Giving Thanks

The holidays seem to blur together just a bit more each year.  Still, Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to take time and be thankful for what we’ve been given throughout the past year, and for the gift of family and friends.

Here are a few inspirational quotes to help spur you in your pursuit of the attitude of gratitude.

“Reflect on your present blessings- of which every man has many- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens, Writer

“I cannot tell you how to be rich. But I can tell you how to feel rich, which is far better, let me tell you firsthand, than being rich. Be grateful. It is the only totally reliable get rich quick scheme.” – Ben Stein, Actor

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero, Roman philosopher

Year-End Tax Planning for Business

As year end approaches, we’re doing more and more tax planning for our clients. We’re often asked what they can do within their business to reduce the tax burden for this year. Below are a few points to consider as we enter the final months of the year.

  • If you’re an accrual basis taxpayer (we can tell you if you don’t know), most employee bonuses based on 2011, but paid in the first two and a half months of 2012, can be deducted in 2011. They will be picked up by the employee when paid 2012.
  • In addition, if you’re an accrual basis taxpayer, be sure that any customer deposits or down payments for products or services delivered after 12/31/11 are not included in income.
  • Seek to maximize depreciation deductions by puchasing necessary equipment in 2011, as many of the accelerated depreciation allowances are set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress renews them.

We have many more great ideas for tax savings, which can be a great gift to yourself as we approach the holiday season.

What Motivates You?

Working in teams has become commonplace, and is a great way to leverage the strengths of a group to achieve a common goal. The process can, though, be difficult at times, because the same diversity of talent that makes group work so successful can also lead to friction on how to go about the task at hand.

Understanding what motivates our teammates, as well as ourselves, can go a long way toward achieving better communication, and help to get through those occasional difficult periods. The article, linked below, is a great primer on how to go about this.

Keeping a Mileage Log – Really?

For many business owners, the last thing they want to do is log each and every mile they drive for business. They believe logs are clumsy, time intensive, and easy to forget. The IRS, though, takes a very different stance.

In case after case fought in US Tax Court, the taxpayer has lost their mileage deductions because they can’t produce evidence of the business use of the vehicle. The IRS has also come out strong with this in audits as well, expecting to see a mileage log when examining a business.

There are several different ways to approach a mileage log, that will help if you’re ever asked the question.

  • Keep a log of all the business miles you drive, including the business purpose for the trip
  • Keep a log like the above, but just for 3-4 months out of the year, if your mileage tends to be pretty similar from month to month. Then, use these few months to determine the entire year.
  • Look into Apps for Blackberry, iPhone, and Android smartphones that use the phone’s internal GPS to track your mileage, and allow reports to be edited and printed online.

No matter what method you choose, always record the total mileage on the car at the beginning and end of the year.

2012 Individual Deduction and Exemption Amounts

To keep pace with inflation, the IRS modified dozens of tax benefits for 2012. For example, the value of each personal and dependency exemption for most taxpayers will be $3,800, an increase of $100 over 2011. In addition, the standard deduction will be $11,900 for married couples filing a joint return, $5,950 for singles and married individuals filing separately, and $8,700 for heads of household.