A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment II)

Preface: Inflation is taxation without legislation – Milton Friedman

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment II)

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

To maintain the assumption that the financial utility of a subway token only has intrinsic value for an entrepreneur when riding a specific subway system and not for purchasing a coffee at Starbucks would be sensible, therefore, if progressive printing of any Scrip (or subway tokens as a proxy for a currency), those who can benefit from that intrinsic token’s utility will obtain the most significant, immediate and perhaps only economic advantage, such as riding the subway system.

Economically, a currency is a rainwater to a currency watershed. Excess rainwater ultimately changes a landscape, and sometimes permanently, not to mention the times of clouds. Let’s look more closely at this financial rainwater and landscape illustration.

Moderate inflation rates, i.e., appropriate rain precipitation levels, will bring economic sunshine and an apparent healthy financial eco-system with periodic recessions to drain excess liquidity. With these moderate and predictable financial weather patterns, the financial weather cycle continues successfully. A little inflation is certainly a key characteristic that can lead to all balmy economic conditions because the financial eco-system has adequate precipitation for seedtime and harvest.

Unlike the global water supply, where perhaps there is little change in the worldwide aggregate gallons in recent decades, i.e., more water is not being created, money supplies increases – finitely. Therefore, absent expansion, only the water allocation in the global weather patterns is shifted per evaporation, clouds precipitation including changes in glacier sizes. The only changes that occur are in the form of, say, glacier ice and the location., e.g., there is a minimal expansion in the gallons of global water the can cause immediate or cataclysmic changes.

Inflation in a currency of a financial system can be clearly understood by illustrating that in an eco-system in a [financial] watershed with an expanding amount of water, other than aquatic creatures that thrive in such an environment, there are incrementally and logarithmically increasing risks with the monetary supply expansion, .e.g. inflation from printing of currency.

Since currency is not fish, paper currency printing eventually floods and saturates a financial system watershed beyond the point of sustainability for seedtime and harvest. An economy with that higher than averages rates of inflation in its currency will wane in operational success. This, unfortunately, is the proven history of each currency in the millenniums of financial history. Perhaps, the US dollar will be the first currency to avoid that currency destiny.

Again, to use a weather analogy, inflation is an expansion in specific financial watershed precipitation. At some point, that liquidity necessitates either a deflationary adjustment to maintain economic equilibrium or some financial reset equivalent to a financial Noah’s Ark moment.

For business management purposes, tracking the money supply (water levels and precipitation in the financial watershed) is becoming increasingly opaque because of how liquidity expansion or money supply growth is followed, according to Federal Reserve data. Therefore, if rainwater levels are increasingly non-quantifiable, e.g., the printing of currency raining in the financial watershed, the ability to make informed and sharp business decisions grows increasingly challenging and requires adaptive approaches.

I am not stating that the US Dollar is imploding for the record, although perhaps that is not a remote possibility. That is entirely the Federal Reserve’s discretion to manage the money supply, interest rates, and the government’s concerted ability to adjust tax rates.

These three economic items are crucial to business conditions and entrepreneurial management, although only interest rates and taxes have been chief concerns to most entrepreneurs in recent decades.

To be continued…..

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions

Preface: During inflation, Goodwill is the gift that keeps on giving.                             Warren Buffett

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

As an elementary definition, inflation is simply a currency problem, e.g., the progressive destructive process [or policy] of printing more and more currency. A currency is a system of money used in a particular [national] jurisdiction. Inflationary policies therefore devalue the purchasing power of the specific currency.

When a government uses tax proceeds for spending, it correspondingly reduces excess cash among its taxpayers according to the specifics of its tax codes and the taxpayers earnings thresholds. Therefore, those who pay any taxes accordingly have less to spend or invest, resulting in less demand for goods and services. Therefore, taxes serve as an economic engine governor to effectively manage the speed of the price acceleration. Inflation is not the process of spending money; it is the intrinsic printing process of obtaining money to be spent that creates inflation.

When a government prints money to invest in projects, e.g., infrastructure, the diffusion of those proceeds creates a disequilibrium amongst the benefactors. Those who receive the newly minted money are now buyers with additional funding sources.

Since those fortunate benefactors have extra capacity to purchase, they begin to aggressively compete to buy goods and services, leading to an upward inflationary effect on prices. More money = more capacity to bid up prices = higher prices. This simply equation corresponds equally with a currency’s value following the value exemplified in an ticket’s for a virtual event, e.g., if an unlimited number of people say can more easily attend, then cost or value correspondingly often does not increase.

When inflation begins initially, it shapes each unique segment of an economy differently. The early components which get the money first gain the first and most significant benefits. Likewise, when inflation begins, there are always consequences; that is, the currency purchasing value declines as prices increase to expand the money supply.

Yet, notably, inflationary measures are essential emergency measurements for a concise economic resolution to high unemployment. A level of wage expectations in currency terms is more easily affordable for employment. After all, the value expectation with the wage is lowered in absolute value terms.

Some economists believe that without inflationary progress, a country cannot easily maintain full employment for its people because those who cannot find employment will decrease their idea of the acceptable wage for employment. Therefore a $700 per week wage ideal will reduce to $600 in a devaluation race of wage levels for each occupational task until some people choose to stay unemployment instead of working because of the minor variations in price differentials. For this purpose, the questions continue of whether a sound currency or full employment is the better alternative.

When managing a business in inflationary times, it is helpful to understand that your underlying accounting is in the realm of your tangible currency. Indeed, monitoring any change in the that money supply must contain predictive steps to its translation into costs and revenues. This includes the cost of sales, wages, and yes, taxes, as well as revenue factors in pricing and bidding.

Your business accounting ledger represents revenues and expenses in the a form of Global company scrip. Scrip is a currency form that includes vouchers, token forms like subway tokens, tickets, or arcade tokens. Those who account for transactions in US dollars vs. scrip of other “resorts” have a tremendous financial, competitive advantage that is too often underappreciated and undervalued.

To be continued…..


Easter Blessings

Easter Blessings 

This Easter may we foremost remember the significance of Redemption and God’s saving plan that brought us the gift of our salvation and a truly successful exit-plan to all who faithfully believe on his Name.
Blessings this Easter and in the months ahead, as we await the fulfilment of each one of God’s eternal Promises from his Word.
God Bless you and yours,
Sauder & Stoltzfus, LLC 

Tax Benefits of A Cost Segregation Study

Preface: A cost segregation study identifies and reclassifies personal property assets to accelerate the depreciation expense benefit for taxation purposes, reducing current income tax costs. The primary goal of a cost segregation study is to identify all construction-related costs that can be depreciated over a shorter tax life (typically 5, 7 and 15 years) than say the 39 years for non-residential real property. 

Tax Benefits of A Cost Segregation Study

Business and individual taxpayers that build or acquire nonresidential real property, e.g. warehouses, manufacturing space or residential rental property, e.g. rental unit(s) have an opportunity to reap tax benefits with a reduction of the depreciable calendar period recovery on the assets which are qualifying building components. Certain assets may qualify for shorter depreciable lives and recovery periods under MACRS depreciation. The reduction of the qualify building component asset lives provides accelerated deductions to offset income under the current Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts tax regime.

Many taxpersons have mistakenly included the costs of such qualifying components in the depreciable basis of the building and the tax benefits and cost are therefore recovered over a longer depreciation period. A nonresidential real property is depreciated over a 39-year life and a residential rental property is depreciated over 27.5-years. Certain building components may qualify for a reduced recovery period over 5-years, 7-years, or 15-years.

Some examples of building components include: parking lots, sidewalks, curbs, roads, fences, storm water management, landscaping, signage, lighting, security and fire protection systems, removable partitions, removable carpeting and wall tiling, furniture, counters, appliances and machinery (including machinery foundations) unrelated to the operation and maintenance of the building, and the portion of electrical wiring and plumbing properly allocable to machinery and equipment that is unrelated to the operation and maintenance of the building.

A taxperson may engage a CPA specialist to conduct a cost segregation study to identify the separately depreciable components and their depreciable basis. Ideally, a cost segregation study should be conducted prior to the time that a building is placed into service (i.e., when it is under construction or at the time of purchase). However, a cost segregation study can be completed after a building is placed in service. Even if a detailed cost segregation study is impractical, a practitioner should carefully consider whether there are any obvious land improvements and personal property components of a building that can be separately depreciated over a shorter recovery life.

After the fact? The change(s) to the depreciation lives require either an amended return or an accounting method change (if two years after the property is acquired or placed in service). The reporting to the IRS includes the change of basis, depreciable lives, and any adjustments for the impact of the depreciation acceleration from the date placed in service to the year of the method change. Certain restrictions apply in certain instances, and you are advised to consult with a tax advisor on the possible tax benefits before beginning a cost segregation study for your real estate holding(s). This includes factoring the holding period of the real estate and management of possible depreciation recapture costs.

If you have built or acquired a nonresidential real property, e.g. warehouses, manufacturing space or residential rental property, e.g. rental unit(s) recently, please discuss the benefits of a cost segregation study with your tax advisor to obtain maximized tax benefits.

How Retailers Can Navigate Inflation’s Hazards

Preface: Navigation during times of inflation for business owners is often not as easy as adhering to textbook models. Yet with the right a toolkit of management knowledge you can reduce the risk of indecisive or wrongly assumed decisions on  both inventory management and pricing on changing costs of sales. The following blogs from 2008 provides a historic perspective on re-emerging inflation hazards.

A Precarious Road: How Retailers Can Navigate Inflation’s Hazards

That new thinking can begin with inventory. According to Gérard Cachon, a professor of operations and information management, from the 1990s to 2005, minimizing inventory was seen as a key to success. “The whole mindset has been, ‘Let’s get rid of it.’” But that was when most prices were stable or declining. Today, he says, it’s not as clear that this is the best strategy. In fact, some retailers may want to start holding much more inventory than they did in the past as a way to hedge against future price increases. “Of course … it’s a little risky to hold inventory that might [lose value], especially perishable goods and fashion-oriented goods… but to the extent [retailers] know that prices will be rising over time, they will start to try to hold more inventory.”

…….Grocers typically put more emphasis on their store brands during an inflationary period as a way to offer the customer a better deal without cutting into their own margins, he explained.

…….As complex as some of these adjustments might seem, Cachon is confident that retailers will adapt more quickly than in previous inflationary periods, such as during the 1970s oil shocks. He says retailers now have much more information because of bar coding and other technologies that allow them to track their goods from suppliers to the checkout line. “Retailers are much more flexible and agile than they used to be.

Read the entire article here:

A Precarious Road: How Retailers Can Navigate Inflation’s Hazards

Highlights of the American Rescue Plan Act

Preface: Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.” – Charles Dickens.

Highlights of the American Rescue Plan Act

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into legislation on Thursday, March 11th, as a Covid-19 relief measure. This Act expands some key relief features for those tax persons needing funding program support for both businesses and individuals. 

While the minimum wage for employees of $15.00 per hour was not encapsulated in the legislation, we will highlight the following business and individual tax program provisions of the ARPA in this blog.

Individual Tax Program Highlights

Firstly, ARPA approves cash stimulus for eligible individuals and dependents. This one-time stimulus payment will be $1,400 or $2,800 per those filing taxes jointly, with an additional $1,400 for each qualifying dependent. This cash stimulus is subject to phase-out for tax-persons starting at $150,000 of AGI filing together and entirely phase-out above $160,000. For heads of household tax persons, phase-outs begin at $112,500, and for individual tax persons, $75,000. The calendar arrival of these program payments is in the process of scheduling.

Additionally, ARPA is committed to assist more financially disadvantaged children by providing legislated program expansion of the child tax credit (CTC). For 2021 tax-year, the CTC will increase to $3,000 per dependent and $3,600 for qualifying dependents below six. This CTC credit phase-out will begin at $150,000 for tax-persons filing jointly and $112,500 for heads of household tax persons. 

Unemployment Insurance Compensation the was set to expire March 14th has been extended to September 6th. This renews the $300 per week program assistance for tax persons and makes the first $10,200 not taxable for 2020 for those tax persons with an AGI below $150,000. 

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will be scaling eligibility to tax persons from age 19 without caps for those from 64 years of age or older. EITC maximums will increase from $4,220 to $9,820, providing relief program assistance for qualifying tax-persons. 

Dependent Care Assistance (DCA) has a temporary program shift for 2021 to increase credits for qualifying dependent care from $3,000 to $8,000 for one dependent and $6,000 to $16,000 for two or more qualifying dependents.

Business Tax Program Highlights

The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans have received $7.25B in additional funds and broader eligibility for non-profits.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) provides $28B in funds for grants to restaurants and foodservice businesses in the industry of serving food and drinks. Specific eligibility rules apply. 

ARPA also includes housing-related assistance with an appropriated $21B for those tax persons who need program funds to pay rent or utilities, including funding to support rural renters, homeowners, and other at-risk tax persons.

March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic and it has a seeming similarity to spring we can learn from a Mark Twain quote. “In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

The Six Mistakes Executives Make in Risk Management

Preface: Nassim Taleb (who wrote the best-selling books Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan) and his coauthors argue that conventional risk-management textbooks don’t prepare us for the real world.

For instance, no forecasting model predicted the impact of the current (2008) economic crisis. Managers make six common mistakes when confronting risk:

They try to anticipate extreme events, they study the past for guidance, they disregard advice about what not to do, they use standard deviations to measure risk, they fail to recognize that mathematical equivalents can be psychologically different, and they believe there’s no room for redundancy when it comes to efficiency.

Companies that ignore Black Swan (low-probability, high-impact) events will go under. But instead of trying to anticipate them, managers should reduce their companies’ overall vulnerability.

The Six Mistakes Executives Make in Risk Management

Ten Lessons I Learned from Peter Drucker

Preface: If you are to read one book on executive self-management, it should be this, Peter Drucker’s definitive classic, The Effective Executive. It doesn’t matter the size of your organization, or even whether you run an organization at all. Anyone who has responsibility for getting the right things done—anyone who seeks how best to self-deploy on the few priorities that will make the biggest impact—is an executive.

The most effective among us have the same number of hours as everyone else, yet they deploy them better, often much better than people with far greater raw talent. As Drucker states early in these pages: people endowed with tremendous brilliance are often “strikingly ineffectual.” And if that’s true for the exceptionally brilliant, what hope is there for the rest of us? Actually, there is something much better than hope: Drucker’s practical disciplines.

I first read The Effective Executive in my early thirties, and it was a huge inflection point in my own development. Reading the text again, I’m reminded of how its lessons became deeply ingrained, almost as a set of commandments. Some of Drucker’s examples and language might be dated, but the insights are timeless and modern, as helpful today as when he wrote them more than five decades ago. Here are ten lessons I learned from Peter Drucker and this book, and that I offer as a small portal of entry into the mind of the greatest management thinker of all time.  — Jim Collins, Boulder, Colorado

Read Jim’s Ten lessons here:

Ten Lessons I Learned from Peter Drucker


Highlighting A Drucker Challenge Essay


“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.”
“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”
“The better a man is the more mistakes he will make for the more things he will try.”
“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions”
– Quotes from Peter Drucker.

What is the Peter Drucker Challenge?
The Peter Drucker Challenge is an international essay competition held annually by the Drucker Society Europe, in conjunction with the Drucker Forum.

The Challenge affords honorable students the opportunity to be write essays on what they inherently believe from their own developing experiences and ideas with regards to the changing future of  business and industry. These students are incredible ambitious, incredibly talented and interested in sharing the influence of current and future business leadership icons.

The Challenge explores a current topic in management – typically related to the theme of the Forum – in the context of Peter Drucker’s human-oriented management philosophy.

Read Roy Cohen Tel Aviv University – Essay Award #2 2020

“From Subjective Experience to Objective Reality: Three Necessary (but not Sufficient) Conditions for Effective Leadership”


Rentals of Vacation Property

Preface: “The vacation we often need is freedom from our own mind.” – Jack Adam Weber

Rentals of Vacation Property

Credit: Benuel B. Glick, EA

Maybe you own, or want to own, a rental dwelling at a strategic, beach-front location. Or perhaps it’s a cabin located in the mountains where vacationers go during the summer and hunters gather during hunting season. Whatever the scenario, likely the motive for owning it is partially for hunting, vacationing, or other personal benefits. You may be wondering if there are tax strategies that prove advantageous to these expensive hobbies.

If you rent out part or all of a dwelling unit and use any part of the dwelling for personal purposes, the IRS has some “tests” for you to apply in determining the allocation of qualifying expenses for appropriate tax treatment. These tests are applied on a per tax year basis.

First, to qualify as a dwelling unit it must provide basic living accommodations (i.e., sleeping space, and cooking facilities etc.). It can be mobile such as a recreational vehicle, boat etc., (no, a tent does not qualify). One structure can contain multiple dwelling units; think apartment, basement, garage, or any room that satisfies the basic living accommodations requirement. A dwelling unit does not include property used solely as a hotel, motel, inn, or similar establishment.

Consider the following 3 classifications of residential real estate, listed in the order of generally least favorable to most favorable tax treatment preferences;

        • Personal residence
        • Vacation home (a.k.a. Section 280A property)
        • Rental property

But, how do you know if your hunting cabin is a rental property, a vacation home, or a personal residence? This is where we refer to those tests from the IRS mentioned above. The following are two “minimum use” tests which we’ll refer to as rental use test, and personal use test.

“Rental Use” Test
This test examines the number of rental use days, defined as days the property was rented to unrelated third parties* at a fair rental price. Over 14 days during the tax year = pass. 14 days or less = fail. If your dwelling fails this test, it will be considered a personal residence. If it passes, we apply the next test.

“Personal Use” Test
This test considers the number of personal use days for the tax year. Assuming your dwelling passed the rental use test, if you or a related party* personally used this dwelling for more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days rented to others at a fair rental price, it fails the personal use test and is considered a vacation home. Conversely, if the personal use days are less than the greater of 14, or 10% of the days rented to others at fair market value, your dwelling passes the personal use test and is considered a rental property.

Now that you’ve determined whether you have a personal, vacation, or rental dwelling unit, let’s explore the tax treatment for each.

Personal Residence
You don’t need to report rental income if your home fails the rental use test.

Example; say you own a dwelling in a strategic location. Due to a famous horse race in the area, you rent it out for a premium of $700 per day for 10 days during the tax year. This creates $7,000 revenue that you don’t need to report to the IRS. Except for qualifying mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A, no expenses are reported either.

Vacation Home
If your dwelling is considered a vacation home for the tax year, you report all the income. The expenses are allocated to rental using the following ratio; fair rental days ÷ (fair rental days + personal use days). Note that the days you spend working substantially full time repairing and maintaining the property are ignored and treated the same as a vacant day.

Important to know for vacation homes is that a net rental activity on Schedule E may not show a loss. However, itemized deductions such as qualified mortgage interest and real estate taxes, may allow an overall deduction for the property in certain instances. Any deductions on Schedule E in excess of revenues are suspended. Suspended deductions may be taken in a future year if there is enough revenue but may not be taken when the property is disposed. Deductions need to be taken in the following order;

        1. deductions that normally appear on Schedule A,
        2. normal deductions, (utilities, etc.),
        3. depreciation.

Example; you own a dwelling that was used by you or your family for 30 days during said tax year. You rented it out for 158 days to non-related parties* at a fair rental price. For simplicity, we’ll say your total utility bill was $2,500. Following is the formula to determine how much of the $2,500 you allocate to your rental, 158 ÷ (158 + 30) = 84%. Therefore 84% of $2,500 may be deducted against gross income for that unit to the extent that it does not create a loss. The remaining 16% is a personal expense.

Let’s say qualified mortgage interest and real estate taxes are a combined total of $5,500 for the year. You may take 84% of $5,500 against gross income as well (applied before the utilities). The remaining 16% of the $5,500 may be included on Schedule A, itemized deductions. There are additional limitations here beyond the scope of this article.

Rental Property
If your dwelling unit passed both the rental and personal use tests, it is classified as a rental property. In which case you get to deduct the full applicable expenses against gross income.

Example; let’s use the example from the prior section but instead of personally using your dwelling for 30 days, you used it for 15 days. Since you are allowed up to the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days rented at fair rental value (158 x 10% = 15.8), you get to allocate 100% of the $2,500 utilities and $5,500 combined mortgage interest and taxes to the rental property.

Although there are temporary limitations for short-term rental losses, in this category you are not limited to the blanket net loss rule that applies to vacation homes. Just know that the tax code has limitations on offsetting passive losses against passive income.

The passive losses rules are beyond the scope of this article, but that can create a temporary limitation. A rental is considered short term if the average days rented out during the year are 7 days or less per party.

In this article, we glimpsed into the complexity of vacation homes. Keep in mind that this is not all encompassing. It is safe to say that there are numerous stipulations to consider in applying appropriate tax treatments to your rental property.

*Related party rentals do NOT qualify as rental use unless it is both rented at a fair rental value and the related party uses the unit as a principal residence. If both requirements are met, use by the related party is considered rental use. A related party is your, or any person with financial interest in the unit’s, brother, sister, spouse, ancestor, or lineal descendant.

This article is general in nature, and it does not contain legal or tax advice. Contact your advisors to discuss your specific tax situation.