One of the provisions included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was the Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction. It is designed as a tax break for small businesses or self-employed individuals and is comparable to the enhanced tax breaks legislated for larger companies. However, while the corporate tax changes are made permanent, the QBI is scheduled to end in 2025 – along with a host of other individual tax-return breaks.
The QBI applies to revenues that are “passed through the business,” so the owner actually pays taxes on that money on his or her individual tax return at their individual tax rate. Since they do not benefit from the substantially reduced corporate tax rate, S Corp or sole proprietors can claim up to 20% of their “qualified business income” as a deduction.1
The IRS defines QBI as income, gains, deductions and losses from a qualified trade or business – including income from partnerships, S corporations and sole proprietorships – minus business deductions such as half the self-employment tax, self-employed health insurance and qualified retirement plan contributions.2
To qualify, the taxpayer’s income must be at or below $163,300 for single filers or $326,600 for married filers ($164,900 / $329,800 in 2021). If income is above those thresholds, the taxpayer may still qualify for the QBI, but it gets tricky, particularly if he or she works in a specified service trade or business. This generally includes high-income professions such as a doctor or a lawyer.3 It’s a good idea to consult with a financial professional to help you understand if you qualify for this deduction.
A taxpayer with several different entrepreneurial ventures can combine those multiple sources of income to calculate his total QBI. The higher the qualified income, the higher the deduction (as long as it remains below the threshold for the individual’s filing status). When income looks to be higher than the limit, these tactics can be used to help reduce it to qualify for the QBI deduction:4
Be aware that a taxpayer who claims business losses may still qualify for the QBI but, here too, it gets very complicated.5 It’s important to work with a qualified tax professional who is familiar with the ins and outs of this deduction.
1 Stephen Fishman. Nolo. 2021. “The 20% Pass-Through Tax Deduction for Business Owners.” https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/the-new-pass-through-tax-deduction.html. Accessed March 9, 2021.
2 IRS. April 8, 2019. “Facts About the Qualified Business Income Deduction.” https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/facts-about-the-qualified-business-income-deduction. Accessed March 9, 2021.
3 Andrea Coombes and Tina Orem. Nerdwallet. Nov. 13, 2020. “Qualified Business Income Deduction (QBI): What It Is & Who Qualifies.” https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/pass-through-income-tax-deduction/. Accessed March 9, 2021.
4 Paul Chaney. Small Business Trends. March 3, 2021. “What’s the Qualified Business Income Deduction and Can You Claim It?” https://smallbiztrends.com/2020/08/qualified-business-income-deduction.html. Accessed March 9, 2021.
5 Michael T. Odom. The Tax Adviser. Dec. 1, 2020. “QBI deduction: Interaction with various Code provisions.” https://www.thetaxadviser.com/issues/2020/dec/qbi-deduction-interaction-code-provisions.html. Accessed March 9, 2021.