Small Business Tax Strategies

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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The bonus-depreciation deduction was great while it lasted, but it’s gone for 2005. Still, you can generate top-dollar deductions this year when buying equipment and other business assets. That’s because your not-so-secret weapon—the Section 179 expensing allowance—lets you write off most or all of the cost of most business assets in the very first year of ownership! Here’s the lowdown on the rules and four ways to maximize your deductions.

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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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