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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Update on Section 179 - Depreciation Legislation

In April 2014, both the Senate Tax Committee, and the House Ways and Means Committee each voted to extend approximately 50 tax breaks for a two-year period as part of “extender” packages. 

The Senate package would cost about eighty-five billion while the House package would cost about 130 billion over 10 years.  These breaks expired at the end of 2013.

High on the list of extended tax breaks in both bills is the proposed increase in the maximum Section 179 expending for 2014 and 2015 from the current $25,000 to $500,000.

The House bill would make permanent the five-year built-in-gain period for S Corporations.

The two houses will meet to reconcile their respective packages, although it is unclear whether anything gets done before the November mid-term elections.

Our staff discussed the diminished depreciation deduction for 2014  in many of our tax appointments this past few months; and it was a legitimate concern how the lower threshold was going to impact  end- of- the-year decisions related to capital purchases.  If the $25,000 is changed to $500,000, it allows for significant tax planning opportunities.

We will keep you posted as to the status of this legislation as it makes its way through the legislative process.  It is important to keep in mind the political implications of this law change, so anything is possible.  It is promising that both the House and Senate versions of the Extender package include similar language.

If you have questions about these or other issues, give the office a call and we will gladly discuss them with you!

On a lighter note, with these warm days and warm nights you can almost see the grass and alfalfa grow!!  Gardens are starting to come up, and lawn movers are the equipment of choice!  Enjoy the summer!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How Family Road Trips Can Be Done on the Cheap

 Planning a family vacation this summer?  Check out this article from by Emilie Sennebogen and take a tip from our very own Melissa Billing, who one year had Montana beef shipped straight from the ranch to Disney World to save on family vacation food costs!

When it comes time to pack up the Family Truckster for a road trip, you should set your sights on having a good time, not worrying about your trip’s financial tally.  You can save a lot of money by finding alternative transportation to air travel, which also has its other headaches; but road trips aren’t cheap either, when you factor in the high fuel costs and wear and tear on your vehicle.  Don’t forget hotels, tolls, meals and the cost of the fun things you have planned.  By the time you get home, your cranky, raod-weary family could have racked up a huge credit card bill.  Here are a few tips to help you save a little cash on your next trip.

 Smart Food – Food costs can add up quickly on a road trip.  Don’t think you can eat packed sandwiches from a cooler every day either, because you’ll get sick of them eventually and find yourself eating out at every meal.  The key is to mix it up.  Research the restaurants of towns you’ll be visiting or driving through and seek out inexpensive cafes and delis to avoid having to live on fast food.  Couple these great local finds with a mix of packed lunches and breakfasts on the go and you’ll definitely see some savings.  Keep plenty of snacks on hand to make sure you’re all not starving when you arrive at your location.  Be sure to get them from a grocery store instead of a convenience store, because you will pay extra for the convenience. 

The Internet has tons of websites that offer discounted meals through an easy download to your smart phone.  Think of it as an e-coupon of sorts.  Typically, these deals are based around a city, so scope out online deals in the areas you’ll be visiting and take advantage of the savings they offer. and are two sites with lots of great deals.  If you’re traveling with youngsters, look out for restaurants that offer discounts (or even free meals) on certain nights to kids. 

Low-cost Lodging – The first thing you’ll probably hear when it comes to saving some bucks on road trip lodging is “go camping!”  But not all families are into the outdoors, and you’re just asking for bad attitudes if you try to force them into it.  If your husband/wife and kids are nature challenged, then a hotel will probably be more to their liking.  Roadside motels usually have great rates, but if your family refuses to camp, they may also boycott the meager accommodations of a roach motel. 

Just like with meals, planning for your hotel stays is a must.  Plot your stops ahead of time and try to stick to that schedule.  Once you know your stay-over points, use the internet to find discounted deals.  You might also want to consider joining AAA, which offers savings on pretty much all hotels in the country and a roadside assistance policy that can be helpful in a pinch. 

Sometimes a suite is less expensive for a family than getting separate rooms for the kids and parents, or if you really want to save a buck, ask for rollaway beds and have a good old-fashioned slumber party in the same room.  And last but not least, home stays are as cheap as it gets, so don’t be afraid to call up that third cousin from Topeka who you haven’t seen in 10 years!