Write Off Business-Related Vehicle Expenses

Q.  I'm using my personal car in my business. How much can I deduct on my tax return for the vehicle expenses? A. There are two basic ways to write off expenses for business-related travel: The standard mileage method. This provides a basic deduction for mileage and provides built-in depreciation. For 2017, the mileage rate is 53.5 cents per business mile driven (down from 54 cents in Continue Reading

Unlock the Biggest Possible Deduction for a Home Office

The IRS recently issued a reminder about claiming the home office deduction. In particular, it explained a simplified method that offers a time-saving option. But many taxpayers who maintain a home office fare better tax-wise by deducting expenses under the regular method. Others may not be eligible to deduct any home office expenses. Here's why. Regular and Exclusive Use Most home-related Continue Reading

Wedding Bells: Tax Issues to Consider Before Tying the Knot

Summer — the traditional wedding season — is just around the corner. Marriage changes life in many ways. Here's how it may affect your tax situation. Marital Status Your marital status at year end determines your tax filing options for the entire year. If you're married on December 31, you'll have two federal income tax filing choices for 2017: File jointly with your spouse, or Opt for Continue Reading

Employers Get Extension on Work Opportunity Tax Credit Paperwork

Are you an employer who claims the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)? Or perhaps you haven't claimed the credit yet but you are interested in taking advantage of the tax break. You now have until April 30 to provide a pre-screening form for certain groups of qualifying workers hired in 2014, the IRS recently announced. WOTC Basics Under tax law, the WOTC is available to employers Continue Reading

Get a Jump on College Tuition

Parents and grandparents saving for college have an opportunity to put money aside in a tax-advantaged plan.   Section 529 plans are available in all states and the District of Columbia and allow you to either prepay or contribute to an account for paying a student's qualified education expenses. Among the advantages: Qualified withdrawals are free from federal tax Continue Reading

Estate Planning to Minimize Federal Income Taxes

The traditional estate planning approach, aimed at reducing estate tax values, is less relevant for the vast majority of individuals today than it was in the past. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) provides relatively generous estate tax rates, limits and rules for estates. Specifically, the ATRA reduced the top marginal estate tax rate from 55 percent to 40 percent, increased the Continue Reading

TAX QUIZ on Home Office Deductions

  Q. Who is entitled to take home office deductions?   a. A college professor who grades papers in a home office.   b. A self-employed attorney who converted an unattached garage into an office and meets clients there.   c. A plumber who uses a guest room to do paperwork.   d. An architect who sets up a room for occasional telecommuting. The answer is b  Although the rules on Continue Reading

Important Tax Figures for 2015

The following table provides some important federal tax information for 2015, as compared with 2014. Some of the dollar amounts changed due to inflation. Other amounts changed due to legislation. Social Security/ Medicare 2015 2014 Social Security Tax Wage Base $118,500 $117,000 Medicare Tax Wage Base No limit No limit Employee portion of Social Continue Reading

Is Your 401(k) Plan Up to Snuff? Watch Out for These Audit Red Flags

Four emerging potential 401(k) trouble spots are becoming a greater focus at the Department of Labor (DOL). One involves self-directed brokerage accounts, or "brokerage windows," that allow participants to purchase individual securities. The DOL worries that participants with limited investing experience will jump on the hottest stock or market sector at its high-water mark, watch it tank, then Continue Reading

Congress Extends Many Tax Breaks for Individuals

The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which was signed into law on December 19, renewed through 2014 a long list of personal and business federal income tax breaks that had been allowed to expire at the end of 2013. Because Congress habitually allows these breaks to expire before restoring them for a year or two, they have become known as "the extenders." New Tax-Favored Continue Reading