Drawbacks to Incorporating

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Before an entertainer decides to incorporate, he/she must first evaluate the application of Internal Revenue Code Section 269A. This section can be debilitating to the tax benefits of incorporating. Section 269A addresses the PSC and the services performed by it.

§ 269A(a): “If (1) substantially all of the services of the personal service corporation are performed for (or on behalf of) 1(sic) other corporation, partnership or other entity, and (2) the principal purpose for forming, or availing of, or such personal service corporation is the avoidance or evasion of Federal income tax by reducing the income of, or securing the benefit of any expense, deduction, credit, exclusion, or other allowance for, any employee-owner which would not otherwise be available, then the Secretary may allocate all income, deductions, credits, exclusions, and other allowances between such personal service corporation and its employee-owners, if such allocation is necessary to prevent avoidance or evasion of Federal income tax or clearly to reflect the income of the personal service corporation or any of its employee-owners.”

These words empower the government to disregard all of the tax planning done by the employee. If the government feels that “substantially all” of the income of the employee is from one source, the tax benefits afforded the loan-out corporation can be set aside. This issue was addressed by the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in Sargent v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The case involved a hockey player who incorporated in order to place money in a pension plan for himself.

As discussed above, § 401 of the Internal Revenue Code allows for the corporate retirement plan contribution to be deducted by the corporation while not constituting income to the employee until the money is distributed by the plan. The hockey club contracted with Sargent’s PSC for his services and paid the corporation its contractual fee. The IRS issued a tax deficiency notice to Sargent for unpaid taxes, which was appealed to the Tax Court for consideration.

The Tax Court agreed with the IRS that the corporation set up by Sargent was merely a form of assigning income to the corporation and that Sargent was still liable for the taxes. The issue in the Tax Court was whether Sargent was an employee of the hockey team or his PSC. If he was an employee of the PSC, then the deductions taken for pension plan contributions were allowable. If he was an employee of the hockey club, then his pension plan contributions were not deductible, and the income from the hockey club would be attributed to Sargent as an individual and not to his PSC.

* For specific inquiries regarding a business legal matter that you may have, you are contact our Tax Attorney in Los Angeles.

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Alternative Minimum Tax: The Effect on Itemized Deductions

 

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This is also part of third section of  Anker Reed HSC’s blog series entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate? That is the Question” regarding the alternative minimum tax and its effect on medical and miscellaneous itemized deductions.

An additional issue with regard to the deductibility of both medical and miscellaneous itemized deductions is the imposition of the Alternative Minimum Tax. “Congress enacted the alternative minimum tax (AMT) in 1969 to make wealthy taxpayers pay their fair share instead of using tax shelters and other means to reduce, or even eliminate, their federal tax liability.” (Kern, 1999). “The alternative minimum tax generally can be described as a flat tax rate which is imposed on a broader income base than the taxable income yardstick used for the regular corporate tax.” (Lind, supra note 11 at 15).  “The tax is designed to ensure that all taxpayers pay at least a minimum amount of taxes.” (Blacks Law Dictionary, 1990). “Without the alternative minimum tax, some of these taxpayers might be able to escape income taxation entirely. In essence, the AMT functions as a recapture mechanism, reclaiming some of the tax breaks primarily available to high-income taxpayers, and represents an attempt to maintain tax equity.” (Commerce Clearing House, 1999).

The AMT is paid in addition to any other income tax imposed and calculated as the excess of the tentative minimum tax for the taxable year over the regular tax for the taxable year. The definition for tentative minimum tax, though, depends on the status of the taxpayer, whether noncorporate or corporate. The tentative minimum tax for the noncorporate taxpayer is the sum of 26% of so much of the taxable excess as does not exceed $175,000 plus 28% of so much of the taxable excess as exceeds $175,000. The Internal Revenue Code also provides for tax exemption status, evidencing the congressional intent of taxing the high-income taxpayers. If the taxpayer’s taxable income does not exceed $45,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return, $33,750 for the individual taxpayer, or $22,500 for the married taxpayer filing separately, the taxpayer is exempt from alternative minimum tax treatment. This means that, depending on the individual taxpayer, there could be an exemption from AMT for the lower income brackets. After the $33,750 exemption, the next $175,000 will be taxed at a rate of 26%. Taxable income exceeding this will be taxed at 28%. At the corporate level, the first $40,000 of taxable income is exempt from AMT treatment.

As previously discussed, the PSC will have little or no taxable income as a result of “zeroing-out.” Therefore, no discussion of corporate AMT is necessary.

When analyzing the application of AMT to the noncorporate taxpayer, the focus of the discussion turns to the medical and miscellaneous itemized deductions. For Regular Income Tax (“RIT”) purposes, medical expenses are deductible when they exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income (“AGI“). For AMT purposes, medical expenses are deductible only when they exceed 10% of AGI. With regard to miscellaneous deductions, the difference between RIT and AMT is even more conspicuous. For RIT purposes, miscellaneous itemized deductions (specifically unreimbursed employee business expenses) are deductible to the extent they exceed 2% of AGI. Under AMT, however, miscellaneous itemized deductions are not allowed. This is significant since an employee working in a noncorporate structure will be considered an employee for whom she provides services.

Therefore, any business expenses she incurs will be considered unreimbursed employee business expenses, shown as miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% of AGI limitation and rendered non-deductible for AMT purposes. Under the PSC, these business expenses escape both the RIT limitation and the AMT exclusion.

* For specific inquiries regarding a business legal matter that you may have, you are welcome to visit our Tax Attorney in Los Angeles.

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The Medical Reimbursement Plan with Regards to Deduction Limitations

This is part of the third section of Anker Reed HSC’s blog series entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate? That is the Question” regarding the medical reimbursement plan and deduction limitations of the corporation and individual.

The corporation may establish a medical reimbursement plan as a benefit to its employees, which eliminates the medical expense deduction limitation. In a medical reimbursement plan the corporation will reimburse the entertainer/employee/shareholder for expenses incurred in securing medical treatment. When the corporation reimburses the employee for the medical expenses incurred, the employee avoids the limitation on the deductibility of medical expenses.

Furthermore, the employee avoids taxation on the reimbursed amount under Internal Revenue Code § 105 which provides that “gross income does not include amounts paid, directly or indirectly, to the taxpayer to reimburse the taxpayer for expenses incurred by him for the medical care … of the taxpayer, his spouse, and his dependents.” The effect on the corporation is equally beneficial to the corporate taxpayer in that “payments pursuant to a medical reimbursement plan by the employer corporation are deductible as a business expense.” (Berwind, 1985)

Using the previous example, all $25,000 in medical expenses would be specifically excluded from the gross income of the employee and would be deductible to the corporation; this saves approximately $12,500 in tax to the employee as an individual taxpayer.

Therefore, there is a definite tax benefit to the incorporated employee in the form of increased deductibility of expenses-deductions which may be limited to the individual taxpayer.

* For specific inquiries regarding a business legal matter that you may have, you are welcome to visit our Los Angeles Business Lawyer services page.

Deduction Limitations of the Corporation and Individual

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This is the third section of Anker Reed HSC’s blog series entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate? That is the Question” regarding deduction limitations of the corporation and individual.

The corporation, on the other hand, is not affected by the § 67 limitation. A corporation will be allowed a one hundred percent deduction on itemized deductions. Therefore, in the foregoing example, the corporate taxpayer will be able to deduct the full amount of $50,000 without limitation. The corporation has effectively just saved the individual taxpayer approximately $4,000 in federal taxes and $1,000 in state taxes.

The subject of deduction limitations becomes more significant when addressing the issue of deductions allowed for medical expenses. An individual taxpayer can deduct the expenses for medical care of the taxpayer, his spouse, or a dependent to the extent that the expenses exceed 7.5% of the adjusted gross income. Using the previous example, if the individual had medical expenses of $25,000, they are not deductible because only those expenses that exceed 7.5% of the adjusted gross income are deductible. With an adjusted gross income of $500,000, the individual would need to have medical expenses of at least $37,500 before any deductions may be taken. In applying the applicable federal and state tax rates, the individual with $25,000 of medical expenses would pay a tax of approximately $12,500 ($10,000 to the federal government and $2,500 to the state government).

* For specific inquiries regarding a tax planning legal matter that you may have, you are welcome to visit our Los Angeles Business Attorney services page.

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The Tax Benefits of Incorporation to the Entertainer (Part 3)

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This is part 3 of the second section of Anker Reed HSC’s blog series entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate? That is the Question” regarding the tax benefits of incorporation to the entertainer.

In order to minimize the obvious deleterious effects of the higher tax rate applied to PSCs, it is common for the PSC to “zero-out” at the end of its tax year. This means that the net income of the corporation is paid to the shareholder-employees in the form of compensation and retirement benefits, leaving little or no taxable income for the imposition of tax. This also eliminates any risk of a taxing agency re-characterizing the income as constructive dividends, imposing taxes on shareholders and the corporation.

The most significant tax benefit of using a loan-out is the increased deductibility of their business, medical, and in some cases, even personal expenses.  As opposed to the individual taxpayer, the corporate taxpayer has more tax-beneficial requirements and limitations on deductible expenses. First, an individual taxpayer is limited in the amount of itemized deductions she may have. Section 67 of the Internal Revenue Code states that miscellaneous itemized deductions are allowable only to the extent that the aggregate of the expenses exceeds two percent of the adjusted gross income. This means that all of the itemized deductions over two percent of the adjusted gross income is deductible.

For example, if the adjusted gross income for an individual taxpayer is $500,000 and the miscellaneous itemized deductions are $50,000, the first $10,000 (2% of $500,000) will not be deductible. Therefore the individual taxpayer will be able to deduct only $40,000. Therefore, the taxpayer will still be taxed on the non-deductible $10,000 at the federal rate of 39.6%, approximately $3,960. When adding to this the state tax rate, the amount taxed could approach 50%.

* For specific inquiries regarding a tax planning legal matter that you may have, you are welcome to visit our Los Angeles Tax Planning Attorney services page.


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The Tax Benefits of Incorporation to the Entertainer (Part 2)

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This is the part 2 of the second section of Anker Reed HSC’s blog series entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate? That is the Question” regarding the tax benefits of incorporation to the entertainer.

The only difference between a corporation and an individual taxpayer is the application of the rate of tax to the taxable income.” Section 1(c) applies to the individual taxpayer and requires taxation at the highest level of 39.6%. Section 11, which applies to the corporate taxpayer, requires taxation at the highest level of 35%. While it may seem that the 4.6% difference in maximum taxation rates is inconsequential, the §1(c) rate of 39.6% is applied to taxable income over $250,000. The §11 tax rate of 35% is applied to taxable income exceeding $10,000,000.

The foregoing analysis, though, is altered when applied to a personal service corporation (“PSC”) (also known as a loan-out corporation). Section 11(b)(2) states that the qualified PSC will be taxed at a rate of 35%.  “The [Internal Revenue] Code provides for the taxation of the taxable income of certain personal service corporations at the highest corporate [tax] rate, thereby depriving these corporations of the benefit of lesser, graduated tax rates on taxable income not in excess of $75,000″ (Ness and Vogel, 1991).  The corporation with very little taxable income will be taxed at the same rate as large corporation with a large amount of taxable income. Section 11(b)(2) only applies to those PSCs that are qualified as defined by Internal Revenue Code § 448(d)(2).

Therefore, a corporation which is substantially involved in the performing arts (among other specified industries, including accounting, law, and engineering), and where substantially all of the stock in the corporation is held either directly or indirectly by an employee performing the services in which the corporation is substantially involved, then the corporation is a qualified PSC.

* For specific inquiries regarding a tax planning legal matter that you may have, you are welcome to visit our Woodland Hills Tax Lawyer services page.

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The Tax Benefits of Incorporation to the Entertainer (Part 1)

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This is the second section of Anker Reed HSC’s blog series entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate? That is the Question” regarding the tax benefits of incorporation to the entertainer.

“In general, the tax benefits available to loan-out corporations compare favorably with those available to individuals under their two unincorporated alternatives:

  1. providing services as a direct employee of the unrelated party consuming the services
  2. providing services as a sole proprietor

“(La France, 1995)

The concepts employed to determine a corporation’s tax liability are the same broad principles of gross income, deductions, assignment of income, timing, and characterization of the income employed by the individual taxpayer. Taxable income is gross income less certain authorized deductions. Gross income is all income from whatever source derived. Internal Revenue Code § 61 provides a non-exclusive list of sources of income which qualify as gross income under that section, including compensation for services, gains derived from dealings in property interest, and dividends.

From gross income, deductions are made if specifically allowed by the Internal Revenue Code as properly deductible. Such deductions include those ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business, deductions on interest paid during the taxable year and ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year for the production of income.

* For specific inquiries regarding a tax planning legal matter that you may have, you are welcome to visit our Los Angeles Tax Planning Attorney services page.

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To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate? THAT is the Question (Part 6)

This is part 6 of Anker Reed HSC’s blog series entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate? That is the Question”.

The tax implications for an LLC (limited liability corporation) are identical to that of a partnership. ” For federal income tax purposes, the LLC is not a separate taxpaying entity and is not subject to tax at the entity level. Instead, the LLC’s members report their respective distributive shares of LLC income, gain, loss, and deduction and credit on their individual federal income tax returns.” (Continuing Education of the Bar of California, 1999)

The tax treatment of an LLC by the state of California may also be problematic to the entertainer. Whereas the LLC and partnership will pay the same annual franchise tax that a corporation pays ($800), an LLC will be charged, pursuant to California Revenue & Taxation Code § 17942(a)-(b), an additional fee if there is net income exceeding $250,000. The additional fee is specified in the California Revenue and Tax Code and provides for the fee to be graduated at specified levels of income. Taking our earlier example of the partnership that has $1,000,000o taxable income, should this partnership be an LLC, there would be an additional fee of $5,190 assessed.

Other popular business entities include sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships. It is not important that we analyze each of these entities with regard to the tax effects. What is important, though, is that we note that over time these entities have been regarded as being inappropriate for application to the entertainer. For example, the sole proprietorship provides no tax benefit insofar as taxes are assessed on the sole proprietor at the individual rate.

Furthermore, the purpose of this blog series is to assess the benefits and detriments of incorporation to the entertainer. An examination of all of the business entities and their utility to the entertainer would be of no use, for attorneys and accountants have long-held that an entertainer’s decision is solely whether to incorporate or remain a non-taxpayer. Therefore, the main consideration will be whether incorporation is beneficial to the entertainer as taxpayer.

* For specific inquiries regarding a business legal matter that you may have, you are welcome to visit our Los Angeles Business Attorney services page.

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