Virtual Accounting Blog

Happy Thanksgiving!

The highways and airways will be crowded with those traveling to be with loved ones to share a Thanksgiving feast. Those not traveling will probably tune in to watch Macy’s parade while they cook that wonderful dinner and prepare for their guests. Did you know that Macy’s parade started in 1924 and has been televised on NBC since 1952?

There will be lots of good food and good company. Nothing like the smell of a Thanksgiving dinner when you walk into the house, huh? It takes a lot of preparation to host a big family dinner so be sure to thank the host and the great cooks by helping with the clean-up.

After dinner and the dishes are done, there is always a football game on the big screen TV. Though some may have their own traditional family football game.

The family shoppers have their own tradition too. They will be plotting a plan of action for all the door buster deals that will start Thanksgiving evening and on Black Friday. So get prepared with stretching exercises, your comfy clothes, and your running sneakers. You 

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Charitable Gifts are Deductible

 As the end of the year gets closer this is a good time to wrap up the tax benefits for charitable gifts. You can reduce your tax bill by itemizing your deductions and help out a worthy charity at the same time. Here are some tips to get the most out of your deduction.

* Qualified contributions. Usually, you are able to deduct the entire amount of your qualified charitable contributions up to 50% of your adjusted gross income for the year. You must have written acknowledgment from the qualified charity for any monetary gifts of $250 or more. Your contribution must be made by December 31st. This is true even if you put the contribution on your charge card and the payment isn’t due until January of the following year.

* Your time. You cannot deduct your volunteer time, though you can deduct your out of pocket expenses that were incurred on behalf of a charity such as travel and lodging.

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Celebrate Small Business Saturday

Small business Saturday was first observed on November 27, 2010. For a small business, Saturday November 25th is the equivalent to large retailer’s black Friday and cyber Monday. This day is to encourage shoppers to visit their local Mom and Pop businesses.

The odds are stacked against many small business when the larger retailers move in or near by. Though you may or may not pay a little more at your local stores, sometimes the convenience of having a small business close by is worth it when you need something and don’t want to hassle with the big box stores. By

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Teaching Your Kids Financial Responsibility

It’s never too early to teach your kids how to be financially responsible. Ultimately, we all want our children to grow into financially responsible adults. Obviously the financial abilities and concerns are different for a preschooler than for a teenager. As a parent it’s your job to help them understand how to save and spend wisely.

There are a few basic lesson that every child should be taught before it’s time to go off to college or start a career.

* Big choices. By giving your child a weekly allowance you have the opportunity to teach them when to save and when to spend.

* Plan ahead. Teach your child how to plan a budget. Rather than spending the entire allowance at the first opportunity, teach them to save a bit for the entire week. Whatever they don’t spend, show them how saving that amount can be used to save for a special item later.

* Responsibility. We all slip up sometimes, so try to avoid criticism if your child 

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Managing Your 401k When a Business Closes

Most employers offer 401k retirement plans to help employees prepare for retirement. But, what happens to your 401k if your employer were to file bankruptcy or abruptly close their doors? Would you:

* Roll the money into an individual retirement account.

* Withdraw the proceeds as a cash distribution.

* Move the money to another 401k account at a new employer.

Most people roll over their 401k into an IRA mutual fund, IRA CD, or an annuity, when a business closes its doors. In situations when the plan does not immediately end, an individual who finds new employment can avoid tax issues by making a direct transfer to the 401k plan at a new company.

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Social Security Changes in 2018

The Social Security Administration recently announced that there will be a cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase in Social Security and Supplemental Security income in 2018. There will be a 2% increase, which is the largest increase since 2012. Based on the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W), when the cost of living rises, by law the federal benefits rates increase to offset these costs. This will result in more than 66 million Americans receiving an increase in income.

You will also see other changes concerning Social Security beginning January 2018, such as;

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What You Need to Know When Giving a Gift

Are you looking to trim your tax and estate bill? Giving a financial gift may be a good way to go. Using the current annual exclusions for gift giving, you can give up to $14,000 annually to any number of recipients without paying the federal gift tax. A married couple can double this amount by “gift splitting”, meaning, giving a gift of $28,000 is treated as if it came half came from each of the spouses.

Gifting not only helps those that receive the money but it also reduces the amount your estate tax to be paid upon your death. Currently you can also transfer a total of $5.49 million, during your lifetime or through your estate, with no gift tax liability. You and your estate will face taxes at the current top rate of 40%, for any amounts above this threshold. For this reason consistent annual gift giving might create a substantial tax savings.

However, giving gifts to individuals does not entitle you to an “income” tax deduction, because it is not a charitable donation. Though, gifts of income-producing property may reduce your taxable income. After you have given the property away, the recipient of the income producing property will be responsible for any income taxes due on this property.

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Are You a Brand or a Business?

The answer is...you are both. The problem is that you might not think of yourself as a "Brand". When most people think of brands they think Apple, Facebook, Starbucks, McDonalds, etc.

By definition a brand as a..."Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that distinguishes a business or product from those of others to their customer base. The key to a good brand is what makes your business or product different. For example; are you the best bakery, cyber security firm, retail store, etc.?

In the age of social media and technology you need to establish your company in a way that will give your customers and prospective customers a way to distinguish your company from all others that may offer similar services or products.

The design of your website, newsletter, social media and blogs have a lot to do with your brand. These outlets can establish you as a visionary leader. A well established brand will work to remind your customers about what you do and why they chose you. It can turn your current customers into advocates on your behalf in the way of referrals. Your brand will make a great first impression to prospective customers who may be considering doing business with your company. Here are some steps to consider when you establish your brand.

* Get a logo that represents what your company is about.

* Use key words on your website to generate attention from the different search engines. In one sentence on your web page describe what you do and why a customer should choose your business. 

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A Good Office Setup = Good Work

Your office space is very important. Heck, it’s where you spend a majority of your day. If your space isn’t conducive to working, you won’t be as productive. And, when you work from home, it’s important to stay focused and have a positive work space that will attribute to an efficient work environment. But let’s face it, when you work remote, your office could be your kitchen, closet, a nook in the bedroom, or a shed out back. How do you make that space special and productive?

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“Tips for Tips”

If you work in the service industry chances are that some of your income is from tips received for a service. The service may be a waiter/waitress, caddie, or a taxi service, etc. The tips you receive are considered taxable income. Here are some things to keep in mind for tax time.

* Tips are subject to federal income and Social Security and Medicare taxes, and they may be subject to state income tax as well. The value of non-cash tips, such as tickets, passes, or other items of value, is also income and subject to federal income tax.

* On your tax form in your gross income, you must include all cash tips you receive directly from customers, tips added to credit cards, and your share of any tips you receive under a tip-splitting arrangement with fellow employees.

* If you receive $20 or more in tips in any one month, you should report all your

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