Compare and Contrast the Republican and Democratic Tax Platforms

With both major political party conventions finally behind us, it's time to focus on the upcoming national election. Among their many differences, the Republicans and Democrats have widely divergent tax platforms. While platforms are always relatively nonspecific and not necessarily synced with what the presidential candidates have in mind, it's still good to know what tax positions the two Continue Reading

What to Do If You Haven’t Filed Last Year’s Tax Return or Can’t Pay the Bill

Unless you've extended the due date for filing last year's individual federal income tax return to October 17, the filing deadline passed you by in April. What if you didn't extend and you haven't yet filed your Form 1040? And what if you can't pay your tax bill? This article explains how to handle these situations. "I Didn't File but I Don't Owe" Let's say you're certain that you don't owe Continue Reading

For Richer or Poorer: Financial and Legal Considerations in Marriage

Last year, the average U.S. wedding cost $32,641 — including engagement rings but excluding honeymoons — according to the 2015 Real Weddings Study published by The Knot, a wedding marketplace and concierge service. That staggering amount represents an increase of more than $5,500 over the past five years. On average, the couple foots 43% of the wedding bill themselves these days, and their Continue Reading

Got ISOs? You need to understand their tax treatment

Incentive stock options allow you to buy company stock in the future at a fixed price equal to or greater than the stock’s fair market value on the grant date. If the stock appreciates, you can buy shares at a price below what they’re then trading for. ISOs must comply with many rules but receive tax-favored treatment: You owe no tax when ISOs are granted. You owe no regular income tax when 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

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

IRS Mileage Rates for 2015 Announced

The IRS has issued the 2015 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.   What Gas Costs these Days The national average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas was $2.62 on December 11, 2014. This is down from the average price of $3.25 per gallon a year Continue Reading

Tax Court Settles the Score on Sports Collectibles Activity

Are you a collector of antiques, artifacts or other goods? If your passion evolves into a full-fledged business with a profit motive, you may use a resulting tax loss to offset other income on your return. However, if the IRS classifies the activity as just a hobby -- as it frequently does -- the tax benefits are more limited. In one recent example, the U.S. Tax Court sided with the IRS against a Continue Reading

Think Outside the Gift Box this Holiday Season

Many businesses scramble around at year end to come up with clever, relevant holiday gifts to send to customers to reinforce brands and cement business ties. But the most memorable ideas aren't necessarily the most expensive. In today's high-paced, electronic world, a well-thought-out holiday card with a personalized, handwritten message can sometimes be a refreshing change of pace. Finding Continue Reading