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“Every year, the tax burden becomes more costly for America’s 28 million small businesses. The tax code is increasingly complicated and changes often. Most small businesses spend 40 hours or more preparing their taxes, and four out of ten businesses spend two full workweeks on compliance. That is a high cost in lost time and productivity for a small business. One in three small firms spends $10,000 on compliance. Jobs are still scarce, and the combined burdens of complex taxes and high rates are obstacles to growth. The jobs-stifling tax code is not just a Tax Day problem for small companies, but a year-round burden on their budgets that can impact their entrepreneurial decisions. Small businesses overwhelmingly support sensible reforms for lower rates, simpler preparation and clearer guidelines.”
Last week, the Small Business Committee examined these very challenges for small businesses. The growing number of tax provisions means that owners must spend significant resources on compliance that could otherwise be spent growing their companies. According to the Internal Revenue Service’s own National Taxpayer Advocate, there were over 500 changes to the tax code in 2010 alone, an average of more than one per day. And the steep tax rates mean small firms have less capital to invest back into hiring or expanding.
The National Small Business Association released a survey on April 9, 2014, in conjunction with the testimony of NSBA member Tim Reynolds, a small business executive. The growing complexity of the tax process causes 86 percent of small businesses to pay tax preparers.###
If you’re a golf fan, yesterday was the best day of the year to watch golf. There is no other tournament more important and fun to watch than The Masters…especially the final round on Sunday. Congratulation to Bubba Watson on winning his second green jacket in 3 years.
It is truly amazing to me what these guys can do – especially with thousands of people watching them live and millions more watching them on TV. If you are a golfer you know just how amazing it really is. I remember a commercial during the tournament a few years ago that summed it all up great in just a few words from the late great golfer Bobby Jones who said “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.” I had heard it before but it had been a long time so I scrambled for a piece of paper and wrote it down knowing that it had the makings of a great MOJO.
Think about it – the average golf course on the PGA tour plays about 7,000 yards…4 miles. As big and daunting as it can seem with water, bunkers, trees, wind, lightning fast greens and competition…at the end of the day winning is not really about conquering the course, but more about conquering your thoughts. It is our ability to remain focused, disciplined and remain under control in the face of stress, obstacles and competition that makes winners. Everyone has to play on the same course whether it is golf, business, or life. Like golf, to win at anything in life the challenge is mastering the five-and-a-half-inch course. There are just some who know how to play five-and-a-half-inch courses better than others.
So next time you are trying to figure out how to cut some strokes from your game at golf, business, or life perhaps we should look at hitting a few less proverbial golf balls at the range and look at doing things to help us conquer the five-and-a-half-inch course between our ears.
Check out the Top 10 Masters Moments: CLICK HERE
Grip it and Rip it in life this week!
In his latest bid to boost the federal government’s work with small businesses, Rep. Sam Graves is seeking to hitch a measure to an upcoming must-pass defense policy bill.
The chairman of the House Small Business Committee wants to raise the government’s target percentage for prime contracts awarded to small businesses from 23 percent to 25 percent, or the equivalent of $10 billion in annual new work for small businesses, according to his office.
And he’s asking the House Armed Services Committee to include his measure in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, according to testimony the Missouri Republican submitted to the committee. The annual defense bill — passed each year for more than half a century — is set to be unveiled later this month.
His measure would also increase the goal for the percentage of subcontracting dollars that go to small businesses to 40 percent from 35.9 percent — but only once subcontracting provisions in last year’s defense authorization bill are carried out.
“Given that the federal government spends over half a trillion dollars each year through contracts, the federal procurement market is incredibly important for small businesses,” Graves said in his testimony.
The numbers remain goals, and the government has regularly come up short in meeting them. Still, the federal government appears to be on track to hit its target for fiscal 2013, The Washington Post reported in February. An official tally is expected later this year.
According to government procurement records, the majority of federal contracts last fiscal year were awarded by the Defense Department, and the top five recipients of federal contracts were defense companies: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Science Applications International.
Graves’s proposal, which could cut into the revenues of larger companies, was in the House version of last year’s defense authorization bill but was stripped out in conference committee. Instead, a watered-down version, meant to better enforce existing subcontracting goals, was included.
The bipartisan measure, cosponsored by Reps. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), is among several small-business provisions Graves is pushing to include in the upcoming defense bill. Another proposal is intended to cut down on contract bundling and ensure those that remain are properly labeled.
“This is one of the most important areas where we can work if we want to help small businesses compete and save taxpayers money,” Graves said.
The subject of salt is somewhat controversial. We need salt to live, to thrive…but do we really know what we are getting with the salt added to most of our foods? I found this article while prepping for today’s detox group, I thought I’d share…
Mineral Salt VS Table Salt
Most people buy iodized salt from the grocery store and don’t think a thing about it. They don’t realize that good salt can help give them good health, while refined salt can create some health risks.
Salt comes from the sea. It may have been laid down centuries ago in salt deposits, or it may have been dehydrated from pure seawater. Grocery store salt is different from salt from natural sources. It has been heated—up to 1200° F.! And refined to remove most of the natural elements. Grocery store salt is mostly chemical sodium chloride, while natural salt has up to 84 natural minerals in it.
Your body craves salt. In fact, your blood actually contains 0.9% salt, which maintains the delicate balance of sodium throughout your body. Just about every system in your body needs salt to make it work. It is especially important for your nervous system, but every body structure absolutely requires it. The National Academy of Sciences advises that we consume at least 500 mg. of sodium a day to maintain good health. How much a person actually needs varies quite a bit, depending on their genetics and daily routine.
The Healing Effect of Salt
For thousands of years salt has been known as a panacea. Alchemists called it “the fifth element” – adding to the standard water, earth, air and fire – because its qualities were comparable only to ether, the actual fifth element. Why are we so drawn to the ocean? Because our subconscious mind instinctively wants to return to the specific vibrational state of the ocean from which we once emerged. This is where we can return to recharge our batteries and regenerate. It was only two-hundred-fifty years ago, with the advent of industrialization, that we initiated our disconnection from nature and her ways.
Fortunately, we are witnessing a trend back to natural, holistic methods for living and caring for our body, including a shift to utilizing natural salts in this process. People everywhere are reconsidering the healing effects of natural crystal salt. We can find it in skin care lotions and for use as bath salts, and it is even used in inhalation or cleansing treatments for illnesses of the respiratory system and for a variety of other indications.
How Salt Became Sodium Chloride
With the advent of industrial development, natural salt was “chemically cleaned” and reduced to the combination of sodium and chloride. Essential minerals and trace elements were removed as impurities. However, sodium chloride is an unnatural, isolated, unwholesome substance having nothing in common with salt. Similar to white, refined sugar, salt, once regarded as white gold, was converted into white poison. However, there is a higher reason for salt having been endowed with all the natural elements found in our bodies.
Sodium chloride is an aggressive substance, which biochemically, is perpetually seeking an equalizing counterpart so that the body’s pH can always remain neutral. Sodium chloride needs its natural counterpart in order for it to produce its effect. The natural counterparts, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and other minerals and trace elements, demonstrate, from a biophysical standpoint, specific frequency patterns.
These patterns ensure the geometric structures in our body. When these structures are missing, we are without energy and are lifeless. Salt should not be used just to add flavor to our food, but for its vibration pattern, which is similar to our bodies!
The Consequences of Consuming Table Salt
The result of consuming common table salt is the formation of overly acidic edema, or excess fluid in the body tissue, which is also the cause of cellulite. That’s why doctors tell us to avoid salt. For every .035 ounces of sodium chloride that cannot be eliminated, the body uses 23 times (23x) the amount of its own cell water to neutralize the salt.
If the sodium chloride is still too high, re-crystallization of the table salt occurs as the body uses available non-degradable animal proteins (as those found in milk), which also have no value and cannot be broken down and eliminated. The body uses these proteins to produce uric acid in order to get rid of the excess salt.
As the body cannot dispose of uric acid, it binds itself with the sodium chloride to form new crystals that are deposited directly in the bones and joints. This is the cause of different kinds of rheumatism such as arthritis, gout, and kidney and gall bladder stones.
This re-crystallization is the body’s band-aid solution for the cells and organs in order to protect the body from irreparable damage of irresponsible food intake. But in the long run, it poisons the system because those substances cannot be disposed of. Popular diets say you should reduce or even eliminate dietary salt for good health, especially for cardiovascular disease. Perhaps refined table salt, which can act like a poison in your body, can be more of a risk. But the research is undeniable: reducing or eliminating dietary salt is basically wrong. Your body absolutely requires salt, but it has to be the right kind.
Natural health practitioners are convinced that good Original Himalayan crystal sea salt can improve your health. It keeps you safe and healthy during exercise; in fact, high-altitude hikers make sure they get enough so they don’t go into hyperthermia. Taking adequate dietary salt has improved and even eliminated Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Hypertension and stomach cancer have been linked to salt imbalance from improper dietary intake. Cystic fibrosis has been linked to improper salt metabolism as well.
Expectant mothers are always advised to take enough salt in order to help create a healthy infant.
If you’ve never tried good salt, you are going to be amazed at how good it tastes and how affordable it is. You may also be surprised at how quickly your health improves from using good, natural, organic Himalayan salt.
On June 10, 2013, EPA issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register concerning formaldehyde emissions standards for composite wood products. EPA has now reopened the comment period for 30 days for that standard and will hold a public meeting for April 28, 2014 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Public comments are now due May 8, 2014.
On June 10, 2013, EPA issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register concerning formaldehyde emissions standards for composite wood products.
So you’re starting the process of buying a home. Congratulations. This is a big step forward in responsibility and commitment. Figuring out the balance of what’s realistic in your area and what you actually want and need can turn into a daunting and frustrating process. With so many houses for sale in general, it can also be very hard to stay focused. Shiny knobs and expensive amenities are at every turn and these distractions can make it hard to keep your eye on the prize: a home fit just for you. Today’s app will hopefully help with this.
Doorsteps Swipe allows you to swipe through thousands of homes for sale and “like” the ones of interest to you. All of your “liked” properties will be saved and organized by location making it easy to view and share your favorites. Narrow your search by price, beds/baths, or location to better fit your needs or click “Surprise Me” to get a glimpse into properties available across the country.
To help you with that whole focusing thing once you’ve run through all the pretty pictures of homes, the app will show you stats on patterns and preferences. That means you’ll be able to clearly see if you’re leaning farther one way or another when it comes to number of bedrooms, bathrooms, price and location.
Doorsteps Swipe really is a great companion whether you’re looking to buy a home or if you just want some inspiration to update your current home. I definitely suggest checking it out today!
Despite facing broad opposition from the education stakeholders, elected officials, and the federal court system, the Obama administration is moving forward with a so-called gainful employment regulation that will harm low-income students and threaten the strength of our higher education system.
In their zeal to gin up public support for its misguided regulatory proposal, the administration is citing some misleading facts. Chief among these false claims is the idea that 72 percent of proprietary school programs have graduates earning less than high school dropouts. Now The Fact Checker at the Washington Post is calling out the department for making such a “bogus” claim:
In straining for a striking factoid, the Education Department went too far. Officials calculated a relatively high figure for the earnings of high school dropouts, compared to other available data. Then they compared it to average wages that likely were adversely affected by recent graduates unable to find employment.
Not only were these two data points apples and oranges, but the entire comparison to high school dropouts is fairly bogus. There’s a reason academic researchers have not tried to compare the earnings of graduates for-profit colleges to the earnings of high school dropouts — it also would be considered an apples and oranges comparison unworthy of research.
Academic research suggests there are real differences in earning power between attendees of for-profit colleges and high school dropouts. That’s also intuitive, suggesting there is something basically wrong with the statistic.
The Obama administration should stick with the facts and withdraw this misguided regulatory venture. The American people deserve no less.
To read the rest of The Fact Checker’s post, click here.
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I am writing you for two reasons. First, I want to commend certain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) employees for the important contributions made by them during small business roundtables hosted by impacted industries designed to disseminate information and to answer questions on the Food Safety Modernization Act rules. Secondly, I want to inform you of some small business concerns with the above-captioned rule. It is my hope that the FDA will consider the affected industries’ comments and take them into consideration as the agency finalizes the proposed rule.
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My good friend, John Giagiari, recently sent me a great article from Inc.com. The article is a compilation of 100 great questions every entrepreneur should ask. Asking questions can provide an opportunity to ignite imagination, avert catastrophes, or even reveal alternative routes that will lead to better solutions.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing the questions addressed in this article with you 10 at a time.
Members of the House Small Business Committee April 9 made a case to the House Armed Services Committee for using the annual defense authorization bill to increase small firms' access to federal contracting programs.
Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) was joined by Reps. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) in asking that several recently reported bills be included in the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.
They also asked for room in the defense bill for changes to the Comprehensive Subcontracting Test Program (CSP) if agreement can be reached on legislative improvements to better gauge the status of small business subcontractors.
The Small Business Committee-passed bills that were pitched to the HASC are the:
• Greater Opportunities for Small Business Act (H.R. 4093), which would increase the small business prime contracting goal from 23 percent to 25 percent and small business subcontracting goal from 36 percent to 40 percent;
• Commonsense Construction Contracting Act (H.R. 2751), sponsored Hanna, to prohibit use of reverse auctions when a construction services contract is suitable for award to small businesses, or when the procurement is made using a small business program;
• Improving Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Act (H.R. 2882), sponsored by Coffman, to transfer responsibility for verifying the status of service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Small Business Administration;
• Security in Bonding Act (H.R. 776), also sponsored by Hanna, to increase access of small construction companies to surety bonds; and
• Women's Procurement Program Equalization Act (H.R. 2452), sponsored by ranking member Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), to standardize sole-source authorities among the SBA's procurement programs in order to promote parity.
The bills were approved with bipartisan support and reported out of committee March 5.
The HASC is scheduled to mark up the defense authorization bill May 7.
Combatting Fraud in Contracting Programs
In a related development, Maria Contreras-Sweet, the new SBA administrator, spent part of her second day on the job testifying before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on the FY 2015 agency budget request.
Contreras-Sweet said she is committed to fighting fraud and abuse in small business contracting programs, particularly size misrepresentation schemes to fraudulently win government work reserved for small firms.
Since 2008, the SBA has suspended and debarred more companies and individuals for abusing SBA programs than in the previous 10 years combined, she said. “Under my leadership, we will have a zero-tolerance policy for these types of abuses.”
Procurement fraud allowing large firms to obtain small business awards is among the significant challenges facing the SBA, Peggy Gustafson, the agency inspector general, told the committee. Gustafson said her office had 88 open government contracting cases, with potential losses of over $2 billion based on the dollar value of the contracts, pending at the end of FY 2013.
The FY 2015 IG budget request will allow the office to continue investigating abuse of SBA contracting assistance programs and join qui tam False Claims Act lawsuits filed by private sector parties alleging fraud in those programs, she said.
The SBA's proposed fiscal year 2015 budget is close to $865 million.
Key Development: Small businesses report that the time and money spent complying with the tax code drags down their bottom line.
Next Steps: Congress works on a tax code overhaul, while a separate bill to renew certain tax breaks advances.
April 9 (BNA) -- A majority of small businesses surveyed recently said that the complexity of the tax code, not the amount of taxes they pay, poses their most significant challenge, according to a study conducted by the National Small Business Association.
More than half of businesses surveyed said they spend more than 40 hours per year dealing with federal taxes. Forty percent reported spending more than 80 hours, or two full work weeks, and more than a quarter of respondents said they spend more than $10,000 a year on accountants or other administrative costs of tax compliance.
In addition, the percentage of small businesses that said they hire a tax professional to prepare their returns ticked up to 86 percent in 2014, up from 84 percent a year earlier. Just 12 percent reported that they handle taxes internally, compared to 15 percent in 2013, the NSBA said.
The survey comes as Congress continues work on legislation to lower tax rates while broadening its base. Many business groups and lawmakers also say the effort should include a simplification of the tax code as well. The House Committee on Small Business held a hearing April 9 on the most pressing tax problems for small businesses.
“Small business owners consistently tell us that they are impacted by higher taxes, new taxes, increasing tax code complexity, uncertainty, and the additional time required to resolve issues with the Internal Revenue Service,” Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said during his opening statement at the hearing. “All of this means they have little ability to plan with confidence, and less time to grow their companies.”
As a practical matter, the number of businesses filing taxes electronically appears from the survey to be climbing sharply. A total of 3 percent said in 2013 that they filed electronically, and that grew to 23 percent—nearly one in four—in 2014, the study added.
Among tax deductions, the survey revealed that businesses mostly claim tax code Section 179 expensing, the home mortgage interest deduction, the home office deduction and bonus depreciation. Sixty-two percent said the deduction most helpful to stimulating small business growth would be a full deduction for health insurance for the self-employed.
Similar Story in Hearing
In the Small Business Committee hearing, David Kautter, managing director of the Kogod Tax Center at American University, said the two biggest tax challenges facing small businesses are the complexity and the constantly changing nature of the tax code.
“Constantly changing tax law means constantly changing tax filing requirements, which means constantly changing record keeping requirements, which means constantly growing uncertainty, inefficiency and frustration” Kautter said.
Kautter's answer is twofold: a simplified cash method of accounting and a unified tax rate schedule for all businesses.
Under Kautter's simplified cash method of accounting, the derivation of taxable income would be based only on cash actually received or paid during the tax year for businesses with less that $10 million in gross receipts.
Additionally, Kautter suggested that income from all businesses, no matter the type or size, be taxed at the same rates. Currently, businesses organized as sole proprietorship, S corporations and partnerships are taxed at a maximum rate of 39.6 percent, and C corporations are taxed at a maximum individual rate of 35 percent.
Kautter said that it made little sense that the tax rate for unincorporated businesses, which are often small business, are taxed at a higher rate than large C corporations.
Kautter added that he was open to the idea of a graduated tax rate schedule, though one that spanned all types of businesses.
Committee Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) asked the witnesses whether they would support a corporate tax overhaul alone, without touching the individual side, if that were the only option.
Tim Reynolds, president of Tribute Inc. of Hudson, Ohio, an S corporation, said that rewriting only the corporate portion of the tax code would put his small software company at a disadvantage compared to large C corporations.
“If you do just C-corporation reform, what happens then is the companies such as mine lose the many tax incentives that would be struck during that reform, but then ends up not benefiting from the lower rates,” said Reynolds, who is also vice-chairman of the NSBA.
Additionally, Reynolds said many of the dozens of tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013, collectively known as extenders, are critical to many small businesses' bottom line. Some 73 percent of NSBA members use one or more of the extenders, Reynolds said.
Work on renewing extenders continues in Congress, with a floor vote on the Senate floor coming soon (68 DTR G-3, 4/9/14).
Reynolds noted what he called the uncertainty over the expired Section 179 tax extender, which lets business expense the cost of certain acquisitions upfront instead of depreciating over time. It is one of the more popular provisions for small businesses, according to the NSBA study.
More than one in three NSBA members take advantage of Section 179, but relying on the expensing provision can be difficult, Reynolds said.
“The annual termination, change in limits and delay in extensions of this and other tax extenders disrupts this planning, interferes with business efficiency improvements and harms the economy both for buyers and sellers of capital goods,” Reynolds said.
Winslow Sargeant, Ph.D., Chief Counsel for Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on the Office of Advocacy Fiscal Year 2015 Budget