October 2009  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 6 Issue 10   www.offassist.com
Very Scarey, Indeed

October is probably the most fun month for my business and family.

For the business side, with the last "do or die" tax deadlines of September 15 and October 15 floating by, we get a lot of inquiries. I love it because I always get a client or two that is doing something I've never thought of before. I love learning about what they are doing, how and why they're doing it, and helping them get back on track with their financial goals.

For the personal side, two (usually 3) fun things happen in October. The first is my oldest, Jamie, has his birthday. This year, he's turning nine. Wow, next year we hit double digits. Happy Birthday, Jamie! (And yes, I reserve the right to do this each year and continue to embarrass you...it's my job).

This is also time for Halloween! Pumpkins and ghouls and goblins, oh my! This is our favorite family holiday and it shows. Tom recently went up in the attic and realized that we have nearly double the amount of Halloween decorations than any other. When I'm not working on scary client work (and some of you folks can be scary - you know it's true!), we're working on decorating the yard and figuring out where to hide the fog machine this year. For those of you celebrating this year, have a safe one!

Sadly, it doesn't appear that Maker Faire is coming to Austin this year. This has been a huge blow in the Beauchamp family household. What WILL we do instead? It's become a tradition. I don't think we can let them not come. Hmmm.... anyone with ideas of something utterly geeky and kid-friendly we can do instead?

In this issue...

Home Business Tax Deduction - If You Run A Small Business
by Nicky Pilkington

Everyone loves to work from home and have the benefits of home business tax advantage. Let us now take a peek into the world of home business tax and what is in store for us.

Entrepreneurs should avail this facility if they are operating from the environs of home. These deductions include:

1. Home Office: you can enjoy the deductions if you are operating from the house and the house is used for business purposes.

2. Car: you can get the car as a benefit for your business purpose, including the maintenance and mileage. This works out a lot and can save a lot of money.

3. Personal assets: if you are using your personal assts for business, then you can lay your hands on the tax deductions, like for example computers and furniture.

4. Business Journeys: air tickets, hotels, internal transportation, shipping and even tipping are tax deductible, if used for business purposes. For meals, the government allows deductions up to 50% only.

5. Gifts and Entertainment: now that you are in business, you need to keep your customers and clients happy and what better way than to gift them. But you get a relief up to only 50%.

6. Retirement: The payments you make when saving for your retirement are deductible from your personal income tax. Thus it follows that the dollars you spend for your retirement plan grow tax free in your business until you retire.

7. Family Connections: bringing your children as employees helps you in saving some money as the expenses payable towards them are deductible. Only kids above the age of 8 can be hired.

8. Social Security: As a self-employed worker, you have to pay double the social security contribution. Fortunately, half of this contribution is tax deductible in the 1040 form.

These are only a partial list of what is available to you, for a complete list, log onto the government website and check for yourself.

Article source: www.PopularArticles.com

QuickBooks Tip
Keeping Track of Business Expenses

Q: I'm trying to keep track of business expenses for tax purposes related to my new consulting business. I am trying to input all the expenses I have already paid (laptop, software, paper, printer, postage, legal paperwork, etc.) to have QB keep track of it all. I have already paid for these expenses using an account that is not related to my business bank account (just set up my business bank account, so it wasn't even in existence when I paid for these earlier expenses). When I try to input all these items into QB, it insists that I need pay them - but they've already been paid. How do I input them just for record keeping purposes only? ?

A: Create a journal entry. Debit all of your expenses into the appropriate expense category. Then credit an equity account such as "Owner Contributions" for the entire amount.

You can also write yourself a check and code that to the expense account as well. Most of the time when making an investment into your business with personal funds, you'll want to do a journal entry.

Note: Check with your accounting professional before doing this to be sure that's how they'd like it done. YMMV!
Q: Where do vampires keep their money?

A: The blood bank!!!
Tax Deadlines
October 15
- U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040 final due date

- U.S. Partnership Return of Income, Form 1065 final due date

- U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, Form 1041 final due date

- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for September issued payroll

October 20
- State Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly and quarterly filers

October 30
- Employer's Quarterly Payroll Tax Report(s) Form 941 and TWC (Texas Workforce Commission)

November 13
- Texas Franchise Tax return final due date (if extension filed 5/15)

- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for October issued payroll

November 20
- State Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filers
Tech Talk With Tom...
Windows 7
In case you have been under a rock for the last few years, you have probably heard that Windows Vista was pretty much a flop. While I currently run (and like) Windows Vista, a lot of people are waiting for Windows 7. Well, guess what: the wait is almost over! As of October 22, 2009 Windows 7 will be hitting the store shelves and a lot of you will probably be upgrading to it right away.

Of course, one of the problems with upgrading right away is that you have to wait for tips on using it to filter on down. But who really wants to wait? What is the purpose of being an early adopter if you can't jump right in and start using Windows 7 like...well...Windows 7.

For those that do not want to wait, here are a few tips and tricks that will help you make the most of Windows 7 straight out of the box:

Docking Windows: In Windows 7 you can "dock" a window to the left or right half of the screen by dragging it to where you want it to stay. This can also be accomplished with keyboard shortcuts:
  • Win Key + Left/Right Arrow = Dock right or left
  • Win Key + Up/Down Arrow = Maximizes and restore/minimize
  • Win Key + Shift + Up/Down Arrow = Maximizes/restores vertical size
Clean off your work area: If you are like me, you probably keep a lot of windows open. But sometimes you just need a clean slate. Win Key + Home will minimize all windows except the one you are working on. Win Key + Home again will restore you desktop to all of its cluttered glory.

Record your actions: Ever get tired of trying to explain exactly what happened to cause some random error on your computer? Wish there was a way you could just easily take a video of what you did so you could sent it to the tech? Now you can, and it is built right into Windows 7! Psr.exe will save everything as a Zipped HTML slide show.

One more time: Ever want to easily open another instance of a program you already have open? Like maybe you want to start another document in Word? To do this quickly and easily in Windows 7, you can either Shift-Click on the taskbar icon or click the taskbar icon with the middle mouse button.

Looking at the taskbar: Win Key + T is another useful shortcut. This lets you browse through the taskbar using the arrow keys. You can then hit Enter to launch the application or Esc to cancel.

Side Dock the Taskbar: If you have a widescreen monitor you have a lot more horizontal screen real-estate then vertical. So why not make the most of what you have? Just hold the left mouse button while dragging the taskbar to the side of the screen. Once there, release the button. It takes some getting used to, but this is great for both widescreen desktop monitors and laptop screens.

Well, that is it for now. I'll be putting these tips to the test come October 22. Next month we'll look a little more in depth into Windows 7. We'll take a look at the installation process as well as re-installing all of your favorite programs.

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.
Spotlight On...
Around the Bay - Not Only a VA, but an Adventurer Too

Sally Kuhlman, owner of Virtual Simplicity, has begun a new and exciting blog called Sally Around the Bay.

An artful play on words ('sally' can also mean an excursion or trip, usually off the main course), her blog is about going out on trips and excursions around the California Bay Area.

Sally states that her blog is intended more for the ideal reader than the ideal client; someone who lives in the Bay Area and is looking for something new and interesting to do, someone who is going to be visiting the Bay Area and is looking for a fun place to visit, or someone who just loves the Bay Area in general.

To learn more about Sally, you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook page.
Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

If you would like to be featured in the OffAssist spotlight column, and have not been featured in the past twelve months, contact Candy@OffAssist.com and we'll see if we can put you in the limelight.

Have an article you'd like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the Tech Tip?

Email candy@offassist.com.

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