02 Feb Who can take the new business tax deduction? Even tax experts aren’t sure

If you report business income on your individual federal tax return, figuring out your 2018 taxes is about to get more complicated. by Jeanne Sahadi   @CNNMoney That's because there are many unanswered questions about a major business tax break under the new tax law: A 20% deduction on business income for owners, partners and shareholders in so-called pass-through entities -- e.g., S-corps, LLCs, partnerships and sole proprietorships. Not everyone will qualify. And if they do, the deduction may apply to a smaller percentage of their income than they'd expect. Among the many assessments tax filers will have to make, here are just five basic questions anyone with pass-through income should consider: 1. Is my pass-through a domestic trade or business? Only pass-throughs that perform work in the United States and sell goods and services on U.S. soil can qualify. "This [deduction] is designed to benefit U.S. businesses that work, have employees and produce in the U.S.," said John Rooney, a director of the pass-throughs group in the Washington National Tax office of KPMG. If you have production facilities abroad, but sell products in the United States, the deduction may apply to a portion of your income generated from your U.S. sales. 2. Is my taxable income low enough to automatically qualify me for the deduction? If your taxable income will be no more than $157,500 (or $315,000 if married, filing jointly), you automatically qualify for the deduction. Keep in mind, taxable income is more than your business income. It includes all income sources, such as your spouse's earnings or your investment income. "That makes it a lot harder for people to get under [the threshold,]" Rooney said. If your taxable income is over these thresholds but under $207,500 ($415,000 if married), you will have to figure out how much of the deduction you may take, since it's gradually reduced within this upper income band. When your income tops $207,500 (or $415,000 if married), you'll have to meet other tests to see if you qualify. 3. What field is my business in? The law prohibits service businesses in certain industries from taking the deduction. These industries include health, law, accounting, actuarial sciences, athletics, consulting, financial and brokerage services, and the performing arts. There may be exceptions. For example, Rooney said, based on prior rulings from the IRS a pass-through business that tests blood samples may not be considered a health services business, so may be eligible for the deduction. 4. How much of my business is based on my reputation or skill? The deduction is disallowed for pass-through businesses that have as their "principal asset" the "reputation" or "skill" of the owners or employees. That raises a lot of questions for tax experts. People go into business -- sometimes naming companies after themselves -- because they've...

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15 Dec 3 Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Small Business

With so many social media platforms out there, it’s tough to know how to promote your small business. You may feel like a tiny raindrop in a hurricane of information. But with several practical steps, you can reach your target audience. There are literally millions of social media users. According to Statista, 81 percent of Americans have a social media profile. This is way up compared to the 24 percent back in 2008. It is even a 5 percent increase from last year’s 76 percent. All these users and companies make lots of noise. Don’t be part of the static. Stand out with a distinctly clear message using these tips. Tips for Facebook First and foremost, make a page for your small business. Use attractive graphics and concise content. It’s not enough to just post interesting content. You have to make sure people are seeing it. Make connections by joining several groups that relate to your small business. People are constantly looking for recommendations and advice on everything from plumbing to fashion. For example, an interior designer and mother joined a local moms Facebook group. Someone asked for a recommendation for an interior designer, and she responded back. Another time, a friend recommended her within the same Facebook group. She received business from the exact client she targets by being part of this Facebook group. Tips for Twitter Twitter can be intimidating with its character count and hashtags, but don’t miss out on this valuable tool. Using key hashtags helps create networks of individuals who share the same interests, including the product or service of your local business. Twitter users can find you based on a single hashtag, and you can have individual conversations with customers who have found you. You also can send personalized tweets to individual customers that cater directly to their needs instead of spewing generalized pleas into cyberspace....

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15 Dec Top 3 Finance Apps for Your Small Business

Managing your finances well is the key to success in business. Without proper management of things like payroll, return on investment and expenditures, you can find yourself in a difficult situation. However, make no mistake: finance management is a hard business, which is why entire industries have risen around solutions to this problem. Solutions like QuickBooks and accounting services have saturated the market, but how do you choose from the overwhelming number of options out there? We’ve researched finance management options and have found three that work great and can fit in the palm of your hand. Neat First off on our list of finance apps is Neat Accounting. Neat is more than a name in this case, and it describes the application pretty well. One of Neat’s most interesting features is its capture ability. Neat’s capture function allows you to scan and take photographs of receipts, invoices and other documents and transfer the data in the picture into actual usable data. Things like dates, names and prices are selected from the page and logged for you to use at a later date. Neat also allows you to sync this data across all of your devices and generate reports in a matter of moments. Neat also has a long list of other features that you can browse here, but the scanning function is probably the application’s most noteworthy feature....

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15 Dec How Will the New Tax Plan Impact Your Small Business?

Tax reform is still working its way through Congress, but its final form has become more clear as both the House and Senate have released the full text of their bills. Here are the most important changes that will impact small businesses. Changing Tax Brackets Both corporate and individual tax rates will change under the new plan. For corporations and LLCs taxed as corporations, the maximum tax rate will drop from 35 percent to 20 percent. Individual income tax rates, which are imposed on sole proprietorship and partnership income, would drop from a maximum 39.6 percent to 35 percent under the House plan. The remaining brackets will also be consolidated into fewer tiers and shifted. This will result in lower taxes for many individuals, but those at the top of a bracket may see their marginal rate increase....

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