Small Business Tax Strategies

Q: In a recent article, you said people could deduct mortgage interest on a refinanced loan up to the amount of the original loan balance. (See 2/7/05 issue.) Isn’t the limit the outstanding amount of the loan before the refinancing? M.L., New York

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Q: I bought Intel shares at different times and prices during the past few years. At the end of February and the first few weeks in March, I sold all those shares (and incurred some losses). All the stock sales occurred within 30 days. Can I still claim the losses? Norristown, Pa.

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If you’re selling your share of the family-owned business, you have plenty of reasons to offer relatives, who are current owners, first shot at buying your portion.

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For some people, waiting until mid-April to file their individual income tax returns simply represents a bad case of procrastination. Others hold out so they can keep their money until the last possible moment. Whatever your reason, if you haven’t filed yet, you can still cut your 2004 tax bill with a few timely tactics and tax-smart choices.

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A recent IRS ruling on involuntary retirement plan cash-outs caught a lot of retirement plan administrators with their pants down. Now, the IRS is giving those plan administrators a break for the 2005 plan year.

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While you can still claim top-dollar deductions for your charitable donations, the massive new tax law signed last October—the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004—imposed new limits on certain donations. Now that the dust has settled, this much is clear: It’s more important than ever to keep proper donation records. If you don’t, you could lose all or part of your deductions.

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Are you and your employees adequately protected in the event of a long-term illness? Despite the potential for dire consequences—such as exhausting their lifetime savings—few people secure long-term care insurance on their own.

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Real estate remains rock-solid in this economy. If you bought property years ago, you may be sitting on a gold mine. Of course, when you finally sell, you could face a whopping tax bill, too.

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Q: Several years ago, I bought a condo with my "significant other" (we weren’t married) on a 50/50 percent basis. Now, we’ve split up, and we’re selling the place. Can we both elect the maximum home-sale exclusion? K.H., New York City

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Q: I’m trying to plan out some equipment purchases. I know the expensing limit for business is higher than it’s ever been. But isn’t that figure supposed to fall way back in 2010 under the law’s "sunset" provision? D.R., Vero Beach, Fla.

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