John D. Teter Law Offices

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San Jose business tax attorney for successor liabilityMaking the decision to purchase an existing business can be an exciting and lucrative endeavor. Owning your own business allows you to have a great deal of independence and direction over how the business is run. Being your own boss and watching a business grow and develop can be especially rewarding. Of course, buying a business is not without risk. One of these risks is successor liability for any debts owed by the business, including tax debts.

Stock Purchase Versus Asset Purchase

When you buy an existing business, you have two options: an asset purchase or a stock purchase agreement. A stock purchase allows you to buy most of the seller’s shares, or in the case of an LLC purchase, the membership units. However, assets such as equipment and inventory are still owned by the entity. If you acquire a business through a stock purchase, you will most likely assume all of that company’s liabilities.

In an asset purchase agreement, you purchase the business’s assets, and the seller retains ownership of the actual business. In most asset purchases, the assets are transferred to the new owner without liabilities, but there can be exceptions. Most people buying an existing business choose to undergo an asset purchase transaction to avoid assuming debts accumulated by the previous owner. A qualified attorney can help you decide what type of business purchase agreement is right for you.

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San Jose, CA business tax attorney use taxesA recent U.S. Supreme Court case has prompted California legislators to change a state use tax law that affects out-of-state sellers. Under the new law, some retailers outside of California must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) and collect California use tax.

The law applies to remote sellers who have total sales of $500,000 in tangible personal property for delivery in California in the preceding or current calendar year. The law went into effect on April 1, 2019, so these sellers are required to collect and remit taxes on sales which occurred on or after this date. 

Examples of out-of-state sellers that may be affected by this change include online merchants, mail-order catalogs, or telephone salespeople. Retailers with a physical presence in California will continue to have the same registration and use tax obligations as before the new law was passed.

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San Jose property tax attorneyProperty taxes are an issue that affects many taxpayers in California, and changes to these taxes may be coming in the near future. In the 2020 election, voters will be able to decide if Prop. 13 should continue to apply to businesses. The measure would increase property taxes that businesses have to pay the state of California.

What is Prop. 13?

Prop. 13 is a ballot measure approved by California residents in 1978 that placed a limit on real property tax reassessment on all types of properties allowing reassessment only on completion of construction or when properties are sold. This means that currently, property owners pay taxes that are based on the value of a property when it was purchased, regardless of the property’s current market value. In effect, Prop. 13 prevented increases in property tax rates on homes, businesses, and farms by about 57 percent. 

The proposed measure calls for businesses to have their properties reassessed to market values every three years or less. The reassessments would result in higher taxes on commercial properties. The laws regarding residential property taxes would remain unchanged. This setup is called a “split roll,” since commercial property would be treated differently than residential property.

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San Jose CA tax lawyer cash transaction reportingAs a business owner, the law requires that you take certain steps when you make large transactions. For cash transactions over $10,000, you must submit a form to the IRS reporting such a payment. Form 8300 is due 15 days after the transaction is completed. Entities who must file this form include individuals, companies, corporations, partnerships, associations, trusts, or estates.

How to File a Transaction Report

The IRS recommends that businesses electronically file cash transaction reports. Electronic filing has several benefits: it is fast and easy to do, and it costs the business nothing. Businesses also have the option to file Form 8300 on paper. To file electronically, a business needs to have an account with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s BSA E-Filing System.

What Transactions Am I Not Required to Report?

It should be noted that not all transactions over $10,000 have to be reported. The law is concerned only with cash transactions, rather than transactions that have a paper trail. Thus, cashier's checks, bank drafts, traveler's checks, or money orders with face amounts of more than $10,000 do not have reporting requirements. 

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San Jose business tax deduction attorneyHistorically, business owners have been able to utilize tax deductions based on the cost of assets bought for business use and the depreciation of those assets. However, the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) modified the rules regarding the deduction of expenses under Section 179(a) and the deduction of depreciation under Section 168(g). These changes affect business taxes filed for years 2018 and beyond.

Section 179(a): Business Asset Deductions

This law permits businesses to deduct the purchase price of certain assets as an expense for the year the business begins to use the property. The recent updates to the law raised the maximum expense deduction to $1 million (up from $500,000). The updated law also raised the phase-out limit to $2.5 million (up from $2 million).

This deduction is available for tangible property like tools and technology used in business. The deduction is also available for qualified real property. Under the TCJA, qualified real property includes qualified improvement property, as well as certain types of improvements to nonresidential property, which includes: 

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