SmallBiz Vote
  • Tax deductions you shouldn’t try

    Tax accountants advise against trying to take a deduction for your dog's wardrobe

    Nobody knows better how to raise flags for an IRS audit than tax accountants. And boy do they have stories to tell. The online accounting software provider Xero surveyed its network of accounting partners to find out about the most ill-advised deductions small business owners have tried to take. They also asked accountants to point to deductions you might be missing out on.

    Out-of-pocket expenses and auto expenses, including gas, parking, and tolls, are the number one and two most overlooked small business deductions, according to Xero's online survey of 400 US accountants, conducted last month by Zogby Analytics. Also on the list of deductions business owners are prone to miss out on: depreciation, office improvements, and new hires.

    Among the strangest deductions accountants say they've seen small businesses try to take: family vacations, pets and pet food, deadbeat relatives, traffic tickets, spaghettios, a daughter's wedding, alcohol, clothes for the dog, and gambling losses.

    Read More »from Tax deductions you shouldn’t try
  • Simpler Small Business Tax Code Is Under Discussion

    Only one in ten small business owners file their taxes on their own, according to the IRS.

    If you’re among the 10 percent of small business owners who do your own taxes, take heart as you pull your hair out getting your forms in order this month: A simpler tax code is another step closer, and provisions aimed at small business are included.

    House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) this week released a third “discussion draft” of the Tax Reform Act of 2013. This version includes language aimed at creating a simpler and fairer tax code for small businesses.

    “Every dollar spent on complying with an overly complex, burdensome and broken tax code is a dollar that cannot be used for investment, hiring, and higher wages for American workers,” according to Camp’s statement. Camp also issued a Fact Sheet offering several reasons the tax code needs to be simplified, including that “Today’s tax code contains almost four million words,” and, “On average, more than one new tax provision has been added to the tax code each day, with nearly 4,500 changes in the last

    Read More »from Simpler Small Business Tax Code Is Under Discussion
  • House Dems predict sequester doom, gloom for small biz

    The sequester that went into effect on Friday will impose a nearly $60 million cut on the Small Business Administration, that, taken together with innovation-hindering cuts to education, science, and health budgets, will create an increasingly austere climate for small businesses, according to Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, a New York representative and ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Small Business.

    Velazquez and fellow Democrats on the committee issued a report today describing the “Impact of the Sequester on the SBA and Small Business.” SBA budget cuts will result in “reductions to small business services, loss of lending authority, reduced oversight of private-sector lending partners, and many other areas that help our nation’s small firms succeed,” according to their report.

    Among specific cuts they report:

    • $1.5 billion in SBA-guaranteed lending will be cut from the SBA’s $29.3 billion business lending program;
    • More than $17 million of a $335 million business lending
    Read More »from House Dems predict sequester doom, gloom for small biz
  • Tax day advice, and 6 tips for next year

    Six weekends remain before Tax Day, and advice for business owners abounds.

    Your first stop for getting clear about what exactly your tax obligations are and how to meet them, whether you’re a sole proprietor or independent contractor or a business with employees, should probably be the IRS Small Business and Self Employed Tax Center. There you can download the forms you will need and get help determining what taxes you need to pay.

    Then you’ll want to move along to all the advice that will help you minimize your tax bill.

    At the SCORE website, you can find out which common small business tax mistakes to avoid, such as tossing your receipts for purchases under $75. Or spend an hour in an online workshop to learn tax secrets to keep more of what you earn, presented by the president of the American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches, which also offers a plethora of tax advice articles and resources for business owners and free agents.

    The National Association for the Self Employed has

    Read More »from Tax day advice, and 6 tips for next year
  • Sequester’s threats to small business

    A 2.7 percent budget cut might seem trivial compared to what many small business owners have had to deal with during the recession. But reports about what such a slash to the federal budget would mean to small business owners are mostly dire. The cut is due March 1 if Congress does not come up with an alternative this week. Here's a roundup of media reports about how the sequester will impact small business:

    According to The New York Times' "You’re the Boss" blog:

    “The sequester would ... scale back programs at the SBA. According to the administration, loan guarantees would be reduced by $902 million, from $22 billion to just over $21 billion. And the agency told the Senate Appropriations Committee that cuts to its counseling programs would force the agency’s partners to turn away at least 33,000 business owners seeking assistance.”

    On a list of "Eight Ways the Sequester Could Ruin Your Life," The Daily Beast offered this warning:

    "Anyone with a small business should fear the

    Read More »from Sequester’s threats to small business
  • SBA’s Karen Mills to Step Down

    Just one year after her position was elevated to the Cabinet level, Small Business Administrator Karen Mills will step down, President Obama announced yesterday.

    In a statement, the President said:

    "Over the last four years, Karen has made it easier for small businesses to interact with the federal government by reducing paperwork and cutting through red tape. She has played a leading role in my Administration’s efforts to support start-ups and entrepreneurs. And she was instrumental in the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act. Because of Karen’s hard work and dedication, our small businesses are better positioned to create jobs and our entire economy is stronger."

    Mills joined the SBA job from a career in venture capital, where she had been known for supporting women entrepreneurs as managing director of Solera Capital. Most recently, she was president of MMP Group, a private equity firm.

    Politico observed that Mills's departure hints at a trend:

    "Mills's announcement marks yet

    Read More »from SBA’s Karen Mills to Step Down
  • New energy, new startups, new lessons. Small Business Reading for February 1, 2013

    newenergyWith the start of a new year many business owners get a boost of renewal and new energy. The trick is to sustain that energy for as long as possible. Some of our articles this week should help you do that. Our Startup Diaries series is written by real small business owners working away on starting and sustaining their new businesses. J. P.Sawyer talks about the lessons he learned in getting going. Chris Myers of Bode Tree also wrote about his three startup lessons. We looked at why you should get an insurance re-evaluation at the start of every year and how to boostrap your dream business in ten steps. And if you haven't taken the entreprenurial leap yet, here is how to handle job burnout.

    If you haven't taken the plunge yet, hopefully some of these articles give you the impetus to start your own business — and if you do, we have tools to help. Besides our domain name, web hosting and ecommerce products, we also have just added an innovative marketing dashboard that you can try for

    Read More »from New energy, new startups, new lessons. Small Business Reading for February 1, 2013
  • New portal solicits comments on small biz regs

    Telling legislators how their regulations affect your small business is now as easy as clicking here. The House Committee on Small Business yesterday unveiled Small Biz Reg Watch, a website that alerts users to proposed regulatory actions with consequences for small business. The site lists the regs, describes their impact on small businesses, and provides an easy-to-use comment section to gather input from the small business community within the comment period.

    Six regulations are presently described on the site—two from the IRS, two from the EPA, one from the Small Business Administration, and one from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and the Fish and Wildlife Administration. More than 250 individual comments have been posted by small business stakeholders.

    To be sure, an online portal for submitting public comments on proposed regulations already exists at Regulations.gov. Small Biz Reg Watch is linked to that portal, but highlights particular rules likely to impact

    Read More »from New portal solicits comments on small biz regs
  • Small businesses start year with sunny outlook: survey

    Small business owners are starting 2013 with a sunnier outlook than they ended 2012 with, according results of an online survey released on Friday.

    The quarterly Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business survey in early January found a significant jump in optimism among 601 small business owners since surveying a random sample of the group online in November. “Small-business owners as a group have returned to being essentially neutral about their current operating environment from being more pessimistic last November,” Gallup reported.

    Yet optimism is down overall among the group from a year ago, and business owners point to many reasons to remain worried about their business prospects. Gallup reports that:

    “More than half of U.S. small-business owners say healthcare costs and taxes on small businesses are hurting their operating environment ‘a lot,’ making these the top two concerns among eight issues tested ... They are followed by the price of energy, government regulations, and the federal

    Read More »from Small businesses start year with sunny outlook: survey
  • SBA site strives to streamline low-cost tech contracts

    The Small Business Administration has launched an online marketplace designed to simplify the way small tech businesses find and bid on small contracts with federal agencies. Innovative technology companies are invited to use RFP-EZ to create a company profile and bid on low-cost, high-impact jobs.

    According to SBA: “By simply creating a company profile on the beta site, each small business can search and bid for contracts relevant to its skill set. A small business can easily search for an opportunity, see a statement of work, and bid all within the RFP-EZ web interface.”

    At present, the site features four available contracts, all commissioned by the Small Business Administration with deadlines of February 4. The jobs are in database enhancement, database integration, web-based communications, and automated email communications.

    If the pilot phase of RFP-EZ proves successful, SBA says the program will be expanded to include more contracts for a more diverse group of innovative

    Read More »from SBA site strives to streamline low-cost tech contracts

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SmallBiz Vote discusses candidates, policy, and news of the 2012 U.S. elections from the perspective of business owners and entrepreneurs.

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