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Small Business Tax Strategies

Q. My son just graduated from college. Can he deduct his job-hunting expenses?

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Suppose your young child receives a Series EE U.S. Savings Bond as a birthday gift. Or maybe you’ve received bonds for a child just born. Strategy: Plan on electing to pay the tax annually on the EE bond interest.

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Beginning in 2013, there’s an extra tax incentive for investing in municipal bonds (munis). Strategy: Include more munis in your portfolio to sidestep the new 3.8% Medicare surtax.

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The Ameri­­can Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) revived the research credit, retroactive to 2012 and extended it through 2013.

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Q. My wife quit her job years ago, but she hasn’t moved her 401(k) funds. Is this a problem? R.B., Nazareth, Pa.

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Suppose you’ve turned a personal hobby into a money-making venture. The activity can provide some tax benefits if you can convince the IRS it’s now a for-profit business instead of a hobby.

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If you own a C corporation, you’re effectively taxed twice—once when the company earns taxable income and again when those earnings are paid to you as dividends. To avoid this double tax whammy, you might want to switch to the S corporation form of ownership. Strategy: Watch out for the “built-in gains” (BIG) tax.

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Q. I’m past the age for receiving IRA distributions. Can I set up and contribute to a Roth?

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Due to a number of tax law changes taking effect this year—including an onerous new Medicare surtax on investment income and higher tax rates for wealthy taxpayers—it’s important for you to start focusing on ways to cut your 2013 tax bill down to size.

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The IRS has long been suspicious of inflated deductions for charitable gifts. Now it’s giving fair warning to taxpayers. It recently posted a reminder on its website featuring nine tax deduction tips.

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