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.

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The March 15 deadline for filing a 2003 corporation tax return is approaching quickly. (See tax calendar, page 5.) Rather than slapping together your tax paperwork at the last minute, punt. You can earn a six-month extension by filing Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File Corporate Income Tax Return, and paying what you estimate you owe.

Q: I'm wondering about the repercussions of the break in the relationship between gift and estate taxes. If I make a $1 million gift in 2004 and pay no gift tax by using up my gift-tax exemption, will I still have an unreduced estate-tax exemption of $2 million in 2008? L.S., New York, N.Y.

Thanks to the recent Bush tax acts, you can deduct on your 2003 tax return either 30 percent or 50 percent of the cost of qualifying new assets that you bought and placed in service last year. The remaining amount is then depreciated using standard tax rules.

Instead of grabbing your maximum first-year depreciation write-off (as described above), you can choose another route: Mix and match depreciation methods to claim a smaller first-year depreciation write-off and thereby fine-tune your business's 2003 taxable income level.

Q: I run two sole proprietorships out of my house. Do I need to use separate rooms for each business if I want to claim home-office deductions? W.D., Smyrna, Ga.

March 15 isn't just the deadline for corporations to file 2003 calendar-year income tax returns. It's also the deadline for calendar-year C corporations to switch to S corporation status for 2004.

Before wrapping up your business tax return, rack your brain (and your records) to make sure you haven't missed any juicy write-offs.

If you receive a phone call from someone who asks for personal financial data and claims to be from a federal agency, such as the IRS, ask that person to put the request in writing.

1. Self-employed? Deduct full health premium

Finally, self-employed people can write off 100 percent of their health insurance premiums (up from 70 percent in 2002).

Note:

You can reap significant additional tax savings by making your spouse an employee of your sole proprietorship or single-member LLC and setting up a medical expense reimbursement plan. That strategy could let you deduct all your family's health costs (including uninsured expenses) on Schedule C, plus it could lower your self-employment tax bill.

If you and other co-owners operate your business as a multimember LLC, you may already know to file a partnership return on Form 1065. Each owner is treated as a partner for federal income tax purposes, so each receives a Schedule K-1 with his or her share of the LLC's 2003 business income, deductions and credits. You report those figures on your 2003 personal return.

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