Small Business Tax

Section 179 vehicles should be a key part of your small business tax deduction strategies. Can Section 179 property fit in with your business tax strategies?

Let Business Management Daily help you get each and every rental property depreciation credit and business tax deduction you’re entitled to.

Question: My wife and I operate separate self-employed businesses. This year, I expect to show a big profit, so I plan on buying new machinery and tools before Jan. 1 that I can expense. My wife's business is likely to show a loss. Will her loss reduce the amount I can claim under Section 179? If so, what can I do about it? — C.S., Rochester, N.Y.

Q: I've heard that food expenses will be deductible beginning next year. Will itemizing be required? O.D., New York

President Bush signed legislation that provides $6.1 billion tax relief for people and businesses reeling from Hurricane Katrina. While most of the tax-law changes apply to those in the hard-hit Gulf region, some breaks extend to charity-minded taxpayers throughout the country.

Common situation: You've remarried and both you and your spouse have children from previous marriages. If you leave most of your fortune to your surviving spouse, it appears at first glance that you'll face no major estate-tax concerns. But there's no guarantee the money will ever wind up in your kids' hands. The current estate-tax exemption can cover direct transfers to your children of up to $1.5 million, but that's all.

We don't want to sugarcoat things: Getting hit with an IRS "field audit" is a worst-case scenario and a cause for genuine concern. The process is expensive, time-consuming and requires a more comprehensive defense strategy than the other two types of audits we've discussed in our audit series ("correspondence audits" handled through the mail and "office audits" performed at an IRS office).

If you hit the jackpot at a casino, racetrack or other gambling venue, you can reduce the tax on your winnings by offsetting those winnings with your gambling losses. But you must keep good records and those losses must be claimed as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on your tax return.

Do you help parents, in-laws or other elderly relatives with their living expenses? Maybe you occasionally pitch in with your relative's expenses, but you aren't able to claim a dependency exemption. Reason: You don't provide at least half of that person's annual support.

If you plan on taking a business trip in the coming months and bringing your spouse along for the trip, there is a way to write off travel costs attributable to both of you, regardless of whether your spouse works for your company.

Q: My daughter graduated from college, and she gave $500 to the Red Cross after the hurricane. She probably won't itemize deductions this year. Is there any way she can deduct this donation? B.K., Red Bank, N.J.

Q: I read somewhere that employees can now spend the money in their flexible spending account after Dec. 31. My employer hasn't given any notice about this. Is that extension automatic? S.M., Cincinnati