Small Business Tax Strategies

As you thumb through the mail one day, an unassuming letter catches your eye. Return address: The IRS. You nervously tear open the envelope and your worst fears are confirmed: The IRS has chosen your return for a correspondence audit.

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If you operate a business that’s open to the public, you’re legally required to make the premises accessible to disabled customers. That may include creating wheelchair ramps, wider aisles or reconfiguring your restrooms.

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Q: I bought a second home computer recently because my new job requires communication at all times, and my kids are always on our other computer. I use the new machine to interact with clients from home. Since my employer is all for it, can I deduct the computer’s cost? M.L.P., New York

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Question: I’m retiring before the end of the year at age 64. My accountant says I’ve earned too much salary this year to receive any Social Security benefits. I thought the earnings test was eliminated years ago. If not, is there anything I can do now? Or do I have to work longer? — J.M.B., Boise, Idaho

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Q: I’m thinking about retiring early and moving to a foreign country to avoid U.S. income taxes. Will I still be taxed on retirement income from my pension plan and IRAs? J.L.S., Spokane, Wash.

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Q: I’m selling my house this year and moving into our beach condo. I’ll also eventually sell the condo, so I want to avoid paying tax on that sale, too. Can I call both of these houses my principal residence this year? T.H., Wilmington, Del.

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Q: You’ve explained the wash-sale rule in the past. But I bought a stock that I had sold at a loss less than 30 days earlier. I did so because it suddenly rebounded and I couldn’t wait any longer. If I sell the stock again, but this time at a gain, is my basis adjusted for the prior loss? N.W., Deal, N.J.

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The proliferation of S corporations has not gone unnoticed by the IRS. S corporations are now the most common corporate entity, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all corporate returns filed.

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The push to audit S corporations (described above) is part of a larger IRS initiative to examine more returns, particularly of small business owners. Don’t think you’re immune just because you’ve been able to fly under the radar so far.

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For busy businesspeople, cell phones, laptops, PDAs and other portable devices are essential. Usually, the company buys such devices and gives them to higher-ups and other employees who need them.

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