Archive for the ‘Personal Finance’ Category

Home Office – Why Mitt Romney Do Not Have One

February 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Mitt and Ann Romney released their 2010 tax return last week. After examining, we can find Mitt Romneymany tax saving strategies:

  • No (or the least possible) payroll tax – avoid income such as salary, wages and tips;
  • Maximize qualified dividend – capital gain tax is 15%;
  • Harvest capital loss – the loss could offset capital gain and carry forward indefinitely;
  • Maximize charitable contribution – cash and non-cash and carry forward for 5 years;
  • Minimize AMT tax – relatively large deductions could trigger AMT tax.

Certainly, I have not exhausted every strategies Romney explored. Yet, one noticeable deduction he did not claim is the home office deduction. The possible reason could be

  • A set of tests need to be satisfied – IRS Tax Tip 2011-53 listed six things to check;
  • Records keeping – it’s tedious, but it’s the best defense available for IRS audit;
  • Complication with home sale or exchange – he may not get full benefit of gain exclusion.

The deduction also waves red flag in the face of IRS when

  • tests are partly satisfied due to confusion;
  • records could not be substantiated.

Most taxpayers want every deduction possible, and those with Schedule C often ask for home office deduction. Yet, through my experience, I know that optimizing part of tax return does not always lead to total tax saving. It depends on each situation.

Based on information available and cost & benefit factors, I think team Romney made a wise decision to skip the hustle and cut audit risk.

Mitt and Ann Romney 2010 Tax return

Categories: Personal Finance
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