About Us

As the President of the CPA firm Highpoint Accounting Inc., Susan Bannwart-Mairo offers over 20 years of accounting, business coaching, software consulting and tax experience. She supports home-based, small and mid-size businesses.

In addition to operating her own business, Susan believes in giving back to the community. She is a member of the Chicago QuickBooks ProAdvisor Group, Illinois CPA Society, PTA and former member of the Rotary Club of Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates. Susan is Past President of her Illinois CPA Society O’Hare Chapter and also Past Treasurer of the Rotary Club.

Susan is an Illinois Licensed and Registered Certified Public Accountant. She’s also an Advanced QuickBooks® ProAdvisor and certified in QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Enterprise and QuickBooks Online.

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Our staff has over 15 years experience in training and supporting clients in all versions of QuickBooks® including payroll.

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Recent Blog Posts

Deducting Business Education Expenses

The rules for business education deductions are as follows: You must already work in the business the education relates.¹ You must have already met the minimum educational requirements for the work.² If your education meets the above requirements, the rules let you deduct almost all of your related expenses, including³ Tuition, books, supplies, lab fees, and similar items Certain transportation and travel costs; and Other educational expenses, such as the cost of research for papers. If you are an independent contractor or a sole proprietor, you report your qualifying business education expenses on Schedule C which reduces your self-employment, federal and state income taxes. If your business operates as a corporation, making you an employee, the business can directly pay or reimburse you for the costs.  The corporation takes the deduction, and you receive the free education. Another way to take business education expenses is as Start-up Costs. If you take business related course(s) after starting your business, you can claim your education costs as a “start-up” expense.  Start-up expenses are costs related to the investigation, purchase, or creation of a new business that would qualify as deductible expenses if you incurred them for an existing business in the same field.4  You can elect to deduct up to $5,000 of start-up costs in the year your business begins, reduced (but not below zero) by the amount by which the costs exceed $50,000.  You then deduct the remainder of your start-up costs using straight-line amortization over the 15-year period beginning the month your business starts.5 If you close your business before the start-up costs are fully amortized, you deduct any...

Expedited Nonresidential Qualified Leasehold Improvement Tax Deductions

First let’s explain what qualifies as a nonresidential leasehold improvement: A qualified leasehold improvement is any improvement made to the interior portion of a nonresidential building if¹: The improvement is made pursuant to a lease by the lessee, sub lessee or lessor as long as the lease is not made between related parties. Lessee occupies the portion being improved, and Improvement(s) is placed into service more than three years after the date the building was first placed into service. Qualified leasehold improvement expenses exclude any improvements for² Enlarging the building Elevators or escalators Structural components for the common area of the building, or Internal structural framework of the building (load-bearing walls, columns and beams) Qualified leasehold improvements include the following: Utilities Framing Walls Doors Windows Pipes and fittings Fire protection HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) Permanent interior finishes Permanent floor coverings, and Millwork and trim Qualified leasehold improvements qualify for the following tax deductions: Immediate Section 179 expensing up to $500,000³ Immediate 50 % bonus depreciation until year 2019 4 15-year depreciation on the basis remainder 5 In other words, you spend $600,000 on qualified leasehold improvements.  You use Section 179 expensing to expense $500,000 this year, then apply the 50% bonus depreciation of $50,000 and leaves you with a basis of $50,000 to expense over the 15-year period beginning this year. If you would like to learn more about this tax strategy, please call Susan at 847.895.9880 ¹ IRC Section 168(e)(6)(A) ² IRC Section 168(e)(6)(B) ³ IRC Section 179(f)(2)(A) 4 IRC Section 168(k)(2)(A)(i) 5 IRC Section 168(e)(3)(E) (iv)...

Failed Rental Property Purchase Tax Procedure

When your attempt to purchase rental property fails, two types of costs are considered Capital acquisition costs Start-up expenses Capital acquisition costs are those costs that you capitalize and add to basis.  Two examples of rental capital acquisition costs are Earnest money Inspection and appraisal Because you entered into this capital acquisition to make a profit, you can deduct your failed capital acquisition as a loss on IRS Form 4797¹ for the full amount of the costs. Start-Up expenses are costs incurred to create or acquire a business or rental.  For example, if you incurred travel expenses in pursuit of starting your rental business which failed, your travel costs are in oblivion. If you start another rental business, the failed travel costs will produce tax benefits on the new rental as start-up expenses. If you do not start another rental business, the travel costs are lost when you die. If you would like to learn more about this tax strategy, please call Susan at 847.895.9880 ¹ IRC Section...

American Opportunity Credit for Education

The American Opportunity Credit is for education expenses of an eligible student who is a taxpayer, spouse or dependent(s). The maximum credit amount is $2,500 per eligible student. 100% of the first $2,000 of qualified education expenses 25% of the next $2,000 of qualified education expenses Qualified expenses are tuition, fees, and course materials required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution.    An eligible educational institution is any college, university, vocational school, or any other post secondary educational institution.  They include almost all accredited post secondary schools.  Qualified expenses also include student activity fees if the fees must be paid as a condition of enrollment, books, supplies, and equipment needed for a course of study. An eligible student is as follows: Student has not already claimed the American Opportunity Credit in at least four prior tax years. Student has not completed the first four years of post secondary undergraduate education before the tax year as determined by the educational institution. For at least one academic period beginning during the tax year, the student was enrolled at least half time in a program leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential. The student had no federal or state felony conviction for possessing or distributing a controlled substance as of the end of the tax year. The American Opportunity Credit also has restrictions as follows: Income limit for 2015 is modified AGI between $80,000 and $90,000($160,000 and $180,000 MFJ).  These amounts are adjusted for inflation each year. No credit is allowed if: Filing status is Married Filing Separately Taxpayer is claimed as a dependent on another...