close this bookVolume 2: No. 06
View the documentNews -- computer industry
View the documentNews -- funded research
View the documentDiscussion -- career news
View the documentNews -- job opportunities
View the documentNews -- new journals
View the documentNews -- AAAI and journals calls
View the documentComputists -- David Lewis, Larry Bookman
View the documentI'd like to welcome two new members
View the documentDiscussion -- taxes
View the documentResource -- home business computers
View the documentResource -- legal software

If you have only five or ten items to record, you can do your U.S. tax forms yourself. With up to 20 pieces of information, H&R Block's average fee of $51 may be a good deal. For $100 to $200 you can have an enrolled agent do your taxes, and for $500 your CPA can do them. Keep in mind that Money Magazine's annual survey typically finds 50 different answers from 50 preparers, differing by as much as $2K. [Jerry Morgan, Newsday. SF Chronicle, 2/3.] If you want clerical help with a simple return, there are about 200 tax-preparation programs retailing for $50 to $75. Top-selling PC programs include TurboTax, TaxCut, EZTax, Your Income Tax, and Tax Edge. [Ken Siegmann, ibid.]

Barron's has recently published a series of readable financial guides. I don't have a list, but the 133 p. Keys to Surviving a Tax Audit is only $4.95. (516) 434-3311. [Jill Andresky Fraser, Inc., 1/92.]

The IRS allows you to write off $10,000 in capital equipment each year as a direct expense -- saving the hassle and expense of depreciating the equipment over several years. You can even carry excess capital costs -- those exceeding your income for the year, after taking out other expenses -- forward to be expensed out in the following year. Don't treat capital purchases as expenses if the equipment is likely to be converted to personal use -- Section 179 of Schedule C forces you to calculate the depreciation and pay taxes as if you had sold the asset. If you had depreciated the asset to begin with, you would not have to pay additional taxes until you sold the equipment to someone else. [, 8/27.] (The rules covering depreciation are very difficult to interpret, so consult your accountant.)

If you're employed and take a home office deduction for part of the week, it's supposed to be for your employer's convenience rather than your own. Get a letter from your boss saying that your corporate office is used by someone else on those days. If you're self-employed, combining outside rent expense with a home office deduction is likely to trigger IRS suspicion. And if you use the home office to moonlight, the IRS won't allow a deduction unless it's your principal income. Keep records, pay your cleaning service by check (instead of cash), and check with an accountant if you plan to sell your home and office during the coming year. [Joan Warner, BW, 1/13.]