Author: Janet Behm (105 articles found) - Clear Search


8 Important Steps for HOA & Other Non-Profits Before Year-End

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"Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is small.” -Ruth Gendler

When the dust settles on this year, chances are good that there will be a bunch of non-profits who have had to close their doors. Between lockdowns, massive unemployment, and general decreases in charitable deductions ... it's not easy out there.

Which is why it would be very wise for you to get "ahead of the game" if you are one of these organizations.

So, to do so, I suggest that you put these items on your "list" before Thanksgiving, so you're not caught in the flurry of holiday madness and year-end. Yes, we're already halfway through November...!

  1. Have your staff update tax withholdings.
    Nobody likes to get hit with a big tax bill in April, or be unnecessarily "loaning" money to the US Treasury. Encourage your team to check on their withholdings and adjust as needed.
  2. Get info for any individuals/contractors to whom you paid more than $600. 
    You'll need to file a 1099 for any individual or contractor that you paid more than $600. Remember, professional fees of $600 also require a 1099, even if they are a corporation.

If you don't have their W-9, ask for it now.
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An Incomplete List of Potential Tax Moves To Make

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“When you know better, you do better.” -Maya Angelou

Ah, November. Cool weather, Thanksgiving, football. Even though 2020 still seems to be chugging along in all of its particular form of glory, we can at least get productive and distract ourselves from the political war games by making a positive impact on our financial world. Although, in Utah, Governor Gary Herbert is making Thanksgiving plans by Skype video.

Here are some things to consider as you do:

1) Look ahead to 2021. By that, I mean: what will your income potentially look like in 2021? For some, ANY income after a very rough 2020 would be welcome. But once you have that landed ... should I accelerate possible 2021 income into 2020 for tax reasons? Because the best of both tax worlds is to reduce your taxes in both years.
So take a look to see what you think your income will be looking like by the end of this year (including any investment year-end payouts, gig work, gambling winnings, etc. ) and what you expect it to be in 2021 (more, less or about the same). Next, check out the tax brackets and evaluate whether you need to defer current taxable income or accelerate write-offs into 2021 or vice versa. Keep more take-home through proper planning!
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The Dangers of Distraction

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"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." -Seneca

There's a famous study, often referenced in business focused productivity/success books and podcasts that you probably have heard about in some form or another:

[Edited excerpt from Wikipedia]

Mischel's famous research study, "The Marshmallow Test," showed the importance of impulse control and delayed gratification for academic, emotional and social success.

In the 1960s at the preschool on the Stanford University campus, Mischel put marshmallows in front of a room full of 4-year-olds. He told them they could have one marshmallow now, but if they could wait several minutes, they could have two. Some children eagerly grabbed a marshmallow and ate it. Others waited, some having to cover their eyes in order not to see the tempting treat and one child even licked the table around the marshmallow!
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Are The Opportunities Worth The Threats?

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"Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something." -Henry David Thoreau

Too many entrepreneurs are blind optimists. (And yes -- too many accountants are blind pessimists, I admit.)

Aside from the financials of a new venture, there are obviously other factors that play into its outcome. And my gut is that the people on your team already know what they are. They're probably not writing a book or preparatory articles about it (yet), but they probably have some good ideas.

Over 50% of U.S. businesses fail in the first four years. Many that linger past that point are alive in name only. Yet very few entrepreneurs actually believe they have a less than 50% chance of success. They are convinced that those statistics only apply to the other person's ideas.

The concept of a pre-mortem was designed to help overcome these natural human tendencies to ignore real threats to a business plan. A related concept, the postmortem, or autopsy, was coined by the medical community to determine the cause of death.
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SBA Sets PPP Forgiveness Guidelines

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You might have seen some rumors on this already, but I wanted to help make everything clear for you...

A few weeks back I told you that there were some tax professional rumors circulating about “automatic PPP loan forgiveness” for loans under $150K. Remember that?

Well, they did it!Except it is for even smaller loans (under $50K).

And it's not "automatic", but it is very, very easy.Here is the simplified applicationif your loan falls in that category.

The borrower needs to make various certifications -- that the spending meets at least 60% of PPP loan proceeds and attach verification of payroll costs and non-payroll costs. But you don't have to perform FTE (Full Time Equivalents) or salary reduction calculations. Owner wage limitations still apply of course.

It's essentially an affidavit for you to sign. (Under penalty of perjury, naturally.)
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How To Approach Bigger Business Players In Your Niche

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"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Successful people rarely reached the top without a lot of help along the way. The ability -- and willingness -- to ask for help is one trait that really stands out among those who are truly committed to success. You find these people at your local Real Estate Investors Association https://nationalreia.org/find-a-reia/

Personally, I've been approached a number of times by tax and accounting "up-and-comers" I and have seen this done the right way ... and the wrong way. Whether it's your boss or another entrepreneur, here are some tips for seeking advice and connections from those who get asked for this all the time:

• Do NOT waste their time. Once they've agreed to help, get to the point quickly. Don't go through your life story in excruciating detail, nor spend an hour explaining your business plan or the plot of your novel. Plan what you want to ask so you can make a clear, succinct request.

• Be as specific as humanly possible. Don't just ask, "What should I do?" Imagine you can ask only one question (because that may be the case). Identify the most important issue you're facing that your expert is qualified to address and build your question around that. You may get a chance to ask a follow-up, or to move on to another subject, so be prepared, but don't assume you'll have all the time in the world to get to what you need.
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5 Business Mistakes That Can Be Fatal by Janet Behm

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“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”  - George Bernard Shaw

Based on what I've seen in my work with local businesses, here are the basic business mistakes people make when starting and operating a small business. These are by no means an exhaustive list of business mistakes, merely the most common -- and eminently avoidable...

  • Not having a CLEAR business plan.  A good business plan will guide you through the first few months and years of your business. It should contain metrics that help you monitor costs as well as progress.

It doesn't have to be fancy, or even something that would hold up under an investor's scrutiny (though, certainly, if you're going down that road, go the extra mile and make sure it's good). But itdoeshave to give you a roadmap to the goals you should be hitting by certain points -- 3 months, 6 months, 12 months.

  • Doing everything yourself.  Even in a one-person operation, you'll have your hands full. If you're not able to hire employees, at least be ready to outsource the tasks that aren't integral to your daily operations.

In this way, of course, you free yourself for the highest-level activities, such as marketing and sales.
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Dream Now. Yes, Now.

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“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”  -George Bernard Shaw

You'd probably be surprised if you sat in on some of the meetings I have with certain tax planning and preparation clients.

This is by no means the majority of my clients, but there are some who have socked away a significant nest egg ... but who are bored, tired, and a little numb.

And, of course, there are those among my clientele who have not yet reached the financial (or otherwise) zenith they've been working so hard towards, and they are still stuck in the grind of "everyday living". They spend hours reading the "news" and tilting at windmills on Facebook, and then they wonder: where is all this time that others seem to have to build their career?

In many instances, they haven't taken the time to re-assess whether or not what they're shooting for is, in fact, the place where they will be most alive.

They haven't taken the time to dream. And, more importantly, they haven't put a concrete plan to whatever dreams they might have had in earlier days. They're dragged around by their nose by national events and whatever circumstance comes their way.
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What You Should Know About The CDC Eviction Stay

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“Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.” -Socrates

So yes, this is real, and it is happening.

But it's also not something that means "instant apocalypse" for landlords, nor does it mean that every renter can simply and legally stop paying rent and " just tap their heels together three times and..." and pocket it as savings.

That's because, of course, there are caveats, provisos, etc. So, let's dive in...

First of all, the authority the CDC cites to establish this rule is the Public Health Service Act of 1944, which is also being cited in a variety of contexts over the course of the past 6 months.

Might there be legal challenges to this? Oh yes.

But that doesn't mean it's okay to ignore this eviction moratorium. It's on.

Per the ruling, the eviction stay is in place until the end of the year (for now).

But good news/bad news, this doesn't mean that anything goes.

Tenants must:

  • Earn a documentable AGI (Average Gross Income) of less than $99,000 (single) or $198,000 (married filing jointly),
    AND
  • demonstrate they have tried to pay at least some portion of monthly rent,
    AND
  • have suffered income loss or medical expense increases due to COVID-19
    AND
  • have applied for government assistance in some form or fashion,
    AND
  • confirm and document that if they were evicted, they would be homeless or have to go to an unsafe, crowded facility,
    AND
  • file a specific form with the landlord. (If you're a tenant needing to do this, I suggest sending the form by certified mail for legal paper trail purposes.)

So ... if you meet all of these requirements, then you can take advantage of this order.
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A Tax On Your Labor (Or Lack Thereof)

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“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” –Farraj Gray

This will be a bit of a scattershooting article, as there are a variety of things that I want to cover that all can be filed under the heading "labor".

As we all know, the "labor force" right now has been massively disrupted. And for those of my readers who are in that category, the word "disrupted" is far too tame. Let's call this for what it was: there was an unprecedented economic tsunami this spring and summer, and we have still to recover from it.

That said, recent data is encouraging. According to last week's DOL report, there was a 12+% decrease of seasonally-adjusted claims for unemployment compared to the week previous.
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