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Recent Feature Headlines


February 2017

Use a Tax-Advantaged SEP or 401(k) to Retire Early and in Comfort

When you operate your own business, don’t pay yourself last. Pay yourself first. That’s a wealth-building strategy. And if you can combine the pay-yourself-first strategy with a retirement plan, you supercharge your wealth strategy.


Q&A: Can You Still Depreciate Antiques as Business Assets?

 


Dangerous Waters of Inherited Non-Spousal IRAs—Navigate Carefully

Special rules apply to inherited traditional IRAs. In this article, we look at non-spousal IRA inheritances that have their own sets of special rules. For the most part, you will like the rules. And in setting up your IRA for your beneficiaries, you should consider the stretch strategy.


Incorporate Your Business Tax-Free? Avoid Three Problems

You’ve decided to incorporate a new or existing business. Good news: incorporating a business is usually tax-free. But to make this work when traveling this road, you must meet the requirements for a tax-free incorporation and avoid the situations that cause taxes.


Q&A: Switch from Mileage Rate to Actual Expense Method

 


Special Needs Education Can Qualify as a Business Expense—Here’s How

Sending a child to a special needs school can be an onerous financial burden, with some tuitions reaching even $100,000 per year. Tax law lets you deduct tuition and other related costs as medical expenses, but you need to know which expenses qualify and how you should deduct them. This article shows you not only how to qualify but also a possible best way to maximize those deductions.


Choosing the Right Entity for a Newly Acquired Business (Part 3)

When setting up your new or acquired business, you and your co-owners should consider the multi-member LLC, another form of LLC, or the straight-up partnership. This is the last article in our three-part series on the “choices of entity” for a newly acquired business. Make sure to consider the options in this article if you are acquiring or starting a business with more than one owner.


Q&A: Tax Refunds on Unfiled Tax Returns

 


Enlist the Taxpayer Advocate to Help You Alleviate Tax Problems

You might have a friend in the government you don’t know yet. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent office within the IRS that helps taxpayers solve IRS problems that they can’t seem to resolve through normal channels. In some circumstances, the advocate office can force the IRS to give you relief.




January 2017

Announcing NEW Tax-Deductible Penalty-Free Health Plans for Small Businesses

Finally, the health insurance rules that apply to small businesses that want to provide medical benefits to their employees make more sense and allow some benefits. As you would expect, the new rules are not perfect. After all, this is tax law. But the new rules are light-years ahead of the old rules.


Put Your $2,500 Expensing in Place Now ($5,000 with AFS)

If you have not done so before, make sure to put your safe harbor de minimis expensing election in place now. The new de minimis rules make your tax record keeping easier. With this safe harbor expensing, unlike Section 179 expensing, you don’t need to track the assets and keep them in a depreciation schedule.


Lawbreakers Rejoice! New Law Wipes Away $100-a-Day Penalty

Do you have fewer than 50 employees? Are you in compliance with the Affordable Care Act? Whether you are in compliance or not, we may have some big news for you. First, if you failed compliance, a new law has likely just released you from the monstrous $100-a-day penalty ($36,500 per employee per year). Second, if you made changes to get into compliance, you may have overtaxed your employees. Now, with this new law, you may be able to undo some or all of that overtaxation.


Q&A: Who Should Own the Business Car: Corporation or Individual?

 


S Corporation Net Loss? Don’t Suffer a Surprise Salary

Tax law requires your S corporation to pay you, the owner-employee, reasonable compensation for the work you do. But what about in a year when your corporation has a loss? Does a lack of net profits absolve you from the obligation to pay yourself a salary?


Buying a Business: How to Make Tax-Smart Price Allocations

When you are buying a business, you want to buy not only at the right price, but also in a manner that keeps your taxes as low as possible. If you structure your deal as an asset purchase, you can use tax-smart price allocations that give the best tax result. And you likely want to include a stipulation in the purchase agreement that can reduce your chances of an IRS audit.


How to Help Your Adult Child Buy a Home—the Tax-Friendly Way

Your adult child asks a big favor—help in buying his or her first home. If you are lucky enough to be able to help, you want to understand and avoid the tax pitfalls. In this article, you find five possible solutions to help your child while avoiding the tax pitfalls.


Q&A: Would Rental Real Estate Give Me Tax Shelter?

 


If You Hear This Advice on How to Cut Your Taxes, Stay Away

Some tax strategies claim to help you avoid all your federal income taxes—no math required—simply by making a few straightforward arguments on your tax return. The problem is, they have no basis in law, and in fact constitute tax fraud. The end result will almost certainly be penalties and even jail time. Protect yourself from these scams by knowing how to tell the difference between fairy-tale tax strategies and the real deal.




December 2016

2016 Last-Minute Vehicle Purchases to Save on Taxes

Here’s an easy question: Do you need more 2016 tax deductions? If yes, continue on. Next easy question: Do you need a replacement business vehicle? If yes, you can solve or mitigate the first problem of needing more deductions and solve the second problem of needing a replacement vehicle at the same time, but you need to read this article now so you know what you have to do and when you have to do it.


Alert: IRS Creates Clear Path to Rental Property Loss Deductions

If you own rental properties, you want to qualify as a real estate professional. It’s a big deal. In this status, you can deduct your tax shelter losses from your real estate rental properties against your business and portfolio income. We hear that the IRS and some tax professionals are misapplying the law and wrongly denying real estate professional status. That’s an ouch! How does it happen? By mistakenly requiring an election to count multiple rental properties toward the number of hours needed to be a real estate professional.


2016 Last-Minute Year-End Tax Deductions for Existing Vehicles

Yes, December 31 is just around the corner. That’s your last day to find tax deductions for your vehicles that will cut your 2016 taxes. And with our existing high tax rates, 2016 is a good year to cut your taxes. In this article, you can find and release tax deductions that the tax code trapped inside your existing business and personal cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans.


Do New Rules Allow You to Double Your Mortgage Interest Deductions?

Home mortgage interest deductions make homes more affordable and save taxpayers thousands of tax dollars each year. Now, if you are single, a new IRS decision creates the possibility for added savings—perhaps double—if you co-own a home or vacation property.


2016 Last-Minute Year-End General Business Deductions

This article takes your daily activity and identifies five easy year-end tax-planning strategies. Here are two examples from the article: prepaying your expenses under the IRS safe harbor and simply not billing customers and patients until 2016. These two strategies are certainly easy, as are the other three strategies in this article.


How to Deduct the Costs of Thinking about Starting a New Business

The government allows you to deduct and amortize a host of start-up costs and organizational costs when starting a new business. The tax rules in this area are unforgiving, meaning mistakes can prove costly. With proper planning, though, you can save money from your “thinking about it” costs and beyond.


2016 Last-Minute Year-End Retirement and Medical Tax Deductions

When you get busy with your business, it’s easy to forget about your retirement accounts and medical coverages and plans. But year-end is approaching, and now’s the time to take action to cut your 2016 taxes. This article gives you six action steps for 2016 that can help you reduce your taxes and pocket extra money.


Avoid These Traps and Cash In on Taxes When Your Business Loses Money

When your business loses money, don’t miss out on valuable tax savings by not filing a tax return that would qualify for a net operating loss deduction. This is one of four traps in the tax law that can cost you tax refunds from prior years and tax shelter for future years.


2016 Last-Minute Year-End Tax Strategies for Marriage, Kids, and Family

If you are thinking of getting married or divorced, you need to consider December 31, 2016, in your tax planning. Here’s another planning question: Do you give money to family or friends (other than your children who are under age 24)? If so, you need to consider the zero-tax-bracket planning strategy. And now let’s consider your children who are under age 18. Have you paid them for work they’ve done for your business? Have you paid them the right way? You’ll find the answers here.


Buying a Business: Should You Buy Ownership Interest or Assets?

When buying a business, you face many decisions. One such decision is whether you should buy the assets of the business or the ownership interest. Here, you have both legal and tax issues to consider. Also, depending on the entity you are looking at buying, the ownership purchase option may not be available.


2016 Last-Minute Year-End Tax Strategies for Your Stock Portfolio

Your stock market portfolio can represent a little gold mine of opportunities to reduce your 2016 income taxes when you take advantage of the tax code’s offset game. The tax code contains basic rules for this game, and once you know the rules, you can apply the correct strategies. In addition to saving taxes with the game of offset, you can also avoid paying taxes on stock appreciation by gifting stock to charity, your parents, and your children who are not subject to the kiddie tax.


Use the Foreign Tax Credit to Minimize U.S. Taxes When You Work Abroad

The tax law offers several ways to reduce or eliminate U.S. income taxes or foreign-sourced earned income. Picking the correct tax-reduction strategy based on your situation is the key to minimizing your U.S. income tax liability. In this article, you see common scenarios and options that show you how to pay the least amount of U.S. income tax on your foreign-sourced earned income.


2016 Last-Minute Business Motor Home Purchase

A business motor home could provide both big tax deductions and an ideal solution to your business lodging and transportation needs. You would know how clean your sleeping room is. You would know the room’s smoking history. You would know how many pets, if any, have graced the premises.


Want to Leave the U.S.? You May Have to Pay These Taxes

Planning on leaving the U.S.? If so, you have two choices from a tax perspective, but neither is painless. The tax law that applies to foreign living and expatriation can be tricky, so it’s essential that you depart the country correctly.




November 2016

How to Travel to Exotic Locations Using the Seven-Day Travel Rule

When you travel outside the 50 states and the District of Columbia, you can use a special seven-day travel rule to deduct your business transportation costs to and from that business destination even when you work only one day during that trip. The special rules that apply to this seven-day travel are clear and easy to understand.


Tax Code’s Officially Designed “Rent-to-Own Your Home” Program for Investors and Renters

In this official tax code program, the landlord-investor benefits because he has no vacancies, few hassles, no management fees, and a known cash flow. The tenant-investor benefits because he gets into this home with little or no down payment, builds equity while paying rent, and gets detailed knowledge about the property while living there. At some agreed-upon future point in time, the landlord-investor sells his or her interest in the property to the tenant-investor or the two of them sell the property to a third party.


Q&A: IRS Allows Switch from IRS Mileage Rate to Actual Expenses

 


IRS Expands Tax-Deductible Meetings and Seminars Boondoggle Areas

Tax law places all conventions, seminars, and similar meetings into one of two areas: (a) inside or (b) outside the North American area. When you are outside the North American area, the rules do about everything possible to make your convention, seminar, or similar meeting nondeductible. So, if your group is not a worldwide group, attend conventions, seminars, and similar meetings only in the tax law-defined North American area. (Don’t worry, you’ll find many great locations in the tax code-defined North America area.)


Learn a Simple Strategy for 100 Percent Tax-Free Rental Income

The government taxes rental income just like any other income. However, a little-known loophole in the tax law may allow you to completely exclude some rental income from your income taxes. The requirements to qualify are simple, but there are some issues that could complicate your ability to use this loophole.


Three Strategies to Beat the Hobby Loss Rules

When you have a side business that produces a net loss, you automatically get to use that loss to lower your taxable income, right? Not so fast! The IRS could destroy those losses (and more) with one of the nastiest tax laws out there—the hobby loss rule. With an activity that’s showing losses, you need strategies to ensure your loss deductions.


Choosing the Right Entity for a Newly Acquired Business (Part 2)

In this part 2 article on choosing the right entity for your newly acquired business, you learn how the three possible corporations work and the advantages and disadvantages of each. In part 1, published last month, you learned about proprietorships and single-member LLCs taxed as proprietorships.


Two Special Tax Breaks for Retailers Who Improve Their Property

If you’re in retail, you know how useful a renovated, polished store can be in gaining the trust of your customers. Fortunately, restorations and upgrades to your property became far more financially achievable following a law Congress passed last December. Under the new rules, when you make qualifying improvements to your store, you can immediately or quickly write off much of the expense—even if the improvements cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.