Small Business Tax Strategies

Although ATRA finally resolved much of the uncertainty relating to federal gift and estate taxes, you’re not out of the woods quite yet. Strategy: Plan ahead to avoid the generation-skipping tax. This low-profile but potentially very expensive tax can hit wealth transfers that “skip” more than one generation.

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The tax law changes in 2013 for small business owners aren’t as monumental as those for individual taxpayers. But there are still plenty of tax-saving opportunities for businesses at the end of the year.

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Q. You say that you must adjust basis for a new business car on a trade-in. Is that also true for real estate exchanges?

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One tax loophole still on the books is large enough to drive a Jeep or Ford Explorer through it … literally. Strategy: Buy a heavy-duty sport utility vehicle (SUV) for your business. As long as you meet certain requirements, you can bypass the usual tax law limit.

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This is the year that permanent tax law changes finally came home to roost. ATRA, signed at the beginning of 2013, includes several key provisions that can have a significant impact on year-end tax planning. But for others, it could be “business as usual.”

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Q. I’m interested in the simplified home office deduction. Can it be claimed for part of a room?

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Q. I’m retiring soon. If I work into next year, can I deduct the maximum IRA contribution for 2014? E.H., Chicago

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Under the so-called “100% penalty,” a person who is found to be responsible for withholding federal in­­come and employment taxes from employee paychecks and paying overwithheld amounts to the government can be held personally liable for any withheld amounts that are not paid over. The courts often side with the IRS on this issue, so higher-ups must stay on their toes.

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You may have invested heavily in company stock through your 401(k) plan. Should the stock take off, you could be in line for an unprecedented payoff. Strategy: When you’re ready to retire, keep the payout in the form of company stock. Don’t convert it to cash or other securities.

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Q. I’m self-employed and still working full time. Can I skip RMDs from my SEP? N.R., Ipswich, Mass.

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