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Small Business Tax Strategies

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As the cost of gas continues to soar, more people are rethinking the way they write off their business driving expenses.

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Q: I just started a new sales job in which I’m required to keep valuable samples at home. So I have decided to install a pretty expensive home security system. Can I deduct that cost as a home-office expense? R.N.T, Springfield, Ill.

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Q: I am the 50 percent owner of an S corporation. Can I deduct company-paid health insurance premiums on my personal return without forfeiting the expense due to the reduction in itemized deductions? J.L., via e-mail

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Q: A friend of mine filed his 1996 return as a single status. He now realizes that he could have filed as a head of household status, making him eligible for the EITC. Can he amend his return? O.D., New York, N.Y.

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Q: I’ve invested in several stocks and mutual funds. I could swear that the closing prices I see on TV news programs at night are different than the ones in the morning paper the next day. Is this possible? D.D.K., Richmond, Va.

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After you retire and the paychecks stop, you’ll probably need to depend on your investments for cash flow. If you have a mix of investments, inside and outside a tax-deferred retirement plan, know which to tap into first.

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Limited liability companies (LLCs) have become the entity of choice for many businesses. That’s largely because LLCs combine the S corporation benefits of flow-through taxation and limited liability along with partnership-type flexibility for distributions and ownership interests.

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Suppose you’ve been holding raw land that you bought years ago as an investment. Now you figure it’s time to cash in on the building boom in your area.

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With the top individual federal income tax rate falling to 35 percent last year (down from 38.6 percent), now is a great time to consider converting your existing C corporation to an S corporation. In addition to taking advantage of the lower rates, such a switch lets you avoid double taxation of future corporate income and gains. This Special Report explains how a conversion would work and whether you should make the switch.

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