Top stories for you from Barbara this past month:

Keeping Up with State and Local Employment Law Changes for 2017

The coming new year brings a slew of new employment-related laws on the state and local levels. And with coming changes on all levels of government as a result of the November elections, you can expect to see additional law changes, some of which may be effective in 2017. What's a small employer to do to stay compliant?

Revisiting Health Savings Accounts 

With the talk of "repeal and replace" for Obamacare on the front burner, it's essential for small business owners to understand health savings accounts (HSAs). The reason: HSAs are being discussed as the cornerstone for possible new law. What's more they can be used now under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by companies large and small. Here's where we stand now.
Defining Small Businesses for Tax Reform Purposes

"Small business owners" are part of the tax reform conversation that is underway, but what does this term mean? The Treasury's Office of Tax Analysis (OTA) has traditionally defined these individuals as owners receiving flow-through income from sole proprietorships (Schedules C and F filers), partnerships (including limited liability companies), S corporations, and those reporting rental activities on Schedule E of Form 1040. OTA now believes this definition to be overly broad and has released a technical paper on Methodology to Identify Small Businesses ...

Final Overtime Rule Enjoined: What to Do Now

The Department of Labor's Final Rule on overtime pay that would have dramatically transformed payroll policies had been scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016. However, on November 22, a federal district court granted an injunction pending the outcome of a legal challenge to the rule. This is expected to take months or more. And in the meantime, there's a new Administration about to begin.
What does this uncertain state of affairs mean to you?

Partnerships and LLCs from a Tax Perspective
A partnership is not a tax-paying entity, but files an annual tax return, Form 1065, to report income, deductions, and other items. These items pass through to partners, who may be individuals, other partnerships, corporations, or other entities. Partners report their allocable share of these items on their own tax returns. As in the case of sole proprietorships, the tax statistics show that the number of partnerships (including limited liability companies that file tax returns as partnerships) is on the rise.
Sole Proprietorships On the Rise

Recently released IRS statistics for 2014 show that there is a growing number of sole proprietorships in the U.S. Sole proprietorships are taxpayers who file Schedule C. They may be independent contractors, freelancers, or other self-employed individuals who are not required to file any other type of income tax return to report their business income and expenses.  From my review of the numbers -- comparing 2013 to 2014 -- it seems that more people have sole proprietorships.

Small Business Story Behind Carrier Job Retention

On November 30, President-elect Trump announced that a deal had been reached with Carrier to retain about 1,000 jobs in its Indiana plant. The news was greeted with much appreciation by the workers and their families. However, as Paul Harvey said in his radio broadcasts for more than 60 years ... here's the rest of the story.

Planning for Year-end Bonuses

Was 2016 a good year for your business? According to the 2016 Holiday Bonus and Hiring Survey by Accounting Principals, 75% of HR and hiring managers of the companies polled are planning to give bonuses this year (up from 67% last year). The average amount is over $1,000 per employee.

Looking Back on 2016 and Ahead to 2017

This has been quite a year for small businesses in the U.S. Much has happened, and much is anticipated in the coming year. Let's look back on some of the critical issues impacting small business and what we can expect in 2017.
J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes 2017

I'm proud to say it's the 23rd year of the original publication, and it's all new for 2016 returns and year-round tax planning. As had been my practice, I've written my own book review to explain the purpose of the book, what's new, and what's ahead -- find it here.

Tax season is just around the corner! Why wait? Get the expert help you need now. 

Your Company's Charitable Giving

"Giving is its own reward" said social activist Dorothy Day, but the tax law also provides some benefit to those who give. Here's how your business can help those in need, and what you can gain tax wise.
10 Year-End Tax Planning Actions

Now is the time for taking actions to cut your tax bill for 2016. The following suggestions for actions are generalities, so be sure to tailor them to your particular situation.
Health Reimbursement Arrangements Make a Comeback: What it Means for Small Business

In 2015, many small businesses were taken aback that their traditional arrangement of paying employees' health insurance premiums on their personal policies was a violation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Potentially, these businesses could have been penalized $100 per day per employee (an annual penalty of $36,500 per employee). However, the IRS granted relief for such arrangements through June 30, 2015. Since then, small businesses that continued these arrangements faced exposure to the harsh penalties noted above...but that no longer will be the case.
Hear My Recent Radio Conversations with featured guests:

Jim Blasingame, author of "The Age of the Customer" as we discuss small business success trends and tips

Anna Brewer, Director of HR with Insperity, sharing the latest news in the White Collar Exemption changes and the overtime ruling, along with the impact on employers and small businesses.
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