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I worked on this case for over two years. How is the income taxed? Should we file separate tax returns or jointly? What can I do to minimize the tax consequences?

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SCENARIO

John Smith - I worked on this case for over two years. The jury awarded my client $2,000,000 in damages, of which my fee was $300,000 plus recovery of expenses paid up front in the amount of $25,000. How is the $300,000 taxed? What about the $25,000? What can I do to minimize the tax consequences of each? Also, I am thinking about buying the building that I currently lease my office space in. My current lease is $3,500 per month. How is this lease reported on my income tax returns (either personally or for my business which is a separate law practice established as an LLC)? Do I get better tax benefits for paying the lease or for buying the building? What are the differences?

Jane Smith - I think that the fees would be better used for paying off our house and buying a new, bigger house that I've had my eye on. Does it make better tax sense for us to pay off the mortgage, sell the house, and buy a new house, or should we just use the money to buy the new house after selling the old house?

Also, I sell handcrafted jewelry which earned me $20,000 last year. Do my business activities constitute a trade or business for federal income tax purposes? Or, is this just a hobby? Should I establish a separate trade or business to get tax benefits on these earnings? Does it make any difference that I use my car primarily for transporting my jewelry to different shops around town? Finally, I think I can earn more money if John were willing to invest $15,000 for new jewelry making equipment since my original equipment, which cost $10,000 five years ago, is almost obsolete. Does this make sense from a tax perspective?

John and Jane Smith tax issue:

1. Should John and Jane file separate tax returns or jointly?

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Solution Preview

John Smith - I worked on this case for over two years. The jury awarded my client $2,000,000 in damages, of which my fee was $300,000 plus recovery of expenses paid up front in the amount of $25,000. How is the $300,000 taxed? What about the $25,000? What can I do to minimize the tax consequences of each? Also, I am thinking about buying the building that I currently lease my office space in. My current lease is $3,500 per month. How is this lease reported on my income tax returns (either personally or for my business which is a separate law practice established as an LLC)? Do I get better tax benefits for paying the lease or for buying the building? What are the differences?

Jane Smith - I think that the fees would be better used for paying off our house and buying a new, bigger house that I've had my eye on. Does it make better tax sense for us to pay off the mortgage, sell the house, and buy a new house, or should we just use the money to buy the new house after selling the old house?

Also, I sell handcrafted jewelry which earned me $20,000 last year. Do my business activities constitute a trade or business for federal income tax purposes? Or, is this just a hobby? Should I establish a separate trade or business to get tax benefits on these earnings? Does it make any difference that I use my car primarily for transporting my jewelry to different shops around town? Finally, I think I can earn more money if John were willing to invest $15,000 for new jewelry making equipment since my original equipment, which cost $10,000 five years ago, is almost obsolete. Does this make sense from a tax perspective?

John and Jane Smith tax issue:

1. Should John and Jane file separate ...

Solution Summary

This solution addresses each question in the posting for a total of 572 words.

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