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Archives for October 2015

The Scariest Time of the Year

scaredAre you ready?

Haunted Hayrides.  Reruns of creepy classics.  Grocery store clerks dressed up as Frankenstein.  It must be the scariest time of the year, right?

No.  The scariest time of the year, for way too many people, is tax season.  This is because way too many people fail to plan for the inevitable.  That’s right:  you’re going to pay taxes whether you like it or not, so why not take control of the situation?  Find out in advance what it’s going to look like.  See if there’s anything you can do, now, to ameliorate the situation.

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Fire Someone Today: A Book Review

book-firesomeoneThis little gem is the best business book I’ve ever read. In fact, I reread it periodically. Unlike most business books, it is not merely a collection of bumper sticker wisdom where all the best parts are collected for you in the Table of Contents. No, this is a book you should read carefully and slowly, with pen and paper handy for notes.

In one of my favorite parts, Bob Pritchett explains that a business has to choose between pricing (as in, how low can you go), service (as in, waiting on people hand and foot) and quality (as in, the latest labels or trends). Indeed, this is a problem I see business owners fighting on a regular basis. An IT guy will try to beat the perceived competition on price while still offering employee-level service…and go broke. A gift shop will scour the world for unique items, sell them at near-break-even prices…and wonder why they can’t pay the rent. Face it: you can’t compete on all 3 levels at the same time. That is, not if you want to succeed!

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Meals, Part 5: Employees gotta eat, too!

How and when to take a meal expense when you are an employee

Employees sometimes have business expenses. Typically, these are union dues, uniforms, education, and professional licensing, education, and insurance. It is rare for an employee to entertain clients without being reimbursed by the employer, but it is possible.

It is more likely for an employee to incur a meal expense while traveling for business. In this scenario, there is usually a reimbursement, but the reimbursement does not cover the full cost. Like the items listed above, any expense that is not reimbursed is a possible tax deduction. But that does not mean anything you eat or drink while at the seminar in New Orleans is business related! Those cute little bottles on the flight and in the mini-bar of your hotel room are not meals and do not count. A mid-afternoon ice cream, candy bars from the hotel store, and espresso in the lounge are also not meals. Meals are breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Skip breakfast and go drinking after class? Don’t try it: your documentation will out you.

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Meals, Part 4: The Take-Out Window

What about eating at your desk?

In a word:  NO!

Remember that pb&j that you slapped together at home this morning and then stashed in your bottom drawer?  You don’t get to take that as a business expense, so why would anyone think it counts if you have a deli sandwich delivered in the middle of the day?

Well, actually there is a precedent.  Let’s say there’s a big project, and the boss is worried about the deadline.  The boss just might spring for Chinese to encourage the team to stay late.  This counts!  Check it out –

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