Small Business Tax Strategies

Q: I hired a contractor to build a deck on our house for $15,000. We gave him $5,000 up-front for materials, etc. Now he’s skipped out and we can’t find him. Can I deduct the $5,000 deposit as a casualty loss deduction? R.S., Blawenburg, N.J.

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Q: I gave my daughter stock shares that I bought for $10,000. On the day I gave her the shares, they were worth about $12,000. Now, it’s jumped to about $16,000, and I’ve advised her to sell. Is her taxable gain the full $6,000? P.L.A., Santa Barbara, Calif.

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Starting June 27, if you set up a charitable remainder trust (CRT), you’ll need to jump through new IRS hoops.

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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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