Business Strategies Archives - Page 2 of 10 - Think Outside the Tax Box

Business Strategies

By Annette Nellen, CPA, CGMA, Esq.

The Safeguards Rule — Are You Compliant?

Tax professionals must take measures to prevent unauthorized access to customer information. For example, you should limit access to customer data to only those employees who need it for their jobs. Also, outsourcing tax preparation in your firm can impact this security.

In October 2019, the IRS added a new question about data security responsibilities to the form to obtain or renew a PTIN. As a tax professional, it’s important to understand what the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires and how you can comply.

Keep reading to learn what steps you can take to help protect the confidential information of clients and ensure GLBA compliance.

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How to Slash Your Property Taxes

Question: You talk a lot about reducing federal taxes, but what about other taxes? It seems like we get taxed on everything multiple times! Is this even legal? Answer: Isn’t it the truth! You may feel that your income, purchases, and belongings get taxed double, triple, and even more times. The saying goes, “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” And even when you die the same property and earnings may be taxed again. The Supreme Court even answered the question in 2015 about whether taxing the same income more than once is constitutional. In the case of Maryland v. Wynne, the 5-4 decision indicates that two states do not have the right to tax the same income. While many of the strategies discussed in Think Outside the Tax Box reduce federal taxes, most of them will reduce your state income taxes as well, depending on whether or not the state in which you pay taxes conforms to federal tax law. In addition, there are many state tax reduction strategies worth learning and implementing. However, did you know there are also tax reduction strategies for other types of taxes like property taxes? One of the oldest taxes and primary sources of revenue for states, counties, cities, schools, and fire departments comes from taxing the value of property owned within a jurisdiction. In some locations, this can include personal property as well as real estate. Like most good tax laws, property tax laws include loopholes you can use to pay less. To learn more, continue reading here.

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Just Good Business – Curate Your Subscriptions

Do you ever feel like your inbox is out of control? Perhaps you even have more than one out of control inbox. Do you find yourself getting vapor-locked from information overload? Do you consider the phrase “inbox zero” and feel like it’s as achievable as driving to the moon? It’s time to work on that. An uncurated collection isn’t a collection it’s a hoard, and an uncurated information library isn’t a library it’s a digital fire hazard. Digital clutter can be as detrimental to your professional life as physical clutter is to your personal life. Before you start curating, however, I recommend giving some thought to how you want to go about it. For example, I have a work e-mail that is for clients to reach me that I only access when I am at my desk working. In general, my work e-mail is not the e-mail to which my subscriptions are sent—not even the tax-related subscriptions. My work e-mail is for clients only (and a few colleagues). That way, if I want to read tax news when I’m not working, I’m not distracted by e-mails from clients. At the same time, my tax news goes to a different inbox. My shopping ads go somewhere else as well. While I don’t recommend having one e-mail address for each type of communications, having a few different e-mail addresses (one for “work work”, one for work reading and networking, one for personal use and shopping) can help to create boundaries that will keep you from being distracted by work when you are trying to shop and vice versa. Once you have your various inboxes set up (or not), it’s time to take a cold hard look at all of that digital clutter. Let’s face it, most of us don’t read the consumer disclosures when we sign up for something or use a business’ website. Whenever you provide your e-mail address to a business or use their website your e-mail address is captured. Unfortunately, not only does the business with which you are transacting use that as consent to e-mail you, often the use disclosure includes authorization for the business to sell your data (either anonomized or not) to other businesses. That’s why when you order custom business swag from one company you are not only inundated with additional e-mail from that company but you start getting e-mail solicitations from businesses selling similar or complementary products and/or services. The same thing happens when you register for continuing education classes, enter a drawing at an expo using your business card, or join a professional organization. You start getting e-mail solicitations from that company, but if, or when, that company monetizes their e-mail list, your e-mail address is included. Yay! (Can you sense my sarcasm?) I read once that it takes an average of nine “touches” to convince a consumer to make a purchase. Unfortunately because e-mail is relatively inexpensive and easily automated, many retail businesses use it to make all of those touches. Between regular shopping, gift shopping, professional organizations, professional news, regular news, it’s really easy for the amount of e-mail into your various inboxes to get completely overwhelming in a short period of time. That’s why it’s just good business to spend some time once or twice a year curating your subscriptions! If the thought of trimming down your subscriptions gives you FOMO, keep reading for some tips and tactics to make sure you still get important notifications while eliminating the excess.

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US V Harry Stonehill – America’s Jarndyce v Jarndyce

1962. It was the only year in which JFK was president for the whole entire year. World events impinged on my family. My older brother served onboard an aircraft carrier chasing Soviet submarines and when not recovering Mercury astronauts, had his four-year enlistment extended to five. Somehow the bright fourth grader that I was, I missed the story of the dramatic raid by the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation on March 3, 1962. According to reporter, Amando Doronila, who covered the raid, 200 agents seized 35 truckloads of documents from 27 offices and corporations controlled by American expatriate Harry Stonehill. Why should we care? Believe it or not, the implications of that March 3, 1962, raid are still being litigated in the United States. Read on to learn more!

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TAX PLANNING FOR CLERGY

“The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax” – Albert Einstein You may have spoken to clergy members about many things, but I’ll bet you never spoke with them about their tax issues. Did you ever wonder whether and how clergy are taxed and how they pay taxes? Clergy taxation has some surprising twists and turns. Are they employees or self-employed? Is their income taxable or exempt from income tax? Can they deduct their business expenses? If these were multiple-choice questions, you might need an “all of the above” option. Or, as is often the case with tax-related questions, an “it depends” option. Tax compliance pitfalls and tax planning opportunities abound. Read on for more.

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Just Good Business – Review Your Insurance Policies

Regular readers of this column may know that I came involuntarily to the tax business. I inherited it from my mother in 2010. Less well known is that the tax business was Mom’s side hustle. Mom’s main business was as an independent insurance agent. The insurance side of the business closed in 2017, but during the time I was administering that side of the business (I was never a licensed agent), I learned a lot about insurance. One of the most important lessons I learned was that the longer you hold a policy, the more the rates increase and that it pays to make the effort to review (and shop) your various insurance policies regularly. Another important lesson was that all coverage is not equal and, just as when looking for a tax professional, price should be a consideration but not the consideration. The third important lesson was to know your coverage before you need the insurance. Many times we had to remind a customer they had refused uninsured motorist coverage to save a few dollars after an uninsured motorist totaled the client’s vehicle or to explain the limits of flood coverage after a building flooded. Regularly reviewing your insurance policies for coverage and value provides peace of mind and is just good business. Click here to learn the ins and outs of getting a great deal.

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The 8082 Solution to Erroneous K-1s

If you’re thinking about extra forms that might have to go in with a 1040, Form 8082 is probably not the first thing that pops into your mind. But if what you need to do includes Form 8082 – Notice of Inconsistent Treatment or Administrative Adjustment Request, and you leave it out, there might be no way to recover. That appears to be the result in the Second Circuit decision in Laurence Gluck’s appeal of a Tax Court decision. There is also a lesson about like-kind exchanges that may have continuing significance despite changes in the law. With a deficiency of more than $1.5 million, it seems like a pretty big deal. It turns out that Laurence Gluck is one of New York City's largest landlords, so it may not have been that big a deal for him. On the other hand, it makes it surprising that the issue tripped him up. Click here to continue reading.

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Pros and Cons of Cryptocurrency Mining as a Trade or Business

As cryptocurrency grows in popularity, more people are turning to what is known as mining as a way to bring in some extra income. However, not all mining activities are equal; small differences in the facts and circumstances can have substantial impact on the tax consequences. Much of the nuance hinges on whether the activity is a trade or business under Section 162, which, in many circumstances, may not be a simple thing to determine. If you choose to treat your mining as a business, earned bitcoin is reported on a Form 1040 Schedule C. The benefit of this is the ability to deduct mining expenses as deductions for your crypto business. Along with direct costs to mine the digital currency, treating the work as a business opens the door to additional tax reduction strategies. To learn how to maximize your crypto mining activity, keep reading.

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Just Good Business – Develop or Review Your Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is usually designed to cover everything a new hire needs to know to get started at their job. Depending on the size of the company “everything a new hire needs to know” can be either a vast amount of information or a much smaller amount. Many small, closely held businesses may not have an employee handbook because they don’t feel they are large enough to warrant it or they (mistakenly) believe that necessary information is getting communicated effectively and consistently to all staff members. Often having an employee handbook isn’t something most businesses think about until it’s too late (for example, when an employee files a lawsuit for discrimination or a worker’s compensation claim). Even businesses that have an employee handbook may not give it much thought once it has been developed. But developing and maintaining a useful employee handbook is just good business. Why? The employee handbook explains a company’s culture and values and is a valuable reference tool for employees looking for information on company policies. It can save management time (and money) and can help to prevent or mitigate legal issues for the company.

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