Small Business Tax Strategies

Are you scrambling to complete your calendar-year 2005 corporate return by the March 15 deadline? Instead of slapping things together at the last minute, take the easy way out.

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Say you took out a home-equity loan last year and used the cash to pump up your pass-through business, such as an S corporation, partnership or limited liability corporation (LLC). You’re generally entitled to deduct the interest paid on the first $100,000 of that home-equity loan as mortgage interest (as an itemized deduction on your Schedule A).

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You may have heard rumors or seen headlines about more-generous deductions available for your medical expenses.

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’Tis the season for crooks to pose as IRS agents.

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Last January, Congress voted to let businesses and taxpayers deduct donations for Asian-tsunami relief on their 2004 returns as long as they made the donation by Jan. 31, 2005.

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Each year, Congress and the IRS throw a few new ingredients into the tax-return stew. Here are some key tax-law changes that will affect your 2005 business returns.

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Sadly, the bonus depreciation rules have expired. That means you’re stuck with regular depreciation deductions under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), which requires you to write off business equipment over several years. Don’t despair.

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If you started or acquired a new business last year, you can earn a one-time boost on your 2005 return. How? Claim an instant write-off for part or all of your qualified start-up expenses.

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Individual taxpayers aren’t the only ones who should fear the dreaded alternative minimum tax (AMT). C corporations also can be blindsided by this stealth tax.

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As a small business owner, you want to reward your top performers. But there’s a drawback to doling out stock to highly valued employees: You’re diluting your ownership interest.

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