Small Business Tax Strategies

If you’re like most people, you finally put your 2004 tax return to bed a few short weeks ago. But then comes a sinking realization that you missed a tax deduction or credit opportunity on your return. Or maybe you accidentally failed to report income, miscalculated a capital gain or forgot a business deduction. Should you file an amended return or not? That is the question.

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Sooner or later, you may decide to sell off your S corporation and retire. If you run a family shop, you may plan to sell your stock to younger family members who are already working in the business.

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If you’re shopping around for a new business vehicle, take into account the just-released IRS depreciation limits for cars placed in service in 2005.

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Do you pay someone to watch your under-age-13 children while you and your spouse work? If so, you probably know that you can claim the dependent care credit, commonly called the "child care credit," for your qualified expenses. That includes your costs for day care centers, baby sitters and preschools.

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Question: I am 62, married and plan to retire in June. I know that I can start collecting 80 percent of my Social Security benefits this year, but I’ll also be taxed on those benefits. Should I hold off collecting benefits until I reach 65 or later to avoid the tax? Or should I start taking benefits now because of the new Social Security proposals? (I’m in the 28 percent tax bracket.) – J.H., Columbus, Ohio

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Q: We run our business as an LLC (a husband and wife partnership) and have a SIMPLE retirement plan. The company deducts the contributions it matches for employees. Can it also deduct the matches for my husband and me? L.J.S.

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Q: In a recent issue, you said that both engineering and architectural services qualify as "manufacturers" for purposes of the new manufacturing deduction (see 3/21/05 issue). Can you tell me if a laboratory that does tests (for physicians) created from raw materials qualifies for the deduction as this type of service? J.V.M., Md.

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Q: We own several acres of land in a rural area. The land includes a small house that will become our principal residence. If we sell off part of the land (but hang on to the house indefinitely), can we avoid gains taxes under the home-sale-gain exclusion rules? B.M., Burlington, Vt.

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Q: I’m 60 years old and have a traditional IRA with $250,000 in it. I also have a Roth IRA in its third year. Can I roll over the traditional IRA to a Roth and use $150,000 of NOLs to offset any tax that must be paid? B.W.

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Q: I’m confused about the gift-tax exclusion. My accountant told me I can give away $11,000 a year, but my brother says the actual exclusion is $1 million. Who is right? N.S., Memphis, Tenn.

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