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Small Business Tax Strategies

Normally, you can’t deduct the cost of traveling back and forth from work every day. The IRS considers this a nondeductible commuting expense. But that tax story may change if you’re working at a location that’s different from your regular workplace.

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If you’re among the millions of self-employed Americans who opted for an automatic filing extension, enjoy the summer while you can. Just remember that the due date for filing your 2004 tax return isn’t far off. It’s Aug. 15, 2005.

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Q: My mother has extensive medical expenses that aren’t fully covered by insurance. But the tax deduction doesn’t do her much good because her income is low. Can I deduct the expenses if I pay them for her? L.L., Bangor, Maine

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Q: I’m retiring soon and would like to move to a low-tax state. Do you know where I can find this information? J.B., Jericho, N.Y.

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Q: I know that I must pay tax when converting my regular IRA to a Roth IRA. But do I have to pay tax on the full amount if I couldn’t deduct some of the past IRA contributions? V.M., Phoenix

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Q: I’m 73 and have three IRAs. Due to investment losses (a long story) in one of the IRAs, I have less in the account than the 33 percent required distribution. Will I still be penalized if I don’t withdraw the entire amount? L.A.S., Dearborn, Mich.

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Q: In a recent article, you wrote about variable annuities with a guaranteed minimum withdrawal. (5/16/05 issue) Would a guaranteed minimum income benefit (GMIB) variable annuity be better? V.G.

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Q: In your article on amended returns, you said I have three years to file an amended return. (5/2/05 issue) But can’t I technically go back even further? C.L., Holyoke, Mass.

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Big tax cuts aren’t coming in 2005; neither the money nor the political willpower is there. But look for Congress, at the very least, to extend several tax breaks that are scheduled to go off the books at the end of the year

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As mortgage rates fell, you may have refinanced your home several times over the last few years. You can generally still deduct all the mortgage interest on refinanced loans, up to the amount of outstanding principal. But if you were forced to pay the alternative minimum tax (AMT), you may forfeit the tax benefits on a second or third refinancing.

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