Pass-through entities now have a more level planning field with businesses that benefitted from the 2017 corporate tax reduction.
You might recall that the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, enacted in December 2017, reduced corporate tax rates from 35% to 21%. Given this notable boost to corporations, a coinciding change was made for pass-through entities (which pay income taxes at the individual owners’ level, not the corporate level) to help level the playing field.
So what’s the change for pass-through businesses? Through 2025, non-corporate owners of pass-through businesses in the U.S. are allowed a deduction equal to the lesser of:
Although the overall concept of this new deduction is straightforward, the specific provisions are quite complicated. The IRS has issued recent guidance for interpreting and applying these new rules, hopefully enabling taxpayers to benefit from the deductions as the law intended.
Let’s walk through these complex provisions.
Eligibility for the new deduction is limited to qualified trades or businesses (QTOB) in the U.S. that produce income. A QTOB is any trade or business that is not a specified service trade or business (SSTB).
There’s a significant exception to the rule that SSTBs are not QTOBs and thereby ineligible for the deduction, and the exception is based on the taxpayer’s taxable income.
An SSTB may still qualify for the deduction if:
For those entities that qualify for the deduction, the next step is calculating QBI.
QBI is generally the net amount of the business’s qualified income, gain, deduction and loss. However, the following adjustments may be needed.
Compare 20% of the combined QBI amount to 20% of adjustable taxable income. The lesser of these two figures is the deduction. Keep in mind the overall deduction limit if the taxpayer’s taxable income exceeds the lower threshold.
Note that the pass-through entities do not take the deduction themselves – instead, they provide the owners with relevant information so the owners can compute their individually-available deduction. The deduction does not affect the calculation of self-employment tax or AMT and is available whether or not the taxpayer itemizes deductions.
While the IRS’s new guidance should prove helpful, the concepts involved in the QBI deduction are still unfolding and the computations include a significant amount of complexity and technicalities. Your tax advisor can help provide further detail.
Sources: “Getting the 411 on IRC 199A: Just the Facts Ma’am” (Melissa J. Williams, Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, January 2019); “The 20% Deduction For Business Income From Pass-Through Entities” (U.S. Trust, Oct. 2018)
Please note, changes in tax laws may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person's situation. While familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, Raymond James advisors are not qualified to render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.