Internet of Things: What It Means to You

Are you always looking for the latest gadget, or do you prefer to wait and see what stands the test of time? Either way, you’re likely connected to the internet of things whether you know it or not. What exactly does this trendy terminology mean? Here’s an overview to bring you up to speed.

Everyone’s Getting Into It
In a nutshell, the internet of things describes a technological ecosystem of devices — think cars, heart monitors and kitchen appliances — that send and receive data via the internet. This trend is spreading to diverse and surprising industries, including agriculture, retail and transportation, as hardware gets stronger and cheaper.

Less About the Device, More About the Data
Don’t expect to browse the web, stream your favorite TV show or use instant messaging services on these gadgets like you can on your smartphone or computer. Reminder alerts, seamless firmware updates and similar features will appeal to consumers, but the real draw is for manufacturers and other companies. They will benefit from the enormous amount of data that can provide analytics and insight into how people are using the devices, as well as personal data like health-related metrics.

Exciting Pros, Worrisome Cons
Security and privacy are the primary concerns surfacing with the internet of things and for good reason. The extensive data flowing from so many devices poses a logistical issue for IT infrastructure, not to mention the vulnerability to hackers and other cyberattacks.

Staying current with new tech can feel like a full-time hobby, but for those looking to constantly improve and optimize their lives, each year brings further advancements. Just remember to embrace the internet of things and other changes with your eyes wide open

What’s the ROI from fitness trackers?

 

Are you one of the millions who wears a fitness tracker? This technology has become so mainstream, even high-fashion and well-known designers are joining the craze and creating custom devices and stylish accessories to personalize them. Is this just another fad or do wearables actually deliver?

Not a Silver Bullet
A fitness tracker may help you lose weight but not necessarily more than if you didn’t wear it, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The research centered around wearables and weight loss showed a surprising trend: Those logging their meals and exercise on a website lost more weight than the individuals wearing tracking devices.

Fitness-tracking devices monitor and report data, but they can backfire without a human layer to meaningfully interpret that information. Plus, our brains can justify overindulgence or otherwise counterproductive behavior when we’re able to review our progress in real time.

Consider the Right Metrics
Corporations and businesses have been integrating wearable technology stats into wellness programs to improve the health and productivity of the workforce. But wearables track a great deal of data, which can be troubling for those who value their security and privacy. And it’s important to consider the information in a careful context given that fitness technology can still include incomplete or faulty data.

Remember, wearable tech trackers are still in their infancy, but professional athletes and those involved with innovating this technology see a lot of hope on the horizon. And consumers can reap some of the benefits as these companies present personal health metrics in a more personalized, human-centric and psychologically optimized fashion.

 

  • June 27, 2017
  • ROIs

Refine the power of your business website

Why do people visit your business website? Generally speaking, potential customers want to know three things: What you’re offering, how much they can expect to pay, and whether the items are currently available.

Studies have shown that online visitors who peruse business websites tend to form an opinion of a company’s brand in about three seconds. A well-designed website may entice them to stick around for an additional 10 to 20 seconds. In other words, you don’t have much time to get and hold their attention.

Give visitors the information they want and you may make a sale. Annoy them, and they’ll look elsewhere. That’s why it’s crucial to consider the needs of busy customers when designing your website. Keeping those needs in mind, consider the following tips to create a website that generates business for your company.

  • Focus on the customer, not the company. The company’s history and the CEO’s credentials may kindle positive feelings in you, but potential customers may find such details irrelevant. Remember that visitors want answers. Provide those answers quickly or they’ll click elsewhere.
  • Keep it updated. Have you ever scanned to the bottom of a webpage and discovered that the latest revision happened three years ago? If the content on your website isn’t current, people may not trust the site’s information about products, services, and prices.
  • Make navigation easy. Each webpage should have the same “look and feel.” Don’t make visitors wonder how to get back to the home page or main menu. If potential customers get disoriented in your website’s confusing maze, they’ll exit.
  • Use text wisely and avoid data-hogging graphics. Most of the content on your site should be quick-to-load text. Don’t bombard visitors with flashing words or unnecessary distractions. A few strategically placed and relevant graphics can enhance an otherwise dull website. Remember: Short attention spans are the rule in cyberspace.
  • Proofread. A website that’s riddled with typos, poor grammar, spelling errors, and bad formatting will give potential customers an unfavorable impression of your company and its offerings. Visitors may wonder, “If this business doesn’t care about the quality of its website, how can I trust the products in its warehouse?”

Once your website is built, don’t ignore it. A well-maintained, user-friendly website can build loyal customers who keep coming back.

Major Tax Deadlines: June 2017

For June 2017

June 15
  • Second quarterly installment 2017 individual estimated tax due
  • Second quarterly installment 2017 estimated tax for calendar-year corporations due
  • Individual tax filing deadline for U.S. citizens living or serving in the military overseas

Note: Businesses are required to make federal tax deposits on dates determined by various factors that differ from business to business.

Payroll tax deposits: Employers generally must deposit Form 941 payroll taxes (income tax withheld from employees’ pay and both the employer’s and employees’ share of FICA taxes) on either a monthly or semiweekly deposit schedule. There are exceptions if you owe $100,000 or more on any day during a deposit period, if you owe $2,500 or less for the calendar quarter, or if your estimated annual liability is $1,000 or less.

  • Monthly depositors are required to deposit payroll taxes accumulated within a calendar month by the fifteenth of the following month.
  • Semiweekly depositors generally must deposit payroll taxes on Wednesdays or Fridays, depending on when wages are paid.

For more information on tax deadlines that apply to you or your business, contact our office.

Charitable giving: Don’t miss a deduction

Charitable giving: Don't miss a deduction

Although you can’t deduct the value of time and energy spent on charitable endeavors, you can often write off un-reimbursed expenses incurred while performing charitable duties. Here are some of the more commonly overlooked charitable deductions.

  • Travel expenses: Generally, you can deduct travel expenses on behalf of a charity if you did not gain significant personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation. If you travel by car, you can use a flat rate of 14 cents per mile. But at times, qualified charitable expenses can include air, rail, or bus transportation, and tracking of actual vehicle expense. It can even include qualified lodging and meals.
  • Electronic communications: Don’t forget to deduct specific charges for telephones, cell phones, fax machines, and computers incurred on behalf of a qualified charity. You may also write off costs for a separate landline in your home if used exclusively for charitable functions. The trick here is to clearly show the activity is related to the charity.
  • Conventions: When you’re a designated delegate for a charity, unreimbursed expenses at a convention, including reasonable amounts for meals and lodging, are deductible. But the accommodations can’t be overly lavish.
  • Entertainment expenses: You may be able to deduct reasonable costs of sending underprivileged youths to athletic events, movies, or dinners to help reduce juvenile delinquency. But expenses for your own ticket or tickets for your children are not deductible. If you host a fundraising dinner or party at your home, your out-of-pocket expenses for the event can be deductible.
  • Exchange students: Taxpayers who provide a foreign exchange student with a place to live may deduct up to $50 monthly for each month the child attends high school. But the student must reside in the taxpayer’s home under a written agreement and cannot be a relative.
  • Uniforms: Even the cost and upkeep of special uniforms needed to perform charitable services, such as Boy or Girl Scout uniforms for group leaders, are deductible.

This area of the tax code requires excellent recordkeeping. The IRS is quick to question large dollar amounts associated with charitable work, so keep your receipts and document your activities. Call us if have questions.

INCOME TAX BASICS FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

After you’ve graduated from college and taken up your first job only recently, income tax can give you a tough time. Young professionals find it troublesome to get the hang of income tax and the finances that come along.

Sometimes you can get this information from websites or social media profiles of renowned business consultants in Dubai, UAE and USA, however mostly you’re left to figure out your own way through income taxes.

It is for young professionals like you that we have created this comprehensive guide to income tax basics and explained everything… in Plain English. Read on.

What do the terms ‘Tax Year’ mean?

Tax Year is also known as Previous Year or Financial Year. It refers to the 12-month period that starts on April 1st and ends on March 31st of the next year. Tax Year starts and ends on these exact dates irrespective of when you start your job. Tax Year is the duration for which income taxes are withheld for earnings or the year for which income tax return is being filed.

What is the amount of income on which tax is paid?

Income tax has to be paid on all of your sources of income. Your total income is the sum total of all the following major income sources:

  • Income from Salary
  • Income from House Property
  • Income from Gain or Loss obtained from selling a capital asset
  • Income from Business
  • Income from saving bank accounts, fixed deposits, family pensions, cash gifts, etc.

The amount of tax to be paid also depends on your age and gender as there are different income slabs for men, women, and senior citizens.

What are the documents required for filing income tax?

Filing income tax can be a daunting tax for first-timers. We recommend taking the help of an experienced chartered accountant. However, you will need to provide/submit the following documents:

  • Form 16 – provided by the company you’re employed at. This gives the details of the deductions made from your salary marking that you have paid the income tax on your salary
  • Form 16A – given by the bank or a financial institution where you have invested in term deposits. This form contains the details of deductions made on your term deposits
  • Bank Statement Summary – a detailed preview of the transactions made by you all through the financial year
  • Property details – details of any property bought or sold by you in the previous financial year have to be clearly shown during the filing
  • Interest Certificate – this document can help you save on taxes by showing that you’re paying back your house loan through monthly installments

Income taxes may seem daunting but they are an essential duty of all earning citizens also obliged upon them by the law. The collected amount helps in further development of the nation, and in an indirect way, is invested back on the citizens themselves.

Author Bio: Brenda Cagara

Brenda has been writing for websites, articles and blogs for five years now. She has written for a variety of niches but her main focus is business, tax, and finance. Currently, She is working with Riz & Mona Consultancy which offers company formation and branch office Dubai services. Other services are products registration, visa processing, bank account opening, trade license, trade mark, local sponsors and many more.

Get more from your tax refund

Before spending your tax refund – you might consider investing your refund
or using it to increase your financial security.

While everyone’s needs are different, here are some optional uses of your refund that may work for you.

Contribute your refund to your employer’s 401(k) plan. If your employer offers a matching contribution, that’s an immediate return on your money in addition to deferring taxes on your contribution. And, funds in the plan grow free of tax until withdrawal.

Use your refund to pay down credit card balances – you could earn a double-digit return.

Consider investing your refund in your child’s education. Both Section 529 college savings plans and education savings accounts offer tax-advantaged ways to save for college costs.

Take full advantage of your IRA options for retirement savings. Both Traditional and Roth IRAs are great ways to save for retirement.

If you’ve maximized your retirement and education savings, and your credit cards are under control, put your refund in diversified investments that make sense for your age and financial situation.

Ask yourself if getting a big refund every year is a smart idea. Would you rather invest your money during the year instead of making an interest-free loan to the government? If so, consider filing an updated Form W-4 with your employer.

Taxes | Ins and outs of interest expenses

Can you deduct interest expenses on your 2016 tax return? It depends. Generally, the tax law requires you to allocate interest payments under a complex set of rules. The tax results vary, based on whether the expense is characterized as mortgage interest, investment interest, business interest, or personal interest.

  • Mortgage interest: This is interest paid on a mortgage used to secure a qualified home (technically called “qualified residence interest”). The home can be your principal residence or one other place, like a vacation home. Generally, your deduction is limited to interest paid on the first $1 million of acquisition debt and up to $100,000 of home equity debt.
  • Investment interest: When you borrow money to invest in say, securities or investment real estate, the interest is deductible up to the amount of your “net investment income” for the year. This includes most income items such as royalties, interest, and annuity payments.
  • Business interest: Interest paid for business purposes, including debts incurred by a self-employed individual, are fully deductible. Unlike the deductions for mortgage interest and investment interest, there are no annual limits. But you can’t write off any personal interest expenses the IRS deems is disguised as business interest.
  • Personal interest: Finally, interest that doesn’t fall into any of the three previous categories is treated as personal interest. In virtually all instances, personal interest is not deductible. This includes amounts paid on most credit card debt and car loans. There is, however, a limited exception for interest paid on up to $2,500 of student loan debt, phased out for upper-income taxpayers.

This is a basic overview on tax treatment of various forms of interest expense. It does not account for variations or special rules such as limits on passive activity interest. When in doubt, seek advice for your personal situation.

  • February 22, 2017
  • Taxes

CPA Helps Business Owner Reach Goals

 A Designer’s Vision: CPA Helps Business Owner Reach Goals

Janet began her interior design business three years ago with a promising idea. The designer planned to work three days a week and help families achieve the home of their dreams by offering them her experience and creativity.

But, as happens often with small business owners, the dream didn’t quite come true. Instead of working three days a week, she found herself balancing a 70 hour work week while looking after her three children.

At the end of the year, Janet met with her CPA to review her accounts and tax position. The good news: she was profitable and had cash in the bank. The bad news: she confided she was becoming more and more unhappy with the business. She even said she thought about selling it.

The CPA talked to her to help align her business and personal goals. Together, they discovered that:

  • Janet’s overriding motivation was to make enough money so that she could spend more time with her children
  • She had taken on all comers and felt obliged to squeeze in more and more clients
  • Her brand in the marketplace was premium, but her pricing did not reflect that
  • By running the numbers together, they found that 23% of Janet’s clients had contributed 82% of her profit the previous year.

Following the session, Janet agreed to work with her CPA redesigning the business to suit her lifestyle goals, by starting with the numbers and going from there.

Not surprisingly, revenue jumped significantly as a result of understanding the numbers. But more importantly, within 12 months, Janet had her life back, meaning she could be with her kids more.

If you’re interested in learning about how to improve your business’s performance, please call Harvey and Caldwell today in Overland Park, KS to schedule an appointment and have a chat.

Source: Panalitix

Being a Parent Can Lower Taxes

If you are a parent, you can lower your tax burden significantly. Eight different tax credits and deductions are out there that can help you dramatically reduce your tax burden:

  • Dependents

    In most instances, a child can be claimed as a dependent in the year they were born. Be sure as a parent to state if your family size has increased this year. If so, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent.

  • Child Tax Credit

    You could take this credit on your tax return for each of your children under age 17. If you do not benefit from the full amount of the Child Tax Credit, you could be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. The Additional Child Tax Credit is a refundable credit and could provide you with a refund even if you don’t owe tax.

  • Child and Dependent Care Credit

    You may be able to claim this credit if you pay someone to care for your child under age 13 while you’re busy at work. Be sure to note your child care expenses so we can claim this credit.

  • Earned Income Tax Credit

    The EITC is a benefit for those who work and have earned income from wages, self-employment, or farming. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund.

  • Adoption Credit

    You could also take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt a child.

  • Coverdell Education Savings Account

    This is a savings account used to pay qualified expenses at an eligible educational institution. Contributions are not deductible, but qualified distributions are usually tax-free.

  • Higher Education Credits

    Education tax credits can help with the cost of education. The American Opportunity and the Lifetime Learning Credit are education credits that reduce your federal income tax.

  • Student Loan Interest

    You may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income, so you do not need to itemize your deductions.

If you’re interested in learning about ways to save on your taxes, please call Harvey and Caldwell today in Overland Park, KS to schedule an appointment and have a chat.

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