As with everything taxes, the devil is in the details, and that includes the education tax credits, which come in two types with some different rules for each. Many people think the credits are for sending their children to college, which is true, but the credits are also available to you and your spouse (if you are married) as well as to your dependents. So even taxpayers attending school part-time may qualify for a tax credit.
Summer has just arrived, and there is a tax break that working parents should know about. Many working parents must arrange for care of their children under 13 years of age (or any age if disabled) during the school vacation period. A popular solution — with a tax benefit — is a day camp program. The cost of day camp can count as an expense toward the child and dependent care credit. But be careful; expenses for overnight camps do not qualify. Also, not eligible are expenses paid for summer school and tutoring programs.
Qualified tuition plans (QTPs) provide a means for family members and others to save for the future educational needs of children. Investment earnings within a QTP account are tax deferred and not taxable when withdrawn if used to pay qualified tuition and certain other expenses.
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The process of starting a small business can be an arduous one; there are numerous steps that need to be taken — and often in a precise order — to legally establish a business. As a result, the process can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to overlook some important details and steps along the way. By being aware of a few of the most common legal and compliance mistakes made by small business owners when starting out, you can be better prepared for future success.
- Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors
Regulators are coming down hard on misclassifications. The IRS estimates that this problem includes millions of workers. It is best to talk this through with an expert, but you can get some background on the guidelines at the United States Department of Labor website.
- Choosing the Wrong Business Structure
One of the first major decisions you’ll need to make in regards to your small business is the type of business structure you will select. This can range anywhere from a basic sole proprietorship (which doesn’t require any special forms or paperwork) to a more complex structure, such as a corporation or LLC. Keep in mind that different types of business structures offer different tax benefits and other protections, so it’s important to thoroughly explore your options and select the structure that’s best for your unique needs. You’ll also need to go through the legal process of establishing your business under your desired structure, which may require help from a legal or other type of professional.
- Failing to Apply for an Employer Identification Number
Unless you plan on operating your business strictly as a sole proprietorship (in which case, you will use your personal Social Security number when filing taxes), you’ll also need to apply for a unique Employer Identification Number (EIN). This number will be specifically associated with your business, and it can be helpful to think of it as a business Social Security number of sorts; it’s used to file your business taxes, open up dedicated business bank accounts, and the like.
- Overlooking Important Permits and Licenses
Depending on the specific industry in which your business will be operating and your location, you may also be required to obtain specialized licenses and/or permits in order to legally operate. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of being shut down or finding yourself in serious legal trouble down the road. Take some time to research the specific types of permits or licenses that you may need to obtain, as well as the steps you’ll need to take in order to acquire them. Sometimes, this process can be time-consuming and even costly, so it’s not something you’ll want to put off until the last minute.
- Not Knowing When to Speak to a Professional
When starting up a small business, it’s not uncommon to run a one-man (or woman) operation. After all, you may not have the cash flow or even the need to hire outside help in the early stages. Still, when it comes to making sure your business is squared away from a legal/compliance standpoint, it can certainly be worth the money to consult with tax and accounting professionals early in the game. You don’t necessarily need to onboard these experts full-time, but being able to turn to them for advice and guidance when you need it will help you avoid serious legal issues later on.
- Putting Off Domain Name Registration
As soon as you have your business name picked out and registered, it’s also in your best interest to go ahead and register your website domain as soon as possible. Even if you don’t plan on setting up and launching your website any time soon, domain names are cheap, and having yours registered now will help you avoid a situation where the domain name you want is taken by somebody else later on.
- Lack of a Comprehensive Business Plan
One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make when first starting out is that of not having a well thought-out and articulated business plan. A business plan is an important document that outlines in detail what your goals for your business are and how you will achieve them. This document is important not just for you and other members of your immediate team, but for potential investors as well. Should you seek financing for your company at any point, an investor is going to want to see and scrutinize your business plan — and it will likely have a major impact on the final decision.
- Not Having Finances Squared Away
Another common mistake new business owners make is that of poor financial planning, which can lead to a lack of funding to get you through your first months successfully. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure your business plan accounts for all the company-related expenses you’ll incur during the first year of operation, as well as any personal expenses as well. Unfortunately, this is something that many small business owners overlook or miscalculate with disastrous results. The easiest way to avoid this mistake is to consult with a small business accountant during the early stages of drafting your business plan.
- Failing to File Patents on Products or Ideas
It’s (hopefully) no surprise that you’ll want to be proactive about filing for patents for any unique products, prototypes or designs you may have. However, what many small business owners first starting out don’t realize is that they’ll also want to file patents on ideas, such as intellectual property, that could otherwise be stolen or copied and used by other entrepreneurs. After all, intellectual property can be just as valuable as a product prototype — so you’ll want to plan and protect these kinds of ideas accordingly.
Be careful to also avoid the mistake of waiting too long to file for relevant patents; the process can often be long and drawn out, so getting started as early as possible will be in your best interest.
- Being Blind to Important Compliance Requirements
Last, but not least, make sure you’re aware of any and all compliance requirements that may apply to your business based on its structure, location, industry or other factors. For example, even if you’re keeping things “simple” by operating as a sole proprietorship, you’re going to be required to file and pay quarterly estimated taxes under that structure. Failing to meet compliance and other requirements can result in serious legal trouble, including fines and penalties, down the road.
When it comes to compliance requirements, such as annual reporting and tax filing, it’s always a good idea to keep a calendar of important dates, so you don’t forget anything. After all, you’ll have enough deadlines to worry about and remember on your own — especially during that first year of business operation. This is yet another situation where having a compliance expert, such as a tax or accounting professional, can really come in handy. He or she can assist you with annual compliance reviews, reminders on impending deadlines and the like.
From selecting a name and business structure to making sure your small business remains in compliance at all times, there are, unfortunately, a lot of opportunities to make mistakes as a new business owner. By keeping this information in mind and by working alongside the right types of professionals as you prepare to launch your new business, hopefully, you’ll be able to avoid these issues. From there, you can maximize your chances for success in the first year of operation and beyond.
Isler Northwest LLC is a firm of certified public accountants and business advisors based in Portland, Oregon. Our local, regional, and global resources, our expertise, and our emphasis on innovative solutions and continuity create value for our clients. Our service goals at Isler Northwest is to earn our clients trust as their primary business and financial advisors.
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Article by Nicole Fallon | Found on Business News Daily
Every new job has a learning curve – and every existing job evolves over time. Consistent learning and training helps employees build and sharpen their skills, and ensures that your team is growing with their roles, rather than remaining stagnant. Passing around a lengthy PDF or slideshow presentation may seem like the easiest method of training, but it’s not going to help your team members learn how to do their jobs well.lucky patcher apk latest version Business News Daily asked business leaders to outline a few training methods that help employees stay engaged and motivated throughout the process. Read more
Article by Beth Pinkser | Article Found on Reuters
Surveys regularly find that Americans have no idea what a 529 college savings plan is, so a little tinkering under the hood is definitely needed.
For more than 20 years, families have been able to save in these dedicated investment accounts, with the funds accumulating tax free, as long as the money is used for higher education.
Changing the system even in the smallest way requires Congressional legislation, a tough sell in any given year, and even tougher in the current political climate.
“There aren’t enough hours in the day,” said Republican Representative Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, who just co-sponsored a bill with Democrat Ron Kind of Wisconsin to improve 529 and ABLE accounts, which are similar educational savings plans for disabled individuals.
Jenkins has introduced legislation over the years to tweak educational savings plans. She had success with provisions that took effect in 2015 to make computers a qualified expense and change redeposit rules if a student withdraws mid-year. Read more
Article by Andrew Josuweit | Found on Forbes
When Adam Reres was in high school, he decided to take a different route than many of his peers. Rather than go straight to the four-year school of his dreams, he decided to start his education at a community college.
“My decision to go to community college was mainly based on cost,” said Reres. “Community college was about one-third of the tuition of a four-year school. And with all of the core requirements accounted for, it was my gateway into a four-year program without wasting money on unnecessary credits.”
Article by Beth Kobliner | Article Found on INC.COM
When my friend Cassie was a senior in high school, she cashiered at a local supermarket. She earned enough money to go out with friends without asking her cash-strapped mom for a handout. A couple shifts a week ringing up groceries was a small price to pay for all that financial independence. But then someone at the store quit suddenly, and Cassie’s manager assigned her extra shifts–right before the January 1 deadline for her college applications. She asked for a couple days off, but the boss said no, and Cassie couldn’t find anyone to take her shifts (and didn’t feel comfortable pressing the issue). Suddenly, she was in a quandary that could have a big impact on her future. Read more
Relatively modest rise in 2015-2016 amplified by near-zero inflation and pullback in grants
Tuition increases at U.S. colleges have plateaued after decades of steep growth, but stagnant wages, near-zero inflation and a slight pullback in grants have amplified this year’s relatively modest rise.
Published tuition for the 2015-16 academic year rose 2.9% for in-state students at four-year public schools—the same increase as last year. But adjusted for inflation, the gain was 2.7% this year, compared with 0.9% last year, according to a report released Wednesday from the College Board, a New York nonprofit that tracks university costs.
In-state students attending public four-year institutions are now paying $19,548 on average for tuition, fees and room and board, up from $18,931 in 2014-15. Private-school costs rose $1,476 to $43,921 over the year.