Get Started: IRS offers tax help to Louisiana businesses

Markets Associated Press

TAX RELIEF FOR LOUISIANA

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The IRS is offering tax help to residents and businesses in Louisiana's flood-damaged areas.

The government has extended until Jan. 17 the deadline for companies and individual taxpayers in declared disaster areas to file returns and make certain tax payments. The date applies to those who obtained an extension of the April 18 filing deadline for individual returns. That covers many company owners who report their business income on their personal 1040 returns.

The new deadline also applies to owners who make quarterly estimated tax payments. The next quarterly deadline had been Sept. 15.

Owners can learn more at the IRS website, www.irs.gov. Search for "Louisiana flood relief."

The IRS is also relaxing some of the requirements of many 401(k) and similar retirement plans to allow employees to take loans or make withdrawals against their accounts that might otherwise be prohibited. Employers that make the distributions won't be considered as not complying with the federal rules governing these accounts.

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The relief doesn't apply to all retirement accounts; employers should consult their plan administrators for more information.

More information is available on the IRS website.

SAGGING LOAN DEMAND

Small businesses cut back their borrowing in July, a reflection of their continuing caution amid a weak economy and uncertainty about the election. The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index fell 13 percent in July to 121.5 from June's 139.2. The index, compiled from PayNet's database of small business loans and leases, has fluctuated over the past year as the economy has weakened.

"The collective wisdom of millions of small business owners is to hold off on borrowing and investing in their businesses," said William Phelan, PayNet's president. The company compiles credit reports on small businesses.

WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

Time management can be a challenge for small businesses owners. They can get some tips on how to better budget their time at an online seminar sponsored by SCORE, the organization that offers free counseling to small businesses. It will be held Thursday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Learn more and register at http://tinyurl.com/hrzp4tj

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Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joyce-m-rosenberg