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Washington Watch - January 19, 2011

Self-Employed Tax Changes For 2010

2010 was a banner year for small business owners as it relates to tax law changes and tax law no-changes. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 provided a number of key tax changes designed to benefit small business while the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 kept a number of key tax items the same. At any rate, prior to preparing 2010 tax forms, the self-employed and micro-businesses (fewer than 10 employees) should be aware of tax law changes.

"January is a great time to get a jump on your 2010 tax return," said Keith Hall, National Tax Advisor for the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE). "With all the tax changes implemented for 2010, it is critical that small business owners have the information necessary to prepare an accurate tax return and make sure every possible deduction and credit is utilized."

  • Self-Employed Health Insurance Deduction - As always, the premiums paid for health insurance by the small business owner will be deducted on page one of form 1040. But for 2010, those same premiums can be included on Schedule SE, Self Employment Tax as a deduction reducing net earnings from self employment and reducing the related Self Employment Tax. This can be up to a 15.3% savings on the cost of health insurance.
  • Increase in Maximum Section 179 Deduction - The maximum allowable deduction under Code Section 179 was increased from $250,000 to $500,000 providing additional incentive for small businesses who invest in new equipment. At the same time, the limit for the phase out of the deduction was increased to $2,000,000 from $800,000.
  • Extended Net Operating Loss Carryback Period - The number of prior yearís taxes that can potentially be recovered by carrying back a current year loss was increased to as much as 5 years. During a year of tough economic hurdles, this change can provide needed cash flow relief if 2010 was a year of losses.
  • Standard Mileage Rates Adjusted for 2010 - Business owners using their vehicle for company business can deduct 50 cents per mile driven on their 2010 tax return. The rate has also been set for 2011 at 51 cents per mile. The rate for medical miles driven was 16.5 cents per mile for 2010 and 19 cent per mile for 2011, while charitable miles use the rate of 14 cents per mile for both years.
  • Contribution Limits for IRAs and Other Retirement Plans - Where an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple's income is between $167,000 and $177,000.
  • Increase in Start-Up Expense Deduction - For 2010, the current deductible amount of new business start-up expenses was increased to $10,000 from $5,000. Any additional amounts must be expensed ratably over not less than 180 months.
  • AMT Exemption Increased for 2010 - For tax year 2010, the Alternative Minimum Tax exemption for a married couple filing a joint return is $72,450, and $47,450 for single filers. The AMT has also been determined for 2011, $74,450 for a joint return and $48,450 for single return.
  • Payroll Tax Cut for 2011 - Beginning January 1, 2011, the employee's part of the OASDI portion of Social Security tax was decreased from 6.2% to 4.2%, on the first $106,800 paid to each employee. For the small business owner, the OASDI portion of Self Employment Tax was decreased from 12.4% to 10.4%.

Individuals who are unable to pay the tax that they owe with the return still have some options. It is important that the return still be filed on time even if the full amount due cannot be paid. Consider including IRS form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, which will provide additional time to meet the tax obligation. Contacting the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 as soon as possible if additional tax payment difficulties arise is the best advice.

In preparation for the filing deadline, self-employed business owners can turn to Hall and other qualified CPAs for help through NASE's TaxTalk program here. While there, they can submit a tax question and browse the TaxTalk resource library.

Find out more information about these and other tax law changes for the 2010 tax season at

President, Congress Ready For State Of The Union

The state of the union is set for Jan. 25. It is being watched for signs of how much President Obama is willing to work with Republicans on a variety of issues, but chiefly on economic policy and on policies to reduce national debt. The speech will set the agenda and tone for the rest of 2011 as the White House and Congress focus on what both say is their primary goal: job creation. The NASE would like to see the president touch upon what can be done to help the self-employed continue to build their businesses efficently and without the onerous red tape of the 1099 increased information reporting.

As is customary, the President's budget is expected in early February.

The NASE will watch the speech and keep you informed about any small business matters mentioned therein.

House GOP Taking Up Health Repeal Again

After the holiday recess, the House GOP is set to take up the health repeal vote this week, according to a spokesperson for Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

"As the White House noted, it is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end, we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill next week," Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said.

"Americans have legitimate concerns about the cost of the new health care law and its effects on the ability to grow jobs in our country. It is our expectation that the debate will continue to focus on those substantive policy differences," he added.

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