How Kindness & Compassion Can Reduce Company Turnover

(Forbes Magazine – December 9, 2019)

Rob Dube – (He  writes about leadership, business, and meditation.

Employee retention and happiness is often a top priority for many organizations. In today’s job market, a low turnover rate has become more critical—and more difficult—than ever. 

To keep their teams intact, employers increasingly rely on professional growth, salary, benefits, and even foosball tables to earn long-lasting loyalty. However, as great as these perks are, these days, they are simply a ticket to the game. The modern workplace must-haves. 

Ok. Maybe not the foosball table. But, if the other essentials aren’t enough, how can a company succeed at holding onto their best people? According to Leah Weiss, Ph.D., retention really starts with a company that prioritizes kindness, compassion, and empathy—most notably from those on top. As a Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer, researcher, and author of How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind, Leah has focused her studies on compassionate leadership, and the positive effect it has on organizations. She also helped to develop Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training, which was initially conceived by the Dalai Lama.

Through Leah’s discoveries and research, find out why simple acts of kindness within the workplace decrease turnover, increase loyalty, and can even boost your bottom line.

A More Compassionate Company Culture

“The costs of an organization where people are not deeply committed [to compassion] far outweigh what the investment would have been to help.” — Leah Weiss, PhD

Most organizations do strive to show their team appreciation. Maybe it’s shown in the form of holiday parties, happy hours, or bonus programs. These symbols of gratitude are wonderful, but is it truly showing compassion? Or, are these perks merely fill-ins for more authentic human connections?

Too often, leaders are so busy that they fail to genuinely acknowledge their employees’ real emotions. “It’s a common mistake,” says Leah. “It’s a very human mistake, but it is not a smart mistake to make as a leader.”

By failing to recognize those emotions, it won’t be long until team members flee to a company that treats them like people. “They’re going to rethink all the times they stayed late, put in time on the weekend, and gave it their all,” Leah says. “But at the moment they need you, you’re not there.” 

They gave you loyalty. Where’s yours? 

It’s pivotal for leaders to show authenticity, empathy, and compassion towards every person that they lead. Engage in honest conversations. Support your employees during difficult times. Show some flexibility. These small gestures on your part can mean everything. 

“If you don’t extend resources to them to support them,” says Leah, “They’re going to have an experience of you as a leader—and of your organization—that’s negative.”

Especially in today’s connected world, we all know how easy it is for criticism to spread fast. Once word gets around that your company doesn’t reciprocate loyalty, expect for engagement, retention, and your overall reputation to sink. 

“You can skip over ‘compassion’ and say, ‘I don’t have time to worry about all this,'” Leah says. “But it’s going to come back and bite you.” 

Start Integrating Empathy into the Workplace

Be kind to your employees. Easy enough, right?

Not necessarily—especially if your goal is to incorporate these practices throughout your company and make it last. This will take intention, thought, and time.

First off, clarify your intentions. Why do you want to create a more compassionate work culture? Just like every leader, team, and business differs, so too will this answer. “It’s easy to say I’m too busy to touch base with intention,” says Leah, “but cut that corner at your own peril. If you don’t have clarity about your plans, how can you know where you’re going?”

Leah suggests checking in with your values surrounding compassion and empathy. “How have they played out in your history and narrative,” she says? “What do we feel like when we’re out of alignment with our values physically, mentally, and emotionally?” 

Use these observations as fuel when making decisions regarding compassion. By looking back and within, you can tap into your own emotions. How did you feel when faced with a similar obstacle? What did your superiors do? Should you handle it differently?  

Next, take a step back and focus on your company’s true purpose. “We need a purpose to be healthy and happy,” says Leah. “It’s not a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have.”

She uses the healthcare industry as an example. There, the purpose isn’t about prescribing medications, taking measurements, or booking appointments. It’s about helping patients live happier and healthier lives. 

Once again, it goes back to finding compassion for other people.   

This takes reminding your team, and yourself, about your company’s purpose. Typically, this involves bringing empathy into the bigger picture. What does your business do to make your customers’ lives even just a little bit better? How does each individual contribute to making this a reality? 

With a reinvigorated sense of purpose, expect you and your team will feel more engaged than ever.

Spend More Time With Yourself

Compassionate leadership isn’t always easy. Life gets stressful. Sometimes, extending compassion does feel like too much to handle.

That being said, as leaders, our actions matter. We must mentally and physically show up for our team as often as possible. And by caring for ourselves, we can be at our best in caring for others. 

Leah says silence, space, and introspection are her three favorite ways to periodically unplug from her daily rigors and gift valuable time to herself.

“I think silence is the most under-appreciated resource, especially in a time when we’re so busy,” she says. “There’s constant pressure to consume and stay on top of information. We need to be aware of the power of attending to our inner experience with greater intimacy and precision.”

But if you’re not used to regularly checking in with yourself, where do you begin?

Leah suggests finding a few minutes during the day—perhaps first thing in the morning, while exercising, or on the commute home—to power every device off and reflect inwards without distraction.  

If you prefer something more structured, meditation is also an incredible practice that more high-level leaders like Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, and Marc Benioff have embraced. Thanks to apps like Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer, it’s easier than ever to start a meditation practice of your own.

Leah also suggests trying a mindful meditation retreat. Unlike a daily meditation practice, retreats allow for participants to fully escape from the world’s distractions and immerse themselves in mindfulness. It’s the best way to give your mind the uninterrupted space to think, reflect, and grow.

“Instead of filling up space with noise and input,” Leah says, “you can start to see what’s happening. You’re more aware of your own physical, emotional, and cognitive patterns.” Then, you can take everything you’ve discovered, bring it home, and use it when it matters most.

She recognizes that retreats, meditation practices, and self-care can require personal and financial investments—something that already causes many leaders anxiety. “But,” she says, “part of us knows we need them, and they might benefit us massively.”

Even if you’re still on the fence, why not take a chance and give it a try?

“Take it as an experiment,” Leah says. “Do the thing and thoughtfully put everything you can into it. Then, reflect on whether it was worth it. Maybe it will be a one-time experiment.

“Or maybe it’ll unlock a whole set of life experiences that you would’ve otherwise denied yourself.”

Listen to Rob’s entire conversation with Dr. Leah Weiss on the do nothing podcast

You’ll learn more about how she started studying kindness and compassion, what other leadership strategies she loves, why compassion can make you physically healthier and so much more.

Will You Be Prepared for the Next Recession?

What to Expect and How to Prepare for a Recession 

Economists generally determine that our country has fallen into a recession after two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth. Since 1967, the United States has experienced seven recessions.

The thing is, predicting a recession is a little like predicting a tornado. Experts are never exactly sure if or when one will occur, but they can cite when conditions a ripe for one based past experience. The good news for predictors is that the economy follows a similar pattern of indicators in the months leading up to a recession.

The bad news is that many of those indicators have recently emerged. For example:

  • Inverted Yield Curve – This is when the yield on longer-term Treasury bonds is lower than the yield on shorter-term Treasury bonds, which happened recently for the first time since 2007. On average, an inverted yield curve has occurred 14 months in advance of every recession in the past 50 years.
  • Corporate Profits – Estimates for corporate earnings growth have dropped substantially since last year, from 7.6 percent to 2.3 percent.
  • Global Trade – The ongoing U.S. trade war with China has resulted in weakness in the manufacturing and farming industries. Moreover, global trade volume is also down, which further reduces the market for U.S.-manufactured goods.

What to Expect in a Recession

The worst recession in U.S. history was the most recent one, between 2007 and 2009. Dubbed the Great Recession, it was short (compared to the Great Depression of 1929-1939) but it took a powerful toll on a large chunk of the population. For example, close to half of U.S. households lost at least 25 percent of their net worth; one out of every four households lost at least 75 percent of their net worth.

About one-third of households experienced one or more of the following:

  • Fell more than two months behind on their mortgage
  • Had their home foreclosed
  • Had their home equity drop into negative territory
  • Lost a job

That was a bad recession. Fortunately, while economists are seeing signs of another one on the horizon, as of now (absent any significant shocks) they do not expect it to be as severe.

Tips to Prepare for a Recession

With multiple warning signs evident, it appears we do have some time before a recession potentially hits. It’s a good idea to use this time to protect your financial situation to help minimize any impact that a recession can have on you personally. The following are some tips to consider.

Shore Up Your FinancesStart by reducing your debt as much as possible, particularly any accounts exposed to a variable interest rate. The interest on credit cards and home equity lines of credit have a habit of increasing when you can least afford it. If you have a variable rate mortgage you might want to refinance at today’s low fixed mortgage rates so your monthly payments do not increase. One way to generate a robust savings fund is to temporarily suspend contributions to a retirement plan and save that money in a readily available account.

Minimize Household ExpensesMost people have to cut back on household expenses during a recession, so you might as well start now to help you prepare. For example, consider trading in a gas-guzzling car for one with better gas mileage and lower monthly payments, or pull the plug on cable TV and switch to a streaming service. Deploying these cost-reduction strategies now not only reduces your expenses during a recession but will also help contribute to your savings fund.

In many areas of the country, real estate prices are at the top of the market. It might be worth considering selling your house now while you can get a good price. This will give you a pot of cash to sit on during the recession, which is especially helpful if you lose your job. In fact, after the sale you may consider renting until real estate prices drop and you can purchase another home at a good price – and maintain a healthy cache of savings. This strategy could also save you from raiding your investment portfolio for money – helping protect your future financial security.

Protect Your Investment PortfolioTake a good look at your portfolio and give it a recession stress test. Consider reallocating some funds to options that tend to perform reliably during an economic decline, such as:

  • Government bonds
  • Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)
  • Corporate Inflation-Protected Securities (CIPS)
  • Consumer staples stocks
  • Well-established dividend stocks
  • Fixed Income Annuity (FIA)

Recognize that it is generally not a good idea to completely cash out of the market. The best way to accumulate wealth over time is to stay invested regardless of temporary economic declines. In fact, investors who maintained their market positions between 2007 and 2017 experienced an average 240 percent growth rate.

Once the recession has ended, think about rebalancing your portfolio to realign its strategic asset allocation with your investment objectives and timeline. This allows you to cash in on outperforming assets and buy into depressed securities that could be poised for post-recession growth.

专业的会计师、税务顾问不会让国税局IRS找你的麻烦

 

与新客户初次会面时,经常会被问及我所是一间有多“进取”的会计师事务所。在这情况下,我们一定会做出这样的回应:“在法律允许的范围内,我们会采取一切的方法,确保客户向国税局支付最低的税额。”同时,我们也会明确表示 :当我们有理由怀疑客户所提供的报税资料没有确实凭证时,我们就会拒绝为他们服务。为什么?因为专业会计师的职责是确保客户不会在税务上招麻烦。

要精确的报税需要准备很多的数据材料及凭证。商业报税需要准备的数据信息更为繁复,所以偶尔难免会有遗漏,这种情况是可以理解接受的。但那些故意将个人开支作为业务支出,且没有按实际收支记录入账的刻意隐瞒虚报行为就是违法的。我们也有遇到客户在申报年度税时,所提供的年度财务数据是随意编造的。当他们知道用这些虚假数据计算出来的应付税款高于预期时,就会说还有其他商业支出没有记录入账。如果违规报税被国税局审计,那么省下的税钱瞬间变成一场噩梦。因为他们不仅要缴纳应付政府的税款,还要支付相应的罚款和利息,并可能会面临以欺诈而产生的刑事指控!

以下是一个真实案例:

在康涅狄格州,有一个拥有三家餐馆的32岁老板承认在2013至2015纳税年度期间隐瞒欺骗应付税款达$122,000美元。该商人被控协助和提交虚假税务申报表,认罪后最高可判处三年有期徒刑,最高罚款$250,000美元,并需将所欠税款完全归还国税局。

以下是这位商人的瞒税手法:

  • 把营业现金收入从收银柜台取走,并没有存入餐馆的银行账户。
  • 所聘记账员和会计师只能通过银行记录来计算业务总收入,被拿走而未存入银行账户的现金并没有申报给国税局。
  • 以现金方式支付员工部分或全部工资,并没有把这些现金支付的工资税如实申报缴纳。
  • 用收取的现金支付各项开支并且从不将这些收支入账,这样就减少向国税局申报的收入,从而减少需缴纳税款。

这位商人自以为避税的好方法,在被查到后,除了需要缴纳所欠税款外,还要额外支付罚款和超过$50,000美元的利息。

收取现金及用现金支付商业开支是合法的,但是必需要如实记录入账。如果您的朋友,甚至是专业的税务顾问告诉您只要是现金收支是可以不入账的,这样就可以减少应付税款。请您不要相信这是一个省税的好方法。每位专业的税务从业者都必须遵守财务部发表的第230公告(Treasury Department Circular),其中 10.21指出:“税务从业者是有责任告知客户,若在税表中提供不合规、错误或遗漏准确真实的数据,所带来严重的后果。”税务顾问有责任向客户解释税法法规并协助他们遵守法律条例。

所以您如果需要寻找专业的会计师、税务顾问来协助您处理有关税务问题,必须选择一位能以诚信为基础的税务从业者来帮助您避免招惹税务上的麻烦。其实最佳的节税方法就是按税法规定和标准来做税务规划,这样您就能“岁税不忧”。

潘汉高会计师事务所

若有任何意见和查询,欢迎致电801-559-7730.  邮件地址:lchan@phgcpas.com

Quick Action May Save You Hundreds of Dollars in Tax Savings

Prepaying Qualified Deductions in 2017 May Save You Hundreds of Dollars in Taxes!!

Now that the tax bill has passed both the house and the senate, it will soon be signed by the president and become the law of the land.  Now that we have information regarding the final version there are some things even middle-income taxpayers who itemize may consider doing before year end. 

The standard deductions have increased from $6,350 to $12,000 and $12,700 to $24,000 for single and joint filers, respectively.  By moving payments for medical bills, state and local income taxes, property taxes, and/or charitable contributions to 2017, you could save taxes.

For example, let’s assume you file jointly and currently have itemized deductions of $14,000 for 2017.  Because the standard deduction for 2017 is $12,700, you can use IRS Form Schedule A to increase your deductions by $1,300 ($14,000 – $12,700).  If you are in the 15% tax bracket, your federal tax savings is $195 ($1,300 x 15%).  Remember that in 2018 you will have a standard deduction of $24,000.  If your itemized deductions are under $24,000, it gives you no benefit to use Form Schedule A because it is to your advantage to take the standard deduction.  Let’s assume you had the ability to pay for charitable contributions and/or property taxes you would normally pay in 2018 in 2017.  In this example we will assume you prepaid $2,000 in charitable contributions and $1,500 in property taxes that you would have normally paid in 2018 by December 31, 2017.  By doing so, you would be able to save an additional $525 in federal income taxes in 2017.  Those same deductions would give you no benefit in 2018 because the standard deduction is being increased by $11,300.  Paying those amounts in 2018 would do nothing to decrease your tax liability.  By prepaying those charitable contributions and property taxes in 2017, you get a 15% return on your money (tax savings of $525).

So, if your itemized deductions for 2017 exceed the standard deduction but will not likely exceed the standard deduction of $24,000 in 2018, it could be to your advantage to prepay medical expenses, income and property taxes, and charitable contributions to enjoy a one-time tax savings that could mean hundreds of dollars of tax savings.

Five Things to Know about Estimated Taxes and Withholding

Five Things to Know about

Estimated Taxes and Withholding

(IRS Tax Tip 2017-70)

With 10 million taxpayers a year facing estimated tax penalties, the IRS offers some simple tips to help prevent a surprise at tax time.

People pay taxes on income through withholding on their paycheck or through estimated tax payments. Taxpayers who pay enough tax throughout the year can avoid a large tax bill and penalties when they file their return.

Taxpayers should make estimated tax payments if:

  • The tax withheld from their income does not cover their tax for the year.
  • They have income without withholdings. Some examples are interest, dividends, alimony, self-employment income, capital gains, prizes or awards.

Here are five actions taxpayers can take to avoid a large bill and estimated tax penalties when they file their return. They can:

  • Use Form 1040-ES. Individuals, sole proprietors, partners and S corporation shareholders can use  this form to figure estimated tax. This form helps someone calculate their expected income, taxes, deductions and credits for the year. They can then figure their estimated tax payments.  
  • Use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. This tool helps users figure how much money their employer should withhold from their pay so they don’t have too much or too little tax withheld. The results from the calculator can also help them fill out their Form W-4. Taxpayers whose income isn’t paid evenly throughout the year, can check Publication 505 instead of the calculator.  
  • Have more tax withheld. Taxpayers with a regular paycheck can have more tax withheld from it. To do this, they must fill out a new Form W-4 and give it to their employer. This is a good option for taxpayers who participate in a sharing economy activity as a side job or part-time business.  
  • Use estimated payments to pay other taxes. Self-employed individuals can make estimated tax payments to pay both income tax and self-employment tax. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare.  
  • Use Form W-4P. Generally, pension and annuity plans withhold tax from retirees’ payments. Recipients of these payments can adjust their withholding using Form W-4P and give it to their payer.

Taxpayers Should Be Wary of Unsolicited Calls from the IRS

Taxpayers Should Be Wary of

Unsolicited Calls from the IRS

(IRS Tax Tip 2017-53)

Unsolicited Calls from the IRS

Taxpayers who get an unexpected or unsolicited phone call from the IRS should be wary – it’s probably a scam. Phone calls continue to be one of the most common ways that thieves try to get taxpayers to provide personal information. These scammers then use that information to gain access to the victim’s bank or other account. 

When a taxpayer answers the phone, it might be a recording or an actual person claiming to be from the IRS. Sometimes the scammer tells the taxpayer they owe money and must pay right away. They might also say the person has a refund waiting, and then they ask for bank account information over the phone.

Taxpayers should not take the bait and fall for this trick. Here are several tips that will help taxpayers avoid becoming a scam victim.

The real IRS will not:

  • Call to demand immediate payment
  • Call someone if they owe taxes without first sending a bill in the mail
  • Demand tax payment and not allow the taxpayer to question or appeal the amount owed
  • Require that someone pay their taxes a certain way, such as with a prepaid debit card
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other agencies to arrest a taxpayer who doesn’t pay
  • Threaten a lawsuit

Taxpayers who don’t owe taxes or who have no reason to think they do should follow these steps:

  • Use the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page to report the incident.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission with the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. 
  • Taxpayers who think they might actually owe taxes should follow these steps:
  • Ask for a call back number and an employee badge number.
  • Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

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How to Protect Yourself from the Equifax Data Breach

How to Protect Yourself from the Equifax Data Breach

The massive Equifax breach means consumers need to be on guard against data thieves. The credit-rating company hack earlier this year left approximately 143 million people’s personal information exposed and vulnerable. Here are the steps you take to help protect yourself in the wake of this event.

1)      Determine the exposure of your information: Go to Equifax”s website here and follow the instructions provided. You’ll need your Social Security number handy to complete the check and to tell if you”ve been impacted by the breach.

2)      Enroll for free credit monitoring: Regardless of exposure, consumers who have information under Equifax are entitled to free credit monitoring for one year, along with other monitoring and protective services. You can learn more about what is available here.

3)      Monitor your credit reports and accounts for unusual activity: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three major credit reporting companies, are required to supply you with a credit report free of charge once every 12 months. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request them. Once you have the reports, monitor them to ensure there are no unauthorized accounts, incorrect personal information or credit inquiries you didn’t initiate. These are signs of fraud and you should follow up on them to ensure you weren’t the victim of identity theft.

4)      Consider implementing a credit freeze: If you see suspicious activity or are highly concerned, you can place a credit freeze to help deter an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name. Visit the consumer information section of the Federal Trade Commission website to learn more about credit freezes and how to activate one.

5)      Set up fraud alerts: Fraud alerts require potential creditors to verify your identity before they can open an account, issue a new card or increase a credit limit. Remember that fraud alerts won’t necessarily prevent identity theft, but they will make it much harder for someone with your personal information to use it.

 

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Job Search Expenses Can be Tax Deductible

Job Search Expenses

Can be Tax Deductible

(IRS Tax Tip 2017-24)

Taxpayers who are looking for a new job that is in the same line of work may be able to deduct some job-hunting expenses on their federal income tax return, even if they don’t get a new job.

Here are some important facts to know about deducting costs related to job searches:

  1. Same Occupation. Expenses are tax deductible when the job search is in a taxpayer’s current line of work. 
  2. Résumé Costs. Costs associated in preparing and mailing a résumé are tax deductible.
  3. Travel Expenses. Travel costs to look for a new job are deductible. Expenses including transportation, meals and lodging are deductible if the trip is mainly to look for a new job. Some costs are still deductible even if looking for a job is not the main purpose of the trip.
  4. Placement Agency. Job placement or employment agency fees are deductible.
  5. Reimbursed Costs. If an employer or other party reimburses search related expenses, like agency fees, they are not deductible.
  6. Schedule A. Report job search expenses on Schedule A of a 1040 tax return and claim them as miscellaneous deductions. The total miscellaneous deductions cannot be more than two percent of adjusted gross income.

Taxpayers can’t deduct these expenses if they:

  • Are looking for a job in a new occupation,
  • Had a substantial break between the ending of their last job and looking for a new one, or
  • Are looking for a job for the first time.

Starting Your Own Business

Six Simple Steps to Consider when

Starting A Business

Starting A BusinessOwning a business is a dream that can become a nightmare without adequate planning. But if you follow some simple steps, a business can be a satisfying and lucrative venture. The following are six steps you can take to ensure that your business idea has a chance to succeed.

 

1) Evaluate Your Personality

Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. Are you driven to be in business despite the inherent risks? Or do you prefer regular hours and the certainty of a steady paycheck? If the latter describes you, owning your own business might not be your cup of tea. Are you willing to work hard? Do you thrive on risk? Are you self disciplined? Think carefully about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and understand the risks; only you can choose the right course for you.

On the other hand, an uncertain job market can create new entrepreneurs out of necessity. If you can’t find the right job, making your own job is an option.

2) Get Professional Advice

The Small Business Administration and an organization called SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) are among the organizations that offer free resources for entrepreneurs. Make full use of the resources available to ensure you get the best possible advice about starting your business.  Also, meet with business attorneys and tax consultants (CPAs) to get questions answered about starting your business.

3) Find a Good Idea

Every business idea requires thought and research, even those that strike you with a sudden burst of inspiration. No matter how excited you are about your idea, it must meet a demand or solve a problem in the marketplace. As you’re brainstorming for ideas, ask yourself:

  • Does my product or service solve a problem or fill a need?
  • Does it improve upon an existing product or service?
  • If my product or service is similar to one already being offered, can I do a better job of selling it than my competition?

Whether your idea springs naturally from a hobby or requires intense brainstorming and research, find something that interests you, that you are passionate about and that you can sell.

4) Do Your Market Research

Once you have identified an idea, get some feedback from potential customers to make sure it’s viable. Search online for similar or identical businesses. Can you compete with others on price? Is there room for your idea in the marketplace?

Present your product or service to potential prospects to see how many would buy it and at what price. However you choose to test your idea, this step could save you time, money and disappointment. Market testing will not only reveal your idea’s potential, but it will also help you learn about your customers. Knowing your buyers makes it easier to target your marketing efforts.

5) Write a Business Plan

A written business plan makes it easier to take your new business from concept to reality. And if you need funding from lenders or investors, a business plan is essential. Even if you don’t need financing, writing a business plan will force you to do your research and help you establish the details of your new business, including sales and marketing goals, expenses, business structure, target markets, sales channels, anticipated profits, competitive analysis and much more. If you need help, the Small Business Administration offers free business plan writing resources.

6) Find Your Financing

Depending on the type of business you choose, you may or may not require outside financing, but you should expect to invest some capital to get started. Online businesses will probably require a smaller investment than a brick-and-mortar store, which requires a building, utilities and other overhead expenses. You might need to buy inventory, pay for website development or hire employees.

Besides the standard funding sources, such as small business loans, your sources of capital can come from “bootstrapping” (personal savings, income from a job, credit cards, etc.), loans from friends, venture capital or even online “crowdfunding,” which allows you to solicit very small investments from many sources, minimizing risk for any single investor and saving you the hassle of loan applications.

Get Started!  There are many other elements to consider, such as business tax structure, location, business name, licenses, permits and others, and a good business plan will cover all of these details.

Starting a business can be a long, complex process, but if you lay the proper groundwork, you can save yourself time and money and ensure yourself the best possible chance of success.

Divorce or Separation May Affect Taxes

Divorce Taxes

(IRS Tax Tip 2017-23)

Taxpayers who are divorcing or recently divorced need to consider the impact divorce or separation may have on their taxes. Alimony payments paid under a divorce or separation instrument are deductible by the payer, and the recipient must include it in income. Name or address changes and individual retirement account deductions are other items to consider.

IRS.gov has resources that can help along with these key tax tips:

  • Child Support Payments are not Alimony.  Child support payments are neither deductible nor taxable income for either parent.
  • Deduct Alimony Paid. Taxpayers can deduct alimony paid under a divorce or separation decree, whether or not they itemize deductions on their return. Taxpayers must file Form 1040; enter the amount of alimony paid and their former spouse’s Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
  • Report Alimony Received. Taxpayers should report alimony received as income on Form 1040 in the year received. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so it may be necessary to increase the tax paid during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, it is possible to make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from wages.
  • IRA Considerations. A final decree of divorce or separate maintenance agreement by the end of the tax year means taxpayers can’t deduct contributions made to a former spouse’s traditional IRA. They can only deduct contributions made to their own traditional IRA. For more information about IRAs, see Publications 590-A and 590-B.
  • Report Name Changes.  Notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) of any name changes after a divorce. Go to SSA.gov for more information. The name on a tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of a return and may delay a refund.

For more on this topic, see IRS Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals.