NASE Blogs

Friday, April 17, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Whether you file your micro-business return annually or quarterly, resist the urge to hide your tax documents in a drawer until your next filing date. NASE National Tax Advisor Keith Hall has these suggestions to help you get a jump on next year’s taxes: Use the 2008 tax return as a road map for 2009 by studying what deductions you may have neglected, such as the home office deduction. If you have a traditional IRA or SEP retirement account, consider making a contribution earlier in the year than you typically might. Then, watch as those ...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - The NASE has long been a supporter of Small Business Development Centers. SBDCs offer one-stop assistance to individuals and small businesses by providing a wide variety of information and guidance in central and easily accessible branch locations. They are kind of part of the governement (under the U.S. Small Business Administration), kind of part of the private sector (responsible for raising some of their own funds) and kind of part of your local educational community (they are usually located in a community college). And because they are local to you (there are thousands of them ...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - Here in the NASE's legislative offices, we were excited to see the Equity for Our Nation's Self-Employed Act of 2009 introduced in the House and Senate last month.  The legislation would eliminate the cost penalties in health insurance imposed on sole proprietors and make quality health care more affordable for Americans who make up the majority of the working uninsured.  The self-employed are the only group of American workers required to pay 15.3% in self-employment taxes on their health insurance premiums, an unfair burden on the smallest of businesses.  Interested in learning more about the ...
Friday, April 10, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, while the news seems to be filled with rising unemployment rates and word of huge layoffs by large companies, many small businesses are doing their best to avoid letting employees go - whether out of pride or necessity. The small businesses profiled have different strategies to keep their employees while still cutting costs - some owners take pay cuts, while others mandate schedule changes, like one day off weekly or biweekly without pay.  Other firms encourage employees to spend time that has been freed up by fewer ...
Friday, April 10, 2009
 Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Check for hidden deductions: There are a number of deductions that small-business owners and the self-employed forget when filing taxes. If you work out of your home, your office may qualify for a deduction. Do you drive to the post office or a client site? Those miles may add up to a sizable deduction too.  - Retirement Savings: Retirement savings, such as SEP contributions and IRA deposits, are deductible for last year's tax return up until April 15, 2009. That means you can count money deposited into these accounts, up until the day you file ...
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - I had an awesome experience with an NASE Member yesterday. In my free time, I pretend to be a runner. On the recomendation of a friend, I went online yesterday and ordered a SPIbelt to hold my phone and keys while hitting the pavement. I had it shipped to the office instead of my home address, so the company name "NASE" was on the mailing label. The person processing the order -- the creator of the SPIbelt -- recognized NASE and sent me a personal e-mail. She's been a member for three years! She had ...
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
The accounts in a chart of accounts are organized in a particular way so that financial statements can be prepared efficiently. The five major types of accounts are as follows: Assets Liabilities Equity and Retained Earnings Income Expense The assets, liabilities and equity accounts are included in the balance sheet of the financial statements. The income and expense are included on the income statement. At the end of the reporting period, the net income or loss at the bottom of the income statement is added to (net income) or subtracted from (net loss) the retained earnings on the balance sheet. ...
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Q. I'm tired of slow-paying customers and want to start charging interest on late payments. How do I do it, and how much can I charge? A. There's nothing wrong with charging interest to late-paying customers -- but don't think it will be a miraculous solution for getting paid on time. If you don't have a good credit and collections policy to start with, charging interest will only add to the amount customers owe you. First, determine the maximum legal rate for your state; your banker should be able to tell you. The most common rate charged for outstanding invoices ...
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - This cool post from Small Business Trends uses "heat maps" (think a summer weather forecast) to show concentrations of sole proprietors and startups across the United States. How does the concentration of sole proprietors look in your area?  Does the map show more or fewer than you expected?
Monday, April 06, 2009
Two tax credits, the Hope scholarship credit and the lifetime learning credit, are provided for education expenses. These credits generally are available for expenses incurred to pay tuition and related fees. the Hope scholarship credit is available only for more than half-time students, while the lifetime learning credit is available for a broader range of expenses. The credits are also limited if your adjusted gross income is at least $80,000 combined and are completely phased out at $100,000. The IRS has a very good publication to help you with this information, called "Publication 17: Your Federal Income Tax." Chapter 36 ...
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Accrual and cash are the two most common methods of maintaining the books and records of your business. If your business is a sizeable company, your lenders or investors may require you to use the accrual method. The accrual method requires that you record business activity when it occurs not necessarily when money changes hands as in the cash basis. For example, if your business provides entertainers for children’s birthday parties, under the cash method you would record income only when you receive the cash. Under the accrual method, you would record income when the work that you were contracted ...
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Q: One of my customers owes me several hundred dollars and is telling me he filed bankruptcy. Is there anything I can do to get my money? A: If you haven't received a notice from the Federal Bankruptcy Court, verify the filing by calling the bankruptcy court in the customer's city. If your customer was incorporated, the bankruptcy will be under the corporate name. Sole propretors would file under the owner's name with a DBA in the business name. Find out if the filing was made under a Chapter 11 (business reorganization), Chapter 13 (personal reorganization) or Chapter 7 (liquidation). ...
Friday, April 03, 2009
Q: I understand there is a tax loophole for business owners that I am curious about. It states that if you purchase a new sport utility vehicle that weights more than 6,000 pounds, you can immediately deduct $20,000 of the cost and depreciate the rest faster than allowed under the regular rules for business vehicles. My question is this: Does this apply only to new vehicles, or does a used vehicle qualify for this deduction?    A: The first key point to your question is not that there is a tax loophole. It is the actual rules for recording the ...
Friday, April 03, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The Obama Administration recently announced its plans to step up the search for noncompliant taxpayers as one method for offsetting a massive budget deficit and to help shore up economic losses for the nation. A newly formed Task Force on Tax Reform will concentrate on the tax gap – a $300 billion difference between what the Internal Revenue Service is owed and what it collects. In the past, lawmakers have pointed to underreporting by the self-employed as a significant contributor to the tax gap, a claim the NASE has worked hard to refute. The association ...
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - According to the recently released 2008 Employee Benefits study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the cost to small businesses of providing employee benefits increased significantly from 2006 to 2007 (the last year for which data is available). Health insurance costs averaged $4,559 per employee in 2007 from $3,961 in 2006, an increase of 15 percent.  Costs of retirement and savings benefits increased 14 percent from 2006 to 2007, with the average cost per employee rising from $2,356 to $2,694. Have you had to cut back on these or other benefits for you employees?  Let ...
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Believe it or not, the IRS is the best place to start looking for possible deductions and for information to help you with your taxes. You can download forms with instructions and informative publications for free from their Web site at www.irs.gov. Some key publications for micro-businesses: Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home Pay particular attention to Publication 587, which covers home office expenses, and Publication 463, which covers the expenses related to business use of your ...
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
If your business has inventory, it will be required to keep its accounting records on the accrual method. You can select from several ways to compute your inventory, but once you make a selection, you cannot change the method without a good reason. Periodic vs Perpetual Inventory Method There are two different choices to make in deciding how to account for your inventory. The first is to decide if you will use the periodic inventory method or the perpetual inventory method. Under the periodic inventory method the units of inventory sold are not subtracted from the inventory list of units ...
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Q: My business has hit bottom and I don't see any way out. I'm $20,000 in debt and afraid of losing my house and what little bit of money I have left. I've been told that bankruptcy can give me a clean start. Should I file? A: Twenty thousand dollars is probably not worth filing over when you consider that a bankruptcy can follow you for the rest of your life. It may only show up on your credit history for seven or 10 years, but take a look at a credit application. It doesn't ask if you filed bankruptcy ...
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - According to the Wall Street Journal’s Independent Street blog, the Senate confirmation hearing for Karen Gordon Mills, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Small Business Administration, is set for Wednesday April 1st.  Many in the small-business communityhave been frustrated that Mills’ confirmation process has taken so long, but hopefully she will be on the job and working to help small businesses soon!
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Here is some timely tax information release by the the IRS: Small businesses with deductions exceeding their income in 2008 can use a new net operating loss tax provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to get a refund of taxes paid over the past five years instead of the usual two. To accommodate the change in tax law, the IRS has updated the instructions for Form 1045 and Form 1139, which small businesses will use to take advantage of the carryback provision. • IRS Form 1045, Instructions • IRS Form 1139, Instructions An IRS ...
Monday, March 30, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has forums every other month for its small business stakeholders, like the NASE.  I attended the second forum of 2009 earlier this week, and learned a couple of things that I hope will be helpful! The recent stimulus legislation, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, included a much-discussed net operating loss carryback provision.  There is still time to take advantage of this provision even if you’ve already filed your 2008 return and waived the carryback, if you filed your 2008 return and didn’t waive the carryback, or if you haven’t ...
Saturday, March 28, 2009
If you need funds to purchase or expand a business and have not had any luck getting a loan approved by your local bank, applying for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantee may help. The SBA helps small businesses grow by providing a guaranty for a portion of the loan that a lender makes to your small business. This means that if you default on repaying the loan, the lender does not absorb the entire loss. There is a lot of paperwork involved in applying for any loan. This is true with SBA/bank financing. The SBA has a list ...
Friday, March 27, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - As this year's Cover the Uninsured Week starts to wind down, I am encouraged that we will see major steps in reform for the working uninsured. And that's a nice place to be. With over 60 percent of Americans living without health insurance coming from a family where the head of household works for a small business, the NASE routinely supports efforts, like Cover the Uninsured Week, to inform folks about their coverage options from federal or state programs. The NASE conducts several online polls of our members each year. Recently, we asked micro-businesses to ...
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - Keith has been spreading the gospel of small-business taxes from Boston to Oakland as part of the NASE's TaxTalk Seminar program this week.  He's been just a little busy answering questions and sharing tax tips on everything from oft-forgotten deductions to how to hire your kid with micro-business owners across America.  If you're in Denver or San Marcos, Texas, you might be lucky enough to have the chance to ask Keith your tax questions in person if you register online asap!  If you missed Keith this year and still have a burning question about your ...
Friday, March 20, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - Independent Street, the WSJ small-business blog, wrote about the reaction to President Obama's plan to increase lending to small businesses through the Small Business Administration today. It isn't that good. Independent Street argues that small businesses don't have assets to put up as collateral for an SBA loan. That they need smaller amounts to get a kick-start, or to grow their business. That's the exact reason the NASE started the Business Development Grant Program! Ironically, I wrote about our first month's applications just a few days ago, calling it our own little stimulus plan. So ...
Friday, March 20, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Since my last post, folks on Capitol Hill have introduced some great legislation for small and micro-businesses: The Equity for Our Nation's Self-Employed Act (HR 1470), introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Wally Herger (R-Calif.), Suzanne M. Kosmas (D-Fla.) and David G. Reichert (R-Wash.), would eliminate an inequity in the tax code that inhibits the self-employed from receiving a full deduction for health insurance costs. Click here for more detail on the NASE’s position. Legislation introduced last week by Congressmen John M. McHugh (R- N.Y.)  and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) would ...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled a new package of aid aimed at small businesses today.  President Obama told small-business owners, “You deserve a chance. America needs you to have that chance,” as he detailed plans to ease access to credit for small business owners.  The Administration's plan includes increasing bank liquidity, reducing lending fees and increasing loan guarantees.  For more detailed coverage, please see The New York Times and the Washington Post's Small Business blog.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - A small follow-up to my earlier post about women's procurement programs. As reported on the Washington Post Small Business Blog, legislation recently signed into law by President Obama reverses a proposed rule that would have hurt procurement for women-owned small businesses even more.  House Small Business Comittee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) said of the action, "President Obama has made clear that women's opportunities to compete for their fair share of federal contracts will be a priority from now on." Additionally, the Wall Street Journal's Independent Street blog also put up a post with great tips ...
Friday, March 13, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - February's end means the first month of applications for the NASE Business Development Grant program are in! More notable than the start of the popular program for 2009 (for me, at least!) is that February marked the first month the grant applications were accepted online. Instead of hand-writing or typing out the application form, NASE Members can now link to the grant applications here. The online app still requires applicants to mail or fax in the supporting information -- such as a business plan and documentation of the business -- but we hope having the ...
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - After attending the National Women's Business Council 2009 Women's Business Summit last week, I started thinking about all of the women involved in small business.  Not only the women small-business owners that own almost 30 percent of American businesses and are responsible for $1.1 trillion in sales and 7 million jobs, according to a letter from Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) to the summit, but also the numerous women involved with small business at the federal level.  Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) is Chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business.  Senator Landrieu is Chairwoman, and Senator ...
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Getting Started You should start a business that, based on the product/service, has a realistic chance to succeed in the marketplace. One way to evaluate a business venture is to develop a formal business plan which establishes the product/service, the market, production, pricing and financial projections. It is also important to have basic knowledge in accounting, marketing, advertising, legal and personnel areas. Even if you have to trust someone else for expertise in these areas, you need be knowledgeable enough to keep them honest.     Buying a Business Any business opportunity should be investigated thoroughly for legitimacy. Research should ...
Friday, March 06, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - I’m happy to announce that the Tax Resource Center has officially launched. Pretty exciting stuff! The Center is a one-stop show for all of the tax goodies the NASE has to offer – TaxTalk Q&A and audio/video tips, plus some great tax calculators, calendars and planning tools. We have included a new section on home offices, with focused how-to articles on making the most of working from home, links to Keith and Maureen’s illustrious TaxTalk Seminar program and a section where folks can search for a CPA in their area. It's getting closer and closer ...
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - According to a recent Zogby International/ WeMedia poll, 63% of Americans believe entrepreneurs and small businesses "will lead us to a better future." Isn't it nice to know that someone (lots of someones really) believes in you? [Hat tip: Small Business Trends]
Friday, February 27, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - In his recent address before Congress, Obama highlighted health care and the need for health care reform, especially to help small businesses and their insurance needs. The NASE remains very engaged in this debate, working with your legislators to make sure the issue remains a top priority. We continue to advocate that the self-employed must be able to exclude health insurance premiums from self-employment tax regardless of the entity form under which they choose to operate. The NASE heads up the coalition supporting Equity for Our Nation’s Self-Employed, which brings together over 40 small-business organizations, ...
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Posted by Keith Hall - Just spent an unbelievable four hours talking to radio hosts across the country about small-business issues, and in particular taxes.  I know that all small businesses share that one particular headache, but who wants to hear about taxes on the radio?  Well, apparently more people than I would think.  It was really really cool.  There are so many people who  just want to know that someone out there is available to help them from time to time.  Just a place to ask a question and maybe find somebody who cares. The process may have been ...
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - In his address to Congress and the nation last night, President Obama mentioned entrepreneurs and small-business owners numerous times.  Although the speech did not include any specific plans for small-business owners, plans such as health care reform and raising taxes on households making more than $250,000 annually are sure to affect some, if not many small businesses.  Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, expressed concern that raising taxes would hurt entrepreneurs and "take dollars out of the hands of the small-business owners who create jobs for Americans" in a ...
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - As sweet as that new "I'm a PC" Windows commercial with the 4-year-old girl explaining how she uploads and emails pictures from her digital camera is, I've heard enough complaints from friends that I'm planning on investing in another Apple when my current laptop (4 years and going strong!) stops working.  I've seen a bit of blog chatter lately about the (somewhat obvious) power of word of mouth advertising.   According to smallbizbee.com, 91% of consumers are “likely” to buy off of a recommendation, and 92% of consumers “prefer” a word of mouth recommendation. What kind ...
Friday, February 20, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - The IRS has put together a helpful guide to the tax provisions in the recently enacted stimulus legislation.  Check it out for answers to general tax-related questions about the stimulus, and more detailed information on the Economic Recovery Payment and the Making Work Pay Tax Credit.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Here is a compilation of some my favorite small business articles this week. Enjoy! Engineers discovered that truck flaps can be a major source of drag. Simply trimming and tapering the flaps will cut about $400 from a typical truck's annual gas bill. (Fortune Small Business) Fraud can be so undetectable that small business owners chalk up lost income to falling sales. (Wall Street Journal) This week I almost ran out of a coffee shop to give a frustrated customer my giftcard for the place because they hadn't been served well. The store's mistake and ...
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - Do you think the economic recovery package will help you and your small business?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - It's not daylight savings time just yet, but I was happy to receive some spring thoughts on this cold day in the form of copy for the May/June issue of Self-Employed magazine.    A cool part of my job is that I get to help get all of the NASE's publications, including Self-Employed, from ideas and text to magazines, books, flyers, etc that you can actually hold in your hands.  While we still have some work to do before you can get your hands on this issue, you should make sure to look out for ...
Friday, February 13, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The self-employed are speaking out about their support for federal small business programs and hoping the Obama Administration is listening. In a recent online poll by the NASE, an overwhelming majority of business owners (80%) want the new president to improve and expand current small business federal programs. Over one-quarter of entrepreneurs have utilized services offered by the federal government, despite the dwindling resources of many small business programs. For years, the NASE has been a supporter of federal outreach that consistently and effectively aids the self-employed and micro-businesses community. Funding for SBA programs has ...
Friday, February 13, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - As the Senate mulls its version of the stimulus package this week - a bill with a $900 billion price tag - we continue to hear more about tax cuts for working families and small businesses.  Yay! Congressional leaders say they want to be able to place the bill on President Obama's desk by President’s Day, but with the  While there were enough House Democrats to pass the original legislation without a single Republican vote, Senate Democrats  must receive GOP support this time around in order to approve the package. Some of the current tax ...
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - Independent Street notices that some states are creating their own stimulus plans, with many including funds for small business development.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - Last year, when Keith Hall (NASE's tax guru) and I hosted  NASE TaxTalk seminars in 10 cities across the country over a 3-week period, we were exhausted. So this year, we're visiting nine cities in ... two weeks. Our exhaustion is your gain, because the condensed schedule means we're likely to make it to a city near you earlier in tax season. (It also means we'll be drinking lots and lots of coffee, but that's just a side note.) Before you need coffee just thinking about a tax seminar, let me put your mind to ...
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - The House Committee on Small Business recently held a hearing on health care reform proposals and their effect on small businesses.  Among a panel of witnesses was the NASE's own Senior Health Advisor, Mike Beene.  Beene testified that many of the self-employed are scaling back health coverage or dropping coverage completely in order to keep their business open or pay for basic needs like their home and utilities.  Even though he was battling a cold, Mike made sure that the Committee heard the NASE's recommendations on how to make health care more affordable for micro-businesses.  ...
Friday, February 06, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Here's an interesting article from a series of profiles that CNN.com is doing It seems like more and more entrepreneurs are being forced to take creative measures to save their shops. Wow!
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - This has been a big week for us at the NASE. We've been talking for a while about diving into social media, and we have finally taken the plunge! Just like this blog, I hope the groups and Twitter accounts we've set up help you see the more personal side of the NASE. That we're a group of people with diverse interests, talents and personalities, doing our best to help micro-businesses. (Hm, sounds like that could also describe our membership as a whole, no?) So here goes - we're out there, and I hope you'll ...
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - In case you didn't catch it on Twitter, I braved a rare display of the elements in Washington this morning to attend the first IRS Small Business Forum of the year.  (If you want to start following me, or other NASE staff on Twitter, click here.)  The bi-monthly forums are put on by the IRS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and many trade groups and associations like the NASE attend to hear the latest news and give input to the IRS on how policies and programs affect small businesses and the self-employed. One of ...
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - According to this article in BusinessWeek, despite the economic downturn, many community banks are reporting an increase in loans and credit lines to small businesses. Community banks are generally defined as banks with less than $10 billion in assets.  In a recent meeting on promoting economic recovery before the House Committee on Small Business, Paul Merski of the Independent Community Bankers of America testified "that community banks make 20% of all small-business loans, even though they represent only about 12% of all bank assets. Furthermore, he said that about 50% of all small-business loans under ...