Woodbury, NY (PRWEB) December 11, 2013
Leading accounting and business valuation Gettry Marcus CPA, P.C., discusses various methods to time year-end bonuses for tax purposes.
Taxpayers generally prefer to accelerate deductions to reduce their current year income and taxes. In some situations, the tax code's accounting rules allow an accrual-basis employer to deduct a year-end employee bonus in the current year, even though the bonus will not be paid until the following year. A recent IRS Chief Counsel memorandum (FAA 20134301F) highlights some of the pitfalls that can affect when bonus compensation is deductible.
Under the accrual-method of accounting (in contrast to the cash-method of accounting), a liability is incurred, and can be deducted, in the year in which:
1. All the events have occurred that establish the fact of the liability;
2. The amount of the liability can be determined with reasonable accuracy; and
3. Economic performance has occurred.
The first factor, the all-events test, is met when the event fixing the liability occurs and payment is unconditionally due. Although an expense may be deductible before it is payable, liability must be firmly established. The "fact of liability" depends on whether legal rights or obligations exist as of the close of the year, not the probability that the rights will arise in the future.
An employer may establish an arrangement or plan that will pay a bonus to its employees in the succeeding year, based on an evaluation of current year performance.
Performance could be determined by objective factors, such as numerical goals set for the company or the employee. These bonuses may be deductible in the earlier year even though the employee, who must figure taxes on the cash method, won't need to recognize the income until it is paid. Or performance may be based on more subjective factors, such as an individual performance appraisal or the employer's discretion. These bonuses may be deductible in the later year. The requirements for awarding the bonus must be scrutinized, to determine when the liability becomes certain.
Is the liability deductible?
The IRS has stated that a bonus can be deducted in the current year if, under a bonus plan, the employee is notified in the current year the employee will receive a bonus, even though the bonus is not calculated or paid until the following year. An employer's bonus liability that is ascertainable by a fixed standard, such as a percentage of profits at the close of the year, accrues and is deductible in the current year even though the computations are not made until the following year.
For information about instances when a bonus cannot be accrued or employers may be denied a deduction in the current year, read the Gettry Marcus tax update.
Gettry Marcus CPA, P.C. is a Top 200 firm nationally with offices in Woodbury, Long Island and New York City. We provide accounting, tax, and consulting services to commercial businesses, high net worth individuals and various industries which include Real Estate and Health Care. We have one of the premier and most credentialed Business Valuation, Litigation and Forensic Accounting Groups in the New York Area. Our experience in diverse industries and a highly talented and experienced professional staff gives us the ability to share valuable insights into our clients’ businesses, to better understand their goals and problems and to help them attain the vision they have for their company.
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Media inquiries: Contact Fayellen Dietchweiler at 516-364-3390 ext. 225 or via email at fdietchweiler(at)gettrymarcus(dot)com.
If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.