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Bloomberg BNA: House Republican Challenges IRS on Complicated ACA Forms

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:00am

Bloomberg BNA: House Republican Challenges IRS on Complicated ACA Forms
By Brett Fergusen
October 8, 2014 

Oct. 8 (BNA) - Draft forms and instructions for compliance with the Affordable Care Act are long and confusing, presenting tax preparers for small businesses with daunting new tasks, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) asked for an accounting by Oct. 22 of what the tax agency is doing to help. In an Oct. 8 letter, Graves referred to Internal Revenue Service Form 8965 for claiming an exemption from the individual health insurance mandate. A draft of the form has “15 pages of complicated forms, instructions and worksheets,” which “millions of small business owners may be forced to rely on,” he said. Graves also referred to Form 8962 for claiming a premium tax credit, which involves 12 pages of worksheets and instructions.
Tax preparers have told the committee that the IRS hasn't issued guidance on the due diligence requirement they will face, according to Graves, who asked Koskinen whether the IRS was working with the Department of Health and Human Services to educate small business owners about the forms and issues, and what the IRS is doing to listen to the concerns.

Graves Presses IRS About New Obamacare Small Business Forms

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:00am
House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today pressed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to address the complexity of the agency’s recently released Obamacare compliance forms for small businesses, and asked what is being done to educate and help small businesses with these requirements.

 “In mid-September, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published numerous draft forms and instructions for compliance with the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  These documents are lengthy, complex and confusing to tax preparers who serve America’s small businesses,” the letter states.

The letter from Chairman Graves specifically inquires about two complicated and lengthy forms that millions of small businesses may encounter for the first time in tax preparations.  Form 8965 is required for those claiming an exemption, and includes 15 pages of forms, instructions and worksheets.

“As you know, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 30 million people could be subject to the individual mandate penalty, and 23 million of them may qualify for an exemption.   This means that millions of small business owners may be forced to rely on these forms and instructions to determine whether they are entitled to an exemption and to claim it,” Graves states in the letter. “In addition, we are told that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will issue some or all of the hardship exemptions.   The forms mention those exemptions and that HHS or the exchanges will issue them, but do not explain when taxpayers must apply for them, when or how that decision will be communicated, what appeals process will be used, and how long the exemption will be effective.”

Similarly, Form 8962, which is required for taxpayers who wish to claim a premium tax credit, is 12 pages of forms, worksheets and instructions.  

Graves concluded, “Most small businesses do not have tax advisors, attorneys or accountants on their staff.  They must rely on outside assistance to navigate these complicated tax rules.  On all of the above issues, is the IRS working with HHS to educate small business owners about these new forms and issues?   What steps has the IRS undertaken to listen to the concerns of small business owners and their tax preparers?”

In his letter, Graves requests a response by October 22, 2014, to allow small businesses the necessary time for tax preparations. The full Graves letter to the IRS is available HERE.


WCOE Midwestern Regional Conference Held in Chicago

WCOE News - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:47am

Women construction owners, executives and supporters gathered in Chicago October 3rd and 4th for the Midwestern Regional Conference held at the Fairmont Hotel.  The conference, hosted by the WCOE Chicago Caucus featured speakers and panelists ranging from construction company executives, industry-related professionals and politicians.

Awards were presented to several attendees for their contribution in supporting women in construction.  Kate Cloonen, Illinois 79th District Representative and Director, JK Steel Erectors, Inc. in Bonfield, IL was presented with the Outstanding Political Leadership Award.  Ms. Cloonen stressed the importance of advocating for women in construction in Washington D.C.

Toni Preckwinkle, President, Cook County Board of Commissioners spoke about the importance of bringing together industry leaders, politicians and economic advisors to create a partnership to allow the Chicagoland region to compete in the global market.  More information about this plan is available at www.connectingcookcounty.org.

The award for outstanding project was presented to Michael Quirk of Mortenson Construction for contracting with WBEs for a total of $110 million on the Viking Stadium project.  The outstanding company award was presented to Robert Zitek of F. H. Paschen, S. N. Nielsen & Associates, General Contractors in Chicago, IL.

Jim Reilly, CEO of Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority presented an overview of the McCormick Place Entertainment District Project in Chicago.  The aggressive plan will bring additional hotel rooms and a general session space with seating for 10,000.  The site will welcome tradeshows and create a lively entertainment district that will compete with Las Vegas and Orlando in the tradeshow market.  Construction costs will be $1.2 billion and when complete, the project is estimated to create 970 jobs.

Danette Beck, Sr. V.P., Marsh Risk & Insurance Services and WCOE, USA Board Member, spoke about understanding risk management and the importance of developing a relationship with one’s insurance company to create a business partnership. Steven Coombs, President, Risk Resources, spoke about the importance of finding the right broker.

Deborah Wilder, Owner and President, Contractor Compliance and Monitoring, Inc. and WCOE, USA Board Member spoke about the importance of understanding the Legislative issues facing Women owned businesses.  She outlined several of the current legislative issues facing women in the construction industry and encouraged attendees to look at how construction fits in the WOSB program.

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Monday Morning Mojo: It’s a Messy Life

InteroMojo - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 7:30am

My life is a mess. Yep…MY life. Heck, everyone’s life is a mess…that’s life. My question to you is: are you constantly working on cleaning up and “dialing it in” or are you living in your own personal pigsty?

Whenever I talk with people about getting better and winning in any area of life, I remind them that we are all screwed up…we are all a mess. So don’t beat yourself up, and don’t stop moving forward if things aren’t going the way you want…no one is perfect. You need to be committed every day to improving…committed to cleaning up your mess. You can’t be satisfied with the status quo and just accept what life deals you. Life is complicated and can deal you some pretty crappy cards. I see so many people who just wallow in the self-pity of the hand they are dealt. It takes constant attention and hard work.

Metaphorically, imagine you are living in your home, and you never run the vacuum, do the dishes, do the laundry, scrub the bathrooms, mow the lawns…you never clean up. Of course your house will become a filthy pigsty if you don’t maintain it.

Well, life works exactly the same way…no matter how dialed in you think you are, things get messy and you need to constantly be cleaning them up…your job, your relationships, your finances, your health, etc. If you don’t stay on top of stuff and aren’t constantly cleaning up, over time, the mess gets so out of control that you become too overwhelmed and throw your hands in the air. This is not a winning formula, and unfortunately this is what I see a lot of people doing.

So, how do we clean things up…how do we get dialed in to win and stay there? The first thing is to admit to ourselves that things are never going to be perfect. Every day for our entire lives, we must be committed to cleaning up while scrapping and clawing to move forward. We have to accept that there will be hurdles and obstacles along the way. There will be people and situations constantly attempting to throw their mess on us. We simply cannot accept it…we have to clean it up and move forward.

Here is the challenge. First, accept that life is messy and hard. Second, don’t let that stop you. Finally, be committed every day to clean up and get better…EVERYDAY!


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Weekend Wellness: Autumn

InteroMojo - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 9:00am

Crazy weather out right now. It’s nippy at night, hot during the day, then snowing in some regions! Yes, it’s the turn of the season and it’s Fall…nature is letting us know change is coming.

The most obvious change that I notice is that of the leaves on the trees. To me, this symbolizes “letting go”. Many trees have vibrant fresh leaves from Spring through Autumn, then the leaves change colors and fall to the ground. It sounds a little sad writing this, but truly the ritual is so that the tree (or flower) can get ready for something new in a few months’ time; something the plant needs. New growth.

How about you? Is it time for you to let go of something which might have been really great for you a few months ago, but no longer serves you in the same way? Is it time for you to “shed” something no longer necessary so you can make room for something new?

What in your life is taking up space in your head, your body, or your soul that truly would be best left behind? What in your life do you need to make room for but there’s too much clutter to invite it in?

Do you need a new nutrition plan? Are you done with your cycling season and ready to get back to the gym and do functional training? Or, on a deeper level, are you holding on to some anger, some “story” of what’s holding you back so you can’t “grow new leaves”?

We all have a little something in our life which need rebirth and sprucing up. Take a pause this week while you look at the message nature is handing us and relate it to your life. What can you let go of in order to make way for something new, exciting, vibrant and new?

Categories: Latest News

Cool Apps: Stunning Presentations with Sway

InteroMojo - Fri, 10/03/2014 - 9:00am

Today we’re bringing you the newest member of the Microsoft’s Office family. Sway, which is the company’s first Microsoft Office program in 10 years, was just released on Wednesday. The program allows users to create slick-looking presentations that can be viewed on any web browser or device.

I know what you’re thinking, “but I already have PowerPoint for that and it works just fine.” I’m telling you right now, the second you see a glimpse of a Sway presentation, you’ll never want to go back. You’ll be using it for everything from listing presentations to thank you notes, that’s right, thank you notes. It’s that simple.

One of the coolest things I found with Sway was that as your building your presentation, Sway automatically arranges your images and text boxes maintaining a presentation-ready format. You could be working on it in the car right before your appointment and even if you don’t get everything completed, as soon as you’re ready, your presentation looks ready too. It even gives you suggestions of a format and color to use based on the images you’ve added and allows you to search online straight from its interface giving you instant resources to vamp up your presentation. You have to check out the video below to see a bit more about how suave Sway really is.

Click here to play

As you can see the whole system is super simple and sleek and it’s not even on the market yet. That’s right, we’re bringing it to you before anyone else. Sign up to check out Sway Microsoft in “preview” mode HERE.

Categories: Latest News

Profit, Not Ideology, Motivates Cyberlockers that Facilitate Copyright Infringement

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 10/02/2014 - 12:19pm
“Information wants to be free” is a standard rejoinder to criticism of online entertainment piracy. Such a sentiment may motivate some copyright thieves, but profit, not ideology, drives the proprietors of “cyberlockers” whose business is trafficking pirated entertainment content. A recent study by the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA)—”Behind the Cyberlocker Door“— has laid bare that […]
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Thursday’s Thoughts on Leadership: A Source of Inspiration

InteroMojo - Thu, 10/02/2014 - 9:00am

“Who are you?” Celia, an employee at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, asked me this morning as I made my way through the lobby.

“I’m here attending Summit Conference,” I told her.

“But what do you do?” she inquired, unsatisfied with my response.

“I’m the incoming CEO.”

“Ah!” she exclaimed. “I knew it!” Celia smiled at me and I smiled back, adding a few friendly nods before I continued toward my room. On my way back across the lobby, Celia was still there and stopped me again.

“How old do you think I am?” she asked.

“Seventy five?”

She shook her head, delighted to reveal her age. “I’m 91!” Celia said, beaming.

I was thoroughly shocked. “Wow! How do you do it?” I wanted to know more.

“I always have a positive attitude,” she explained and the answer struck me as both powerful and profound. “And,” she added, “I could tell you have one, too.”

I walked back to Summit Conference feeling renewed and inspired by a woman with almost a century’s worth of wisdom, who some people passed by without even a wave.

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GSA to Test Commercial Car Sharing as New Federal Fleet Solution

GSA news releases - Thu, 10/02/2014 - 1:00am
Short-term rental options for federal agencies will be piloted in four U.S. cities

SBA To EPA: #DitchTheRule

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 10/02/2014 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today released the following statement regarding the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy’s new position that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should withdraw their Waters of the U.S. rule:

“The SBA Office of Advocacy is saying what our Committee and small businesses all across America have been saying since April – the EPA Waters of the U.S. Rule is an unnecessary regulatory overreach and will have costly economic consequences,” said Chairman Graves. “I applaud the SBA Office of Advocacy for speaking up for small businesses, putting it at odds with another agency in the Executive Branch. They are 100 percent correct in their analysis of this rule-making process – the Waters of the U.S. Rule hasn’t been properly analyzed and it was created without legitimate small business input. I continue to maintain that the EPA must withdraw this rule.”

In April, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule that would redefine “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The Small Business Committee held hearings on the economic impact of this rule and the EPA rulemaking process on May 29, 2014 and July 30, 2014. In May, Graves and members of the Committee also wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, who oversees the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to urge withdrawal of the rule. Among their concerns, the EPA and Corps of Engineers did not adequately assess the impact of their proposed rule on small businesses and the EPA failed to conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review panel, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act. In September, the House passed the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (HR 5078), which would prohibit the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing their proposed rule.


STEM Entrepreneurship: Are Women on a Level Playing Field?

Office of Advocacy - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:53am


STEM Entrepreneurship:  Are Women on a Level Playing Field?

Office of Advocacy report identifies gender differences in STEM entrepreneurship and strives to find avenues for improvement. 

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

SBA Calls for Withdrawal of Water Rule

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:00am

CQ Roll Call: CMS: SBA Calls for Withdrawal of Water Rule
October 1, 2014
By Philip Brasher

The Small Business Administration said Wednesday that it is “extremely concerned” about the potential economic impact of a proposed Clean Water Act rule and called on the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw it.

In a letter to those agencies, the SBA’s Office of Advocacy says they improperly analyzed the rule’s impact on agriculture, utilities and other sectors. Contrary to the language in the proposed rule, it would have “direct, significant impacts” on small businesses, the nine-page letter says.

The letter also says the EPA should convene a review panel to consider the rule’s impact on small businesses before proposing a revised version. The rule, issued this spring, would define the tributaries, wetlands and other bodies of water regulated by the law (PL 95-217).

The EPA and corps improperly certified that the rule would not have a significant economic impact on small businesses, in part because the agencies incorrectly compared the rule’s jurisdiction with a previous rule issued in 1986, according to the SBA. The proposed rule should have instead been analyzed in comparison to current practice, the letter says. According to the economic analysis that accompanied the rule, it would increase the area regulated under current practice by 3 percent.

“The 1986 regulation does not represent the current method for determining jurisdiction and has not served that purpose for more than 13 years. Using an obsolete baseline improperly diminishes the effects of this rule,” the letter says.

The letter also argues that the economic analysis cited in the rule itself contradicts the conclusion that the impact on businesses wouldn’t be direct or significant.

The letter echoes many complaints directed at the Obama administration during an intense lobbying campaign by farm groups, developers, mining companies and other interests.

The SBA also posted a fact sheet summarizing its comments.

Earlier this week, the EPA’s 52-member scientific advisory board approved a four-page letter that generally supports the rule but suggests it should be written more broadly in some ways.



On Obamacare Anniversary, No One Is Celebrating Small Business Program

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:00am

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today released the following statement about the ongoing problems of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) one year into Obamacare’s troubled operations.

“From the time then-Speaker Pelosi proclaimed Obamacare should be passed ‘so you can find out what’s in it’ to today’s one-year anniversary of this burdensome law’s botched implementation, the administration has wildly over-promised and painfully under-delivered every step of the way. The past year has been littered with problems, including rising costs, cancellation notices and a faulty $2 billion website. Likewise, Obamacare’s Small Business Health Options Program has fallen woefully short of any kind of acceptable standard. To this day, the administration is unable to answer basic questions such as how many are enrolled in the program – the question this Committee has asked repeatedly since January. Instead of simplifying the health insurance process for small businesses, the SHOPs program has created confusion and uncertainty with five delays along the way. Small businesses have paid the price of this inept management. Many questions remain, including this straightforward one: How many small businesses are enrolled?”

During the recent September 18, 2014 hearing of the Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology, Chairman Chris Collins (R-NY) specifically asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) witness, Director of State Exchange Group, Mayra Alvarez, about the SHOP enrollment data, yet the administration was still unable to provide the information, despite repeated claims of transparency. Beginning in January, Chairman Graves has repeatedly pressed the administration to provide data on the enrollment and updated compliance timeline of federal or state SHOPs, but the requests have gone unanswered. A June 2013 GAO report requested by Chairman Graves confirmed the administration was ill-equipped for the implementation of the SHOPs, as evidenced by the program’s track record since. The Committee’s first hearing on the SHOPs mismanagement took place in December 2013.

The SHOPs challenges have occurred while small businesses are grappling with rising health insurance costs; in fact, costs are increasing for nearly two-thirds of small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees. And the National Federation of Independent Business found that 64 percent of small business owners paid more per employee for health insurance in 2013 than in 2012.


White House Boosts Fictional “Food Addiction” Concept to School Kids

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:13am
As we’ve discussed numerous times here, some nutrition nanny activists, regulators, and plaintiffs’ lawyers have embraced and promoted the concept that food can be “addictive.” The term grabs people’s attention, conjuring up disturbing mental images of helplessness and withdrawal. It’s no wonder, then, that the notion of “food addiction” is often invoked in the context […]
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