East Portland CPA confides timely tax tips

If you missed this East Portland Chamber of Commerce presentation, see what you missed – and how you can learn more …

In the Mill Park neighborhood, Kevin Minkoff CPA begins to reveal tax-saving strategies at an East Portland Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Some 25 members and guests of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce (EPCC), at its first regular Wednesday “Good Morning East Portland” meeting of the year – held on January 4, in outer East Portland at CherryWood Village – heard Kevin Minkoff CPA talk tax tips.

Minkoff, known as “Not Your Ordinary Bean Counter”, says he enjoys teaching and answering questions about issues faced by business owners and managers.

His presentation that morning was entitled “Top 10 Tax Strategies for Small Business”.

With modest documentation, businesspeople can claim greater tax deductions that they may not have been taking, KevinMinkoff says.

He began with a discussion of business banking, and moved on to audit protection tips.  “Documenting every amount you claim on a tax return, and keeping that documentation organized, are the two most important steps anyone can take to handle a tax audit successfully,” Minkoff advised.

“AA sole proprietorship” is not required to have a separate business bank account, Minkoff said. “A sole proprietor using their own name is not even required to register with the Secretary of State or the IRS.”  He went on to explain that only when a business owner decides to use any name other than his or her own will their bank require them to open a business bank account.

His first tax-saving tip: Claiming the highest documented amount of automobile expenses is a matter of maximizing documented business mileage.

“The rule is, driving from home to a person’s first business stop, regardless of whether it’s their office or Office Depot, is considered commuting – and is personal mileage and not deductible,” Minkoff informed. “All other business travel during the day, until the last business stop before heading home, is business mileage.  The last leg of the trip from the last business stop to home is, again, commuting and not deductible.”

Several attendees asked for clarification, including how business mileage documentation might change when one works from a home office.

“In this case,” Minkoff replied, “all business travel from home and back is considered business mileage. The first and last legs of the trip, which is normally not deductible commuting mileage, might be considered as the walk from the kitchen to the in-home office.  Of course, any driving done for personal purpose, such as going to the market or the movies, is personal mileage and not deductible.”

An office in the home can provide tax savings opportunities, says accountant Kevin Minkoff.

This discussion led to questions about using an office located in the home, posed by those involved in real estate.

“As long as there is another office provided or available outside the home, the home office deduction is not allowed,” replied Minkoff. “If the brokerage firm does not provide office space, then a home office could be deducted, in some cases,” he added.

Getting back to business mileage, Minkoff said that a mileage log or cell phone application that tracks business miles driven are the most common methods of documenting business mileage.

“However, these two ‘contemporaneous’ logging methods are not necessary,” the accountant added.

Entries in an appointment calendar are acceptable to the IRS, as long as the entries answer the questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How Much?  “This recording method is identical to what is required when recording a single meal or entertainment event that cost less than $75, as the IRS does not require the actual expense receipt to be maintained or presented in the event of an audit,” Minkoff noted.

Tax expert Kevin Minkoff answers another question during the presentation.

Minkoff concluded by saying that he appreciated the many good questions posed by the audience, but that his presentation time was coming to an end at the meeting.

As a parting comment, Minkoff said that online tax-preparing software is okay for simple returns. “However, if you have a small business or rental property – anything that complicates a tax return – it is worthwhile to have a discussion with a tax professional, in order to maximize your deductions and minimize your taxes,” he advocated.

He’s hosting a two-hour small-business “tax-saving strategies” seminar late in January on January 26, from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m., and he offered admission at reduced cost to those attending that day’s talk.

“And, for East Portland News readers, I’m extending the same offer: Come and learn tax-saving strategies, pick my brain, and learn from others, for the reduced fee of $95, if you register before the event,” Minkoff offered.

You can sign up online: CLICK HERE. Click on “Schedule Now” and scroll down to “Top 10 Tax Saving Strategies for Small Business”.

If space is available, you can register at the door for $125. The seminar will be held at his business office in the Russell neighborhood, at 12508 NE Halsey Street, 97230.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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