If you operate an out-of-favor business (known in the law as a “specified service trade or business”) and your taxable income is more than $207,500 (single) or $415,000 (married, filing jointly), your Section 199A deduction is easy to compute. It’s zero.

This out-of-favor specified service trade or business group includes any trade or business

  • involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, consulting, athletics, financial services, and brokerage services; or
  • where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or owners; or
  • that involves the performance of services that consist of investing and investment management trading or dealing in securities, partnership interests, or commodities. For this purpose, a security and a commodity have the meanings provided in the rules for the mark-to-market accounting method for dealers in securities [Sections 475(c)(2) and 475(e)(2), respectively].

If you were not in one of the named groups above, you likely worried about being in a reputation and/or skill of owners and/or employees out-of-favor specified service business. If you were worried, you joined a large group of worried businesses, because many businesses depend on reputation and/or skill for success.

For example, the National Association of Realtors believed real estate agents fell into this out-of-favor category.

Don’t worry, be happy. The IRS has come to the rescue by regulating the draconian reputation and/or skill provision down to almost nothing. The reputation and/or skill out-of-favor specified service business includes you if you

  • receive fees, compensation, or other income for endorsing products or services;
  • license or receive fees, compensation, or other income for the use of your image, likeness, name, signature, voice, trademark, or any other symbols associated with your identity; or
  • receive fees, compensation, or other income for appearing at an event or on radio, television, or another media format.

Example. Harry is a well-known chef and the sole owner of multiple restaurants, each of which is a single-member LLC—disregarded tax entities that are taxed as proprietorships. Due to Harry’s skill and reputation as a chef, he receives an endorsement fee of $500,000 for the use of his name on a line of cooking utensils and cookware.

Results. Harry’s restaurant business is not an out-of-favor business, but his endorsement fee is an out-of-favor specified service business.