Q. AS AN EMPLOYEE, I AM REQUIRED TO USE MY CAR FOR BUSINESS AND THE GAS PRICES ARE HURTING ME FINANCIALLY. HOW CAN I GET TAX RELIEF?

A: As an employee, you are allowed to deduct your non-reimbursed auto, parking, travel and entertainment expenses on Form 2106 if you itemize your deductions. Unfortunately your total business expenses are reported on Schedule A as a miscellaneous deduction and thus 2 percent of your federal adjusted gross income reduces the amount deductible on Schedule A. The solution: Your employer can reimburse you the greater of your actual car expenses or 44.5 cents per mile if the employer implements an accountable expense reimbursement plan. In doing so, the employer may need to reduce your taxable compensation/bonus and can reimburse you for your car expenses tax-free, as well as other non-reimbursed business expenses.

Q. I OWN/MANAGE A PRIVATELY HELD COMPANY. AM I SUBJECT TO THE SARBANES-OXLEY ACT?

A: No. Although SOX has had a profound effect on public companies and the public accounting profession, there are no provisions extending to private companies. There is, however, heightened awareness regarding internal controls due to SOX and other business events. Many private firms are voluntarily adopting aspects of SOX, including thoroughly documenting their system of internal controls and testing those controls.

Q. I'M APPROACHING AGE 60. HOW DO I PREPARE FOR SELLING MY BUSINESS?

A: Foremost, your privately held company must be viewed as a desirable acquisition target. A strategic plan can help increase the value of your business. Think like a buyer: Is there a strong management team, what is the customer base, what do the audited financial statements show, and what other investments have been made to keep this company competitive? A strategic plan that prepares your business for sale can take at least three years, and it can help you realize your objectives.