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My Model Week, which is a model of how I plan to spend my time each week, has a special time allotment from 1:00 pm until 2:30 pm each Friday.  It’s a spot I look forward to because it allows me to do what I love.  That block of time is titled “Write/Research/Internal Growth & Development”.

That title sounds pretty weird for a CPA who is running a CPA/Consultancy firm.  But, actually, I think time to be internally innovative and focus on growth and development in your organization should be normal for everyone in business.

As you and I work in our companys from day to day, busy with the many activities we have to manage, we lose the forward-thinking lenses of Innovation.  Allowing time in your schedule for Innovation (or self-evaluation of your personal and business operational habits, as I think of it sometimes) will allow you to stay fresh in your industry. 

Innovation will allow you to stop thinking the same way you were thinking when you started your company.  What has stopped working in your business?  Have you even noticed?

Innovation will allow you to out think your competition.  What is your next business move, acquisition or strategic development of a new line of revenue?

Innovation will allow you to change your business model to better meet your client/customers’ needs.  You think you know what they are, but do you really?

Innovation will allow you to question, question, question your future in your industry, why anyone would ever want to do business with you, and how you fare against your competition.  Well, why would anyone want to do business with you?

Innovation will allow you to do something that might be taboo in a lot of industries, but which is critical for all industries and their owners… change.  Are you able to change from year to year as needed and dictated by the market and your clients?

I would go as far as to say that time to reflect on Innovation in your business is urgent.  That means you must do it now!  Your competitors are innovating, questioning their models of business, changing how they do things and improving.  You must also… of you will not survive.

So you don’t have time for innovative thought now?  Will you answer the same way 10 years from now?

There is no need for your grandparents to pull money out of their retirement accounts now (it’s probably gone anyway).  If your granny is at least 70.5 years old, then she is REQUIRED to pull money out of her retirement account… until now.

The Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008, passed on December 11, 2008, has set aside the requirement for those who have reached the age of 70.5 to pull a minimum distribution out of their retirement accounts.  Under the previous law, if you decided NOT to pull money out of your retirement account, then you would be pummeled with a 50% excise tax on the amount you should have taken out of your account.

Now all that has changed because Congress truly cares about us all (you gotta love Chairman Rangel – D-NY).

Thanks, Jason M. Blumer

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that (i) any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; (ii) any such tax advice is written in connection with the promotion or marketing of the matters addressed; and (iii) if you are not the original addressee of this communication, you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent advisor.

“Hold fast to the Bible.  To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look  as our guide in the future.”

Ulysses S. Grant

We serve three main groups in our firmThe Medical Group (doctors, dentists, etc.), The Professional Group (attorneys, engineers, real estate, CPAs, etc.) and The Creative Group (designers, web developers, artists, illustrators, etc.).

It’s pretty well known that it’s hard to make a living in the Creative category… or at least that is what most people think.  Are the creatives lacking in entrepreneurial ability?  How about valuable offerings or business acumen?  Any business strategy out there among my creative clients?  Freak yeah!  We don’t serve clients that lack these abilities.  We fire them (really, we do).  There are no business endeavors that you can’t learn from, exploit for profit or further your business knowledge in.  And if there are, you need to find a new job.

I have many young creatives who are totally concerned about proper business tax structures, internal business processes, and growing efficiently and profitably. They give me business books I need to read.  That’s why this article totally intrigued me.  Dr. Elliot McGucken, who teaches Artistic Entrepreneurs at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill says, “those who create art should have the skills to own it, profit from it and protect it.”  Amen, dang it.  Preach it.  He must’a been in my class.

As I said at a recent talk I gave to some other professionals we serve, “if you can’t track it, profit from it and know why you are failing, then go get a real job.”

This change in the entrepreneurial knowledge of creatives excites me, and that is why we serve this group.  They have a vision and can apply it to business (which is really art anyway).  So, creatives, no more excuses… profit in your industry or go get a real job.

Last minute tax updates for this year – get ’em while they’re hot:

1.  The bailout law enacted the above-the-line deduction for higher education costs.  Take up to $4,000 in deductions this year because of this new law – a direct reduction to your taxable income. THRIVEAL TAX IDEA: pay January 2009 tuition early in 2008 to get the deduction.  But make sure you compare the education credit to this deduction to see which one would benefit you the most.  Credits and deductions are different.

2.  Deduct property tax payments even if you don’t itemize.  Normally, only if you itemize can you deduct your vehicle and home’s property tax payments.  If you use the standard deduction, you don’t get to take advantage of these large deductions.  But for 2008 and 2009 only, individuals can take the standard deduction AND deduct state and local property taxes on their tax returns.  THRIVEAL TAX IDEA: let your grandmother know about this law, because low-income elderly are usually the ones subject to the limitation of having to take the standard deduction without the benefit of deducting their property taxes.

3.  You get to take bonus depreciation in 2008 only.  Bonus depreciation is equal to 50% of property placed in service in the calendar year 2008.  This is above your normal depreciation and in addition to section 179 right off!  Pretty sweet.  As long as you got the equipment in 2008 or “place it in service” in 2008, then you can write off 50% of it before applying other depreciation.  THRIVEAL TAX IDEA: this write off is for the calendaryear 2008, so if your business year end is September 30th (as an example), then you can take this 50% write off twice.  Take it in one fiscal year (after January 1 but before September 30th) and then take it again the next fiscal year (after September 30th but before December 31st).  Stick it to Uncy Sam.

4.  You can write off your building improvements over 15 years instead of 39 years.  The bailout law extended this provision through 2009, but you can take it in 2008 as well.  Its intended for leasehold improvements and qualified restaurant property.  THRIVEAL TAX IDEA: cautions – (1) make sure these upfits are made according to a lease agreement to get the accelerated write off, (2) the building needs to be in use for three years before applying this, and (3) the lease can NOT be between related parties to take advantage of this provision (i.e. between you and yourself). 

Thanks, Jason M. Blumer, CPA

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that (i) any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; (ii) any such tax advice is written in connection with the promotion or marketing of the matters addressed; and (iii) if you are not the original addressee of this communication, you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent advisor.

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