March 28, 2019

Many of the changes for small businesses in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) went into effect last year, and initial reports suggest that small business owners are seeing larger returns, despite the average taxpayer generally receiving a smaller refund.

The biggest impact of the TCJA is the introduction of a new major tax deduction. Available for qualified business owners at the head of "pass-through" organizations, such as sole proprietorship, S-corporations and partnerships, the tax break allows for the deduction of 20 percent of qualified income.

While that’s great news for many small businesses, there are some major caveats.

  •  According to the IRS, small business owners who file as single individuals can only take the deduction if their taxable income is less than $157,500. Those who are married and file jointly must have income less than $315,000. These limits are in place regardless of which industry the business operates under.
  •  “Specified Services Trades or Businesses” (SSTB) that deal "in the fields of health, law, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services" and other similar fields are unable to take the deduction if their income as a single filer exceeds $207,500, or $415,000 as a married filer. Instead, those business owners are eligible for a smaller deduction if their income is above the regular $157,500 and $315,000 thresholds but under the SSTB limitations.
  • The elimination of a large portion of the entertainment expense deduction. Up until the TCJA's passage, businesses of all sizes could deduct entertainment expenses they accrued while wining and dining clients. Taking clients out for business-related meals is still deductible at 50 percent. Promotional events are also still deductible, if the company's message is the focus of the event. In addition, gatherings for employees, such as a holiday party, are also still deductible.