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

Ten Year-End Tax Planning Ideas for Individuals

Another year is winding down. Before the hustle and bustle of the holidays sets in, it's a good time to brainstorm ideas to lower your 2014 tax bill. Here's an overview of what's happening in the world of tax -- and 10 simple tax-saving strategies that you can implement before year end. Setting the Current Federal Tax Scene Here's some important information for taxpayers about the Continue Reading

Who Are the Latest IRS Targets? A List of 22 Audit Triggers

What triggers an IRS tax audit? While the IRS isn't about to publish a list, there are a number of items that are known to raise the IRS's interest in a return. What are your chances of being audited? For individuals, it depends on your income. In fiscal year 2013, returns reporting income of under $200,000 stood a 0.88 percent chance of an audit. Those with incomes of $200,000 and more had a Continue Reading

Lower Tax Bill with a Last-Minute Retirement Account Contribution

Tax Day is right around the corner. If your tax bill is higher than you'd like, there may still be an opportunity to lower it: If you qualify, you can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA right up until the Tuesday, April 15, 2014 filing date and still benefit from the resulting tax savings on your 2013 return. Small business owners can set up and contribute to a Simplified Continue Reading

What’s New on Your 2013 Form 1040

Last year's W-2s and 1099s should be arriving in your mailbox or inbox soon. So it's officially time to start thinking about filing your 2013 personal tax return. Here's what you need to know about the key tax law changes that took effect in 2013: Higher Rates for Upper-Income Individuals Most individuals will pay the same federal income tax rates for 2013 that they did for 2012 (10, 15, Continue Reading

Important Tax Figures for 2014

The following table provides some important federal tax information for 2014, as compared with 2013. Some of the dollar amounts change due to inflation. Other amounts are changing due to legislation. Social Security/ Medicare 2014 2013 Social Security Tax Wage Base $117,000 $113,700 Medicare Tax Wage Base No limit No limit Employee portion of Social Continue Reading

Take Inventory of Your Assets

With the busy holiday season, you probably don't have much time to think about finances this week. But as you approach the new year, take some time to compile or update your personal financial statement and  Last-Chance Gifting Opportunity The clock is running out to use the gift tax exclusion for the year. Once New Year's Eve is over, so is the 2013 exclusion. You can give Continue Reading

Wrap Up Last-Chance Tax Breaks for 2013

The holiday season can be a difficult time to think about taxes. But with a few last-minute maneuvers, you might be able to reduce the amount of money you owe Uncle Sam for 2013. Here are six strategies to consider. But don't delay. Once the ball drops on New Year's Eve, these tax breaks will be gone. 1. Take Charge of Charitable Donations. If you make a donation of cash to charity in Continue Reading

Nine Bright Year-End Tax Planning Strategies for Individuals

Tax planning can be critical at the end of the year. Here are some new ideas to contemplate, along with tried-and-true year-end tax-saving techniques. 1. Game the Standard Deduction Standard Deduction Filing status 2013 2014 Single $6,100 $6,200 Married joint filer $12,200 $12,400 Head of household $8,950 $9,100           If your Continue Reading