Business Feed

Owners of small businesses, like these along Story City, Iowa's main street, are hoping federal tax reform will provide them some financial relief. (Photo by Brood_wich via Flickr CC) It looks like the Graham-Cassidy attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare is running out of steam, thanks once again to Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain. That means Capitol Hill can shift its full attention to the tax code. Republicans say they'll release more tax reform details the week of Sept. 25. Small business owners should be happy. Tax reform tops biz concerns: The latest Paychex Small Business Survey, conducted in late... Read more →


One of the major drivers of the latest federal tax reform effort is the corporate tax rate. The Trump Administration is still pushing for a 15 percent corporate tax rate, the White House's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told CNBC last week. However, just the day before Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin conceded a 15 percent rate would be difficult to attain. Meanwhile, one Washington, D.C.-based tax policy group has looked at how much corporate taxes contribute per capita to state coffers. That analysis by The Tax Foundation earns this week's Shout Out Saturday honors. Not a major tax matter: "The corporate... Read more →


Amazon's headquarters (center high rise) dominates downtown Seattle. Now the online retail giant is looking to build a second HQ in another North American city. (Photo courtesy Amazon) In June, Amazon acquired what many Austin residents felt was a part of the city's core, the organic grocer Whole Foods. Now Texas' capital city is looking to get something back from Amazon — the online retailer's second headquarters. But becoming home to that new facility also raises a big question: At what tax cost? Second HQ as big as the first: Amazon announced Sept. 7 that it's looking for a city... Read more →


Happy Labor Day. While many Americans are working on this holiday, others are fortunate to have off this first Monday in September. Whether you're working or not most likely depends on the type of employee you are. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to pay employees for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays, writes Susan Heathfield for The Balance. Different jobs, different days off: Salaried employees in exempt professional, technical or managerial positions expect paid holidays. Nonexempt, or hourly, employees are less likely to have paid holidays, or they receive fewer such days off... Read more →


Colorfully coiffed "Girls Trip" friends Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah partying in New Orleans. I've been a film fanatic from an early age. It started when I was a back-seat viewer on the family's regular summer night trips to the drive-in. Movies were a much needed break from real life in terrible times, like when Mom took my little brother and me to see "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to get us away from the news of JFK's assassination. And the annual airing of "The Wizard of Oz" was must-see TV in our house, especially... Read more →


From 10:17 a.m. Pacific time until 2:47 p.m. Eastern time, give or take a few minutes before and after, on Monday, Aug. 21, millions of Americans will be watching — safely, please! — the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States in more than 38 years. The line shows the entire path of totality across the contiguous United States for the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Click image for a larger view. (Map by Ernie Wright, NASA/Goddard/SVS) That also likely will mean a big boost in businesses, both long-established and pop-ups related to the astronomical event... Read more →


Tax reform, or at least tax cuts, will top Congress' agenda when it gets back from August recess. But will Representatives and Senators actually rewrite the tax code the way most Americans want? Today's Shout Out Saturday piece says maybe not. Donald J. Trump reportedly is now backing a corporate tax rate of 20 percent to 25 percent, up from the 15 percent rate included in his April tax overhaul outline. That slightly higher business tax rate jibes with what corporate executives and business lobbyists say is attainable. That, however, is not what American taxpayers want, according to a recent... Read more →


You’ve had enough of being a wage slave. It’s time to start your own business. That means it’s also time to consider the tax implications of becoming your own boss. Here are four tax matters to think about as you plan your move from the corporate cubicle to your own self-employed suite. 1. Select a business structure. How you’ll run your business will affect your taxes. You have several choices. The most common forms (and the federal tax forms required) are: Sole Proprietorship (Schedule C or C-EZ as an attachment to your personal Form 1040, along with Schedule SE to... Read more →


Before you can write off your business expenses, you must show that you were indeed trying to turn a profit. That basic business tax tenet was confirmed by a recent U.S. Tax Court decision. In a summary opinion, Special Trial Judge Daniel A. Guy, Jr., sustained the Internal Revenue Service’s accuracy-related penalty against Eric Zudak based on tax that was reduced by incorrect business expenses claims. The judge held that Zudak wasn’t entitled to a deduction for expenses he paid for his film festival activity because he didn’t conduct the activity in a businesslike manner or engage in the activity... Read more →


India tax officials say their effort to reduce large stashes of illicit cash has led to markedly more tax compliance. Such efforts to get more taxpayers to be honest are ongoing globally, including by the Internal Revenue Service here in the United States. 500 and 1000 Rupee notes that were recently demonetized by the Indian government. It’s no secret that the Internal Revenue Service looks much more closely at business that are cash heavy. The IRS, supported by other government studies, has found that cash intensive companies — which are, as the name indicates, businesses that receives a significant amount... Read more →


Wisconsin workers soon could be working at new Foxconn plant if state lawmakers approve huge tax benefits for the Taiwanese electronics company. Are you worried that your next iPhone will cost more than you planned now that Foxconn is opening a plant in Wisconsin? The Taiwanese electronics supplier will be paying U.S. employees much more — an average of almost $54,000 a year plus benefits annually — than workers who put together Apple products in China. Don't be. Foxconn's American operation won't be making smartphone components. Instead, it will produce liquid-crystal display panels for televisions and computer screens. But Wisconsin... Read more →


"We looked at healthcare and said let's make sure that we do tax reform better and differently." — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) talking about what's next legislatively after the GOP failed earlier today to deliver on its seven-year pledge to end Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan has been pushing his "A Better Way" economic and tax plan for years. Will he finally succeed in 2017 as a Republican-led Congress and White House turn their attention to tax reform? Doing a better job in rewriting the tax code than they did during the recent Affordable Care Act repeal and/or replace... Read more →


Alfred Hitchcock nailed it in his 1955 cat burglar-turned-romance starring Grace Kelly and Gary Grant. The pair teamed up, with Grant's character using his expertise as a former jewel thief, to catch a new criminal in the wealthy playground of Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Click film screenshot to watch the movie trailer on YouTube.) The Internal Revenue Service apparently is taking a hint from a Hollywood classic. It's thinking like identity thieves to catch identity thieves. That was among the messages from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in July 25 media teleconference. Cybercriminals are showing increasing savvy and tax expertise, particularly in... Read more →


Tom Hiddleston as Loki, left, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor prepare to take down some bad guys in "Thor: Ragnarok." That movie, coming to a theater near you in November, was one of the many Marvel Studios productions that got the lion's share of attention at Comic-Con 2017. (Click image for full Marvel Studios trailer at YouTube) Comic-Con, the geek event of the year, just wrapped up in San Diego. Not surprisingly, Marvel Studios and its stars were the big draws at the 2017 event. I'm not a big fan of comic books and their spin-off products, but I did... Read more →


Your decision to stay in a private home or a traditional lodging option depends on lots of things, including the accommodations' costs that often have added occupancy taxes. (Image courtesy Reunion Vacation Homes) Are you booking your summer vacation stay via Airbnb? You might want to budget a bit more for lodging taxes. The popular private residential rental service collects sales and occupancy taxes on properties' leased in all or parts of 31 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Internationally, Airbnb also is acting as tax collector in six countries. Airbnb appears to... Read more →


Happy World Emoji Day! It's held on July 17 each year as a way to promote the use of emojis — like we need to do that! — and, according to Emojipedia (really!), spread the enjoyment that the colorful icons bring. The enjoyment goal got me thinking of how emojis might make one of our worst tax tasks more pleasant. I'm talking, of course, about our annual filing of returns. Most of us already use tax software. Surely it wouldn't be that difficult to incorporate the option of adding emojis to the lines we fill electronically complete. Dressing up your... Read more →


The spectacular hole 13 waterfall at Trump National Golf Club in Westchester, New York, is one of the things that makes the property so valuable. But Donald Trump's attorneys say that property appraisers have set the price too high, at least when it comes to the value that determines the course and club's annual real estate tax bill. While Donald J. Trump was watching the USGA tournament at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club (where most summer weekends he plays golf), his attorneys around the country were working on ways to lower property taxes on some of his other courses.... Read more →


UPDATE, Sept. 18: The House of Representatives continues to make progress in efforts to end civil asset forfeitures. On Sept. 12, the chamber passed via voice vote an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar bonuses for a section of Department of Justice (DOJ) employees until they rule on 255 civil cases referred to them by the Internal Revenue Service. This follows the Sept. 5 House passage, also by voice vote, of H.R. 1843, the Restraining Excessive Seizure of Property through the Exploitation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Tools, or RESPECT, Act. The legislation, discussed below, would impose new restrictions... Read more →


Every financial adviser recommends that we all keep close eyes on our retirement plans, either by reallocating our investments or contributing more money throughout the year. Just last week, in fact, I put contribute to your retirement accounts on my list of 6 tax moves to make in July. Whether you're a young worker like those in this group or an older employee, take full advantage of your workplace's retirement plan. I felt like a bit of a nag, but apparently, folks — especially younger workers — need the constant reminding, especially when it comes to defined contribution plans such... Read more →


As Amazon offers taxable deals on Prime Day tomorrow, Washington online shoppers — and marketplace sellers — are facing a new tattle-tale sales tax law. Most online shoppers are paying attention to Amazon's upcoming third annual Prime Day specials. Tomorrow, July 11, the cyber-retailing giant is offering special deals throughout the day (or some as early as this evening) to attract business. The savings might be enough to offset the sales taxes that Amazon now collects on products delivered to all states that collect them. The full collection of sales taxes across the United States was effective April 1. That... Read more →