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.