Thursday, June 10, 2010

Moving to WordPress

I have officially moved my blog to WordPress. Please visit where Tax Saving Tips, Marketing Tips, and General Business Advice are posted at least once a day to pickup where my Blogger blog left off:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Small Business Credit Cards Excluded From New Consumer Protection Laws

Many of you are aware of the new Consumer Protection Laws in place for credit cards. If you haven't already noticed, take a look at your latest credit card will notice a simpler layout, more detailed information about payoffs, etc. You also should have received updated Terms from your credit card issuer outlining some of the new benefits such as limits on penalties and limits on interest rate changes.

However, small business owners need to be aware that these changes have not been incorporated into the realm of small business credit cards. Unless the credit card issuers are voluntarily putting these limits in place, your business credit card is subject to the same terms (aka no protection under the new Consumer Protection Laws) that it has always been subject to.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

School Budgets - How to Avoid Cutting so Many Teachers

Over the past few years, one of the hottest topics on Long Island has been school district budgets. Between increased property taxes, budgets being voted down, and teachers being cut left-and-right, no wonder why there is so much controversy.

However, I'm not sure if anyone has taken a true step back to analyze the root problem here:

Too many teachers are being hired.

Now, before I go any further, I want to preface this post by stating that I am 100% pro-teacher. My wife is a teacher, my parents are both retired teachers, my sister-in-law is a teacher, my aunt is a teacher, many of my friends are teachers, and many of my clients are teachers. I know how hard-working teachers are and I wish there were more teaching positions out there so that there wouldn't be so many amazing teachers who find themselves unemployed or underemployed.

That being said, the root economic problem that these school districts are creating is that they are hiring too many teachers to begin with.

When you are able to cut 6, 8, 10, 18 teaching positions from a district (which usually amounts to .5 - 2 positions per school when you really analyze the numbers) and still operate business-as-usual without any noticeable changes, the question remains, "why did we need these extra 6, 8, 10, 18 teachers in the first place?"

Obviously, the answer is, "the taxpayers were willing to give us a bigger budget to play with, so we spent every penny and then hired additional teachers with the surplus funds." A more prudent solution would have been to only hire those teachers that were needed and to place those surplus funds into a reserve account that could be used in future years when the budget is tight.

Obviously, the districts like having as much manpower at their disposal as possible. However, when you hire 10 teachers in year one and then cut 8 of those teachers in year two, you just damaged the lives of 8 teachers. Had you not hired them in the first place, they would have been motivated to send out resumes and potentially gotten hired by a district that needed them and that planned to offer them a long-term position. Instead, they spent the year happily employed and felt secure in their new position, only to have the rug pulled out from under them just 10 short months later. I would estimate that 2-3 out of those 8 teachers also bought their first house during their first year of employment, locking themselves into a 30-year mortgage with $3k-$4k monthly mortgage payments only to now find themselves at the end of the school year with no job and no foreseeable way of making those monthly mortgage payments.

Teachers don't want to lose their jobs.
Taxpayers don't want to be responsible for teachers losing their jobs.
Taxpayers don't want to pay unnecessary taxes.

School districts need to stop this revolving door policy of 1-year and 2-year teaching careers, stop cutting 6, 8, 10, 18 teaching positions during tight-budget years, and start running their districts more like a business.

Solution - In years when money is flowing freely, hire only those teachers that you need and put any excess funds into a reserve account. In years when money is tight, use those reserve funds to save the jobs of the teachers that you need.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

How to hide Farmville and other annoying updates from your facebook News Feed

Sorry moms, but this is going to steal your Mother's Day thunder:

To hide Farmville updates and other facebook game updates from appearing in your news feed, follow these simple steps:

1) Open your News Feed and look at the upper right corner of the update that you want to get rid of and you will see a button that says "Hide."

2) Click the Hide button and two more buttons will appear that will give you the option to either hide all updates from that particular friend or all updates from that particular application

In addition to helping you block these game updates, this also helps to hide updates from your friends who constantly post annoying status updates (like the updates that contain the word "muah," updates about The Bachelor, or some type of countdown to some special event coming up in their life).

Everyone can now enjoy their Mother's Day and stop hating their friends who play Farmville!

Now, if we can just figure out how to block people from posting gifts to your wall....


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Friday, April 30, 2010

You can learn a lot about someone from their iPhone Home Screen

You can learn a lot about someone from checking out what Apps they have on their iPhone Home Screen...

To the left, you can see what my current iPhone Home Screen looks like. Across the top row...the Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn Apps are pretty self-explanatory...the Dragon Dictation App is the best speech-to-text or voice-to-text App available for the iPhone. In row two, Echofon is my favorite of all the Twitter account managers, WordPress to manage my blog, and Logmein to access my computer remotely. In row three, I deviate a bit from the business world with the IMDb App. I think this is the best App available for the iPhone and I like the IMDb App better than I like the actual IMDb website.

If you want to take a screenshot of your iPhone Home Screen to share it with your friends and colleagues, browse to your iPhone's Home Screen and press the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button at the same time. The screen will flash and the camera click will play. You can then view the screenshot in your Camera Roll.

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The Spam Industry - Really?!?!

So, this entire industry exists that revolves around people, companies, and automated bots sending out spam every minute of every day. Common sense says that an industry will only exist if there is money to be made.

My question is...who are these consumers who are shopping by clicking on links within spam e-mails, spam tweets, etc??

Next time someone tries to sell you Viagra, Cialis, $99 vacations to Disney, a $199 iPad, or a KFC Double Down through a text message, a tweet, or an e-mail, please ignore it so that we can try to put an end to this spam industry.


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Thursday, November 5, 2009

When to DIY and When Not to DIY

Case Study: When to DIY and When Not to DIY

I have a client who has worked as a Full-Charge Bookkeeper for various companies for over 20 years. A couple of years ago, she started up a side business and hired me to prepare her 2007 corporate tax returns (her first year in business). Then in 2008, she decided to save some money by doing them herself.

Last week, she came to my office and showed me a notice from the IRS for approximately $675 worth of penalties & interest and another notice from NYS for $500 worth of penalties & interest. While reviewing the corporate tax returns that she self-prepared and filed, I also discovered that she had overpaid her taxes by $1,600.

So, by trying to save my $500 year-end corporate tax return preparation fee, she cost herself $2,775 ($1,600 of unnecessary tax + $1,175 of penalties & interest) that she shouldn't have had to pay.

I’m fixing all of the mistakes she made by filing amended tax returns. I will be able to get her back $1,600 and some of the penalties, but the majority of the penalties & interest will stick and during the amendment process, her audit risk will be extremely high due to the fact that we’re asking for almost all of her 2008 tax bill back in the form of a refund.

And this is a woman who has been a professional bookkeeper for over 20 years! Imagine what happens when small business owners with even less bookkeeping/tax experience attempt to do the same!


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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why I can't stand the "my 401(k) became a 101(k)" quote

Over the past year or so, a popular new phrase has emerged that has people jokingly say that "my 401(k) became a 101(k)."

While it was clever at first, like all funny quotes, it became overused quickly. However, that is not what bothers me about it...

Although a more accurate statement would be "My 401(k) became a 201(k)," what really bothers me the most is that people are still saying it. That leads me to believe that people are not aware of their current financial situation and I blame two things for it:

1) After opening depressing brokerage account statement after depressing brokerage account statement last year, many people became programmed to stop opening their statements. Therefore, they have no idea where they stand these days

2) The media has been VERY diligent at telling us how miserable our lives have become over the past couple of years, but they have not yet started to tell us how things have turned around and that the economy is heading in the right direction

So, for those of you who have not been following the stock market, here is what the quote should be at the moment:

"My 401(k) became a 201(k) and now it's back up to a 301(k)."


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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Buy Real Estate Now

Buy Real Estate Now

With real estate values approaching all-time lows and interest rates near their all-time lows, now is the perfect time to look at acquiring real estate. Here are some groups of people who can benefit:
  • Business owners who want to stop paying rent and own their own building/office/store/shop/etc.
  • First-Time Homebuyers
  • People looking to purchase residential rental properties (especially multi-family units)
  • People looking to purchase commerical rental properties

If you fit into any of the above categories and would like to explore your options, respond to this e-mail and we can discuss how you can make the most out of this historic real estate market!

Why business owners should own their own building:

  • In most cases right now, your monthly mortgage payment may be lower lower, similar, or only slightly higher than your current monthly rental payment
  • When you rent, you are subject to rent increases. When you own the building and you have a fixed-rate mortgage, you will lock in your monthly payment. The only item that will increase over time will be your property taxes. For example, if you are paying $1,000/month rent right now, you will most likely end up paying $2,650/month for the same space 20 years from now. However, if you lock in a $1,000/month mortgage payment, you will be paying $1,000/month 20 years from now.
  • Once your mortgage is paid off, you won't have to worry about monthly mortgage payments or rental payments. All you have to do is pay your property taxes.
  • When all is said-and-done and you are ready to retire or sell your business, instead of simply walking away from your lease, you can either sell your building (most likely for a lot more than you paid for it) or hold it and generate a monthly income stream by renting it out.


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New Law Takes Effect 10/26/09

New Law Takes Effect 10/26/09

Effective 10/26/09, ALL employers in New York must provide the following information IN WRITING to any new hire:
  • Pay Rate
  • Changes in Payday
  • Earnings Statement (Paystub)
  • Time Off Policies
  • Termination

Additionally, all employers must obtain WRITTEN acknowledgement from each new hire that they have been provided with each of the above items AND employers must meet a minimum recordkeeping requirement by keeping detailed payroll records for at least three years.


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