NASE Blogs

Friday, June 24, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - One of the many perks of being a NASE Advocacy Intern (aside from the near unlimited supply of M&Ms and working with the fabulous staff and fellow intern Jaimie), is the chance to go on legislative hearings. This Wednesday, my first week at work and only my third time in DC, I was instructed to go on a hearing entitled “Lifting the Weight of Regulations: Growing Jobs by Reducing Regulatory Burdens”. This was a topic I was particularly interested in, as my family owns a small business as well. Apparently, all hearings are open to ...
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Posted by Mike Beene - Patent law is suddenly in the news. We all know that if you invent something you better protect it with a patent if you want to make money from your idea. And for the very small business, many of the inventions affected today are the very ones that allow competition with big corporations, such as methods of data processing and information gathering. Based upon questions I get, that is about the end of our collective knowledge. Let’s fix that now. Invention has been too important to our country, economy and lifestyle and it is crucial to ...
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Posted by Jaimie McFarlin - The June 16th hearing, “The Dodd-Frank Act: Impact on Small Business Lending,” was called by the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Capital Access and Tax. The hearing was sprinkled with mixed reviews of the Dodd-Frank Act, while highlighting the importance of considering its effects on small business during the rule-making process. The House Republicans have continued efforts to repeal or weaken this sweeping Wall Street reform bill moved by the Democratic Congress last year. The hearing was led by Chairman Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and called representatives from three financial institutions and William ...
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Posted by Sung Yoo - [Editor's note: Sung is one of the NASE's summer interns. Look out for more posts from Sung and his fellow intern, Jaimie McFarlin, this summer!] MP Mueller of The New York Times asks, "Should every business invest in Social Media?" She recalls seeing a poster for an off-site airport parking lot, enticing people to like the parking lot on Facebook, tweet it on Twitter, and watch it on YouTube. She expressed puzzlement at the value of advertising a parking lot through social networks, considering the difficulty of injecting pizzazz to such a mundane business. Case to point: ...
Monday, June 20, 2011
Q: What is the most effective means of introducing my staffing services to hospitals? How do I get the name of a direct contact person? A: The first step is for you to identify your targets. If you are going to market to hospitals in your immediate area create a database all the hospitals you want to market to, their physical addresses, main telephone number, and website address. Then, go on line and look at their job opportunities section. This should give you contact information for their HR manager. The next step would be to make contact with the HR ...
Friday, June 17, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson – Pat Bennett, owner of Wicked Coursing and an NASE Member from La Mesa, Calif., answered that question with “launch a new product.” Pat is the owner, and as she says on her website, “and designer, engineer, machinist, test dummy...,” of Wicked Coursing, a company that creates high-quality lure coursing equipment for pet owners. Pat applied for and was awarded an NASE Growth Grant in 2010. She used the grant funds to bring Wicked Coursing’s newest product, the entry-level ZippityDog, to market. A short time after putting the ZippityDog up for sale on her website with ...
Friday, June 10, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - A delay for legislation that would cap the amount banks can charge retailers per debit card transaction has failed in the Senate. Both Sens. John Tester (D-Mont.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) wish to delay the onset of the law until sufficient studies have been performed by the Federal Reserve to find out possible ramifications to banks. The measure originally passed as an amendment to the regulatory overhaul of 2010 and goes into effect in July. As part of the effort, the Fed suggested banks cap the limit that they are able to charge retailers to ...
Monday, June 06, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - Summer has reached Washington, and you know that can only mean one thing - interns! The NASE's legislative office is getting ready to welcome our summer interns, as you may be in your business. Small Business Trends has tips on making sure you're making the most of your summer intern(s), while OPEN Forum helps you ensure that your internship program is legal.  And, with all the news about hacks and other security breaches in the news of late, take note of these tips to stay safe and guard your privacy online, on Facebook and from ...
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Budget negotiations between House Democrats and Republicans have hit a deadlock as of this week, with the House voting down a proposal on Tuesday to raise the debt limit without offering any budget reduction measures. President Obama is scheduled to meet with House Republicans today to lay out his vision for an agreement and to meet with House Democrats tomorrow. For the past several days, Vice President Joe Biden has been working with congressional leaders to try to hammer out a budget deal acceptable to both parties and as a means to garner support to ...
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
By Kristie Arslan - Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been struggling to stimulate the economy and put a definitive end to the Great Recession. These efforts have included sector-specific bailouts, cash for clunkers and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which helped some notable companies and stimulated some industry sectors, but most of these efforts provided little benefit to the typical American business. Last week, the Obama administration recognized the contributions of this important business demographic with its National Small Business Week. It's worth challenging a few of the myths about the American small business ...
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - This morning, NASE Executive Director Kristie Arslan testified before the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship during their "progress report" hearing on the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Credit - Sylvia Johnson Photography In her testimony, Arslan stressed that more Americans would be on the unemployment rolls if they weren't creating jobs for themselves by being self-employed, and that the jobs created by self-employed businesses are just as valuable and essential to our economy as office or factory jobs. While lamenting that most legislation and public policy is geared toward corporate America, Arslan ...
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Q: I own a small restaurant, 2011 is the first year of actual activity.  I don't know how to pay myself for the hours I spend there at the restaurant.  Am I suppost to treat myself like one of my employees? That would mean having social security and income tax withheld from myself or do I make member draws to pay my personal bills? A: How you declare income for yourself will depend on the tax structure of the business.... The general rules of how you take out money are as follows:   If you are a sole proprietor (or an ...
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - As the Federal government announces that it has reached the debt ceiling and has shuffled funds to meet the nation’s financial commitments, micro-businesses and the self-employed believe that spending for domestic programs, job creation initiatives, tax cuts and federal subsidies should be scaled back to address the deficit, according to a recent survey by the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE). Ninety-three percent of micro-businesses were either moderately or significantly concerned about the federal budget deficit. Seventy-four percent said that the federal budget deficit is a significant problem that needs to be addressed immediately. In ...
Monday, May 16, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is teaming up with the SBA for the 10th year in a row to sponsor National Small Business Week 2011. For nearly fifty years, one week has been set aside annually in order to honor the contributions of the nation’s small business community. The NASE works with the SBA to help increase access to capital and lends our support to federal initiatives that have proven helpful to micro-business ...
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Under the Affordable Health Care Act, states will be required to create insurance pooling mechanisms known as Exchanges to increase competition in the insurance market and improve the accessibility and affordability of coverage for individuals, the self-employed and small businesses. The House recently passed a bill (H.R. 1213) to strip funding for states to establish these Exchanges. Creation of Exchanges, which are health marketplaces within states, is one of the positive components of the health reform law. The goal of these new state-based exchanges is to increase competition in the insurance market and improve the accessibility and affordability of coverage ...
Friday, May 06, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Congress is back in session Monday after a two-week break in their home districts. They returned to the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Expect that to dominate the news cycles this week as details on the raid continue to emerge. Top lawmakers in the House and Senate will continue with their efforts to stick to the legislative agenda. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sought to end debate on a long-stalled small business bill that would provide funding to research and development, as well as educational outreach for those programs. Previously, Reid ...
Monday, May 02, 2011
Q: I need an attorney to write a letter to a business associate that has created fraud and is not willing to make the problem right.  Is there anyone... that can help me? A: Legal Club of America is a member benefit that can help. Follow this link to read about this service: /Membership/MembersBenefits/BenefitDetails.aspx?BenefitId=50 or call Legal Club of America at 1-800-305-6816. Be sure to mention that you are an NASE Member to receive the discounted price. When shopping for any professional, I recommend these steps. First, create a "Job Description" - a statement of what you want from that ...
Thursday, April 28, 2011
The following entry is a Guest Post from author Peter Sheahan, who built two multimillion-dollar businesses by age 30 and has advised some of the world's leading corporations. Don't forget to turn to the NASE team of experts with your business questions. As a small business owner, you are your own sales person.  You’re responsible for finding new business and clients and keeping them coming back for more.  And when you’re just starting out, it’s hard to make those early sales.  I’ve been there, working furiously to get your business off the ground, and desperate for someone—anyone—to buy. It’s important ...
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - Do you want to start a business, but need to continue or augment your education first? Would business certification or licensing help your business thrive? The NASE knows how important education is, which is why we've started our new Succeed Scholarship™ program for continuing education and training. NASE Members can apply for scholarships of up to $4,000 for university or college courses, training courses for business certification and licensing, or participation in conferences and seminars that will encourage business growth. To be considered for a scholarship award in 2011, you must submit all required application ...
Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - Let's start the week with some home office-focused articles. Feel free to share any additional tips or advice in the comments! Small Biz Bee has 11 tips on managing working from home, while Freelance Folder offers 10 home office time savers. Chief Home Officer is an expert on all things home office, and offers home office tips on a wide range of subjects from making your home office both comfortable and productive, sharing a home office with your spouse and which shredder is the best investment (no really, check out the picture!). And if you're ...
Sunday, April 24, 2011
OK ... here we are at the end of April. Taxes are pretty much out of the way and you should have a decent feel on the economy and what your business is capable of achieving this year. So, if you did a bunch of goals for New Years and they haven’t really worked out ... don’t get discouraged. If you are serious about setting goals and making your plan work I want to offer up a few “Tips and Tricks” that might help you keep on track. Just remember the K.I.S.S. theory and don’t try to be unrealistic about ...
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Posted by Julie Henningfield - During times of economic turmoil, small businesses possess the bounce-back quality to quickly redefine strategies. And that’s exactly what you must do to stay ahead of the game in these times – react quickly and adjust strategies. Here are five tips for surviving and thriving in 2011: Concentrate on cash flow. Cash is certainly king, and right now, it’s all about cash flow. Think about buying used equipment or leasing equipment. In the long run, it may cost you, but to meet immediate needs, this may be the solution. Additionally, you will want to ensure that every expense ...
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Entrepreneurialism remains at a high level again in 2010, according to a Kauffman Foundation study. However, more individuals chose to be self-employed rather than start larger employer firms. The study found that 0.34 percent of American adults created a business per month in 2010 (565,000 new businesses), a rate that remained consistent with 2009 and represents the highest level of entrepreneurship over the past decade and a half. In contrast, however, the quarterly employer firm rate has dropped from 0.13 percent in 2007 to 0.10 percent in 2010. It raises some interesting questions about why ...
Monday, April 18, 2011
If you find yourself, despite rushing around, running behind come the April deadline, relax. All tax filers can get an automatic 6-month extension by filing IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, by April 18th. Remember the extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. Pay the tax as quickly as possible so you can keep late payment penalties and interest to a minimum. If you can’t pay the full amount of tax you owe, pay as much as you can. However, there are underpayment penalties ...
Friday, April 15, 2011
The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is thrilled that President Obama has signed a repeal of the additional reporting requirement regarding Form 1099 passed under the Affordable Care Act. NASE Executive Director Kristie Arslan had these comments after the repeal became law: "America's smallest businesses - the self-employed and micro-businesses - will benefit the most from this repeal," said Arslan. "For over a year, small business organizations like the NASE have joined forces to raise awareness about the extent of damage this law would have on Main Street shops. We are pleased to see that the President has officially ...
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Posted by Kristie Arslan - It is a sad, but true fact: health insurance is a luxury item for many small business owners, purchased when times are good and forsaken when times are lean. This is especially true for self-employed and micro-businesses -- our nation's smallest businesses. Thanks to a minor quirk in the tax code that has a major effect on their bottom lines, the self-employed are the only business entities that receive no tax benefit for purchasing coverage. Every other type of business, like corporations and partnerships, can write off the cost of health insurance as a business ...
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Small-business owners who have put off doing their 2010 tax return so far this year have less than one week until Tax Day. The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) has one piece of advice – don’t panic. Keith Hall, NASE National Tax Advisor, offers these last minute tax tips for small-business owners who are starting to sweat: Check for hidden deductions: 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 ...
Friday, April 08, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - A recent study found that although it can be time-consuming, social media does pay off for businesses in the end, and especially for small businesses and the self-employed. But please don't just start tweeting willy-nilly -- a social media policy is a must for any business. While you're getting into the swing of your social media, don't forget that face to face meetings are still a vital tool for fostering and sustaining your business. Have some social media tips, tricks or tools to share? Let us know in the comments, or give us a shout ...
Friday, April 08, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - As budget negotiations continue, the NASE continues to encourage Congress to put aside politics before the self-employed are stuck with the fallout from a government shutdown. Here is a list of ways micro-businesses will be directly affected by a shutdown: A delay in the processing of tax refunds for those who file by paper. Many small biz owners count on their refunds to put toward their business, though it would not affect those who e-file. Those who contract with larger companies who, in turn, contract with the government, could face delays in payment. Any state ...
Friday, April 08, 2011
Lessor:  The person or company that owns equipment and is leasing it out to others Lessee:  The person or company who will use the leased equipment   1)  Begin with realistic expectations and an open mind, and if you’re relatively new in the business for which you’re going to lease equipment, pay attention to the issues you encounter.  The lessor might have more experience than you do and you’ll probably find that you’re getting an education as you proceed.   That doesn’t mean that you need to be vulnerable and the following should help you avoid any serious mistakes.   2)  Discuss any ...
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of the NASE, released the following statement as the threat of a Government shutdown looms and its potential effect on America’s small business community: “A Government shutdown is a win for nobody – especially America’s small business community,” said Arslan. “The Government shutdown will send ripple effects throughout the economy. With small business loans and tax refunds stopped dead in their tracks, the small businesses that are so critical to our communities and our nation will be unable to grow or reinvest in their business.  Our smallest businesses – the self-employed ...
Thursday, April 07, 2011
House Republicans, lead by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), this week proposed a reorganization of Medicare and Medicaid as part of $6 trillion in spending cuts for the next fiscal year budget. The cuts would occur over the next decade, with the plan also lowering the top income tax rate for individuals at 25 percent (currently 35%). As a note, President Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget proposal called for $3.7 trillion in spending for next year, whereas Ryan's plan cuts $200 billion from that projection. For additional a summary plan or the full report, as well as video and other detail, visit ...
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - Productivity and goals - two things that every small-business owner has and needs! As always, Freelance Folder has great suggestions on combating procrastination, and also how to take action when you are overwhelmed with too much work. In addition, Dr. Cornwall at The Entrepreneurial Mind has a provocative post on rethinking goal setting, while Small Biz Bee offers some encouragement for sticking to your goals.   [10 Top Tips to Combat Procrastination] [What to Do When You Have too Much Work] [Staying On Track With Your Small Business Goals]
Friday, March 25, 2011
The IRS expects 145 million tax returns to be filed for the 2010 tax year and, of those, one in six will be self-employed Schedule C filers. A small percentage of those self-employed businesses will be subject to an audit each year. The NASE knows that many self-employed business owners meet their tax obligations fully, so the audit process need not be feared. The IRS can review tax returns for up to three years, so now is the time to make sure all of the necessary paperwork and documentation is stored with the 2010 tax return.   “As long as taxpayers ...
Friday, March 25, 2011
Collecting a business debt while, at the same time, doing your best to keep the customer can be difficult. Sometimes you lose good customers and it seems there's little you can do about it. Ultimately you need to be paid.  Collection alternatives include mediation and/or arbitration, either of which suggest that you might not receive all of what you are owed.  You might prefer more direct action  before trying those options.  Consider trying one or more of the following:   1)  Offer to accept payments.  You have to negotiate this option and, of course, try to get a fairly large first ...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wyoming was the first state to authorize Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) in 1977.  Since then all 50 states have adopted the LLC form of business and LLCs have become the most common choice of business entity.  Nevertheless the actual protection LLCs provide for shielding their "members" personal assets from a successful lawsuit by a creditor has yet to be fully determined.  In short, as things in the legal world go, 34 years isn't very long and there haven't been enough cases decided by the supreme courts in enough states to be absolutely certain how much personal asset protection an LLC ...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Q: My husband and I have real estate and other assets. Some assets are titled in our names as joint tenants, but most just have both of our names on the titles. What should we do for estate planning purposes? A: You’ve asked for help in a complex area of the law. The complexity arises from the fact that different states recognize different kinds of property titles and those titles sometimes mean different things from state to state. Correctly titling assets is important for estate planning because the way assets are titled determines how those assets are transferred to heirs ...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Q: My husband and I have three children under age six. Do we need wills? A: You should each have a will for the benefit of your minor children.  Here's why: If one of you dies the surviving parent will naturally continue as the children's guardian. But if both of you die your children will need to have a guardian appointed and the court will need assistance in determining who that person should be.  Your individual wills allow you to name that guardian, someone who you believe to be the best person to care for and raise your children. You ...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
If you're starting a new business you might want to try to assure that somewhere down the line your personal assets are protected from being taken by someone who has successfully filed a lawsuit against your business.  In such cases you will probably decide to use either the corporate or the LLC form of business.   Once you've made that decision you have to decide whether to form the business in your home state or whether there are sufficient advantages to forming it in some other state to make that option attractive.   A business entity, such as a corporation, formed in ...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The issue:  Let’s assume your business has debts it can’t pay and you are successfully sued.  Now your creditor has a court judgment against your business.  If that creditor takes and sells your business assets and the debt is still not paid, can that creditor also take possession of your personal assets (your home, car, savings, etc.) and sell them?  The answer depends mostly on what type of business entity you own.  Is your business entity a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, a corporation, or some other entity?   Here are the general guidelines that will tell you how much ...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Congressional lawmakers are back in their home districts for two weeks. When they return, they will continue to discuss current small business legislation, such as the reauthorization of technology and research programs, as well as the ever-popular 1099 issue. Stay tuned to Washington Watch for the latest updates.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Q: We’d like to begin giving some of our estate away to our children.  How can we do that without paying gift taxes? A: According to current law you can give as much as $13,000 to each of any number of individuals without paying any gift tax or being required to file a gift tax return. You can also give up to that same amount every calendar year to as many people as you wish including each of your children, your friends, or complete strangers. $13,000 is the current annual exclusion amount. In other words, you can gift up to ...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Many of us have heard of “probate” but don’t really know what it is.  Often it seems to have attached to it some of the same connotations as a disease:  Avoid it if possible.  And it is sometimes possible to avoid probate by use of a trust…… but that’s a discussion for another time.  Here’s what going to happen to your assets when your time comes.   After you die assets that have a title (your home, any other real estate, your car, stocks, bonds, etc.) are still in your name.  However, you’re no longer around to sign the documents necessary ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Different jurisdictions use different terms for the taxes they levy when an individual dies so it isn't possible to make an absolute distinction between estate taxes and inheritance taxes. However, the tax that the federal government levies on larger estates is always called the "Federal Estate Tax".  Beyond that, the most valid generalizations are as follows: -    Estate taxes are taxes levied on the value of the assets that were owned by a deceased individual. They are usually paid out of the assets of the estate before the estate is distributed. A number of states levy estate taxes separate from ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Q: What’s the difference between living trusts and living wills? A: A "living trust" is an estate planning document that can be used to augment or replace a last will and testament. (See our blog topic: "What is a Revocable Living Trust?") A "living will" is very different.  A living will is essentially a health care directive. In fact, more and more commonly living wills are called "advance health care directives".  In the event that you become incompetent an advance health care directive tells your loved ones and medical professionals what your wishes are with respect to medical treatment or ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Trusts can be grouped in to the following categories: Living trusts - established while you are still alive Testamentary trusts – established by the terms of your will Living Trusts can be: Revocable – meaning that the trust creator can decide to revoke the trust, or a portion of the trust, and resume ownership of the assets Irrevocable – meaning that the trust creator has permanently given up ownership and most or all control of any assets placed in the trust See Revocable v Irrevocable Trusts below. There are a variety of reasons to set up a trust. In some ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Federal Estate Tax changed in the final weeks of 2010. Estate tax laws were modified by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (“2010 Tax Relief Act”), which was signed into law on December 17, 2010.  Some changes in the 2010 Tax Relief Act are retroactive to specifically affect decedents who died in 2010. No changes are retroactive going back beyond 2010.    Here’s the current federal estate tax table: (TE = taxable estate = gross estate less exclusions:  m = million) 2008-1st $2 m of TE excluded,balance  @ 45% 2009-1st $3.5m of TE excluded,balance ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The IRS divides charities into two general groups: 50-percent charities and 30-percent charities. Generally churches, schools, hospitals, governmental units and certain qualifying foundations are considered 50-percent charities. Organizations that don’t qualify as 50-percent charities are considered to be 30-percent charities. Gifts to qualifying charities are subject to different rules and depend upon the gross income of the donor, whether or not the donor is an individual or a corporation, the type of property donated and whether the donee/recipient is a 50-percent or a 30-percent charity. If you as an individual want to donate cash to a 50-percent charity the total ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
This post is taken from Google's report of the New York Times article by Paul Sullivan Wednesday, January 13, 2010 provided by the Death and taxes, the adage goes, are the only certainties in life. But when it comes to the combination of the two, the estate tax, there is only uncertainty for 2010. Most tax advisers thought that Congress would extend the estate tax before it was due to expire at the end of last year. But while the House did act, the Senate did not. So what few predicted would happen did happen: the tax is gone for ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Q: My wife and I are worth about $9.5 million. We have two adult daughters. How can I avoid estate taxes when I die? A: According to the current (2011) federal estate tax table, assuming you each own half of the total marital estate, when either of you dies there won’t be any federal estate tax.  Current federal estate tax law imposes no federal estate tax on estates less than $5 million.  Also, this $5 million federal estate tax exclusion is portable between spouses so if a decedent doesn't use all of his or her $5 million exclusion his or ...