Promote From Within Successfully: A Management Cookbook

Promoting non-supervisory employees to management roles can be a morale-booster for the promoted employee, and for others. Seeing a fellow employee move up the ladder gives coworkers reason to expect that, someday, they could rise to that level as well. Also, homegrown talent can be more economical, both by avoiding recruitment costs and because the initial compensation requirements of a promoted Continue Reading

Who can – and who should – take the American Opportunity credit?

If you have a child in college, you may be eligible to claim the American Opportunity credit on your 2016 income tax return. If, however, your income is too high, you won’t qualify for the credit — but your child might. There’s one potential downside: If your dependent child claims the credit, you must forgo your dependency exemption for him or her. And the child can’t take the exemption. The Continue Reading

Self-Employment Tax Reduction Strategies for Spouse-Owned Businesses

If you own a profitable, unincorporated business with your spouse, you're probably fed up with high self-employment (SE) tax bills. Self-Employment Tax Basics For 2016, the maximum 15.3% self-employment (SE) tax rate hits the first $118,500 of net SE income. For 2017, the 15.3% rate hits the first $127,200 of net SE income. It includes 12.4% for the Social Security tax component and 2.9% Continue Reading

A Fresh Look at Incentive Compensation

Bonuses: They're not just for senior executives anymore. Many companies now offer performance-based incentives to rank-and-file personnel, too. But serious problems can occur when these incentives are too strong, poorly designed or insufficiently monitored. For example, in a widely reported recent case, a large national bank set aggressive sales goals that came with financial rewards. To meet Continue Reading

2016 IRA contributions — it’s not too late!

Yes, there’s still time to make 2016 contributions to your IRA. The deadline for such contributions is April 18, 2017. If the contribution is deductible, it will lower your 2016 tax bill. But even if it isn’t, making a 2016 contribution is likely a good idea. Benefits beyond a deduction Tax-advantaged retirement plans like IRAs allow your money to grow tax-deferred — or, in the case of Roth Continue Reading

Separation Agreements May Provide Peace of Mind

Having an employee sign a separation agreement upon ending the employment relationship amounts to a form of insurance that he or she will not later take legal action against your company, based on the termination. Whether a separation was friendly (for example, due only to a reorganization or downsizing), or unfriendly, an agreement could prove worthwhile. Suppose your company downsized. After Continue Reading

When an elderly parent might qualify as your dependent

It’s not uncommon for adult children to help support their aging parents. If you’re in this position, you might qualify for the adult-dependent exemption. It allows eligible taxpayers to deduct up to $4,050 for each adult dependent claimed on their 2016 tax return. Basic qualifications For you to qualify for the adult-dependent exemption, in most cases your parent must have less gross income Continue Reading

Consider Section 179 Deductions for Real Estate Expenses

The Section 179 deduction for qualified real property expenses was made permanent under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. However, claiming this deduction isn't a no-brainer. Here are the pros and cons. Section 179 Deductions: The Basics The Sec. 179 deduction allows you to write off qualified expenses in the year the related business asset or property is placed Continue Reading

Seniors: Consider These Tax Breaks When Filing for 2016

Are you an "experienced" taxpayer? Here are a couple of age-based tax breaks that seniors shouldn't overlook when filing their 2016 returns. Claim Your Rightful Medical Expense Deductions If you're 65 years of age or older, you may have fallen into the habit of automatically claiming the standard deduction instead of itemizing your deductions. Taking the standard deduction is often the Continue Reading

Tangible property safe harbors help maximize deductions

If last year your business made repairs to tangible property, such as buildings, machinery, equipment or vehicles, you may be eligible for a valuable deduction on your 2016 income tax return. But you must make sure they were truly “repairs,” and not actually “improvements.” Why? Costs incurred to improve tangible property must be depreciated over a period of years. But costs incurred on Continue Reading