Recent Feature Headlines


October 2017

Find New Deductions with Two-Car Tax Strategies

If you have two or more vehicles in your family, you might find added tax deductions by driving more than one vehicle for business. To know if you benefit or not, you need to put your numbers into our magic two-car formula. This is very easy to do, and the formula result tells you for sure whether you come out ahead or not.


Q&A: Administrative Home Office Is a Principal Office

The special rule that applies to administrative or management use of the home office creates a principal office. There are only two ways to create a principal office in your home. The administrative or management office works when you have two offices: (1) an office in the home and (b) an office outside the home.


A Tax Break for American Builders—Including You (Yes, You)

You may not think of yourself as a manufacturer, but you might nevertheless qualify as one under tax law. There is a deduction for manufacturing that applies to a much broader array of activities than most people realize. There’s no catch and no recapture associated with this deduction—it’s just extra cash for your wallet. Find out if you qualify.


Q&A: Find Some Tax Sanity by Using the Gambling Per Session Rule

Tax law does not like you if you are a casual gambler. If you are a casual gambler, you report your winnings above the line, where those winnings can increase your taxes, cause loss of deductions because of phaseouts, and increase your Medicare premiums. Your losses are itemized deductions that appear below the line, where you benefit only if you itemize. There’s no choice about where you report your winnings and losses, but there’s a way you can use the per-session rule to mitigate the damage this reporting causes.


Update on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Health savings accounts (HSAs) have gained substantially in popularity since enactment of the Affordable Care Act. Tax-wise, the HSA has some great features such as tax-deductible contributions, tax-deferred (even tax-free if used correctly) growth, and possible retirement benefits.


Easily Fixing Depreciation Errors Can Save Thousands in Taxes

Depreciation is a valuable tax deduction but is often missed or mistakenly computed. If you missed depreciation or did it incorrectly, you can fix it in the current year and get some possible major tax benefits for doing so. In fact, the need for a correction can create planning opportunities for you.


Shedding Doubts about Selling Your Home to Your S Corporation

If you want to convert your home to a rental property, don’t. Instead, sell your home to your S corporation and then have the S corporation make the property a rental property. We have written about this previously, and we received some questions that we address in this article.


Q&A: Tax Deductions for Nine Months of Out-of-Town Travel

How does the tax code define a temporary assignment that qualifies you for tax deductions during a full period of stay, such as nine full months? In this article, you learn how federal per diem rates interact with some actual expenses and what you need in place to achieve deductions for a temporary out-of-town work assignment.


Two-Car Tax-Deduction Strategy Approved by the IRS and the Courts

When the two-vehicle tax-deduction strategy works for you, you find new deductions without spending a penny or driving a mile farther. In this article, you find that both the IRS and the courts approve of your use of two or more vehicles for business.




September 2017

Get Paid: Hire Your Child

You can pay your child to work in your business and get paid for paying your child. Yeah, we know. You think this sounds too good to be true, but it’s true. For how the government pays you and why this works, read this article.


Q&A: S Corporation Distributions in Retirement

A business owner accumulates earnings in an S corporation and takes no distributions or salary. The business owner then retires and wants to draw the funds out tax-free over multiple years. Are there any issues with this strategy?


A New Way to Beat the 50 Percent Cut on Business Meals

The Boston Bruins deducted 100 percent of their meal expenses for employees who traveled out of town for the away games. The IRS challenged that 100 percent and lost. One big deal with the Bruins’ win is that it is precedent-setting, meaning that the Boston Bruins may have created a road map for you that could lead to more 100 percent business meal–expense deductions (versus the usual 50 percent allowance for business meals).


Five Tried-and-True Strategies for an IRS Audit

If you’re like millions of taxpayers, just the thought of an IRS tax audit has you shaking in your boots. Luckily, you came across this article. In the next few moments, we will put those fears to rest as we show you how to keep all your rightful tax deductions.


Q&A: S Corporation Reimbursement of My Home-Office Expenses

If you operate your business as an S corporation and you take advantage of the benefits you receive by having an office in your home, you probably want an easy and audit-proof way to make the reimbursement request. You find that in this article.


Don’t Get Surprised by the Related-Party Matching Rule

The related-party matching rule places your business on the cash method for deducting payments to related cash-method payees. You need to know this rule to avoid unexpected tax results. Also, you need to know how the different ownership thresholds apply because one share of stock could make you a related party. Indirect relationships expand the reach of the rule and can create additional surprises.


Avoid Partnership Tax Filing with Two Little-Known Elections

Having a business or activity operated as a partnership means extra tax return filings and compliance headaches. But you might qualify to elect out of partnership treatment. Here, we discuss the two elections available, when you qualify or not, and the impact of making an escape election.


Arguing with the IRS: Making the Courts Help You (Part 2)

When you and the IRS disagree about an item on your tax return, you need authority on your side to either win your case or avoid a penalty. Court decisions can be a valuable authority to convince the IRS that you are right. We’ll discuss the various types of court decisions and which ones can help you the most.


Do This Right: Claim a Tax Credit for Sending Your Child to Camp

You may be able to claim the child and dependent care credit for the cost of sending your child to summer camp or a before- or after-school program, but only if it promotes your child’s protection and well-being, and is not for education or another purpose.




August 2017

The Gambler’s Tax Guide—How to Protect Your Winnings from the IRS

If you win big at the casino, the government is going to ask for its share of the proceeds. Gambling income is taxable, and casinos must, by law, report big wins to the IRS. But the law provides you a way to offset your gambling income and thereby reduce your taxes. You just have to know the rules, including whether you are a professional or amateur gambler, and keep the right records.


Heavy Vehicle + Deductible Home Office = Major Tax Savings

As a small-business taxpayer, you likely have control of your business. With control, you can do much to increase your tax benefits with a qualifying heavy vehicle and a certain type of office in your home. So, if you’re looking for some major tax savings this year, you will find a path to them in this article.


Q&A: Tax Deduction for NFL Tickets

You can deduct NFL tickets under the associated entertainment rules. In this Q&A, our member is traveling from Portland to Atlanta to attend a business conference, and while at that conference, he and his team members will attend the NFL game. The conference creates an easy path to this deduction.


Marijuana Taxation: Don’t Let Your Cash Go Up in Smoke!

The legal marijuana industry is booming across the U.S. But there are tax problems: since marijuana is still a federally controlled substance, selling it comes with costly federal tax consequences. The good news is that with knowledge of the law in this area and some planning, you can cut the tax bill that Uncle Sam would otherwise send you.


Beware: Selling to a Related Party Can Kill Your Tax Losses

You need to know how the related-party rules work if you don’t want to destroy your tax-loss deductions. You are reading this right: you can lose your tax losses when you sell to a related party.


Q&A: Tax Deductions for Home-Office Lawn Care

When is it possible for the home-office deduction to include a percentage of lawn care and related landscaping expenses? Answer: As explained below, your use of the home office needs to create a qualifying business reason for a good-looking lawn.


Arguing with the IRS: You Need Tax Authority (Part 1)

Sometimes you and the IRS disagree about an item on your tax return. When that happens, you need authority on your side to either win your case or avoid a penalty if you don’t win. The Internal Revenue Code and certain IRS interpretations of it can be that authority, and we discuss them here.


Buying a Business with Co-Owners? You Need a Buy-Sell Agreement!

If you are buying a business that will include more than one co-owner, you need a buy-sell agreement—period. You have multiple reasons to put the buy-sell agreement in place and not one reason not to have a buy-sell agreement. But when you start to put the agreement in place, you need to consider the planning strategies in this article.


Passive Losses Don’t Destroy Your Tax-Favored Capital Gains

Suspended passive activity losses come about when the losses from all passive activities for the taxable year exceed the aggregate income from all passive activities for such year. These are losses above or beyond what you can deduct under the $25,000 offset for rental activities. When you sell your entire interest in a passive activity at a gain, you have a taxable gain and a jailbreak of those losses and maybe more.




July 2017

Beat the Recapture Tax on Your Home Office

Learn how this IRS revenue procedure allows you to avoid taxes on the sale of a personal residence in which you had a home office or that you used as a rental property. The procedure lays out the methodology, which includes using the $250,000 ($500,000 if married) home-sale exclusion in unison with a 1031 tax-deferred exchange to avoid the taxes and enhance your deductions on the replacement home.


Tax Audit Tips for Travel, Entertainment, and Education

If you don’t have tax records as you are reading this sentence, think of this: how would your tax records hold up in an IRS audit? Oops, we forgot. You don’t have them. See what generally happens when you create those records after you get the IRS audit notice.


Q&A: Back Up Your Claim That You Can Reimburse Depreciation

One of our tax professional subscribers disagrees with the S corporation being able to reimburse the owner-employee for depreciation of the home office. She asked whether we can back up our claim that depreciation is reimbursable.


Should You Accept Bitcoins as Payment in Your Business?

More businesses are accepting bitcoins as payment. To the IRS, bitcoin is not the same as cash. You should know the tax implications of accepting bitcoins in your business and the major pros and cons of doing so.


Flowers, Fruit, Books: Tax-Free Fringe Benefits You Have to Like

It’s about as good as it gets when you see the words “tax-free” in the tax law. Under the de minimis fringe benefit rules, your business deducts the cost of giving you or your employees flowers, fruit, books, and similar property under special circumstances. The recipients—you or your employees—receive the de minimis fringe benefits tax-free.


Q&A: Is a Real Estate Agent a Broker for Deducting Rental Losses?

Before you can deduct rental property losses, you must first qualify as a real estate professional (a person in the real property trades or businesses). The real estate broker is recognized in the tax code as a person who is in the real property trade or business for purposes of the passive loss rules. The real estate agent is not recognized in the law.


Beating Penalties for Misclassifying W-2 Workers as 1099 Contractors

The IRS hit the Mescalero Apache Tribe with a bad result in an employee classification audit. The tribe took the IRS to the Tax Court and forced the IRS to turn over records on the tribe’s workers’ tax payments that will substantially reduce its tax bill. If you have a worker classification issue, you will want to know what the tribe did and why.


Warning! The IRS Is Outsourcing Tax Debts to Private Debt Collectors

A new law requires the IRS to send its inactive tax debts to third-party private debt collectors. If this happens to you, you need to know how this program works including what to expect and what rights you have.


Buying a Business: Due Diligence Is Critical

You generally buy an existing business because you believe that the existing business represents less of a risk than starting a new business from scratch. That may be true. And you help make that true when you do your due diligence.