May 11, 2021

Increase Cash Flow and Identify Overpayments with a Sales and Use Tax Review for Construction Contractors

In a time where cash flow is more important than ever, companies are looking for opportunities to find money left on the table. One way to do this is by understanding your tax liability and obligation when it comes to sales and use tax. We’ve talked about how contractors can avoid overpaying sales and use tax, but what if it’s too late? How do you know if you overpaid, and how can you recoup that money to increase cash flow?

How do I know if I overpaid sales and use tax?

The rules around sales and use tax are complicated and vary by state. State statutes and interpretations are changing constantly, causing businesses to sometimes pay more than necessary just to be compliant. When working on tax-exempt projects, if there isn’t a dedicated team identifying tax incentives, sometimes sales and use tax can be paid unnecessarily without knowing it. A professional sales and use tax review can help identify the exact amount you owe for certain projects and if you are eligible for any refund caused by overpaying.

What is a sales and use tax review?

Sales and use tax reviews provide companies with a benchmark of their current sales and use tax underpayment and overpayment status, as well as associated planning opportunities. These reviews identify where the company potentially overpaid sales and use tax, often times on items applied to tax-exempt projects.

How do contractors benefit from sales and use tax reviews?

General contractors and subcontractors performing work in multiple states typically fall victim to overpaying sales and use tax, sometimes to the tune of six-figures. There’s a big opportunity for contractors who work on tax-exempt construction projects such as schools, government buildings, hospitals, and municipalities. Sometimes these types of projects don’t have the time or resources to stay on top of applicable tax incentives and compliance, so that’s where a sales and use tax review can come into play after the project.

Missouri statutorily has extended the sales and use tax refund review to a 10-year window from its traditional 3-years. As a result, refunds are typically being identified on projects over seven additional years, extrapolating the total refund considerably.

How can I get started with a sales and use tax review?

Anders has State and Local Tax advisors that specialize in performing sales and use tax reviews, making the process seamless. Our sales and use tax reviews are performed on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no fees unless a refund is identified and collected. A percentage is paid only if we find a refund. Learn more about Sales and Use Tax Reviews or contact an Anders advisor below to find out if a sales and use tax review would benefit you.

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May 4, 2021

Pandemic-Related Relief for Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021, offering many pandemic relief benefits to individuals and businesses. One big highlight for families is around Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DC-FSA). The ARPA raised pre-tax contribution limits for DC-FSAs and increased the value of the dependent care tax credit for 2021.

What is a Dependent Care FSA?

A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DC-FSA) is a benefits account that individuals can use to save pre-tax dollars for eligible dependent care expenses. Common uses for a DC-FSA are to pay for childcare such as babysitters and before/after school programs, summer camps and expenses for a spouse who is physically or mentally disabled. Annual contribution limits for DC-FSAs are set by the IRS each year.

What changed for DC-FSAs?

New Limits

The previous DC-FSA 2021 contribution limits were $5,000 for married couples filing jointly and single taxpayers, and $2,500 for married couples filing separately. With the ARPA, the limits are now $10,500 for couples filing jointly and single taxpayers and $5,250 for married filing separately.

Employer plans must be amended for employees to take advantage of the increased limits.

Interaction with Dependent Care Credit

The dependent care tax credit also has increased limits under the new law. For 2021, the maximum amount of expenses eligible for credit is $8,000 for one qualifying individual and $16,000 for two or more qualifying individuals (up from $3,000 and $6,000 in prior years).

The credit is now equal to up to 50% of expenses for taxpayers with AGI of $125,000 or less and decreases to 20% as income increases. That 20% minimum will decrease further for taxpayers with AGI over $400,000.  In prior years, the maximum was only 35% for taxpayers with AGI of $15,000 and capped out at a 20% minimum for everyone.

Employees should consider their specific circumstances to determine the combination of the DC-FSA deferral and the dependent care credit that is most advantageous.


The IRS and Congress also provided DC-FSA relief with the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) signed into law at the end of 2020, and IRS Notice 2021-15 issued in March 2021. The CAA allows employers that offer DC-FSAs to allow participants to rollover unused funds from 2020 to 2021 and funds from 2021 to 2022. This gives participants a larger window of time to submit expenses to utilize those funds instead of losing them since COVID-19 quarantines and shutdowns may have caused a lack of childcare expenses in 2020.

Age Out Extension

IRS Notice 2021-15 allows employers to extend the DC-FSA coverage period for dependents who turn 13 years old during the COVID-19 public health emergency timeframe. These dependents would typically ‘age out’ and therefore any expenses for them would not be eligible for reimbursement through the DC-FSA. The limiting age for 2021 is now set at 14 years old, but the expenses can only be reimbursed from unspent 2020 funds.

What should employers do?

Employers must share any plan amendments created by the ARPA, CAA, and/or IRS Notice 2021-15 and communicate to participants that they can make mid-year DC-FSA contribution changes.

Our advisors are closely following COVID-19 relief efforts and will continue to publish insights to keep you informed. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more resources. To discuss questions around DC-FSAs or recovery options, contact an Anders advisor below.

Erin E. Prest is a contributor to this post.

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April 20, 2021

Buying or Selling a Company: Stock or Asset Deal?

Whether you’re looking to sell your business, or buy an existing company, there are many factors that go into the deal. Agreeing on a purchase price isn’t the only negotiated outcome of a business transaction. In fact, it’s usually not the first or last item of agreement. When a buyer is purchasing 100% of a target company, they can either purchase (1) the assets of the target or (2) the equity of the target. The deal structure can influence the eventual agreed-upon purchase price. Both scenarios have their advantages and disadvantages.

What Goes into a Stock Deal?

The purchase of a company’s equity is usually the most efficient deal structure for both parties. In these deals, the buyer is assigned the stock of the target in exchange for cash or future payments of cash. By purchasing the equity of a company, the buyer is purchasing all of the target company’s recorded and unrecorded assets as well as any liabilities, including contingent liabilities. In essence, the buyer may be buying assets they’re not aware of, or assuming liabilities they didn’t know were in existence. This is one of the reasons sellers generally desire the structure of a stock deal; they don’t walk away with unwanted assets or liabilities. Obviously, the legal language within a stock purchase agreement could influence some of these items, but in general these are the advantages and disadvantages.

What Goes into an Asset Deal?

Buying a company’s assets can be advantageous because they can target only desired assets and assume only certain liabilities of their choosing. These assets could encompass all of the company’s known assets, including the fixed assets and real estate, or they could include only certain intangible assets such as company name, trademarks, trade names and/or customer lists or contracts. In essence, the buyer can choose what they want to purchase from the seller. The buyer would need to be sure that any contracts and/or agreements are assignable since it is likely the target company was the one that originally executed them.

The buyer and seller also have to agree on who will “assume” or pay for the company’s liabilities after the deal is final. By assuming the seller’s liabilities, the buyer is essentially paying the seller additional consideration since they will be paying the future obligations of the loans assumed. If no liabilities are assumed, the buyer simply pays an agreed-upon price for the desired assets.

Stock vs. Asset Deal Example

As an example, assume the target company has appraised assets worth $3,000,000, including working capital, inventory, real estate and intangible assets, and $2,000,000 in recorded liabilities. The equity of the company would be worth $1,000,000. A buyer could pay $3,000,000 if they desire to own all of these identified assets, or less if they want to exclude some assets. If a stock deal is preferred, then the value would be closer to the $1,000,000 figure. The final agreed-upon price may be somewhere in between depending on the individual motivations and desires of the buyer and the seller.

Bridging the gap between an asset purchase price ($3,000,000) and a stock purchase price ($1,000,000) may sometimes be necessary. This is especially true if there has been an appraisal of target’s stockholders’ equity, but an asset deal was eventually consummated. This may not always be a clean exercise. The eventual deal price may have been influenced by motivations for each party that were not quantified in the valuation of the equity of the target company. However, if properly done with knowledge of each party’s relevant motivations, this exercise can be accomplished.

There are many factors that go into structuring a business deal, and Anders has Forensic and Litigation advisors to help understand the true value of the business and Business Transition Planning advisors to help maximize value and exit your business. Contact an Anders advisor below to learn more.

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April 6, 2021

Employee Retention Tax Credit Offers Huge Relief Opportunities for the Construction Industry

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) has been a valuable COVID-19 relief option for businesses who faced revenue losses due to ongoing impacts of the pandemic. While some industries were impacted more than others, certain sectors of the construction industry actually expanded in 2020, including homebuilders and industrial contractors. Even if your company performed well overall last year, there could still be an opportunity to claim the ERTC.

Who Qualifies for the ERTC?

Originally part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the ERTC allows businesses to take a credit against payroll taxes in order to help offset some of the business losses due to COVID-19. The original ERTC was only available for businesses who were forced to shut down or whose gross receipts in 2020 were 50% less than the same quarter in 2019. The ERTC has since been expanded, modifying the reduction in revenue by an additional 30%. For 2021, businesses are eligible if gross receipts are less than 80% of the gross receipts for same quarter in the prior year.

Businesses that averaged no more than 100 full-time employees in 2019 qualify for the ERTC in 2020 on wages paid to all employees. For the ERTC in 2021, this employee threshold increases to no more than 500 full-time 2019 employees. Full-time employees are those that work at least 30 hours per week. Union employees are included in the employee count for the credit, but those working part-time (less than 30 hours/week) are not.

How Much Can Businesses Qualify for?

For 2020, eligible employers can take a credit of 50% on qualified wages up to $10,000 paid to employees between March 12, 2020 and January 1, 2021. In 2021, the tax credit is increased to 70% of qualified wages, which are limited to $10,000 per employee per quarter. With the 70%, the maximum ERTC amount available is $7,000 per employee per quarter, for a potential total of $28,000 per employee in 2021. We have seen clients qualify for anywhere from $5,000 to $2.5 million through the ERTC.

How Could My Company Qualify for the ERTC After a Good Revenue Year?

Unlike other industries, construction revenue typically isn’t cyclical, and contractors can have revenue fluctuations that vary from month to month or quarter to quarter depending on projects. To qualify for the ERTC, the business only needs to have a quarter-by-quarter drop in revenue of 50% when comparing a 2020 quarter to 2019, and 20% when comparing a quarter in 2021 to 2019. You can also look back a quarter for the ERTC, so if your company was down 20% in Q4 of 2020 compared to 2019, you would qualify for Q1 of 2021.

ERTC Case Study

In one unique scenario, a taxpayer with a 40% increase in revenue in 2020 vs 2019 overall assumed they would not qualify for the ERTC. When taking a closer look, we discovered their revenue dropped 50% in Q4 of 2020 compared to 2019, making them eligible for the ERTC in Q4 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021. Projected total benefit for this taxpayer exceeds $200,000.

How Can I Take Advantage of the ERTC?

Initially, the CARES Act prohibited employers who had received a PPP loan from also utilizing the ERTC. New laws allow an employer to claim the credit for any wages paid beyond the proceeds of the PPP loan that have been forgiven. Taking advantage of both PPP loan funding and the ERTC is a great way to maximize COVID-19 relief opportunities.

If you discover you qualified for the ERTC in 2020, you can amend your quarterly payroll returns to claim the credit. If you identify that you qualify in advance, you can reduce payroll deposits for 2021 to take advantage of the credit.

Find out if your business is eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit in 2020 or 2021.

While the above highlights the opportunity for eligible businesses, please contact an Anders advisor below to discuss your situation and recovery options. Our advisors are closely following COVID-19 relief efforts and will continue to publish insights to keep you informed. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more resources.

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April 2, 2021

Emily W. Hammond

March 30, 2021

The 5 D’s of Transition Planning: Why Business Owners Need to Plan for the Worst-Case Scenario

Whether you own a growing startup or a multi-generational family legacy, business owners understand that planning for the future is key in reaching business goals. While there are certain factors we actively plan for, including revenue goals, strategic growth plans and the future state of the company, there are other unknowns that require just as much planning. “De-risking” the company is a pivotal first step in preparing for the unexpected. While the owner may think they’re 10 or 20 years out from exiting, circumstances beyond their control can happen at any time. We refer to these circumstances as the 5 D’s: Death, Disability, Divorce, Disagreement and Distress. 

According to the Exit Planning Institute, nearly 50% of all business exits are involuntary and forced by dramatic external factors, and 79% have no written plan. Planning for the 5 D’s will not only give you peace of mind but could have a significant long-term ROI.

The Cost of Not Having a Transition Plan

It is important to run through the tough questions about what you want to happen to your business if you have to exit your business prematurely. Statistics from the Exit Planning Institute have shown that in the four years following an owner’s death, sales decline 60% on average and employment falls around 17%, resulting in a decline in the business’s overall valuation. Additionally, two years after an owner’s death, companies are 20% more likely to fail or file for bankruptcy. Having a plan in place can lower the risk of catastrophe happening to your business in your sudden absence.

Creating Contingency Plans

What do you want your family, clients and management team to know? What do you want to happen if you die or become disabled? What should happen if you or your spouse wants a divorce? What happens if there is a disagreement between business partners? An unplanned exit can not only impact the day-to-day operations of your business, but also the tax and legal aspects of it, along with the value of your company. Creating contingency plans for each of the 5 D’s can help owners properly prepare for any unplanned scenario.

While each of these unplanned events will be treated differently, an important step is creating and communicating the action plan for each contingency. This is done through a contingency letter, which serves as a playbook that is a shorthand to your operating agreement and your estate planning documents. Your contingency letter should outline what you, as the owner, would like to happen if you can no longer operate the business.

Have you planned for these contingencies? At Anders, we partner with business owners to create a personalized plan to de-risk the business. Having a written plan on how your business will handle situations out of your control can protect your business’s value. Anders Business Transition Planning can work with you on a personalized transition plan based on your Value Builder assessment. Contact an Anders advisor below to learn more.

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March 19, 2021

How Employers Can Take Advantage of the Expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit

On March 11, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This relief bill comes in response to the continued COVID-19 pandemic and makes some changes to the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) that was originally part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and later expanded and extended under the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2020. Below we dig into the changes and expansions that were part of the CAA and the recently enacted ARPA.


Let’s first revisit the provisions of the ERTC in the original CARES Act. Enacted in the spring of 2020, the Act allowed businesses to take a credit against payroll taxes in order to help offset some of the business losses due to COVID-19. The law allowed eligible employers to take a credit of 50% of qualified wages up to $10,000 paid to employees between March 12, 2020 and January 1, 2021. Consequently, the maximum credit for each employee was $5,000 ($10,000 in wages X the 50% tax credit rate).

However, not every business was eligible for this credit. Businesses must have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 either by a shutdown order or by experiencing a significant reduction in revenue. There were also restrictions on which wages were “qualified” if an employer had more than 100 full-time employees. Businesses were also not allowed to take the credit if they used Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to cover employee payroll costs.


The passage of both the CAA and the newly signed ARPA relief bill is good news to many businesses who continue to feel the economic impacts of the pandemic as the laws enhance and expand many provisions of the original ERTC. Under the CAA of 2020, the ERTC was extended until June 30, 2021 and increased the tax credit to 70% of qualified wages for each of the first two quarters of 2021.

With the newly enacted ARPA legislation, the ERTC has been extended again – this time through December 31, 2021. This means an employer eligible for the ERTC in all four quarters of 2021 could receive up to $28,000 in credits per employee ($10,000 quarterly wage cap x 70% x 4 quarters).

ERTC Eligibility

More businesses will be eligible for the ERTC in 2021. The original ERTC was only available for businesses who were forced to shut down or whose gross receipts in 2020 were 50% less than the same quarter in 2019. The CAA modified this reduction in revenue by 30%. Under the CAA guidelines, the test was satisfied for either of the first two quarters of 2021 if gross receipts were less than 80% of the gross receipts for same quarter in 2019. The ARPA extends the 80% gross receipts test for the third and fourth quarters of 2021 as well. 

ERTC Wage Threshold

A change in the threshold for determining which wages “qualify” for the tax credit will also benefit employers in 2021. Under the original CARES act, for businesses with less than 100 full-time employees, all wages qualified for the tax credit, regardless if the employee’s role changed or not due to the pandemic. Whereas businesses with over 100 employees could not claim the credit for employees that were still performing services for the business.

The CAA, effective January 1, 2021, raised the threshold number to 500 employees.  In addition, the ARPA, effective July 1, 2021, also includes a new provision for “severely financially distressed employers.” These employers are defined as those whose gross receipts are less than 10% of the gross receipts for the same quarter in 2019. If an employer meets this definition, they may treat all wages paid to employees as qualified wages regardless of the number of full-time employees. 

Employers with PPP Loans

Initially, the CARES Act prohibited employers who had received a PPP loan from also utilizing the ERTC. The CAA allowed an employer to claim the credit for any wages paid beyond the proceeds of the PPP loan that have been forgiven. This change is retroactive to the effective date under the original law: March 12, 2020. A company that received a PPP loan in 2020 but paid qualified wages beyond the amount of the loan could benefit by filing an amended Form 941 and claiming the credit.


While many provisions of the CAA and the ARPA enhanced the CARES Act, they also include some brand-new provisions as well. Under the CAA, businesses can take an advanced payment on their credit even if those wages have not yet been paid. Additionally, some government entities not previously allowed to take the credit became eligible with the passage of the CAA, such as public universities, hospitals, federal credit unions, etc.

The ARPA also allows a startup business to take the ERTC even if the business does not meet the other ERTC eligibility tests. To qualify the business must have been established after February 15, 2020 and have annual gross receipts of no more than $1 million. The recovery startup credit is capped at $50,000 per quarter, per employer.

While the above highlights how changes in the recent COVID-19 relief bill have affected the ERTC, please contact an Anders advisor below to discuss your situation and recovery options. Our advisors are closely following COVID-19 relief efforts and will continue to publish insights to keep you informed. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more resources.

Find out if your business is eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit in 2020 or 2021.

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March 18, 2021

IRS Extends Federal Individual Income Tax Filing Deadline to May 17

The IRS has officially extended the federal individual income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to May 17, 2021 as part of relief efforts around the COVID-19 pandemic. All taxpayers will have an additional month to file their federal income tax returns and pay any taxes due for the 2020 tax year. Taxpayers who are ready to file are encouraged to still file by April 15, especially those anticipating refunds.

This IRS guidance only applies to federal individual income tax filings, not state tax filings or payments. In addition, gift tax returns, 2021 first quarter estimated tax payments, trust returns and IRA contributions currently appear to continue to be due on April 15. State filing and payment deadlines vary by state and may change based on federal guidance. We expect additional guidance to follow that may address these items.

Our advisors are closely following COVID-19 relief efforts and will continue to publish insights to keep you informed. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more resources. To discuss your tax situation, please contact an Anders advisor below.

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March 16, 2021

Prevent Identity Theft at Tax Time with These 4 Tips

It’s crunch time for filing individual tax returns, which means tax-related identity theft is on the rise. Each year, more and more scammers plan to steal personal information of taxpayers to file a fraudulent return or claim a refund. Protecting yourself and your loved ones from tax-related identity theft is vital, and below are four tips and steps you can take.

1. Know How the IRS Will Contact You

Some scammers will impersonate the IRS via email, text or social media to get ahold of personal information. If you’re suspicious of correspondence you receive from someone acting as the IRS, know that the IRS will NEVER:

  • Initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media to request personal or financial information
  • Call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests
  • Call, email or text to request taxpayers’ Identity Protection PINs

The IRS has an Identity Theft Central full of information, with videos and resources around
protecting your personal information and how the IRS combats identity theft.

2. Get an Identity Protection PIN Through the IRS

This year, the IRS is helping keep tax return information secure by establishing an Identity Protection PIN program. The Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security number. The IP PIN is known only to the taxpayer and the IRS and helps verify identity when filing electronically or via paper tax return. Starting in 2021, taxpayers may voluntarily opt into the IP PIN program as a proactive way to protect from tax-related identity theft. 

3. Keep an Eye on Your Social Media

Social media is a growing hot spot for identity theft. In an age where almost everyone is on some sort of social media platform, it’s important to remember online security best practices so scammers can’t take advantage of you. Be aware of the personal information you share on social media, even if you believe you’re sharing privately to friends. Make sure you’re using strong, complex passwords for all social media sites. Passwords should be unique and at least 12 characters long with capitalization, numbers and symbols.

4. Work with a Secure Firm

Working with a reputable CPA firm that focuses on data security can be a much safer option than filing yourself. Seek out a firm that has multiple layers of security to protect your data, including:

  • Multi-factor authentication on all devices so client information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands
  • Website begins with “HTTPS” showing that the site is encrypted for security purposes
  • Modern encryption technology to protect tax returns
  • Works with trusted vendors
  • Offers secure electronic filing on trusted software and trusted networks

Warning Signs of Tax-Related Identity Theft

You may not know you’re a victim of identity theft until you’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return, but it’s important to be proactive. Here are some warning signs that someone is filing a fraudulent return on your behalf:

  • You get a letter from the IRS about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
  • You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
  • You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
  • You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
  • You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
  • You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
  • IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.

The tips above can help protect against tax-related identity theft, but it’s important to keep data protection top-of-mind throughout the year. Anders stays at the forefront of cybersecurity and data protection best practices year-round, and the security of our client information is a main focus every day. Contact an Anders advisor below or learn more about Anders Tax Planning and Compliance services.

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March 9, 2021

Permanent 179D Tax Deduction Incentivizes Energy Efficient Building Improvements

The Consolidations Appropriations Act of 2021 signed into law on December 27, 2020 permanently extended the 179D tax deduction for energy efficient building improvements. This is great news for commercial building owners as they can now take advantage of the 179D tax deduction for energy efficient building upgrades without wondering if and when the deduction will expire. Below we dive into the details to know before taking advantage of the 179D deduction.


The 179D deduction helps incentivize energy efficient construction projects. This deduction was originally created as a temporary measure under the Energy Police Act of 2005 and was extended every year until it expired in 2017. A tax deduction of $1.80 per square foot that reduced the building’s total energy and power cost by 50% or more is available to owners of new or existing buildings who install the following:

  • Interior Lighting
  • Building Envelope
  • Heating/Cooling Ventilation
  • Hot Water Systems

Deductions of $0.60 per square foot are available for situations where expenditures partially qualify by meeting certain target levels or through an interim lighting rule issued by the IRS. For government-owned buildings, this deduction is transferable to the person or company responsible for the energy efficient design. Therefore, architecture and engineering firms that design government owned buildings may also claim this deduction when completing additional requirements.

Under the extender bill of 2019, the deduction is retroactively extended for tax years 2018, 2019 and available for 2020. Qualified buildings placed in service in 2018 and 2019 may be eligible to claim the 179D deduction.


Eligible building owners can claim the 179D deduction for up to $1.80 per square foot of the entire building for the installation of energy efficient systems into new or existing buildings.

The Anders Real Estate and Construction Group can help determine if your construction project would qualify for the 179D deduction as well as other tax credits and incentives. Contact an Anders advisor below to learn more.

Abigail A. Mabley is a contributor to this post.

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