Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Celebrity Tax Problems – A Year in Review

With the economy being as tough as it has been this past year, many individuals have been too busy focusing on their own financial issues to really focus on the tax issues of others. Well luckily with a little research on the web and a review of all daily tax e-mail (yes I did keep the whole years worth), I am able to present a year in review of celebrity tax problems. You would think that with all the money these people make or have made that they would at least put some aside for Uncle Sam. Oh well guess not.

Some of the more famous (or infamous) on the list include:

• The Black Eyed Peas
• Sinbad
• Nicolas Cage
• Pamela Anderson
• “The Governator” Schwarzenegger
• Rapper Nas
• Rapper Method Man
• Boxer Floyd Mayweather
• Golfer Jim Thorpe
• Singers Foxy Brown and Toni Braxton

Wow typing this post makes me almost feel like a reporter on one of those tabloids TV shows. Be sure not to use any of these people’s accountants.

B. N. S.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Return

It is the day after Christmas and so begins’ the start of the great return season. In this case the word return can take on quite a few different meanings. For some it will mean returning back to work to help those still on vacation. For the vacationers, it will mean going to the store and returning some of those unwanted gifts that were given and to some others it will mean returning to the shopping centers to look for bargains on items that are reduced for a quick sale.

For me, the return means a chance to get back to work, although by using technology, I am always one click away from accessing the tools I need to get tasks completed. The iPhone has been a great addition to many small business owners’ technology tools arsenal. While surfing the net yesterday, I came across this fun article of some of the best iPhone apps for 2009. The majority of theses apps are more for personal use however there are a few that can make one’s life a bit less confusing. Enjoy.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Small Biz Hiring 2010

Here is an interesting article that I came across this morning regarding the steps small business owners should take when hiring for positions next year. I found the article to provide some very good ideas that many small business owners can benefit from. The advice to consider converting employees to independent contractors (IC’s) and/or hiring contractors is pretty sage, but I personally would seek out independent contractors outright. Converting employees to IC’s can be pretty dangerous and is frowned upon in the eyes of the IRS and other regulating bodies. The best advice in the article to me was the last suggestion to change your thinking and get away from the 8-5 work day. There is currently a change occurring in the working environment and many jobs can be done from the comfort of one’s home and at a cheaper price. This is definitely on way for a small business owner to save money in the long run. Let me know what you think small business owners.

B. N. S.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

QuickBooks Updates and Downgrades

In a recent post, I mention the problems many QuickBooks users were having with the new R9 update for QuickBooks 2009. The problem with the update was so bad that many QuickBooks users decided to downgrade their software back to the R8 update and work from there. The problem caused a great deal of frustration for many of the accountants that use QuickBooks to service their client’s books due to many accountants upgrading their system, only to find out that they could not use the data sent from clients on their system.

QuickBooks did however, respond to the issues with the R9 update (see their response here) and made available a new update (R10) that should fix the issue. Actually the R10 update is more of an oops we screwed up and here is our solution, instead of an update. Now that the R10 update has been released, some accountants on the discussion boards seem to be having similar issues as the R9. One particular issue is the compatibility with earlier versions. We tested the R10 update in our office and noticed that it is not backwards compatible with earlier updates (i.e. R8) as we were not able to open client files from R8. Maybe the update issue is not completely over QuickBooks so there may be some late evenings for all of us trying to fix this problem.

This is just another example of why a cloud based accounting solution may be the best fit for your small business. There are no updates to be done since the software is on the internet and updates are completed at the enterprise level and do not affect your day to day operations. Let me know what you think.

B. N. S.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The 2009 Look Back

With the year coming to an end, I thought this would be a great time to take a look back at some of the major developments that have affected the small business community the past year. This is just a quick review of some of the developments that we have read about and some that we have actually implemented in our firm. One interesting factor that we found was how different regulating bodies define the term small business and how those definitions affect a small business owner’s strategy going into the New Year.


While the economy has continued to decline for many small business owners, there are quite a few “indicators” that say that the economy is looking up for the small business owner. According to recent posts, the Small Business Administration is attempting to increase the assistance to small business owners and has redefined their definition of what constitutes a small business. The SBA also has a great deal of qualification factors for their financing programs so be sure that your small business will qualify for the programs offered. Since small businesses make up the majority of the economy, until those businesses have access to the necessary capital to expand; the economy for small business owners will continue to lag in 2010.


The tax situation for the small business owner can be a strange beast considering there are different strategies that can be applied depending on the size and industry of your small business. Couple the tax code with the state of the economy, and it makes the road to recovery quite rocky for the small business owner. Although there is a great deal of tax incentives out there for small business owners, many are having a hard time implementing them without the help of additional funding. One example is the depreciation deduction. Many small businesses would like to purchase additional equipment and technology, to take the tax break, but without the necessary funding those deductions fall to the wayside.


Technology can be one of the better developments this past year for the small business owner. With technology changing virtually daily, there is always someone out there introducing a product that can make the small business owner lives run a bit less hectic. This past year there were quite a few introductions in Web 2.0 technologies that can help the small business owner increase their reach and web presence. More and more small businesses are starting to embrace the cloud computing or Software as a Service (SaaS) model as online data storage and software hosting solutions gains in new business. The use of smart phones has continued to see gains as even individuals are starting to use them to organize their personal lives. I personally see the trends in technology to continue to advance at more and more small businesses see the benefits of technology. Right now our firm can update information on social media sites, service accounting clients, and have anytime access to our data from our smart phones and I personally would not have it any other way.

Be sure to post some of your comments about this past year or what you feel will be the driving forces for small businesses in 2010. As for my opinion, I think that if small businesses look for ways to streamline their operations with the use of technology, and think outside the box when it comes to marketing the road to recovery can be a bit smoother in 2010.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

igot Business Apps

So the iPhone is quickly becoming a viable business technology tool and many small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals are beginning to see the many great uses for the smart phone versus the Blackberry. I recently came across an article on that outlines some of the best business apps for the iPhone and a brief description of each app. Some of the apps I have tried and some I am in the process of downloading. I was a bit surprised to see the AT&T virtual receptionist app and was curious why the carrier did not advertise this app a little more when one purchases the iPhone. Oh well. Enjoy reading the article and feel free to comment or post some of your favorite iPhone apps.

B. N. S.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Software Bowl Championship Series

The end of the college football season is near. This weekend marks the start of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) selection with the conference championship games beginning. There are a lot of great teams out there that have worked very hard to get to their conference championship games and the day is sure to be a very exciting one. Many of the coaches that have been in the driver’s seat all year have to continue to coach at a high level to ensure that their teams don’t get complacent and think that they are entitled to the champion crown (as I write this post Pitt is beating the favorite Cincinnati).

The same can be said for many of the small business accounting software vendors that are vying for the small business accounting market. Now that Microsoft has withdrawn their offering from the small business accounting market, the major player Intuit’s QuickBooks may feel that the battle is all but won. If I were the head coach for the QB team I would have to tell the troops to hold on one minute and don’t get complacent. There is still a great deal of competition out there (the major competition is Sage’s Peachtree Accounting) and although QB is a great product, they still have problems with executing software updates (see R9 update issues) and compatibility issues with the new Windows 7 operating system.

Makes a small business owner wonder if there is a small business software title that can execute processes virtually flawlessly and not give the small business owner problems every year. I did come across a SaaS product (software as a service) that may provide small business owners with everything they need to operate their business from anywhere and efficiently. I will be test driving the product called WorkingPoint and provide a little more insight into how well it works versus a problematic off the shelf software product. More on that next week but until then back to the football games at hand.

B. N. S.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cutbacks and Loan Offers

I as was going through my morning reading yesterday I came across two articles that may be good news for many small business owners. The first is hopefully a sign that the small business economy is on the way back to recovering. According to a report by ADP, small businesses are still slashing jobs, but they are at a smaller rate. The economy may be on the rebound for Wall Street, but as unemployment numbers continue to climb, the recovery takes a little more time to affect the small business owner. Since the rate of job cuts for small businesses is going down somewhat, this may be a good sign that small business owners can again be productive in the coming months.

Another article is sure to assist small business owners in the recovery, the only problem is many small business owners don’t even know about this new program. A recent survey by the George S. May International consulting firm indicated that over 75% of small businesses were not aware of the new SBA loan programs that were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The ARC (American Recovery Captial) loan program allows small businesses deferred payment loans up to $35,000. The only problem is many small businesses had no clue about the program. This may be a good time for those small businesses that need assistance to stop by your local SBA office and investigate securing one of these loans. Now that you know about the loans, there is no reason to miss out on the program.

B. N. S.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What I did for vacation

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is behind us, many people are focused back on work and getting the best deals for the upcoming holiday season. Just before the start of the Thanksgiving holidays’ I had the pleasure of receiving a rather nice gift from Sage, the company that makes the Peachtree Accounting product. I would like to take time out to thank Gia Robinson over at Peachtree for sending me a copy of their Quantum Accountants’ software so that I could make the transition to their product from Microsoft’s Office Accounting. The Peachtree Quantum Accountants Edition is one of the most robust accounting software packages on the market so I was excited about loading it and learning my way around it.

My excitement was quickly changed into frustration since it took me all last week to get the software loaded (finally completed early this am). There were quite a few things that I had to do before I got the software to load and here are some of the problems (with error codes) and solutions that were provided by the Peachtree Users Group on LinkedIn, Peachtree Community, and Microsoft Support.

Error 1628 – This error is caused when the install is interrupted and does not complete. This was the easiest error to fix since the only solution was patience. The installation of Quantum took almost four hours for me so when it appears that the installation is hung, be patient and let it continue to run.

Error 1639 – This error was caused by an invalid command line argument that dealt with a Microsoft Installer problem. The fix for this error was to go to the Microsoft site and download the most recent version of Microsoft Windows Installer. Be sure to download the right version for your operating system.

Operating system issues seemed to have been causing the most problems. My computer was initially updated with Windows Vista SP2 and that proved to be a problem so I downgraded back to Vista SP1. I also had problems with deleting the prior partial installs so I also used Windows Installer Cleanup utility and Revo Uninstaller to clean up the leftover files and registry. There was also a particular file that Revo and Cleanup did not delete and that was an INI file located in C:/Windows that had to be deleted before another install could be completed. After all this was done and I was patient with the clean install, Quantum was finally loaded.

Now I guess I can spend the rest of the day going thru the training CD.

Thanks to all the help I received from Microsoft (Thinesh and Pressanna) and everyone on the LinkedIn Peachtree users group, and Peachtree Community for all your assistance even during the holidays.

B. N. S.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You Can’t Say That

This morning a friend and business associate of mine sent me an e-mail asking me “have I heard about this”. There was a link attached and it took me to a blog that contained information that many internet marketers really need to know about. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are some new guidelines that will be going into affect beginning December 1st that will shake up how advertisers use testimonials, blogs, and celebrity endorsements for the advertising efforts. I did get a chance to do a little research on the FTC site and I read the blog about the switch, and it appears that the new guidelines will make it tough for most advertisers to use any kind of testimonials (or anything else) in their marketing efforts without doing statistical research. Research will be cost intensive for the small business marketer thus many ads will have to pull the testimonials. I am really interested to see how the FTC will enforce the new guidelines and there were already comments on the blog I read of ways to get around the new guidelines.

I would really like to hear some of your thoughts out there in blog land, so be sure to read the new FTC guidelines, and the blog and come to your own conclusions.

B. N. S.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Balance Coverage

Recently I have posted a great deal about the versatility of the iPhone and how it can make running a small business easier. Well I came across this new article on the LinkedIn iPhone users group that states that the main feature of the iPhone (the phone) is flawed. I do find it odd that the article is from Cnet UK and not the states. I would greatly like to hear from some of you out there in blog land with iPhones that are having “phone” problems. There have also been some discussions on the LinkedIn group that many have been having problems with dropped calls on their phones. Check out the article and see if you can relate. Personally no problems here (knocking on wood).

B. N. S.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Get more miles out this app

Small business owners that use an iPhone and are looking for a more tech savvy way to keep track of their mileage may get a kick out of this new app. Tap2Track by Intuit was recently updated on Nov. 5th and can calculate your mileage from starting point to destination using GPS. Once the trip is complete, the app will also e-mail you a copy of the mileage details for your IRS records. Pretty cool huh?

When the app was recently introduced on one of the accounting discussion lists that I belong to, there was a great deal of skepticism from some of the “tech challenged” members citing various IRS rules and Tax Court decisions regarding the use of technology to maintain mileage records. The IRS typically requests that taxpayers maintain a written mileage log for trips and Tap2Track is not written. I personally think that the app will pass the IRS’s test since technology is the way of the future. Just recently the Congress requested that tax preparers who file more than 10 returns must file those returns electronically, so I think small business owners will have no problem using this app for their mileage tracking.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wish List for Home Offices

Are you a small business that operates out of your home? Or maybe you are thinking about starting a small business from your home. If you fall into any of the previous categories, then the article I came across yesterday is for you. Get a little bit of additional insight into what technology tools you will need to make your home office operate efficiently. Personally I was a bit surprised to see that the article did give a little bit or coverage to the new way of working (that I really love)….cloud computing. Be sure to take a look at the technology that is out there now to make your home office operate like a big corporation, but with a smaller budget. Put these on your Christmas lists home business owners.

B. N. S.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A new tech toy

As many know, I am always looking for technology that can help small business owners and individuals work smarter and not harder and this weekend I came across another remote access tool that may prove to be a jewel for some. The software is called Laplink and it allows secure remote access to your PC’s from anywhere with an internet connection. Another great feature of the software is that the software can be used with any device including smartphones (you know I love that), laptops, and even gaming consoles (Nintendo Wii). Be sure to stop by the Laplink website and check out the screenshots and the interactive tour. Although Laplink does not advertise like the other remote access programs (Gotomypc and Logmein), it may be a viable competitor to the others.

B. N. S.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tax updates this week

Last week I had the pleasure to sitting on a panel for the Atlanta Professional Business Network and the topic was taxes and small business. The discussion at one point moved toward the current tax laws and how they will affect the upcoming tax season. Many tax laws were set to expire and as we spoke, Congress was thinking of extending and few. Well the Senate has spoken and here are some of the results:

• The home buyer tax credit was extended and open to additional taxpayers
• Unemployment benefits have been extended
• Net operating losses can be carried back 5 years for 2008 -2009 tax years and,
• Failure to file penalties for S-Corps and partnerships have been increased

Here are just a few of the major tax updates that many taxpayers can use (once the President signs into law on Friday) for the rest of this year and next. Be sure to stop by the IRS site or speak to your tax advisor for more details.

B. N. S.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Microsoft’s Halloween Trick

After providing the technology world with a potential treat earlier this month with the debut of Windows 7, Microsoft closed out the month with a pretty slick trick for their Office Accounting users. According to an e-mail that I got early Friday morning, Microsoft will be discontinuing their Office Accounting product on November 16th of the coming month. This only gives many OA 2009 customers a few days to move their files to another small business accounting software title and that can be quite an expensive and labor intensive task. For me, however I can’t say that I did not see the writing on the wall especially since they stopped selling their MS Money product earlier this year.

Microsoft will still offer support for their product as per the support guide lines in their policy. Add on services that came along with Office Accounting (EBay, Equifax credit profile, tax mappings, and online banking) will be discontinued by December 15th, 2009. For many small business owners this change could be an indication that the time to look into another way of performing your accounting function is in order. There are other small businesses off the shelf software titles that can be used; however there is still the issue of yearly upgrades, costly “advisors” to help you setup the software, and the risk of downtime during the transition and bug fixes. Another option would be to use an online-based, on-demand accounting system that works collaboratively with your accountant. Either way, if you are a small business that uses Microsoft’s Office Accounting product your days are limited. Happy Halloween!!

B. N. S.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

QuickBooks Problem….Solved??

Recently I did a post announcing the newest release of QuickBooks 2010 and according to a news article I came across today, this may be a good time to upgrade your software if you have not done so already. According to the article there is a security issue with older version of QuickBooks (2006 and Enterprise 6.0) that is related to Microsoft’s Active X technology. According to Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks, the security issue has been fixed (even though older versions of QB’s are not supported by Intuit) and the 2010 product has been updated also. Kind of makes a person wonder if there is a better way of keeping your small business books? If there are security problems with off the shelf software, I wonder if using an on-demand internet based accounting solution would be more efficient.

With an on-demand accounting solution gone are the days of upgrading your software every year (or three years) because the software maker no longer supports your version, gone are the countless software updates that have to be completed so that your software can operate efficiently. Also gone are the days of working around your accountant’s schedule so that they can make their adjustments to your books and then send them back to you. An on-demand solution may be in your future if you are ready to make the change to the newest technology available with possibly a lower cost of ownership. Be sure to find out the pros and cons of the new technology for yourself with the following article. Enjoy.

B. N. S.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Shopping

I was in the store this weekend picking up some snacks for the Sunday football games and could not help but notice that some of the sizes of my favorite snacks had been reduced considerably. A 16oz size of snack crackers has been reduced to a 13.4oz and the price is the same or at many times more than what it had been before. I thought to myself that I would have to pass on those snacks and decided to make my own.

When I get into the office this morning and check the newswires, I couldn’t help be click on the following article that essentially deals with my weekend experience. I guess the lesson to be learned from the story and my own experience is to be a more cost conscious consumer.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Debt Forgiven but not Forgotten

As we continue down the road toward recession or recovery (depending on one’s point of view), there still continues to be a great deal of people who are having problems paying off their debts. Whether it is a house, car, or some other type of property, the process of paying off one’s debts can become quite stressful especially in a cash strapped economy like the one today. From a tax standpoint, the cancellation of a debt can become a bit tricky, but hopefully after reading this post, you will have a little more insight into how the process works.

According to the IRS via Publication 4681, a debt can include any indebtedness for which you are liable or which is attached to property that you hold. In regards to property, cancellation of debt occurs when foreclosure proceeding occurs on the property, the property is repossessed, the property is returned to the lender, or you abandon the property. When debt is canceled by a federal agency or a financial institution amounting to more than $600, you will receive a Form 1099-C showing the amount for the cancelation in Box 2. Typically the amount is taxable as income.

There are additional exceptions and exclusions of debt that would not be taxable, the most major one being the exclusion for principal residence indebtedness. Taxpayers can now exclude up to $2 million in qualified personal residence indebtedness. Be careful, if you used property to secure a debt and the lender takes all or part of the property to satisfy the debt, the transaction can be treated as a sale which could make you have a taxable gain. Be sure to speak to a professional tax advisor before making any decisions regarding the cancellation of debt.

B. N. S.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Looking Thru Windows 7

Well the week is finally upon us. The release of Microsoft’s Windows 7 product will be in stores on October 22 and is sure to bring a great deal of curious shoppers out to see what all the software can do. Windows 7 comes in three different versions (Home, Professional, and Ultimate) and consumers can also purchase the system in laptops and desktops pre-loaded.

So for those out there who hated Windows Vista and/or were still using XP (because you could not use some of the older software), now may be a time to step up into the new technology millennium at upgrade your operating system and your additional software titles to ensure your computer systems keep you productive.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Last Minute

So today has been a rather hectic day around the office since the personal tax extension deadline is tomorrow. Couple that with all the tax changes (i.e. first time home buyers, new auto deductions and more) that will expire in the next month, there are a lot of last minute planning strategies many taxpayers are trying to implement. I did however get to take some time out to read my daily tax and accounting e-mails and the one that caught my attention the most was an article regarding changes that will limit the deductions of many sole proprietors (Sch. C filers). According to the article, there may be some changes in the coming years on the amount of deductions that Sch. C filers and the IRS has a few options how they will do it. Be sure to check out the article and let us know your thoughts.

Well back to the tax mines, happy last minute tax filing everyone.

B. N. S.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tech Updates This Week

There have been quite a few updates in the technology world this week and here are the one’s that caught my attention:

Find Out if Windows 7 is right for your business
Sage Software Offers a Free version of Peachtree Accounting to Atlanta flood victims
• Finally I came across a whitepaper detailing how cloud computing will cost small business owners less than off the shelf accounting packages. For more information regarding the whitepaper, feel free to contact us via our website

B. N. S.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Telling Signs of the Economy

The economy may be turning many honest taxpayers into tattle tells according to a recent article I came across. The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 created the Whistleblower Office and the office has seen a significant upswing in the amount of anonymous tips from law abiding taxpayers of those who shall we say like to live on the wild side of the tax law. Recent changes to the law have increased the payments from 15% to 30% maximum and the increase is certainly making taxpayers feel compelled to tell on those who want to evade taxes. The only problems with the new Whistleblower system is the time it takes for a claim to be processed and protection for employees who turn in their employers for evading taxes. All in all the systems appears to be a new option for many taxpayers to find additional money in this tough economy.

B. N. S.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

New Product or New Way of Working

There were two events that happened this past week that are really the driving force behind this blog post, one is the introduction of Intuit’s newest QuickBooks 2010 offering. The marketing e-mails that I have received have promised that the QB2010 version is the best yet and it will save accountants more time when working with their clients due to the enhanced features. For small business owners that are interested in how QB2010 will make them work faster and smarter be sure to take a look at this web review of the product. At the end of the review there is also a way for QB2009 purchasers who bought their software 60 days before the QB2010 release to upgrade their product to the newer version for free.

A free webinar (for my CPE credits) is the other driving force that provided me with a viable option and a new (possibly better) way of performing accounting functions for clients, that allows accountants and small businesses both to work collaboratively. The webinar was titled “How to Transform Your Client Accounting Services Practice through Cloud Computing and On-Demand Accounting” and it explained how accountants and small business owners can use online accounting services instead of boxed software that would allow each to work virtually anywhere, have instant access to current numbers, and the piece of mind that the data is secure. Although the webinar was geared for accountants, small business owners may gain some insight into how cloud computing/on-demand accounting is different (and maybe better) than boxed software or a hosted box software solution.

So as a small business owner which strategy fits your business model? Feel free to post your comments.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Flood of Assistance

As many of you have heard on the news, in the past week the Atlanta area received a historic amount of rain that left many of the metro counties flooded. Many of the roads in the local area have been washed away and people’s houses are total losses. The vast majority of these individuals did not have flood insurance and are in great need of support and assistance. Representatives from FEMA, GEMA and the Red Cross are frantically assisting these individuals but more help is needed. I would ask anyone who is able in these trying times to please donate to your Red Cross for victims of the flood and if you are in the local Atlanta area, maybe go out and help in the cleanup efforts.

Additionally for those individuals (or businesses located in the flood areas) that are on tax filing extensions, the IRS is moving the tax filing deadline to Dec. 17th. The postponement is for return filing, tax payment and certain other time-sensitive acts otherwise due between Sept. 18 and Dec. 17. The IRS will also waive the future deposit penalties for employment and excise taxes due on or after Sept. 18th. For more information speak to your tax advisor or stop by the IRS website and put “Georgia Flood” into the search box at the top right hand corner.

B. N. S.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

SMB’s Speak Up

This morning I was able to read a pretty revealing survey report sponsored by Netsuite regarding business leaders’ outlook on the economy and the direction they would be taking their firms to survive in the “new economy”. Survey respondents represented over 600 small to mid-sized businesses (SMB’s) and were from all different types of industries. The interesting thing is that the majority of their answers were the same. SMB’s were focused on cutting cost in conjunction with increasing revenue and these strategies are sure to help improve their cash flow.

Specifically SMB’s cost cutting strategies were reducing overhead, improving productivity and streamlining operations. Revenue generating activities included broaden product offerings and increasing revenue from current customers. SMB’s also showed an increased interest in software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing as a way to improve productivity and reduce overhead.

Can some of these strategies work for you? More than likely yes, so be sure to stop by Netsuite and download the survey report yourself.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Changes to Tax Filing…Coming Soon

While going through my moring e-mail news I came across some interesting information that islikely to affect everyone who files taxes. According to a report by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) they recommend that mandatory electronic filing of individual tax returns by professional tax preparers become a requirement by law. Currently about 43% of the returns filed are filed on paper (for tax year 2008). The IRS feels that by mandatory electronic filing of individual returns, the error rate for returns can be lowered and the IRS can operating more efficiently. The IRS will also begin using scanning technology to convert paper returns to electronic format.

What doe this mean to you?

More than likely if the law is passed, it will mean that the IRS will cut back some of their staff, those paper retuns that have errors will be caught faster with scanning technologies, and those professional tax preparers that do not want to embrace technology may have to look for other ways to bring in more revenue. The IRS is currently asking Congress for authority to make these changes as part of their 2010 fical year budget, so the changes are right around the corner.

B. N. S.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tech Tools Keeping You Productive

Earlier this week I was speaking to a friend of mine assisting him with getting his small business off the ground and he mentioned that he had recently purchased a merchant account for his business. He will be using the merchant account to sell his motivational CD’s and other products but his problem was how he could sell his products while away from his office at seminars and conventions. That got me thinking if there was a way to use a smart phone as a credit card terminal. I have yet to find a way this can be done with a Blackberry phone, but did come across a couple of iPhone apps that will allow users to use their phone as a merchant terminal. The three that were at the top of the list are:

Credit Card Terminal by Inner Fence, LLC
• iSwipe Pro Credit Card Terminal by AppNinjas, LLC
Billing: Credit Card Terminal by Spartadata

As with any iPhone app (or any app for that matter) be sure to read all the fine print and maybe some of the reviews regarding any hidden fees that are not initially mentioned. I found the apps to be a great addition to any small business owner’s productivity toolkit because you can accept credit cards virtually anywhere from any customer, and this can improve your cash flow and allow you to operate your business at a higher level.

As for my friend we are still searching for a Blackberry app that will allow users to do the same. If anyone has any ideas feel free to post them.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

IRS Plans to Retire

Those small business owners that are interested in establishing retirement plans for their employees, the IRS is here to help. Recently the IRS setup a retirement plan website that can assist small business owners with setting up tax-favored retirement plans, maintaining the plan, and fixing any errors that may occur while administering the plan. Setting up a retirement plan has many benefits for both the small business and their employees. Small businesses can benefit from a retirement plan because their contributions being tax deductible, there is a potential for tax credits for setting up a plan, and the possibility of hiring and retaining better employees. Employees’ benefits can include deferred taxes on plan contributions, investment gains on plan assets are not taxed until distribution, and retirement plan assets can be transferred from one employer to the next. These are just a few of the benefits of setting up a retirement plan, be sure to stop by the IRS retirement plan website and see how setting up a plan can benefit your small business and your employees.

B. N. S.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

iPhone Productivity

For those iPhone users, I came across a nice little update app that is sure to make you productive while away from the office. The Quickoffice app has been upgraded to support Microsoft Office 2007 so now iPhone users have the ability to edit, cut/copy/paste, and send Office 2007 files to and from their iPhones. The Quickoffice app will only run on iPhone OS 3.0 so if you have not upgraded your iPhone’s operating system now would be a great time to do that too. This app in conjunction with the file saving app mention in an earlier post will save many small business owners a great deal of time when they are away from their offices and need access to mission critical documents. Definitely one to check out.

B. N. S.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More on Banking

There has been a great deal of talk lately regarding the large amount of fees that banks charge consumers and business owners for their accounts. From the accounting discussion groups that I belong to, to the many of my clients whom I provide bookkeeping for, everyone is beginning to get feed up with the many fees banks charge for access to our money. Some of the most common fees I have seen on bank statements are cash deposits fees, not maintaining a minimum balance fee, transactions fees, and of course the monthly maintenance fee.

Well there is hope for the consumer and business owner who is cash strapped at the present time, one thing you can do is go to your bank and see if they have different accounts that do not charge all those unnecessary fees . Another option is to shop around for another bank in your area that offers totally free checking and saving accounts. If there are not any of those options in your area, you can also consider an online bank. These banks usually have free accounts due to the fact that they operate with less overhead than a traditional bank. Either option you choose can possibly save you hundreds of dollars a year.

B. N. S.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Online Banking Dangers

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. Now it is time to get back to business and here is some good information that can help individuals and small business owners keep their bank accounts safe. If you are one that uses online banking, be sure to check out this video and article for some great tips on how to not be scammed by those unscrupulous cyber-criminals out there. If you have ever received one of those suspicious e-mails saying that it is from your bank, make sure you contact your bank first before clicking any of the links contained within the e-mail. The majority of the time these e-mails are from hackers attempting to get your personal information.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Auditors are getting social

For the taxpayers out there who feel they can outsmart their state auditors, beware? According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, tax agents in Nebraska, Minnesota, and California (probably are more states that will jump on the bandwagon) are taking their enforcement tactics to the internet. Taxing authorities in these states are beginning to use social networking sites to find and locate tax cheats who have moved out of their state by finding information about them on sites like MySpace and FaceBook. The auditors still have to follow the rules of the social networking site (such as they cannot befriend a person on Facebook using false information), but the use of tracking tax cheats via social media and Google is beginning to catch on. More states are considering adding social media tracking to their arsenal for locating tax cheats and the IRS declined to comment on if they were using social media (wink, wink). Be sure to check out the article and see how some people got caught.

Moral to the story is to seek out a professional tax preparer and pay what you owe, for the tax man is coming to get you and he has a new way to track you now.

B. N. S.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Smart Technology

Continuing on the technology theme of the last post, I came across a possible jewel for those small business owners (and tech savvy individuals) with smart phones that need information while away from a computer. If you are taking your small business paperless, or have been thinking about it, be sure to check out With their service you can access and share your files with anyone, backup and synch files, and collaborate online.

Now what makes the service a jewel is that the company has recently added an iPhone app allowing you access to your files and services while away from your computer. They also have a mobile login that allows other smart phone users access to their files and share them with others. We will be testing the service over the weekend and will post a brief overview of how it works.

B. N. S.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Phone Smarts

Your phone is getting smarter according to an article Fortune magazine. The demands for smart phones are increasing and not only are they for the Wall Street business types, but consumers and small business owners are beginning to buy in. The two major players are RIM who makes the Blackberry (also known as the “crack” berry) and Apple, makers of the iPhone. Each has seen sales gains in areas you would not think they would. RIM’s sales gains are from consumers and businesses are starting to see the iPhone as viable option. I was quite intrigued by the small test you can take to see which phone is right for you. Be sure to check out the test and see which phone is the smart one for you.

B. N. S.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Extra Credit

So many people have to rely on their credit cards since banks are really not lending money at the present time. There has been a bit of a change in the relationship you have with your credit card issuer, thanks to a new law. The majority of the law is consumer friendly and will hopefully allow individuals and small business owners a little more breathing room to maintain their creditworthiness. Don’t think that the banks won’t retaliate and less people will be able to qualify for a credit card. Check out what Citi and AMEX have in store for some of their customers. For now the law is in your favor.

(Business N Synergy)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Bad Rap

Earlier this week a tax client sent me a couple of You Tube links that I found quite amusing. At some point in time there was a rap contest to see who could come up with the best Turbo Tax Rap video. There were quite a few out there on You Tube, but the one my client sent me was one that hit home a message that anyone can prepare taxes with Turbo Tax and that many professional tax preparers are losing money and clients to the software giant. After you watch the video be sure to check out another video that shows our own Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner stating that he relied on Turbo Tax to prepare his tax returns (the returns under question where he underpaid his tax). Guess either way you look at it Turbo Tax gets a bad rap.

Moral: Trust a tax professional before you trust software.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Microsoft Office Accounting Express Review

QuickBooks may have a formidable opponent for their Simple Start software offering. Microsoft’s Office Accounting Express was recently reviewed by and was given very high marks by the reviewers. Both QB’s Simple Start and MS Express are geared toward the small office home office (SOHO) segment of the small business market or for those who are transferring from pen and paper or spreadsheets to perform their accounting functions. The functionality within MS Express goes beyond that of QB Simple Start thus allowing the SOHO business owner more flexibility and efficiency that will save them money in the long run (did I mention that MS Express is free to download here).

Be sure to read the review and see for yourself why MS Express is better for your small business. Also be on the lookout in the coming months for brief online presentations on how to use MS Express in your SOHO business. The presentations will be posted on this blog and our company's website.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Banking on your bank

Banks are supposed to be one of the best places to keep our money. With all the changes in the banking industry recently, the choices of banking institutions has shorten, making it tougher for individuals and small businesses to find a bank. Although many banks received bailout out money, they are still looking for ways to “mine” revenue from their customers. A recent article on Yahoo Finance provides a wealth of information about banks and their internal processes and how they make money off of all of us. Some of the information I already knew about but others were rather shocking. I guess the bottom line is to find a bank that does not nickel and dime you for everything and make sure that you take some time out to read the details of your account agreement (even though your agreement can change like the season).

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Small business tax break for business equipment

For those small business owners that need to purchase equipment here are the details of the tax law passed earlier this year.

The law extended the $250,000 limit for the first-year
expensing of new or used equipment purchased for use in
your business. This deduction is gradually phased out
once you purchase more than $800,000 of equipment in

In addition, brand new equipment, software, and
qualified leasehold improvements can qualify for 50%
bonus depreciation if placed in service by the end of

The two benefits can be combined on the same purchase.
For example, you can use the expensing option on a
piece of equipment and apply bonus depreciation to the
remaining cost if the property qualifies.

Be sure to speak to your tax advisor to ensure your property qualifies.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Scams, Shams, and Fraud

While going through my e-mails this morning, I came across an “urgent” e-mail from my bank stating that as part of their security measures, the bank had screened my account. The e-mail goes on to say that to restore my account I need to click on the link to sign into online banking. The e-mail itself contain all the information of a legitimate e-mail from the bank (including the bank’s logo) however, the link to sign into online banking did not contain the banks web address nor did the e-mail address contain the bank’s name. Typically when an individual or business receives one of these e-mails you should not click on the links nor enter any of your personal information.

Yes people due to the economy the scammers are coming out of the wood work to take your hard earned money and they will even impersonate the government. Here is an interesting article that I came across today where scam artists are impersonating the IRS in another “phishing” scam. Before you take any of the action described in any e-mail you receive, be sure to call the institution that way you can protect yourself and your hard earned money.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Monday, August 03, 2009

States Getting Salty

Yesterday was the last day of the sales tax holidays here in Georgia and although it is too early to tell if it was a success, back to school shoppers were certainly taking advantage of no sales tax. Quite a few states have sales tax holidays scheduled for the summer’s end to assists consumers in saving money. Although the holidays stimulate the economy, many times it is at the expense of the state’s revenue departments. When these departments go without the necessary revenue, we the consumer usually loose. The state revenue departments do have one option they can exercise and that is raising tax rates.

According to a recent report by CCH, state and local taxes (S. A. L. T.) are on the rise so don’t be surprised if you are paying more for items in the coming months. If you were curious to see where your state’s S. A. L. T. rate is be sure to take a look at this map.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy (and salt free)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finding Your Tax Records

There are times when we as taxpayers misplace some of our important tax documents making it difficult to accurately prepare our taxes. Casualties such as a flood or fire can destroy tax documents and if there was not a data backup plan in place, recreating documents can become very time consuming. If a taxpayer finds themselves in a situation like those previously mentioned; the IRS can be a good place to begin the task or reconstruction.

If you have lost your prior year tax documents, be sure to download and fill out Form 4506-T to request copies of your prior year’s tax returns. This is a good starting point to reconstruct your data so that you and your tax professional can prepare your returns. Form 4506-T can be used to request personal, business, and payroll tax forms and the forms can be certified for court or other administrative proceedings.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Monday, July 27, 2009

Working Virtually Anywhere

Over the weekend there was a good article for small business owners in my local paper. The article dealt with the demand for virtual assistants by small business owners and how that demand has continued to grow (even in this economy). If you don’t exactly know what a virtual assistant or “VA” does be sure to check out the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) for details. In a nutshell a VA provides a small business owner with the necessary “back office” administrative services via the web so that the owner can focus on running their business.

VA’s can provide assistance in the areas of administrative, creative, technology, and financial skills and since VA’s are independent, the cost to a small business owner is less. Since VA’s work in the “virtual” world, small business owners can contract with multiple VA’s that can be spread across any boundary. The article got me thinking about the services that I provide and in many cases I guess I would have to consider myself to be a VA. Changes in the economy are causing small business owners to think of ways to cut costs and keep more of their hard earned money. Working with a VA or a firm that offers virtual services may be the key.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Georgia Refunds…Rotten Peaches

There has been a great deal of news on Georgia circulating lately and that made me feel that focusing a blog post specifically on Georgia would be a good idea. Typically being the bearer of bad news is not a desirable position to be in, but many Georgia taxpayers may already know about the state the economy in Georgia is in. As of July 15th, the Georgia Department of Revenue has not sent around 400,000 tax refunds to taxpayers and the interest clock is ticking. In a way there is a silver lining behind the dark cloud in that taxpayers finally will receive interest on money they have loaned the state the only question now is when will taxpayers receive their refunds and interest payments (which will come in separate checks)?

There is some good news coming out of Georgia however. The state will offer sales tax holidays for back to school shoppers from July 30th to August 2nd. Now wouldn’t it be nice if the Department of Revenue could give the taxpayers their money so they could shop for back to school? We will simply have to wait and see.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wamu/Chase, Economy and Change

Thanks to many small business owners and taxpayers bailout money, there has been a great deal of consolidating in the banking industry. One of the major consolidations is the merging of Washington Mutual (Wamu) and Chase banks and the change will have an effect on a lot of small business owners and individuals. If you have accounts with Wamu and you also use financial software like Microsoft Office Accounting, QuickBooks, or Quicken there are some important dates to keep in mind:

July 23 – be sure to schedule your payments and transfers online via your Wamu account or pass this information onto your bookkeeper to processing.

July 24-25 – you will be able to view information online at your Wamu account but you will not be able to make online payments or transfers

July 26 – All Wamu accounts will now transfer to

For more information on the Wamu/Chase changeover be sure to go to the Wamu website.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Little Humor (and I do mean little)

Poking fun at the economy is quite hard considering all the bad news that is occurring lately, but I did come across an article that makes a pretty good attempt. The article is entitled “Top 12 Indicators That the Economy Is Still Bad” and although the article does deal with some serious issues, the ending may give you a chuckle while reading it at your desk.

The main point for small business owners in this economy is to stay focused on streamlining their business processes and operations and look for additional ways to bring in more revenue. So now is a good time to take a look at your strategies and make sure that they are still viable in this economy. A slow economy is a great time to think outside the box and go against the grain. So take that leap of faith and it may produce the results you are looking for.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Your New Financial Advisor….The Government

If the government has it way, taxpayers will have a new financial advisor to assist them with their saving initiatives. There is current proposed legislation that would create the Consumer Finance Protection Agency (CFPA) and this agency would create a savings account for you that would automatically take your tax refund and deposit it into the account. Additionally any increases in your pay scale would also be added to the savings account thus the taxpayer would not have to worry about building a sound foundation of savings.

The rationale for creating the agency is that many taxpayers need the protection of the government from unscrupulous companies in the financial and credit markets and that most taxpayers need guidance when it comes to saving money. Many accountants and financial advisors feel that there is a better way to go about educating taxpayers about saving. Be sure to post your comments and opinions about this potential legislation and also write your congressional leader to express your opinions for or against.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Accounting Software Myths

Many small business owners use accounting software to run their businesses so that they will have the necessary information they need to make business decisions and file their taxes. Most software companies that advertise their products make the products appear to be so easy to setup and operate that they make claims that anyone can take the software right out the box, load it, and they are off and running. From an accountant’s standpoint, this is typically not the case.

Doing “clean up” work has become a lucrative area of specialization for many accountants and that got me to thinking about how software companies market their products to small business owners. I came across an interesting article about the myths of QuickBooks (although you could place any small business software title in its place) that I found interesting. The main point of the article is that if the software is not setup correctly from the start by a person with an accounting background, the end reports will be useless to the small business owner. Be sure that if you are a small business owner planning to use accounting software that you have it setup properly from the start. Proper setup will ensure that less dollars are spent down the line.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Monday, July 06, 2009

Your Clunker is worth cash…maybe

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and got to relax and spend time with friends and family. While at a barbecue over the weekend, the topic of taxes came up when talking around the fire pit. Many individuals were asking about the new Cash for Clunkers Act and how it works for those interested in purchasing a new automobile. Here are the details:

The Consumers Assistance to Recycle and Save Act (Cash for Clunkers) allows taxpayers who purchase a new vehicle a voucher worth up to $4500 for their old automobile. The goal is to boost sales of newer fuel efficient vehicles and clean up the environment. Automobiles that are eligible for trade in must be in drivable condition, continuously insured and owned for one year, manufactured less than 25 years before the trade-in date, and have fuel efficiency of 18 mpg or less.

There are a few other details regarding the specifics of the automobile that is being traded in and how much the actual voucher amount will be so be sure to speak to your tax advisor before actually going to make a new car purchase.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Software Bites the Dust

As of June 30th, the market for small office home office (SOHO) financial software has gotten smaller. Microsoft recently announced that they will discontinue their MS Money software title, a favorite among many sole proprietors and personal finance software fans and yesterday was the last day it was sold. Those individuals that purchased the product recently still have until January 31st, 2011 to activate the product. This may be shocking news to many that use software to manage their finances, but there are still options.

One option is to consider migrating your data over to another software title such as Intuit’s Quicken (Microsoft and Intuit are currently working on a conversion). Another option is to simply upgrade you financial data to more robust software such as MS Office Accounting, QuickBooks, or others. Current customers of MS Money should contact Microsoft for additional information.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New law to help small businesses

Congressional leaders may be out to help the small business owner with a new proposed bill. The “Home Office Tax Deduction Simplification and Improvement Act of 2009” would create simpler way for small business owners to cut through the complex tax code and take advantage of the home office tax deduction. The details of the Act would also open the home office deduction to many of the small business owners who did not qualify for the home office deduction in the past.

Currently the bill is backed by many of the advocates for small businesses, so now is the time for you the small business owner to call your legislator and tell them to vote yes.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Short on Education

While I was in the process of starting my day this morning, I overheard some very interesting information on CNN headline news that will be quite beneficial to college students and their parents. According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms will be shorter for the 2010 -2011 school year. This will allow students and their parents to fill out the forms in a faster, less stressful manner. Some of the wording of questions will be condensed and some questions may be totally eliminated.

The IRS is also helping families of college students by entering into a partnership with the Department of Education that will allow students to automatically download their tax data into the FAFSA forms starting in January. Typically families of college students would have to use their tax return information and enter the lines into the FAFSA worksheet or get a FAFSA report from their tax advisor and the new process will make filling out the application a lot easier.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do more with what you have

Small business owners need to find ways to make the most out of their existing resources and people to ensure that their businesses are viable in the slow economy. One important way to make the most out of your existing technology resources is to take a look at them and find ways to improve their performance. On a recent visit to the local computer supply shop, I took a look at some of the existing computer systems out on the market and although the prices are low (see previous posts) a small business owner may save their hard earned dollars by simply upgrading their existing systems. By adding additional RAM o our laptops, our firm was able to recognize faster systems that increased our productivity.

Another way small business owners can do more with what they have is to use their software to the fullest. Most small business owners only use about 20% of the features that are available in their software titles. By taking additional training course that are typically offered by software vendors, a small business owner can unlock the true power of their software and get more done. Most software vendors have free training and online communities that can assist small business owners with any questions they may have about their software.

So before you go out and spend your precious dollars one additional technology, be sure that you are using what you already have to the fullest.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good ideas in a bad economy

It would appear that the government may take another look at the idea of taxing personal use of business cell phones. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have changed their opinion of the proposed cell phone use tax and would like Congress to repeal the 1987 tax law. Thanks to everyone that sent their opinions to the IRS, there more than likely will not be a tax increase….good idea Doug and Tim to repeal the tax.

Another good idea for small business owners to stay afloat in the down economy is to look for better ways to manage people and processes. Many small business owners do not like change, but making a change may be the only way to stay competitive. Technology can play an important factor in streamlining operations, so be sure to map out a plan that will keep your business operating in high gear.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, June 13, 2009

IRS phones one in

Many small business owners may not have heard about this one, and this may be some shocking news for those that have business cell phone plans. According to recent IRS Notice 2009-46 the treasury is looking to enforce an old 1989 tax law that would make business owners assign 25% of their employees’ annual phone bill as a taxable fringe benefit. For many workers, the change will increase their taxes. Currently the IRS is investigating three different methods to tax personal use of business cell phones. For more details on the IRS’s proposals be sure to take a look at the following diagram link.

The IRS is currently seeking public comment on the idea and this may be a great time for many small business owners to be heard. Send public comments to with “Notice 2009-46” in the subject line. Be sure to post your thoughts regarding the new tax the IRS is phoning in on this blog too.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SBA Programs for Small Businesses

The current economic situation has impacted small businesses negatively in the recent months and many need assistance to stay afloat. The Small Business Administration may be to the rescue for many small business owners with their Microloan program coupled with changes the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made to it. The Act expands the amount of funding a small business owner can receive by $50 million and technical assistance grants by $24 million. The expanded funding will last through September 10, 2010 for small business owners no matter if you are in start-up, or growth stage the program may be beneficial.

The SBA Microloan program’s maximum term limit is six years and the maximum loan amount is $35k. Be sure to speak to your advisor regarding what documents the lender will need to process your loan. A Microloan may help your small business stay afloat in they tough economic times.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Computing Costs

Small business owners need to have efficient processes in place for their business operations to move smoothly. Usually having a stable and secure computer system will assist small business owners who need to have data access when making decisions with suppliers, customers and other vendors. With the economy being slow, many computer manufacturers and trying to liquidate their inventory and are offering all kinds of deals on their overstocks, but are these computers the right ones for your business? An article on may provide small business owners with the necessary information they need to purchase the right computer system for their business. For a technology based small businesses, actually purchasing a computer system may not be the best option due to the always evolving advancements in technology so these small business owners may want to look at leasing computer systems. No matter which option is chosen, the small business owner goes, they must take into account their budget limitations and their needs based on their business processes.

Keeping You Business N Synergy

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Summer Help Wanted

The temperature is on the rise as the summer months begin and for many small business owners out there, their temperatures are on the rise too. What is the culprit this time…no not the economy, but the kids are around with nothing to do. For some small business owners, this is another added distraction from operating their business.

One way to possibly alleviate the distraction is to consider having your children work for you. This way your children’s time is occupied and your business can operate a bit more efficiently with the help. Additionally there may be a possibility for tax benefits having your children work for you due the child’s lower tax bracket. Be sure to speak to your tax advisor for these and other tax planning strategies you should be doing as the year progresses.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A new wave of cyber communication

Recently our blog posts have been focused on new technologies and how we will use them in the coming years. From accounting systems going totally online to using blogs, Twitter and social networking sites to build our businesses one can see that there is a change in the way we do business. Well for those that thought technology had run out of ideas, Google may have you waving good-bye to e-mail and saying hello to real-real time communication with their introduction of Google Wave.

Wave is a web based application that integrates e-mail, chat, blogs and other communication and collaboration forms into one. The beauty of the integration is that it is also done in real-time. If Wave is a success, this may be the end for other communication and collaboration forms that are not integrated together. Wave it set to release later on this year, but until then look at the video preview to see if you will be waving good-bye to your other forms of communication.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Educational Tax Trick/Tip

While scanning through my e-mails the other day, I came across an e-mail from computer and electronics seller Tiger Direct and since I am always interested in new technology to make life run smoother I opened it looking for deals. The e-mail stated that due to the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 taxpayers with a child in college will be able to claim technology products (laptops, netbooks, and internet to name a few) as qualified education expenses for year 2009 and 2010. In an effort to sell more units, Tiger Direct left out one important detail regarding the technology products purchased.

Products purchased by the taxpayer must be bought with funds from a Section 529 educational plan and not out of pocket. The e-mail is only partially correct and many taxpayers will think that their purchases will qualify for educational expenses when in reality they will not. Be sure to speak with your tax advisor to understand the tax advantages of Section 529 plans so that you can properly plan your educational purchases for the year.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Find Your Information Instantly

Most small business owners wear all the “hats” when it comes to running their businesses. From sales and marketing, to accounting, to day to day operations, a small business owner has to juggle many duties to get the job done. Problems can arise for a small business owner when they do not have access to information at a moments need. Bottlenecks can also occur when small business owners have difficulty locating necessary documents while in the office. If these situations have occurred while operating your small business, a look toward technology may be a solution.

By using a document management solution, small business owners can have access to their data virtually anywhere, their data will be organized decreasing bottlenecks, and the data is secure. There are many vendors that offer file storage/document management solutions so a small business owner must first access what their needs and storage sizes are.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The New River of Thought

A very interesting article came across my e-mail recently that I would like to share with everyone out there in blog land. Written by Mike LeMaster, president of Revenue Advisors LLC, the article focuses on how business owners must change their thought processes to stay competitive in the new economy. The way we do business is drastically changing and business owners need to change with the times or get left behind. LeMaster outlines four things a business owner can do to ensure that they stay competitive in the new economy. One thing business owners should focus on is how they operate their business today and look for ways to streamline operations and save precious money. Be sure to read the article and post your thoughts about how your business will sail down the new river of thought. If a business decides not to sail down the new river, there is a large chance that the business will sink.

Keeping You Business N Synergy

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Virtually virtual accounting

Small business owners are constantly looking for more ways to streamline their operations and save money. A great way to increase productivity and save precious dollars is to have 24/7 access to your data. 24/7 data access allows the small business owner to make sound business decisions based on real-time information. Real –time financial information can only be obtained from a financial system that is virtual (or online). There are two ways that a small business owner can setup a virtual accounting system, through and ASP or a SaaS.


An ASP or application service provider allows a small business to login to their computers where popular accounting software packages (like Microsoft Office Accounting, and QuickBooks) are located. The small business owner’s books are then hosted on the ASP’s computer where they can be accessed anytime online.


SaaS or Software as a Service is typically a web based accounting system (such as QuickBooks Online, or AccountantsWorld Accounting Relief) where a small business owner would login to the accounting system itself instead of a computer that hosts the accounting software.

Which system is right for your small business will depend on a few factors so be sure to speak to a financial technology consultant and conduct a detailed needs assessment that focuses on your existing systems and processes.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Accounting software to the rescue

We recently conducted a small business seminar that was geared toward assisting small business owners with their accounting and back office functions. The main point that was conveyed was that a small business owner needs to use an accounting software title to fully benefit from the organization and productivity gains their business will experience. One software title that can help those small business owners just starting out is Microsoft Office Accounting Express (MOAE). MOAE integrates seamlessly with all of Microsoft’s Office products so the learning curve is not as steep as other software. MOAE is also already customized for those tech savvy business owners that sell products online with integration with eBay and payments through PayPal. MOAE is also free as a download so small business owners have nothing to loose to try it out. Download MOAE today and get your small business running faster and with more organization.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Small Business Audits Follow Up

There have been previous posts on the topic of the IRS auditing small businesses and with the latest news, there is a need to revisit the topic again. According to IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman small businesses with assets between $10 million to $50 million are eight times more likely to be audited than businesses with less than the amount. The IRS is trying to reach out to small businesses (especially Schedule C filers) through increased resources on their website and collaborative efforts with small business accountants. In these tough economic times, small business owners are better prepared to cope when they have all the information at their fingertips.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Stimulus Surprise

While doing some tax planning for a client earlier this week, we noticed that there may be a chance that the taxpayer would either owe taxes this coming year or their refund would be a bit smaller. This is partly due to the taxpayer’s own personal situation; however the “Making Work Pay” tax credit is the major factor in the change. The credit is part of the stimulus package recently signed into law and there maybe be quite a few taxpayers who will have a surprise next year at tax time. The credit provides taxpayers with $400 to $800 during the year, but certain taxpayers will have to pay some of that money back when they file their taxes. Those taxpayers that will be affected are the married taxpayers where both spouses work, workers with more than one job during the year, and retired taxpayers with earned income (this is a lot of people). This is another reason that taxpayers should be planning for tax season next year now.

Keeping Next Year’s Taxes N Synergy Now

Friday, May 01, 2009

Inter Net Tax

Small business owners that purchase goods over the internet versus a traditional store front may want to start setting aside money to pay for the sales tax on the goods. The Supreme Court has recently backed the idea of state sales taxes on internet sales even though the many companies do not have a physical presence in the state. With the economy being down and state budgets being cut, many revenue departments are looking for ways to increase their bottom line. Small business owners should set aside money for sales taxes or at least research the taxability of online items before purchase. Sales taxes are based on state tax law, so the rules from state to state are different. Be sure to speak to your accountant regarding any sales tax issues that may arise especially when purchasing big ticket items online.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Backups not leaving your back out

Small business owners should have a consistent data backup procedure in place to ensure that their operations do not miss a beat in the event of a theft, or loss from disaster. When thinking of the correct way a small business owner should backup their data, the story of the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 come to mind. One passenger back up his data the correct way, secure and at an offsite location; the other passenger back up his data with thumb drives. Guess whose data was accessible once the plane landed in the Hudson?

Be sure that your business has a consistent, offsite and secure backup plan for your data. A small business technology consultant can provide a roadmap on the procedures for backing up data, the backup schedule and more. That way your backup won’t have your back out.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Friday, April 24, 2009

Understanding the Stimulus

The economic stimulus package was signed into law earlier this year and many taxpayers are under the impression that they will be receiving a check this year just like the last stimulus package signed in 2008. The 2009 stimulus is setup a little bit differently; taxpayers with W-2 income will see an increase in their paychecks for 2009 and 2010. The increase will be based on the taxpayer’s filing status but will range from $45 to $65. So in a nutshell there will NOT be a check sent to anyone with a W-2.

Who will receive a stimulus check are recipients of Social Security, Veterans and Railroad retirement. The payment will be in the amount of $250 and only those taxpayers who were already receiving retirement benefits by January 31 of 2009 will get a check. Small business owners (Schedule C filers) will want to make tax payment adjustments so be sure to speak to your tax advisor to devise a plan and take advantage of the stimulus changes.

Keeping Your Business N Synergy

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tax Filing is over…now tax planning begins

As many taxpayers scurried around trying to file their taxes (and or extensions) last week many felt a bit of relief when they dropped their return in the mail or had their tax professional e-file their return. Hold on there taxpayers for this is the best time to properly plan for next years taxes while taxes are still fresh in your mind. There have been quite a few tax changes recently and many will affect taxpayers when they file their 2009 tax returns. Be sure to stop by and speak to your tax professional regarding how the new tax laws will affect your future tax filings. Most tax professionals will walk the taxpayer through a post-tax season checklist that covers all aspects of your tax situation whether it is personal or small business issues. By properly planning now, taxpayers can have a less stressful tax season next year.

Tax planning will keep your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The End

So the last day to timely file your tax return (without an extension) is upon us and many have taken to the streets to either file their tax returns or join in the tea party. The present is the best time for many taxpayers to plan for next years taxes. If you are one of the taxpayers out there that forgot some of your deductions, be sure to file an amended return.

Well the day is now over and vacation time is in the future for many in our office.

Keeping Your Taxes N Synergy

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Increase Your Net Worth with a Netbook

Small businesses are always looking for ways to save money at the same time increasing productivity. One important way to accomplish the task is to invest in technology that is cost effective and can be seamlessly integrated into your operations. Many small businesses are spending technology dollars on “netbooks” instead of laptop notebooks due to their compatibility with existing small business software and their low price. What is a netbook you may ask?

A netbook is a small version of a laptop notebook but does not skimp when it comes to features and power. The price of netbooks ranges anywhere from $250 to $400 and sales of them are certainly on the rise. Netbooks do have smaller viewing areas and keyboards; however these are minor issues that can be overcome. Check out’s article to see if a netbook can increase your productivity and net worth.

Technology N Synergy

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

1 Week till Tax Deadline

Many taxpayers have more than likely filed their tax returns, but for those that have not; the deadline is one week away. According to a recent article in Accounting Today most taxpayers have been preparing their own returns with off the self and online tax preparation. E-filing numbers are also up for the 2009 tax season. For those taxpayers that have not filed their tax return, an extension may be in order. Be sure to complete Form 4868 (can also be e-filed). The extension of time to file does NOT extend the time to pay. Taxes due must be paid by the April 15th deadline. Speak to your professional tax advisor for additional options if you can not pay the total amount due.

Getting Your Taxes N Synergy

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Congress Helping the Small Business Owner

Small business owners (especially those that file Schedule C) are getting a little assistance from Congress recently. Congressional leaders are pressing the IRS to ease up the audits on small businesses (see previous posts regarding the tax gap) and let small business owners take advantage of the tax relief provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Small business are getting audited more often than their larger counterparts, coupled with the fact that small business are the backbone of the economy, providing the small business owner a helping hand may be a good idea. Blog readers can be rest assured that we will keep you posted on any changes that will benefit you and your small business. Be sure to speak to your tax advisor regarding how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will affect your small business this year.

Business N Synergy

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Conficker Conflicts

Today is the day of pranks all over the country and although most April 1 pranks are suppose to be harmless and fun; the Conficker worm is no laughing matter. For those that are worried about their computer systems being compromised, be sure to get all the facts regarding the Conficker worm. According to an article in PCMag, the worm should (and I emphasis should) not harm many of the computers operating in the U.S. that is if those computers are not loaded with updated anti-virus and malware software. Another security procedure that many should take is to ensure that their passwords are strong and updated regularly. This reader was also surprised to learn that the Conficker worm is mainly a Microsoft XP issue. Be sure to check out the PCMag article for ways to protect your computer and remove the worm if you have it already.

Keeping Your Tech Gadgets N Synergy

Sunday, March 29, 2009

IE 8 is Here

For those that did not know, Microsoft has finally unveiled their Internet Explorer version 8. We have currently been demoing the beta version of the product and must say that it has improved considerably. IE8 provides small business owners with more security and stability to help them run their businesses more efficiently. Small business owners that have not had a chance to beta test IE8 can now get the browser from the Microsoft website.

Download Internet Explorer 8

Technology N Synergy

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A waiver goodbye

Taxpayers that are in their retirement years are provided a small bit of relief for 2009 with regards to their IRA’s. According to the IRS there is a temporary waiver being offered of the required minimum distribution rules. Taxpayers are not required to take a minimum distribution from their traditional IRA. The waiver is available to IRA participants and beneficiaries.

The change means that taxpayers can take withdrawals a year later than the past. With the economy down, the change allows retired taxpayers to not dip into retirement funds after waving goodbye to the majority of the retirement income. There are additional details regarding the waiver, so be sure to speak to your professional tax advisor for details regarding eligibility.

Your Taxes N Synergy

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Technology Tax Breaks

Small business owners are constantly looking for ways to cut costs and increase productivity within their operations. Recently I was able to speak first hand with a group of small business owners at a networking event regarding how the new American recovery and Reinvestment Act would affect their businesses. One of the major changes within the Act was the changes to bonus depreciation and Code Section 179 depreciation (expensing) that will allow small business owners to deduct more of the costs associated with certain asset purchases. One common asset purchases for small businesses are computers and other technology equipment. Computers play an important role in the operation of a small business and a small business owner needs to know all the facts before purchasing a new system.

Those small business owners that are interested in purchasing a laptop, SB360 have developed a free training webcast on how to select the best laptop computer for your small business needs. The webcast will provide a small business owner with information on the different types of laptops available, how to evaluate the differences between laptop components, and your small business needs.

The webcast is a great way to get all the facts about laptops before you buy to ensure that the system that is purchased is the right one for your small business needs. After you have selected the model, be sure to speak to your tax advisor to carefully plan your depreciation deduction.

Technology Keeping Your Business N Synergy