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Archive for March, 2008

PostHeaderIcon So…. now what?


It’s after midnight Eastern time – April 1, 2008. That means that I am no longer the President of IVAA. Wow. After 365 366 days, I am “free”. Wow. So…. now what? My desk looks like a tornado hit it, trying to get everything done and over for the incoming President. I have smatterings of stuff to be scanned and filed. Emails from CPAs needing clarifications. Emails from clients. Emails from friends wondering if I’m dead.

I’m not even sure where to start.

I’ll figure it out in the morning.

I’m so grateful for my family and my clients, who stood by me and supported me while I did this. Yes, there were times that both sets were asked for patience but I think for the most part I juggled it pretty well. No one seemed too worse for the wear (although my kids were excited when I told them I’d have more time now).

I am also grateful for the wonderful people that work with me here at OffAssist. I have amazing team members. Without them, I could have never done this.

BUT… the point of my post was not this meandering stuff… I just wanted to say that I have had one of the most interesting, profound and important experiences of my life. I have met amazing people, served an absolutely extraordinary membership and had a grand time.

While I’m here, I think I’ll brag a bit. Under my tenure, IVAA increased membership by over 32%, increased the dues for the first time in like 10 years (without people having a conniption fit), completely reworked the website into an up-to-date sharp looking piece of useful and informative marketing, and so many other things. I didn’t do them alone, I had an amazing board, and I am so proud for everything we have accomplished.

I will continue to volunteer with IVAA. I believe in that organization and I believe in the VA industry.

What a great year.

Now, I’m ready for a break 🙂

.

PostHeaderIcon Photoshop for Free?!

Yes, free.

Of course, it’s not the full version of Photoshop, or even the light version, Elements.

With online image editors becoming more popular, Adobe has decided to add the not inconsiderable weight of their brand name to the game with last week’s beta release of Photoshop Express. Express is designed for use by the casual photo manipulator; people who just want to clean up a picture before posting it on the web or emailing to friends. There will, of course, be upsell opportunities, mostly to Adobe’s Elements–lighter than Photoshop, more significant than Express.

Check out the full skinny at Wired.com, or head on over to the Adobe Express site and see for yourself.

PostHeaderIcon Housing Crisis GOOD for Landlords?

Okay, I admit it. I am woefully ignorant when it comes to the “mortgage crisis,” which is why I didn’t comment when Candy posted about it last week. I have my house, I’ve been paying for it for years, and will continue to do so.

I do know enough about the market to know that I can’t afford to move any time soon. We bought in the tail end of the housing boom in Austin in 2000. Now our home is worth less than we paid for it. This is thanks to both the housing slump and the urban sprawl that has grown up around our once semi-rural suburban neighborhood.

Landlords, on the other hand, seem to be doing pretty well. Check out the details at Reuters. It is a combination of being able to acquire new properties for reduced prices and an increased demand. Even those who lose their own home need a place to live, and many have to rent. With an increase in both supply and demand, it’s a pretty good time to be a landlord.

PostHeaderIcon Where’s my Pre-Bate?

Well, the IRS says it will be on its way beginning May 2nd–that’s when the first of the ‘economic stimulus’ (can you tell what I think of this idea?) payments are scheduled to go out the taxpaying public.

For more details on pre-bate schedules and amounts, check out the fast & dirty version on accountingweb. For that level of excruciating detail only the government can achieve, check out the IRS page on the 2008 economic stimulus payments.

If you just want to know when to expect your check, you can find the IRS online calculator here.

PostHeaderIcon Where’s the Money Coming From?

The IRS spent $42 million mailing out letters telling people about this year’s economic stimulus payments (the so-called “pre-bates”) they’ll be sending out later this year.

So, in addition to sending out all kinds of bank later this year that this country doesn’t have and with the government operating so far in the red that they can’t remember what black ink on the books looked like, they spent 42 million EXTRA dollars to mail people letters that are basically just to remind them to file taxes.

And that doesn’t even touch on the cost of the next big packet mailing. Or the cost of actually mailing physical checks to taxpayers throughout the nation. More details about how I’m the only one outraged at how the IRS wastes money here.

In all fairness to the IRS, my husband, who knows all about the primary problems in Florida and Michigan, had no idea that the IRS was giving away money later this year until I mentioned it last night. But then, he doesn’t work for Candy… lol.

PostHeaderIcon Firefox 3 – Coming Soon!

At long last…

There has been beta buzz and nifty new features touted, but soon, in 2-3 months, we’ll be able to see the new Firefox 3 for ourselves. A spokesperson for Mozilla told Reuters last week that they hope to roll it out to the public in June of this year.

Check out the full article for more info!

PostHeaderIcon The mortgage crisis…

A bookkeeping and accounting nerds email list group I am a part of was recently discussing the mortgage crisis and, well… I have some pretty strong opinions on the subject… so let me ask any readers here… and feel free to comment… who do you think, either in whole or in part, is responsible for the mortgage and lender crisis the US is starting to see?
The individual homebuyer for getting in over their head?

The lenders for approving those for “too much” house?

The real estate agents for pushing too hard?

The title companies for closing so quickly?

The closing agent for not making sure they understand what they are signing?

Who else is “responsible”? Is no one responsible?

Hmmm….

Comments?

PostHeaderIcon US SBA Advocacy Office Announces 2008 Big Ten

The US Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy has announced their top ten issues to work on for 2008, as part of r3 initiative. The r3 initiative takes nominations from small businesses and puts together a top ten list of issues to act on during the year to help small businesses. r3 stands for Regulatory Review and Reform.

The SBA forwards the list to the agencies in charge of each issue, posts the list on their website, and posts updates to the issues twice a year.

This is not the same as the IRS initiative we mentioned back in August. For more details, check out the accoutingweb article, or go straight to the list on the SBA website.

The one most interesting to OffAssist is the request for a standardized home office deduction. I know that I don’t claim the home office deduction because the rules are draconian and the tax complications if we ever sell our house make it more trouble than it is worth. A simpler system would be great!

PostHeaderIcon Just one of the reasons why…

It’s no secret to any of my clients or colleagues that my husband and I work together from our home offices and we have 2 kids. (Both will be in school this Fall – woohoo!). I will be the first to admit that I haven’t been able to do as much as I have wanted to as OffAssist explodes with growth and I’ve been at the helm of IVAA, but still… I have and do just randomly take the kid not in school somewhere in the middle of the day, or after we pick up the oldest, or “yes, yes, mommy CAN set up the pool outside at 2pm on a Tuesday”. Heck, last year we decided at 8pm at night to spend the day at Sea World the next day. WHO can do that?!?! Yeah, I had to stay up late the next day to catch up, but ya know? It didn’t matter. I made sure I could take the time off and we did it.

Anyway… these videos are showing up on YouTube, it’s someone advertising a travel thing or something, whatever… but I liked this one:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNOcV5y0kxU]

PostHeaderIcon Nonconformists Not Wanted

Yep, if you can’t conform to the so-called norm, Microsoft can’t handle you. Say, for example, if you happen to be that most unusual of days, February 29th.

February 29th is an odd day, literally, and many MS products had trouble handling it. Microsoft appears to be aware of the problem and yet hesitant to fix it, according to a recent accountingweb article.

Sources say MS even tried to incorporate the leap year bug into their OOXML file standard.

Plus: The software giant now has almost 4 full years before it’s a problem again.

Minus: The software problem with leap day has existed for over 20 years, so who knows how long it will take to fix?