NASE Blogs

Friday, December 09, 2011
As the U.S. Senate prepares to debate another payroll tax extension proposal, Kristie Arslan, President & CEO of the NASE, encourages our policymakers to put partisan politics aside and pass the payroll tax extension: “It is important that our nation’s smallest businesses have the tools and resources they need to serve the American consumer this Holiday season and beyond. Passing the payroll tax extension will put that extra savings in the pockets of not only consumers, but also in the pockets of the self-employed and micro-businesses who serve as employer and employee. This relief can help pay for additional supplies, ...
Monday, December 05, 2011
Q: We have a significant quantity of clothing left in our warehouse. In prior years we have scrambled to "get rid of it" at closeout prices because our CPA says this has a tax advantage. HOWEVER at what point can we determine we are actually LOSING money by doing this? If we hold on to inventory and sell it at full price next year, perhaps that's a greater advantage? Is there a formula to help us ascertain what to do? A: I hate to take exception with your accountant, but selling inventory at less than you otherwise could, simply for ...
Friday, December 02, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Here are some interesting tidbits from the small business blogs this week: Trademark Wars Heat Up. Be Ready (CNN Money) Is It Time To Collect Sales Tax Online? (Inc.) Why We're Afraid To Talk Pricing (Small Business Trends) 7 Blogs And Newsletters That Can Help You Sell A Business (You're The Boss) Where Do Entrepreneurs Work Hardest? (On Small Business) Small Businesses Add Jobs In November; Pay, Hours Down (In Charge)
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Lawmakers are sifting through the remnants of the super committee talks, looking for tax plans to keep after the collapse. The House Ways & Means and Senate Finance committees will work over the next several months to pull together a reform package. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont, both served on the super committee. Read more about the current tax reform conversation here.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Posted by Kristie Arslan - As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday season, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction approaches a looming deadline: by November 23rd, the super committee must provide recommendations to Congress on how to reduce the federal debt by $1.5 trillion. In an open letter, the 22-million self-employed and micro-businesses asked to be kept in mind as the super committee determines which cuts will be made to reduce the debt. Small business owners and the self-employed appreciate the importance of the task at hand because they must keep their financial books balanced in order to maintain a successful ...
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) today announced its participation in the second annual Small Business Saturday on November 26, 2011. Small Business Saturday is a day for dedicating a portion of holiday shopping to local, independently-owned small businesses. The NASE recognizes the importance of small businesses and the self-employed, the jobs they create and the culture they instill in local communities. There are nearly 22 million self-employed businesses in the nation. Small businesses also have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years and employ just over half of all ...
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - It may surprise you to know that if you use tools like Gmail, Facebook or Twitter for your business, you're already in the Cloud. The basic concept of the Cloud (and cloud computing) is that users can store and access information and software on third-party servers instead of the actual computer (or mobile device) in front of them. Cloud providers like Amazon Web Services allow users to "rent" the programs and computing power they need at a given time, allowing companies to - for example - run complex programs, scenarios or large datasets on multiple ...
Monday, November 07, 2011
Q: I have following questions regarding a family employee (child who is under 15 yrs): What's the best method of payment, direct deposit payroll or checks or cash? Can we claim him as DEPENDENT for tax purposes, if the annual income paid is under the limit $4,750 applicable for year 2011? For our LLC we have been filing tax returns as a sole-proprietor, along with individual tax returns. Do we have to file additional form for child income? A: The new employee, your child, should be treated basically the same as any other non-related employee even though there are certainly some differences ...
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Posted by Kristie Arslan - Let's face it: corporations are treated very differently than self-employed businesses in the U.S., especially when it comes to taxes. A corporation is able to write off the amount it pays for its employees' health insurance, lowering its taxable income. Self-employed business owners, on the other hand, are the only type of business that must pay for health insurance with post-tax dollars. This makes health insurance too expensive for many of the self-employed -- money that can be better spent on advertising, phone lines or even hiring additional workers. Making health insurance more expensive is just ...
Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Posted by Mike Beene - The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced Monday steps to ease the requirements for many Americans to refinance their homes. The program being revised is called the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). To be eligible your existing mortgage must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009 and the borrower must be current on mortgage payments with no late payments in the last six months and no more than one payment in the last twelve months. In addition, the current loan to value ratio must be greater than ...
Monday, October 24, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - According to this infographic from Small Biz Bee, employment numbers as well as compensation and work hours were up in September 2011.  Would you consider hiring an employee online? How about all of your employees? According to a survey by Elance, 83 percent of small businesses plan to hire half of their workers online within the next year.  Small Business Trends argues that flexible hours (even for hourly employees) can make small businesses more productive. Finally, don't forget that investing in your employees can help your small business succeed!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Q: Today, I read [NASE President] Kristie Arslan's testimony to the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship regarding extending the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. I am curious to know what the difference is between the Small Jobs Act of 2010 and the HRA 105 benefit? I do not fully understand the Act but I do have a pretty good grasp on the HRA 105 and to me, they sound very similar. A: The Small Business Job Act of 2010 was a comprehensive act that affected many more areas than just health care costs but I assume you are interested in ...
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The NASE has a You Tube page! Here are some of our latest videos, featuring NASE President Kristie L. Arslan: Removing barriers for entrepreneurs How a payroll tax cut would help the self-employed National self-employment initiative
Monday, September 26, 2011
[Editor’s Note:  From time to time, SelfMade likes to partner with guest bloggers to bring you a wide variety of business information on topics of interest to the self-employed. The following post is written by Bill Hettinger, Ph.D. , and the author of the book pictured below. We hope you enjoy!] If you're like many small business owners, you would rather go to the dentist than read your business’ financial statements. The common reaction to financial statements is that they're boring, they're intimidating, I don’t understand the content, and if I were to look at them, where would I start? ...
Friday, September 23, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - I came across an interesting article on Huffington Post about stereotypes and sacrifice. This isn't your garden variety article on women in the workplace. Click here to read on.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - Small businesses are incredibly bank dependent for their credit needs. After all, they can’t offer any collateral, show a long credit history, nor access commercial paper, bonds, and traded equity in the financial markets. If you’re self-employed, the challenges are greater and choices slimmer. Unfortunately, with the economic recession in full swing, it’s become even more difficult for small business owners to go and sign papers at the local bank. New regulations have popped up, requiring banks to be more conservative with their lending activities. Small businesses can’t borrow (or choose not to borrow due ...
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing today about tax reform options for retirement savings, where members investigated the need to reform a system where nearly 30 percent of all Americans in the workforce for 25 years or more years have zero savings. "Perhaps most troubling is that fewer than half of all American workers work for an employer that sponsors a retirement plan, and the half of Americans who do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan are almost entirely middle or low income," Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said. "This means they are ...
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - On Sept. 14th, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing regarding tax rates on high-income earners, capital gains and dividends. Although Democrats and Republicans appeared to agree tax reform is an important puzzle in fixing the struggling economy and high unemployment, they expressed deep philosophical differences on how to move forward. Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said there was only one common-sense solution to the problem: Allow lower tax rates for the wealthiest Americans to expire, rather than making major cuts to Social Security or Medicare. Cutting Social Security or Medicare would only harm ...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo – This week has been a noteworthy one for small businesses and the self-employed, having being featured prominently in President Obama’s jobs speech last week. Here are some news articles I read about small businesses that I wanted to share with y’all. Feel free to email us at media@nase.org with link suggestions and I’d be happy to add ‘em. Enjoy! Small Business and the Simple Math of Job Creation 9/11 memorial owes elegance to small business Are We on the Verge of a Small-Business Hiring Boom? IBM offers up to $1B in SMB technology financing How ...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Q: We own a small restaurant and I am unsure how to account for tips which the staff declares in the Point of Sales System at the end of the day.  How do I deal with the tips per pay period? For example, we have two GMs/bartenders who each make $250 a week (no hourly). I have figured out how to deal with payroll taxes on this set amount, but how do I account for the tips that they get on credit cards?   A: Your question is a very good one and one that I personally always thought was ...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo – On September 8th, the U.S. House Committee on Small Business held a hearing to discuss meeting the workforce needs of small businesses, in particular the role of industry-led certification programs pushed by manufacturing and technology groups. According to Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), although the economy remains in a recession and more than 14 million Americans are without jobs, many small businesses are reporting difficulty finding new workers with the knowledge and skills necessary for even entry-level positions. He added that more than 33 percent of small firms report vacancies that remain unfilled due to the ...
Friday, September 09, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - President Obama has outlined a plan in yesterday’s speech that offers positive benefits for small-business owners. These include tax cuts for small businesses that hire new workers or raise worker’s wages, 50% lower payroll taxes in the next year, faster payment for small businesses that contract with the federal government and the reduction of red tape that prevents startups from raising capital and going public. A full transcript of the address can be found here. Though details of the American Jobs Act - as President Obama’s plan is called - are still forthcoming, the speech ...
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Q: I am doing my 2010 taxes and told my tax preparer about the one-time business deduction for health insurance premiums for 2010. However, she still records it as an adjustment to income. How do I convince her that this is okay for 2010? A: The IRS accounted for the new deductibility differently than most people expected. The deduction for federal income tax is still accounted for in the same way as in previous years, by including the qualified premiums on page one of Form 1040, Line 29. This is an adjustment to income as you mentioned and is indeed the same as ...
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Counter-clockwise, from bottom-left: Diana Thomson (Johns Hopkins), Aaron Burns (Virginia Tech), Alexander Vining (Bucknell), Brendan Langford (Drury), and Kelly Gwiner (Trine). Not pictured: Taylor Demeter (Virginia). Posted by Sung Yoo - The NASE has awarded $52,000 in college scholarships this year. Our NASE Future Entrepreneurship Award went to Benjamin Seidel of Missouri, who you will learn more about in the October issue of SelfInformed. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at six of ten NASE Scholarship recipients who are busy preparing for a new semester: What did you do this summer? Diana: I learned how to card at the Lincoln Boyhood ...
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - A recent survey of US small business leaders and their social media usage found that many weren’t using these important channels to promote their businesses and products. Only 12% of businesses described social media promotion as a must and nearly 50% of respondents aren’t using social media at all. The findings included:  - 47% of respondents indicated they did not use social media for business purposes at all For those that did use social media for their business: - 19% are using Facebook - 15% are using LinkedIn - 4% are using Twitter The businesses ...
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - It's shaping up to be a wild week along the East Coast! After yesterday's earthquake and with the projections that Hurricane Irene will be nearing Florida and making its way north starting tomorrow, it seems like a good time to review and update your personal and business disaster preparedness plans. FEMA has advice on what to do during and after an earthquake, while ready.gov has resources on preparing for hurricanes and the SBA has information on disaster preparedness and recovery for businesses.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Here's a list of the top small business tech links I found online this morning. Feel free to suggest new links by emailing media@nase.org and I'll add them. Enjoy! Google Declares War On Slow Web Pages (Entrepreneur) How Are Your Nurturing The "Edges" Of Your [Social Media] Communities? (John Haydon) This Week in Small Business: Watching Armageddon From an Armchair [DASHBOARD] (NY Times You're the Boss blog) Direct Marketing Goes iPad [re: Google Catalogs] (BrandFlakesForBreakfast.com) 13 Simple Ways To Handle "It Costs Too Much" (The Leaper's Blog) 4 Tips On Choosing The Right Logo Design Services (Inc. Magazine) Hat tip to @maddiegrant of Social ...
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo – Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional, while overturning a ruling in the Northern District of Florida that threw out the entire bill. This ruling follows another previous federal appeals court that held the mandate constitutional. Now, due to contradictory rulings, the Supreme Court is likely to take on the case. Congressional Twitter accounts erupted with split opinions following the announcement. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), wrote, “I’m confident Affordable Care Act will ultimately be upheld.” Meanwhile, many ...
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Posted by Mike Beene - So the news is that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates at current levels until 2013. Experts are stunned that the Fed would even mention its plans for a date that far into the future. How might this affect the Self-Employed?         Let’s look briefly at the sometimes mysterious Federal Reserve. I find that few people have a true understanding of the institution past some vague recollection from high school civics. Created by congress in 1913, the Federal Reserve System (Fed) is the central bank of the United States. Today it is much more, and ...
Monday, August 15, 2011
Posted by Kristie Arslan - The nation's smallest businesses would like to send our encouragement as you roll up your sleeves to address our nation's debt challenges, including finding $1.5 trillion to cut from the federal budget. That's a big number and no small task - we are writing to ask that you keep the 22 million self-employed and micro-businesses in mind when you take out the red pen. Who are we? We are self-employed and micro-businesses owners and we represent over 95 percent of the small business community. We are businesses with 10 or fewer employees and we directly ...
Friday, August 12, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo – Last week, Jaime and I attended a hearing about prior approval for health premiums, as covered in a previous blog post. During the hearing, Democrats and Republicans remained split on the reasons for rising health care premiums and how to combat them. While Democrats wanted prior approval in order to give states the right to enact rate-review mechanisms, Republicans claimed Democrats were shifting the blame to insurance companies instead of acknowledging the Affordable Care Act's failure to reign in health care premiums.  Timely enough, a rather interesting brief was just released by the Kaiser Family ...
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo – In October 2010, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Economic & Statistics Administration prepared a report for the White House Council for Women and Girls. The report examined disparities in the characteristics of businesses owned by women as compared to those owned by men, and focused exclusively on proprietorships, partnerships, or any type of privately-held corporation with one or more owners. Exactly the demographics of NASE Members! Highlights: In 2007, 7.8 million firms were owned by women, accounting for 30% of all non-farm, privately-held firms in the U.S. Women-owned firms had sales/receipts of a ...
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Posted by Jaimie McFarlin - The August 2nd hearing of the Senate Health committee, “Health Reform and Health Insurance Premiums: Empowering States,” addressed efforts to regulate insurance costs since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Starting September 1st, health insurance companies must submit for state review any increase in premiums of 10% or more in the individual and small-group markets. After one year, state-specific thresholds will be defined, depending on their health cost trends. The rule creates transparency for health insurance consumers, and gives them access to information on whether new provisions under the ACA will raise or ...
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Posted by Mike Beene - Now that the debt ceiling debate is behind us, where does the United States stand with its creditors? We hear a lot about the credit rating, but what does that mean in terms of the country? Can we make some sense of this all and understand why it matters? Before we discuss what the credit rating agencies want from the U.S. and whether the debt ceiling raise will satisfy them, let’s look at a little history. For over a century the debt of the U.S. has been rated AAA, confirming the long-held belief that bonds ...
Monday, August 01, 2011
Posted by Jaimie McFarlin - On July 26th, I attended a Ways and Means Committee hearing on consumption taxes. It comes at a time when the future of tax reform is certainly part of the federal debt ceiling negotiations. In this blog entry, I will break down a few of the issues and arguments regarding two types of consumption taxes: the FairTax and the Value Added Tax (VAT). About Consumption Taxes There were two panels of witnesses at this last hearing. The first panel included the former presidential candidate and governor Mike Huckabee, economic experts, Larry Kotlikoff and David G. Tuerck, ...
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Posted by Jaimie McFarlin - Recently, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City-based small-business research organization, unveiled its Startup Act proposal. In the four-part plan, the foundation gave policy recommendations to focus the attention of citizens and policymakers on the central role that high-growth startups must play to assure continued U.S. economic strength. Research by the Kauffman Foundation has documented that companies less than five years old accounted for virtually all new jobs created over the last thirty years. However, the recession has taken a toll on potential high-growth new companies. The unveiling of the Startup Act follows the release of Kauffman data ...
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Posted by Jaimie McFarlin - Last week, I had the opportunity to attend my first bill markup with the House Committee on Small Business. A markup is the process by which a U.S. congressional committee debates, amends, and rewrites proposed legislation. During the markup, the Committee considered two bills, H.R. 527, "The Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act," and H.R. 585, "The Small Business Size Standards Flexibility Act." Both bills are meant to reform the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA): H.R. 527 strengthens and broadens the powers of the Small Business Agency’s Office of Advocacy, while H.R. 585 authorizes the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the ...
Monday, July 18, 2011
Posted by Mike Beene - Exchanges are perhaps the most appealing feature of the health care reform law to those on both sides of the debate. Many believe that exchanges will survive even if the law does not. There were broad calls for reform to the market for people who buy their own coverage long before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was born. And exchanges are not a new creation. Several states had them before the PPACA was even written. An exchange as envisioned by the PPACA is a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop ...
Friday, July 15, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - In college, I took my first entrepreneurship class the last semester of senior year. It was the first intro class I’d taken since sophomore year, and I was a bit peeved when I entered the lecture hall and realized we had assigned seating. "What is this, high school?" I remember muttering under my breath. However, my initial disgruntlement turned into amusement when Prof. Costa, the health-care executive-turned-professor, shocked the class with his frank assessment of the upcoming semester: “I know you guys took 101 for the easy A,” he declared. “It’s easy to get an A ...
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - On Tuesday, I attended a Chamber of Commerce event entitled, “Controlling Costs: The Price of Good Health”. Mike Beene, our Senior Health Policy Advisor, spoke on behalf of the self-employed, as mentioned in a previous blog post. It was great to see the NASE represented among heavy hitters like Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama Nancy-Ann DeParle.  I thought the speakers were very interesting, and the more and more I go to these kind of events, the more I realize that health ...
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson – NASE Senior Health Policy Advisor Michael Beene is speaking today at a joint Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on “Controlling Costs: The Price of Good Health.” The day-long event features multiple speakers, with guests including Douglas Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.); and Nancy-Ann DeParle, President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff.  Senior Health Policy Advisor Beene will be speaking on one of this afternoon’s panels regarding the need for employer flexibility. Beene will be reminding the panel that Essential Health Benefits ...
Monday, July 11, 2011
Q: I want to use a name for BBQ competitions and eventually a restaurant but an internet search shows at multiple companies using that name. How do you find out if the name has a copyright? Finally, would a different spelling allow me to use the name? A: Let’s start with a little clarification of your question ... you don’t Copyright a business name. To protect the use of the identity of a business you use either federal or state trademark and registration laws. The key factor to naming your business is that you don’t conflict in commerce with another business using the same ...
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - How was your Independence Day? Jaimie and I came down to the office on the Fourth to see the fireworks. The NASE's D.C. office is located right across from the National Archives, and the 13th floor rooftop has a great view of the Washington Monument. Apparently, people who work at the office building are all given passes to see the fireworks so instead of braving through the Mall, we had a much more private experience. Going home after the fireworks was ridiculous, though. I barely made it onto a train and I couldn’t help but ...
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Posted by Kristie Arslan - America's lawmakers are working frantically to craft a solution to the ballooning federal deficit and the rapidly approaching August 2 debt ceiling deadline. Tough decisions abound about whether to let the nation default on its debt, how to pay down the deficit if the debt ceiling is increased and whether certain tax cuts can be extended to help grow the economy. Leaders from both parties are embroiled in the debt drama leaving taxpayers and the financial markets to wonder if there is any hope that Congress can balance our nation's books. This exercise hits close ...
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - Former President Bill Clinton will be in Chicago for the next two days to lead the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America conference. It will be attended by a who’s who list of influential individuals around the country, nearly 700 in all. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner (who recently testified at a hearing Jaimie attended), and Mayor of Chicago and former Clinton and Obama aide Rahm Emanuel, will be there. Governors and mayors from all around the country are also scheduled to attend, along with startup founders like Tony Hsieh of Zappos. Founded in 2005, ...
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - Finding seed money to start up is always a challenging endeavor. After all, if a venture capitalist invests money in a startup, he must be willing to part with it all. But have no fear, it seems like one national government is heeding the challenge, offering a $40,000 subsidy for six months and a temporary one-year visa to attract entrepreneurs to the country. Where is this bastion of generosity, you ask? Look south, even further south than Texas to...Chile. Created by Chile’s Ministry of Economy, Start-Up Chile, as the program is called, seeks to attract foreign, high-potential ...