Understand Your Social Security Retirement Benefits

For years, people have questioned the viability of the Social Security system going forward. In July, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. What's My FRA? Your full retirement age (FRA) depends on the year in which you were born. Year of Birth Full Retirement Age 1937 or Continue Reading

Do You Have a Deductible Business Loss or a Nondeductible Hobby Loss?

There's a fine line between businesses and hobbies under the federal tax code. If you engage in an unincorporated sideline — such as a marketing director by day and an artist on the nights and weekends — you may think of that side activity as a business and hope to deduct any losses on your personal tax return. But the IRS may disagree and reclassify the money-losing activity as a Continue Reading

Under-performing Employees May Be Salvageable

It's easy to spot under performance, but correcting it is a different matter. The fact is, effectively managing your workforce, especially problem employees, just doesn't come naturally to most people. Here's some guidance to potentially help turn around an employee who is missing the performance mark. Tackling the Problem When an employee is under performing, begin the performance Continue Reading

Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Workplace Safety Programs

"No person should ever have to be injured, become ill, or die for a paycheck," says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency which enforces the requirement that workplaces be safe and healthful. OSHA administers the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which focuses on rules, inspection regimes, and penalties for failing to uphold those standards. But often that focus Continue Reading

Establishing Residency for State Tax Purposes

Have you been contemplating moving to another state with lower taxes? Your move could lower your state tax bill, but you want to make sure to establish that the new state is your place of legal residency (also known as your "domicile") for state tax purposes. Otherwise, the old state could come after you for taxes after you've moved. In the worst-case scenario, your new state could expect to get Continue Reading

The Ins and Outs of Deducting Legal Expenses

Legal expenses incurred by individuals are typically not currently deductible under the federal income tax rules. Instead, they're most often treated as either personal outlays (which are nondeductible) or as part of the cost of acquiring an asset, such as real estate. When Can You Claim a Nonbusiness Deduction for Legal Expenses? As stated in the main article, an individual's legal Continue Reading

Tax Court Interprets Exceptions to the PAL Rules for Rental Properties

Real estate owners who rent their properties often incur tax losses due to depreciation write-offs and other allowable deductions. However, the ability to deduct those losses might be postponed indefinitely by the passive activity loss (PAL) rules. In general, these rules limit deductions for rental property PALs to the amount of income that you have from other passive activities — or until you Continue Reading

Recent Developments May Affect Passive Investors with Losses

Do you materially participate in a business or rental activity — or are you just a passive investor who isn't directly involved in a project's day-to-day operations? The IRS has prescribed seven tests to help individuals classify income, gains and losses from activities as passive or nonpassive. (See "PAL Basics" below.) PAL Basics The IRS rules on passive activity losses (PALs) can Continue Reading

How to Reduce Your Workforce Without Committing Age Discrimination

As employers generally know, employees age 40 and over represent one of the "protected classes," given special priority in employment discrimination cases. You are no doubt aware of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, not to mention state and local laws that are sometimes even tougher than federal.  You also need to be mindful of these two laws: Continue Reading

Avoid the Traps of Unequal Pay

On average, women are paid less than men, but the difference may be smaller than you think. You may have heard widely quoted statistics which can be misleading, such as the belief that women earn 76 cents for every dollar that men make. While men do make more, the gap narrows when you adjust for differences in job category and tenure. Still, a gap exists, and one compensation management software Continue Reading