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The IRS has released the 2018 optional standard mileage rates to be used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, medical, moving and charitable purposes. Beginning on January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup of panel truck will be:

  • 54.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 53.5 cents in 2017);
  • 18 cents per mile for medical and moving expenses (up from 17 cents in 2017); and
  • 14 cents per mile for miles driven for charitable purposes (permanently set by statute at 14 cents).

Comment. A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate after using a depreciation method under Code Sec. 168 or after claiming the Code Sec. 179 deduction for that vehicle. A taxpayer may not use the business rate for more than four vehicles at a time. As a result, business owners have a choice for their vehicles: take the standard mileage rate, or “itemize” each part of the expense (gas, tolls, insurance, etc., and depreciation).


January 1, 2018 not only brings a new year, it brings a new federal Tax Code. The just-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act makes sweeping changes to the nation’s tax laws. Many of these changes take effect January 1. Everyone – especially individuals and business owners – needs to review their tax strategies for the new law. The changes are huge. However, many changes are temporary, especially for individuals.


The start of a New Year presents a time to reflect on the past 12 months and, based on what has gone before, predict what may happen next. Here is a list of the top 10 developments from 2017 that may prove particularly important as we move forward into the New Year:


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act modifies Section 529 qualified tuition plans to allow the plans to distribute up to $10,000 in tuition expenses incurred during the tax year for designated beneficiaries enrolled at a public, private, or religious elementary or secondary school. Section 529 plans used to only be allowed for college tuition, up to full tuition amounts. That provision for college tuition remains the same.


Yes, conversions from regular (traditional) tax-deferred individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to Roth IRAs are still allowed after enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In fact, in some instances, such Roth conversions are more beneficial than they were prior to 2018, since the tax rates on all income, including conversion income, are now lower. However, the special rule that allows a contribution to one type of an IRA to be recharacterized as a contribution to the other type of IRA will no longer apply to a conversion contribution to a Roth IRA after 2017.


As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important federal tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of January 2018.


If you're thinking about setting up employees as telecommuters, you're not alone. Businesses ranging from large multi-nationals to small shops know that telecommuting not only can improve worker morale and performance, it can also save you and your employees money. What's not to like about zero commuting costs and no office rent? You can also sell the benefits of telecommuting by alerting employees to some significant tax breaks.

Information returns usually arrive in January or February and consist of either Form 1099 or Form 1098. For some, they seem as ubiquitous as their holiday mail in December. Form 1099s are especially likely to populate your mailbox, being used to report a whole array of income other than wages, salaries and tips. While a Form 1099 is not needed to record every taxable transaction, one Form 1099 can record multiple transactions; for example, from your broker for dividends and stock trades. The payer will send a Form 1099 to you by the end of January and will file the form with the IRS by the end of February. Typical forms are sent out for dividend and interest income, self-employment or independent contractor's income, student loan interest and mortgage interest statements.


Holiday season - a time for giving to friends and family, but not, you hope, to the IRS. Many, if not most, people are aware that the Tax Code imposes a tax on certain gifts, but not everyone is certain as to how this works. How do you know when you've given the gift that keeps on taking - a taxable gift?

Q. I use my computer for both business and pleasure and I am confused about how much I can deduct. Also, how are PDAs such as Palm Pilots, etc. deducted for tax purposes?

Parents typically encourage their children to save for college, for a house, or simply for a rainy day. A child's retirement, however, is a less common early savings goal. Too many other expenses are at the forefront. Yet, helping to plan for a youngster's retirement is a move that astute families are making. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for income-earning minors and young adults offer a head-start on life-long financial planning.


With the exception of some city ordinances, companies are not required to offer benefits to a domestic partner of an employee. One major change occurs on January 1, 2005 when California will start requiring employers to offer domestic partner benefits. Recent legislation in California extends the rights and duties of marriage, including the right to employee benefits, to persons registered as domestic partners. It may signal a trend that other states will follow.


Although taxes may take a back seat to the basic issue of whether refinancing saves enough money to be worthwhile, you should be aware of the basic tax rules that come into play. Sometimes, you can immediately deduct some of the costs of refinancing.


If you want to withdraw funds from either your company retirement plan or your individual retirement account, there is a 10% additional tax (penalty) if you make withdrawals before the age of 59 ½. There is an exception to this rule if you make withdrawals from your account of a series of "substantially equal periodic payments."


You have just been notified that your tax return is going to be audited ... what now? While the best defense is always a good offense (translation: take steps to avoid an audit in the first place), in the event the IRS does come knocking on your door, here are some basic guidelines you can follow to increase the chances that you will come out of your audit unscathed.


When it comes to legal separation or divorce, there are many complex situations to address. A divorcing couple faces many important decisions and issues regarding alimony, child support, and the fair division of property. While most courts and judges will not factor in the impact of taxes on a potential property settlement or cash payments, it is important to realize how the value of assets transferred can be materially affected by the tax implications.


Q. I've just started my own business and am having a hard time deciding whether I should buy or lease the equipment I need before I open my doors. What are some of the things I should consider when making this decision?


We've all heard the basic financial planning strategy "pay yourself first" but paying yourself first doesn't simply mean stashing money into your savings account - debt reduction and retirement plan participation also qualify. Paying yourself today can result in a more comfortable and prosperous future for you and your family.


Limited liability companies (LLCs) remain one of the most popular choice of business forms in the U.S. today. This form of business entity is a hybrid that features the best characteristics of other forms of business entities, making it a good choice for both new and existing businesses and their owners.


Owning property (real or tangible) and leasing it to your business can give you very favorable tax results, not to mention good long-term benefits. There are some drawbacks, however, and you should consider all factors before structuring such an arrangement.