Your small business tax returns may not be due until April, but now’s the time to start your tax prep so you’re ready for the big day. As you gather documents and compile receipts, consider the commercial insurance premiums you can deduct as business expenses.
IRS Expense Deduction Guidelines
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), small businesses can deduct ordinary and necessary costs associated with doing business. Certain insurance premiums fall into this category of deductible expenses.
Insurance Premiums you can Deduct
Here’s a partial list of business insurance premiums you may be able to deduct on your tax return.
- Auto insurance for commercial vehicles the business owns if you deduct the actual cost of the vehicles and not the standard mileage deduction.
- Business interruption insurance that covers lost profit if a covered event causes a temporary business shut down.
- Credit insurance that pays for losses caused by bad business debts.
- Group health insurance premiums if the company’s employees, managers and owners benefited and the policy is written in the business’s name.
- Liability insurance that covers accidents.
- Life insurance for officers and employees if you are not the beneficiary of any of those policies.
- Long-term care insurance available to employees, managers and owners.
- Malpractice insurance for personal liability that occurs because of professional negligence.
- Overhead insurance, which covers business expenses if you become disabled.
- State unemployment insurance fund contributions if they are taxed under your state’s law.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance that covers employees’ occupational injuries or illnesses.
Insurance Premiums you Cannot Deduct
IRS rules prevent your business from deducting several insurance premiums, including:
- Certain life insurance or annuity premiums
- Insurance premiums paid to secure a loan
- Personal insurance premiums
- Self-insured reserve payments
- Sickness or Disability insurance premiums
How to Calculate Insurance Premium Deductions
To calculate your insurance premium deductions, gather your records and add all the allowable premiums you paid during the tax year. Include this figure with your other business deductions on IRS Form 1040. You can find additional helpful information about tax deductions in IRS Publication 535, the Business Expenses worksheet, and IRS Publication 334, the Small Business Tax Guide.
Insurance protects your business and offers invaluable peace of mind. Talk to your qualified professional tax preparer now as you prepare to file your taxes. He or she will evaluate your specific insurance policies and business circumstances, help you calculate your deductions properly and assist you in maximizing your tax return this year.
Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting under Section 6055 and Section 6056 for the 2018 calendar year is due in early 2019. Specifically, reporting entities must:
- File returns with the IRS by Feb. 28, 2019 (or April 1, 2019, if filing electronically, since March 31, 2019, is a Sunday); and
- Furnish statements to individuals by March 4, 2019.
Originally, individual statements were due by Jan. 31, 2019. However, on Nov. 29, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2018-94 to extend the furnishing deadline by 32 days. Notice 2018-94 does not extend the due date for filing forms with the IRS for 2018.
Despite the delay, the IRS is encouraging reporting entities to furnish statements as soon as they are able. No request or other documentation is required to take advantage of the extended deadline.
Section 6055 and 6056 Reporting
Sections 6055 and 6056 were added to the Internal Revenue Code (Code) by the ACA.
- Section 6055 applies to providers of minimum essential coverage (MEC), such as health insurance issuers and employers with self-insured health plans. These entities will generally use Forms 1094-B and 1095-B to report information about the coverage they provided during the previous year.
- Section 6056 applies to applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally, those employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents, in the previous year. ALEs will use Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report information relating to the health coverage that they offer (or do not offer) to their full-time employees.
Generally, forms must be filed with the IRS annually, no later than February 28 (March 31, if filed electronically) of the year following the calendar year to which the return relates. In addition, reporting entities must also furnish statements annually to each individual who is provided MEC (under Section 6055), and each of the ALE’s full-time employees (under Section 6056). Individual statements are generally due on or before January 31 of the year immediately following the calendar year to which the statements relate.
Extended Furnishing Deadline
The IRS has again determined that some employers, insurers and other providers of MEC need additional time to gather and analyze the information, and prepare 2018 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to be furnished to individuals. As a result, Notice 2018-94 provides an additional 32 days for furnishing the 2018 Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C, extending the due date from Jan. 31, 2019, to March 4, 2019. The extended deadline is March 4, rather than March 2 as in prior years, because March 2, 2019, is a Saturday.
Despite the delay, employers and other coverage providers are encouraged to furnish 2018 statements to individuals as soon as they are able.
Filers are not required to submit any request or other documentation to the IRS to take advantage of the extended furnishing due date provided by Notice 2018-94. Because this extended furnishing deadline applies automatically to all reporting entities, the IRS will not grant additional extensions of time of up to 30 days to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. As a result, the IRS will not formally respond to any requests that have already been submitted for 30-day extensions of time to furnish statements for 2018.
The IRS has determined that there is no need for additional time for employers, insurers and other providers of MEC to file 2018 forms with the IRS. Therefore, Notice 2018-94 does not extend the due date for filing Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C or 1095-C with the IRS for 2018.
This due date remains:
- Feb. 28, 2019, if filing on paper; or
- April 1, 2019, if filing electronically (since March 31, 2019, is a Sunday).
Because the due dates are unchanged, potential automatic extensions of time for filing information returns are still available under the normal rules by submitting a Form 8809. The notice also does not affect the rules regarding additional extensions of time to file under certain hardship conditions.
Employers or other coverage providers that do not meet the due dates for filing and furnishing (as extended under the rules described above) under Sections 6055 and 6056 are subject to penalties under Section 6722 or Section 6721 for failure to furnish and file on time. However, employers and other coverage providers that do not meet the relevant due dates should still furnish and file. The IRS will take this into consideration when determining whether to abate penalties for reasonable cause.
Impact on Individuals
Because of the extended furnishing deadline, some individual taxpayers may not receive a Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C by the time they are ready to file their 2018 tax returns. Taxpayers may rely on other information received from their employer or other coverage provider for purposes of filing their returns, including determining eligibility for an Exchange subsidy and confirming that they had MEC for purposes of the individual mandate.
Taxpayers do not need to wait to receive Forms 1095-B and 1095-C before filing their 2018 returns. In addition, individuals do not need to send the information they relied upon to the IRS when filing their returns, but should keep it with their tax records.
One of the biggest factors that goes into your workers’ compensation premiums are the classification codes for each type of work done at your business. Each of these codes has an associated loss cost that represents the expected amount insurers will need to pay for a claim. And even though each of these costs are standardized by the National Council on Compensation Insurance or state governments, your actual premiums may be higher because of a concept called loss cost multipliers.
What are Loss Cost Multipliers?
Standard loss costs are the amount insurers pay for a policy’s coverage, such as medical care, prescriptions and lost wages. However, many insurers face significant overhead costs when handling a claim and transfer these charges to policyholders with loss cost multipliers. Essentially, these multipliers reflect an insurance carrier’s expenses, such as:
- Taxes, licenses and fees
- Sales and marketing charges
- Rent and utilities
Because each insurer operates differently, they all need to file separate loss cost multipliers with state insurance agencies. But, since multipliers alter standard loss costs and can vary greatly between different insurers, businesses may discover unexpectedly high premiums.
How Multipliers Impact Your Premiums
To determine a standard premium, insurers first take the loss cost for a specific employee classification code and factor in their unique loss cost multiplier. This figure is called the rate, which is then applied to your payroll to calculate a standard premium.
Insurers also weigh other factors to determine your final premium, such as your experience modification rate. However, because some insurers have loss cost multipliers of 2.0 or more, standard premiums have a significant impact on the final price of your policy.
How to Save on Workers’ Compensation
Although it may seem strange to pay for another company’s expenses through loss cost multipliers, there are still ways to save on workers’ compensation:
- Look up each insurer’s multiplier on your state insurance agency’s website when you buy or renew a policy.
- See if insurers use separate loss cost multipliers for different employee classification codes.
- Check with insurers to determine if they use various underwriting companies with unique loss cost multipliers.
- Call us at 831-661-5697 to discuss all of your workers’ compensation needs.
On Dec. 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law the tax reform bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, after it passed both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
This tax reform bill makes significant changes to the federal tax code. The bill does not impact the majority of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax provisions. However, it does reduce the ACA’s individual shared responsibility (or individual mandate) penalty to zero, effective beginning in 2019.
As a result, beginning in 2019, individuals will no longer be penalized for failing to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage.
?The ACA’s individual mandate penalty no longer applies, beginning in 2019. However, individuals will still need to certify on their 2018 tax return (filed in early 2019) whether they complied with the individual mandate for 2018.
In addition, a failure to obtain acceptable health coverage for 2018 may still result in a penalty for the individual for that year on their 2018 tax return (filed in early 2019).
The Individual Mandate
The ACA’s individual mandate, which took effect in 2014, requires most individuals to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members or pay a penalty. The mandate is enforced each year on individual federal tax returns. Starting in 2015, individuals filing a tax return for the previous tax year indicate, by checking a box on their returns, which members of their family (including themselves) had health insurance coverage for the year (or qualified for an exemption from the individual mandate). Based on this information, the IRS then assesses a penalty for each nonexempt family member without coverage.
Effect of the Tax Reform Bill
The tax reform bill reduces the ACA’s individual mandate penalty to zero, effective beginning with the 2019 tax year. This effectively eliminates the individual mandate penalty for the 2019 tax year and beyond. As a result, beginning with the 2019 tax year, individuals will no longer be penalized for failing to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members.
Impact on Years Prior to 2019
Although the tax reform bill eliminates the ACA’s individual mandate penalty, this repeal did not take effect until 2019. As a result, individuals were still required to comply with the mandate (or pay a penalty) for 2018. This means that individuals must still certify on their 2018 tax return (filed in early 2019) whether they complied with the individual mandate for 2018. Therefore, taxpayers should indicate on their 2018 tax returns whether they (and everyone in their family):
- Had health coverage for the year;
- Qualified for an exemption from the individual mandate; or
- Will pay an individual mandate penalty.
In addition, a failure to obtain acceptable health coverage for 2018 may still result in a penalty for the individual for that year. Individuals who are liable for a penalty for failing to obtain acceptable health coverage in 2018 will be required to pay that penalty when they file their federal income taxes in 2019. As a result, some individuals may be required to pay the individual mandate penalty in early 2019, based on their noncompliance for the 2018 tax year.
Effect on Other ACA Provisions
Despite the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, employers and individuals must continue to comply with all other ACA provisions. The tax reform bill does not impact any other ACA provisions, including the Cadillac tax on high-cost group health coverage, the PCORI fees and the health insurance providers fee. In addition, the employer shared responsibility (pay or play) rules and related Section 6055 and Section 6056 reporting requirements are still in place.
On Jan. 23, 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule that increases the maximum penalty amounts the agency may assess against employers that violate workplace health and safety requirements. For most violations, the new maximum penalty amount is $13,260. For willful or repeated violations, the new maximum penalty amount is $132,598.
Federal law requires OSHA to increase its penalty amounts by Jan. 15 every year. Because the federal government shutdown delayed the increases for 2019, however, OSHA announced the new amounts in a “pre-publication” version of the final rule issued on Jan. 15, 2019. Now that the final rule has been officially published, the new amounts apply for any civil penalties assessed after Jan. 23, 2019.
Employers should become familiar with OSHA’s new penalty amounts and review their workplace policies and practices to ensure compliance with OSHA requirements.
Federal law requires OSHA to adjust its civil monetary penalty levels for inflation no later than Jan. 15 of each year. Under the law, adjustments are made by issuing a final rule that becomes effective on the day it is officially published in the Federal Register. On Jan. 15, 2019, OSHA issued an unofficial final rule to increase the maximum penalty amounts for 2019. However, the federal government shutdown delayed the rule’s official publication. The final rule was officially published on Jan. 23, 2019.
Penalty Changes for 2019
The table below compares current penalty limits to the increased amounts for 2019 outlined in OSHA’s final rule. The new amounts apply to any penalties OSHA assesses after Jan. 23, 2019.
|EFFECTIVE JAN. 23, 2019
|$12,934 per violation
|$13,260 per violation
|$12,934 per violation
|$13,260 per violation
|Failure to comply with posting requirements
|$12,934 per violation
|$13,260 per violation
|Failure to correct a violation
|$12,934 per day until corrected
|$13,260 per day until corrected
|$129,336 per violation
|$132,598 per violation
|$129,336 per violation (also subject to a minimum of $9,239 per violation)
|$132,598 per violation (also subject to a minimum of $9,472 per violation)
Please contact Scurich Insurance or visit OSHA’s website for more information about OSHA penalties.
Cyber security threats and trends can change year over year as technology continues to advance at alarming speeds. As such, it’s critical for organizations to reassess their data protection practices at the start of each new year and make achievable cyber security resolutions to help protect themselves from costly breaches.
The following are resolutions your company can implement to ensure you don’t become the victim of a cyber crime:
- Provide security training—Employees are your first line of defense when it comes to cyber threats. Even the most robust and expensive data protection solutions can be compromised should an employee click a malicious link or download fraudulent software. As such, it’s critical for organizations to thoroughly train personnel on common cyber threats and how to respond. Employees should understand the dangers of visiting harmful websites, leaving their devices unattended and oversharing personal information on social media. Your employees should also know your cyber security policies and know how to report suspicious activity.
- Install strong anti-virus software and keep it updated—Outside of training your employees on the dangers of poor cyber security practices, strong anti-virus software is one of the best ways to protect your data. Organizations should conduct thorough research to choose software that’s best for their needs. Once installed, anti-virus programs should be kept up to date.
- Instill safe web browsing practices—Deceptive and malicious websites can easily infect your network, often leading to more serious cyber attacks. To protect your organization, employees should be trained on proper web usage and instructed to only interact with secured websites. For further protection, companies should consider blocking known threats and potentially malicious webpages outright.
- Create strong password policies—Ongoing password management can help prevent unauthorized attackers from compromising your organization’s password-protected information. Effective password management protects the integrity, availability and confidentiality of an organization’s passwords. Above all, you’ll want to create a password policy that specifies all of the organization’s requirements related to password management. This policy should require employees to change their password on a regular basis, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and use special characters in their password.
- Use multi-factor authentication—While complex passwords can help deter cyber criminals, they can still be cracked. To further prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to employee accounts, multi-factor authentication is key. Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of security that allows companies to protect against compromised credentials. Through this method, users must confirm their identity by providing extra information (e.g., a phone number, unique security code) when attempting to access corporate applications, networks and servers.
- Get vulnerability assessments—The best way to evaluate your company’s data exposures is through a vulnerability assessment. Using a system of simulated attacks and stress tests, vulnerability assessments can help you uncover entry points into your system. Following these tests, security experts compile their findings and provide recommendations for improving network and data safety.
- Patch systems regularly and keep them updated—A common way cyber criminals gain entry into your system is by exploiting software vulnerabilities. To prevent this, it’s critical that you update applications, operating systems, security software and firmware on a regular basis.
- Back up your data—In the event that your system is compromised, it’s important to keep backup files. Failing to do so can result in the loss of critical business or proprietary data.
- Understand phishing threats and how to respond—In broad terms, phishing is a method cyber criminals use to gather personal information. In these scams, phishers send an email or direct users to fraudulent websites, asking victims to provide sensitive information. These emails and websites are designed to look legitimate and trick individuals into providing credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, usernames or other sensitive information. Phishing is becoming more sophisticated by the day, and it’s more important than ever to understand the different types of attacks, how to identify them and preventive measures you can implement to keep your organization safe. As such, it’s critical to train employees on common phishing scams and other cyber security concerns. Provide real-world examples during training to help them better understand what to look for.
- Create an incident response plan—Most organizations have some form of data protection in place. While these protections are critical for minimizing the damages caused by a breach, they don’t provide clear action steps following an attack. That’s where cyber incident response plans can help. While cyber security programs help secure an organization’s digital assets, cyber incident response plans provide clear steps for companies to follow when a cyber event occurs. Response plans allow organizations to notify impacted customers and partners quickly and efficiently, limiting financial and reputational damages.