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Small Business Tax Strategies

Q: We’re confused about your item regarding a separated spouse who files as a "head of household" and claims the standard deduction (see 4/18/05 issue). You say that if the situation was "the other way around," the person would be required to itemize. Can you elaborate? P.B.S., via e-mail

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Taxpayer use of the Telefile system, which allows you to use a touch-tone phone to file simple IRS forms, has dropped due to other electronic-filing options.

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A new IRS audit guide points out fringe-benefit issues that are ripe for abuse by execs, including club memberships, no-cost or low-cost loans and employer-paid vacations.

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It’s already Memorial Day, so summer is right around the corner. While you’re enjoying the warmer weather, heat up your tax savings with some timely tax techniques.

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In many U.S. cities, houses bought just a few years ago have more than doubled in value. But unless you plan to move soon, such a "paper windfall" means nothing other than a soaring property tax bill.

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It’s rare when you can have your tax cake and eat it too. But a new private letter ruling issued by the IRS gives certain older business owners a generous slice. It allows them to preserve the tax benefits of a "grand-father election" made over 20 years ago.

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If you hire 16- or 17-year-olds this summer, don’t overlook a tax credit worth up to $1,200 per eligible employee. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) allows you to secure the credit if those new employees live in an "empowerment zone, enterprise community or renewal community," as designated by the federal government.

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Despite the chummy-sounding acronym, PALs (short for passive-activity losses) are anything but friendly to taxpayers, particularly those who invest in real estate. Fortunately, you can gain more tax saving value from your PALs with some astute tax planning.

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Eureka! Your company has created a new gizmo that’s a vast improvement on the competition’s product. Once you work out the bugs, you expect to patent the invention to protect your interests. Then, you hope it will start selling faster than hot cakes.

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The word is out on REITs. These investments aren’t as desirable for your taxable brokerage-firm accounts anymore because of the income tax repercussions. (They’re fine for tax-advantaged retirement accounts.) But the word on the street doesn’t give you the whole picture.

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