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Small Business Tax Strategies

Before you know it, summer will be over and another school year will be under way. In our last special report, we focused on deducting your child’s education costs. But what if you are the one going back to school or enhancing your learning in conferences or seminars? As long as you make the tax grade, you can deduct the work-related education cost as a business expense. But it’s easy to flunk out when you file your return. Read on to learn the rules.

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Q: In a recent Mail Call answer, you said a person can deduct donations to some charities in Canada, Mexico and Israel. (5/30/05 issue) Do you have authority for that statement? M.L.

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Q: I’ve been working for a company that is rapidly losing money. I’ve heard through the grapevine that the owners haven’t paid the employment taxes for the past year. Could that cause me trouble personally with the IRS? E.L.C., Cleveland

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When payments are made in return for goods or services, that payment should be considered income to the recipient, not a gift.

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Nobody’s getting any younger. But if you own a small business and you’re older than most of your employees, you may be able to max out on your retirement plan and jump-start your nest egg. That’s especially true if your company doesn’t have a retirement plan in place or you haven’t been able to max out on plan contributions.

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With the rapid growth of e-filing and online assistance, the IRS will close 68 taxpayer assistance centers in 29 states by year-end.

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In a recent article, we discussed several ways to chop down the rising property taxes on your personal residence. (5/30/05 issue) But escalating property taxes aren’t limited to homeowners. Small business owners are getting socked lately as the value of their business property has gone up, too.

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Suppose you’re stuck in a financial pickle and can’t scrape up all the money the IRS says you owe. That doesn’t mean you need to sell the house or flee the country. If the IRS agrees to a compromise, you can work out a mutually beneficial deal that allows you to pay what you can, when you can.

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Q: I started my own consulting business in 2004 after I lost my corporate job. Instead of accepting my state tax refund from 2004, I chose to apply it to my state taxes for 2005. Do I owe federal income tax on that amount? N.H., Tenafly, N.J.

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The IRS recognizes that domestic abuse can cause financial, as well as physical and emotional, distress. It just issued Publication 3865, Tax Information for Survivors of Domestic Abuse.

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