Posted by Frankye | Posted in Maximizing Profits | Posted on 27-01-2012-05-2008
Our number one tax saving tip is to know your tax credits. Generally speaking, small business tax credits fall into three categories: credits for going green, credits for hiring employees, and credits for non-wage forms of employee compensation, such as insurance and childcare assistance. Basically, the government wants to reward businesses that invest in their employees and communities.
Top 5 Small Business Tax Credits
1. New Hire Tax Credit
If you hired an employee between February 3, 2010, and January 1, 2011, and kept them on for at least a year, you probably qualify for the New Hire Retention Tax Credit. Use form 5884-B to claim this small business tax credit.
2. Employee Health Insurance Tax Credit
Cover at least half of your employees’ health insurance costs? The government will offset up to 35% of your costs with a tax credit for small employer health insurance premiums. Fill out IRS Form 8491 to claim this small business tax credit.
3. Eco-Friendly Vehicle Tax Credit
The Alternative Motor Vehicle Tax Credit rewards business that add certain environmentally-friendly vehicles to their fleet. There’s are also small business tax credits for the fueling costs of such vehicles. Use IRS Forms 8910 8911 and 8864 to claim your green credits.
4. Active-Duty Employee Tax Credit
If you’ve got an employee on active duty in the military, Uncle Sam thanks you with the Credit for Employer Differential Wage Payments. Just fill out IRS form 8932 to claim this small business tax credit.
5. Community-Oriented Investment Tax Credit
The government also offers small business tax credits for community investments. The New Markets Tax Credit rewards equity investments made in qualified community development entities. Fill out IRS Form 8874 to see if your investment qualifies.
See all the small business tax credits you can use to cut your tax bill at the IRS website.
Cost-cutting is always a business priority. Smart business have adopted a number of cost cutting measures during this recession, from common sense approaches such as making sure all the office computers and lights are shut off at the end of the day, to more elaborate approaches, including equipment upgrades and green initiatives. We’ve been tightening our belts at home too, as all of us, business owners and consumers, weather this recession.
Printing costs are a significant and recurring expense at home and in the office. You may have already started thinking before you print and using duplex printers that print on both sides of a page. Yesterday, the Associated Press offered another practical, money saving solution you can adopt at home and at work. To save money on printer ink, the AP recommends changing your font. I didn’t know this, but some fonts use more ink to print. According to the AP, Century Gothic and Times New Roman use the least amount of ink to print. In fact, Century Gothic uses 30% less ink than Arial. Depending on how large your organization is, making the switch could save you thousands of dollars a year. Furthermore, Serif fonts use less ink than Sans Serif fonts because the lines of the characters are usually thinner.
The AP article provides a few more ink and money saving solutions any office can adopt, including printing in draft mode whenever possible. Of course, best, greenest way to cut your printing costs is to print less. After all, we do live in a technological age. Use email.
With the April 15 IRS tax deadline looming, its time to start thinking about deductions. Tax deductions are expenses you incur that lower your income in the eyes of the IRS. The lower your income, the less the government expects you to pay in taxes. Most of you know you can deduct mortgage and student loan interest, but there are a ton of other totally legit ways to lower your tax bill.
In “The Most-Overlooked Tax Deductions” Kiplinger lists 19 tax breaks you may have forgotten about or didn‘t know existed in the first place, including state sales tax, moving expenses for your first job, refinancing points, charitable donations and more. In addition, property taxes, vehicle registration fees, the annual cost of your safe deposit box and child care are all tax deductible expenses. You can even deduct tax preparation fees. If you work from, you can deduct a percentage of you housing costs. For example, if your home is 2,000 square feet, and you use 200 sq.ft. for business purposes, you can deduct 10% as business operating expenses. For more deductions, check out this informative article from Helium, an awesome personal finance site.
A word of caution: be sensible when combing over your expenses while looking for deductions. You do not want to get on the wrong side of the IRS! Entrepreneur offers some expert advice on how to properly claim your deductions. Approach the whole enterprise with the right attitude–you just don’t want to pay more taxes than you owe, not put one over on the government!
If you follow the Smart Office blog, you know that it is completely illegal for printer manufacturers to void your warranty for not using name brand inks. This is great if you use an inkjet printer, because those run through ink pretty quickly. I use an inkjet and it sometimes seems as if I am buying a new cartridge every other day! Since printer ink is a recurring expense, it’s a good idea to find ways to save money. You have three options when it comes to replacing ink cartridges: OEM cartridges, OEM-compatible cartridges and re-manufactured cartridges.
OEM means “original equipment manufacturer.” OEM ink cartridges are made or purchased by printer manufacturers and marketed under their brand name. OEM ink cartridges are guaranteed to work reliably and produce great looking documents, but they also costs the most. The other safe bet is OEM-compatible ink cartridges. These ink cartridges are generics made to OEM specifications, so they generally perform reliably. They also cost significantly less than OEM ink cartridges. For example, if your office uses a Hewitt Packard Officejet K8600 Series printer, you’ll pay about $29 for the OEM cartridges at On Time Supplies. The OEM-compatible cartridges from Innovera are only $22.
Finally, there are remanufactured or recycled ink cartridges. These are used OEM cartridges that have been refurbished and refilled. Re-manufactured cartridges are the cheapest option — some quick Googling turned up $26 5-packs for the HP Officejet printer. They are also the riskiest option — they may be filled with inferior inks that can clog your printer, produce poor quality documents, break down or otherwise fail to perform reliably. Use these at your own risk.
EVliving.com is reporting that Treasures for Teachers, a non-profit organization that helps provide struggling teachers with much-needed school and classroomsupplies, has received an $11,000 gift from Discover Financial Services.
“This gift comes at such a crucial time for us and for education in Arizona,” says Barbara Blalock, Executive Director of Treasures 4 Teachers. Just last week the Governor’s office announced a $144 million budget cut to education directly affecting classroom supplies.
The funds will be used to provide scholarships to teachers and help offset the costs of operating the 10,000 square foot facility in Tempe, Arizona,” says Barbara Blalock.
Heartwarming! It seems not all big corporations are heartless jerks. According to Jim Phelps, vice president of Discover’s Phoenix Operations Center: “Treasures 4 Teachers directly ties to Discover’s mission of supporting educational initiatives. We are glad to make this donation that will help support continued operations of their facility and help teachers further their education.”
Good on you, Discover.
One of those head-scratchers. According to ksdk.com:
Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor is calling for the immediate cancellation of a state contract after the I-Team exposed an embarrassing issue for Governor Jay Nixon’s administration.
The state awarded the estimated million-dollar contract to Office Depot, a company under investigation for allegations of bait and switch, deceptive pricing, and over-charging. Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the General Accounting Administration, the Department of Justice and the SEC, have investigations into the office giant.
According to its 2009 second-quarter report, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Office Depot is under investigation in Florida, Texas, Missouri, Colorado, California and Ohio.
So basically, the Lt. Governor went ahead and offered a million dollars to a company that was being investigated for fraud…in that state. While the state has halted the contract pending further investigation, it’s still a bit of a black eye for whoever authorized that purchase order.
Oddly enough, Office Depot crusader David Sherwin appears in the article as well, saying basically the same thing. Maybe he should come work for us.
The Post-Crescent has an interesting blog detailing how some smaller or local businesses are dealing with the economic downturn. In addition to companies laying off employees, instituting rotating periods of time off, and reducing office space, they’re also re-imagining how they manage office supplies (a subject near and dear to my heart):
For a national distributor, it was a matter of getting back to basics. First, they centralized office supplies into a single location to eliminate all the “private stock” of supplies that cost extra and resulted in more of some supplies (e.g. staples and paper clips) than would be used in a lifetime.
This highlights an interesting example of how some companies handle their office supply budget. When you have a lot of small offices, people seem to think it makes sense to have each office buy their own supplies, often from a local brick-and-mortar store. But if you found a company that shipped fast, nationwide, and offered bulk discounts, why not just use them exclusively?
Each office could tap into the corporate account and receive exactly what they need, when they need it. No need for little pockets of extra materiel, no need for a centralized office hub. Or rather, the company would be the hub, and do all the work for you. Sounds nice, eh?
Posted by chase | Posted in Big Box News, Maximizing Profits | Posted on 25-08-2009-05-2008
The Boston Herald is reporting that, in a continuing theme, Staples is being ordered to pay $790,000 in damages to end a class-action lawsuit filed by a former employee who claimed she was shortchanged on overtime pay.
Kirsten McCandless of Milford would get about $106 per qualifying workweek under a preliminary settlement agreement with the Framingham-based office products company. The suit, filed in October 2007, claims Staples violated state and federal wage laws.
The deal, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Boston and subject to a judge’s approval, would also apply to about 60 other current and former Staples employees who worked as senior product solutions specialists between Oct. 1, 2004, and June 30, 2008.
It seems like not too long ago that Staples was being ordered to pay MILLIONS for violating overtime law, so perhaps only paying ALMOST A MILLION means they are settling down in their overtime-law-breaking ways. Oh wait, less horrible isn’t the same as good.
Posted by chase | Posted in Just For Fun, Maximizing Profits | Posted on 02-08-2009-05-2008
The Huffington Post has a satirical article that lampoons some of the ridiculous measures companies are taking to cut costs in this struggling economy. One of the highlights of this “memo” from Staples has to do with cutting, well, staples:
Staples: They may seem like an insignificant cost, but fears about the stability of the dollar mean the cost of durable items, like metals, has skyrocketed, pushing the average price per 1000 staples from $.79 to $.84.
Instead of throwing money away like that, we encourage you to use paper-folding techniques (for a demonstration, please visit Ted in accounting; he’s a whiz at origami!) that will make you wonder why you ever used staples in the first place! To that end, we will be collecting office-owned staplers at the end of the week for resale.
Alternately, you’re welcome to remove and attempt to reuse staples from documents stapled before this change goes into effect, but the management would like to remind you that blood traces are not acceptable on finished reports.
Check out the humorous article and try to keep a straight face. It really does a great job of showcasing how desperate some companies are getting these days. Remember, before you cut out pens from your budget, try looking into a cheap alternative to the big-box boys. (I know, I know, it’s a humor article, but the point stands!)
From the Daily Herald:
Naperville-based OfficeMax Inc. announced sales declined about 16.5 percent in the second quarter that ended June 27.
Total sales were $1,657.9 million in the second quarter of 2009. The office supply giant also reported a net loss available to OfficeMax common shareholders of $17.7 million, or $0.23 per diluted share.
Almost 18 million? Not quite as bad as Office Depot’s $82 million loss, but hey. We’re just happy to see bad business returning bad results.