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Tax Planning

By Karen E. Klein, Bloomberg Businessweek

As the end of the year approaches, small business owners need to meet with accountants or tax preparers to review tax-planning strategies.

“Every accountant is going to be sitting with their entrepreneur clients in the next few weeks to see what they can do, both on the business — and the personal-tax side — before the end of the calendar year,” says Michael Custer, a CPA and principal at Kaufman Rossin & Co. in Miami. read more »

 

As you know, the holiday season can be joyous, hectic, celebratory — and expensive. And while you certainly enjoy hosting family gatherings and giving presents to your loved ones, you’ll find these things even more pleasurable if they don’t add a lot more weight to your debt load. And that’s why you’ll want to follow some smart money-management techniques over the next few weeks.

To begin with, try to establish realistic budgets for both your entertaining and your gift giving. When you host family and friends, don’t go overboard on your expenditures. read more »

 

Some people buy investments here and there, now and then. Others open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), put some money in it, and then forget about it. But this type of haphazard investment behavior can lead to haphazard results. On the other hand, you’ve got five good reasons for creating and following a comprehensive, long-term investment strategy.

Reason No. 1: You want to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle. For most people, building resources for retirement is the most powerful reason to invest. As a key part of your investment strategy, you’ll want to consider investments that have growth potential. read more »

 
Donor-advised Fund

So, you’d like to make some major charitable contributions, but you don’t want to create a family foundation — with its paperwork and management commitment and the possibility of squabbles. Is there an alternative?

Yes, there is. You could consider a donor-advised fund (DAF).

How does a DAF work? A donor-advised fund is a private fund established to manage charitable donations of individuals, couples, families and institutions. It is sponsored by a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The process of gifting through a donor-advised fund works like this. read more »

 

Don’t worry; the IRS isn’t going know about your Viagra purchases from Canada or your strange fascination with collecting Michael Jackson look-alike clothing. The IRS is concerned with any income you may be receiving as a business from a credit card sales. OK, now that we clarified that one, breathe easy and read on.

This next paragraph is more of a confession. Every time I go to the mailbox and see a piece of mail from a credit card company, only one thing comes to mind: Rip it up and feed it to the recycle bin. Perhaps it is instinct, perhaps I have been conditioned to this response, like Pavlov’s dogs, by years of disappointing unsolicited credit card offers. Who knows? Getting unsolicited offers from the credit cards happens (unfortunately for me) almost every day. read more »

 
States struggled with deficits; dramatic tax increases may be coming this year

A new Tax Foundation analysis of changes to state tax law in 2010 shows that most of the states that raised taxes in 2010 have pursued short-term budget fixes and have aimed the increases at specific groups rather than enacting broad-based reforms. These strategies will likely cause harm to many states’ economies in the short and long term, requiring even more unpopular tax increases in the coming years.

Due to a combination of improving revenues and growing political opposition to increased state-level taxes and additional federal aid to states, 2010 was a lighter year on state-level tax changes than anticipated, the report notes. read more »

 
End-of-the-year money moves

What has changed for you in 2010? Did you start a new job — or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If some notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and the next one begins.

Even if your 2010 has been comparatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little more wealth.

Do you practice tax loss harvesting? That is the art of taking capital losses (selling securities worth less than what you first paid for them) to offset your short-term capital gains. You might want to consider this move, which should be made with the guidance of a financial professional you trust. read more »

 
Tax Planning

When people hear the words “estate planning,” they often assume it’s an activity only for retirees or near-retirees. But if you have a family, it’s never too soon to create your estate plan.

Of course, estate planning can seem like a daunting task. But you’ll find it easier to handle if you break it down into three key areas: distributing your assets, protecting your family and reducing estate taxes. Let’s look at these topics: read more »

 

Just like a scene from the Wizard of Oz, the last few years of turmoil in the real estate market seem more fictional than real. Many taxpayers have lost their homes or investment properties to foreclosure or short sales. As I meet with clients who have lost homes, I often get the BIG question: “Do I have to pay taxes on the money that was written off by the bank?”

In case you didn’t know, the IRS considers forgiveness of debt a taxable event and requires a lender to send a 1099-C to the taxpayer in affect giving them taxable income. read more »

 
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