Top 10 things to know about farm income and deductions

Brian E. Ravencraft

Brian E. Ravencraft

As we approach the tax filing deadline, I thought this reminder checklist from the IRS may be useful. If you have already filed your return, you may want to double check to be sure these items were considered as part of your return you filed. If you earn money managing, working on, or owning a farm, you are in the farming business. Here are 10 things about farm income and expenses you should know as outlined in IRS notification IRS Tax Tip 2013-41.

1. Crop insurance proceeds

Insurance payments from crop damage count as income. They should generally be reported the year they are received. However, if you use the cash method of accounting and receive crop insurance proceeds in the same tax year in which the crops are damaged, you can choose to postpone reporting the proceeds as income until the following tax year. You can make this choice if you can show you would have included income from the damaged crops in any tax year following the year the damage occurred.

2. Deductible farm expenses

Farmers can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses as business expenses. An ordinary farming expense is one that is common and accepted in the farming business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for that business. Some expenses paid during the tax year may be partly personal and partly business. Examples include gasoline, oil, fuel, water, rent, electricity, telephone, automobile upkeep, repairs, insurance, interest and taxes. Farmers must allocate these expenses between their business and personal parts. Generally, the personal part of these expenses is not deductible

3. Employees and hired help

You can deduct reasonable wages you paid to your farm’s full and part-time workers. You must withhold Social Security, Medicare and income taxes from your employees’ wages. If a farmer pays his child to do farm work and a true employer-employee relationship exists, reasonable wages or other compensation paid to the child is deductible. The wages are included in the child’s income, and the child may have to file an income tax return. These wages may also be subject to social security and Medicare taxes if the child is age 18 or older.

4. Items purchased for resale

If you purchased livestock and other items for resale, you may be able to deduct their cost in the year of the sale. This includes freight charges for transporting livestock to your farm.

5. Repayment of loans

You can only deduct the interest you paid on a loan if the loan proceeds are used for your farming business. You cannot deduct interest on a loan used for personal expenses.

6. Weather-related sales

Bad weather may force you to sell more livestock or poultry than you normally would. If so, you may be able to postpone reporting a gain from the sale of the additional animals.

7. Net operating losses

If deductible expenses are more than income for the year, you may have a net operating loss. You can carry that loss over to other years and deduct it. You may get a refund of part or all of the income tax you paid for past years, or you may be able to reduce your tax in future years.

8. Farm income averaging

You may be able to average some or all of the current year’s farm income by spreading it out over the past three years. This may lower your taxes if your farm income is high in the current year and low in one or more of the past three years. This method does not change your prior year tax. It only uses the prior year information to figure your current year tax.

9. Fuel and road use

You may be able to claim a tax credit or refund of federal excise taxes on fuel used on your farm for farm work. This applies if you are the owner, tenant, or operator of a farm. You can claim only a credit for the tax on gasoline used on a farm for farming purposes. You can claim either a credit or refund for the tax on aviation fuel used on a farm for farming purposes. You buy dyed diesel fuel and dyed kerosene excise tax free. You must use them only for a nontaxable use, including use on a farm for farming purposes. If you use the dyed fuel for a taxable use, you could be subject to the excise tax and a penalty.

10. Ask your accountant

Make sure your accountant is notified about the above types of items so that proper tax treatment can be disclosed on your return. Also, more information about the above farm income and deductions is in Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide.

 

Brian E. Ravencraft, CPA, CGMA is a Principal with Holbrook & Manter, CPAs. Brian has been with Holbrook & Manter since 1995, primarily focusing on the areas of Tax Consulting and Management Advisory Services within several firm service areas, focusing on agri-business and closely held businesses and their owners. Holbrook & Manter is a professional services firm founded in 1919 and we are unique in that we offer the resources of a large firm without compromising the focused and responsive personal attention that each client deserves. You can reach Brian through www.HolbrookManter.com or at BRavencraft@HolbrookManter.com.

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