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Small Business Tax Strategies

Q: I’m investing in dividend-paying stocks in a foreign country. Because of withholding by the government, the dividends are substantially reduced. Do I have to pay tax on the full amount of the dividends? W.L., Braintree, Mass.

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For many U.S. taxpayers, "March Mad-ness" has nothing to do with college basketball. It’s all about dashing around gathering receipts, filling out forms, meeting with your tax guru and hoping you’ll emerge victorious in the 1040 game.

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Lower rates. The 27, 30, 35 and 38.6 percent individual federal rates that applied for 2002 are reduced to 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent, respectively, for 2003. The 10 and 15 percent federal rates are unchanged.

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Mark mid-April on your calendar. That’s when Tax Freedom Day, the symbolic day when U.S. taxpayers’ annual earnings to date surpass the taxes they’ll pay that year.

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Q: I realized a large long-term stock loss early in 2003 when the capital gain tax rate was still 20 percent. But I had to carry over part of the loss because I had little stock gain in 2003. Do I have to use the loss to offset gain taxed at only 15 percent in 2004? S.T.P., Lake Geneva, Wis.

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Q: I am 72 and work part time. I earned $15,000 from my part-time job last year. Can I contribute to an IRA for the 2003 tax year? D.W., Jacksonville, Fla.

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Q: I read your recent article about filing separate tax returns. If my wife and I file separately, do we simply split our itemized deductions? G.S., Manchester, N.H.

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Q: For years, I’ve been giving away appreciated stock to my low-bracket children. I recently gave $11,000 worth of my C corporation stock to my daughter, who sold it. My CPA says this technique is not allowed. Is that correct? T.J., Virginia Beach, Va.

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Q: My husband and I collectively earn $85,000 a year. Neither of us participates in any retirement plans. Can we both make deductible IRA contributions for 2003? I.M., Thomasville, N.C.

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Calendar-year 2003 is over, and you can’t do anything to change it. But the book isn’t closed on tax year 2003.

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