses.

He highlighted these 10 changes under the new tax law:

1. Cuts the corporate tax rate. The corporate tax gest cut and simplified to a flat 21% rate, changed from a multibracket structure with a 35% top rate.

2. Reduces pass-through taxes. Most owners of pass-through entities such as S corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships will see their income tax lowered with a new 20% income reduction calculation.

3. Beefs up capital expensing. Through 2022, short-lived capital investments such as machinery and equipment may be fully expensed as soon as they are placed in service, using bonus depreciations. This now also applies to used items instead of only new ones; they just need to be placed in service for the first time in your business. After 2022, allowable bonus depreciation is then lowered incrementally over the next four years.

4. Strengthens Section 179 deduction. Section 179 deduction limits are raised to enable expensing of up to $1 million. The phase-out threshold increases to $2.5 million. Section 179 may also be used on expenses related to improvements to nonresidential real estate.

5. Nixes the corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT). The 20% corporate AMT applied to businesses goes away entirely.

6. Expands use of cash-method accounting. Businesses with less than $25 million in gross receipts over the last three years may adopt the cash method of accounting.

7. Reforms international taxation. Treatment of international incomes moves to the territorial system standard, in which foreign investments are generally only taxed in the place in which they operate. The new laws allow tax deductions for certain foreign-sourced dividends, reduced tax rates for foreign intangible income, and reduced tax rates for repatriation of deferred foreign income.

8. Repeals business entertainment deduction. Businesses will no longer be able to deduct 50% of the cost of entertainment, amusement or recreation directly related to their trade or business. The 50% deduction for business-related meals remains in place.

9. Enhances automobile depreciation. The tax extender bill includes an enhanced first-year depreciation cap for automobiles and trucks. Under the luxury-auto limitations of Section 280F, depreciation deductions that can be claimed for passenger autos are subject to annual dollar limits. Light trucks or vans are considered passenger automobiles if they have an unloaded gross vehicle weight of 6,000 pounds or less. The law extends the $8,000 increase in the first-year depreciation deduction limitation to 2015 through 2017. For new vehicles placed in service after 2017, the increase in the depreciation limit will be $6,400 for 2018 and $4,800 for 2019. To take full advantage of Section 179 and bonus depreciation and avoid the luxury-auto limitations, the vehicle you purchase has to have a gross vehicle weight greater than 6,000 pounds.

10. Doubles the estate tax exemption. Estate taxes will apply to even fewer people, with the exemption at $11.2 million, or $22.4 million for married couples.


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