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Want a profitable business? Focus on customer service

Even with the best of intentions, many companies talk up customer service but don’t actually deliver. In order to really provide great customer service, every employee needs to be tuned in to how he or she can contribute to keep customers coming back again and again. This ultimately affects the net profit of any business. Customer service includes every element…

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Audit-proof your shareholder loan

If you’re a business owner and your company lends you money, you’ll enter it in the books as a shareholder loan. However, if your return is audited, the IRS will scrutinize the loan to see whether it is really disguised wages or a dividend taxable to you as income. Knowing what the IRS might look at may be useful when…

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6 ways to avoid credit card catastrophes

6 ways to avoid credit card catastrophes

Credit cards should be a convenient short-term way to pay, not a source of regular spending. Unfortunately, some people have a hard time staying true to this concept. Instead of paying off the entire balance due on the card each month, they let it grow and pay only the minimum amounts. If this sounds all too familiar, it’s time to…

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Considering divorce? Think about your tax filing status

Considering divorce? Think about your tax filing status

The advantage of filing a joint tax return is well known — couples generally save money when compared with filing separately. However, there is at least one potential disadvantage. Both spouses are liable for the entire income tax bill, including interest and penalties, even if one earned most or all of the income. The joint-filing downfall This issue most commonly…

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Why a business appraisal may be your best friend

Why a business appraisal may be your best friend

For many business owners, business appraisals can provide vital planning information and help mitigate risk. Consider what it may be able to do for you: Establish a verifiable value for your business. This can show whether assets have appreciated at a reasonable rate. If not, you may need to adjust your firm’s strategy. Create documentation to support new financing. Lenders…

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How to get your marriage off to a good financial start

How to get your marriage off to a good financial start

Wedding season is upon us! Did you know couples often enter into marriage without ever having had a discussion about financial issues? As a result, they find themselves frequently arguing about money. If you are planning a wedding, here are some steps you can take to get your marriage off to a good financial start: Determine your financial compatibility. Take…

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How to Make the Most of Your Tax Refund

Are you receiving a tax refund this year? No doubt you’ve already heard about why you shouldn’t be giving the government an interest-free loan. Maybe you’ve decided to revise your withholding or estimated tax payments to reduce the amount of next year’s refund. Either way, you have options. Financial planning means creating effective strategies that work for you. The more…

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3 Reasons Why Your Child Should (or shouldn’t) Have Life Insurance

3 Reasons Why Your Child Should (or shouldn’t) Have Life Insurance

When determining whether or not to carry life insurance on your children, you’ll find that people have a variety of opinions. Here’s a look at some of the most common considerations for and against life insurance policies on children: Financial security. Traditionally, you take out life insurance to provide for the financial security of dependents. The policy should include funds to…

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Emergency Funds: Why They’re Worth It

Emergency Funds: Why They’re Worth It

Emergency funds can be helpful for everyone. Any unexpected hit to your finances, and unanticipated illness or a natural disaster might all be reasons you may need money right away. What is an emergency fund? An emergency fund is designed to keep your life intact during temporary setbacks and to help you avoid unnecessary debt. That means things like car…

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Is Walking Away from Sunk Costs the Best Option?

Is Walking Away from Sunk Costs the Best Option?

Emotions make us human. They can also cause us to make rash decisions. Business owners and managers often let emotions dominate the decision-making process. This is especially true when choices are based on “sunk costs.” Why sunk costs can lead to trouble Broadly defined, sunk costs are past expenses that are irrelevant to current decisions. For example, many firms hire…

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Payroll Fraud – Is your business susceptible?

Payroll Fraud – Is your business susceptible?

Unless a small business owner handles all aspects of computing and paying payroll, there is room for fraud. Even if your company has only a few employees — it does not guarantee your funds will be safe.   How payroll fraud happens Perhaps one of the easiest payroll fraud techniques is the overpayment of withholding or payroll taxes. Your bookkeeper…

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Nanny Tax – Ignorance isn’t a good excuse

Nanny Tax – Ignorance isn’t a good excuse

As you review your filing requirements for 2018, make sure you don’t overlook the nanny tax related to household employees. If you have a housekeeper or any other household employee, you could be liable to pay state and federal payroll taxes.   How to know if you must pay the nanny tax First, you’ll need to determine whether you have…

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Tax-Time Review

Tax-Time Review

Now is the perfect time to review your financial affairs. You have to gather information to prepare your tax return at this time. Why not take one more step and do something positive for the wellbeing of your wallet?   The following suggestions will help you with your financial review:   Talk to your family. You should factor in the…

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Is it time to update your beneficiary list?

Is it time to update your beneficiary list?

It’s not uncommon to lose track of your beneficiaries, including which accounts have them, and who you designated. However, it is important to keep them current. Make your beneficiary designations a priority When you designate a beneficiary for an account, that person inherits the assets in the account, regardless of what your will says. That’s why updating your will periodically…

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Your Business’ Annual Health Check

Your Business’ Annual Health Check

Business owners and managers spend most of their time monitoring operations and dealing with everyday problems. But just as an annual checkup from your doctor helps monitor and manage your personal health, an annual checkup can do the same for your business. Here are seven checkup tasks that you should make time to do every year. These are important for…

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5 Year-End Tax Tips

5 Year-End Tax Tips

The clock is ticking down to 2018 … but you still have a few weeks left to make some last-minute tax moves. Take a look at these five tips and save a little more this year. Check the amount of 2017 tax you have prepaid through withholding and quarterly estimates ASAP. If you’ve underpaid, consider increasing your withholding before year-end.…

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The holidays: A time for mistletoe and … fraud?

The holidays: A time for mistletoe and … fraud?

It’s not surprising that identity thieves and con artists love the holidays. More shoppers, more deals and more buying motivation makes the season rife with opportunities to steal. But you don’t have to let the holiday spirit cloud your shopping safety judgment.   Here are a few tips to avoid fraud, whether you’re shopping online or at your local mall:…

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Keep Your Kids Occupied During the Upcoming Holiday Break Teach Them These 4 Smart Money Lessons

Keep Your Kids Occupied During the Upcoming Holiday Break Teach Them These 4 Smart Money Lessons

Personal finance is often learned through experience. Fortunately, you can give your kids a hand-up on their journey to becoming financially responsible adults. Preschoolers and teenagers obviously have different financial concerns and abilities. But there are a few basic lessons that all children should learn by the time they enter college or start a career: Money = choices. Teach your…

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Savvy Generosity: Do it the right way

Savvy Generosity: Do it the right way

Giving on a yearly basis could trim both your estate and income taxes. First, there’s the annual exclusion for gifts. Currently, you can give $14,000 annually to any number of recipients without paying federal gift tax. Married couples can double this amount by gift-splitting – a gift of $28,000 from one spouse is treated as if it came half from…

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Tax Reform: What You Need to Know

Tax Reform: What You Need to Know

There is now a ton of media chatter about the recently introduced federal tax reform package being passed around in Washington, D.C. While it’s still early in the process, here are some of the key elements of the current proposal. For individuals: Individual tax rate brackets trimmed to three rates of 12, 25 and 35 percent, down from the current…

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Conquer your financial clutter

Conquer your financial clutter

Financial records are notorious for being messy. Bills, paycheck stubs, tax returns and bank statements have a way of getting tucked into random places. Luckily, there are a few pretty painless ways to organize your important documents.   Put all your financial records in one dedicated spot To ensure that bills are paid on time, bank statements are reconciled and…

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Employee meals: 50 or 100 percent deductible?

Employee meals: 50 or 100 percent deductible?

Everyone loves a free meal – especially employees. However, your business tax return will be affected differently depending on the circumstances of the mealtime experience.   While you can generally deduct only half the cost of meals related to your business activities, the tax code includes specific exceptions that allow a deduction of 100 percent of what you spend on…

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Employer company stock: risky or worth it?

Employer company stock: risky or worth it?

Employees often have too much of their employer’s company stock in their 401(k) or other retirement plan. That’s because employees tend to feel like they know their companies best. Here’s the problem: they may be overlooking the risks of having too much of an investment in any one company.   Here are some of the risks of loading up on…

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4 smart ways to cut business costs

4 smart ways to cut business costs

Keeping costs under control is crucial in today’s challenging business environment. Without a doubt, one of the quickest ways for a business to cut costs is through staff reduction. But cutting jobs is not always the best cost-cutting strategy. Drastic job cuts can lead to a vicious cycle of reduced productivity, followed by even slower growth and decreased profitability. Replacing…

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Your Receipts are Important: Save Them!

Your Receipts are Important: Save Them!

When it comes to taking qualified deductions on your federal tax return, three things must happen: Recognize that an expense might be deductible on your tax return. Keep a record of the expense in an organized fashion. Obtain the proper (and timely) documentation to support your deduction.   This might be obvious to most people, but here are some typical…

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Tips On Tip Reporting

Tips On Tip Reporting

If you are like millions of taxpayers who work in the service industry, you may receive tips. The tax code is clear; if you receive tips you must report them as income. Some employers have systems to make this easy, while others do not. Here are some suggestions: Think 1-2-3 Proper tip reporting has three components. 1. Keeping a daily…

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How To Cut Car Maintenance Costs

How To Cut Car Maintenance Costs

Insurance, fuel, loan interest, maintenance, repairs, depreciation – all the expenses associated with owning and driving an automobile can take a huge bite out of your family budget. Some of these are sunk costs. Because the money is already spent – the down payment to purchase your car, for example – such costs are irrelevant when budgeting for the future.…

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Do A Business Valuation When You’re Ready To Sell Your Company

Do A Business Valuation When You’re Ready To Sell Your Company

Well before you’re ready to sell your company, you’ll want to determine its fair market value as a starting point for negotiations. Of course, obtaining a reasonably precise value for your business is often a complicated and time-consuming task. Accurate appraisals must weigh a variety of factors and incorporate numerous assumptions. The more precise the underlying numbers and suppositions, the…

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Four Tips For Building An Emergency Fund

Planning for business emergencies is like buying insurance: you pay into an account and hope you’ll never have to use it. But life happens. Equipment breaks down. Electrical problems occur. Employees leave. Having money in the bank to cover those unexpected expenses can reduce stress and keep you from relying on credit cards and loans to keep your business afloat.…

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Five Home Office Deduction Mistakes

If you operate a business out of your home, you may be able to deduct a wide variety of expenses. These may include part of your rent or mortgage costs, insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance, and cleaning costs related to the space you use. It can be a tricky area of the tax code that’s full of pitfalls for the unwary.…

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Get to Know These Tax-Saving Terms

Get to Know These Tax-Saving Terms

As you begin to think about scheduling your midyear tax planning appointment, refresh your memory on the meanings of terms that can save you money. Here are three. Exclusion. Exclusions are items that would generally be included on your return, but are specifically excluded by a tax law provision. For example, gifts and inheritances you receive are excluded from your income…

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Five Reasons to Incorporate Your Business

Five Reasons to Incorporate Your Business

Most new businesses start with no thought about legal structure. In the eyes of the IRS, the default structure is a “sole proprietor,” in which your business profits are taxed on your personal tax return. This can serve you well to start, but there are several reasons you may want to consider incorporating as your business grows. To protect your…

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Don’t Underestimate the Power of Curb Appeal

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is often talked about when selling a residential home, however, it applies just as frequently to the commercial building or space. If you want to improve the market value, curb appeal matters. Locations with great curb appeal usually command higher prices and spend less time on the market. Luckily there are simple, inexpensive ways to help your building…

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How to Build Your Business Credit

How to Build Your Business Credit

Whether your firm has been operating for years, or you decided over last night’s coffee to start a new venture, you’re sure to face the need for business credit. Entrepreneurs often ask friends and family to invest in their start-up businesses, and many draw on personal funds to launch new firms. But to address ongoing business needs – such as…

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Disability Insurance – What You Need to Know

Disability Insurance – What You Need to Know

Say “insurance” to most people and auto, health, home, and life are the variants that spring to mind. But what if an illness or accident were to deprive you of your income? Even a temporary setback could create havoc with your financial affairs. Statistics show your chances of being disabled for three months or longer between ages 35 and 65…

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Considering Paying for Your Child’s College Education?

Should you pay for your child’s college education? Or should your child find the financing? There are compelling arguments for both sides, but ultimately, your family needs to do what’s best for your financial situation. Most families find that a combination of both works the best. Parents should pay. Arguments in favor of shelling out your hard-earned cash for a…

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Tax Filing Responsibilities of Estate Executors

Your role as an executor or personal administrator of an estate involves a number of responsibilities. Did you know that part of your responsibility involves making sure the necessary tax returns are filed? And there might be more of those than you expect. Here’s an overview: Personal income tax. You may need to file a federal income tax return for…

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Could the Coverdell ESA be the right fund for you?

As we approach graduation season, we have education costs on the brain! You’re probably familiar with 529 college savings plans. Named for Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, they’re also known as qualified tuition programs, and they offer tax benefits when you save for college expenses. But are you aware of a lesser-known cousin, established under Section 530 of…

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What you should do when the IRS contacts you

After you file your tax return, the last thing you want to see is a notice from the IRS questioning your return. Some IRS notices involve very minor changes, like a correction to a Social Security number. Some are for serious changes that could involve a lot of money, such as a billing for more taxes, interest, or penalties due…

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Find the best employees to contribute to your company

Turnover is an often overlooked cost of doing business. Sometimes it can run as high as 25% of salary and benefits. One way to reduce this cost is to hire wisely. It’s an oft-quoted cliché that employees are a company’s most valuable assets. Try generating revenue with unmotivated or unskilled employees, and you’ll soon discover that the cliché rings true.…

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2 Smart Tax Ideas for Your Refund

Are you looking forward to your tax refund? By now you know how much you’ll be getting and approximately when the cash will land in your bank account. The only question is, what’s the best way to put the money to work for you? Here are two tax-smart ideas. Tax Refund Tip #1 Fund your IRA. Depending on your income,…

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That’s Taxable?!?!

Have you ever wondered about the taxability of funds or services you receive? There are many areas in the tax code that cause confusion regarding what’s taxable. These are some of the most common. Alimony. Alimony is taxable to the person who receives it and deductible to the person who pays it. Special rules apply. Make sure you have proper…

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Building Customer Loyalty – A Few Basics

Studies have shown that businesses often spend five to six times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Over the long term, those dollars add up. In fact, a company’s ability to care for its customers often determines its survivability in the marketplace. Make customers happy and they’ll stick with you; disappoint them and they’ll…

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Tax Tips for Newlyweds

It’s the start of wedding season! If you are approaching your wedding date (congratulations!), the tax implications of marriage are probably not the first thing on your mind. But paying a little attention to it now can save time and even money later. Here are a few tips to help those who are about to embark on a new life…

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How to Prevent Identity Theft From Affecting You

The IRS has made great strides in protecting taxpayers from identity thieves, but you must still be diligent to protect your information. Identity thieves can steal a taxpayer’s personal information and use it to file a tax return claiming a refund under the taxpayer’s name. Then when the taxpayer actually files a return, the IRS won’t accept it and notifies…

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Grandparents can help reduce the cost of college

A growing number of grandparents are helping raise their grandchildren. Grandparents are giving their time and money, helping with the cost of toys, clothing, education and extracurricular activities. This can add up to thousands of dollars. Many millennials indicate they could not afford their lifestyle if it were not for the help their parents provide. While helping to support grandchildren…

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Tax bracket, tax rate, what’s the difference?

The difference between your tax bracket and your tax rate is more than a trick question. For example, knowing your tax rate gives you an accurate reflection of your tax liability in relation to your total income. Knowing your tax bracket is useful for planning purposes. For instance, you may want to spread a Roth conversion over several years in…

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Clean Your Financial House for the New Year

Out with the old, in with the new. No matter whether you apply the expression to changes in attitude or to life adjustments, the end of the year is a great time to assess your household finances and prepare for new opportunities. Here are suggestions. Review your credit report. Request a free copy of your credit report from each of…

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How social security benefits are taxed

Are you wondering if your social security retirement, survivor, and disability benefits will be subject to federal income tax on your 2016 return? Generally, when these benefits are taxed is determined by your “provisional income.” Provisional income (PI) is the product of a formula used for no other purpose than figuring out the taxable percentage of social security benefits. To…

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Avoid Hiring Mistakes in Your Start-Up

Staffing errors can spell disaster for your start-up. Here are three to watch out for. Staffing the firm with friends and family. While this strategy may work in some circumstances, hiring pals and relatives often spells trouble. For one thing, friends and family members often expect – even subconsciously – to be treated differently from other employees. A double standard,…

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Don’t include the IRS on your gift list

Suppose a relative gives you an expensive painting. Several years later, your relative dies and you decide to sell the painting. Your accountant says you’ll owe capital gain tax on the sale, and asks for your basis in order to reduce the amount on which you’ll pay tax. What’s your answer? When you sell property received as a gift, the…

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NJ’s Christie Keeps the NJ – PA Agreement !!!

Gov. Christie has decided to keep a decades-long agreement between New Jersey and Pennsylvania that allows residents to pay income tax where they live, regardless of where they work — just months after he announced he would end it. Christie said legislation passed Monday, among other recent measures, will help rein in health care costs for public employees, eliminating the need for…

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Ready to start year-end planning? Focus on the big picture

Some tax-cutting strategies make good financial sense. Others are simply bad ideas, often because tax considerations are allowed to override basic economics. Here’s one example of the tax tail wagging the economic dog. Let’s say that you operate an unincorporated consulting business. You want an additional tax write-off, so you decide to buy $10,000 of office furniture that you don’t…

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Downtime is not wasted time, Does a suggestion to boost productivity with time off sound counter intuitive?

  Research has shown that giving workers – and perhaps yourself, as a business owner – time off to recuperate from work demands can be energizing. Here are three ways your business can benefit. Read more. Does a suggestion to boost productivity with time off sound counter intuitive? Research has shown that giving workers – and perhaps yourself, as a…

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Higher self-employment taxes coming in 2017

  Did you know the national average wage index went up? You might have missed the news, but it’s likely you will notice one impact: higher self-employment taxes. How are the two related? The index is used to calculate the social security wage base, which is the amount of income subject to the 12.4% social security portion of the self-employment…

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Prepare in advance for required IRA distributions

  Once you reach age 70½, the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules say you have to withdraw at least a minimum amount from your retirement plans each year. Since the withdrawals are considered ordinary income, planning in advance can help you prepare for the impact on your federal income tax return. Here are two suggestions. Read more. Once you reach…

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Keep an eye on your company’s cash !!

Do you regularly monitor your company’s cash accounts? Being aware of where your cash is going can help prevent theft or improper expenditures, which are among the chief sources of loss for small companies. Do you regularly monitor your company’s cash accounts? Being aware of where your cash is going can help prevent theft or improper expenditures, which are among…

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Tax planning is good for corporations too

If you own a calendar-year corporation, you can benefit from planning moves you make before December 31.  For example, corporations can accelerate or defer income or deductions to stay within a certain tax bracket.  You’ll also want to look at your corporate alternative minimum tax exposure to determine whether you qualify for an exception to the tax.  Finally, reviewing estimated…

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