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As lawmakers return to work after their August recess, Hurricane Harvey has increased expectations on Congress to quickly pass disaster-relief tax breaks. September is also expected to bring Congressional hearings on tax reform and possibly the unveiling of tax reform legislation. At the same time, lawmakers must address the federal government’s budget, including the IRS.


Parents incur a variety of expenses associated with children. As a general rule, personal expenditures are not deductible. However, there are several deductions and credits that help defray some of the costs associated with raising children, including some costs related to education. Some of the most common deductions and credits related to minors are the dependency exemption, the child tax credit, and the dependent care credit. Also not to be overlooked are tax-sheltered savings plans used for education, such as the Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).


Two recent court cases indicate that, although use of a conservation easement to gain a charitable deduction must continue to be arranged with care, some flexibility in determining ultimate deductibility may be beginning to be easier to come by. The IRS had been winning a string of cases that affirmed its strict interpretation of Internal Revenue Code Section 170 on conservation easement. The two latest judicial opinions, however, help give taxpayers some much-needed leeway in proving that the rules were followed, keeping in mind that Congress wanted to encourage conservation easements rather than have its rules interpreted so strictly that they thwart that purpose.


A partnership is created when persons join together with the intent to conduct unincorporated venture and share profits. Intent is determined from facts and circumstances, including the division of profits and losses, the ownership of capital, the conduct of parties, and whether a written agreement exists. Despite such nuances in the process, however, distinguishing the existence of a partnership from other joint investments or ventures is often critical in determining tax liability and reporting obligations.


Gross income is taxed to the individual who earns it or to owner of property that generates the income. Under the so-called “assignment of income doctrine,” a taxpayer may not avoid tax by assigning the right to income to another.


As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important federal tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of September 2017.


An LLC (limited liability company) is not a federal tax entity. LLCs are organized under state law. LLCs are not specifically mentioned in the Tax Code, and there are no special IRS regulations governing the taxation of LLCs comparable to the regulations for C corporations, S corporations, and partnerships. Instead, LLCs make an election to be taxed as a particular entity (or to be disregarded for tax purposes) by following the check-the-box business entity classification regulations. The election is filed on Form 8832, Entity Classification Election. The IRS will assign an entity classification by default if no election is made. A taxpayer who doesn't mind the IRS default entity classification does not necessarily need to file Form 8832.


When starting a business or changing an existing one there are several types of business entities to choose from, each of which offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the size of your business, one form may be more suitable than another. For example, a software firm consisting of one principal founder and several part time contractors and employees would be more suited to a sole proprietorship than a corporate or partnership form. But where there are multiple business members, the decision can become more complicated. One form of business that has become increasingly popular is called a limited liability company, or LLC.


Under the new health care law, starting in 2014, "large" employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be subject to stiff monetary penalties if they do not provide affordable and minimum essential health coverage. With less than eleven months before this "play or pay" provision is fully effective, the IRS continues to release critical details on what constitutes an "applicable large employer," "full-time employee," "affordable coverage," and "minimum health coverage."  Most recently, the IRS issued proposed reliance regulations that provide employers with the most comprehensive explanation of their obligations and options to date.


Beginning in 2013, the capital gains rates, as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, are as follows for individuals:


The IRS has issued proposed reliance regulations on the 3.8 percent surtax on net investment income (NII), enacted in the 2010 Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. The regulations are proposed to be effective January 1, 2014. However, since the tax applies beginning January 1, 2013, the IRS stated that taxpayers may rely on the proposed regulations for 2013. The IRS expects to issue final regulations sometime later this year.


Effective January 1, 2013, a new Medicare tax takes effect. The Additional Medicare Tax imposes a 0.9 percent tax on compensation and self-employment income above a threshold amount.  Unlike regular Medicare tax, the Additional Medicare Tax has no employer match but employers have withholding obligations. The IRS issued proposed reliance regulations about the Additional Medicare Tax in December 2012.


Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are popular retirement savings vehicles that enable taxpayers to build their nest egg slowly over the years and enjoy tax benefits as well. But what happens to that nest egg when the IRA owner passes away?


In 2013, a new and unique tax will take effect—a 3.8 percent "unearned income Medicare contribution" tax as part of the structure in place to pay for health care reform. The tax will be imposed on the "net investment income" (NII) of individuals, estates, and trusts that exceeds specified thresholds. The tax will generally fall on passive income, but will also apply generally to capital gains from the disposition of property.


More than six months after the IRS issued temporary "repair" regulations (T.D. 9564), many complex questions remain about their interpretation and application. These regulations are sweeping in their impact. They have been called game-changers for good reason, affecting all businesses in one way or another and carrying with them both mandatory and optional requirements. Many of these requirements also carry fairly short deadlines.


When Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its companion bill, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (collectively known as the Affordable Care Act) in 2010, lawmakers staggered the effective dates of various provisions.  The most well-known provision, the so-called individual mandate, is scheduled to take effect in 2014.  A number of other provisions are scheduled to take effect in 2013. All of these require careful planning before their effective dates.


Your 2011 tax return has been filed, or you have properly filed for an extension. In either case, now it’s time to start thinking about important post-filing season activities to save you tax in 2012 and beyond.  A few loose ends may pay dividends if you take care of them sooner instead of later.

After three days of oral arguments in March, the Supreme Court is deciding the fate of the Pension Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and its companion law, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA).  Not only do the new laws impact health care, they contain numerous tax provisions, many of which have yet to take effect.  The Supreme Court may uphold the laws, strike them down in whole or in part, or decide that the case is premature.  The Supreme Court is expected to render its decision in June.  In the meantime, a quick checklist of the tax provisions in the two laws reveals how extensively they impact individuals, businesses and taxpayers of all types.

The family partnership is a common device for reducing the overall tax burden of family members. Family members who contribute property or services to a partnership in exchange for partnership interests are subject to the same general tax rules that apply to unrelated partners. If the related persons deal with each other at arm's length, their partnership is recognized for tax purposes and the terms of the partnership agreement governing their shares of partnership income and loss are respected.

Building on earlier steps to help taxpayers buffeted by the economic slowdown, the IRS recently enhanced its "Fresh Start" initiative. The IRS has announced penalty relief for unemployed individuals who cannot pay their taxes on time and has increased the threshold amount for streamlined installment agreements.

Everybody knows that tax deductions aren't allowed without proof in the form of documentation. What records are needed to "prove it" to the IRS vary depending upon the type of deduction that you may want to claim. Some documentation cannot be collected "after the fact," whether it takes place a few months after an expense is incurred or later, when you are audited by the IRS. This article reviews some of those deductions for which the IRS requires you to generate certain records either contemporaneously as the expense is being incurred, or at least no later than when you file your return. We also highlight several deductions for which contemporaneous documentation, although not strictly required, is extremely helpful in making your case before the IRS on an audit.


Sometimes in a rush to file your income tax return, you may unintentionally overlook some income that had to be reported, or a deduction that you should or should not have taken.  Now what?  The solution is usually straightforward: you should file what is called an amended return.

The number of tax return-related identity theft incidents has almost doubled in the past three years to well over half a million reported during 2011, according to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Identity theft in the context of tax administration generally involves the fraudulent use of someone else’s identity in order to claim a tax refund. In other cases an identity thief might steal a person’s information to obtain a job, and the thief’s employer may report income to the IRS using the legitimate taxpayer’s Social Security Number, thus making it appear that the taxpayer did not report all of his or her income.

The IRS has released much-anticipated temporary and proposed regulations on the capitalization of costs incurred for tangible property. They impact how virtually any business writes off costs that repair, maintain, improve or replace any tangible property used in the business, from office furniture to roof repairs to photocopy maintenance and everything in between. They apply immediately, to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2012.

Claiming a charitable deduction for a cash contribution is straightforward. The taxpayer claims the amount paid, whether by cash, check, credit card or some other method, if the proper records are maintained. For contributions of property, the rules can be more complex.

In light of the IRS’s new Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), which it announced this fall, the distinction between independent contractors and employees has become a “hot issue” for many businesses. The IRS has devoted considerable effort to rectifying worker misclassification in the past, and continues the trend with this new program.  It is available to employers that have misclassified employees as independent contractors and wish to voluntarily rectify the situation before the IRS or Department of Labor initiates an examination.

Taxpayers who wish to withdraw funds from a retirement account such as an IRA before they reach the age of 59 and a half, can do so without their distributions becoming subject to the additional 10 percent tax but only if certain carefully-defined rules are followed. One option is to have distributions made in substantially equal periodic payments, as outlined in Sec. 72(t) of the IRC. Taxpayers can use one of three methods to calculate these substantially equal payments:


When an individual dies, certain family members may be eligible for Social Security benefits. In certain cases, the recipient of Social Security survivor benefits may incur a tax liability.

A transaction may comply with a literal reading of the Tax Code but result in unreasonable tax consequences that are not intended by the tax laws. To combat these transactions, the IRS has used for many years a doctrine known as the economic substance doctrine.  Congress codified the doctrine in 2010 and recently the IRS issued instructions to examiners explaining how to apply the codified doctrine.

The IRS has announced that it will discontinue the high-low method used by taxpayers in a trade or business to substantiate travel expenses incurred while away from home.  The method, developed by the IRS, applies to travel expenses for meals, lodging and incidental expenses. It not only has provided a short-cut method for employers to cover the paperwork required to substantiate business travel deductions but in the past it has also helped the IRS streamline certain audits.

Americans donate hundreds of millions of dollars every year to charity. It is important that every donation be used as the donors intended and that the charity is legitimate. The IRS oversees the activities of charitable organizations. This is a huge job because of the number and diversity of tax-exempt organizations and one that the IRS takes very seriously.

As a result of recent changes in the law, many brokerage customers will begin seeing something new when they gaze upon their 1099-B forms early next year.  In the past, of course, brokers were required to report to their clients, and the IRS, those amounts reflecting the gross proceeds of any securities sales taking place during the preceding calendar year.

Many more retirees and others wanting guarantee income are looking into annuities, especially given the recent experience of the economic downturn. While the basic concept of an annuity is fairly simple, complex rules usually apply to the taxation of amounts received under certain annuity and life insurance contracts.

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business entity created under state law. Every state and the District of Columbia have LLC statutes that govern the formation and operation of LLCs.

A business with a significant amount of receivables should evaluate whether some of them may be written off as business bad debts. A business taxpayer may deduct business bad debts if the receivable becomes partially or completely worthless during the tax year.

In-plan Roth IRA rollovers are a relatively new creation, and as a result many individuals are not aware of the rules. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 made it possible for participants in 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans to roll over eligible distributions made after September 27, 2010 from such accounts, or other non-Roth accounts, into a designated Roth IRA in the same plan. Beginning in 2011, this option became available to 457(b) governmental plans as well. These "in-plan" rollovers and the rules for making them, which may be tricky, are discussed below.


A business can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred in carrying on any trade or business. The expense must be reasonable and must be helpful to the business.

Correctly calculating your estimated tax payments and/or withholding is even more important as the year end approaches. Accurate calculations are especially important as third and fourth quarter payments become due, and your income and expenses for the rest of the year can be more accurately projected.

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) -- both traditional and Roth IRAs -- are among the most popular retirement savings vehicles today. Protecting the value of your IRA (and other retirement accounts) is incredibly important. While some factors affecting the value of your retirement savings may be out of your control, there are many things within your control that can help you safeguard the wealth of those accounts and further their growth. This article addresses common mistakes regarding IRA distributions and contributions, and how to avoid them.

U.S. Savings Bonds can be a relatively risk-free investment during times of upheaval in the stock market, such as we are experiencing now. There are two different types of savings bonds for tax purposes. The first includes Series EE bonds and Series I bonds. You purchase these bonds at a discount from their face value and they accrue interest until reaching face value at maturity. If you invest in these bonds, you have a choice of reporting interest as it accrues each year you hold the bond or until you sell it or redeem it.

Q. I spend 20 hours every week cooking meals and delivering them to an organization that feeds the hungry and homeless. Am I entitled to a deduction for my time and the food I pay for out of my own money?

The health care reform package (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) imposes a new 3.8 percent Medicare contribution tax on the investment income of higher-income individuals. Although the tax does not take effect until 2013, it is not too soon to examine methods to lessen the impact of the tax.

Debt that a borrower no longer is liable for because it is discharged by the lender can give rise to taxable income to the borrower. Debt forgiveness income or cancellation of debt income ("COD" income) is the amount of debt that a lender has discharged or canceled. However, in many situations, the canceled debt is excluded from taxable income.

People are buzzing about Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Unlike traditional IRAs, "qualified" distributions from a Roth IRA are tax-free, provided they are held for five years and are made after age 59 1/2, death or disability. You can establish a Roth IRA just as you would a traditional IRA. You can also convert assets in a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.

Beginning in 2010, the income limitations that have prevented taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 or more and married taxpayers that filed their returns separately from converting a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) to a Roth IRA are eliminated entirely. As a bonus to kick off "unlimited Roth conversions," any income tax payments due on 2010 conversions may be deferred into 2011 and 2012. For higher-income individuals, 2010 presents a long-awaited and much anticipated opportunity to convert their savings into a Roth IRA providing tax-free distributions during their retirement years.

In order to effectively plan your investment transactions, you have to understand how, under federal tax law, you need to net or "offset" capital gains and losses that you experience. Netting your capital gains and losses can help achieve lucrative tax savings benefits and should be part of your year end tax strategy if you sell capital assets that result in gains and losses in 2009.

You may have done some spring cleaning and found that you have a lot of clothes that you no longer wear or want, and would like to donate to charity. Used clothing that you want to donate to charity and take a charitable deduction for, however, is subject to a few rules and requirements.

If you have completed your tax return and you owe more money that you can afford to pay in full, do not worry, you have many options. While it is in your best interest to pay off as much of your tax liability as you can, there are many payment options you can utilize to help pay off your outstanding debt to Uncle Sam. This article discusses a few of your payment options.

Many taxpayers are looking for additional sources of cash during these tough economic times. For many individuals, their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is one source of cash. You can withdraw ("borrow") money from your IRA, tax and penalty free, for up to 60 days. However, the ability to take a short-term "loan" from your IRA should only be taken in dire financial situations in light of the serious tax consequences that can result from an improper withdrawal or untimely rollover of the funds back into an IRA.

If you converted your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA earlier this year, incurred a significant amount of tax liability on the conversion, and then watched as the value of your Roth account plummeted amid the market turmoil, you may want to consider undoing the conversion. You can void or significantly lower your tax bill by recharacterizing the conversion, then reconverting your IRA back to a Roth at a later date. Careful timing in using the strategy, however, is essential.

You have carefully considered the multitude of complex tax and financial factors, run the numbers, meet the eligibility requirements, and are ready to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The question now remains, however, how do you convert your IRA?

Contributions to political campaigns are nondeductible. Nondeductible campaign contributions include, for example, contributions to pay for campaign expenses as well as contributions to pay for a candidate's personal expenses while the candidate is campaigning. The line sometimes gets gray, however, when a contribution is being made for a charitable purpose that is being sponsored by a political candidate or is being made to a charity that also appears to be endorsing a political candidate as opposed to a particular position within the public discourse.

To ease the pain of the ever-escalating costs of healthcare, many employers provide certain tax-driven health benefits and plans to their employees. To help employers understand the differences and similarities among three popular medical savings vehicles - health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) - here's an overview.

The IRS allows taxpayers with a charitable inclination to take a deduction for a wide range of donated items. However, the IRS does provide specific guidelines for those taxpayers contributing non-cash items, from the type of charity you can donate to in order to take a deduction to the quality of the goods you contribute and how to value them for deduction purposes. If your summer cleaning has led, or may lead, you to set aside clothes and other items for charity, and you would like to know how to value these items for tax purposes, read on.

The flagging state of the economy has left many individuals and families to cope with rising gas prices and food costs, struggle with their mortgage and rent payments, and manage credit card debt and other common monthly bills. Whether individuals are contemplating how to pay off their credit card or obtain a mortgage amid the "credit crunch" and "economic downturn," many people may be considering alternative sources of financing to reach their goals, including the tapping of a retirement account.

If you've made, or are planning to make, a big gift before the end of 2009, you may be wondering what your gift tax liability, if any, may be. You may have to file a federal tax return even if you do not owe any gift tax. Read on to learn more about when to file a federal gift tax return.

No. Even though trash pickup and neighborhood oversight provided by a governmental entity such as a town or county can be figured into the amount of deductible property taxes paid by a homeowner, a payment to a nongovernmental entity is not a deductible tax.

Like the Internet itself, the correct deductibility of a business's website development costs is still in its formative stages. What is fairly clear, however, is that it is highly unlikely that any single tax treatment will apply to all of the costs incurred in designing an internet site because the process encompasses many different types of expenses.

The small business corporation (S corp) is one of the most popular business entities today, offering its shareholders the flow-through tax treatment of a partnership and the limited liability of a corporation. The S corp has become an even more prominent entity in the small business community, in part, because the IRS has relaxed certain requirements for electing S corp status. A small business corporation does not need to elect to be treated as an S corp each year to maintain S corp status.

With the holidays quickly approaching, you as an employer may not only be wondering what type of gift to give your employees this season, but the tax consequences of the particular gift you choose. The form of gift that you give this holiday season not only has tax consequences for your employees, but for your business as well. If you plan on giving your employees a gift that can be basted or baked this holiday season, such as a traditional turkey or ham, you should understand how that gift will be treated by the IRS for tax purposes.

Long-term care premiums are deductible up to certain amounts as itemized medical expense deductions. The amount is based upon your age. Unfortunately, most taxpayers do not have enough other medical expense deductions to exceed the non-deductible portion equal to the first 7 ½ percent of adjusted gross income (10 percent if you are subject to alternative minimum tax (AMT)). Furthermore, more taxpayers now take the standard deduction rather than itemize, making even those medical expenses useless as a tax deduction.

If you own a vacation home, you may be considering whether renting the property for some of the time could come with big tax breaks. More and more vacation homeowners are renting their property. But while renting your vacation home can help defray costs and provide certain tax benefits, it also may raise some complex tax issues.

Although you may want your traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to keep accumulating tax-free well into your old age, the IRS sets certain deadlines. The price for getting an upfront deduction when contributing to a traditional IRA (or having a rollover IRA) is that Uncle Sam eventually starts taxing it once you reach 70½. The required minimum distribution (RMD) rules under the Internal Revenue Code accomplish that.

If someone told you that you could exchange an apartment house for a store building without recognizing a taxable gain or loss, you might not believe him or her. You might already know about a very valuable business planning and tax tool: a like-kind exchange. In some cases, if you trade business property for other business property of the same asset class, you do not need to recognize a taxable gain or loss.

No. Generally, payments that qualify as alimony are included in the recipient's gross income and are deducted from the payor's gross income. However, not all payments between spouses qualify as alimony.

Ordinarily, you can deduct the fair market value (FMV) of property contributed to charity. The FMV is the price in an arm's-length transaction between a willing buyer and seller. If the property's value is less than the price you paid for it, your deduction is limited to FMV. In some cases, you must submit an appraisal with your tax return.

When trying to maximize retirement savings contributions, you may find you have contributed too much to your IRA. Typically, you either have too much income to qualify for a certain IRA or you can't recall what contributions you made until they are added up at tax time and you discover they were too much. There are steps you can take to correct an excess contribution.

Information returns usually arrive in January or February and consist of either Form 1099 or Form 1098. For some, they seem as ubiquitous as their holiday mail in December. Form 1099s are especially likely to populate your mailbox, being used to report a whole array of income other than wages, salaries and tips. While a Form 1099 is not needed to record every taxable transaction, one Form 1099 can record multiple transactions; for example, from your broker for dividends and stock trades. The payer will send a Form 1099 to you by the end of January and will file the form with the IRS by the end of February. Typical forms are sent out for dividend and interest income, self-employment or independent contractor's income, student loan interest and mortgage interest statements.


Q: After what period is my federal tax return safe from audit? A: Generally, the time-frame within which the IRS can examine a federal tax return you have filed is three years. To be more specific, Code Sec. 6501 states that the IRS has three years from the later of the deadline for filing the return (usually April 15th for individuals) or the date you actually filed the return. This means that if you file your return on May 10, 2009, the IRS will have until May 10, 2012 to look at it and "assess a deficiency;" not April 17, 2012.

You've just disposed of a collectible item (or your entire collection), such as an old coin, artwork, figurine, or even those old baseball cards you somehow managed to keep away from the spokes of your bike and your mother's desire to clear some space, and got a sum of money for your efforts. Congratulations, you've just had a taxable event. How do you calculate your gain (assuming you actually have one) so that you can pay the taxes? To do this, you need to answer a few more questions.

The Tax Code encourages charitable donations by businesses and industries. In fact, it is one tax incentive that President Bush has told his tax reform panel that he wants to preserve and strengthen. Taxpayers can make many different types of contributions, including inventory.

For U.S. taxpayers, owning assets held in foreign countries may have a variety of benefits, from ease of use for frequent travelers or those employed abroad to diversification of an investment portfolio. There are, however, additional rules and requirements to follow in connection with the payment of taxes. Some of these rules are very different from those for similar types of domestic income, and more than a few are quite complex.

If you pay for domestic-type services in your home, you may be considered a "domestic employer" for purposes of employment taxes. As a domestic employer, you in turn may be required to report, withhold, and pay employment taxes on a calendar-year basis. The reporting rules apply to both FICA and FUTA taxes, as well as to income taxes that domestic employees elect to have withheld from their wages. The FICA tax rate, applied separately to the employer's share and the employee's share, is 7.65 percent.

This is a simple question, but the question does not have a simple answer. Generally speaking the answer is no, closing costs are not deductible when refinancing. However, the answer depends on what you mean by "closing costs" and what is done with the money obtained in the refinancing.

Asset protection planning is the process of organizing one's assets and affairs in advance to guard against risks to which the assets would otherwise be subject. The phrase "in advance" warrants strong emphasis. One who is planning to protect assets must be cautious and avoid the negative implications that may follow if there are creditors who are entitled to remedies under applicable fraudulent transfer and similar laws. Asset protection planning may be applied to protect every type of asset, including an operating business or a professional practice.

You should beware of fancy footwork when it comes to estimating, filing, and paying federal taxes. One misstep can lead to harsh penalties. Willful or fraudulent mistakes can generate criminal sanctions as well.

No, taxpayers may destroy the original hardcopy of books and records and the original computerized records detailing the expenses of a business if they use an electronic storage system.

If you file a joint return and your taxable income is less than that of your spouse, the "spousal" IRA rules may allow you to contribute up to $5,000 in 2009 (or $6,000 if you are 50 or older) to an individual retirement account (IRA) this year. A "spousal IRA" is a term more commonly used to describe an IRA set up for a nonworking, stay-at-home spouse.


In many parts of the country, residential property has seen steady and strong appreciation for some time now. In an estate planning context, however, increasing property values could mean a potential increase in federal estate tax liability for the property owner's estate. Many homeowners, who desire to pass their appreciating residential property on to their children and save federal estate and gift taxes at the same time, have utilized qualified personal residence trusts.


Just because you're married doesn't mean you have to file a joint return. This is a common misconception along with thinking that "married filing separately" applies to couples who are separated or seeking a divorce. As a married couple, you have two choices: file a joint return or file separate returns. Naturally, there are benefits and detriments to each and your tax advisor can chart the best course of action for you.

As a business owner you have likely heard about the tax advantages of setting up a retirement plan for you and your employees. Many small business owners, however, have also heard some of the horror stories and administrative nightmares that can go along with plan sponsorship. Through marketing information that you receive, you may have learned that a simplified employer plan (SEP) is a retirement plan you can sponsor without the administrative hassle associated with establishing other company plans, including Keoghs.


Q. My husband and I are thinking of starting a business. Can we operate it as a sole proprietorship?

A. No. When two or more people own a business and share in the profits, they are partners. Only one person can own a sole proprietorship. However, if either you or your husband is the sole owner, and the other is an employee, a "sole proprietorship" under the tax law is allowed.


Q. I converted my regular IRA to a Roth IRA when the account had a high value because the stock market was at an all time high. I paid the required tax on the conversion when the conversion proceeds pushed me up into the 36% tax bracket. The Roth IRA is now worth only about 40% of its original value. Is there any type of tax deduction that I can take based on this loss?


New IRS rules substantially simplify the computation of required minimum distributions (RMDs). In addition, Congress has forced the IRS to adopt new life expectancy tables that reflect longer life expectancies, resulting in distributions to be made over a longer time-period and for the RMD to be smaller than would have been required in previous years. You could realize some significant tax savings.

Making gifts is a useful, and often overlooked, tax strategy. However, when thinking about whether to make a gift, or gifts, to your children or other minors, the tax consequences must be evaluated very carefully. Many times, though, the tax consequences can be beneficial and lower your tax bill.


More small businesses can use the taxpayer-friendly cash method of accounting. Final rules from the IRS may allow as many as 500,000 businesses to benefit from this important change.


Throughout all of our lives, we have been told that if we don't want to work all of our life, we must plan ahead and save for retirement. We have also been urged to seek professional guidance to help plan our estates so that we can ensure that our loved ones will get the most out of the assets we have accumulated during our lifetime, with the least amount possible going to pay estate taxes.  What many of us likely have not thought about is how these two financial goals -- retirement and estate planning -- work together. 


How much am I really worth? This is a question that has run through most of our minds at one time or another. However, if you aren't an accountant or mathematician, it may seem like an impossible number to figure out. The good news is that, using a simple step format, you can compute your net worth in no time at all.


Q: The holidays are approaching and I would like to consider giving gifts of appreciation to my employees. What kinds of gifts can I give my employees that they would not have to declare as income on their tax returns?I also would like to make sure my company would be able to deduct the costs of these gifts.

Employers are required by the Internal Revenue Code to calculate, withhold, and deposit with the IRS all federal employment taxes related to wages paid to employees. Failure to comply with these requirements can find certain "responsible persons" held personally liable. Who is a responsible person for purposes of employment tax obligations? The broad interpretation defined by the courts and the IRS may surprise you.


When it comes to legal separation or divorce, there are many complex situations to address. A divorcing couple faces many important decisions and issues regarding alimony, child support, and the fair division of property. While most courts and judges will not factor in the impact of taxes on a potential property settlement or cash payments, it is important to realize how the value of assets transferred can be materially affected by the tax implications.


How quickly could you convert your assets to cash if necessary? Do you have a quantitative way to evaluate management's effectiveness? Knowing your business' key financial ratios can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your operations and your ability to meet your financial obligations as well as help you chart your company's future.


Q. I have a professional services firm and am considering hiring my wife to help out with some of the administrative tasks in the office. I don't think we'll have a problem working together but I would like to have more information about the tax aspects of such an arrangement before I make the leap. What are some of the tax advantages of hiring my spouse?


Q. Since our children are grown and now out on their own, my husband and I are considering selling our large home and purchasing a small townhouse. We have owned our home for years and have quite a lot of equity built up. How do we figure out how much our potential capital gain would be? Will we pay more in taxes because we are moving to a less expensive home?


A number of charities use the Internet to solicit funds, allowing potential donors to make contributions online. You can even create an account in a special type of planned giving instrument: a donor-advised fund. What are these funds, and are they right for you?


If you are considering selling business property that has substantially appreciated in value, you owe it to your business to explore the possibility of a like-kind exchange. Done properly, a like-kind exchange will allow you to transfer your appreciated business property without incurring a current tax liability. However, since the related tax rules can be complex, careful planning is needed to properly structure the transaction.


When you experience a change in employment, probably the last thing on your mind is your 401(k)-plan distribution. Since mishandling this transaction can have detrimental tax effects, make sure that you understand all aspects of the distribution options available to you and act accordingly before you walk out the door.


Talking about money with your aging parents can be awkward but is a necessary step to make sure that their needs will be met during their lifetime. Taking a few minutes to talk with your parents about their finances can give all of you more peace of mind.


Q. I've just started my own business and am having a hard time deciding whether I should buy or lease the equipment I need before I open my doors. What are some of the things I should consider when making this decision?


As a business owner, you may dread reviewing the travel expense reports from your employees returning from business trips. Airfare, hotel and other costs for even a short trip can add up quickly. However, by planning ahead and establishing travel expense guidelines, there's a good chance that you may be able to reduce your business travel costs.


As you open the doors of your new business, the last thing on your mind may be the potential for loss of profits through employee oversight or theft - especially if you are the only employee. However, setting up some basic internal controls to guard against future loss before you hire others can save you headaches in the future.


Q. My company recently downsized its workforce and eliminated my position. I thought this would be a good opportunity to start my own consulting business in the same industry. What are some of the things I should consider before my last day on the job?


The rise of paperless processing and remote access to computer systems has made increased computer security imperative. Establishing an effective password system can help keep your data secure while allowing you greater control over the access to your company's vital information.


Ordering office supplies for your business over the phone seems harmless enough, but beware - an increasing number of small businesses are falling prey to office supply scams. According to the FTC, small businesses are losing more than $100 million each year from fraudulent "toner-phoner" schemes. Educating yourself to be able to recognize these scams and understand your rights can protect your business and save you money.


Although the IRS may compromise any tax liability, taxpayers may often find it difficult to obtain an offer-in-compromise (OIC).  However, for taxpayers experiencing especially difficult financial hardship, the IRS may be more willing to negotiate, especially if the taxpayer has been compliant in the past.


You're 57 years old and as part of an early retirement package, you've just been offered a large cash bonus and salary continuation, along with a lump sum payment from the company retirement plan and continuing medical benefits. Is this a dream come true or a potential financial nightmare?


The benefits of owning a vacation home can go beyond rest and relaxation. Understanding the special rules related to the tax treatment of vacation homes can not only help you with your tax planning, but may also help you plan your vacation.


Limited liability companies (LLCs) remain one of the most popular choice of business forms in the U.S. today. This form of business entity is a hybrid that features the best characteristics of other forms of business entities, making it a good choice for both new and existing businesses and their owners.


Maintaining good financial records is an important part of running a successful business. Not only will good records help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your business' operations, but they will also help out tremendously if the IRS comes knocking on your door.


After your tax returns have been filed, several questions arise: What do you do with the stack of paperwork? What should you keep? What should you throw away? Will you ever need any of these documents again? Fortunately, recent tax provisions have made it easier for you to part with some of your tax-related clutter.


Owning property (real or tangible) and leasing it to your business can give you very favorable tax results, not to mention good long-term benefits. There are some drawbacks, however, and you should consider all factors before structuring such an arrangement.

I have a car that I would like to donate to my church. Can I just claim the amount shown as the value of the car per the Kelly Blue Book (about $6,500) on Schedule A of Form 1040?

Below is a list of questions and answers to some of the basic topics you come across when reporting the sale of stock. Stock basis, holding periods, wash sale rules and sales of mutual funds are just a few of the items clarified.

Although many taxpayers fear that their return will be selected for an audit, your odds of being audited are about one in 100. If your return fits a certain profile, however, your chances may increase. Filing your return electronically does not put you in any special profile. This year, more than 40 million people are expected to file their returns electronically -- a record number - but that will not increase their odds of being audited. So, take full advantage of e-filing.


We all know to include the amount shown on our Form W-2 as taxable income on our Form 1040, but what about those other items of income, such as severance pay, lawsuit settlements, and disability payments, that occur less frequently?

The decision to start your own business comes with many other important decisions. One of the first tasks you will encounter is choosing the legal form of your new business. There are quite a few choices of legal entities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages that must be taken into consideration along with your own personal tax situation.


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