Small Business Tax Strategies

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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For nonbusiness assets, you can deduct casualty losses from sudden usual events (storms, fires, etc.) once those losses exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Also, you can’t write off the first $100 per event. Here are some tips to expand your write-off

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Q: In the past, I twice rolled over employer plan account balances into two separate traditional IRAs. Now that I’m retiring for good, I’ll once again be doing a rollover from my 401(k). Can I combine all three IRA rollover accounts into one account? C.T., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

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Q: Our company offers a flexible spending account (FSA) for health expenses. Does the firm have to provide the FSA feature under COBRA? J.B.K., New York, N.Y.

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Q: My husband died in an accident, and we received an accidental death benefit from his company’s insurance plan. Is this benefit subject to estate tax? I’m receiving conflicting advice. J.S., via e-mail

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