People who volunteer their time and expertise believe they have something valuable to offer. That being said, you may find it quite distressing to learn that your services however expert they may be, are worth a tax deduction of precisely zero. This rule is not unique to volunteer work; in fact, it is consistent with other tax laws. With only isolated exceptions, the general rule is that you must use your cold, hard cash or give items away before you may claim a deduction.
However, you may deduct many of the expenses you incur for volunteer work, including:
advertising that you purchase on behalf of the organization
supplies you buy to be used in volunteer work, such as materials, stamps and stationery
The cost of a required uniform and the cost of keeping it clean, and telephone expenses.
the cost of hosting a party or fundraiser for the organization
If the organization you volunteer with reimburses you for any expenses you may not take them as a tax deductions too, that’s commonly referred to as double dipping.
Some local travel expenses are also deductible, such as bus, train, or taxi fares. If you use your own car, you may deduct the parking fees, tolls, and cost of your gas and oil for those miles you travel for the charity. You may not deduct the cost of insurance, maintenance, registration fees, or depreciation, as you could if you were using your car for business. If you don't want to keep track of your actual gas and oil expenses, you can simply keep a log of the miles your travel for volunteer work and deduct the IRS rate per mile, which for 2014 is 14 cents per mile.
Limits on Deductions
As with everything, there are limitations, here are some that apply to these deductions:
Your organization must be a qualified, IRS-recognized charity.
In order to take these deductions, volunteers must itemize their deductions on their tax return. (Those who fill out a 1040EZ won't get any benefit.)
The expenses must be directly related to the volunteers' work, and incurred only because of that work.
The expenses can't be personal, for family, or for living items or activities (such as meals for children while they accompany the volunteer to a convention).
Volunteers must keep reliable written records of the expenses.
With any tax advice you should always consult your tax professional. And if you want some light reading check out IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, at www.irs.gov, then click on publications.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're in the market for a new tax professional.
As a small business owner, it can be overwhelming handling all the day to day business tasks on your own. Hiring a qualified bookkeeper to maintain your daily records, process payroll and sales tax is essential. There are several different levels of bookkeepers, which one is right for your business? The responsibilities, skills and knowledge differ greatly.
1. General or Basic Bookkeeper
This person deals with financial transactions and
postings. This may include easy single-entry
bookkeeping or more detailed double-entry bookkeeping. A general or basic bookkeeper is responsible for recording all transactions into the general ledger, posting invoices and payments, posting vendor bills and bill payments.
2. Full Charge Bookkeeper
This person has some of the same responsibilities as a
regular bookkeeper, with a few key differences. They also prepare
financial statements, and in most cases handle payroll and sales tax if applicable. They handle the financial transactions for small to medium
3. Certified Bookkeeper
A Certified Bookkeeper (CB) is much more knowledgeable. They handle
everything that general and full charge bookkeepers do on a daily
basis, and more. To qualify as a test applicant for the CB you must have at least 2 years (proven) experience
working in the accounting field, pass a four part national exam and adhere to a code of ethics from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB.org).
They are expected to prepare financial statements,
keep up with daily transactions, accounts receivable and payable,
general ledger and any other accounting needs. They are responsible for payroll and
reporting to the state, along with preparing all the year-end tax
documents for the accountant. To maintain the CB title, you have to stay current on continuing education and changing tax laws.
If you're in a one person accounting department, I am a firm believer in having your outside accountant reconcile your bank and credit card accounts or at the very least have them review the reconciliations. The individual writing the checks, making bank deposits and processing payroll should not also be doing the reconciliations. Checks and balances are so important in maintaining the integrity of your books.
Bookkeepers are a vital part of keeping a business running smoothly.
Whether you're just starting out, looking for change or expanding your
accounting department it's extremely important to find a bookkeeper you
can trust, who knows what they're doing and knows the accounting software you use for your company. Give your potential new hire a test on both their bookkeeping and QuickBooks skills, this extra step in the long run will save you time and money.
Unsure of where to start, consider engaging a bookkeeper or an accountant to
set up your bookkeeping system. If paying a seasoned professional
doesn’t fit your budget, you could hire a college student who’s majoring
in accounting to assist you.
LAE Business Services wishes everyone a safe and happy new school year.
To help ensure the safety of our children please follow these guidelines from
Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced
for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is
nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian
struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more
than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or
neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for
children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking
your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of
crashing. And children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or
emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your
cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots.
Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your
vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in,
under or around vehicles.
Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often
inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least
three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If
your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a
properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice
and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.
Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading
cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one in four
fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school
hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com
Special Tax Benefits for Members of the Armed Forces
Special tax benefits apply to members of the U. S. Armed Forces. For example, some types of pay are not taxable. And special rules may apply to some tax deductions, credits and deadlines. Here are ten of those benefits:
1. Deadline Extensions. Some members of the military, such as those who serve in a combat zone, can postpone some tax deadlines. If this applies to you, you can get automatic extensions of time to file your tax return and to pay your taxes.
2. Combat Pay Exclusion. If you serve in a combat zone, certaincombat pay you get is not taxable. You won’t need to show the pay on your tax return because combat pay isn’t included in the wages reported on your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Service in support of a combat zone may qualify for this exclusion.
3. Earned Income Tax Credit. If you get nontaxable combat pay, you may choose to include it to figure your EITC. You would make this choice if it increases your credit. Even if you do, the combat pay stays nontaxable.
4. Moving Expense Deduction. You may be able to deduct some of your unreimbursed moving costs. This applies if the move is due to a permanent change of station,
5. Uniform Deduction. You can deduct the costs of certain uniforms that regulations prohibit you from wearing while off duty. This includes the costs of purchase and upkeep. You must reduce your deduction by any allowance you get for these costs.
6. Signing Joint Returns. Both spouses normally must sign a joint income tax return. If your spouse is absent due to certain military duty or conditions, you may be able to sign for your spouse. In other cases when your spouse is absent, you may need a power of attorney to file a joint return.
7. Reservists’ Travel Deduction. If you’re a member of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves, you may deduct certain costs of travel on your tax return. This applies to the unreimbursed costs of travel to perform your reserve duties that are more than 100 miles away from home.
8. Nontaxable ROTC Allowances. Active duty ROTC pay, such as pay for summer advanced camp, is taxable. But some amounts paid to ROTC students in advanced training are not taxable. This applies to educational and subsistence allowances.
9. Civilian Life. If you leave the military and look for work, you may be able to deduct some job hunting expenses. You may be able to include the costs of travel, preparing a resume and job placement agency fees. Moving expenses may also qualify for a tax deduction.
10. Tax Help. Most military bases offer free tax preparation and filing assistance during the tax filing season. Some also offer free tax help after April 15.
For more on this topic, refer to Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide. It’s available on IRS.gov, or call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to get it by mail.
Each year the IRS mails millions of notices. Here’s what you should do if you receive a notice from the IRS:
1. Don’t ignore it. You can respond to most IRS notices quickly and easily. And it’s important that you reply promptly.
2. IRS notices usually deal with a specific issue about your tax return or tax account. For example, it may say the IRS has corrected an error on your tax return. Or it may ask you for more information.
3. Read it carefully and follow the instructions about what you need to do.
4. If it says that the IRS corrected your tax return, review the information in the notice and compare it to your tax return.
If you agree, you don’t need to reply unless a payment is due.
If you don’t agree, it’s important that you respond to the IRS. Write a letter that explains why you don’t agree. Make sure to include information and any documents you want the IRS to consider. Include the bottom tear-off portion of the notice with your letter. Mail your reply to the IRS at the address shown in the lower left part of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response from the IRS.
5. You can handle most notices without calling or visiting the IRS. If you do have questions, call the phone number in the upper right corner of the notice. Make sure you have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call.
6. Keep copies of any notices you get from the IRS.
7. Don’t fall for phone and phishing email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS first contacts people about unpaid taxes by mail – not by phone. The IRS does not contact taxpayers by email, text or social media about their tax return or tax account.
For more on this topic visit IRS.gov. Click on ‘Responding to a Notice’ at the bottom left of the home page. Also see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. You can get it on IRS.gov or call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to get it by mail.
Chargeback - A word no business owner like to hear!
What is a chargeback? A chargeback occurs when a customer's credit card is approved at the
point of sale, but then is reversed when the customer files a dispute
with their card issuer. This is the most common reason for a chargeback,
but there are a few others, such as computer glitches or miscommunications. However, any chargeback could mean lost revenue for your company as well as incurring fees.
The chargeback process
The typical chargeback process may consist of the following steps:
Your buyer contacts the credit card issuing bank to dispute a specific charge.
The credit card issuer contacts the appropriate credit card association, who then notifies merchant of the chargeback.
Your merchant services alerts you of the chargeback via fax, mail or email and requests
supporting documentation to contest it on your behalf. To dispute a
chargeback, you must reply to the correspondence by the indicated reply-by date.
Your merchant service provider will review the details of the chargeback and the documentation provided by you.
When deemed necessary your merchant
service provider submits the evidence to the credit card issuer in an
attempt to reverse the chargeback.
If the chargeback is successfully disputed on your behalf,
no further action is required. If the credit card issuer does not
resolve the chargeback in your favor, you may be liable for the
Keep in mind that your merchant service provider can only forward your chargeback response
to the credit card issuers for review. The credit card issuer is
ultimately responsible for determining the resolution of chargebacks.
If you're found liable for a chargeback:You'll receive a notification via mail, fax or email from your merchant service provider with details about the chargeback.You'll be charged for the full amount of the chargeback.
Things to remember
Different orders from the same buyer count as separate
chargebacks. Please be sure to respond to each information request you
receive individually so that all of the chargebacks can be properly
contested, if possible.
The Fair Credit Billing Act protects customers' rights to
dispute charges for a number of accepted reasons. Generally, a policy
that allows no refunds will not be upheld by the credit card
Because credit card issuers require that any documentation be
received within a certain number of days, prompt replies to our
information requests are necessary if you intend to contest the
chargeback. Once this time frame has expired and the credit card issuer
has resolved a chargeback in the buyer's favor, they will not review any
The final status of a chargeback may not be determined for
several weeks or occasionally several months after it is initiated.
Not answering chargebacks
in a timely manner can be detrimental to your merchant services account.
If you agree that the customer should be refunded, go ahead and
refund them, but you must still answer the chargeback notice. Each chargeback that goes unanswered counts as a strike against you, too many and your service provider will revoke your account.
For most any business, accepting checks is a service to its
customers. Unfortunately, banks every so often return checks, and
dealing with them can be a frustrating process. If you are the receiver
of a bad check, you can take several steps to recover the money you lost
on the sale, as well as the fees you incurred from your bank.
Handle the return check on your books:
first thing you will need to do is record this returned check in your
accounting system. You don’t want your accounts receivable and bank
account to be misstated. If you don’t have this item set up already in
your QuickBooks you want to create a new item "other charge" for your
Item List: Bounced Check.
Leave Amount at zero, tax code as non, and for the Account choose your
checking account. Also create another "other charge" item: Bad Check Charge
-- no amount, non-tax, and for the account set up an income item named
"returned check charge”. Then create an invoice to your customer using
these two items. Invoice for the amount of the check on item Bounced
Check and for the bank charge on the Bad Check charge item. (Include a
description of the NSF ck# number, date.) This will have the effect of
backing out the deposit and will match to your bank statement. When
you receive a replacement check from your customer, receive it as you
would any other payment. Now for the handling of the check with your customer:
not redeposit the check without first speaking with your customer. This
will avoid additional bank fees if the check still isn’t good. Call
your customer. Good people make mistakes too, and giving your customer a
call, and letting him know what happened often can solve the problem.
Let the customer know the check number and dollar amount, as well as any
fees your bank assessed you. The oversight might embarrass many people,
and they will want make good on the check and then your problem is
If you don’t get anywhere after speaking with the
customer, send a certified letter. Bad check laws vary from state to
state but many State guidelines typically require you to send a
certified letter to the check writer asking for payment of funds. Ask
for payment to be made by a certified check or money order; request the
check writer to pay bank fees you incurred because of the returned
check. State law requires the check writer to respond within a certain
number of days to your letter. Check with your state before sending the
Place a follow-up call to the check maker. You are within
your legal rights to go directly to small claims court if payment is not
received. However, if you contact the check writer again and they pay
restitution in full, then a court appearance can be avoided. Explain to
the check writer that you will file a police report or take them to
small claims court if they do not pay what is owed to you.
of the above actions are getting you anywhere, notify the police. If
the check writer lives in your area, file a complaint with your local
police department. You will need to fill out a police report and include
copies of the bounced check, your certified letter, related receipts
and document your attempts to recover the funds. Ask the police to
pursue the check writer and bring forth charges.
Hopefully it will
not come to the final step and you are able to recover the payment in
full. But if not, it’s good to know there are steps you can take. The
events might make you, the company; more cautious of whom you accept
check payments from in the future.
CORRECTS DATE OF PHOTO, REMOVES REFERENCE TO TODAY - FILE - In this June 6, 1944, file photo, Allied troops crouch behind the bulwarks of a landing craft as it nears Omaha Beach during a landing in Normandy, France. The D-Day invasion broke through Adolf Hitler’s western defenses and led to the liberation of France from Nazi occupation just as the Soviet Army was making advances in the east, turning the tide of the war in the Allies’ favor. Allied troops landed on the Normandy coast of France in tremendous strength by cloudy daylight and stormed several miles inland with tanks and infantry in the grand assault which Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”(AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, File)The Associated Press
COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France – Men who stormed Normandy's shore 70 years ago joined world leaders Friday in paying tribute to the 150,000 Allied troops who risked and lost their lives in the D-Day landings in Nazi-occupied France, in a day of international commemorations of history's biggest amphibious invasion.
They are honoring the troops and civilians who fell in mighty battles that helped bring Europe peace and unity -- just as bloodshed in Ukraine is posing new challenges to European security and threatening a new East-West divide.
As the sun rose Friday over a gusty Omaha Beach, flags flew at half-staff. A U.S. military band played Taps, while D-Day veterans from the 29th Infantry Division and serving soldiers stood at attention at exactly 6:30 a.m., the moment on June 6, 1944, when Allied troops first waded ashore.
"Twenty-nine, let's go!" they shouted, then downed shots of Calvados, Normandy apple brandy.
Hundreds of Normandy residents and other onlookers applauded the veterans, then began forming a human chain on the beach.
World leaders and dignitaries including President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II are converging on Normandy to honor the more than 150,000 American, British, Canadian and other Allied D-Day troops who risked and gave their lives to defeat Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.
The D-Day invasion was a turning point in World War II, cracking Hitler's western front as the Soviet troops made advances in the east. Overall at least 4,400 Allied troops were killed the first day, and many thousands more in the ensuing three-month Battle of Normandy, which brought the Allies to Paris to liberate the French capital from Nazi occupation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is also in attendance, invited by French President Francois Hollande in a gesture toward the 27 million Soviet citizens killed in World War II.
The D-Day commemorations are also offering a moment to try to reconcile Russia and Ukraine, and Russia and the West.
Putin is meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Deauville on the Normandy coast Friday morning, after meeting Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday night. Ukraine's president-elect is also coming to Normandy, and there is hope he and Putin may meet, too.
The encounters marked the first time the isolated Russian leader has met Western leaders since pro-European protests in Kiev pushed out Ukraine's Russian-leaning president in February and Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
Back in Normandy, several thousand veterans, family members and others gathered at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, with its 9,387 white marble tombstones on a bluff overlooking the site of the battle's bloodiest fighting at Omaha Beach, the emotional centerpiece of pilgrimages to honor the men killed in Normandy.
Soldiers of 173rd Airborne brigade, the ceremony organizers, served as ushers, wearing maroon berets. For the ceremony, small U.S. and French flags were placed in the ground at each grave.
Obama declared June 6 a national remembrance day.
In a declaration Friday, he said, "Seventy years later, we pay tribute to the service members who secured a beachhead on an unforgiving shore -- the patriots who, through their courage and sacrifice, changed the course of an entire century. Today, as we carry on the struggle for liberty and universal human rights, let us draw strength from a moment when free nations beat back the forces of oppression and gave new hope to the world."
In addition to the fallen troops, Allied bombardments killed an estimated 20,000 French civilians, and Hollande paid tribute to them Friday in Caen, which like many cities of Normandy was largely destroyed in the bombings.
France has only tentatively come to grips with the invasion's toll on civilians. The Allied bombings -- especially the deadly onslaught in Normandy during the invasion launched on D-Day -- were used as a propaganda tool by the Vichy government. But historians now believe that nearly as many French civilians died in Allied air raids as Britons during the German Blitz.
"No one knew that this day would be the first of one of the most ferocious battles of France. This battle was also a battle of civilians," Hollande said. He said Normandy's residents "helped the victory happen. They opened their doors to the liberators."
Ceremonies large and small are taking place across Normandy, ahead of an international summit on Friday in Ouistreham, a small port that was the site of a strategic battle on D-Day.
Today's conflicts are also on many minds at the D-Day commemorations.
Jeffrey McIllwain, professor at the San Diego State University school of public affairs, will lay a wreath on behalf of educators who have lost students to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- himself included.
He, like many veterans and world leaders here, is concerned about keeping the memory of D-Day alive as the number of survivors dwindles.
He brought 12 students to Normandy for a course on the lessons of D-Day.
"I make them promise to bring their grandchildren to serve as a bridge to the next generation," he said.
Do you need to track you income and expenses by location, department, event or project? Then using class tracking in QuickBooks® might be just what you're looking for.
By using the class tracking feature,
you can define these segments and track their associated account
balances on invoices, bills, and other documents. Businesses with different departments or locations can use classes to report account balances for each department.
Let's say for example, you have a restaurant with three locations, you could create a class for each: an Uptown, a Midtown, and a Downtown for tracking account balances by
location. For a farmer it might be useful to create a class for each enterprise, for example:
Corn, Hogs, and Wheat.
For any given accounting period, the restaurant
could create separate reports for each location and likewise, the farmer could
create separate reports for each enterprise.
To turn class tracking on go to
Edit>Preferences>Accounting>Company Preferences>Use class tracking
Now that you have turned on the class tracking, you will need to set up the classes you want to use.
To do that Go to Lists > Class List. In the bottom left corner of the screen, click on Class, then select New from the menu. You'll see this
Assign a class to every transaction: I highly recommendation is to assign a class to every transaction you post to QuickBooks®. Be consistent when entering the class information on your forms and
registers to ensure that this information is valid and useful. I also like to have a class called
"Operating" or “Overhead” for transactions that do not apply
to a specific location or project I am specifically tracking. Once the classes are setup and you start using them with all your transactions you will be able to run reports by the classes you've set up. This will enable you to get a better picture of what location or enterprise is more profitable than others. Happy Classifying... If you need further information email us for a consultation. email@example.com
If you get a tax bill from the IRS, don’t ignore it. A delay may cost you more in the long run. The longer you wait the more interest and penalties you may have to pay. Here are five tips to help you avoid those extra charges:
1. Pay electronically. Using an IRS electronic payment to pay your tax is quick, accurate and safe. You also get a record of your payment. Your options include:
2. Pay monthly if you can’t pay in full. If you can’t pay all at once, apply for a payment plan. Most people and some small businesses can apply using the IRS Online Payment Agreement Application on IRS.gov. You can also apply for a plan using Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. The best way to get the form is from the IRS.govwebsite. You can also call the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to get it by mail.
3. Check out a direct debit pay plan. A direct debit pay plan is the lower-cost hassle-free way to pay. The set-up fee is less than other plans – $52 instead of $120. With this type of plan, you pay each month automatically from your bank account. There are no reminder notices from IRS, no missed payments and no checks to write and mail. For more on these rules see the Payment Plans, Installment Agreements page on IRS.gov.
4. Consider an Offer in Compromise. An Offer in Compromise allows you to settle your tax debt with the IRS for less than the full amount. An OIC may be an option if you can’t pay your tax in full. It may also apply if full payment will create a financial hardship. To see if you may qualify and what a reasonable offer might be, use the IRS Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier Tool.
5. Pay by check or money order. Make your check or money order payable to the U.S. Treasury. Be sure to include:
Your name, address and daytime phone number
Your Social Security number or employer ID number if business tax
The tax period and related tax form, such as “2013 Form 1040”
Mail it to the address listed on your notice. Do not send cash in the mail.
As employers, we invest a lot in our staff, and in return, expect a lot from
them. From following company policies, procedures, to effectively completing
assignments and job duties; in order to be successful, it’s imperative for
every member of your team to comprehend exactly what’s required of them. If your employees don’t understand your expectations, how can they be
expected to achieve them? Make sure you’re not setting your team up for failure
with these two common blunders.
Having Unclear Expectations
When it comes to expectations, communication is key. Without a good
understanding of what you require of them, at some time or another, your
employees will not meet your expectations, which could lead to productivity,
profitability, and morale issues for you. Take time to make sure every member
of your team understands their job description, key duties, goals, and the role
they play in your company. If you have specific expectations for a project,
communicate those expectations clearly and concisely. By asking for their
feedback and questions you are able to ensure everyone’s on the same
Having Unrealistic Expectations
If the expectations set for your team are unrealistic; your employees could be
doomed from the get go. Making sure the goals, projects, and deadlines you
establish are realistic and attainable. A great place to start is by making
sure your individual and company goals meet the "SMART" goals
standard by being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. It’s
crucial to ensure your employees have the skills, experience, and tools they
need to complete the projects you assign.
For the most part people come to work with the desire to succeed. No one
likes to fail and your team will stand a better chance of flourishing at work
if you set these clear, realistic expectations from day one.