Category Archives: General

Yearend Tax Planning

Now is the time to start thinking about yearend tax planning. 

               Are your books current?
               Will you owe taxes?
               Do you need to purchase equipment?
               Have you paid in enough estimated taxes? 

Now is a good time to do a projection to see where you stand tax wise.  What would you owe if taxes were due today?  What would you project for the rest of the year?  If you have a tax liability, what can you do to minimize it? 

Heath Insurance premiums tax credit: There are some restrictions, but if you pay at least half of your employees’ premiums, you  may be entitled to a credit on your tax return.

 Independent Contractors vs. employees: The IRS is always looking at this.  Be sure that your IC’s (subcontractors) are not your employees.  See this link:

According to Sheila…


Add Some Fireworks to Your Business Plan

Why not apply some 4th of July drama to your business routine?


Pick up the phone and make that call you KNOW you should have made a long time ago.

Stop & thank the clients and customers responsible for much of your success.

Praise the employees & co-workers who support you – when you’re not always at your best.

Express your gratitude to other business owners who sent customers in your direction over the years.

Find a ‘cause’ or charity you can believe in…and incorporate activities for its benefit with your staff.

Help support small business owners around you – Promote their businesses as well as your own.

Tell yourself what you’re doing RIGHT at least once a day! 

Remember…it just takes a little spark to set off a bunch of fireworks!

According to Sheila…

MARCH is More than a Month – It’s a VERB

February 2012 has given us an extra day to “LEAP” into our future.

The whole idea of ‘March’ makes me happy. 

I feel Spring racing toward me as I drive home from work without having to turn on my headlights, even if my windshield wipers are operating on ‘high’.

Despite the roar of March winds and occasional torrential rains, the unpredictability of the month promises nature is on schedule and magnificent changes are on the way.

The buds are barely able to contain themselves within the confines of their wind-whipped limbs.

Now from a ‘verb’ point of view…we all march to different drummers.

 Some people believe in the military precision of measured steps and formality.  Others enjoy the measured steps part…but prefer to do it with music, much fanfare, and laughter. Occasionally, we all find ourselves having to take a long, tiring journey on foot…alone with our thoughts.

Despite the differences in our personal marching preference, we all share the motion of forward movement and steady progression in one direction or another.

I’ve personally tried going in more than one direction at a time…a futile effort resulting in one REAL direction…backwards.  The good thing about ‘backwards’ is…after you’ve been there a few times, you start to recognize it right away!

We can learn to march to a different drummer – no matter what month it is!

2011 Federal Tax Returns – Tax Law Changes

Before filing your 2011 Federal Income Tax return, go to for important information on tax changes & updates, plus view new legislation that may affect your tax return. 

Here are a few of the important changes:

Due date of return. File your federal tax return by Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

 Standard deduction and exemptions increased.

  • Deductions for each exemption increased $50 to $3,700 for 2011.

Self-employed health insurance deduction. This deduction is no longer allowed on Schedule SE (Form 1040), but you can take it on Form 1040, line 29.

Roth IRAs. If you converted or rolled over an amount from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA or designated Roth in 2010 and elected not to report the taxable amount on your 2010 return, you generally must report half of it on your 2011 return, and the remainder on your 2012 return.

 Mailing a return. The IRS changed the filing location for several areas. If you’re mailing a paper return, see the Form 1040 instructions for the correct address.  

Detailed information on these changes can be found on the IRS website –

 We have experienced tax professionals ready, willing, and able to file for you if you don’t want to do it by yourself…(503)252-9197.

According to Sheila…

Groundhog Day…What are the odds?

The overall consensus, except in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania…is that the groundhog’s predictive accuracy rate is 39% according to the National Climatic Data Center. I wonder how much money would be saved if news rooms & radio stations across America gave weatherpersons a day off without pay every time their accuracy level dropped below this percentile.

Considering the popularity of the lottery, I’m surprised we don’t just flip a coin or draw a number to determine what day & time spring will actually arrive. Never mind… somebody already printed it on all the calendars.

After the movie, Groundhog Day, aired in1993…how do we know the groundhog doesn’t come out on Feb. 2nd to see why the upstairs neighbors are tromping all over his roof and making so darned much noise? Is it all that unlikely that if the poor little groundhog wasn’t so tired, it would love to confront the humans dropping by uninvited?  What if our furry friend mutters to himself, “It’s great to have fans, people – but hang out in your own yard and oh, yeah…GET A LIFE!”

Of course, groundhogs aren’t found in every state in America.  Not to worry…each state is adaptive when selecting its chosen mammal. For example, Texans never blinked before selecting the armadillo.

Here’s a fact I just discovered. In 2009, Sarah Palin, (governor at that time), signed legislation declaring Feb. 2nd Marmot Day in Alaska. Groundhogs are scarce up there, but marmots appear undeterred by the cold. One thing I don’t understand though. The same ritual is observed up north…the waiting for a shadow which predicts six more weeks of winter.  Come on, folks, we’re in Alaska for goodness sakes. Isn’t winter continuing another 6 weeks considered completely NORMAL?

How’s a hearty little groundhog from any of the lower states going to compete with those odds?

News Flash: The Oregon Zoo celebrates Hedgehog Day on Thursday, Feb. 2nd.  At 10:00 a.m. come see the adorable African pygmy hedgehog prepared to be the star of the show. Watching for his shadow is free with zoo admission.  Enjoy!

According to Sheila

The Other 364 Days

It’s hard for me to transition from “gobble-gobble-gobble” to “Ho-Ho-Ho” quickly.

Feeling off balance is easy on the monetary roller coaster ride between Thanksgiving & New Year’s Day.

Businesses don’t want to ‘miss the boat’; Consumers don’t want to ‘be taken for a ride’; while ABC News challenges each of us to buy at least one item on our Xmas list that’s ‘Made in America’ in order to stimulate our economy & create jobs.

Let me stop and catch my breath!

I can’t help wondering…since technology allowed our world to get so BIG so quickly, maybe we need to think smaller to thrive. After all, no matter how many ‘friends’, ‘tweets’, or ‘hits’ become our measuring stick, let’s not be so short-sighted  that we forget each person still makes only one choice at a time and most of us prefer to do business and spend time with people we know and trust.

I’m a fan of ‘Made in America’, but ‘Made in the Kitchen’, ‘Made in the Classroom’, and ‘Made in My Spare Time’ are some of my favorites. None can compare with “I made this just for you!”

In 2012, there will be 364 days not assigned the expected greeting of, “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Merry Christmas”. 

I will find a way to be grateful for my life EVERY day – no exceptions, and realize my ‘Merry’ is always inside of me.

The more we succeed where we are – the more we understand, “It IS a Small World After All.”


According to Sheila…


Mother Nature is incredibly smart, but you need to look behind her mask.

I already know which trees in my neighborhood start changing colors first and the ones scheduled to become breathtakingly beautiful.

 Historically, I resent the gusting October winds & rain determined to drain the magical colors from my maples before ripping them from the sturdy branches they called home. Adding insult to injury, these storms scatter my pummeled pals until they cover my sidewalks, gutters and lawn. I DON’T NEED MORE TO DO!


Nature released each leaf at precisely the time it needed to go.

The tree itself, all the creatures dependent on it, plus the beneficiaries of its leafy children who raced off to play will get bigger and stronger next year because of Mother Nature’s wisdom.

I wonder as I reflect on my decisions in business and at home…

What am I holding onto that interferes with the health of my next season?

Is there a pet project, a bad habit, or a self-defeating attitude begging to fall away?

New growth is impossible until release of what ‘no longer serves me’ is free to go elsewhere!

I know she’s right…but… IT’S HARD NOT TO ARGUE WITH YOUR MOTHER!

According to Sheila…


                We shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves when business isn’t going according to plan.

                Remember – Columbus Day is still on everyone’s calendar.

                This poor guy ended up on the wrong continent more than once, in a different ocean, never found a single spice he could take home to Liz, and survived multiple mutinies. This last fact leads some of us to conclude that at least a small percentage of his employees knew long before Houston existed – they had a problem!

                Yet, this perfectly imperfect human managed to make a lasting impression on America & became a day off for thousands of government employees and banks still grateful for his courageous legacy once a year.

                My Conclusion:  Be BOLD! Never GIVE UP! Make a new plan…and oh, yeah…always have another potential business name in your back pocket.

–Sheila Askov

Accountable Plan

We use all our resources to bring you useful and up-to-date information.  This item comes from the The General Ledger.

What makes a reimbursement plan “accountable”?

Reimbursements to employees for tools and equipment used in the business are tax free when they are part of an accountable plan. An IRS ruling shows how to make the plan qualify. 

How the system works: A taxpayer started a firm that sold professional tools and equipment and the services to support and repair the equipment. It hired technicians at hourly wages. They had to provide and maintain their own tools and equipment and use the tools only in the taxpayer’s business. The business reimbursed the technicians for some expenses incurred in buying, maintaining and being trained to use the tools. Each technician was told at the beginning of the year the maximum reimbursement he or she was eligible for; but to be reimbursed all costs had to be documented and there was no guarantee the maximum reimbursement would be received. The reimbursed amount was unrelated to compensation.

 The company’s question to the IRS: Can this qualify as an accountable plan?

 IRS Ruling: The reimbursement plan is an accountable plan, even though employees are not reimbursed for 100% of the business expenses incurred. There is a business reason for the plan, employees must substantiate the reimbursements, and employees do not keep excess reimbursements. Therefore, reimbursements to the technicians are not included in’ gross income. [LTR 200930029]

If you have any questions, please give us a call.


Vacations are fun and usually for your personal pleasure.  However, sometimes you use part of your vacation to explore or expand your business opportunities.  If you do this, and keep good records, you will be able to write off at least part of your vacation.

To define your business part:

  1. Record where you go and why, the business reason.
  2. Record whom you meet with and where.  Get business cards and/or brochures.
  3. If you are attending a conference, keep your paperwork.  If the conference is the reason you are going and you spend an extra day or two, the entire trip may be deductible.
  4. If you take your spouse or family with you, you can only write off your portion of the trip unless they work in the business.

It is very important to show that you were working on your business so the more materials, addresses and names that you have the better.  Photos can be helpful as well; for example, if you are a realtor looking for houses to sell.

Discussing these issues with your tax consultant BEFORE your trip can help make compliance much easier than trying to go back and get the documentation later.

Sandra Vincent, The Bookkeeping Company