Tuesday, June 30, 2009


SBA ARC Loan Program

If you are having trouble with expenses during these economic times, the SBA has a new loan program that could help.

SBA’s America’s Recovery Capital Loan Program can provide up to $35,000 in short-term relief for viable small businesses facing immediate financial hardship to help ride out the current, uncertain economic times and return to profitability.

Each small business is limited to one ARC loan. You will need to contact your bank to see if they are participating in the program.

ARC loans will be offered by some SBA lenders for as long as funding is available or until September 30, 2010, whichever comes first.

Here is a link to the SBA website.



(Wall Street Journal) -- The Wall Street Journal reports that "Senate leaders are considering new federal taxes on soda and other sugary drinks to help pay for an overhaul of the nation's health-care system." The paper notes that "the taxes would pay for only a fraction of the cost to expand health-insurance coverage to all Americans and would face strong opposition from the beverage industry. They also could spark a backlash from consumers who would have to pay several cents more for a soft drink."

According to the article, a Washington-based watchdog group "plans to propose a federal excise tax on soda, certain fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and ready-to-drink teas. ... Excise taxes are levied on goods and manufacturers typically pass them on to consumers."

See the story at <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124208505896608647.html>


Just in case you missed it, Senator Johanns of Nebraska has requested that I sit on a panel to inform him of small business challenges as it relates to health care reform. I am gathering information for my presentation. I welcome any ideas that you have on this issue. If you could email me your thoughts, I would certainly appreciate it. lkopsa@kopsaotte.com

Larry Kopsa

Monday, June 29, 2009


"When one door closes, another opens.
But we often look so regretfully upon
the closed door that we don't see
the one that has opened for us."

~Helen Keller

Friday, June 26, 2009


Larry, I've been looking for some salon benchmarks. Do you have any information that you could pass along to me?


Ruth, benchmarks vary depending on different things such as your location. But, here are some numbers from the Salon Today Top 200 that may be of help to you.

Percentage of Total Salon Expenses

  • Labor 47%
  • Supplies 11%
  • Profit 7%
  • Taxes 5%
  • Owner Comp 4%
  • Ad/Mkt 3%
  • Benefits 2%
  • Insurance 2%
  • Utilities 2%
  • Prof Svs 2%
  • Comm 1%
  • Other 6%
Services Breakdown Percentage of $

  • Color 32%
  • Cutting 31%
  • Retail 16%
  • Skin 12%
  • Nails 6%
  • Chemical 3%
Average stylist - $47,640


Can you give me any advice? My divorce decree says that I can claim my children even though they live with my ex. Now my ex says she is going to claim the children and that I should suck rocks. What can I do?


Alan, make sure the rocks are clean. There is bad news on claiming dependency exemptions. If your ex will not sign the Form 8332 to waive her right to the exemption you are out of luck.

For divorces before July 3, 2008, a signed divorce decree awarding the exemption to the noncustodial parent was OK in lieu of the 8332. But now, the Service says that it will reject signed decrees that have conditions, such as requiring payment of a settlement, that must be satisfied before the noncustodial parent gets the break.

So even if you have documentation showing the condition of the divorce decree, you cannot claim the children.

The only thing that you can do is discuss with your attorney to determine if it is worth the effort to take her back to court to honor the contract. In reality, probably not worth the cost.

Good Luck.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Thursday, June 25, 2009


“The world stands aside
to let anyone pass who knows
where he is going.”

David Starr Jordan


My daughter has a summer job. At the end of the year she never owes any tax but has to file a return to get her money back. Is there anything that we can do to avoid her having to file?


Your daughter can escape federal income tax withholding from her paychecks if she did not owe any tax last year and does not expect to owe any this year.

Students who can be claimed as dependents can avoid income tax withholding if their unearned income (interest) is $300 or less and their total income won’t exceed $5,700. If their investment income is more than $300, total income cannot top $950.

As a reminder, hiring your children can save tax as well. No Social Security tax is due when sole proprietors or husband-wife partnerships hire their under-age-18 kids. In addition, federal unemployment tax isn’t owed on the kids’ pay until they reach 21. You still need to do a W-2 for the child.

Larry Kopsa CPA


I heard that there was a new program that would give me some money if I got rid of my old car. How does that work?


Wes, I presume that you are talking about what has been called the "Cash For Clunkers" program. The cash for clunkers program will officially start in late July, after the feds issue regulations. Once it opens, if you trade in a car with an EPA rating of 18 miles per gallon or less, you will receive a $3,500 credit at the dealer to buy or lease a car rated at 22 mpg or more. The credit is in lieu of any trade-in.

You will get $4,500 if the replacement gets at least 10 mpg more than your old vehicle. For light trucks and sport utility vehicles, the fuel efficiency rules are significantly more lenient. To qualify, your trade-in must be a 1984 or newer model that’s in drivable condition that you have owned and insured for at least a year.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


You recently did a post about hiring a child for summer work. My son works and my parents want to make a gift to my son. I think I remember you saying that there is a way to do this that would give us some tax advantage?


Here’s an idea. I don't know how much your parents are talking about giving your son but you could consider making a contribution to a Roth IRA for him this year. The annual payin limit is $5,000, but not more than the child’s earnings. If your parents are very generous they must realize that the $5,000 counts toward the $13,000 annual gift exclusion ($26,000 for couples).

The payin can help provide a nice nest egg for the child. For example, a 16-year-old with $5,000 in a Roth IRA that earns 7% each year will have $137,000 at age 65 and $193,000 at age 70. If the child works for a few summers and the contributions are made each year, the future balance in the Roth account will be much larger.

Roth IRAs are tax favored, too. All withdrawals after 59½ are tax free. And since contributions, but not earnings, can be pulled out tax free at any time, the child can withdraw them in the future to help when buying a first home.

Larry Kopsa CPA


I recall that you could use a tax-free fringe benefit for commuting and parking. Is this still valid?


Veronica, yes, the fringe benefit for transportation expenses under Sec. 132 still exists. For 2009, the maximum monthly amount an employee may receive on a tax-exempt basis is $120 for January and February, and $230 for March through December for qualified commuting expenses; and $230 for parking fees. These amounts are adjusted for inflation on an annual basis.

Tip: For this purpose, qualified "commuting expenses" refers to the value of employer-provided transit passes and/or van pooling.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


(U.S. Chamber Magazine) -- USChamberMagazine.com reports that "small businesses are facing a new federal mandate of 'unprecedented scope' if a bill requiring employers to provide annual paid sick leave passes Congress and is signed into law, according to a former administration official testifying on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Victoria Lipnic, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards in the Bush administration, says the bill, known as the Healthy Families Act, would hit small companies at a 'time of severe economic distress when businesses are doing everything they can to preserve jobs.'

Lipnic pointed to a February 2009 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that 83% of workers in the private sector have access to some form of illness leave."

According to the story, the bill would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to 7 days of annual paid sick leave for full-time and part-time workers to take care of themselves, family members, or anyone else whose close association with the employees is the equivalent of a family relationship. Leave would also be available for reasons related to domestic violence. Workers would earn 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours per year.

See more at <http://www.uschambermagazine.com/content/090615z.htm>

Monday, June 22, 2009


I am honored that Senator Johanns of Nebraska has requested that I sit on a panel to inform him of small business challenges as it relates to health care reform. I am gathering information for my presentation. I welcome any ideas that you have on this issue. If you could email me your thoughts, I would certainly appreciate it. lkopsa@kopsaotte.com

Larry Kopsa

Friday, June 19, 2009


I received the following questions regarding paying family members for cleaning services. I thought you might be interested in the questions and responses.

Larry, I'd like to pay my mother to clean my salon? She doesn't have to file a tax return and I'd like to know how much I could pay her without making it so she has to file. And what about this 1099 business? Thanks in advance for the info.


Marla, if you pay your mother under $600 you are not required to give her a 1099. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if your mother’s net income is over $400 she is required to file a tax return. She may not have any federal income tax but she would have social security tax on the $600 less the expenses.

If you think about it, assuming you paid her $1,000 and it saved you $333 but at the same time it cost her $150, as a family you’d be saving $183. Maybe what you should do is go ahead and pay her the $1,000 and then make a gift to her for her taxes. You will still be ahead of the game.

I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you need anything else.

Larry Kopsa, CPA


Larry, I'm thinking about hiring my Aunt to clean my salon. She doesn't have a job right now but does receive a social security check. I'd like to pay her $1,500 for the year. My question is - would this be deductible?


Patty, I hope this finds you well. Your question was that you would like to pay your Aunt $1,500 for cleaning the salon. I have some good news and bad news. First the good news: yes, you are able to deduct the $1,500 as a business deduction. Depending on your level of income, this would save you not only federal and state income but also social security tax. I normally estimate this to be at a 33% tax rate so the $1,500 you are paying her would save you $500 in taxes.

The second piece of good news is that you most likely could treat this individual as an independent contractor. As such, you would not need to give her a W-2 Form. Since you are paying her over $600, you would have to give her a 1099 Form.

Now for the bad news: this $1,500 would be considered income to your Aunt. Since this is her only source of income besides probably social security, she would not have to pay federal or state income tax but she would be required to file a tax return and pay social security tax. If she had no expenses to offset this $1,500, most likely this would cost her 15% or $225. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Larry Kopsa, CPA

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Heart Attack Slide Show - Worth 45 Seconds of Your LIFE api_user_11797_navdeep.guleria Heart Attack Slide Show - Worth 45 Seconds of Your LIFE

Click on the top arrow, or the yellow screen to advance to the next page.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Being a numbers person, this caught my attention. On July 8, 2009, at five minutes and six seconds after 4 AM, the time and date will be 04:05:06 07/08/09.

This will never happen again !

Well, that particular sequence won’t, but the six figures in order come into play on November twelfth 2013 when at 9 minutes and ten seconds after 8 a.m., it will be 08:09:10 11/12/13.

Oh, wait! On the ninth of August in 2010, when the time and date will be 05:06:07 08/09/10 it happens again.

And don’t forget when it is 06:07:08 09/10/11 on the tenth of September in 2011 it will also occur.

Well, never mind—it happens every so often. So, big deal. But it’s interesting.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


If you're thinking of hiring an ex-con, a welfare recipient or a vietnam vet, let us know. You may qualify for a large tax credit.

Check out the details at Work Opportunity Credit on the IRS Website.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Friday, June 12, 2009


I wonder what you would do if this was your personal debt clock or a debt clock for your business? Just how long can this go on before people realize that the country will not be able to pay for all of this?

Both the conservative and liberal economists are in agreement that we are creating some very serious problems for our future. See my earlier posting from Fortune magazine.



Larry, I hope that you can help me. I divorced a few years ago and although my two children live with their mother, the divorce decree said that I could claim the children every other year. My accountant extended my 2008 return because my ex told me that she and her new husband were going to claim this year. I have a refund coming and don't understand why I just can't file.


Alex, You might just be out of luck. Unless your ex signs a form 8332, which you attach to your return, by tax law you are not allowed to claim your children. Should you just go ahead and file the return and should your ex claim the children, this most likely would be caught by the IRS and you would receive a notice.

In actuality, by not following the divorce decree, your ex has committed a contract violation. The IRS does not care about that. You could take your ex to court to force her to honor the contract. That may not be a door that you want to open. Plus, you would most likely incur attorney fees.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Normally Paul Krugman, the liberal pundit and Nobel laureate in economics, and Paul Ryan, a conservative Republican congressman from Wisconsin, share little in common except their first names and a scorching passion for views they champion from opposite political poles. So when the two combatants agree on a fundamental threat to the U.S. economy, Americans should heed this alarm as the real thing.

See the entire article from Fortune magazine at CNNMoney.com/Fortune.


Just a reminder that I'll be in Vegas at the IBS Workshop on Saturday and Sunday, June 13th & 14th.

If you would like to meet with me while I'm in Las Vegas, please email ahansen@kopsaotte.com, or call 800.975.4829 and we'll set up a time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Dear Larry,

I am a spa owner with 15 employees. We are planning a large company family picnic in July and I would like to give an achievement award to my top massage therapist. She has been with me for four years and really deserves it. I would like to know if it is better to give her cash, or an actual gift. If possible, I don't want her to have to pay taxes on it. I would appreciate any information you can give me.


Whitney, the best information I can give you on this subject is on our website. Click on Achievement Awards to learn about giving and receiving employee awards.

It is a pleasure serving you!

Larry Kopsa CPA

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Larry, I've been cleaning house and was wondering how long I need to keep all of my old tax papers.


Barbara, here's a link to our Record Retention Guide on our website. It shows you how long to keep your records for tax purposes. I hope this helps.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Monday, June 8, 2009


(MSN.com) -- In an article appearing on MSN's "Business on Main," author Joanna L. Krotz writes that there are several steps businesses can take in response to the H1N1 — or swine flu — strain, which could re-emerge as a serious health threat later this year. Krotz writes that there are steps your business or organization can take "to help immunize your business, allay customer fears and safeguard staff from the threat of a health scare." Some of the steps include: creating a few backup plans to safeguard business operations; keeping the workplace clean; and letting customers and employees know you’re ahead of the curve. See the complete list at <http://businessonmain.msn.com/knowledgeexchange/articles/managingpeople.aspx?cp-documentid=19854470&source=msnmoney>

Friday, June 5, 2009


Expect to see fewer postings on our blog next week. Starting this Sunday, I'll be sleeping outside with the bears and my 12 year-old son at Boy Scout Camp.

I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with Ryan, with the exception of the mosquitos and the Polar Bear Swim.

If you have any questions while I'm out enjoying nature, please email me at lkopsa@kopsaotte.com, or call 800.975.4829.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Hi Larry, I read your blog (regarding the 1099-MISC) and have a related question I hope you can help me with.

I received a 1099-MISC for about $5000 in "self-employment" compensation last year. Only about half of this amount is actually my income, the rest I paid out to 6 subcontractors. However, only one of them received greater than $600 from me so, strictly speaking, I am only required to send THIS person his own 1099-MISC.

I am considering sending the others--who earned less than $600--each a 1099-MISC anyway. Since I want to share my tax burden with my sub-contractors, would it behoove me to send out 1099s to each of them anyway (even though I'm not required to)--just so it's documented as non-employee compensation? Or is this just a waste of time & money? I appreciate any advice you have.


David, regarding your situation, having good records should help you to avoid any problems. As far as a 1099 is concerned, you really only need to give a 1099 to the individual you paid over $600. The other people you pay less than $600 to do not need a 1099. Just by sending them a 1099 does not document they are a non-employee.

If you need to obtain a Form 1099, you can download a copy from the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/, in the upper right hand corner there is a search tab.

I do need to mention that 1099s should have been issued to the individual by the end of January and a 1099 with a copy of the 1098 going to the IRS prior to the end of February. If you do get a notice from the IRS that your 1099s are late, I would argue with them that there should be no penalty for late filing. You won’t know about that problem for another six to nine months, but let me know if you do have a problem and I can walk you through it.

I did mention a 1098. A 1098 is really a cover form showing you only had one 1099. The 1098 can also be downloaded from the IRS website. Check out the forms, they are not as confusing as it sounds.

It is a pleasure serving you.

Larry Kopsa

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The May 2009 issue of Nails Magazine published an article called, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. The article describes how not to get caught off guard by a planned or sudden staff absence.

Along with this article, Nails Magazine published my Coping Strategies, which offer up some winning strategies I have seen used to avert disaster in salons.

The following is an overview:

Prepare in Advance:

  • Encourage staff members to have contact with all clients to create familiarity.

  • When staff members are on vacation, urge clients to have service provided by another technician. This allows them to gain client trust.

  • Introduce new staff members to clients to establish a comfortable rapport.

  • Ensure clients know that the entire team is well-trained.

  • Put systems into place to inform the replacement of the nuances of the client. Salon software can accommodate this. Just got married; just went through a divorce; enjoys running; etc., can be noted to give the replacement some insight into making the client feel more comfortable.

When Disaster Strikes:

  • Involve the absent technician, if possible, when communicating with clients. This can help comfort the client that all is well and communicate that the replacement is capable of helping.

  • Talk openly with the staff to reduce the chance of surprises.

  • Let the staff members know the steps being taken and how it will impact them personally.

  • Protect the absent technician's privacy by not disseminating personal details.

Monday, June 1, 2009


All this talk about "stimulus packages" and "bailouts"...A billion dollars...A hundred billion dollars...Eight hundred billion dollars...One TRILLION dollars...What does that look like? I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I'd take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.

We'll start with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slighty fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go.

A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2" thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for a week or two of shamefully decadent fun.

Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet...

And $1 BILLION dollars... now we're really getting somewhere...

Next we'll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we've been hearing about so much. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it's a million million. It's a thousand billion. It's a one followed by 12 zeros.
You ready for this?
It's pretty surprising.

... I give you $1 trillion dollars...

(And notice those pallets are double stacked.)So the next time you hear someone toss around the phrase "trillion dollars"... that's what they're talking about.