Top Tax Savings Strategies For The Family-Run Business
There’s a certain freedom associated with being self-employed, but there’s also a lot of responsibility … and expenses. Fortunately, the family that’s invested in the success of the business, and is willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work, may be able to secure some significant tax savings.
Marriage Has It’s Benefits
If you’re married, chances are good that your spouse is already doing helping out in some aspect of your business. So why not extend a formal job offer? While you may be hesitant to bring them aboard (officially), there are several key reasons why it pays to add your spouse to the payroll.
- Retirement benefits – Once hired, federal taxes will begin to be withheld from your spouse’s paycheck. That means that they will start receiving Social Security credits toward retirement. This alone is a pretty great (when it comes to retirement – every little bit helps), but the retirement benefits of hiring your spouse don’t stop there. If your business already offers employees a retirement plan, those benefits can be extended to your spouse when they opt in to the plan as well. Furthermore, contributions your company makes to the plan are tax deductible – up to 25 percent of compensation or $49,000, whichever is less.
- Health Insurance – Business owners everywhere continue to struggle with the affordability of health care. But those who do offer this benefit to their employees, might be able to secure some additional savings by opting to cover their spouse as an employee rather than as a dependent. Especially if you consider the fact that your company can deduct the premiums it pays for employee health coverage. Then you may want to ask your tax advisor if you are also eligible to receive the health care tax credit.
- Life Insurance – Because they are employees of your business, your spouse is eligible for the same benefits as all your other employees. That includes life insurance. And those costs are deductible as business expenses as well.
All Hands On Deck
Raise your hand if you had to do chores as a kid. We all did. It taught us work ethic and the value of a dollar. These days, families that own their own businesses can go a step further. Instead of paying your son or daughter a few dollars to mow the lawn, how about hiring them as a grounds keeper for your business? These days giving your kids a job in your business isn’t just a huge help when it comes to managing the day-to-day responsibilities of the company, it can be advantageous from a tax perspective. Business owners who welcome their kids to the family workforce, may be able to:
- Deduct their children’s salary from the business’s income as a business expense.
- Avoid paying FICA tax on their children’s salary.
- Shift a portion of business income from your tax bracket to your child’s to significantly reduce your taxable income.
But, in order to make this strategy work, you must be able to prove that your children are legitimate employees and that their work is necessary. And don’t forget to fill out all the proper forms that go along with hiring any new employee (W-4, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, etc.). It’s also wise to keep track of their work and the time they put in by maintaining a time sheet. Also, while it may be tempting to pay your kids top-dollar for answering phones or cleaning the office, the IRS is on the lookout for unreasonable compensation practices. Don’t pay your son or daughter more than what you would pay a stranger for doing the same job and pay them regularly, as you would with any other employee. Your child’s paycheck can then be directly deposited into an account in your child’s name.
TIP: Get more out of your child’s earnings by opening a Roth IRA or 529 College Savings Plan in your child’s name and direct deposit their wages into the account and watch it grow.
By Ted Klimczak (Medina office)
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