Companies typically go public to raise money to expand. But Facebook doesn’t really need cash from an IPO. The company made nearly $4 billion in advertising revenue in 2011. So why go public?
Well, companies also go public to let founders and early investors cash out. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 27-year-old founder, is already a “paper” billionaire, ranked #14 on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans. (Not many entrepreneurs find themselves richer than Scrooge McDuck while still at an age that they watchScrooge McDuck.) But Facebook’s IPO will give Zuckerberg and fellow early investors liquidity, converting paper wealth into cash for the houses, charitable gifts, and other spending that new dot-com millionaires historically indulge in.
The IPO will also stick Zuckerberg with a historically large tax bill. (You knew that was coming, right?) In fact, one of the big reasons the company is going public in the first place is to give Zuckerberg a way to pay taxes when he exercises options to buy even more stock.
Here’s how it works. For tax purposes, the value of most stock options is treated as compensation and fixed the day you exercise them — whether you actually sell them or not. Let’s say you pay $5 to exercise a share of your employer’s stock, on a day when that stock is worth $25. Your company gets a deduction for that $20 per share, even though there’s no cash outlay. That’s great for the company. But at the same time, you’ll owe immediate tax on $20 of income, even if you hold the stock in hope of future appreciation. (If the stock tanks before you actually sell, you still owe tax on that gain.) That may not be so great for you!
Zuckerberg currently owns 414 million shares of Facebook. He also has options to buy another 120 million shares for — get this — just six cents each. Zuckerberg has announced plans to exercise those options and sell enough shares to cover his taxes. We don’t know yet what Facebook shares will trade for. However, private-market trades have valued shares at $40 each. If Zuckerberg exercises all 120 million options when shares are valued at that price, his taxable gain will be nearly $5 billion. He’ll owe 35% to the IRS, plus 10.3% to the state of California, for a total tax bill of over $2 billion. That’s right, billion with a “b.” Can you imagine signing a return with a billion-dollar tax bill? How about signing a check for that much — payable to the IRS!
The important thing to realize here is that Zuckerberg’s tax bill came as no surprise. It’s actually the result of careful planning. Remember, Zuckerberg’s pain is Facebook’s gain. The strategy will probably give Facebook enough deductions to wipe out the entire tax on its 2011 profit, plus refunds from 2009 and 2010, plus even more to carry forward.
Think about that the next time you click the “Like” button on your computer. And remember, we’re here to bring the same sort of smart tax planning to your business.
970.668.0772, 970.668.0434, 888.668.0772
email@example.com – Colorado Tax Coach
Author of “The Secrets of a Tax Free Life”
To read Larry Stone’s previous post click here
Protecting Financial Records from Wild Weather – Biz Monday
Create a Backup Set of Records Electronically. Taxpayers should keep a set of backup records in a safe place. The backup should be stored away from the original set.
Keeping a backup set of records – including, for example, bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc. – is easier now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and much financial information is available on the Internet. Even if the original records are provided only on paper, they can be scanned, which converts them to a digital format. Once documents are in electronic form, taxpayers can download them to a backup storage device, like an external hard drive, or burn them onto a CD or DVD.
Taxpayers should also consider online backup, which is the only way to ensure data is fully protected. With online backup, files are stored in another region of the country – so if a hurricane or other natural disaster occurs, documents remain safe.
Document Valuables. Another step a taxpayer can take to prepare for disaster is to photograph or videotape the contents of his or her home, especially items of higher value. Call us for more help compiling a room-by-room list of belongings.
A photographic record can help prove the market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. Photos should be stored with a friend or family member who lives outside the area, or in the taxpayer’s online backup solution.
Update Emergency Plans. Emergency plans should be reviewed annually. Personal and business situations change over time, as do preparedness needs. When employers hire new employees or when a company or organization changes functions, plans should be updated accordingly and employees should be informed of the changes.
Check on Fiduciary Bonds. Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider if it has a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider.
We’re Here to Help. If disaster strikes, call us right away. We can help you get back copies of tax returns and all attachments, including Forms W-2.
970.668.0772, 970.668.0434, 888.668.0772
firstname.lastname@example.org – Colorado Tax Coach
Using a Car for Business? Grab These Deductions
If you use a car for business, you get the benefit of tax deductions.
There are two choices for claiming deductions:
- Deduct the actual business-related costs of gas, oil, lubrication, repairs, tires, supplies, parking, tolls, drivers’ salaries, and depreciation.
- Use the standard mileage deduction and simply multiply 51 cents for 2011 travel (2010′s rate was 50 cents) by the number of business miles traveled during the year. Your actual parking fees and tolls are separately deductible under this method.
Which Method Is Better?
For some taxpayers, the standard mileage rate produces a larger deduction. Others fare better tax-wise by deducting actual expenses.
Tip: The actual cost method allows you to claim accelerated depreciation on your car, subject to limits and restrictions not discussed here.
The standard mileage amount includes an allowance for depreciation. If we opt for the standard mileage method, it allows you to bypass the limits and restrictions and it’s simpler – but it’s often less advantageous in dollar terms.
Caution: The standard rate may understate your costs, especially if you use the car 100% for business, or close to that percentage.
Generally, the standard mileage method benefits taxpayers who have less expensive cars or who travel a large number of business miles.
How to Make Tax Time Easier
Keep careful records of your travel expenses. We won’t be able to determine which of the two options is better for you if you don’t know the number of miles driven and the total amount you spent on the car.
Furthermore, the tax law requires that you keep travel expense records and that you give information on your return showing business versus personal use. If we use the actual cost method for your auto deductions, you must keep receipts.
Tip: Consider using a separate credit card for business, to simplify your recordkeeping.
Tip: You can also deduct the interest you pay to finance a business-use car if you’re self-employed.
Note: Self-employeds and employees who use their cars for business can deduct auto expenses if they either (1) don’t get reimbursed, or (2) are reimbursed under an employer’s “non-accountable” reimbursement plan. In the case of employees, expenses are deductible to the extent that auto expenses (together with other “miscellaneous itemized deductions”) exceed 2% of adjusted gross income.
We will help you determine the best deduction method for your business-use car. Let us know if you have any questions about which records to keep.
970.668.0772, 970.668.0434, 888.668.0772
email@example.com – Colorado Tax Coach
Photo Courtesy of Bob Berwyn, Summit County Citizens Voice
Here is an interesting new concept in obtaining a lease on commercial space. On May 25, 2011 there will be a Small Tenant Retail Space Auction that will allow small business owners the opportunity to neighbor Wal-Mart & Safeway at Frisco Station, Frisco (Summit County), Colorado. Here is a chance to get a great bargain on a three (3) year retail or office lease, at Summit County’s most visible regional shopping center, right in the heart of Frisco’s commercial shopping district!
Frisco Station is a nearly 181,000 square foot Summit County destination shopping center with over 25 national, regional and local retail concerns. The center’s site is located on Colorado State Highway #9 at Interstate #70 (Breckenridge exit), and is exposed to total traffic counts of 67,800 vehicles per day in all directions.
This “core and shell” small tenant space is 1,445 leaseable square feet (unit #18), has ceiling, lighting, and bathroom in place, is freshly painted, and ready for flooring and immediate occupancy. Unit #18 is located between Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo Bank next to the popular Smiling Moose Deli and local area recognized gourmet bistro of “FoodHeads.”
Are you a home based business looking to get to that next level in a professional center with consumer traffic and great curb appeal? Or are you an existing lessee of retail or office space in Summit County with an retail concept that lends itself to Frisco Station?
If so, take a chance and come be a part of this unique opportunity to bid on a lease with us at Frisco Station! You can join Summit County’s only Wal-Mart shopping center now!
Register today at: http://www.friscoretailleaseauction.com/index.php to participate in the pending 5 Day Sale style, three (3) year lease rental auction of this well positioned retail space to receive a “Best-Bidder” gift certificate for $1,500 at Wal-Mart should you execute a lease!
Accepting online NNN lease rate bids starting at $6/square foot. Space will be auctioned 5 Day Sale Style on a three (3) year lease term on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 to the “Best Bidder”. Brokers are Welcome! Call Kyle at (720) 979-7727 or email him at:
Please Note: Neither you (bidder lessee), nor the owner (lessor), are bound by any lease bid until this Frisco Station retail space is available for viewing, the 5 Day Sale lease auction is held by the owner (lessor), and both the lessee and lessor have contractually agreed to the terms of a real estate lease. Be sure to checkout their webiste for further information http://www.friscoretailleaseauction.com/index.php/home
It’s April 18th…Are Your Taxes Done?
It’s April 18 already. Are your taxes done? If not, here are some stress-relieving ideas:
- Don’t Procrastinate Anymore – Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. Our office needs time to prepare your return, and we may need to request certain documents from you, which will take additional time.
- Don’t Panic If You Can’t Pay – If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, consider some alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late-payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, but the processing companies charge a convenience fee. Electronic filers with a balance due can file early and authorize the government’s financial agent to take the money directly from their checking or savings account on the April due date, with no fee.
- Request an Extension of Time to File – But Pay on Time – If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 17, 2011. The extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late-payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date. Call us for a variety of easy ways to apply for an extension.
Remember: Get your documents to us as soon as you can, and we’ll help you take care of whatever comes up
The Alternative Minimum Tax
The Alternative Minimum Tax attempts to ensure that anyone who benefits from certain tax advantages pays at least a minimum amount of tax. The AMT provides an alternative set of rules for calculating your income tax. In general, these rules should determine the minimum amount of tax that someone with your income should be required to pay. If your regular tax falls below this minimum, you have to make up the difference by paying alternative minimum tax.
Here are six facts the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about the AMT and changes for tax year 2010.
- Tax laws provide tax benefits for certain kinds of income and allow special deductions and credits for certain expenses. These benefits can drastically reduce some taxpayers’ tax obligations. Congress created the AMT in 1969, targeting higher income taxpayers who could claim so many deductions they owed little or no income tax.
- Because the AMT is not indexed for inflation, a growing number of middle-income taxpayers are discovering they are subject to the AMT.
- You may have to pay the AMT if your taxable income for regular tax purposes plus any adjustments and preference items that apply to you are more than the AMT exemption amount.
- The AMT exemption amounts are set by law for each filing status.
- For tax year 2010, Congress raised the AMT exemption amounts to the following levels: $72,450 for a married couple filing a joint return and qualifying widows and widowers; $47,450 for singles and heads of household; $36,225 for a married person filing separately.
- The minimum AMT exemption amount for a child whose unearned income is taxed at the parents’ tax rate has increased to $6,700 for 2010.
If you want further information on the AMT and your tax situation, please let us know.
Are You Eligable for a Tax Credit?
A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes owed. Some credits are refundable – taxes could be reduced to the point that you would receive a refund rather than owing any taxes.
Here are the credits we will consider when preparing your taxes:
- The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit for low-income working individuals and families. Income and family size determine the amount of the credit. For more information, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.
- The Child and Dependent Care Credit is for expenses paid for the care of children under age 13, or for a disabled spouse or dependent, to enable the taxpayer to work or look for work. For more information, see IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
- The Child Tax Credit is for people who have a qualifying child. The maximum amount of the credit is $1,000 for each qualifying child. This credit can be claimed in addition to the credit for child and dependent care expenses. For more information on the Child Tax Credit, see IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit.
- Adoption Credit: Adoptive parents may qualify for an enhanced tax credit of up to $13,170 in 2010 ($13,360 in 2011) for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. The credit may be allowed for the adoption of a child with special needs even if you do not have any qualifying expenses. The adoption tax credit does have income phase-out limits, starting at $182,520 in 2010 (and $185,210 in 2011). For more information, call us or see the instructions for Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.
Note: The adoption credit is enhanced for years 2010-2012. It is scheduled to revert back in 2013 to its pre-2001 dollar limit of $5,000, or $6,000 if a special needs child is adopted.
- Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled: This credit is available to individuals who are either age 65 or older or are under age 65 and retired on permanent and total disability, and who are U.S. citizens or residents. There are income limitations. For more information, call us or see IRS Publication 524, Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.
Rest assured, we will make sure you receive all the tax credits for which you are eligible
970.668.0772, 970.668.0434, 888.668.0772
On Valentine’s Day most of us celebrated the occasion with flowers or chocolate. But a small group of mob enthusiasts marked it as the 82nd anniversary of the infamous “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre,” when Al Capone’s “Outfit” gunned down seven members of rival Bugs Moran’s North Side Irish gang, in a garage at 2212 North Clark Street in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.
Although it is history not everyone knows that it was the IRS who finally put Capone behind bars. But how did it all go down? How much tax did Capone really evade? Back in 2008, the IRS released several documents relating to the case, and they reveal a fascinating glimpse into the investigation that brought down “Public Enemy Number One.”
It all started in 1927, when the U.S. Supreme Court held that a bootlegger named Manny Sullivan owed tax on his illegal income. Two years later, President Hoover and Treasury Secretary Mellon vowed to put Capone behind bars. The Treasury Department’s Special Intelligence Unit assigned IRS Special Agent Frank Wilson to the case. Wilson spent three years investigating Capone and even infiltrating “the Outfit” with federal agents in order to determine Capone’s income. His big break came when he found three ledgers that had been seized in a gambling raid in Cicero – then from there, traced the handwriting in the ledgers to a deposit slip from a bank in Cicero – then from there, traced the deposit slips all the way to a bookkeeper at a dog track in Miami who ultimately agreed to testify. (Wilson made further history during the Lindbergh baby kidnapping – his bright idea to record the serial numbers on the gold certificates paid as ransom helped secure kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann’s arrest and became common practice in kidnapping cases.)
Wilson’s investigators calculated that, from 1924-1929, Capone’s share of the Outfit’s earnings from “gambling, houses of prostitution, and bootlegging” totaled $1,055,375.07. (That’s about $13 million in today’s dollars.) The IRS hit him with $219,260.12 in tax and threw in another $164,445.09 in penalties.
A federal grand jury indicted Capone on 22 counts, including “failure to file returns” (a misdemeanor) and “wilful attempt to evade and defeat an income tax” (a felony). Capone originally copped to all charges, but when he discovered the judge wouldn’t be bound by the prosecution’s sentencing recommendations, he switched his plea to “not guilty.” After a long trial that included an unsuccessful plot to bribe potential jurors, Capone was convicted, sentenced to eleven years, and fined $250,000 plus $30,000 in court costs.
Capone wasn’t the only Chicago mobster who wound up answering to the IRS. The Service also won convictions against Capone associates Jake “Greasy” Guzik and Frank “the Enforcer” Nitti, among others. And the convictions inspired still more delinquent taxpayers to come forward and ‘fess up, including one “big shot gambler” who showed up at the IRS’s Chicago office to pay $200,000 in cash!
Capone’s conviction broke his hold on the Chicago outfit. He spent seven years as a guest of the federal government, including four years at Alcatraz, before winning parole and returning to his home in Florida, where he died in 1947. The infamous garage where the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre took place is now a parking lot. It’s ironic that Capone’s greatest legacy may be a Valentine to the IRS, in the form of reminding gangsters of all stripes to pay their taxes!
970.668.0772, 970.668.0434, 888.668.0772
“The intent of this rulemaking is not to kill private mortgage securitization — the financial crisis has already done that.”
~FDIC Chair Sheila Bair
SUMMIT COUNTY — In a move that will ultimately have long-term implications for the real estate market in Colorado and across the country, federal regulators this week announced one of their proposals to restructure home lending rules.
Click here to read the federal notice and to comment.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve now want public comment on the plan, which would require lenders to offer mortgages with at least a 20 percent down payment if they want to repackage the loan to sell to other investors without keeping some of the risk on their books.
“The rule before the Board today proposes new standards for retention of credit risk to help ensure that securitizers will hold ‘skin in the game’ which will align their interests with those of bondholders,” FDIC chair Sheila Bair said in a press release. “This market needs strong rules that assure investors that the process is not rigged against them. The intent of this rulemaking is not to kill private mortgage securitization — the financial crisis has already done that,” she said, referring to to the collapse of the market for securitized mortgages that affected entire countries — Iceland, for example, where national banks had invested heavily in the mortgage market.
The Dodd-Frank financial law passed last year requires companies that package loans into securities to keep at least 5 percent of the credit risk on their books.
The private securitization market created more than $1 trillion in mortgage credit annually in its peak years of 2005 and 2006, but virtually ceased to exist in the wake of the financial crisis. Issuance in 2009 and 2010 was just 5 percent of peak levels.
“This market needs strong rules that assure investors that the process is not rigged against them. Our intent is to restore sound practices in lending, securitization and loan servicing, and bring this market back better than before,” she said.
Housing market experts said the rule would have little short-term impact because investors are not exactly rushing to buy repackaged mortgages after being burned so completely less than two years ago. The new rule also wouldn’t affect loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, although those two federally backed mortgage finance institutions are headed toward oblivion under an overall restructuring of the mortgage finance markets proposed by President Obama.
More than half of the subprime loans made in 2006 and 2007 that were securitized ended up in default, which hurt both borrowers and investors and triggered the financial crisis, Bair explained. By aligning the interests of borrowers, securitizers and investors, the new rules will help to avoid these outcomes and keep default rates at much lower levels. They will also help avoid another securitization-fed housing bubble which made home prices unaffordable for many borrowers, she concluded. To Read More Click Here.
On Oscar Night, Hollywood’s annual exercise in self-indulgence, when stars don their most formal evening wear to parade a red carpet in broad daylight. This year’s nominees went home with “swag bags” worth a record $100,000 – taxable, of course. But you don’t have to be a Hollywood celebrity to land in tax trouble for keeping up appearances, as a recent Tax Court case showed.
Anietra Hamper worked as a morning and noon news anchor for WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio. (You know the type – perky, poised, blonde, blow-dried.) The network required her to maintain a specified professional appearance as described in the station’s Women’s Wardrobe Guidelines – specifically, “‘standard business wear,’ typical of that which one might wear on any business day in a normal office setting anywhere in the USA.” The guidelines didn’t call for spending a lot to comply – in fact, they stated that off-the-rack outfits would generally be more appropriate than excessively stylish designer wear. They also required her to maintain her hair in a neat and professional cut and maintain her fingernails at a reasonable length, finished with conservatively colored nail polish.
Hamper apparently saw the network’s rules as more than just “guidelines.” She saw them as a green light to shop till she dropped – and deducted it all, too! From 2005 through 2009, she claimed a boutique-busting $83,678 in unreimbursed employee business expenses for traditional business suits, lounge wear, a robe, sportswear, active wear, lingerie, cotton bikini and cotton thong underwear, and evening wear. She also wrote off expenses for an Ohio State jersey, jewelry, bedding, running and walking shoes, and dry cleaning costs. She literally shopped all over town, from Nordstrom to Old Navy and everywhere in between.
And Hamper deducted more than just her wardrobe, too. She wrote off special contact lenses she claimed she needed for reading the teleprompter (along with contact lens solution, of course), Softsoap “Morning Mist” pump soap, haircuts, manicures, teeth whiteners, and skin-care products! She deducted her subscriptions to cable television, the internet, satellite radio, and magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour. She even deducted a gym membership which she said she used for self-defense classes to protect herself from stalkers.
Hamper reported she wore the business clothes only at work and maintained her business wardrobe separate from her personal wardrobe. She claimed the requirement to wear “conservative” clothing made her business clothing unsuitable for everyday wear. Unfortunately for her, the IRS says nothing about “conservative” clothing being unsuitable, and holds that when business clothes are suitable for general wear, they’re not deductible. (An Ohio State Buckeyes jersey, not suitable for general wear? Really? Maybe if she were working in Ann Arbor, Michigan – but not Columbus, Ohio!) So the IRS denied nearly all her deductions and slapped her with over $3,000 in accuracy-related penalties for good measure. Last week, the Tax Court upheld the IRS, scripting an end to Hamper’s story that she can’t be happy to report.
Fernando Lamas famously said “it is better to look good than to feel good.” Well, whether or not the IRS agrees, they certainly don’t think Uncle Sam should pay for it! Call us if you’re faced with a deductibility dilemma, and we’ll at least get you feeling good about dressing for success!
970.668.0772, 970.668.0434, 888.668.0772
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TigerBlood, Taxes and One Man
Sitcom star Charlie Sheen’s public meltdown has grabbed more headlines than any story since pop star Michael Jackson’s death. Public consensus is that Sheen is a man in desperate need of help. So naturally, we were wondering, is there any help waiting for him from the IRS?
We’re not here to “pile on” like so many commentators. (That’s what Saturday Night Live is for!) But if you’re following the story like so many of us, consider how the tax code helps Charlie in these areas:
- Drug Rehab. Charlie’s rehab bills are a deductible medical expense. And unlike some deductions that are specifically limited (like mortgage interest on your primary residence and just one additional home), there’s no limit to how many times you can write off rehab.
The downside here is that medical expenses are deductible only to the extent they exceed 7.5% of “adjusted gross income.” Sheen reportedly makes $1.8 million for each of 22 episodes, which suggests he can only deduct medical expenses topping $3 million/year. Even for Charlie, that might be a stretch! However, he might establish a Medical Expense Reimbursement Plan through a business entity to avoid that 7.5% floor. If you own your own business, even a startup or sideline, call us to see if you can benefit from that same strategy.
- “Goddesses.” Sheen lives with two young blondes whom he calls “goddesses,” and whom he says help take care of his twin toddler sons. If he actually pays those women for child care, payments up to $6,000 per child may qualify for the Dependent Care Credit. The rules say you can’t pay a member of your own family to care for younger children “” but they don’t say anything about paying goddesses!
- Job-Hunting Expenses. “Two and a Half Men” producers have officially canned Sheen, arguing he’s violated a morals clause in his contract. Job hunting expenses to help Sheen find new and artistically challenging roles are deductible as a miscellaneous itemized deductions, subject to a 2% floor on adjusted gross income.
- Legal Fees. Odds are good that anyone with a mouth like Charlie needs a lawyer who bills by the hour. Sheen can deduct legal fees relating to the $300 million lawsuit he just announced against CBS, along with any additional fees related to tax-deductible alimony paid to his three ex-wives.
Sheen has tiger blood and Adonis DNA to help him through his current troubles. But even Hollywood train wrecks can’t hide from taxes without a plan. So call us if you’re looking for savings without the headlines!