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If you are interested in moving your office to your home and would like to know whether, and to what extent, you can deduct expenses related to part of your home as business expenses the following article will explain the laws.

There exist several exceptions from the rule requiring taxpayers to reduce their otherwise allowable meal and entertainment expenses by 50%.

A frequent question I receive from clients is how long should I keep financial records. The following article provides many of the answers related to different types of documents.

A New Federal Trade Commission rule requires me to give you an annual written notice about my firms Privacy Policy.


Charles P. "Chuck" Rettig was confirmed as the new IRS Commissioner on September 12. The Senate confirmed the nomination by a 64-to-33 vote. Rettig received both Democratic and Republican support.


New IRS guidance aiming to curb certain state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap "workarounds" is the latest "hot topic" tax debate on Capitol Hill. The IRS released proposed amendments to regulations, REG-112176-18, on August 23. The proposed rules would prevent taxpayers, effective August 27, 2018, from using certain charitable contributions to work around the new cap on SALT deductions.


The IRS has proposed to remove the Code Sec. 385 documentation regulations provided in Reg. §1.385-2. Although the proposed removal of the documentation rules will apply as of the date the proposed regulations are published as final in the Federal Register, taxpayers can rely on the proposed regulations until the final regulations are published.


Last year’s Tax Reform created a new 20-percent deduction of qualified business income for passthrough entities, subject to certain limitations. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97) created the new Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction for noncorporate taxpayers, effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. However, the provision was enacted only temporarily through 2025. The controversial deduction has remained a buzzing topic of debate among lawmakers, tax policy experts, and stakeholders. In addition to its impermanence, the new passthrough deduction’s ambiguous statutory language has created many questions for taxpayers and practitioners.


Wolters Kluwer recently spoke with Joshua Wu, member, Clark Hill PLC, about the tax implications of the new Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction and its recently-released proposed regulations, REG-107892-18. That exchange included a discussion of the impact that the new law and IRS guidance, both present and future, may have on taxpayers and tax practitioners.


Wolters Kluwer has projected annual inflation-adjusted amounts for tax year 2019. The projected amounts include 2019 tax brackets, the standard deduction, and alternative minimum tax amounts, among others. The projected amounts are based on Consumer Price Index figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor on September 12, 2018.


Year-end 2016 is expected to bring a rush of tax-related legislation in Congress. Lawmakers will be up against a December 31 deadline to renew some expiring tax incentives and possibly pass new tax breaks for individuals and businesses. The year may end with what is often called a “Christmas Tree bill,” a bill that includes a variety of tax and other provisions.


An early glimpse at the income tax picture for 2017 is now available. The new information includes estimated ranges for each 2017 tax bracket as well as projections for a growing number of inflation-sensitive tax figures, such as the tax rate brackets, personal exemption and the standard deduction. Projections – made available by Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting US – are based on the relevant inflation data recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor. The IRS is expected to release the official figures by early November. Here are a few of the more widely-applicable projected amounts: 


It is never too early to begin planning for the 2016 filing season, the IRS has advised in seven new planning tips published on its website. Although the current filing season has just ended, there are steps that taxpayers can take now to avoid a tax bill when April 2016 rolls around. For example, the IRS stated that taxpayers can adjust their withholding, take stock of any changes in income or family circumstances, maintain accurate tax records, and more, in order to reduce the probability of a surprise tax bill when the next filing season arrives.


Information reporting continues to expand as Congress seeks to close the tax gap: the estimated $350 billion difference between what taxpayers owe and what they pay. Despite the recent rollback of expanded information reporting for business payments and rental property expense payments, the trend is for more - not less - information reporting of various transactions to the IRS.

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business entity created under state law. Every state and the District of Columbia have LLC statutes that govern the formation and operation of LLCs.

A business with a significant amount of receivables should evaluate whether some of them may be written off as business bad debts. A business taxpayer may deduct business bad debts if the receivable becomes partially or completely worthless during the tax year.

In-plan Roth IRA rollovers are a relatively new creation, and as a result many individuals are not aware of the rules. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 made it possible for participants in 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans to roll over eligible distributions made after September 27, 2010 from such accounts, or other non-Roth accounts, into a designated Roth IRA in the same plan. Beginning in 2011, this option became available to 457(b) governmental plans as well. These "in-plan" rollovers and the rules for making them, which may be tricky, are discussed below.


Often, timing is everything or so the adage goes. From medicine to sports and cooking, timing can make all the difference in the outcome. What about with taxes? What are your chances of being audited? Does timing play a factor in raising or decreasing your risk of being audited by the IRS? For example, does the time when you file your income tax return affect the IRS's decision to audit you? Some individuals think filing early will decrease their risk of an audit, while others file at the very-last minute, believing this will reduce their chance of being audited. And some taxpayers don't think timing matters at all.


Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) enacted in March 2010, small employers may be eligible to claim a tax credit of 35 percent of qualified health insurance premium costs paid by a taxable employer (25 percent for tax-exempt employers). The credit is designed to encourage small employers to offer health-insurance to their employees.


The tax rules surrounding the dependency exemption deduction on a federal income tax return can be complicated, with many requirements involving who qualifies for the deduction and who qualifies to take the deduction. The deduction can be a very beneficial tax break for taxpayers who qualify to claim dependent children or other qualifying dependent family members on their return. Therefore, it is important to understand the nuances of claiming dependents on your tax return, as the April 18 tax filing deadline is just around the corner.


Have you already mailed (on paper or electronically) your Form 1040 for the 2010 tax year but only now noticed you made an error when preparing the return? If you need to correct a mistake on your federal income tax return that you’ve already filed with the IRS, it’s not too late to correct the mistake by filing an amended return, Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. The IRS considers an amended return filed on or before the due date of a return to be the taxpayer’s return for the period.


Although individual income tax returns don't have to be filed until April 15, taxpayers who file early get their refunds a lot sooner. The IRS begins accepting returns in January but does not start processing returns until February. Determining whether to file early depends on various personal and financial considerations. Filing early to somehow fly under the IRS's audit radar, however, has been ruled out long ago by experts as a viable strategy.


A business can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred in carrying on any trade or business. The expense must be reasonable and must be helpful to the business.

When you experience a change in employment, probably the last thing on your mind is your 401(k) plan distribution. There are a number of options to choose from when determining what to do with your 401(k) when changing employment - from keeping your account with your past employer, taking it with you, cashing out, or rolling the amounts over into a different account. However, mishandling this transaction can have detrimental tax effects, so make sure that you understand all aspects of the distribution options available to you and act accordingly before you walk out the door.

If one of your children received a full scholarship for all expenses to attend college this year, you may be wondering if this amount must be reported on his or her income tax return. If certain conditions are met, and the funds are used specifically for certain types of expenses, your child does not have to report the scholarship as income.

While the economy continues to slowly recover, many businesses continue to face customers struggling to pay outstanding bills for services or goods. The Tax Code provides relief to businesses faced with the inability to collect on accounts receivable. Businesses that are unable to get customers to pay the bill can claim a deduction for the “bad debt.”


Many small employers want to offer their employees the opportunity to save for retirement but are unsure of how to go about setting up a retirement plan. In this article, we’ll explore three options that are widely used by small businesses: payroll deduction IRAs, SEP plans, and SIMPLE IRAs.


Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) -- both traditional and Roth IRAs -- are among the most popular retirement savings vehicles today. Protecting the value of your IRA (and other retirement accounts) is incredibly important. While some factors affecting the value of your retirement savings may be out of your control, there are many things within your control that can help you safeguard the wealth of those accounts and further their growth. This article addresses common mistakes regarding IRA distributions and contributions, and how to avoid them.

U.S. Savings Bonds can be a relatively risk-free investment during times of upheaval in the stock market, such as we are experiencing now. There are two different types of savings bonds for tax purposes. The first includes Series EE bonds and Series I bonds. You purchase these bonds at a discount from their face value and they accrue interest until reaching face value at maturity. If you invest in these bonds, you have a choice of reporting interest as it accrues each year you hold the bond or until you sell it or redeem it.

Q. I spend 20 hours every week cooking meals and delivering them to an organization that feeds the hungry and homeless. Am I entitled to a deduction for my time and the food I pay for out of my own money?

The health care reform package makes two important changes to insurance coverage for young adults. First, the new law allows young adults to remain on their parents' health insurance plan until age 26. Second, the new law extends certain favorable tax treatment to coverage for young adults.

If you have or are planning to move - whether it's a change of personal residence or a change of business address - you want the IRS to know about your change of address. The IRS has recently updated its procedures for taxpayers to follow when notifying the IRS of a change of address. The IRS uses a taxpayer's "address of record" for mailing certain notices and documents that the agency is required to send to a taxpayer's last known address.

The recently enacted Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act of 2010 includes a comprehensive set of foreign account compliance measures that will impact taxpayers with accounts in foreign banks and other financial institutions. Generally, for payments made beginning in 2013, taxpayers with various types of financial accounts or other interests overseas will be subject to increased reporting and disclosure requirements on those accounts, or face the imposition of 30 percent withholding.

When your personal property or home is damaged or destroyed by a storm or other catastrophe, the IRS provides some relief ... depending on the amount of the damage and how much income you have in order to absorb at least some of the loss yourself. Property losses caused by damage from certain types of storms and similar "casualties" - from wind and rain to floods and tornadoes - are tax deductible to the extent allowed under Internal Revenue Code Section 165. While the tax law regarding casualty losses from storm damage is complicated, don't be put off -- understanding the tax law is key to maximizing your deduction.

Debt that a borrower no longer is liable for because it is discharged by the lender can give rise to taxable income to the borrower. Debt forgiveness income or cancellation of debt income ("COD" income) is the amount of debt that a lender has discharged or canceled. However, in many situations, the canceled debt is excluded from taxable income.

In response to the economic downturn that has affected the retirement portfolios of millions of individuals across the country, Congress has been considering a variety of alternatives to offer relief to those who face financial emergencies and need immediate access to their funds. Two of the most significant proposals that have been recommended include: (1) significant broadening of the suspension of the 10 percent penalty tax on early withdrawals from IRAs and defined contribution plans, and (2) extending the temporary suspension of the penalty tax imposed on individuals age 70 ½ or older who do not take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from certain retirement plans.

Beginning in 2010, the income limitations that have prevented taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 or more and married taxpayers that filed their returns separately from converting a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) to a Roth IRA are eliminated entirely. As a bonus to kick off "unlimited Roth conversions," any income tax payments due on 2010 conversions may be deferred into 2011 and 2012. For higher-income individuals, 2010 presents a long-awaited and much anticipated opportunity to convert their savings into a Roth IRA providing tax-free distributions during their retirement years.

During economic downturns, many people often look for ways to supplement their regular employment compensation. Or, you may be engaging in an activity - such as gambling or selling items on an online auction - that is actually earning you income: taxable income. Many individuals may not understand the tax consequences of, and reporting requirements for, earning these types of miscellaneous income. This article discusses how you report certain types of miscellaneous income.

The saver's credit is a retirement savings tax credit that can save eligible individuals up to $1,000 in taxes just for contributing up to $2,000 to their retirement account. The saver's credit is an additional tax benefit on top of any other benefits available for your retirement contribution. It is a nonrefundable personal credit. Therefore, like other nonrefundable credits, it can be claimed against your combined regular tax liability and alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability.

Many back-to-school college students and their families are facing the toughest time in years, in meeting the costs of higher education due to the recent economic downturn. In an attempt to face this challenge, Congress recently passed some tax relief for college students and families that, together with scholarships, loans and work-study grants, can provide invaluable lifelines this year. The tax relief is twofold: the new American Opportunity Tax Credit and more liberal withdrawal rules for Section 529 plans to cover technology needs. Both tax provisions are temporary - for 2009 and 2010 only - but likely will be extended in some form if the need continues.

A consequence of the economic downturn for many investors has been significant losses on their investments in retirement accounts, including traditional and Roth individual retirement accounts (IRAs). This article discusses when and how taxpayers can deduct losses suffered in Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs ...and when no deduction will be allowed.

If you use your home computer for business purposes, knowing that you can deduct some or all of its costs can help ease the pain of the large initial and ongoing cash outlay. In today's economic climate, many individuals may be working more from home than commuting to the office. The deduction rules related to home computer costs can be complicated; some of the complexities are derived from situations in which the computer is used partly for personal use and partly for work purposes.

You may have done some spring cleaning and found that you have a lot of clothes that you no longer wear or want, and would like to donate to charity. Used clothing that you want to donate to charity and take a charitable deduction for, however, is subject to a few rules and requirements.

Many businesses are foregoing salary increases this year because of the economic downturn. How does a business find and retain employees, as well as keep up morale, in the face of this reality? The combined use of fringe benefits and the tax law can help. Some attractive fringe benefits may be provided tax-free to employees and at little cost to employers.

While the past year has not been stellar for most investors, the tax law in many instances can step in to help salvage some of your losses by offsetting both present and future taxable gains and other income. Knowing how net capital gains and losses are computed, and how carryover capital losses may be used to maximum tax advantage, should form an important part of an investor's portfolio management program during these challenging times.

If you have completed your tax return and you owe more money that you can afford to pay in full, do not worry, you have many options. While it is in your best interest to pay off as much of your tax liability as you can, there are many payment options you can utilize to help pay off your outstanding debt to Uncle Sam. This article discusses a few of your payment options.

Many taxpayers are looking for additional sources of cash during these tough economic times. For many individuals, their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is one source of cash. You can withdraw ("borrow") money from your IRA, tax and penalty free, for up to 60 days. However, the ability to take a short-term "loan" from your IRA should only be taken in dire financial situations in light of the serious tax consequences that can result from an improper withdrawal or untimely rollover of the funds back into an IRA.

Although individual income tax returns don't have to be filed until April 15, taxpayers who file early get their refunds a lot sooner. The IRS begins accepting returns in January but does not start processing returns until February. Determining whether to file early depends on various personal and financial considerations. Filing early to somehow fly under the IRS's audit radar, however, has been ruled out long ago by experts as a viable strategy.


If you converted your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA earlier this year, incurred a significant amount of tax liability on the conversion, and then watched as the value of your Roth account plummeted amid the market turmoil, you may want to consider undoing the conversion. You can void or significantly lower your tax bill by recharacterizing the conversion, then reconverting your IRA back to a Roth at a later date. Careful timing in using the strategy, however, is essential.

If you are finally ready to part with those old gold coins, baseball cards, artwork, or jewelry your grandmother gave you, and want to sell the item, you may be wondering what the tax consequences will be on the disposition of the item (or items). This article explains some of the basic tax consequences of the sale of a collectible, such as that antique vase or gold coin collection.


With the economic downturn taking its toll on almost all facets of everyday living, from employment to personal and business expenditures, your business may be losing money as well. As a result, your business may have a net operating loss (NOL). Although no business wants to suffer losses, there are tax benefits to having an NOL for tax purposes. Moreover, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 temporarily enhances certain NOL carryback rules.

You have carefully considered the multitude of complex tax and financial factors, run the numbers, meet the eligibility requirements, and are ready to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The question now remains, however, how do you convert your IRA?

In a period of declining stock prices, tax benefits may not be foremost in your mind. Nevertheless, you may be able to salvage some benefits from the drop in values. Not only can you reduce your taxable income, but you may be able to move out of unfavorable investments and shift your portfolio to investments that you are more comfortable with.

Nonbusiness creditors may deduct bad debts when they become totally worthless (i.e. there is no chance of its repayment). The proper year for the deduction can generally be established by showing that an insolvent debtor has not timely serviced a debt and has either refused to pay any part of the debt in the future, gone through bankruptcy, or disappeared. Thus, if you have loaned money to a friend or family member that you are unable to collect, you may have a bad debt that is deductible on your personal income tax return.

With the U.S. and world financial markets in turmoil, many individual investors may be watching the value of their stock seesaw, or have seen it plummet in value. If the value of your shares are trading at very low prices, or have no value at all, you may be wondering if you can claim a worthless securities deduction for the stock on your 2008 tax return.

Contributions to political campaigns are nondeductible. Nondeductible campaign contributions include, for example, contributions to pay for campaign expenses as well as contributions to pay for a candidate's personal expenses while the candidate is campaigning. The line sometimes gets gray, however, when a contribution is being made for a charitable purpose that is being sponsored by a political candidate or is being made to a charity that also appears to be endorsing a political candidate as opposed to a particular position within the public discourse.

The IRS allows taxpayers with a charitable inclination to take a deduction for a wide range of donated items. However, the IRS does provide specific guidelines for those taxpayers contributing non-cash items, from the type of charity you can donate to in order to take a deduction to the quality of the goods you contribute and how to value them for deduction purposes. If your summer cleaning has led, or may lead, you to set aside clothes and other items for charity, and you would like to know how to value these items for tax purposes, read on.

The current economic slowdown has affected businesses in all industries, from service to retail, causing many companies to re-evaluate their financial and tax situation. If business is slower than normal, you may want to consider adjusting your estimated tax payments. If you've made estimated tax payments this year, a change in your business's income, deductions, credits, and exemptions may make it necessary to refigure your estimated tax payments for the remainder of the year. To avoid either a penalty from the IRS or overpaying the IRS interest-free, consider increasing or decreasing the amount of your remaining estimated tax payments.

With the prices of energy and food leading to rising inflation in the U.S., many people look to old stand-bys for investment options: Treasury Securities; as well as a relatively new variation, Treasury-Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS). Although many times overlooked by investors, not only can these inflation-indexed Treasury bonds outperform conventional non-indexed bonds when inflation is on the rise, they can be a good addition to your tax-deferred retirement portfolio.

The flagging state of the economy has left many individuals and families to cope with rising gas prices and food costs, struggle with their mortgage and rent payments, and manage credit card debt and other common monthly bills. Whether individuals are contemplating how to pay off their credit card or obtain a mortgage amid the "credit crunch" and "economic downturn," many people may be considering alternative sources of financing to reach their goals, including the tapping of a retirement account.

Often, individuals end up with an unexpected tax liability on April 15. There are several options available to pay off your tax debt, stop accruing penalties and interest and secure peace of mind. Each payment method has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your financial, and personal, circumstances, and each option should be discussed with a tax professional prior to making a decision. Our office would be glad to answer any questions you have about each payment method.

A financially secure employee is a productive one. Employee benefits play a key role in attracting and retaining employees. Financial counseling, tax preparation and retirement planning services are increasingly popular benefits offered by employers to their employees. However, not all of these result in a tax-free perk to employees. If you are considering offering your employees financial, tax or retirement planning services, you need to understand the tax consequences to both you and your workforce.

Falling interest rates and the current slowdown in the U.S. economy are having a widespread affect on today's economy and individuals' financial resources, from savings accounts to personal loans and credit card debt. The drop in interest rates that has occurred over the course of the last few months has also produced strategic tax planning opportunities for individuals contemplating certain types of asset transfers.

No. Even though trash pickup and neighborhood oversight provided by a governmental entity such as a town or county can be figured into the amount of deductible property taxes paid by a homeowner, a payment to a nongovernmental entity is not a deductible tax.

Like the Internet itself, the correct deductibility of a business's website development costs is still in its formative stages. What is fairly clear, however, is that it is highly unlikely that any single tax treatment will apply to all of the costs incurred in designing an internet site because the process encompasses many different types of expenses.

An accuracy-related penalty applies to a tax underpayment due to "negligence or disregard of the rules and regulations." "Negligence" for this purpose includes any failure to make a reasonable attempt to comply with the Tax Code, to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in preparing your tax return, to keep adequate books and records, or to properly substantiate items on your return. A return position that has a reasonable basis is not negligent. A taxpayer can also qualify for relief by showing reasonable cause and good faith.

Often, timing is everything or so the adage goes. From medicine to sports and cooking, timing can make all the difference in the outcome. What about with taxes? Does timing play a factor in raising or decreasing your risk of being audited by the IRS? For example, does the time when you file your income tax return affect the IRS's decision to audit you? Some individuals think filing early will decrease their risk of an audit, while others file at the very-last minute, believing this will reduce their chance of being audited. And some taxpayers don't think timing matters at all.

On December 18, 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 (Mortgage Debt Relief Act), providing some major assistance to certain homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments. The centerpiece of the new law is a three-year exception to the long-standing rule under the Tax Code that mortgage debt forgiven by a lender constitutes taxable income to the borrower. However, the new law does not alleviate all the pain of all troubled homeowners but, in conjunction with a mortgage relief plan recently announced by the Treasury Department, the Act provides assistance to many subprime borrowers.

Only "qualified moving expenses" under the tax law are generally deductible. Qualified moving expenses are incurred to move the taxpayer, members of the taxpayer's household, and their personal belongings. For moving expenses to be deductible, however, a move must:

The amount of interest required to be paid for underpayment of tax is compounded daily. In order to calculate compound interest, you divide the Code Sec. 6621 interest rate by the number of days in the year, 365 (or 366 in a leap year, such as 2008) and then compound the daily interest rate each day.

The small business corporation (S corp) is one of the most popular business entities today, offering its shareholders the flow-through tax treatment of a partnership and the limited liability of a corporation. The S corp has become an even more prominent entity in the small business community, in part, because the IRS has relaxed certain requirements for electing S corp status. A small business corporation does not need to elect to be treated as an S corp each year to maintain S corp status.

Employees who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can elect to receive the credit in advance payments from their employer along with their regular pay during the year. Advance earned income tax credit (AETIC) payments result in the employee's receipt of larger paychecks throughout the year, but still provide for a tax refund after the employee files his or her Federal income tax return. However, the IRS reports that few eligible workers know about, or take advantage of, of the EITC and the AEITC. Employers should understand their processing and reporting obligations as they relate to the payment of an AEITC to an employee. Letting your employees know about the AEITC can provide them with what they will consider a valuable benefit at no tax cost and very little administrative expense to your business.

With the holidays quickly approaching, you as an employer may not only be wondering what type of gift to give your employees this season, but the tax consequences of the particular gift you choose. The form of gift that you give this holiday season not only has tax consequences for your employees, but for your business as well. If you plan on giving your employees a gift that can be basted or baked this holiday season, such as a traditional turkey or ham, you should understand how that gift will be treated by the IRS for tax purposes.

If you use your car for business purposes, you may have learned that keeping track and properly logging the variety of expenses you incur for tax purposes is not always easy. Practically speaking, how often and how you choose to track expenses associated with the business use of your car depends on your personality; whether you are a meticulous note-taker or you simply abhor recordkeeping. However, by taking a few minutes each day in your car to log your expenses, you may be able to write-off a larger percentage of your business-related automobile costs.

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Long-term care premiums are deductible up to certain amounts as itemized medical expense deductions. The amount is based upon your age. Unfortunately, most taxpayers do not have enough other medical expense deductions to exceed the non-deductible portion equal to the first 7 ½ percent of adjusted gross income (10 percent if you are subject to alternative minimum tax (AMT)). Furthermore, more taxpayers now take the standard deduction rather than itemize, making even those medical expenses useless as a tax deduction.

A taxpayer's expenses incurred due to travel outside of the United States for business activities are deductible, but under a stricter set of rules than domestic travel. Foreign travel expenses may be subject to special allocation rules if a taxpayer engages in personal activities while traveling on business. Expenses subject to allocation include travel fares, meals, lodging, and other expenses incident to travel.

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is imposed on corporations in an amount by which the tentative minimum tax exceeds the regular income tax for the taxable year. The purpose of the AMT is to prevent taxpayers with substantial economic income from avoiding all tax liability through the use of exclusions, deductions and credits. Without the AMT, corporate taxpayers could significantly reduce their tax income through tax benefits under the regular tax structure, to the point of such reduction being unfair and unintended by Congress.

With the subprime mortgage mess wreaking havoc across the country, many homeowners who over-extended themselves with creative financing arrangements and exotic loan terms are now faced with some grim tax realities. Not only are they confronted with the overwhelming possibility of losing their homes either voluntarily through selling at a loss or involuntarily through foreclosure, but they must accept certain tax consequences for which they are totally unprepared.

These days, both individuals and businesses buy goods, services, even food on-line. Credit card payments and other bills are paid over the internet, from the comfort of one's home or office and without any trip to the mailbox or post office.

If you own a vacation home, you may be considering whether renting the property for some of the time could come with big tax breaks. More and more vacation homeowners are renting their property. But while renting your vacation home can help defray costs and provide certain tax benefits, it also may raise some complex tax issues.

Fringe benefits have not only become an important component of employee compensation, they also have a large financial impact on an employer's business. Fringe benefits are non-compensation benefits provided by an employer to employees. Unless they fall within one of the specific categories of tax-exempt fringe benefits, however, are taxable to employees.

In order to be tax deductible, compensation must be a reasonable payment for services. Smaller companies, whose employees frequently hold significant ownership interests, are particularly vulnerable to IRS attack on their compensation deductions.


A lump-sum of social security benefits is usually included in gross income for the year in which it is received. However, a recipient may choose to include in gross income the total amount of benefits that would have been included in gross income in the appropriate year if the payments had been received when due.

Non-cash incentive awards, such as merchandise from a local retailer given to its employees or vacation trips offered to the employee team member who contributes the most to a special project, are a form of supplemental wages and are subject to most of the reporting and withholding requirements of other forms of compensation that employees receive. There are, however, special rules for calculating and timing withholding, as well as exceptions for de minimis awards and "length of service" awards.

There are tax benefits for which you may be eligible if you are paying education expenses for yourself or an immediate member of your family. In the rush to claim one of two education tax credits or the higher-education expense deduction, IRS statistics indicate that a more modest yet still significant tax break is often being overlooked: the higher education student-loan interest deduction.

More third-party reporting is coming. Treasury, Congress, and the IRS are all entertaining proposals to require the reporting of income that currently does not have to be reported to the IRS. IRS National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson reports that there are 45 million taxpayers who have a small business or are self-employed. She reports that not all of them have professional help, and that the IRS is not adequately helping them.

Although you may want your traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to keep accumulating tax-free well into your old age, the IRS sets certain deadlines. The price for getting an upfront deduction when contributing to a traditional IRA (or having a rollover IRA) is that Uncle Sam eventually starts taxing it once you reach 70½. The required minimum distribution (RMD) rules under the Internal Revenue Code accomplish that.

Businesses benefit from many tax breaks. If you are in business with the objective of making a profit, you can generally claim all your business deductions. If your deductions exceed your income for the year, you can claim a loss for the year, up to the amount of your income from other activities. Remaining losses can be carried over into other years.

Payroll tax" is a blanket term used to address the combination of social security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and state and federal income taxes withheld by an employer from an employee's wages. In addition to withholding these taxes at the time of payment of wages, employers are also required to pay most of the taxes on their own behalves, deposit the taxes with appropriate government depositories, report withholding activities to the government, and keep appropriate records.

No, taxpayers may destroy the original hardcopy of books and records and the original computerized records detailing the expenses of a business if they use an electronic storage system.

Instead of getting a paper check, you may want to have your refund deposited directly into your bank account or other financial account. Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ have a line for designating direct deposit of your refund, right after the line showing the amount of your refund.

If someone told you that you could exchange an apartment house for a store building without recognizing a taxable gain or loss, you might not believe him or her. You might already know about a very valuable business planning and tax tool: a like-kind exchange. In some cases, if you trade business property for other business property of the same asset class, you do not need to recognize a taxable gain or loss.

'Tax risk management" is a fairly recent term first used by large accounting firms to underscore to businesses the opportunities and pitfalls inherent within the particular tax positions taken by a business at any point in time. The collapse of Enron and WorldCom, and Congress's response through Sarbanes/Oxley legislation, have elevated corporate tax departments from what were once sleepy backroom operations to key participants in corporate bottom-line performance. Tax reserves and other tax forecasts now take a more prominent role in SEC-required disclosure and their resulting impact on shareholder value. Corporate boards and top executives are now held directly responsible for tax-related mistakes.

If you call attention to your return, it probably will be noticed. Whether by writing in red across your return a "tax protestor" slogan, by not signing your return, or by not filling in all required lines, you will get your return noticed and at the very least you'll get a letter asking to further explain your position. Absent such blatant attention-getting behavior, however, your chances of audit depends upon the numerical amounts you place on your return and how they compare to certain norms determined by IRS computers (and kept secret from the public). Some audit selection is also done randomly, although those odds are less than a fraction of one percent under current practice.

Parents of a child under age 13 can take a tax credit for child care expenses to enable them to work. The credit can be taken for care of two or more children. Child care expenses are amounts you paid for someone to come to your home, for care at the home of a day care provider, and for care at a day care center.

Only 50 percent of the cost of meals is generally deductible. A meal deduction is customarily allowed when the meal is business related and incurred in one of two instances:

The standard mileage rate may be taken in lieu of proving actual expenses such as depreciation on your automobile and the cost of gas. You must still prove that you took the trip for business and that you took it in your vehicle, whether owned or leased. The standard mileage rate applies to the actual miles driven and not simply to miles traveled.

A: If you have the money, contributing to your IRA immediately on January 1st or as soon thereafter as possible is the best strategy. The #1 advantage of an IRA is that interest or other investment income earned on the account accumulates without tax each year. The sooner the money starts working at earning tax-free income, the greater the tax advantage. With a traditional IRA, that tax advantage means no tax until you finally withdraw the money at retirement or for a qualified emergency. In the case of a Roth IRA, the tax advantage comes in the form of the investment income that is never taxed.

Every year, Americans donate billions of dollars to charity. Many donations are in cash. Others take the form of clothing and household items. With all this money involved, it's inevitable that some abuses occur. The new Pension Protection Act cracks down on abuses by requiring that all donations of clothing and household items be in "good used condition or better.

American workers don't have the best track record when it comes to saving money for retirement. In fact, they're ranked near the bottom when compared to workers in other industrialized countries. The The Saver's Credit, also known as the retirement savings contribution credit, is available to low and moderate-income workers to help save for retirement. It can provide valuable tax savings for many workers.

Uncle Sam takes a tax bite out of almost every asset sold and collectibles are no exception. Indeed, collectibles are currently subject to one of the highest rates of federal taxation on investment property. Capital gain from the sale of a collectible is taxed at 28 percent.

Yes. If you received a cash incentive from your employer to help you purchase a hybrid vehicle, the IRS treats it as taxable compensation.

If you're thinking about setting up employees as telecommuters, you're not alone. Businesses ranging from large multi-nationals to small shops know that telecommuting not only can improve worker morale and performance, it can also save you and your employees money. What's not to like about zero commuting costs and no office rent? You can also sell the benefits of telecommuting by alerting employees to some significant tax breaks.

When you receive cash other than the like-kind property in a like-kind exchange, the cash is treated as "boot." Boot does not render the transaction ineligible for non-recognition treatment but it does require you to recognize gain to the extent of the cash received. The same is true for other non-like-kind property. In other words, anything you receive in addition to the like-kind property, such as relief from debt from a mortgage or additional property that is not like-kind will force you to recognize the gain realized.

The new Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act (TIPRA), signed into law in May, makes some important changes to offers-in-compromise (OIC). The new rules now require taxpayers to make nonrefundable partial payments with a submission of any OIC made on or after July 16, 2006. Taxpayers should be aware of the new requirements as the IRS is known for granting few OICs. Not complying with the new rules will likely increase the chances that the IRS will reject your offer.

No. Generally, payments that qualify as alimony are included in the recipient's gross income and are deducted from the payor's gross income. However, not all payments between spouses qualify as alimony.

Ordinarily, you can deduct the fair market value (FMV) of property contributed to charity. The FMV is the price in an arm's-length transaction between a willing buyer and seller. If the property's value is less than the price you paid for it, your deduction is limited to FMV. In some cases, you must submit an appraisal with your tax return.

Taxpayers who do not meet the requirements for the home sale exclusion may still qualify for a partial home sale exclusion if they are able to prove that the sale was a result of an unforeseen circumstance. Recent rulings indicate that the IRS is flexible in qualifying occurrences as unforeseen events and allowing a partial home sale exclusion.

The actual date a business asset is placed in service is important because it affects when depreciation may be claimed for tax purposes. Depreciation begins in the tax year that an asset is placed in service. The placed-in-service date is especially important in the case of end-of-tax year acquisitions.

More small businesses get into trouble with the IRS over payroll taxes than any other type of tax. Payroll taxes are a huge source of government revenue and the IRS takes them very seriously. It is actively looking for businesses that have fallen behind in their payroll taxes or aren't depositing them. When the IRS finds a noncompliant business, it hits hard with penalties.

No, parking tickets are not deductible. Internal Revenue Code Sec. 162 (a) provides that no deduction is allowed for fines or penalties paid to a government (U.S. or foreign, federal or local).

The AMT is difficult to apply and the exact computation is very complex. If you owed AMT last year and no unusual deduction or windfall had come your way that year, you're sufficiently at risk this year to apply a detailed set of computations to any AMT assessment. Ballpark estimates just won't work

You've waited until the last minute to fill out your income tax return. Instead of owing more taxes to the IRS, as you feared, you discover that you're entitled to a big refund. You breathe a sigh of relief.

Q. A promising investment opportunity proved too good to be true and I have incurred some stock losses. I still have faith in the company and don't want to abandon it but can I use some of these losses to offset gains from other stocks? If I sell these shares at a loss and immediately buy them back, what would the tax consequences be?

When trying to maximize retirement savings contributions, you may find you have contributed too much to your IRA. Typically, you either have too much income to qualify for a certain IRA or you can't recall what contributions you made until they are added up at tax time and you discover they were too much. There are steps you can take to correct an excess contribution.

Small businesses are getting a break from filing quarterly employment tax returns. The IRS will permit some small employers to file their employment tax returns annually instead of quarterly. The IRS is sending out letters about the new program to small businesses in February. If you receive a letter from the IRS, give our office a call and we'll help answers any questions you have. If you don't receive a letter from the IRS and believe you qualify for the program, we'll get in touch with the IRS for you.

You can now obtain an automatic six-month extension to October 15 to file your income tax return, Form 1040 -- four months if you are out of the country. You no longer need to ask for an additional two-month extension and do not have to give a reason for your extension request. To obtain the automatic extension, you must submit your request by April 15 (the original due date of the return). Be aware that the IRS will not grant an extension beyond six months.

Information returns usually arrive in January or February and consist of either Form 1099 or Form 1098. For some, they seem as ubiquitous as their holiday mail in December. Form 1099s are especially likely to populate your mailbox, being used to report a whole array of income other than wages, salaries and tips. While a Form 1099 is not needed to record every taxable transaction, one Form 1099 can record multiple transactions; for example, from your broker for dividends and stock trades. The payer will send a Form 1099 to you by the end of January and will file the form with the IRS by the end of February. Typical forms are sent out for dividend and interest income, self-employment or independent contractor's income, student loan interest and mortgage interest statements.


Amounts received as an annuity are included in gross income to the extent that they exceed the exclusion ratio, which is determined by taking the original investment in the contract, deducting the value of any refund features, and dividing the result by the expected yield on the contract as of the annuity starting date. In general, the expected return is the product of a single payment and the anticipated number of payments to be received, i.e., the total amount the annuitant can expect to receive. In the case of a life annuity, the number of payments is computed based on actuarial tables provided in IRS Regulation Sec. 1.72-9.

Holiday season - a time for giving to friends and family, but not, you hope, to the IRS. Many, if not most, people are aware that the Tax Code imposes a tax on certain gifts, but not everyone is certain as to how this works. How do you know when you've given the gift that keeps on taking - a taxable gift?

Given a choice between recognizing income now or in a later year, most people want to be paid now and be taxed in a later year. As a practical matter, however, an employee cannot defer compensation after performing services and becoming entitled to payment. Routine compensation earned over a prescribed pay period -- a week, two weeks, or a month, for example - usually is paid or made available in the same year it was earned. Recognition of the income cannot be put off to a later year.

You've just disposed of a collectible item (or your entire collection), such as an old coin, artwork, figurine, or even those old baseball cards you somehow managed to keep away from the spokes of your bike and your mother's desire to clear some space, and got a sum of money for your efforts. Congratulations, you've just had a taxable event. How do you calculate your gain (assuming you actually have one) so that you can pay the taxes? To do this, you need to answer a few more questions.

The tax rules are very liberal for individuals in the armed forces who are serving in a combat zone. The combat zone extension automatically extends the date for paying tax or claiming a refund, as well as for filing. The extension also applies to paying estimated tax.

Generally, mental disability must be permanent. However, you may be able to withdraw a portion up to the amount allowable as a medical expense deduction for the year.

The Tax Code encourages charitable donations by businesses and industries. In fact, it is one tax incentive that President Bush has told his tax reform panel that he wants to preserve and strengthen. Taxpayers can make many different types of contributions, including inventory.

One of the easiest ways for a business to limit liability is to use independent contractors instead of employees. Of course, merely calling employees "independent contractors" will not make those individuals independent contractors.

The closely-held corporate form of entity is widely used by family-owned businesses. As its name implies, the owners of the business are typically limited to a small group of shareholders. Many businesses operate for years as closely-held corporations without giving a second thought to a little-known danger: the personal holding company tax.

Many people are surprised to learn that some "luxury" items can be deductible business expenses. Of course, moderation is key. Excessive spending is sure to attract the IRS's attention. As some recent high-profile court cases have shown, the government isn't timid in its crackdown on business owners using company funds for personal travel and entertainment.

Whether a parent who employs his or her child in a family business must withhold FICA and pay FUTA taxes will depend on the age of the teenager, the amount of income the teenager earns and the type of business.

Owning a vacation home is a common dream that many people share...a special place to get away from the weekday routine, relax and maybe, after you retire, a new place to call home.

A remainder interest is the interest you receive in property when a grantor transfers property to a third person for a specified length of time with the provision that you receive full possessory rights at the end of that period. The remainder is "vested" if there are no other requirements you must satisfy in order to receive possession at the end of that period, such as surviving to the end of the term. This intervening period may be for a given number of years, or it may be for the life of the third person. Most often, this situation arises with real estate, although other types of property may be transferred in this fashion as well, such as income-producing property held in trust. The holder of a remainder interest may wish to sell that interest at some point, whether before or after the right to possession has inured.

For U.S. taxpayers, owning assets held in foreign countries may have a variety of benefits, from ease of use for frequent travelers or those employed abroad to diversification of an investment portfolio. There are, however, additional rules and requirements to follow in connection with the payment of taxes. Some of these rules are very different from those for similar types of domestic income, and more than a few are quite complex.

The federal government makes a lot of money from interest people owe on their taxes. Unless you are proactive, interest will accrue and before you know it, your original tax bill will be much higher. You can stop interest from accruing if you act early. Thanks to a new law, the government will also pay you interest in some cases.

If you pay for domestic-type services in your home, you may be considered a "domestic employer" for purposes of employment taxes. As a domestic employer, you in turn may be required to report, withhold, and pay employment taxes on a calendar-year basis. The reporting rules apply to both FICA and FUTA taxes, as well as to income taxes that domestic employees elect to have withheld from their wages. The FICA tax rate, applied separately to the employer's share and the employee's share, is 7.65 percent.

This is a simple question, but the question does not have a simple answer. Generally speaking the answer is no, closing costs are not deductible when refinancing. However, the answer depends on what you mean by "closing costs" and what is done with the money obtained in the refinancing.

With all the different tax breaks for taxpayers with children - from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to the dependent care and child tax credits - you may be wondering who exactly is a "child" for purposes of these incentives. Is there a uniform definition in the Tax Code, or does the definition of a "child" vary according to each tax break?

The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (2004 Jobs Act) changed the rules for start-up expenses in both favorable and unfavorable ways. Start-up expenditures are amounts that would have been deductible as trade or business expenses, had they not been paid or incurred before the business began. Prior to the 2004 Jobs Act, a taxpayer had to file an election to amortize start-up expenditures over a period of not less than 60 months, no later than the due date for the tax year in which the trade or business begins.

Q. I use my computer for both business and pleasure and I am confused about how much I can deduct. Also, how are PDAs such as Palm Pilots, etc. deducted for tax purposes?

Most homeowners have found that over the past five to ten years, real estate -especially the home in which they live-- has proven to be a great investment. When the 1997 Tax Law passed, most homeowners assumed that the eventual sale of their home would be tax free. At that time, Congress exempted from tax at least $250,000 of gain on the sale of a principal residence; $500,000 if a joint return was filed. Now, those exemption amounts, which are not adjusted for inflation, don't seem too generous for many homeowners.

If you own a small business, you may be eligible to value your inventory under the simplified dollar-value LIFO (last in, first out) method. Typically, small manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers benefit from this method.

Saving money, whether for retirement, education, travel, or any reason, requires a lot of self-discipline. If you're like most people, the thought of saving money conjures up visions of endless budgeting. All those hours of budgeting take away from scarce free time. One method of saving is relatively painless...at least, once you have the money to save. It's often described as the magic of compound interest.

Money spent to sell your company's product or service, or to develop goodwill in the community, can be deducted from business income. Advertising costs, like other ordinary and necessary business expenses, are generally deductible so long as the advertising expense is reasonably related to your trade or business. There are a few caveats, however, depending on the type of advertising and its expected usefulness. Take stock of your business advertising expenditures to maximize the benefits for your bottom line.

The general rule on business expenses is that you must prove everything in detail to be entitled to a deduction. Logs, preferably made contemporaneously to the business transaction, must show date, amount, and business purpose and you must produce receipts. Fortunately, the tax law has a practical side. Congress, the IRS and the courts each have applied their own brand of practicality in allowing certain exceptions to be made to the business substantiation rule.

Loans without interest or at below-market interest rates are recharacterized so that lenders must recognize market-rate interest income. Below-market loans are loans for which a rate of interest that is lower than the applicable federal rate (AFR) -a traditional interest benchmark issued each month by the Treasury Department-- is charged.

Asset protection planning is the process of organizing one's assets and affairs in advance to guard against risks to which the assets would otherwise be subject. The phrase "in advance" warrants strong emphasis. One who is planning to protect assets must be cautious and avoid the negative implications that may follow if there are creditors who are entitled to remedies under applicable fraudulent transfer and similar laws. Asset protection planning may be applied to protect every type of asset, including an operating business or a professional practice.

Parents typically encourage their children to save for college, for a house, or simply for a rainy day. A child's retirement, however, is a less common early savings goal. Too many other expenses are at the forefront. Yet, helping to plan for a youngster's retirement is a move that astute families are making. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for income-earning minors and young adults offer a head-start on life-long financial planning.


The bartering system is an ancient form of commerce that still thrives today. From livestock in exchange for grain, to legal advice in exchange for accounting services, money-less trades are still common. However, a major difference between bartering in antiquity versus modern American times is that the IRS wants in on the deal. Just because money does not change hands, does not mean that a traded good or service loses its value, or its taxability. And, unfortunately, the IRS won't accept a pig or a mule for its payment, making cash a necessary part of any barter arrangement when it's time to pay tax on it.


Entertaining business clients and employees at sports events or arts performances can be good for the bottom line; and tax deductible, too. Whether to maintain contacts with existing customers, woo new business, or reward your employees; footing the bill at the ball game or hosting an evening at the theater can go a long way to generate positive returns.

With the exception of some city ordinances, companies are not required to offer benefits to a domestic partner of an employee. One major change occurs on January 1, 2005 when California will start requiring employers to offer domestic partner benefits. Recent legislation in California extends the rights and duties of marriage, including the right to employee benefits, to persons registered as domestic partners. It may signal a trend that other states will follow.


Casualty losses are damages from a sudden, unexpected or unusual event, including natural disasters. These losses are deductible to the extent they fit under specific tax rules. Ironically, however, due to insurance reimbursements and other payments, you may actually have taxable "casualty gain" as the result of a disaster or accident. Casualty losses and gains are reported on Form 4684.


You should beware of fancy footwork when it comes to estimating, filing, and paying federal taxes. One misstep can lead to harsh penalties. Willful or fraudulent mistakes can generate criminal sanctions as well.

Many employers opt to provide their employees with transportation benefits in addition to their regular compensation. Employers can offer this extra perk in the form of transportation passes, parking vouchers, or both. The transportation fringe benefit is income tax free to employees, up to a certain limit.

No, taxpayers may destroy the original hardcopy of books and records and the original computerized records detailing the expenses of a business if they use an electronic storage system.

The answer to this question would depend on a number of facts and circumstances. To be able to deduct work-related educational expenses as a business expense, you must: work as an employee or be self-employed; itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040) if you are an employee; file Schedule C (Form 1040) or Schedule F (Form 1040) if you are self-employed; and have expenses for education that meet certain criteria under the "qualifying work-related education" tests, explained below.


So you won the lotto! But before you take that dream vacation, pay off those credit cards, or buy a luxury car, there are some important tax issues to consider.


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires employers to give former employees, spouses and children the opportunity to continue their group health coverage for 18 months and sometimes longer.p>


Some gifts to employees are too insignificant for the IRS to care about. The IRS calls these gifts de minimis fringe benefits. A de minimis fringe benefit is any gift or service with a value so small that accounting for it is unreasonable or administratively impracticable. The value must be nominal or very low. Turkeys given to employees at Thanksgiving are a good example.

Hiring new employees imposes many burdens on an employer. One of the most important is the collection and filing of Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. Mistakes can be very costly to employers and employees. Here's a look at some problems and simple steps employers can take to avoid them.


If you file a joint return and your taxable income is less than that of your spouse, the "spousal" IRA rules may allow you to contribute up to $5,000 in 2009 (or $6,000 if you are 50 or older) to an individual retirement account (IRA) this year. A "spousal IRA" is a term more commonly used to describe an IRA set up for a nonworking, stay-at-home spouse.


Many tax issues arise when an employee leaves, or is terminated, from employment. How they are handled can make the difference between having an employee leave feeling more in control of the situation and one who may perceive the need for a better severance package. Here are some considerations that should not be ignored.


In many parts of the country, residential property has seen steady and strong appreciation for some time now. In an estate planning context, however, increasing property values could mean a potential increase in federal estate tax liability for the property owner's estate. Many homeowners, who desire to pass their appreciating residential property on to their children and save federal estate and gift taxes at the same time, have utilized qualified personal residence trusts.


Just because you're married doesn't mean you have to file a joint return. This is a common misconception along with thinking that "married filing separately" applies to couples who are separated or seeking a divorce. As a married couple, you have two choices: file a joint return or file separate returns. Naturally, there are benefits and detriments to each and your tax advisor can chart the best course of action for you.

The IRS has some good news for you. Under new rules, you may be able to gain a partial tax break on the full $250,000 capital gain exclusion ($500,000 if you file jointly with your spouse), even if you haven't satisfied the normal "two out of five year test" necessary to gain that tax benefit. You may qualify for an exception.


As a business owner you have likely heard about the tax advantages of setting up a retirement plan for you and your employees. Many small business owners, however, have also heard some of the horror stories and administrative nightmares that can go along with plan sponsorship. Through marketing information that you receive, you may have learned that a simplified employer plan (SEP) is a retirement plan you can sponsor without the administrative hassle associated with establishing other company plans, including Keoghs.


U.S. citizens and resident aliens working abroad may exclude up to $91,400 of their foreign earned income for 2009. Additionally, expatriates may deduct or exclude their foreign housing costs in excess of a base amount. The housing exclusion is for reimbursed expenses while the deduction is for unreimbursed costs.

Higher-income individuals whose adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds a threshold level must reduce the amount of their otherwise allowable itemized deductions.


Q. My husband and I are thinking of starting a business. Can we operate it as a sole proprietorship?

A. No. When two or more people own a business and share in the profits, they are partners. Only one person can own a sole proprietorship. However, if either you or your husband is the sole owner, and the other is an employee, a "sole proprietorship" under the tax law is allowed.


Although taxes may take a back seat to the basic issue of whether refinancing saves enough money to be worthwhile, you should be aware of the basic tax rules that come into play. Sometimes, you can immediately deduct some of the costs of refinancing.


If you want to withdraw funds from either your company retirement plan or your individual retirement account, there is a 10% additional tax (penalty) if you make withdrawals before the age of 59 ½. There is an exception to this rule if you make withdrawals from your account of a series of "substantially equal periodic payments."


Q. I converted my regular IRA to a Roth IRA when the account had a high value because the stock market was at an all time high. I paid the required tax on the conversion when the conversion proceeds pushed me up into the 36% tax bracket. The Roth IRA is now worth only about 40% of its original value. Is there any type of tax deduction that I can take based on this loss?


A taxpayer who may have misplaced or lost a copy of his tax return that was already filed with the IRS or whose copy may have been destroyed in a fire, flood, or other disaster may need information contained on that return in order to complete his or her return for the current year. In addition, an individual may be required by a governmental agency or other entity, such as a mortgage lender or the Small Business Administration, to supply a copy of his or a related party's tax return.


Every business owner knows that he or she is responsible for payroll taxes for employees but not for independent contractors. This is the general rule, but like every rule in the Tax Code, there are exceptions.


I sold a small piece of property two years ago. Going through my records recently I realized that the gain on that sale was never reported on my tax return. What should I do now?


A new IRS ruling confirms that HRAs are entitled to significant tax breaks. Properly structured, they can provide a deduction for the business, tax-free benefits for employees, and more direct and personal control over health care costs…a classic "win-win" situation, compliments of the tax code.


U.S. Savings Bonds can be a relatively risk-free investment during time of upheaval in the stock market, such as we are experiencing now. There are two different types of savings bonds for tax purposes. The first includes Series EE bonds and Series I bonds. If you invest in these bonds, you have a choice of reporting interest as it accrues each year you hold the bond until you sell it or redeem it. A second category consists of a special type of savings bond, HH bonds, on which income generally must be reported as accrued.


Generally, if you do volunteer work for a charity, you are not entitled to deduct the cost of services you perform for the charity. However, if in connection with the volunteer work you incur out-of-pocket expenses, you may be entitled to deduct some of those expenses.


A pre-tax benefit can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but usually can fit into one of two categories.


The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) allows individuals and businesses to make tax payments by telephone, personal computer or through the Internet.


Q: What tax deductions am I entitled to as an investor?

A: Certain investment-related expenses are deductible, others are specifically restricted. Still others won't get you a deduction, but you will be able to add them to your tax basis in the underlying investment, or net them from the amount you are otherwise considered to have received on its sale.


New IRS rules substantially simplify the computation of required minimum distributions (RMDs). In addition, Congress has forced the IRS to adopt new life expectancy tables that reflect longer life expectancies, resulting in distributions to be made over a longer time-period and for the RMD to be smaller than would have been required in previous years. You could realize some significant tax savings.

Making gifts is a useful, and often overlooked, tax strategy. However, when thinking about whether to make a gift, or gifts, to your children or other minors, the tax consequences must be evaluated very carefully. Many times, though, the tax consequences can be beneficial and lower your tax bill.


No use worrying. More than five million people every year have problems getting their refund checks so your situation is not uncommon. Nevertheless, you should be aware of the rules, and the steps to take if your refund doesn't arrive.

More small businesses can use the taxpayer-friendly cash method of accounting. Final rules from the IRS may allow as many as 500,000 businesses to benefit from this important change.


Is a property transfer to your child or other minor a possible event on your horizon? If it is, just don't cover yourself on the tax consequences of such transfers. There are important legal considerations over and above the transfer's tax impact.

Q: An extension to file my tax return seems such a painless procedure, is there any good reason for me not to postpone my filing deadline to avoid just one more hassle during the busy start of Spring?


It's always nice to have extra cash lying around in your business. Say you've had a good year, but you want to wait awhile before plowing the profits back into the business. Are there any potential tax problems involved if you keep that extra cash in your business' investment account rather than withdrawing it to put in your own personal portfolio? You bet there are ... if you operate your business as a regular taxable corporation.


Q. My husband and I have a housekeeper come in to clean once a week; and someone watches our children for about 10 hours over the course of each week to free up our time for chores. Are there any tax problems here that we are missing?


In the wake of the Enron collapse has come a new interest in the accounting profession and the spin on the news is often not too flattering. That's wrong. Accounting professionals play a very important role in our global economy but it's a role not too many people understand.

In a nutshell, auditors certify the accuracy of profits, losses, debts and other financial data reported by companies. They are hired by a company's board of directors - and the shareholders - to make sure that financial statements comply with federal law.


Have you ever thought about distributions of property dividends (rather than cash dividends) from your corporation?  In some situations, it makes sense to distribute property in lieu of cash for a variety of reasons. However, before you make the decision as to the form of any distributions from your company, you should consider the various tax consequences of such distributions.


Throughout all of our lives, we have been told that if we don't want to work all of our life, we must plan ahead and save for retirement. We have also been urged to seek professional guidance to help plan our estates so that we can ensure that our loved ones will get the most out of the assets we have accumulated during our lifetime, with the least amount possible going to pay estate taxes.  What many of us likely have not thought about is how these two financial goals -- retirement and estate planning -- work together. 


During uncertain economic times, it's easy to feel pessimism and react hastily amid media reports about growing unemployment rates and stock market downturns. However, such actions can wreak havoc on your long-term personal and financial goals. Taking some time out now to put the uncertain future into perspective can help minimize the impact that many external forces can have on your personal and financial life.


Q:  One of my children received a full scholarship for all expenses to attend college this year.  I had heard that this amount may not be required to be reported on his tax return if certain conditions were met and the funds were used specifically for certain types of her expenses.  Is this true and what amounts spent on my child's education will be treated as qualified expenses?


How much am I really worth? This is a question that has run through most of our minds at one time or another. However, if you aren't an accountant or mathematician, it may seem like an impossible number to figure out. The good news is that, using a simple step format, you can compute your net worth in no time at all.


In addition to direct giving during their lifetimes, many people look at how they can incorporate charitable giving in their estate plans. While many options are available, one plan that allows you help charities and preserve and grow assets for your beneficiaries at the same time is a charitable lead annuity trust.


Q: The holidays are approaching and I would like to consider giving gifts of appreciation to my employees. What kinds of gifts can I give my employees that they would not have to declare as income on their tax returns?I also would like to make sure my company would be able to deduct the costs of these gifts.

Q: When it comes to investing, I've always played pretty "mainstream" - investing in mutual funds and governments bonds. However, I've heard people talking about tax-sheltered annuities. Is this something I should consider to round out my investments while saving some additional taxes?


Dual-income families are commonplace these days, however, some couples are discovering that their second income may not be worth the added aggravation and effort. After taking into consideration daycare expenses, commuting expenses, the countless take-out meals, and additional clothing costs, many are surprised at how much (or how little) of that second income is actually hitting their bank account.


Although the old adage warns against doing business with friends or relatives, many of us do, especially where personal or real property is involved. While the IRS generally takes a very discerning look at most financial transactions between family members, you can avoid some of the common tax traps if you play by a few simple rules.


You have just been notified that your tax return is going to be audited ... what now? While the best defense is always a good offense (translation: take steps to avoid an audit in the first place), in the event the IRS does come knocking on your door, here are some basic guidelines you can follow to increase the chances that you will come out of your audit unscathed.


Apart from wages, one of the most common sources of taxable income is from investments. While investment income from non-exempt sources is generally fully taxable to individuals under the Internal Revenue Code, many of the expenses incurred in producing that income are deductible. Knowing the rules governing investment expenses can reduce -- sometimes significantly -- the tax impact of investment income.


Employers are required by the Internal Revenue Code to calculate, withhold, and deposit with the IRS all federal employment taxes related to wages paid to employees. Failure to comply with these requirements can find certain "responsible persons" held personally liable. Who is a responsible person for purposes of employment tax obligations? The broad interpretation defined by the courts and the IRS may surprise you.


When it comes to legal separation or divorce, there are many complex situations to address. A divorcing couple faces many important decisions and issues regarding alimony, child support, and the fair division of property. While most courts and judges will not factor in the impact of taxes on a potential property settlement or cash payments, it is important to realize how the value of assets transferred can be materially affected by the tax implications.


How quickly could you convert your assets to cash if necessary? Do you have a quantitative way to evaluate management's effectiveness? Knowing your business' key financial ratios can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your operations and your ability to meet your financial obligations as well as help you chart your company's future.


For partnerships and entities taxed like partnerships (e.g., limited liability companies), each partner must compute the basis of his/her partnership interest separately from the basis of each asset owned by the partnership. Because the basis of this interest is critical to determining the tax consequences resulting from any number of transactions (e.g., distributions, sale of your interest, etc..), if your business is taxed as a partnership, it is important that you understand the concept of tax basis as well as how to keep track of that basis for tax purposes.


Q. I have a professional services firm and am considering hiring my wife to help out with some of the administrative tasks in the office. I don't think we'll have a problem working together but I would like to have more information about the tax aspects of such an arrangement before I make the leap. What are some of the tax advantages of hiring my spouse?


The responsibility for remitting federal tax payments to the IRS in a timely manner can be overwhelming for the small business owner -- the deadlines seem never ending and the penalties for late payments can be stiff. However, many small business owners may find that participating in the IRS's EFTPS program is a convenient, timesaving way to pay their federal taxes.


Imagine you had a camera that could take a snapshot of your financial transactions over the course of a year. This snapshot would give you a chance to see the results of financial decisions you made during the course of the year -- good and bad. By using your recently filed Form 1040 as a "snapshot" of your past spending and investment habits, you can use this information to make better financial decisions in the current year.


Q. Each year when it comes time to prepare my return, I realize how little I think about my tax situation during the rest of the year. I seem to lack any sort of common sense when it comes to dealing with my taxes. Do you have any general advice for people like me trying to "do the right thing" in any tax situation that may arise during the year?


Stock options have become a common part of many compensation and benefits packages. Even small businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and now provide a perk previously confined to the executive suites of large publicly held companies. If you are an employee who has received stock options, you need to be aware of the complicated tax rules that govern certain stock options -- several potential "gotchas" exist and failing to spot them can cause major tax headaches.


Q. Last year when I filed my tax return, I received a huge refund check as I had apparently paid far too much in during the year. Although it's nice to get a big check each year, I can't help but think that there must be a better way to handle my money. What can I do right now to avoid this situation in the future?