Thursday, August 29, 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.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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 ("0").

If you have a large number of jurisdictions, you can use the jurisdictional upload to report your information quickly and easily.


Learn more about claiming a credit on your sales tax web file return.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

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" button. Despite mom's best advice, unfortunately, a lot of people still judge a book by its cover.

Read more from Hubspot

Friday, August 23, 2013

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.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

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 (on the order of 3%-7%), which are sometimes statistically significant, at a subset of the plants covered by the CR.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

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.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

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.


Friday, August 16, 2013

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 Organization by Preparing Your Employees

September 18: The NEW 10 Steps to Preparedness - Lessons from the Past

September 25: Crisis Communications for any Organization

SBA has partnered with Agility to offer business continuity strategies through their PrepareMyBusiness website. Visit to access past webinars and additional preparedness tools.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

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.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Up-to-Date Editions

    

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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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

Monday, August 12, 2013

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

Friday, August 09, 2013

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.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

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 Centers (SBDCs), SCORE, and Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) -- to collaborative teams in 11 states and a U.S. territory.

SBA anticipates awarding grants to the follow collaborative teams:

Connecticut – $1,361,000
The University of Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC) will coordinate collaborative efforts with seven partners. CTSBDC’s partners in this effort are the Women’s Business Development Council, SCORE, Connecticut Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives, CONNSTEP Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Connecticut Certified Public Accounts, Spanish American Merchant Association, and Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council.

Delaware – $304,000
The Delaware Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) will lead the Delaware Disaster Prevention and Business Recovery Program to serve the entire state. SBTDC’s statewide collaborative approach involves the following partners: WBC - Delaware YWCA Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship; Delaware Economic Development Office; Delaware Emergency Management Agency; New Castle County Chamber of Commerce; Lewes Chamber of Commerce; Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce; Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce; and Southern Delaware Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Maryland – $91,000
As lead of the Maryland Hurricane Sandy Recovery Consortium, the Maryland Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) Network’s objective is to help small businesses refocus their operations and prepare to respond to future disasters. The SBTDC will collaborate with SCORE and also with the Economic Development Commissions/Agencies in Dorchester, Somerset, Salisbury-Wicomico and Worcester counties.

Massachusetts – $194,000
The Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE) will function as the lead coordinator in Massachusetts to provide integrated training and consulting services to affected small business owners. CWE’s collaborative partner is SCORE.

New Jersey – $3,582,000
In New Jersey the funds are being used to create community-based partnerships between the SBDC, WBC, SCORE and other local organizations to achieve sustained economic growth for small businesses. The New Jersey Small Business Development Center (NJSBDC) will serve as the lead coordinator for the project. In addition to the statewide NJSBDC network the five other collaborative partners: two SBA Resource Partners – the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation (WCEC) and SCORE; the Union County Economic Development Corporation (UCEDC); the Rutgers Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and the Economic Development (CUEED) and the U.S. Resilience Project (USRP).

New York – $6,191,000
The State University of New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will lead the New York State Sandy Group to include collaboration among SBDC, SCORE and three WBCs--Queens Economic Development Corporation, Women's Enterprise Development Center and Business Outreach Center Network.

Pennsylvania – $1,058,000
The University of Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will lead coordination efforts with the Wharton Small Business Development Center (Wharton SBDC) and Empowerment Group, Inc., a WBC.

Rhode Island – $181,000
The Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE) is the lead coordinator in Rhode Island and will collaborate with SCORE to deliver disaster preparedness workshops, technical assistance and consulting to the disaster-affected areas.

Virginia/North Carolina – $63,000
The Mason Small Business Development Center (SBDC) relief and training effort focuses on disaster in Virginia counties Accomack and Northampton and also covers the four declared counties in North Carolina. The SBDC will lead collaboration efforts with several entities to deliver services including Women’s Business Centers, SCORE and other local organizations. The Women’s Business Center at Old Dominion University will service the four counties in North Carolina.

West Virginia – $118,000
The West Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will coordinate with the Workforce Investment Board Women’s Business and Training Center, on long-term technical assistance to small businesses to create economic recovery.

Puerto Rico – $46,000
The Puerto Rico Small Business & Technology Development Centers will lead collaborative initiatives with the Women’s Business Institute, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, and University of the Sacred Heart.

In April, SBA awarded $5.8 million to its resource partners to provide targeted small business counseling, training and technical assistance. Since that time, SBA has helped nearly 4,300 small business clients using those funds.
Small businesses recovering from the physical and economic impact of Hurricane Sandy can get counseling and training services and recovery assistance from these collaborative teams. Businesses are encouraged to take advantage of these services and can locate the nearest SBA resource partner at www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance.

SBA makes low-interest, taxpayer-backed disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profit organizations of all sizes. More information about the disaster assistance program is available at www.sba.gov/disaster.

As of August 7, the SBA has approved $2.4 billion in loans to 36,200 business and homeowners needing assistance to repair, rebuild and restart the local economy after Hurricane Sandy.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

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 SmallBusinessNewz.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

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 the same.

During the past six decades, SBA has helped tens of millions of small businesses start, grow and succeed through the delivery of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses. In addition, in the aftermath of devastating disasters, SBA disaster loans have helped more than a million homeowners and renters, and hundreds of thousands of businesses recover and rebuild their lives.

More from the Small Business Administration.

Monday, August 05, 2013

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.

Friday, August 02, 2013

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 benefits and opportunities under the law. The Administration will work with the employer community to ensure the site continues to be a helpful resource for businesses and their employees, including updating the site with additional, timely information.

“As the Affordable Care Act is implemented, it is so important for us to work with the business community and provide employers with the information they need,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “The health care website on Business.USA.gov/healthcare will be a tremendous resource for self-employed Americans and businesses of all sizes to learn what the Affordable Care Act means for them.”

“The Affordable Care Act helps level the playing field for small businesses, expanding their bargaining power and their ability to offer the kind of valuable benefit packages that attract and retain top-quality workers. Small businesses are a cornerstone of our economy and we are committed to working with them to raise awareness and access to the historic tax credits that can help small businesses and employees cover the cost of health care,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

“It’s important for small business owners to know the facts about the Affordable Care Act and Business.USA.gov/healthcare delivers resources and need-to-know information through one streamlined tool,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “This Website will prove to be an invaluable resource for small employers to learn how the law is ushering in better options for them and their employees.”

“The Affordable Care Act is providing better care and better choices for millions of Americans, and this is another great tool for employers to learn how they can offer health coverage that makes sense for their business and employees, and works for their bottom line,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Many parts of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March, 2010, are already in effect, including new consumer protections, and improvements to health care coverage that ensure consumers get more value for their premium dollars.

Additional benefits will take effect in late 2013 and beyond. Starting October 1, 2013, individuals, including those who are self-employed, and small businesses looking for a better plan, will have a new way to shop for private health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) found at HealthCare.gov. Individuals may be eligible for lower costs on their monthly premiums and self-employed individuals and small businesses may be eligible for tax credits to help with the costs of coverage.
President Obama issued a challenge to government agencies to think beyond their organizational boundaries in the best interest of serving America's business community, and start thinking and acting more like the businesses they serve. He directed the creation of BusinessUSA.gov, a centralized platform to make it easier than ever for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire. BusinessUSA.gov leverages the resources of our partners across the federal government to ensure that business owners get comprehensive information and easy-to-use tools related to range of topics, including health care.


Thursday, August 01, 2013

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