Tag Archives: deduction

Who Should Take a Home-Office Tax Deduction?

According to data compiled in tax year 2009, more than 4 million Americans claimed the home-office deduction on their tax returns. That’s about 3 percent of the total 140 million returns filed in 2010. The number is likely to increase this year, with business startup rates having increased substantially in 2011.

Kathy Pickering, executive director of the Tax Institute, research and analysis division of tax-services provider H&R Block (HRB), says the average home-office deduction is valued at more than $2,600. Yet many taxpayers are unclear about how to claim the deduction, or they worry that if they do, they’ll face an IRS audit. Pickering says that although the home-office deduction is scrutinized closely, it should be used by those who are eligible.

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When a tax audit isn’t an audit, and why you should care

In 2010, the IRS audited 1.0% of taxpayers. For middle-income taxpayers, the percentage was even lower. Only 0.6% with adjusted gross income of $25,000 to $75,000 were audited, according to the IRS.

But traditional audits are just one way the IRS enforces the tax laws. Increasingly, the IRS is relying on what IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson calls “unreal” audits. These typically come in the form of a letter alerting you to errors or omissions on your return. While these audits are less intrusive than full-scale audits, they can still cost you real money.

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More Tax-Law Changes for 2012

Here are a few more:

  • Federal income tax-bracket  For a married couple filing a joint return, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15% bracket from the 25% bracket is $70,700 for this year, up from $69,000 for 2011.
  • The standard deduction is up slightly. For singles, the basic deduction amount for this year is $5,950, up from $5,800 last year. For married couples, it’s $11,900, up from $11,600 in 2011. There are additional amounts for those who are 65 or over, blind or both.
  • The  dependent exemption is $3,800 for 2012, up by $100 from 2011.
  • The maximum  earned income tax credit for low- and moderate-income workers and working families rose to $5,891 for 2012, from $5,751 in 2011. The maximum income limit for the EITC rose to $50,270 from $49,078 in 2011.
  • The foreign earned income exclusion  rose to $95,100 from $92,900 for 2011.
  • The IRS’s optional standard mileage rate for using your car for business remain unchanged at 55.5 cents for 2012.  Drivers have a choice of using this rate or deducting the business portion of actual expenses.

New year will bring new laws and regulations for small businesses

In California, the new rules include limits on the ability of businesses to check the credit reports of workers and job seekers. Nationwide, tax deductions for equipment purchases will be sharply reduced.

Small-business owners will be greeted Jan. 1 with dozens of new laws and regulations.

In California, they will include new mandates concerning employees, including a partial ban on checking the credit reports of workers and job applicants.

And it’s no surprise that there are changes at the federal level too.

Here’s a guide to some of the new laws and regulations set to go into effect in 2012.

  • Federal Taxes changes
  • New federal accessibility  rules
  • New California laws

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