Here are answers from members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants to readers' tax questions. The Sun will publish answers through April 15.
Q: Is there a limitation on temporary housing costs of $1,500? If costs exceed that amount, is the excess amount allowed to be carried over into the subsequent year as a deductible item? Are temporary housing costs part of moving expenses?
A: For years up to and including 1993, temporary housing costs incurred as job-related moving expenses are deductible, subject to certain limitations. Temporary housing costs are grouped with house-hunting costs, which are limited to $1,500, and this amount may be further limited by qualified real estate expenses. If the temporary housing costs were due to a temporary job, the costs may be fully deductible. By the way, temporary housing costs cannot be carried over and will not be deductible as moving expenses after 1993.
Q: Is there a standard listing of deductions that you can take for clothing or things that you would donate to charitable organizations?
A: The Internal Revenue Service does not have a standard listing of deductions for contributions of property to charitable organizations. The fair market value of used clothing and household goods, such as furniture and appliances, is far less than the original cost. The fair market value is the price at which used property would change between a buyer and seller in used stores, such as thrift or consignment shops.
The above advice is for general purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting or tax advice. Specific situations may vary. Consult with a tax adviser for specific advice.
Readers may submit questions by phone, mail or fax. Selected questions will be answered in The Sun and The Evening Sun.
To ask a tax question by phone, call Sundial at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County call 268-7736, in Harford County 836-5028, and in Carroll County 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, enter 6120 after you hear the greeting.
Written queries may be sent to TAX QUESTIONS, The Baltimore Sun, Business News Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Fax questions to the Business News Department at (410) 783-2517.