NASE Blogs

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
A revocable living trust is a trust created and effective during the life of its creator, who, by the trust language, determines how assets placed in the trust will be managed while he or she is alive, and to whom the assets will pass when he or she dies. Because it is revocable, the terms of the trust can be changed until its creator dies or becomes legally incompetent. The principal reason most individuals use a living trust is to avoid probate. After its creator’s death, a living trust can also dictate how the trustee should use trust assets for ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Q: Can you tell me how community property is handled for purposes of inheritance? A: For purposes of inheritance each spouse in a community property state owns his or her half of the community property and can dispose of that half by will or living trust. It does not automatically pass to the surviving spouse. A surviving spouse continues to own his or her separate half. Community property states are Alaska (both spouses must sign an agreement using specific language), Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. In these states (excluding Alaska), assets acquired by either ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Every state has laws, called intestacy laws, which determine what happens to real and personal property in the event that an individual dies without a will that can be located and probated. Acting within the scope of intestacy laws a court will determine who will act as guardian if the decedent had minor children and might appoint a trustee to administer any substantial amount of assets left to those minor children. Intestacy laws do not recognize personal circumstances or personalities, nor in many cases, do they provide the judge who is applying them much latitude with respect to his decisions. ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
There is no hard and fast answer to these questions, however, we always recommend that you review your will (and trust documents if any) at least annually. You might be surprised at how difficult this is to do since such a review is easily forgotten.  If you need an effective way to schedule this review we suggest that a good time is immediately after you have filed your federal income tax return for the simple reason that you will probably have a good grasp of your personal financial matters at that time.  However, any method that consistently helps you remember ...
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The most difficult estate planning decisions involve the simultaneous death of both parents, and the most difficult of those decisions is who to choose as guardian of your minor children. It is difficult to imagine that anyone would raise your children with as much love and care as you would. For that reason, it may seem that no one will be a satisfactory choice. Nevertheless, a well-thought-out choice is better than no choice at all. Remember, should the need for a guardian arise, the situation is already less than ideal and difficult circumstances already exit. By careful thought and planning ...
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The Senate is set to analyze a series of small business legislation and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has indicated that it may be used as a vehicle for spending reductions (proposed as amendments to the bill).  One bill is for the reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant programs, both operated by the Small Business Administration. The White House has signaled its support for the bill and the Senate last year passed a similar bill that would extend funding to the programs for a number of ...
Monday, March 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 ...
Friday, March 11, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - Do you want free publicity for your business? If you're an NASE Member, the NASE can help you promote your business! Simply fill out our "Get Publicity!" form here, and you and your business could be featured in an NASE publication, like our monthly member e-newsletter, SelfInformed. If you don't want to fill out the form, check out the information we're looking for and send it in an email to editor@nase.org with "Publicity" in the subject line. We're looking forward to hearing from you!  
Friday, March 11, 2011
Note: This post was written by NASE Chief Counsel Mike Beene. We hear about it. We talk about it. We know it is a big budget item. We blame it for many of our ills. And hardly anyone I talk to can comfortably explain it.       After the stock market crashed in 1929 the country ended up with massive unemployment. President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935.The first taxes were collected in January of 1937, and 53,000 retirees were paid benefits that year. Survivor benefits were first paid in 1940, and disability benefits in 1957. Today, the ...
Friday, March 11, 2011
Unless you're from an older generation, you probably don't remember when you could call a business and actually talk to a live person’s. A time when you didn't have to listen to a long list of questions and commands to punch numbers to "self guide" your call and talking to one recording after another. But hey, we live in the twenty-first century and that's technology on the move. While it may be technology on the move to some ... too much technology is a great way to build walls between a business and their customers and abuses one of the ...
Friday, March 04, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - You probably heard that Apple unveiled the iPad 2 this week, but here's some other business news that might have slipped by you. Dr. Jeff Cornwall of The Entrepreneurial Mind cites some interesting research about women entrepreneurs, finding that many "deliberately limit the growth of their businesses to allow themselves time to pursue interests beyond the office." Small Business Trends reports on changes to the 8(a) set-aside contracting program announced by the SBA. These changes were made to "reduce fraud and make sure contracts go to deserving small businesses." OPEN Forum makes a compelling argument ...
Monday, February 28, 2011
Note: This post was written by NASE Chief Counsel Mike Beene. The White House budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 (Oct 1, 2011 to Sept 30, 2012) came out recently, spawning comments from every imaginable corner. So what does it mean? Let’s back away from the frenzy and look at the process. The President’s budget is really the first move in a negotiation that the White House uses to publicize its goals and hopefully get public and congressional support. Call it a proposal of what the president wants to accomplish, what it would cost, and how we will pay. Will ...
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - This week, President Obama released his FY 2012 budget, but Congress has its eye on extending the 2011 CR (Continuing Resolution), set to expire in March. Last year, Congress was unable to agree on a FY 2011 budget, so we are currently running on a temporary one through March 4th (the CR). Last week, House Republicans released their version of the CR that would cut around $60 billion from the budget. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) attempted to put forth an amendment earlier this week that would strip the health care law of funding in its ...
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The NASE realizes that the most important aspect of advocating on behalf of the self-employed is listening to true-life experiences. This week, we are particularly interested in how the topic above on the 2010 deduction for health insurance costs will affect your business. Simply multiply what you currently pay for health insurance by 15.3% (.153) and that's how much money you'll save in taxes this year. What will you do with that money? Email the Washington Watch Editor, Kristin, at koberlander@naseadmin.org to tell us. With your permission, we'll share your story with the media to show them just how important it ...
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - For the 2010 tax year, self-employed business owners can have one more deduction to claim – their health insurance costs. The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act, passed last fall, provides an important tax break for the over 23 million self-employed Americans by allowing them to deduct health insurance costs in determining the Self Employment Tax. These businesses represent 78 percent of all small businesses in the U.S., according to the NASE. To qualify for this deduction, self-employed business owners must meet the following three criteria: File a Schedule C or Schedule E with net earnings ...
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - From bartering to Facebook, check out these articles that couldn't wait until Friday. Some businesses are turning to bartering because the economy has made cash hard to come by. Smallbusinessnewz has tips to help you barter without running afoul of the IRS. Freelance Folder spells out the situations when you shouldn't follow up with a potential customer. If you're starting a business, have you thought about your legal structure and worked on these six essential plans? Finally, have you checked your Facebook privacy settings lately? Mashable has 10 settings that you should be familiar with, ...
Friday, February 04, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), released the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to repeal the 1099 reporting requirement, which was part of the health care reform package passed last year:   “Small business owners nationwide applaud the U.S. Senate for voting to repeal an onerous provision of the health care reform law,” said Arslan. “There is no question that expanding the IRS Form 1099 reporting requirement would have placed an undue burden on small business owners, including the self-employed and micro-businesses. Adding to small businesses’ regulatory reporting ...
Thursday, February 03, 2011
If you are planning to ... or already are in the ranks of ... being a home based entrepreneur don't think that just because you run a business out of your home there is no risk. You have to be just as serious about a home based business as if you were going to rent office space in one of the most prestigious addresses in your city. There are hundreds of challenges facing a new business, and a few extra if you plan to operate out of your home. If you haven’t done so already be sure you have done ...
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - The Small Business Administration is launching a federal contracting program for women-owned small businesses. In a press release, the SBA explained that: "The WOSB Federal Contract Program will provide greater access to federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs). The Program allows contracting officers, for the first time, to set aside specific contracts for certified WOSBs and EDWOSBs and will help federal agencies achieve the existing statutory goal of five percent of federal contracting dollars being awarded to WOSBs." The SBA is releasing instructions tomorrow, February 4th, on how to participate, ...
Friday, January 28, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - As part of President Obama's Executive Order on Regulatory Strategy, he included a specific portion aimed at small businesses. His memorandum specifically mentions the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires federal institutions to consider the effect of proposed regulations on small businesses. The NASE has worked with the SBA Office of Advocacy in the past to point out existing harmful regulations. The home office deduction is one such case. Business owners who use a portion of their home regularly and exclusively for business are permitted to deduct a portion of the costs of upkeep of this ...
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - The Small Business Administration announced this week that the first six in a series of grants have been awarded to Small Business Development Centers. The grants are part of $50 million in funding included in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. The grants will help SBDCs "support job creation and retention within the small business community through in-depth business counseling and advising entrepreneurs and small business owners." This week's awards went to SBDCs in Alaska, California, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan and South Carolina, and awards to other SBDCs will be given in the coming weeks. ...
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Posted by Kristie Arslan - Getting our economy back on track depends on the success of our nation’s small businesses. Critical measures enacted last year like the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act and the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts delivered much needed tax relief to small businesses, especially the self-employed and micro-businesses, helping business owners keep their doors open and even expand their operations. The latest messaging from the White House signals that President Obama is serious about continuing to support the small business community. During his State of the Union address, the President stated that he is ...
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The state of the union is set for Jan. 25. It is being watched for signs of how much President Obama is willing to work with Republicans on a variety of issues, but chiefly on economic policy and on policies to reduce national debt.  The speech will set the agenda and tone for the rest of 2011 as the White House and Congress focus on what both say is their primary goal: job creation. The NASE would like to see the president touch upon what can be done to help the self-employed continue to build ...
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - Whether you're a fan of countdowns (I'll admit that I have at least one going right now) or not, I hope the items in this business countdown are helpful! Also, no need to be ashamed about humming along to Europe as you're checking out the links below...   10 Old New Rules for Business Emails 8 Ways to Promote Wellness in the Workplace Own a business? 6 new tax breaks 5 Ways IT Can Ease Small Business Accounting Three Tips to Raise Money in a Tight Economy  
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Can you believe that one of the most dreaded times of the year is almost here again? The time when we tear into our financial records looking for ways to beat the tax man out of a few extra dollars. It's also the time of year when all the self-declared tax pros come out of the woodwork with their advice about how you should do your taxes. Some of these advice givers ... especially the amateurs ... would do us more good if they simply kept quiet instead of letting their ignorance show. For the next couple of months we ...
Monday, January 10, 2011
Posted by Kristie Arslan - The unemployment rate is now at its lowest level - 9.4 percent - in 19 months, despite millions of Americans who would like to go back to work. While this signals a move in the right direction, Americans have become accustomed to a monthly dose of bad news from the Department of Labor. These figures, though gloomy, would be much worse if a significant number of workers were not keeping themselves off of unemployment by finding freelance work and going into business for themselves. While the economy continues to struggle and so many Americans remain ...
Friday, January 07, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - It's always good to get things checked off of the list while the new year (and all of those resolutions) are still fresh. This week's link roundup has some good small business do's and don'ts to start off the year. Don'ts 6 Common Money Mistakes Small Business Owners Make Top 10 Reasons Small Businesses Fail Do's How to Create a Paperless Office Running a Small Business From Your Home: 8 Ways to Make it Work Five Regulations Entrepreneurs and New Business Owners Should Review
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - Did you know that the volume of the tax code has almost tripled in size during the last decade - going from 1.4 million words in 2001 to 3.8 million in February 2010? The complexity of the nation's tax regulations has led the I.R.S.'s national taxpayer advocate, Nina E. Olson, to use her annual report to Congress to call for the overhaul of the tax code. In her report, Olson "estimated that Americans spent 6.1 billion hours preparing their returns each year — the equivalent of 3 million employees working full time. By comparison, the ...
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Republicans are in the process of introducing two bills to "repeal and replace" both the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (health reform laws). Several House committees have been instructed to start work on new language for replacement health reform bills. The House Committee on Rules has already posted a repeal of the laws. The second bill will be composed of recommendations from four House committees (Education and Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Judiciary and Ways and Means) that include popular provisions in the current health law. These ...
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Posted by Molly Nelson - Did you take any lessons from running your business in 2010? One of the contributors at Freelance Folder closed out 2010 with a few. Feel free to share any lessons your learned in 2010 or any resolutions you've made for your business in 2011 in the comments!
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
From what we are hearing from NASE members across the country 2011 appears to be shaping up to be a better year than 2010 ... but our advice is not to let your guard down. Take it from lessons learned and prepare for the lean times and if they don’t come, you’ll just be that much better off. Other words, “Plan for the worst and hope for the best”. It’s easy for a business to succeed when customers are knocking down your doors. The real challenge that separates entrepreneurs from those who do well in spite of themselves is when ...
Monday, January 03, 2011
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - As an NASE Member, you have access to discounts on incorporation services through BizFilings. If you have questions about how to incorporating your business, our guest blogger, Julie Henningfield, offers some pointers to help you figure out the details. Remember to consult with our small business experts at ShopTalk if you have any additional questions! You’ve started your business and decided on business structure type to protect your hard-earned assets. It seems the hard part is over. Wrong. The demands placed on corporations and Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) do not stop once the formation documents ...
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Are you making the most of your interactions and relationships with your customers? Here are a few articles offering advice and addressing common questions so you can be sure you're putting your best foot forward with your customers in 2011. Have you learned the new rules for handling customer complaints? Inc. has the scoop. Follow OPEN Forum's advice to make sure you're taking advantage of referral moments. Freelance Folder has tips on how to quote projects for work you've never done and how to avoid taking rejection personally.   [The New Rules of Handling Customer ...
Friday, December 17, 2010
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The House approved a $1.093 trillion temporary extension (continuing resolution) of the fiscal year 2011 budget. Fiscal year 2011 began in October and Congress has be struggling to agree to a permanent budget for most of 2010. This continuing resolution (CR) would freeze the pay of federal workers and limit spending to fiscal year 2010 levels. The proposal was approved 212-206 and now heads to the Senate for further debate. The Senate is expected to replace the bill with an enormous spending package, including multiple spending bills and earmarks. The House CR contains no earmarks. ...
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - Congress has important work to finish before the 111th Congress comes to a close. Much of its agenda includes priorities that are critical to the nation's smallest businesses. While the recent passage of the Small Business Jobs Act was a major accomplishment, small businesses also need relief from onerous paperwork burdens created by the IRS Form 1099 expansion provision hidden deep within the health care reform legislation, as well as resolution of a suite of tax issues, including the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), the estate tax and the Bush-era tax cuts. Much of the political ...
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - We're knee-deep in informative and important numbers this week! Small Biz Bee suggests three ways to make your business more efficient and four places to find financing without giving up equity. Reuters shares seven tips for landing an SBA loan, and Small Biz Survival has the 2011 standard mileage rates via the IRS if you haven't seen them yet.     [3 Ways to Run Your Business More Efficiently] [4 Great Places to Find Investment Without Having To Give Away Equity] [7 tips for landing an SBA loan] [2011 Standard Mileage Rates]
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Washington, D.C., December 7, 2010 - Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), released the following statement on the compromise between President Obama and Congressional leaders on extending the Bush-era tax cuts, leading the way for economic relief for the small business community and the middle-class: “The compromise between President Bush and Congressional leaders on extending the Bush-era tax cuts is a win for the small business community,” said Arslan. “During this time of economic uncertainty, small business owners need this economic relief for their very survival. Over 23 million individual small business owners will now ...
Friday, December 03, 2010
Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of the NASE, released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle-class: “This is the wrong time to raise taxes for small businesses. Over 23 million individual small business owners across the country are counting on Congress to stand up for the American middle-class by extending the Bush tax cuts,” said Arslan. “The time for political bickering is over – now is the time to provide relief to millions of American middle-class families who desperately need it during this economic downturn." “Self-employed business owners ...
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - I hope all of you had wonderful Thanksgivings and productive Small Business Saturdays! Here are some stories and tips you may have missed while enjoying that last slice of pumpkin pie. Especially around the holidays, everyone wants to decrease stress and increase productivity (via Inc.) and many of us are looking for solutions to similar problems (via Freelance Folder). Looking for free or almost free help for your small business? Small Business Trends has the scoop.  Freelance Folder has a guide to the hard questions of when and how to say no to a client.  ...
Friday, November 26, 2010
Q.        I leased a car through my company with a personal guarantee and because my business is off, I can't afford the payments. The only option the leasing company is offering me is to trade the car for a less expensive vehicle that will then lower my monthly payment and will require me to extend the lease for several years. The car value is upside down so selling it is not an option. Is there any way to get out of this lease?   A.        This is one of the reasons I am not a great fan of automobile leasing. ...
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
When Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess, the Senate is set to vote on two measures, introduced by Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), that would repeal the increased Form 1099 reporting law. The bills are both amendments to the Senate Food Safety Modernization Act, S. 510. The NASE supports efforts to repeal the legislation, along with other key small business thought leaders. Recently, both SBA Administrator Karen Mills and Chief Counsel for Advocacy Winslow Sargeant voiced their opposition to the law that would increase paperwork exponentially for small business owners. Read past NASE coverage of this issue, including survey ...
Friday, November 19, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - If you need up to $5,000 to help your business grow, don't wait to apply for an NASE Business Development Grant! The grant application period for this year is ending on November 30, 2010, and you'll have to wait until February 1, 2011, to apply if you don't get your application in this month. The NASE has awarded over $450,000 in grants since 2006 to NASE Members like yourself for marketing, advertising, hiring employees, expanding facilities and other specific business needs. To learn more and apply for a grant, click here and log in with ...
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Congress returns this week to Washington, D.C. for the first time since the midterm elections. After nearly a month and a half of pre- and post-election leave, lawmakers will finish the rest of their legislative duties for 2010, with breaks for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is called the "lame duck" session, since some members will not be returning for the 112th Congress in January. The list of pending legislative action items includes agreeing on a 2011 budget and addressing various expiring tax provisions. These are likely to be taken up in the weeks after Thanksgiving. ...
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Q.     I have been renting office and storage space for a number of years and now the building is being put up for sale. I use about 40% and three other businesses use the rest of the space. I am considering buying the building but am not sure what I need to take into consideration to determine if it is a good financial decision. What should I look at to help me make a decision?   A.        While there are lots of pros and cons, in the current economic times buying could be a good business decision as commercial building ...
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Want to get the most out of a social media presence for your small business? Mashable shares some "how to" advice from the experts. If you're not utilizing online advertising, you may want to reconsider after hearing the latest numbers via Inc. According to Comscore "1.3 trillion (yes, that's a 't') display ads were delivered to people online in the United States in the third quarter of this year. That's a 22% increase from the same quarter a year ago." And on top of that, a fourth of those ads - or in other words, ...
Friday, November 12, 2010
Q: I'll wrap up my first year of business at the end of this year. I need to find a tax professional who can help me with my business tax returns. What should I look for in a tax advisor? A: Congratulations on a successful first year as a micro-business owner! The most important aspect when choosing a tax professional is finding one you feel comfortable talking to and one who can explain tax matters so that you understand. You also need to find a professional who will get to know your business and your industry. Check with colleagues, your ...
Friday, November 12, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - While I do consider myself a morning person, I've never been enough of a morning person to participate in Black Friday shopping. I usually find the early morning hours of the Friday after Thanksgiving to be better spent sleeping. However, I am totally in support of American Express OPEN declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving to be Small Business Saturday. According to Inc., Small Business Saturday is good for businesses and shoppers - "American Express will give $100 in free Facebook advertising to the first 10,000 businesses that sign up for the program. Businesses can created ...
Friday, November 05, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - I hope everyone survived Halloween's sugar rush, and that you proudly displayed your "I voted" sticker after Tuesday's election. It's been a busy week, so here's a look the news you may have missed. Confused about the Federal Reserve's plan to spend $600 billion to help the economy? NPR and Slate partner to break the announcement down into plain language. Small Biz Survival reminds us that it's never to early to start thinking about taxes, and OPEN Forum suggests steps to take now to prevent your business reputation from being tarnished in the future. If ...
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), released the following statement after the President delivered supportive comments on small business priorities at a press conference earlier today: “NASE is encouraged that President Obama is focused on two priority policy issues that need to be addressed to help the nation’s 23 million self-employed and micro-business owners drive economic growth. The IRS Form 1099 provisions passed under the health care law would increase paperwork for a self-employed business owner by more than a thousand percent, a burden that could affect a business’ ...
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - If you believe that "everyone" is your potential customer, Dr. Jeff Cornwall of Belmont University has a few words for you. Dr. Cornwall writes that, "The era of the mass market is over. It has been replaced by what is known as the long tail of marketing, in which the focus is not on the mainstream but on much smaller market niches." Dr.Cornwall suggests steps for identifying your specific potential clients, as well as gaining and keeping them as customers. (Also, if you're not already reading Dr. Cornwall's blog, The Entrepreneurial Mind, be sure to ...