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As you file your 2016 return and plan your charitable giving for 2017, it’s important to keep in mind the available deduction. It can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors. What you giveOther than the actual amount you donate, one of the biggest factors that can affect your deduction is what you give: Cash. This includes not just actual cash but gifts made by check, credit card or...

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February 28, 2017

Rather than keeping track of the actual cost of operating a vehicle, employees and self-employed taxpayers can use a standard mileage rate to compute their deduction related to using a vehicle for business. But you might also be able to deduct miles driven for other purposes, including medical, moving and charitable purposes.   What are the deduction rates? The rates vary depending on the purpose and the year: Business: 54...

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February 22, 2017

Because restricted gifts have stringent rules attached, they can be difficult for not-for-profits to manage and account for. How, then, do you encourage donors to make unrestricted gifts that your organization can use as it deems necessary? Here are four suggestions: 1. Praise the benefits of unrestricted gifts when speaking with potential donors. Explain how your organization uses donations, offering hard numbers and specific examples where needed. Give them as...

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February 18, 2017

Last year you may have made significant gifts to your children, grandchildren or other heirs as part of your estate planning strategy. Or perhaps you just wanted to provide loved ones with some helpful financial support. Regardless of the reason for making a gift, it’s important to know under what circumstances you’re required to file a gift tax return. Some transfers require a return even if you don’t owe tax....

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February 16, 2017

Simplified Employee Pensions (SEPs) are sometimes regarded as the “no-brainer” first choice for high-income small-business owners who don’t currently have tax-advantaged retirement plans set up for themselves. Why? Unlike other types of retirement plans, a SEP is easy to establish and a powerful retroactive tax planning tool: The deadline for setting up a SEP is favorable and contribution limits are generous. SEPs do have a couple of downsides if the...

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February 13, 2017

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. However, complex tax rules apply to this type of compensation. Current tax treatmentISOs must comply with many rules but receive tax-favored treatment: You...

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February 10, 2017

Sharing your wealth with a favorite charity can benefit those in need and reduce your taxable estate. In addition, your donations can ease your income tax liability. But you must meet IRS substantiation requirements. If you fail to do so, the IRS could deny the corresponding deductions you’re claiming. Let’s take a look at the requirements for different asset types. Cash gifts Generally, you can substantiate gifts of less than...

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February 10, 2017

The Section 199 deduction is intended to encourage domestic manufacturing. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “manufacturers’ deduction.” But this potentially valuable tax break can be used by many other types of businesses besides manufacturing companies. Sec. 199 deduction 101 The Sec. 199 deduction, also called the “domestic production activities deduction,” is 9% of the lesser of qualified production activities income or taxable income. The deduction is also...

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February 02, 2017

Was a college student in your family last year? Or were you a student yourself? You may be eligible for some valuable tax breaks on your 2016 return. To max out your higher education breaks, you need to see which ones you’re eligible for and then claim the one(s) that will provide the greatest benefit. In most cases you can take only one break per student, and, for some breaks,...

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February 02, 2017

“I’m taking a sick day!” This familiar refrain usually is uttered with just cause, but not always. What if there were no sick days? No, we’re not suggesting employees be forced to work when they’re under the weather. Rather, many businesses are adopting a different paradigm when it comes to paid time off (PTO). Under the “PTO bank” concept, employers merge most (or all) of the traditional components of excused...

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February 02, 2017