Individuals who reduce their income taxes with itemized deductions are aware that they can claim contributions to schools, religious organizations and other favorite causes. But many of them are unaware of other opportunities.
Unless Washington acts in the lame-duck session after the November elections, top rates for capital gains from most sales of assets owned more than 12 months are scheduled to increase. They will go from 15 percent for 2012 to at least 20 percent for 2013.
Income taxes are such a pervasive and everyday part of our financial lives -- and such a central issue in presidential campaigns -- that they seem to have been around forever. They have not. Their debut is relatively recent.
Contrary to what many self-employed individuals believe, long-standing regulations usually prohibit most of them from claiming bad-debt deductions on their federal and state returns when they are unable to recover amounts due from clients and customers.
Fact is, whether Brad, Angelina, Jennifer, Bristol, Levi, Snooki, or anyone else is hooking up, breaking up, or something in between, the odds and ends of their relationships are grist for the Internal Revenue Service mill.
State tax auditors are being told to shake down local businesses to generate revenue. And while big businesses have internal tax specialists who can fight unjustified assessments, small businesses often have no choice but to pay since the cost to them of fighting back is so high.