When selling their home, joint filers can shelter up to $500,000 in home-sale gains from taxes, as long as they have owned and used the home as their principal residence for at least two years during the five-year period ending on the sale date.
Q: My daughter is switching jobs in a few weeks. She’s accumulated about $20,000 in her 401(k) plan. Does her employer have to automatically roll the money into a Roth IRA? I read something about that issue recently. G.P., Hoboken, N.J.
Q: In 2002, I bought stock in a company that just recently merged with another company. I bought the shares at $15; now they’re worth only $12 and change. Can I deduct a loss for 2005? L.A.R., San Diego
Q: I own an auto repair shop in Maryland. We’ve switched our compensation plan to a system in which technicians are paid a base salary, plus a bonus based upon billable hours. Since technicians routinely work a 45-hour workweek, must we pay them any overtime? R.B.S., via e-mail
Heads up: The IRS plans to ratchet up the audit pressure on small businesses in the coming months.
Suppose you want to add the new guaranteed minimum withdrawal feature (see above) to an existing variable annuity, but the issuer doesn’t allow that option. Are you out of luck? Not necessarily.
Can’t get enough of a good thing? To hoard even more money for retirement than the tax law allows for qualified plans (such as 401(k)s or pension plans), arrange things so your company makes contributions on your behalf to a nonqualified deferred compensation plan.
Do you run a business through two or more related companies? These days, it’s not unusual for people to own multiple operations. But you could be inadvertently paying more employment tax than required if some of your employees are "shared" by more than one company.
Q: I bought a car this year that I used for my sales rep job. My company reimburses me for travel but not the interest I’m paying on a car loan. Can I deduct the interest as a business interest expense? E.L., Islip, N.Y.
For investors relying on variable annuities during their retirement years, it’s no fun watching the stock market intermittently spike and then plummet. When the market is booming, so is your investment. But your return suffers when the market takes a nose dive.