August 1, 2019
Relief for Immigrants, Attempts to Deter Foreign Election Interference and Failed Resolutions to Condemn Foreign Arms Sales thumbnail

Relief for Immigrants, Attempts to Deter Foreign Election Interference and Failed Resolutions to Condemn Foreign Arms Sales

Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019 (HR 3401) – This legislation provides $4.5 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to federal departments and agencies for humanitarian assistance and security to respond to migrants attempting to enter the United States at the southern border for the rest of the fiscal year. This funding is available for appropriations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services for the Administration for Children and Families. The bill also includes requirements and restrictions for how the funds may be used. It was introduced on June 21 by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and […]
July 1, 2019
Disaster Relief Funding, Expanded Benefits for Neglected Vietnam Veterans, and Bipartisan Reforms for the IRS thumbnail

Disaster Relief Funding, Expanded Benefits for Neglected Vietnam Veterans, and Bipartisan Reforms for the IRS

National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019 (S 1693) – This bill reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire on May 31, through June 14. The bill was introduced by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on May 23, passed the Senate and the House in one week and was signed into law by the president on May 31. Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019 (HR 2157) – This bill adds $17.2 billion to this year’s budget for supplemental emergency funding available to many federal departments and agencies for expenses related to wildfires, hurricanes, volcanos, earthquakes, typhoons and other natural disasters. This supplemental funding basically extends the National Flood Insurance Program until Sept. 30, at […]
July 1, 2019
New from Apple: iPhone iOS 13 Upgrades, All-New Mac Pro thumbnail

New from Apple: iPhone iOS 13 Upgrades, All-New Mac Pro

During its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 3, Apple introduced a lot of new technology. Here, we will have a look at iPhone iOS13 upgrades and the all-new Mac Pro. iOS 13 The main reason for this upgrade is to have a faster and more secure iPhone. Some of the new features that Apple has added to entice buyers include: New map tools that enable consumers to zoom in on a location and have a tour around the place. A dark mode color scheme that users can switch to, replacing the usual white background. The dark mode helps reduce eye strain that users might experience from using a brightly lit screen. Ability to customize your Memoji avatar. Apple […]
July 1, 2019
How To Use AI For HR thumbnail

How To Use AI For HR

There is a lot of new technology being used to automate functions and save money in large corporations, but many small organizations are shut out of those advancements. This is largely because of the cost, training, knowledge and resources it requires to take advantage of such new technology. But while small business owners might not be able to afford such advances, it’s good to keep up with what’s going on in the tech world – particularly innovations that can help a business owner automate processes and save money on personnel expenses. One such advancement is how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used for human resources functions. For example, automated processes that adapt to situations can be useful with recruitment, onboarding […]
July 1, 2019
Why Some People Are Afraid of the Hobby Loss Rules thumbnail

Why Some People Are Afraid of the Hobby Loss Rules

Many tax advisors are very cautious when it comes to claiming hobby losses – and some would argue overly so. This conservative view stems from the impression that the taxpayer usually loses when challenged by the IRS. While technically true that the odds aren’t in your favor of winning a challenge, the overall risk often works out in the taxpayer’s favor over the long run. Below we’ll look at why tax advisors should start from the assumption of taking the losses. Always a Loser Taxpayers usually lose hobby loss cases. Typically, the odds are around 3-to-1 in favor of the IRS. So, on the surface it seems like the smart bet is to assume you’ll lose, but there are reasons […]
July 1, 2019
How Increased Tariffs on Chinese Goods Will Impact Market Earnings thumbnail

How Increased Tariffs on Chinese Goods Will Impact Market Earnings

With the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announcing the increase of tariffs on imported Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of goods, and a directive from the executive branch to increase tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods, how will publicly traded companies’ earnings be impacted? According to a May 10 press release from the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), tariffs of 10 percent on imported Chinese goods, consisting of $200 billion, increased to 25 percent. The press release also indicated that the remaining amount of Chinese imports, about $300 billion, will now be subject to tariffs. Based on a June 14 USTR press release, hearings on implementation […]
July 1, 2019
How to Define and Calculate a Break-Even Analysis thumbnail

How to Define and Calculate a Break-Even Analysis

According to data from a U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy report from August 2018, businesses have varied longevity. Nearly 80 percent (79.8 percent) of business startups in 2016 lasted until 2017. Between 2005 and 2017, the SBA mentions that 78.6 of new businesses lasted 12 months. Similarly, nearly 50 percent lasted at least five years.   While there are many reasons why a company goes out of business – one is profitability. Knowing when the business is breaking even and will start making a profit can be accomplished with a break-even analysis. Defining a Break-Even Analysis As the SBA explains, a Break-Even Analysis is a useful way to measure the level of sales necessary to determine how many […]
July 1, 2019
Financial Tips for Recent College Graduates thumbnail

Financial Tips for Recent College Graduates

Members of the college graduating class of 2017 owed an average of close to $30,000 each in student loan debt. Imagine starting out adult life with that kind of debt load? The prevalence of this type of mounting debt for a 21- or 22-year-old is unprecedented in U.S. history – and all the more reason why young adults need sound financial advice. Financial advisors might not necessarily market to this demographic; instead, waiting until they’re older and have assets worth their while. However, if today’s young adults don’t get off on the right financial footing with regard to managing debt, saving, budgeting and investing for the future, there won’t be that many in need of financial advice once they hit […]
June 1, 2019
Best Road Trips on a Budget thumbnail

Best Road Trips on a Budget

Summer is here and it’s time for getting out of town. However, you don’t want to set off on the open road without a plan. While there are an endless number of places to visit across the United States, here are a few road trips that are filled with natural parks, mountains and beaches, all of which are notably affordable, if not free. From New York City to Charleston, South Carolina First stop, Cape May, NJ, where you can hit Cape May Beach for some sun, then walk/bird watch for free at The Meadows. Next stop, Ocean City, MD, where there’s a 3-mile-long boardwalk with lots of arcades and fast-food joints (read: kid-friendly and affordable). After that, head toward the […]
June 1, 2019
Small Business Survey: How Are Today's SMBs Using Technology? thumbnail

Small Business Survey: How Are Today’s SMBs Using Technology?

One way to reduce the overhead associated with hiring workers is to make efficient use of technology. According to a recent survey by CompTIA, 73 percent of midsize businesses and 56 percent of firms with fewer than 20 employees say technology is a primary factor in pursuing their business objectives. Budgeting According to the 4Q 2018 survey, the average small/midsize business (SMB) invests anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 a year on technology. About half (52 percent) of small business owners think they’re not spending enough on business technology. Upgrading The largest share of small businesses (36 percent) say that in recent years they’ve focused their technology budget on infrastructure, such as laptops, desktops, servers, phones and storage. The second largest […]
June 1, 2019
When Saving for Retirement in Taxable Account Is a Good Idea thumbnail

When Saving for Retirement in Taxable Account Is a Good Idea

Most people associate saving for retirement with tax deferred or non-taxable accounts: 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, etc. The tax benefits of these types of retirement accounts give individuals advantages over simply investing in a regular taxable brokerage account.   Savings for retirement in a standard taxable account can also have its place – and the option shouldn’t be ignored. In this article, we’ll look at a handful of reasons why doing so might just be the best option. Your employer doesn’t offer 401(k), 403(b) or similar type plan Some employers, especially very small ones, don’t offer retirement plan options to their employees due to the cost or administrative burden. Others have restrictions on participation, such as waiting periods […]
June 1, 2019
How Will Increased Business Productivity Impact Business Earnings Reports? thumbnail

How Will Increased Business Productivity Impact Business Earnings Reports?

During the first three months of 2019, non-farm labor productivity grew 3.6 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is coupled with a 4.1 percent increase in output, along with hours worked increasing by one-half of one percent. Comparing the rates from 2019’s Q1 to the first three months of 2018, productivity grew by 2.4 percent, year over year. Looking at the trend over 12 months, the BLS reported a 3.9 percent uptick in output and a 1.5 percent uptick in hours worked.  With the BLS defining the non-farm business sector accounting for nearly four-fifths (77 percent) of America’s gross domestic product, it’s still noteworthy to see what it doesn’t include. It doesn’t account for government entities, […]
June 1, 2019
How to Make the Most of Margins and Markups thumbnail

How to Make the Most of Margins and Markups

When it comes to gross margins and the American economy, they vary widely throughout the country’s industries. When New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business recently compiled gross margin statistics for January 2019, they found the low end includes the Auto and Truck industry with a gross margin of 11.45 percent and the Oilfield Services/Equipment industry with a gross margin of 10.70 percent. On the top end, the General and Diversified Real Estate industry saw a gross margin of 73.08 percent and the Investments and Asset Management industry saw a 70.67 percent gross margin. While these gross margins are divergent, understanding more about gross margins gives better context for understanding this measure. Why Gross Margins Matter One way […]
June 1, 2019
Social Security: News, Tips and Trends thumbnail

Social Security: News, Tips and Trends

There are a number of threats that both retirees and pre-retirees are facing right now when it comes to drawing Social Security benefits. For example, there’s a new scam this year. Seniors are being solicited by callers who claim to be with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The caller says he regrets to inform that the elderly person’s Social Security payments have been suspended. The caller says it’s either because the beneficiary has been involved in a crime or there has been suspicious activity related to their benefit. Here’s the interesting part: the caller then requests that the senior repay a certain amount of his benefit to Social Security by gift card. The scammer is then able to use this […]
June 1, 2019
Enhanced Funding for Shooting Practice and Bulletproof Vests thumbnail

Enhanced Funding for Shooting Practice and Bulletproof Vests

Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (H.R. 1222 – The Pittman-Robertson Act, passed in 1937, imposes an excise tax on the sale of firearms, archery gear and ammunition. Those proceeds are used to fund hunter education programs, land acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat. This new bill allocates a higher portion of these federal funds to cover the cost for construction and expansion of public target ranges. The act is designed to encourage states to develop additional shooting ranges for marksmanship training. It was introduced on Feb. 14 by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), passed in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by the president on May 10. To Reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program […]
May 1, 2019
5 Ways to Get a Jump on Next Year's Taxes thumbnail

5 Ways to Get a Jump on Next Year’s Taxes

Yes, tax season is officially over. And you might be kicking back and relaxing, putting off thinking about next year’s taxes as long as you can. However, smart taxpayers know that the more you plan ahead, the better chance you have of reducing the amount you pay next time around. Here are a few easy ways to get a handle on your financial future – aka next year’s taxes. Understand Claiming Dependents. When you know the rules, it can be a game changer. Let’s start with the basics. You can take a $4,000 exemption for each dependent. You also can claim their related expenses such as child care and medical costs, along with tuition payments. However, if you share custody […]
May 1, 2019
What To Expect From 10G Data Speed thumbnail

What To Expect From 10G Data Speed

When it comes to smartphones, speed and connectivity is generally referenced by generation. For example, the industry is currently focused on creating 5G networks. However, in the cable industry the G refers to gigabits. Over the past two years, this industry has expanded the availability of 1 gigabit broadband Internet from 4 percent to 80 percent of U.S. households. Now that the foundation for gigabit expansion exists, the cable industry is looking to increase speeds by tenfold and make it accessible to more homes and businesses globally. The new focus is on 10G technology, which also is expected to reduce transfer latency, provide greater security and enhance the ability to host a wide range of immersive skills and applications – […]
May 1, 2019
HSA Accounts and Their Incredible Long-term Benefits thumbnail

HSA Accounts and Their Incredible Long-term Benefits

Pretty much everyone has heard about 401(k) plans, but beyond these – Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) also can be great retirement vehicles. HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts for those with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). The idea is that since those with HDHPs generally have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket expenses, they need a way to save for such expenses. Few eligible taxpayers take full advantage of HSAs. The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimated a few years ago that out of the approximately 17 million people eligible, only about 13.8 million opened HSA accounts, leaving almost 20 percent without one. The survey also revealed that very few people maximize their contributions – and nearly everyone takes current distributions, leaving balances far […]
May 1, 2019
CPI and Consumer Spending: How Will It Affect Stocks in 2019? thumbnail

CPI and Consumer Spending: How Will It Affect Stocks in 2019?

With the price of lettuce increasing by 15 percent over the past 12 months at the end of February, and television prices dropping 17 percent during the same period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these statistics show the dynamism of consumer goods. Since consumer spending continues to make up approximately two-thirds of the U.S. economy, according to the St. Louis Fed, understanding how it impacts company earnings and future stock market movements is essential. Surveying Consumer Spending Based on the March 29 Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) release, consumers are facing more financial pressure. For the month of January, individual income fell by one-tenth of 1 percent, or $22.9 billion. The same month saw disposable personal income, or […]
May 1, 2019
How to Budget for Estimated Tax Payments thumbnail

How to Budget for Estimated Tax Payments

According to a March 22 Internal Revenue Service News Release, 2018 federal tax filers might be able to have any penalties for an underpayment of estimated tax removed. This could be possible if they’ve paid at least 80 percent of their 2018 tax obligations through either quarterly estimated payments, income tax withholdings or a combination of both during the 2018 calendar year. This new level was established after the 90 percent payment requirement was reduced to 85 percent of estimated tax obligations on Jan. 16. With paying estimated taxes a legal requirement for many taxpayers, let’s examine how this works for individuals and business entities. Individuals and Organizations Responsible to Pay Estimated Taxes For the most part, corporations are required […]
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