Small Business Tax Strategies

Q. My accountant says that part of my capital gains qualify for a 0% federal tax rate this year. Is that possible?

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The myriad of choices of retirement plans currently available to small business owners can be confusing. Now a top official for the American Institute of CPAs says Congress should consolidate the rules.

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Generally, a calendar-year company deducts employee bonuses in the year they are paid, while the bonuses are taxable to the employees in the year received. For instance, in order to deduct year-end bonuses in 2013, you must pay them before Jan. 1, 2014. But there’s a special rule for accrual-basis companies.

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In the usual course of events, a C corporation will try to shift taxable income into 2014 while accelerating deductions into 2013. But that’s not always the best approach.

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In a case decided last year, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that severance payments made to employees aren’t treated as taxable wages for payroll tax purposes, opening up refund opportunities.

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Q. We’re considering experimental surgery for my wife. Can we deduct the cost as a medical expense?

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Just before the government shutdown, the IRS issued new higher per diem rates for the 2014 fiscal year (FY 2014) spanning Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014. A private employer may rely on these rates to substantiate employee travel expenses without having to do a strict accounting.

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The IRS has announced that employers are able to modify the long-standing use-it-or-lose-it rule bedeviling flexible spending accounts (FSAs) used for health care ex­­penses. The onerous rule requires em­­ployees to forfeit FSA funds if they don’t use those amounts by the end of the plan year.

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It now costs a little less to obtain tax return copies. Effective Oct. 1, 2013, the fee has been reduced from $57 per copy to $50, thanks to technological improvements.

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Q. We use a baby sitter to watch our children after school. Are we responsible for a nanny tax?

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