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Sweeten CPA Runs a 5K For The Water

Michele and Daniel Sweeten had the opportunity to meet Gilbert Tuhabonye, and two and a half months later a team from Sweeten CPA were queuing up to complete a 5k.

The Runners Cueing Up

Gilbert has affected many here in Austin and in the world wide running community. He is native to Burundi, Africa and moved to the United State after being almost burned to death in the horrifying war between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes.


Best Group Photo

Run for the Water is a fully charity-produced race and benefits Gilbert’s Gazelle Foundation. The mission of the Gazelle Foundation is to better the lives of citizens of Burundi through the building of water systems.

Our team was small, just four people, but every little bit helps provide water for those in need. See how you can support the cause and give back to the global community.

David & Michele at Finish Line Run for the Water

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Sweeten CPA Teams Up with CAFB

Sweeten CPA strives to establish order, promote clarity, and enrich the lives of those connected to and around our work. As part of this mission, a team from the Westlake Chamber of Commerce joined the battle against hunger with the Capital Area Food Bank.

In the fiscal year of 2013-2014, Capital Area Food Bank distributed 31 million pounds of food to families in need.

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It doesn’t take much to help. We spent a Saturday morning lending our hands (and hearts) to the work at the CAFB.

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Volunteer to serve your community at the Capital Area Food Bank.

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Hot off the Press: Texas Franchise Taxes Reduced!!

In a push to create new jobs and business incentives, Governor Greg Abbott just signed House Bill 32, a proposal lifting tax burdens on businesses. Born in March, the bill was approved by the House April 29th, approved in the Senate a month later on May 24th, and finally signed by the governor this week on June 15th. The bill was signed at Advanced Micro Designs, one of the top ten franchise tax payers in Austin, TX, as a sign that Texas rewards businesses for simply being Texan.

The bill includes a 25-percent, across-the-board cut in business-franchise tax rates. It also increases the revenue threshold for businesses who choose to be E-Z filers to $20 million, from $10 million. The E-Z filers’ tax rate declines to 0.331 percent of receipts, from 0.575 percent. The bill is expected to cost the state $2.56 billion over the next two years.

Another tax break introduced in the bill is the elimination of licensing fees for approximately 600,000 professionals. Even the average taxpayer will be impacted by this bill, as homeowners are expected to save about $125 per year just in property taxes. Big businesses are encouraged to put down roots in Texas with this bill– Abbott’s people are talking to GE’s people– but Abbott clearly had small businesses in mind too: “Overregulation is costly at any level, especially to small businesses.”

Here at Sweeten CPA, Michele was firmly in favor of the franchise tax cut.  “That rate reduction will affect about 20% of my clients, who are currently subject to the franchise tax.  Many of my small business clients are already beneath the threshold for the tax, and file a No Tax Due Return annually.  But for those successful and growing firms who are over the $1,000,000 threshold for paying the Texas Franchise Tax, the 25% savings will be truly felt!”

[Find more about his speech summed up by the Texas Tribune here.]

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How do I get a mileage deduction?

Mileage deductions can be difficult to understand when you’re recording your business expenses, but we can make it simple for you.

Actual Vs. Standard Mileage

In order to take any kind of deduction, the taxpayer is required to keep a written log of all miles driven and record how many were driven for business use and how many were driven for personal use. There are two options: actual auto expenses or the standard mileage deduction.

Since the standard mileage deduction is based on an average, in a large percentage of cases, using the mileage deduction produces a larger auto expense deduction than actual expenses. In order to use standard mileage, it must be used the first year the vehicle is placed in service.  After the first year, taxpayers can decide to use whichever method (actual or standard mileage) that has the highest amount of expense.

(Note: If the vehicle is leased, you must choose either standard or actual for the entire life of the lease.)

To get the actual auto expense deduction, the taxpayer must keep track of all maintenance, repairs, fuel, tires, insurance, registration fees, licenses, etc. and determine how much of that is attributable to the portion of the total miles driven that are business miles.

IRS 2014 Mileage Rates:

  • 56 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

IRS 2015 Mileage Rates:

  • 57.6 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

To take advantage of this deduction; a taxpayer must keep track of:

  • All business miles driven for the year (in written form)
  • Total miles driven for the year (in written form)

When can you NOT use the standard mileage rate?

  • For commuting miles, which are the miles going from home to work and vice versa
  • If your car is for hire, for instance a taxi cab
  • If you use five or more cars at the same time for business, for instance a fleet operation
  • If you have already counted the depreciation of the vehicle as a deduction or allowance

Note: Parking fees and tolls for the business are separately deductible, regardless of which deduction method is used.

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Tax Break Extensions for 2014 Returns

At the end of 2014, the Senate approved HR 5771, or The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which passed by a landslide in the House early last month on December 3rd. This bill extended expiring tax provisions from the end of 2013 and 2014 for individuals and businesses whom Sweeten CPA service, so we wanted to keep our clients informed about what this means, specifically about which provisions are being extended:

  • The threshold under Section 179 has been increased to its previous threshold of $500,000, from its diminished threshold of $25,000, allowing for the expensing of qualified asset purchases rather than the spreading out of those expenses over time through regular depreciation.
  • Energy efficient renovations to your home, like more effective doors and windows for your home, are back under the previous rules with a 10% credit of the cost of the improvements, with a lifetime limit of $500.
  • Energy efficient renovations to commercial property, like replacing existing energy systems with high efficiency systems, are back under the previous rules with a possible deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot.
  • Other improvements, made to leased buildings, restaurant property, and retail establishments, are also back under the previous depreciation rule involving a 15 year straight-line depreciation method.
  • For seniors, seventy and a half years or older, 2014 distributions from your IRA to charity are tax-free.
  • Teachers can again claim above-the-line deductions of up to $250 for books and materials used in the classroom purchased out-of-pocket.
  • Tuition-payers can again claim above-the-line deductions of up to $4,000 for higher education expenses.
  •  Cost of new property purchased or used in 2014 can be expensed by 50%, using the Special Depreciation rule.

Enjoy these extensions and if you’re confused, don’t worry: Sweeten CPA can manage these changes in your tax return this year!