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November 23, 2021

Frazer LLP
Year end tax planning review .........

In this issue of Frazer 411

  • Tax breaks for holiday gifts and parties
  • 2022 cost of living adjustments 
  • New tax laws on the horizon

Businesses can show appreciation — and gain tax breaks — with holiday gifts and parties

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the holiday season will soon be here. At this time of year, your business may want to show its gratitude to employees and customers by giving them gifts or hosting holiday parties again after a year of forgoing them due to the pandemic. It’s a good time to brush up on the tax rules associated with these expenses. Are they tax deductible by your business and is the value taxable to the recipients?

Gifts to customers

If you give gifts to customers and clients, they’re deductible up to $25 per recipient per year. For purposes of the $25 limit, you don’t need to include “incidental” costs that don’t substantially add to the gift’s value. These costs include engraving, gift wrapping, packaging and shipping. Also excluded from the $25 limit are branded marketing items — such as those imprinted with your company’s name and logo — provided they’re widely distributed and cost less than $4.

The $25 limit is for gifts to individuals. There’s no set limit on gifts to a company (for example, a gift basket for all team members of a customer to share) as long as the costs are “reasonable.”

Gifts to employees

In general, anything of value that you transfer to an employee is included in his or her taxable income (and, therefore, subject to income and payroll taxes) and deductible by your business. But there’s an exception for noncash gifts that constitute a “de minimis” fringe benefit.

These are items that are small in value and given infrequently that are administratively impracticable to account for. Common examples include holiday turkeys, hams, gift baskets, occasional sports or theater tickets (but not season tickets) and other low-cost merchandise.

De minimis fringe benefits aren’t included in an employee’s taxable income yet they’re still deductible by your business. Unlike gifts to customers, there’s no specific dollar threshold for de minimis gifts. However, many businesses use an informal cutoff of $75.

Cash gifts — as well as cash equivalents, such as gift cards — are included in an employee’s income and subject to payroll tax withholding regardless of how small and infrequent.

Throw a holiday party

In general, holiday parties are fully deductible (and excludible from recipients’ income). And for calendar years 2021 and 2022, a COVID-19 relief law provides a temporary 100% deduction for expenses of food or beverages “provided by” a restaurant to your workplace. Previously, these expenses were only 50% deductible. Entertainment expenses are still not deductible.

The use of the words “provided by” a restaurant clarifies that the tax break for 2021 and 2022 isn’t limited to meals eaten on a restaurant’s premises. Takeout and delivery meals from a restaurant are also generally 100% deductible. So you can treat your on-premises staff to some holiday meals this year and get a full deduction.

Show your holiday spirit


Don’t forget to factor 2022 cost-of-living adjustments into your year-end tax planning

The IRS recently issued its 2022 cost-of-living adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions. With inflation up significantly this year, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many amounts increased considerably over 2021 amounts. As you implement 2021 year-end tax planning strategies, be sure to take these 2022 adjustments into account.

Also, keep in mind that, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), annual inflation adjustments are calculated using the chained consumer price index (also known as C-CPI-U). This increases tax bracket thresholds, the standard deduction, certain exemptions and other figures at a slower rate than was the case with the consumer price index previously used, potentially pushing taxpayers into higher tax brackets and making various breaks worth less over time. The TCJA adopts the C-CPI-U on a permanent basis.

Individual income taxes

Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status but, because they’re based on percentages, they increase more significantly for the higher brackets. For example, the top of the 10% bracket increases by $325 to $650, depending on filing status, but the top of the 35% bracket increases by $16,300 to $19,550, again depending on filing status.

The TCJA suspended personal exemptions through 2025. However, it nearly doubled the standard deduction, indexed annually for inflation through 2025. For 2022, the standard deduction is $25,900 (married couples filing jointly), $19,400 (heads of households), and $12,950 (singles and married couples filing separately). After 2025, standard deduction amounts are scheduled to drop back to the amounts under pre-TCJA law unless Congress extends the current rules or revises them.

Changes to the standard deduction could help some taxpayers make up for the loss of personal exemptions. But it might not help taxpayers who typically used to itemize deductions.

2022 ordinary-income tax brackets

Tax rate


Head of household

Married filing jointly or surviving spouse

Married filing separately


$           0 - $  10,275

$           0 - $  14,650

$           0 - $  20,550

$           0 - $  10,275


$  10,276 - $  41,775

$  14,651 - $  55,900

$  20,501 - $  83,550

$  10,276 - $  41,775


$  41,776 - $  89,075

$  55,901 - $  89,050

$  83,551 - $178,150

$  41,776 - $  89,075


$  89,076 - $170,050

$  89,051 - $170,050

$178,151 - $340,100

$  89,076 - $170,050


$170,051 - $215,950

$170,051 - $215,950

$340,101 - $431,900

$170,051 - $215,950


$215,951 - $539,900

$215,951 - $539,900

$431,901 - $647,850

$215,951 - $323,925


         Over $539,900

         Over $539,900

         Over $647,850

         Over $323,925


The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is a separate tax system that limits some deductions, doesn’t permit others and treats certain income items differently. If your AMT liability is greater than your regular tax liability, you must pay the AMT.

Like the regular tax brackets, the AMT brackets are annually indexed for inflation. For 2022, the threshold for the 28% bracket increased by $6,200 for all filing statuses except married filing separately, which increased by half that amount.

2022 AMT brackets

Tax rate


Head of household

Married filing jointly or surviving spouse

Married filing separately


         $0  -  $206,100

         $0  -  $206,100

         $0  -  $206,100

          $0  -  $103,050


         Over $206,100

         Over $206,100

         Over $206,100

         Over $103,050

The AMT exemptions and exemption phaseouts are also indexed. The exemption amounts for 2022 are $75,900 for singles and heads of households and $118,100 for joint filers, increasing by $2,300 and $3,500, respectively, over 2021 amounts. The inflation-adjusted phaseout ranges for 2022 are $539,900–$843,500 (singles and heads of households) and $1,079,800–$1,552,200 (joint filers). Amounts for separate filers are half of those for joint filers.

Education and child-related breaks

The maximum benefits of certain education and child-related breaks generally remain the same for 2022. But most of these breaks are limited based on a taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). Taxpayers whose MAGIs are within an applicable phaseout range are eligible for a partial break — and breaks are eliminated for those whose MAGIs exceed the top of the range.

The MAGI phaseout ranges generally remain the same or increase modestly for 2022, depending on the break. For example:

The American Opportunity credit. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2020, the MAGI amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the American Opportunity credit isn’t adjusted for inflation. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with MAGI in excess of $80,000 ($160,000 for joint returns). The maximum credit per eligible student is $2,500.

The Lifetime Learning credit. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2020, the MAGI amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning credit isn’t adjusted for inflation. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with MAGI in excess of $80,000 ($160,000 for joint returns). The maximum credit is $2,000 per tax return.

The adoption credit. The phaseout ranges for eligible taxpayers adopting a child will also increase for 2022 — by $6,750 to $223,410–$263,410 for joint, head-of-household and single filers. The maximum credit increases by $450, to $14,890 for 2022.

(Note: Married couples filing separately generally aren’t eligible for these credits.)

These are only some of the education and child-related breaks that may benefit you. Keep in mind that, if your MAGI is too high for you to qualify for a break for your child’s education, your child might be eligible to claim one on his or her tax return.

Gift and estate taxes

The unified gift and estate tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption are both adjusted annually for inflation. For 2022, the amount is $12.060 million (up from $11.70 million for 2021).

The annual gift tax exclusion increases by $1,000 to $16,000 for 2022.

Retirement plans

Not all of the retirement-plan-related limits increase for 2022. Thus, depending on the type of plan you have, you may have limited opportunities to increase your retirement savings if you’ve already been contributing the maximum amount allowed:

 Type of limitation

2021 limit

2022 limit

Elective deferrals to 401(k), 403(b), 457(b)(2) and 457(c)(1) plans

$  19,500

$  20,500

Annual benefit limit for defined benefit plans



Contributions to defined contribution plans

$  58,000

$  61,000

Contributions to SIMPLEs

$  13,500

$  14,000

Contributions to IRAs

$    6,000

$    6,000

“Catch-up” contributions to 401(k), 403(b), 457(b)(2) and 457(c)(1) plans for those age 50 and older

$    6,500

$    6,500

Catch-up contributions to SIMPLEs

$    3,000

$    3,000

Catch-up contributions to IRAs

$    1,000

$    1,000

Compensation for benefit purposes for qualified plans and SEPs



Minimum compensation for SEP coverage

$       650

$       650

Highly compensated employee threshold




Your MAGI may reduce or even eliminate your ability to take advantage of IRAs. Fortunately, IRA-related MAGI phaseout range limits all will increase for 2022:

Traditional IRAs. MAGI phaseout ranges apply to the deductibility of contributions if a taxpayer (or his or her spouse) participates in an employer-sponsored retirement plan:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly, the phaseout range is specific to each spouse based on whether he or she is a participant in an employer-sponsored plan:
    • For a spouse who participates, the 2022 phaseout range limits increase by $4,000, to $109,000–$129,000.
    • For a spouse who doesn’t participate, the 2022 phaseout range limits increase by $6,000, to $204,000–$214,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers participating in an employer-sponsored plan, the 2022 phaseout range limits increase by $2,000, to $68,000–$78,000.

Taxpayers with MAGIs in the applicable range can deduct a partial contribution; those with MAGIs exceeding the applicable range can’t deduct any IRA contribution.

But a taxpayer whose deduction is reduced or eliminated can make nondeductible traditional IRA contributions. The $6,000 contribution limit (plus $1,000 catch-up if applicable and reduced by any Roth IRA contributions) still applies. Nondeductible traditional IRA contributions may be beneficial if your MAGI is also too high for you to contribute (or fully contribute) to a Roth IRA.

Roth IRAs. Whether you participate in an employer-sponsored plan doesn’t affect your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA, but MAGI limits may reduce or eliminate your ability to contribute:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly, the 2022 phaseout range limits increase by $6,000, to $204,000–$214,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers, the 2022 phaseout range limits increase by $4,000, to $129,000–$144,000.

You can make a partial contribution if your MAGI falls within the applicable range, but no contribution if it exceeds the top of the range.

(Note: Married taxpayers filing separately are subject to much lower phaseout ranges for both traditional and Roth IRAs.)

2022 cost-of-living adjustments and tax planning

With many of the 2022 cost-of-living adjustment amounts trending higher, you have an opportunity to realize some tax relief next year. In addition, with certain retirement-plan-related limits also increasing, you have the chance to boost your retirement savings. If you have questions on the best tax-saving strategies to implement based on the 2022 numbers, please give us a call. We’d be happy to help.


Businesses must navigate year-end tax planning with new tax laws potentially on the horizon

The end of the tax year is fast approaching for many businesses, but their ability to engage in traditional year-end planning may be hampered by the specter of looming tax legislation. The budget reconciliation bill, dubbed the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), is likely to include provisions affecting the taxation of businesses — although its passage is uncertain at this time.

While it appears that several of the more disadvantageous provisions targeting businesses won’t make it into the final bill, others may. In addition, some temporary provisions are coming to an end, requiring businesses to take action before year end to capitalize on them. As Congress continues to negotiate the final bill, here are some areas where you could act now to reduce your business’s 2021 tax bill.

Research and experimentation

Section 174 research and experimental (R&E) expenditures generally refer to research and development costs in the experimental or laboratory sense. They include costs related to activities intended to uncover information that would eliminate uncertainty about the development or improvement of a product.

Currently, businesses can deduct R&E expenditures in the year they’re incurred or paid. Alternatively, they can capitalize and amortize the costs over at least five years. Software development costs also can be immediately expensed, amortized over five years from the date of completion or amortized over three years from the date the software is placed in service.

However, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), that tax treatment is scheduled to expire after 2021. Beginning next year, you can’t deduct R&E costs in the year incurred. Instead, you must amortize such expenses incurred in the United States over five years and expenses incurred outside the country over 15 years. In addition, the TCJA requires that software development costs be treated as Sec. 174 expenses.

The BBBA may include a provision that delays the capitalization and amortization requirements to 2026, but it’s far from a sure thing. You might consider accelerating research expenses into 2021 to maximize your deductions and reduce the amount you may need to begin to capitalize starting next year.

Income and expense timing 

Accelerating expenses into the current tax year and deferring income until the next year is a tried-and-true tax reduction strategy for businesses that use cash-basis accounting. These businesses might, for example, delay billing until later in December than they usually do, stock up on supplies and expedite bonus payments.

But the strategy is advised only for businesses that expect to be in the same or a lower tax bracket the following year — and you may expect greater profits in 2022, as the pandemic hopefully winds down. If that’s the case, your deductions could be worth more next year, so you’d want to delay expenses, while accelerating your collection of income. Moreover, under some proposed provisions in the BBBA, certain businesses may find themselves facing higher tax rates in 2022.

For example, the BBBA may expand the net investment income tax (NIIT) to include active business income from pass-through businesses. The owners of pass-through businesses — who report their business income on their individual income tax returns — also could be subject to a new 5% “surtax” on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) that exceeds $10 million, with an additional 3% on income of more than $25 million.

Capital assets

The traditional approach of making capital purchases before year-end remains effective for reducing taxes in 2021, bearing in mind the timing issues discussed above. Businesses can deduct 100% of the cost of new and used (subject to certain conditions) qualified property in the year the property is placed in service.

You can take advantage of this bonus depreciation by purchasing computer systems, software, vehicles, machinery, equipment and office furniture, among other items. Bonus depreciation also is available for qualified improvement property (generally, interior improvements to nonresidential real property) placed in service this year. Special rules apply to property with a longer production period.

Of course, if you face higher tax rates going forward, depreciation deductions would be worth more in the future. The good news is that you can purchase qualifying property before year-end but wait until your tax filing deadline, including extensions, to determine the optimal approach.

You can also cut your taxes in 2021 with Sec. 179 expensing (deducting the entire cost). It’s available for several types of improvements to nonresidential real property, including roofs, HVAC, fire protection systems, alarm systems and security systems.

The maximum deduction for 2021 is $1.05 million (the maximum deduction also is limited to the amount of income from business activity). The deduction begins phasing out on a dollar-for-dollar basis when qualifying property placed in service this year exceeds $2.62 million. Again, you needn’t decide whether to take the immediate deduction until filing time.

Business meals

Not every tax-cutting tactic has to be dry and dull. One temporary tax provision gives you an incentive to enjoy a little fun.

For 2021 and 2022, businesses can generally deduct 100% (compared with the normal 50%) of qualifying business meals. In addition to meals incurred at and provided by restaurants, qualifying expenses include those for company events, such as holiday parties. As many employees and customers return to the workplace for the first time after extended pandemic-related absences, a company celebration could reap you both a tax break and a valuable chance to reconnect and re-engage.

Stay tuned

The TCJA was signed into law with little more than a week left in 2017. It’s possible the BBBA similarly could come down to the wire, so be prepared to take quick action in the waning days of 2021. Turn to us for the latest information.



Please contact us if you have questions.  The Frazer team is ready to help in Brea (714.990.1040) or Visalia (559.732.4135)

Very truly yours,

Frazer, LLP




Frazer LLP | 135 S. State College Blvd., Brea, CA
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