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Small Business Tax Strategies

Instead of donating cash to charity, you might want to give away stock. Just remember to do things the right way.

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Unfortunately, you can’t deduct the value of your time and effort devoted to charity. But that doesn’t mean your charitable deductions are limited to gifts of cash, stock or other assets.

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Are you a rabid fan of your alma mater’s sports teams or the local college powerhouse? There’s a way you can pocket a nifty tax break while showing support for your favorite athletes.

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Do your aging parents live in a home that’s soared in value? Chances are, they’ve paid off the house, so they’re not claiming mortgage interest deductions anymore. Even if they still deduct mortgage interest, they’re probably in a low tax bracket now, so those deductions don’t do much good anyway.

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Suppose business is booming and you’ve been able to gobble up one or more of your competitors. Your work force is growing, but that means you’ll need to shell out more in payroll taxes.

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Congress often tinkers with the tax code, but rarely does it throw business owners a brand-new deduction. That’s why last year’s tax law—the American Jobs Creation Act— created such a stir. Starting in 2005, the law authorizes a new write-off for qualified manufacturers that could eventually amount to a 3 percent rate cut.

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As an S corporation owner, you can avoid the double taxation that plagues income earned by a regular C corporation. Instead of being taxed twice—once on the corporation level and once personally—income flows through to the S corporation shareholders. So, it’s only taxed once at your personal level.

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It took many years, but self-employed people are now even-steven with other business entities when it comes to deducting health insurance. They can write off 100 percent of their health insurance premiums, including amounts paid for family coverage, up to the business’s amount of net income.

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If you offer employees a tax-advantaged flexible spending account (FSA) program, the IRS recently said you can give them an extra 21/2-month "grace period" beyond the plan year to spend their FSA dollars.

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When you started your small business, you poured most of your earnings back into the operation. Unfortunately, that didn’t leave much cash for retirement savings. Now that your business is running smoothly, you may hope to make up for lost ground—and fast.

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