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Showing posts from August, 2013

Check, Please! Deducting Reimbursed Meal Expenses

The IRS has clarified how the 50-percent limitation on deducting meal and entertainment expenses applies to reimbursement arrangements involving three-party situations (e.g., employee leasing companies) and to independent contractors. The new rules provide options for claiming these deductions and offer planning opportunities that should be explored with your tax advisors.

More from the Business Owner's Toolkit.

NYS Sales Tax Web File mandatory reporting requirements

Jurisdictional reporting of credits for Sales Tax Web File becomes mandatory for reporting periods beginning September 1, 2013.

For reporting periods beginning September 1, 2013, the Tax Department's Sales Tax Web File service will require vendors to report credit information on a jurisdictional basis. This means for each jurisdiction for which you report activity, you must now separately report your credits against taxable sales and purchases.

This requirement allows the proper amount of sales tax revenue to be distributed to the correct taxing jurisdictions.

Credit reporting features of the Sales Tax Web File service:

You need to report the taxable sales, purchases, and credit information for each jurisdiction and the Tax Department will compute the net amount of sales on which tax is due.

For reporting periods beginning September 1, 2013, you must make an entry in all fields for those jurisdictions where you report activity. If a field does not apply to you, simply enter zero…

Federal Court Wants Lower Debit Card Fees for Merchants

If you think that the 21-cent swipe fee that bites into your profits each time a customer pays with a debit card is too high, you'll be pleased to learn that a federal district court judge agrees with you. The calculation of the amount was determined to be fundamentally flawed and the Federal Reserve Board regulations that established it were vacated—although the regulations remain in effect until a new fee structure is established.

More info from Business Owner's Toolkit

3 Deadly Reasons Most Websites Fail, and 53 Examples of Brilliant Homepage Design

Consider this: There are about 700 million websites. But to most of us, only a tiny fraction of those sites exist because we jump from bookmark to bookmark, scanning our favorite homepages and refreshing our feeds.

People are loyal to websites that draw them in because, simply put, the majority of those 700 millions sites are just plain bad. Of millions of websites analyzed by Marketing Grader, a whopping 72% received a grade of 59 out of 100 or below, which essentially means 72% of websites are failing to attract new visitors and convert leads.

Marketers everywhere are asking, "Why do so many websites fall short?"

Read more from Marketing Profs



You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why your homepage is undoubtedly one of the most important pages on your website.

For any given company, the homepage is its virtual front door -- and face to the world. If a new visitor doesn't like what they see, their knee-jerk reaction is to hit the "back&q…

The Economics of All-You-Can-Eat Buffets

States Profiting the Most from Sin

In 2011, state governments collected more than $50 billion in taxes and proceeds from vice: gambling, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Some argue that state governments should not profit from residents’ vices. However, some states rely on these activities for a substantial proportion of their budget. In Nevada, “sin taxes” accounted for nearly 6% of the state’s revenue. Based on data from the Census Bureau and the American Gaming Association, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where the largest percentage of revenue came in the form of proceeds from alcohol, tobacco and casino taxes, as well as the lottery and state-regulated liquor stores. These are the states profiting most from sin.

Read more from 24/7 Wall St.

Do EPA Regulations Affect Labor Demand? Evidence From The Pulp And Paper Industry

The popular belief is that environmental regulation must reduce employment, since such regulations are expected to increase production costs, which would raise prices and thus reduce demand for output, at least in a competitive market. Although this effect might seem obvious, a careful microeconomic analysis shows that it is not guaranteed. Even if environmental regulation reduces output in the regulated industry, abating pollution could require additional labor (e.g. to monitor the abatement capital and meet EPA reporting requirements). It is also possible for pollution abatement technologies to be labor enhancing.

In this paper the writers analyze how a particular EPA regulation, the so-called “Cluster Rule” (CR) imposed on the pulp and paper industry in 2001, affected employment in that sector. Using establishment level data from the Census of Manufacturers and Annual Survey of Manufacturers at the U.S. Census Bureau from 1992-2007 they find evidence of small employment declines (…

How To Build A Successful Business

*The most successful business owners do 100% of what’s required to succeed.
*The average business owner does 100% of the things required… so long as they feel comfortable doing it.

*Successful business owners think of the people, whose help they will need, in advance. They deliberately, regularly make connections with key people. Then, months or years later, if they need their advice or help, it’s there. I know of no exceptions to this rule.
*Struggling business owners wait until they need help, then they pester strangers with selfish requests.

More from SmallBusinessNewz.

11 Tips for Transitioning From Employee to Employer

From the ASBDC blog:

Pick Up The Boss Work

"One of the most common thing that employees do when they become the boss is they still do employee tasks.That kind of work is supposed to be done by employees and you are supposed to do boss work! When we run a business, it is our job to build systems and manage people to run these systems. If you find yourself doing the work, keep asking yourself, how can I replace myself for this task?"

- Louis Lautman | Founder, Supreme Outsourcing

Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions for Employers

From irs.gov/aca:

The Affordable Care Act, or health care law, contains new benefits and responsibilities for employers. The size and structure of your workforce – small, large, or part of a group – helps determine what applies to you.

Employers with:

Fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees may be eligible for a Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to help cover the cost of providing coverage.
Generally 50 or fewer employees may be eligible to buy coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Learn more at HealthCare.gov
50 or more full-time equivalent employees will need to file an annual return reporting whether and what health insurance they offered employees. In addition, they are subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions.


Get Your Business Ready For Any Kind of Disaster at Free National Preparedness Month Webinar Series

WASHINGTON – Each year small businesses nationwide are forced to close their doors in the aftermath of severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, wildfires and hurricanes. Business interruptions, even if it lasts just a few hours, are costly in terms of lost productivity and profits.

You can get help with your own business preparedness planning through a series of free webinars in September hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery. The September series is presented in collaboration with FEMA’s Ready Campaign, as part of National Preparedness Month.

The SBA wants to help business owners take charge of the well-being of their own companies, the safety of their employees, and the sustenance of their local economies by being prepared to rebound quickly from any kind of disaster.

Below is a list of the topics, with registration links. The hour-long webinars will be presented at 2 p.m. EDT each Wednesday in September.

September 11: Protecting Your Organizati…

Summary of Budget Bill Corporation Tax Changes Enacted in 2013

This memorandum contains a summary of the corporation tax changes that are part of the 2013-2014 New York State budget. The changes contained in the memorandum are effective for tax years 2013 and after.

This includes New York State Business Incubator and Innovation Hot Spot Support Act (Articles 9-A and 22), Chapter 59
of the Laws of 2013 (Part C) created the New York State Business Incubator and Innovation Hot Spot Support Act (the Act) to support companies in New York State that are in the early stages of development. The Act provides for operating grants and other assistance to New York State incubators and New York State innovation hot spots for the purpose of
developing successful businesses in the state by providing technical assistance, direct mentorship, entrepreneurial education, and business development service s. In addition, new section 38 has been added to the Tax Law to provide for New York State innovation hot spot program tax benefits.

View the entire document.

Up-to-Date Editions

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Ward's Motor Vehicle Facts & Figures 2013: 
Documenting the Performance and Impact of the U.S. Auto Industry
(Ward's Motor Vehicle Facts and Figures)
Author James W. Bush

The New York State Directory, 2013/14 
Laura Mars
Grey House Pub (2013)

Congressional Yellow Book 
Who's Who in Congress, Including Committees and Key Staff
 Winter 2013

Social Media and Small Business: A Legal Guide

From Hispanic Business:

Anyone who uses social media has heard stories of the pitfalls -- you could be stalked, potential employers could snoop into your past, oversharing could lead to identity theft. But the state of Minnesota believes there's still one group that needs to be warned: small businesses.

In "A Legal Guide to the Use of Social Media in the Workplace," published by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minneapolis attorney Michael Cohen argues that a company's reputation, trade secrets and legal liability hinge on understanding the rapidly changing rules of using social media.

A free copy of the guide can be read on the website of Cohen's law firm, Gray Plant Mooty, at tinyurl.com/kk58alk. Or it can be ordered in print or on CD at the department's website, tinyurl.com/y9tuj6d. Cohen explains why you should read it.

Manufacturing and Trade Inventories and Sales

U.S. total business end-of-month inventories for June were $1655.2 billion, virtually unchanged (+/-0.1%)* from last month. U.S. total business sales were $1285.8 billion, up 0.2 percent (+/-0.2%)* from last month.
June 2013: 0.0* % change in inventories
May 2013: -0.1* % change in inventories

Affordable Care Act 101 Weekly Webinar Series

Looking for insight about how the Affordable Care Act will affect your small business and your employees? This free webinar series will help you understand key pieces of the law and what you should know about tax credits, the new small employer health insurance Marketplace (SHOP), and more. This week will feature special guest SBA Administrator Karen Mills. The series will run every Thursday through October, and the same webinar will be offered each week. Join us this week and get the facts you need to know.

Thursday, August 15 at 2:00 PM ET: Click to Register
Tip: Check out Business.usa.gov/healthcare to get customized ACA information for businesses of all sizes

How to Master the Art of Self-Promotion

If you want your readers to click “like” or “retweet” or “reblog” or “pin” or “plus,” you gotta ask for it. Not for nothing do two of the web’s most popular sites--BuzzFeed and Mashable--serve up big buttons at the top of each article, beseeching you to “share me now!” What’s more, these icons now include the number of shares in real time, boxing you in with peer pressure: “Don’t share me--I dare you!” This is marketing at its finest: so subliminal, you think you’re making a considered choice.

Too often, however, those in the communications field blanch at making an explicit ask. We think of ourselves as marketers, not salesman. We trust in the purity of our craft, rather than tricks of the trade. Yet there’s a reason “marketing” and “business development” often find themselves in the same job title.

More from the ASBDC blog.

Collaborative Teams to Support Hurricane Sandy Small Business Recovery

WASHINGTON–Long-term assistance for small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy is being made available through expanded funding to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s resource partners working in conjunction with state and local organizations.

“SBA is working to harness the ingenuity of our local communities to make sure that we’re not only rebuilding, but building smarter,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “This funding will provide extensive collaborative services to help small businesses recover and rebuild from Hurricane Sandy, so they can do what they do best, grow the local economy and create jobs.”

SBA’s resource partners will issue a total of $13.1 million to collaborative teams, which will integrate local economic recovery efforts and bring distinct delivery of business services.

This second phase of funding, part of $19 million in emergency appropriations approved by Congress, will be distributed by SBA’s resource partners -- the Small Business Development Center…

Make Video Part Of Your Social Media Marketing

If you’re not using video in your social media marketing, what are you waiting for? The engraved invitation came back in 2006 when Google bought YouTube. In 2011, YouTube passed Yahoo to become the world’s second-largest search engine. Video is a powerful tool, and leveraging it correctly can yield amazing results for your social media marketing. Social media video is hugely popular and includes everything from Vine (Twitter’s 6-second mobile video app) to long-form videos on YouTube. According to research by Pew Internet, http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Video-sharing-sites.aspx 71% of online Americans use social media video sites (and that study was conducted in 2011—the percentage has likely increased since then).

A picture is worth a thousand words so the cliché goes and a motion picture is priceless, which is why Pew Internet described videos as “social currency” when they reported in 2012 that 41% of adult internet users share and repost videos on social media.

More from Sma…

Happy Birthday, SBA!

The U.S Small Business Administration celebrates its 60th birthday this week. It is a great occasion to mark and celebrate the agency’s accomplishments over the past six decades.

When, following the suggestion of President Eisenhower, Congress passed the Small Business Act and created the Small Business Administration in 1953, its stated mission was to "aid, counsel, assist and protect, insofar as is possible, the interests of small business concerns," and also ensure small businesses a “fair proportion” of government contracts. The SBA still does these core functions to this day.

And at the time he signed the Small Business Act, President Eisenhower said: “It is my wish that the federal government programs and policies aimed at assisting small businesses ...provide such enterprises with additional constructive assistance.” Sixty years later, the landscape of the nation has changed substantially, but SBA’s mission and its commitment to the success of small business remain …

Bill introduced to redefine full-time employee

The Forty Hours is Full Time Act of 2013, or H.R. 2988, which was introduced by Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., would expand the definition of a full-time employee from the ACA’s current 30-hour-per-week threshold.

The ACA currently establishes that businesses with more than 50 full-time workers must provide health insurance for full-time employees who work either 30 hours a week or 130 hours per month. Many in the foodservice industry have been working to convince policymakers to increase the number of weekly hours worked to 35 or 40 since the ACA was passed in 2010.

This newest measure mirrors a similar bipartisan bill that had been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., earlier this year. Like the House bill, the Senate version redefines a full-time employee as one who works 40 hours a week or 174 hours a month based on a 52-week year.


More from Nation's Restaurant News.

One-Stop-Shop Website to Educate Business Owners About the Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration has launched Business.USA.gov/healthcare, a one-stop-shop Website which will provide employers of all sizes educational materials on how the Affordable Care Act may affect businesses and help them compete. The site includes a wizard tool that is tailored based on size and location, so businesses can learn how the law helps them provide affordable coverage options to their employees while still meeting their bottom line. The site will act as a user-friendly hub that connects employers to informational content on tax credits and other provisions of the law from the Small Business Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury Department.

As part of the Administration’s ongoing dialogue with leaders of our nation’s top businesses, this latest tool will help ensure that employers of all sizes know what the Affordable Care Act means for them, and have the information they need to take advantage of the new benefi…

The Small Business Advocate - July-August 2013: regional Advocacy

vol. 32, no. 6

The July-August edition of The Small Business Advocate [PDF] spotlights regional Advocacy: the 10 regional advocates and Chief Counsel Winslow Sargeant’s recent tour of innovation engines in Maine and Boston. It includes reports on two environmental roundtables, the new Small Business Lending Study, and introduces new Advocacy employees and interns.

America’s Collaboration Headquarters
Lending Study Published
Regulatory News
Environmental Roundtables
Regional Roundup
Ten Regional Advocates in Action
New Faces at Advocacy