Small Business Tax Strategies

Divorce isn’t a pleasant undertaking. But at least you can minimize the tax fallout by taking a few key proactive steps.

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Make sure to keep your promotional expenses in line with the resulting income. If you try to grab a huge write-off for promotional costs that produce little income, the IRS could see your "promotional" efforts as something else, and deny the write-off.

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If you’ve been thinking about donating your used car to charity, don’t drop the idea just because of last year’s law that put the squeeze on big-ticket donations. That law curbed your potential to be aggressive in placing a high value on the donated item. But by taking a different route, you can still get your money’s worth.

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Q: Your recent article on hiring your spouse got me thinking (see 4/18/05 issue). If the spouse is the owner’s wife and is a highly compensated employee, can she defer the maximum amount of salary to a 401(k) account? P.T., via e-mail

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The IRS just released a new CD titled "Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) Resource Guide for Small Business Owners and Individuals."

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Where can you turn if you’re retired and strapped for cash? When you’ve exhausted all other possibilities, you may hear pitches to tap into your home’s equity by securing a "reverse mortgage."

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Is your child going off to college or prep school this fall? If so, write off the portion of the tuition that’s attributable to health care as a medical expense. If the school doesn’t automatically provide a breakdown of your child’s tuition costs, ask for one.

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When you own an S corporation, the company’s gains are your gains and its losses are your losses. All the income and expense are passed through to the company’s shareholders. But the IRS limits the amount that you can claim as a loss to your basis in the stock, plus any outstanding loans directly from you to the corporation.

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Q: My father is retired and living in a retirement community. He insists that he doesn’t have to file a tax return anymore. Is there a maximum age for filing? J.W., Old Tappan, N.J.

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Q: I opened a Roth IRA on March 15, 2001. Can I start taking tax-free withdrawals this year? D.D., Mission Viejo, Calif.

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