Although Roth IRAs have been around for a few years, some taxpayers are still spooked by this newfangled version of the traditional IRA. As you’ll see, 2005 may be an especially good year to look at different ways you can put money into a Roth IRA before year-end.
Should you contribute to a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA? You may be surprised to learn that the Roth IRA beats the traditional IRA almost all the time. Let’s look at seven common scenarios. In all these examples, we’ve assumed you would leave an initial contribution in the Roth or regular IRA for a number of years and then pull out the money as a lump sum in retirement after age 591/2. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume a 10 percent before-tax rate of return for each example.
With gas prices soaring, the IRS threw business travelers a bone recently by allowing them to deduct 48.5 cents per driving mile for the final four months of 2005. But, at the time, the IRS didn’t touch the standard deduction rate for charity-related driving, which remained at a paltry 14 cents per mile.
Q: We’re thinking about buying a vacation-home condo on one of the Caribbean islands. If we take out a mortgage, can we deduct the interest on our U.S. tax return? S.J., Darien, Conn.
Q: My husband passed away last year. Now, I’m preparing to sell the house we’ve owned for 25 years. Can I still shelter $500,000 of the home-sale gain from taxes? I know that $500,000 is the joint-filers amount, but I think I read that I would still qualify? No name, Springfield, Ohio
Q: I’ve heard that food expenses will be deductible beginning next year. Will itemizing be required? O.D., New York
Q: I own real estate that I plan to sell to my son through an installment sale. My CPA says this can’t be done because we’re related parties. Is this true? D.R.T., St. Petersburg, Fla.
You own equipment, furniture and other assets that your business could put to good use. You could sell those assets to your business, but that might drain your company’s cash reserves. Plus, the sale proceeds would be taxable to you personally.
President Bush signed legislation that provides $6.1 billion tax relief for people and businesses reeling from Hurricane Katrina. While most of the tax-law changes apply to those in the hard-hit Gulf region, some breaks extend to charity-minded taxpayers throughout the country.
We don’t want to sugarcoat things: Getting hit with an IRS "field audit" is a worst-case scenario and a cause for genuine concern. The process is expensive, time-consuming and requires a more comprehensive defense strategy than the other two types of audits we’ve discussed in our audit series ("correspondence audits" handled through the mail and "office audits" performed at an IRS office).