Los Angeles Sales Tax to Increase Again!

Los Angeles Sales Tax to Increase Again!

The Los Angeles Sales Tax rate is set to increase again on October 1. If you operate a business located in the county, or ship/deliver items to customers located in the area, make sure to update your rates in your POS and/or accounting system prior to start of business October 1. Tax rates increased in July 2017, so you may be surprised there is another increase so soon. But because voters approved Measure H in March of this year, another 1/4% increase will take effect. Los Angeles County will be 9.5%, but there are many locations with higher rates due to voter approval on the local level. The rates will be: City of Avalon                        10% City of Commerce                 10% City of Compton                    10.25% City of Culver City                 10% City of Downey                      10% City of El Monte                    10% City of Inglewood                 10% City of La Mirada                 10.25% City of Long Beach              10.25% City of Lynwood                   10.25% City of Pico Rivera               10.25% City of San Fernando          10% City of Santa Monica      ...
Client Opens New Ragin Cajun Restaurant

Client Opens New Ragin Cajun Restaurant

A current client of mine just opened a new Ragin Cajun restaurant in our local area. As many of you who read my blogs know, I enjoy supporting my clients’ businesses when I can, and will share about them on my blog, as well as become a client. Stephen Domingue is well known in the Hermosa Beach area as he used to own a Ragin Cajun restaurant in the city years ago. Currently, he operates a food truck in both Los Angeles and Orange County. But a few months ago he contacted me to let me know he was going to open another location for his former restaurant that operated in almost the same place years ago. And I received a call on the day they opened and was excited for the new adventure to begin! Stephen and his restaurant had been missed by many. I went to his new location with one of my administrators just days after it opened and the food is amazing! I had the shrimp kabob with coleslaw and veggies, and my employee ordered the peel and eat shrimp with veggies and hush puppies. While we were there, people came in and said how happy they were that he was back. Even my admin’s husband was excited to hear it was open again and called his friends to tell them.  I also had the chance to meet one of Stephen’s long time friends and investor in this endeavor. I am looking forward to working with them to assist with their bookkeeping and payroll so they can focus on other business aspects that take their time so...
Four Tips for School-Related Leave for Working Parents

Four Tips for School-Related Leave for Working Parents

School’s back in session! If you have employees’ requesting time-off to attend school-related activities, there are some tips you need to know regarding your state’s employment laws and school-related leave. With information sent to us from HR Pilot, you can learn how to best manage your employees leaving work to go to school-related events for their children. There are multiple states that have passed school-related leave laws which protect parent workers and allow them to take time off for their children’s school activities. States providing school-related leave: California: 40 hours Colorado: 18 hours District of Columbia: 24 hours Illinois: 8 hours Louisiana: 16 hours Massachusetts: 24 hours Minnesota: 16 hours North Carolina: 4 hours Rhode Island: 10 hours Vermont: 12 hours (Nevada: Employers must not terminate an employee for using leave to attend a child’s school-related activities.) Even if a state/ locality does not require school-related leave, all employers should consider the following best practices from the EEOC when managing employees with school-aged children: 1. Educate all managers about the company’s work-life policies and ensure they are supportive of employees who take advantage of available programs 2. Consider allowing employee to work flexible work schedules that allow them to balance work and parental responsibilities 3. Contemplate providing reasonable personal or sick leave to allow employees to attend school-related activities 4. Do not retaliate against employee who take advantage of available programs If you have questions regarding this or any other employment laws, contact your HR representative today. If you don’t currently work with an HR company, feel free to reach out to us for referrals to someone who can...
Celebrating My 25th Wedding Anniversary

Celebrating My 25th Wedding Anniversary

Today is my final day in the office before heading on a vacation to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary. I don’t usually write personal information on my blog which is usually dedicated to topics related to entrepreneurship, as well as bookkeeping and payroll tips to help business owners be successful. But since this is such a special occasion, I thought I’d share it with you. As a business owner, I have rarely taken vacations. I may take time off to visit family out of state, but I usually am in touch with my staff and clients by responding to email, or even doing some work remotely with the use of technology. I would usually log into my computer early in the morning and again later at night to handle tasks needing my attention. Because my industry has so many deadlines throughout the weeks and months of the year, it isn’t always easy to get away. But as my staff has grown and become responsible for handling many of these duties, it is giving me the opportunity to free up my schedule. And with this milestone anniversary, I am taking my dream trip! I’ve always wanted to see the Mediterranean and hoped I’d someday get to do a cruise there. And I told my husband we needed to do something nice to celebrate as 25 years together is a huge accomplishment. He has been gone much of the last 2 years as a long-distance truck driver, so it will give us time together while checking out some amazing places in another part of the world. So we are leaving on Tuesday...
Home Office Deduction: Which Method to Use?

Home Office Deduction: Which Method to Use?

Are you an entrepreneur using a home office? Are you aware there are two different ways to take the deduction for the use of your home for business purposes? Determining which is right for you is the topic of today’s blog. The IRS has very specific guidelines as what constitutes the use of your home for business. Regular and exclusive use – this means you can’t use your laptop on the kitchen table, but must have a specific place used only for business purposes. Generally, your home must be the principal place of business, although there are exceptions if you have a separate location. Since 2013, the IRS has had two different ways to calculate the home office deduction (originally there was just the actual expense method which is considered to be complicated). Since the simplified method has been introduced, it is much easier to determine the amount of the deduction. But which method should you use? The actual expense method allows you to write off a proportional amount of expenses based on the percentage of the home used for the business. These indirect expenses generally include rent/mortgage, real estate taxes, utilities, and repairs and insurance. You can also deduct direct expenses such as painting or buying equipment for your space. The simplified method allows a write off of $5 for every square foot of your home office up to 300 square feet for a total deduction up to $1500.00. With the actual expense method, you must keep copies of all paperwork proving actual costs to support the tax deduction taken, which is not required for the simplified method....
Veterans Opportunity to Work

Veterans Opportunity to Work

Did you know that when you hire and train a service-disabled Veteran, you may qualify for tax credits and incentives? Shared by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, the article’s content regarding the Special Employer Incentives (SEI) program will help you learn how the SEI could be beneficial to you if you are interested in hiring a Veteran for your business. Special Employer Incentives for Hiring Veterans The Special Employer Incentives (SEI) program provides assistance to employers who hire Veterans. The SEI program connects qualified Veterans with a specific role at your organization. Veterans who successfully complete the hiring program are expected to stay on at your organization. With this program, you can hire a qualified trainee at an apprenticeship wage. Employers are reimbursed for up to half the Veteran’s salary to cover certain supplies and equipment, additional instruction expenses, and any loss of production. (Read more in the Special Employer Incentive Fact Sheet.) Veterans Economic Communities Initiative The Veterans Economic Communities Initiative increases the number of education and employment opportunities for Veterans and their families through a network of support at the community level. Economic liaisons in certain communities work with government leaders, businesses, education institutions, and nonprofit organizations to help build an integrated network of support and resources for Veterans and their families. Read more about this initiative and find out where the economic liaisons are located and how to contact them. Get Involved Identify specific tasks that will be accomplished by the new employee. Indicate the length of time it should take the employee to accomplish each task. Specify the wage the employee will be...
Losing One of My Favorite Clients

Losing One of My Favorite Clients

I found out recently that someone I had enjoyed working with had passed away. I’ve written a few blogs about her over the years, and this will be the final one. I met Mrs. P. as I’ve called her in my prior writings in 2008 when she was referred to me by the in-home care company providing service for her husband. At that time, she was 91 and he was 94 and they needed assistance with bill payments and reconciling their accounts. She was losing her vision and it was becoming too difficult for her to manage the finances. I began to assist them with this task, and also began to develop a friendship with her. After her husband passed away, we would chat even more after I completed the work since she didn’t have too many people coming to see her or call on the phone. I learned about trips they’d taken through the years, the loss of both of her children (I can’t imagine losing one child let alone both), and about their love of cars. I’d take her out for frozen yogurt, or to eat at a favorite restaurant. She met my husband and children, and allowed my parents to stay in a room of her home one year when they came to visit. She’d ask how my kids were doing and enjoyed hearing stories of their living abroad in Taiwan. About two years ago, her CPA called me to let me know the estate attorney wanted everything handled by one person, so since I didn’t do taxes, all the bill payments and reconciliations would now...
Celebrating a 3rd Year Anniversary with a Client

Celebrating a 3rd Year Anniversary with a Client

This past weekend I celebrated the 3rd year anniversary of a client’s business with other members of his club. I met Dan of 9Round when he called my office prior to his opening to discuss his upcoming needs. I was about to have a book signing at the local Barnes & Noble for Business Success With Ease (see http://affordablebookkeepingandpayroll.com/bswe/ for book details). I invited Dan to stop by the event since I would be sharing information I thought would be helpful for him. A couple of months later, I was at our Chamber Business Expo and saw he had a table and was promoting his grand opening coming up and I took the information he shared on attending that day for free. I’d never been to a kickboxing studio, and I was interested to find out about it. I invited a good friend of mine to join me. I have to admit I don’t really like exercising that much (there are other things I’d rather do!), but it was a fun way to exercise if I was going to do it. Although I don’t normally trade services with clients (I usually just purchase their products/services and they purchase mine), when he said he was ready for bookkeeping assistance, I offered a trade. Rather than charge him for the QuickBooks set-up, he gave me the same value in classes. I figured if I had a financial investment, I’d be more likely to go. I like 9Round Torrance for a few reasons which include: Dan and his staff are very kind and patient with the members. It doesn’t matter if your fitness is...
Tax Benefits for Education

Tax Benefits for Education

It’s August and many parents have children heading to college soon, and there are tax benefits for education. Are you aware you may qualify for some credits or deductions on your income tax return? Following is information you may find helpful regarding this topic: A tax credit reduces the amount of income tax you may have to pay. A deduction reduces the amount of your income that is subject to tax, thus generally reducing the amount of tax you may have to pay. An education credit helps with the cost of higher education by reducing the amount of tax owed on your tax return. If the credit reduces your tax to less than zero, you may get a refund. There are two education credits available: the American opportunity tax credit and the lifetime learning credit. You must meet all three of the following for either credit: You, your dependent or a third party pays qualified education expenses for higher education. An eligible student must be enrolled at an eligible educational institution. The eligible student is yourself, your spouse or a dependent you list on your tax return. If you’re eligible to claim the lifetime learning credit and are also eligible to claim the American opportunity credit for the same student in the same year, you can choose to claim either credit, but not both. In the past, there were also deductions you may have been able to take on your tax return. These included: Tuition and Fees –  The tuition and fees deduction could reduce the amount of your income subject to tax by up to $4,000. You could not claim the tuition and fees deduction as...
Tax Court Slams the Brakes on Vehicle Deduction Claim

Tax Court Slams the Brakes on Vehicle Deduction Claim

Do you claim deductions for your vehicle? If you do, make sure to keep a detailed log of your of all your businesses trips. There are many taxpayers who have tried and failed to take advantage of these deductions, including the recent example of Katrina Taylor. Ken Berry, from Accountingweb.com, reviews the case and discusses what we can learn from this misguided taxpayer’s mistakes. Katrina Taylor et vir v. Commissioner, TC Memo 2017-99, the taxpayer committed a multitude of sins – including errors, omissions, and inflated expenses – that brought upon her downfall. Katrina Taylor’s husband operated a recycling business in West Virginia. At the same time, she operated a long-term care billing business. Taylor claimed that she sought out healthcare providers, mainly nursing homes and hospitals, and offered to review their customer accounts. Then she allegedly proposed to prospective clients that if she collected on any past-due accounts, they would pay her a percentage of the amount collected. Taylor also worked full-time at a hospital. During the tax years in question, Taylor included her business income and expenses, consisting mostly of alleged car and truck expenses, on the Schedules C for her husband’s recycling business. Those Schedules C did not indicate which income and expenses were attributable to which business. Subsequently, the IRS disallowed the couple’s deduction for car and truck expenses. So the taxpayer took her case to the Tax Court. At trial, the couple produced spreadsheets showing that Taylor made 144 distinct trips between their home and prospective client sites. Each entry had a date, a destination, beginning and ending odometer readings, total miles driven, and...

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