Social Security taxes take a big bite out of your paycheck. That’s why it’s a huge relief to highly paid employees when autumn finally rolls around. Reason: Once they clear the Social Security wage base for the year, they won’t need to pay any more Social Security tax for the year.
Question: My wife and I operate separate self-employed businesses. This year, I expect to show a big profit, so I plan on buying new machinery and tools before Jan. 1 that I can expense. My wife’s business is likely to show a loss. Will her loss reduce the amount I can claim under Section 179? If so, what can I do about it? — C.S., Rochester, N.Y.
The new bankruptcy law that took effect Oct. 17, protects funds held in a qualified retirement plan from outside creditors. There’s no limit on the amount you can shield from creditors.
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.