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.
Individuals with policies in their name or that of their business can deduct premiums as long as they weren’t eligible for coverage via another source
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.
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
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”
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