February 1, 2019
5 Tips for First-Time Tax Filers thumbnail

5 Tips for First-Time Tax Filers

Filing taxes for the first time can be overwhelming. But if you have the right tools and advice before you start, it won’t be. Here are a few critical things to know before you begin, which will make the seemingly daunting process much easier. Start Prepping Early Even though the deadline to file a tax return is April 15, you’ll want to start as soon as you can. You’ll need time to gather all of your important documents like a W-2 from each employer and, if you’re a contractor, your 1099 forms. If you have a full-time job and worked freelance on the side, you’ll need both. The good news is that the forms show how much you made in […]
February 1, 2019
Automated Workflow Tools thumbnail

Automated Workflow Tools

We often read about how technological advances such as artificial intelligence will someday be used for customer-facing jobs – even eliminating the human touch. However, small firms that rely on trust and personal relationships are not likely to benefit from these innovations. Nonetheless, technology – when used effectively – can enhance a firm’s efficiency and free up resources so that more human time is spent on customer interaction. Used in combination, technology and personal relationships can improve a company’s bottom line. One of the best ways to use technology is to enhance current processes. Over the past two decades, many firms have begun tracking their client and prospective client interactions via spreadsheets and data software. These days, automated workflow tools […]
February 1, 2019
When Is A Loan Not A Loan? thumbnail

When Is A Loan Not A Loan?

With the sweeping new tax legislation in 2018 capturing everyone’s attention, other changes have taken a back seat. There were several Tax Court cases in 2018 that rendered important decisions impacting how things work – one of which was Povolny Group, Inc. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2018-37. The Povolny Group decision centers on a common issue where an individual uses his corporation like a personal pocketbook, transferring money in and out without any formality. Facts of the Case James Povolny joined his spouses’ company (LLC) as a minority owner. Later in 2002, he went out and started his own real-estate brokerage firm, the Povolny Group (PG), as a 100 percent owner. At one point, PG won the bid to build a […]
February 1, 2019
How Will Domestic and Global Policy Impact Oil Prices in 2019? thumbnail

How Will Domestic and Global Policy Impact Oil Prices in 2019?

With the Federal Reserve raising rates in 2018 and speculation of doing so again in 2019, combined with projected oil production cuts by Russia and Saudi Arabia, it is likely that these and other global events will impact world energy markets in 2019. Looking at how international markets have priced crude oil in 2018’s fourth quarter, there’s a lot to speculate on where prices will go in 2019. During the final quarter of 2018, oil prices hit a 48-month high of $86 per barrel. Yet, by the end of December, the price of a barrel of oil lost almost one-third of its value, settling under $50 per barrel. Since the global economy is so volatile and is forecast to continue […]
February 1, 2019
How Businesses Can Effectively Manage Seasonal Sales thumbnail

How Businesses Can Effectively Manage Seasonal Sales

When it comes to businesses dealing with seasonal sales, making payroll and other financial obligations can be stressful on budgets. However, one way to deal with fluctuating sales and cash flow problems is to see if invoice factoring is appropriate to meet year-round needs. Invoice Factoring One way for businesses dependent on seasonal sales is to have better financial predictability and available resources, as the Journal of Accountancy explains. Businesses can accomplish this by selling their accounts receivables through factoring. Companies looking to increase cash flow during the slow sales season can benefit by selling their accounts receivable to a third-party business called a factor. When a company sells its invoices through the factoring process, it can collect much faster […]
February 1, 2019
New Proposals for Government Programs thumbnail

New Proposals for Government Programs

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act delivered a wealth of benefits for taxpayers at every income level, but none more so than for the very rich. The net result of huge tax breaks for both high-income and corporate taxpayers is that the government now has much reduced tax revenues coming in to help pay for government programs. It comes as no surprise then that prior to the November 2018 midterm elections, Republican leaders in Congress were calling for cuts to government “entitlement” programs, such as Medicare and Social Security. While the word “entitlement” has adopted a negative connotation, it is an accurate description of these programs. In other words, workers pay into the Medicare and Social Security systems through an […]
February 1, 2019
Reimbursing Unpaid Federal Workers, Fact-Based Policy Making and Fighting Human Trafficking thumbnail

Reimbursing Unpaid Federal Workers, Fact-Based Policy Making and Fighting Human Trafficking

Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 (S. 24) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) on Jan. 3 and signed into law on Jan. 19. It requires federal employees who are furloughed or working without pay to be compensated for the time of the government shutdown. Workers are to be paid as soon as possible after the government is reopened, irrespective of pay schedules. Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017 (H.R. 4174) – This legislation mandates that agencies of the federal government use available scientific data, statistics and fact-based evidence when making policy decisions. The bill authorizes each agency to appoint a chief data officer to manage relevant data assets and determine how to incorporate […]
February 1, 2019
Congress at Work: Reimbursing Unpaid Federal Workers, Fact-Based Policy Making and Fighting Human Trafficking thumbnail

Congress at Work: Reimbursing Unpaid Federal Workers, Fact-Based Policy Making and Fighting Human Trafficking

Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 (S. 24) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) on Jan. 3 and signed into law on Jan. 19. It requires federal employees who are furloughed or working without pay to be compensated for the time of the government shutdown. Workers are to be paid as soon as possible after the government is reopened, irrespective of pay schedules. Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017 (H.R. 4174) – This legislation mandates that agencies of the federal government use available scientific data, statistics and fact-based evidence when making policy decisions. The bill authorizes each agency to appoint a chief data officer to manage relevant data assets and determine how to incorporate […]
January 1, 2019
5 Things to Start Doing in the New Year thumbnail

5 Things to Start Doing in the New Year

New Year’s resolutions usually involve stopping things like eating, drinking and spending too much – and so on. You know the drill. However, according to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week in February. Why not switch things up this year? Instead of setting yourself up for disappointment by attempting to abolish negative behavior, why not start doing some positive things? You’ll improve your quality of life and maybe even help the world. Here are few ideas to kick things off. Start Recycling This is so easy and so doable. All you have to do is get an extra trash can and throw your plastic and aluminum cans into it. Then […]
January 1, 2019
How to Build Your Savings Using Technology thumbnail

How to Build Your Savings Using Technology

According to a study by Cornell University, the human brain is wired to earn money more so than save it. As such, when we find we need more money in our lives, our instinct is to earn more and not spend less. In fact, this instinct tends to grow over time, and is one reason why people tend to spend more money when they receive a salary increase rather than save it. However, researchers believe that by being cognizant of this fact, we can take proactive measures to develop effective savings habits. One way to do this is by using new technology to make saving easier. The following are a few high-tech examples. Set up your bank account to make […]
January 1, 2019
Divorce Can Be Taxing thumbnail

Divorce Can Be Taxing

Divorce is expensive. Aside from the emotional toll divorce takes on a family, both the process and aftermath of a divorce can be costly. Below we look at some of the steps people can take to help remove the tax sting out of an already challenging time and arrive at the best financial position. Changes to Alimony We ring in the new year with changes to alimony tax law. Prior to Jan. 1, 2019, alimony payments were deductible by the spouse who paid them and taxable to the spouse receiving them. Typically, this provided an overall benefit to the family unit as the alimony recipient, generally being the lower earner, paid a lower tax rate. Often referred to as the […]
January 1, 2019
How Will the 90-Day Freeze on Tariff Increases Impact the Markets? thumbnail

How Will the 90-Day Freeze on Tariff Increases Impact the Markets?

According to a press release issued by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in the middle of September, tariffs of 10 percent on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods went into effect on Sept. 24, 2018. The same tariffs, according to the press release, were set to increase to 25 percent on the same $200 billion in Chinese imports on Jan. 1, 2019.    However, after talks between the leaders of the United States and China during G20 meetings in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the United States agreed to freeze tariffs at the 10 percent rate for 90 days starting Dec. 1, 2018. If the negotiations don’t lead to long-term settlements, the tariffs will increase to 25 percent on March 1, […]
January 1, 2019
Tips for Choosing the Appropriate Liability Insurance for Your Business thumbnail

Tips for Choosing the Appropriate Liability Insurance for Your Business

When it comes to liability insurance, the saying “you can never be too prepared” is quite meaningful. While business owners cannot predict what happens day to day or year to year, they can look into having business liability as way to give themselves peace of mind. The first step is to understand why it’s so important. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association reports that more than one in two home-based business owners lack necessary insurance. Furthermore, the Independent Insurance Agents of America (IIAA) found that 4 of 10 respondents do not have enough coverage because they believe their homeowners policy covers commercial liability. As you can see, education on this matter is essential. Here are descriptions of several different types […]
January 1, 2019
What Leading Economic Indicators Tell Us thumbnail

What Leading Economic Indicators Tell Us

One of the reasons investing is tricky is because it involves so many factors that we cannot control. One factor is the specific investment itself. In the case of a stock, the share price relies on company management and leadership; manufacturing, marketing and distribution; and balancing expenses with revenues. Another factor is investor and market sentiment, which can change on a dime based on economic uncertainty, the day’s news or a presidential tweet. Then there’s a third component, which encompasses broader economic events and how they impact investment market fundamentals and the business life cycle. One way we monitor the economy and try to predict market cycles is through economic indicators. These are trackable data points that economists use to […]
January 1, 2019
Prisoner Reform, the Farm Bill, and Taking Aim at Weapons of Mass Destruction thumbnail

Prisoner Reform, the Farm Bill, and Taking Aim at Weapons of Mass Destruction

Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 2018 H.R. 7213 – Sponsored by Rep. Daniel Donovan (R-NY), this bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish a Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office as part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). All personnel, budget authority and assets of the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the Office of Health Affairs will be transferred to this new office. Its function will be to coordinate DHS strategy and policy to plan, detect and protect against the importation, possession, storage, transportation, development or use of unauthorized chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials, devices or agents. This new office also will have a Chief Medical Officer to advise DHS on medical […]
December 1, 2018

Congress at Work: Punishing Terrorists and Kiddie Porn Traffickers; Reinforcing Cybersecurity and Patents

Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2018 (S. 1595) – This bill amends the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 to impose sanctions on foreign nationals and governments that knowingly assist in funding or recruitment activities for the Hizballah terrorist organization. This includes providing arms or other assistance, as well as narcotics trafficking and criminal activities. The bill was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on July 20, 2017 and signed into law by the president on Oct. 25. Amy, Vicky and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018 (S. 2152) – This bill authorizes the federal criminal code to compensate victims of child pornography. Specifically, a defendant convicted of trafficking in child pornography must pay between […]
December 1, 2018

Online Home Appraisal Tools

Real estate appraisal and land valuation is the process of putting a price on the value of property. Buy and sell transactions generally require an up-to-date appraisal because each property is unique and values are based on the current economic landscape. In the past, it was necessary to hire a professional real estate appraiser to conduct an onsite property visit to make this assessment. Granted, an onsite appraisal is still considered the most accurate because it involves a thorough review of the home, including the roof, siding, foundation, windows and doors, flooring, walls, plumbing, electrical, kitchen and bath updates. However, it is also possible to get a relatively accurate appraisal using automated valuation models. Fortunately, there are a variety of […]
December 1, 2018

6 Ways to Avoid the Holiday Blues

Despite the never-ending flurry of merry salutations, the holidays can be emotionally challenging — if not downright depressing. Here are a few practical ways to take care of yourself during this time of year. Set a Budget. When you’re out shopping, it’s so easy to cave to “spending sprawl” – irresistible gifts that seem to call your name, obliterating any control you thought you had before you left the house. Truth is, you can’t buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Instead, you might want to make something for someone (cookies or a homemade ornament), organize a gift exchange and set a spending limit, or donate to a charity in a person’s name. Another way to save money and infuse […]
December 1, 2018

Financial Planning Advice for Women

The path for women is a little like two steps forward, one step back. For example, almost 40 percent of all privately held firms in the United States today are owned by women. Furthermore, the 2018 midterm elections yielded 23 female senators and more than 100 in the House of Representatives. And yet, despite the fact that women comprise 51 percent of the U.S. population, their ranks account for less than one-quarter of Congress. And women hold only 10 percent of chief executive and chief financial officer positions in S&P 1500 companies. What is most unfortunate about the lack of women in powerful positions is that they continue to trail men in terms of income and investment assets. When it […]
December 1, 2018

Will the United States Become a Bond Haven in 2019?

With Italian bond yields rising quickly from 2 percent to 3 percent since the middle of 2018, it begs the question if the United States will become a bond haven. There are many reasons why the United States Bond Market has the potential to became a refuge for many global investors. According to a 2016 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, safety is in the eye of the beholder – in the case of the global markets, it’s the investor. When there are global economic worries, the paper credits a “nowhere else to go” theory for investors that choose U.S. debt versus others. Along with a country’s ability to handle its own debt, the National Bureau of Economic […]
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