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The U.S. Supreme Court just wrapped up its 2016 term. This spring, the top court published several opinions that will affect businesses, including cases that provide an ERISA exemption for church plans and clarify federal guidance on patents, copyrights, bankruptcy priority, and the statute of limitation for disgorgements from the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the 2017 term, a case regarding online sales and use tax charges could take center stage.

Taxpayers who engage in an unincorporated sideline outside of their regular day jobs must understand the differences in the tax treatment of hobbies and for-profit business activities. Here's an overview of the hobby loss rules, along with a recent U.S. Tax Court case that disallowed a taxpayer's claim that his loss from organizing film festivals should be classified as a for-profit business activity.

The U.S. Tax Court recently ruled that a professional hockey team's pregame meals to players and personnel at out-of-town hotels qualified as a "de minimis" fringe benefit. Therefore, the cost of the meals wasn't subject to the 50% limitation under the tax code. Here are the details of this case, which could have implications for businesses in the sports, entertainment and other industries.

In some cases involving activities with more than one co-owner, it may be desirable to avoid partnership status for federal income tax purposes. Fortunately, there are ways around being taxed as a partnership and there's a key Tax Court decision that you can use to determine whether your multi-owner activity must be classified as a partnership.

Mistakes happen. Fortunately, you can submit an amended return if you notice an error on a previously filed individual return. Claims for refunds must be filed on a timely basis. On the other hand, taxpayers who underpaid their taxes may owe interest and penalties on top of their additional tax liability. Here's guidance on amending federal returns and dealing with past-due taxes in a cost-effective manner.

Do you work from home? You might be able to claim a home office deduction if part of your home is used for business purposes. Thanks to a tax law change in 2013, there are now two methods for claiming this deduction: actual expenses vs. the simplified method. Here's how the deduction works, including specific requirements and types of costs that may qualify for the deduction.

Qualified small businesses have a new option for using their research tax credits: They can now elect to apply their credit to the Social Security tax portion of their federal payroll tax liabilities. That may come in handy for smaller start-ups with significant research expenses and little or no profits. Here are the details of recent IRS guidance on how to take advantage of this special privilege.

It's popular for property owners in certain markets to rent out their former residences. Doing so generates income that's largely offset by tax deductions and allows you to potentially participate in the property's future appreciation in value. Before making the home-to-rental conversion, however, it's important to understand the special and sometimes confusing tax rules that apply when the property is rented and eventually sold.

Mobile apps and online platforms have revolutionized the way many businesses offer services to consumers. Examples of the so-called "Gig" are widespread from ride sharing and vacation rentals to on-demand housekeeping and legal advice. If you decide to jump on the sharing economy bandwagon, it's important to understand the tax rules for recognizing income, making estimated payments and deducting legitimate business expenses.

Corporations that make payments to shareholders beware: The IRS may challenge deductions claimed for certain business expenses and other related-party transactions. An inquiry could lead to reclassification of certain payments as constructive dividends, which could have unfavorable tax consequences for the company and its shareholders. Here's a recent Tax Court case that highlights this contentious issue.

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