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Get to Work on Your Tax Return

How to get your affairs in order and make sense of the ever-more-complex tax code
March 4, 2002

Unless you get a kick out of standing in line at the post office at midnight on April 15, turn off the TV, cancel some social engagements and get busy on your tax return. Tax professionals say that while there are a few changes affecting small-business owners this year and last, bigger changes are on the way. "Congress has set up 10 years of tax professional heaven," says Paul Gada, a tax attorney who edited the CCH Business Owner's Toolkit Tax Guide 2002. "There are 400-plus amendments with changes being phased in over the next 10 years affecting estate planning, IRAs, child tax credits and dependent care credits."

Despite all the upcoming changes, Gada says current congressional support for reducing the personal income tax is positive, "because it translates directly into some savings in the business owner's pocket." Here are some tips to consider while working on your 2001 tax return and developing a tax strategy for 2002:

Gada's final piece of advice: "Claim all income and take all deductions you qualify for."

Get a Business Makeover
Can you and your business benefit from a complete makeover? To celebrate National Small Business Week (May 5 to 12), one lucky business owner will receive lots of advice from a team of small-business experts, plus a package of prizes, including a Lexmark printer, a library of business books and tapes, and other business-related services. Best of all, the winner will travel with the makeover team from New York City to Washington, DC, on Amtrak's Acela high-speed train to meet Hector Barreto, chief of the SBA, and other small business leaders.

As part of the national Back on Track America economic revival campaign, sponsored in part by Entrepreneur, Amtrak will provide free transportation for the winner from the nearest Amtrak station to New York City. It's easy to enter this essay contest. Just explain in 500 words or less why your small business needs a makeover, including what kind of problems you need help solving. Send your essay with all your contact information to: Jane Applegate's Small Business Week Makeover, P.O. Box 768, Pelham, NY 10803. You can also fax entries to (914) 738-6339. The deadline for entries is March 31, 2002. More prizes and details will be announced in this column.

Jane Applegate is a syndicated columnist and the author of 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business. For a free copy of her "Business Owner's Check Up," send your name and address to Check Up, P.O. Box 768, Pelham NY 10803 or e-mail it to