The QBI deduction basics and a year-end tax tip that might help you qualify

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

If you own a business, you may wonder if you’re eligible to take the qualified business income (QBI) deduction. Sometimes this is referred to as the pass-through deduction or the Section 199A deduction.


The QBI deduction:


  • Is available to owners of sole proprietorships, single-member limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships, and S corporations, as well as trusts and estates.

  • Is intended to reduce the tax rate on QBI to a rate that’s closer to the corporate tax rate.

  • Is taken “below the line.” In other words, it reduces your taxable income but not your adjusted gross income.

  • Is available regardless of whether you itemize deductions or take the standard deduction.


Taxpayers other than corporations may be entitled to a deduction of up to 20% of their QBI. For 2020, if taxable income exceeds $163,300 for single taxpayers or $326,600 for a married couple filing jointly, the QBI deduction may be limited based on different scenarios. These include whether the taxpayer is engaged in a service-type of trade or business (such as law, accounting, health, or consulting), the amount of W-2 wages paid by the trade or business, and/or the unadjusted basis of qualified property (such as machinery and equipment) held by the trade or business.


The limitations are phased in. For example, the phase-in for 2020 applies to single filers with taxable income between $163,300 and $213,300 and joint filers with taxable income between $326,600 and $426,600.


For tax years beginning in 2021, the inflation-adjusted threshold amounts will be $164,900 for single taxpayers and $329,800 for married couples filing jointly.


Year-end planning tip


Some taxpayers may be able to achieve significant savings with respect to this deduction, by deferring income or accelerating deductions at year-end so that they come under the dollar thresholds (or be subject to a smaller phaseout of the deduction) for 2020. Depending on your business model, you also may be able to increase the deduction by increasing W-2 wages before year-end. The rules are quite complex, so contact us with questions and consult with us before taking steps.

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