Monday, August 31, 2009


Larry, Could you give me information on SIMPLE retirement plans for my employees.


Inus, here is the information on SIMPLE plans that you requested.

“SIMPLE” retirement plans: This is the acronym for “savings incentive match plan for employees.” This type of plan is targeted at businesses with 100 or fewer employees, and is designed to offer greater income deferral opportunities than individual retirement accounts (IRAs), with fewer restrictions and administrative requirements than traditional 401 pension or profit-sharing plans.

Under a SIMPLE plan, any employee with compensation of at least $5,000 must be permitted to enter a “qualified salary reduction arrangement.” Under this arrangement, an employee can elect to have a percentage of compensation not in excess of $11,500 (in 2009) set aside in an IRA, instead of receiving it in cash. This maximum is indexed for inflation each year.

Amounts taken out of the employee's salary and contributed to a SIMPLE IRA are not taxed to the employee until withdrawn from the SIMPLE IRA. Early withdrawals may be subject to a 10% penalty (25%, if the withdrawal is made within the first two years).

Under a qualified salary reduction arrangement, the employer must make “matching” contributions to the SIMPLE IRA. That is, the employer must make contributions to an employee's SIMPLE IRA in the same amount as the employer contributed under the employee's salary reduction election, up to 3% of the employee's compensation. For example, if an employee with compensation of $50,000 elects to have 10% of his pay contributed to the plan ($5,000), the employer must contribute an additional $1,500 (3% of $50,000). For these purposes, an employee's compensation is the amount reported on his Form W-2, plus the amount of elective deferrals (e.g., the amount of the salary reduction contributed to the SIMPLE IRA). But the matching contribution for the year cannot exceed $11,500 in 2009. This amount is indexed for inflation each year.

If an employer wishes to contribute less than 3%, he can give employees proper notice and drop the contribution to as low as 1% of compensation, as long as this isn't done for more than two years out of the five-year period ending with the year of reduced contributions.

Alternatively, instead of making “matching” employee contributions, the employer can simply contribute a flat 2% of “compensation” (limited to $245,000 for 2009, and as adjusted for inflation in following years), for every employee eligible to participate in the plan, whether the employee elects to reduce his salary or not. Special notice must be given to employees if the employer wishes to take this approach.

SIMPLE plans have the advantages of simplified reporting requirements and the absence of the qualification rules prohibiting the plan from discriminating against lower-level employees. Some employers consider the matching contribution requirements a disadvantage. Additionally, to be eligible to adopt a SIMPLE plan, an employer must not contribute to, or accrue benefits under, any qualified retirement plan for services provided during the year (or in any year after the qualified salary reduction arrangement takes effect.

As I mentioned, this may by a good time to reassess the retirement planning approach for your business. Please call if you wish to discuss this topic further.

It is a pleasure serving you.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Friday, August 28, 2009


"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers."


The attached Wall Street Journal article gives us a good idea of what we are looking at to balance the budget. It ain’t pretty. Oh, and forget about “read my lips,” this does not just hit those with income greater than $250,000, it hits all of us. Taxes too high? Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The Professional Beauty Association recently released a new report called the PBA Salon/Spa Industry Tracking Survey. Salon Today published the following article. Join Salon Today by clicking on

"PBA’s Salon/Spa Industry Tracking Survey Reveals Challenges, Shows Encouragement

Published: June 16, 2009

The Professional Beauty Association recently released the first quarter 2009 results from the PBA Salon/Spa Industry Tracking Survey, a new report that will be published quarterly. Conducted via a panel of 600 salon/spa owners from around the country in consultation with PBA Economist Bruce Grindy and the PBA Salon/Spa Leadership Council.

In addition to reporting on industry-wide trends, the survey also provides cross-tabulated results based on annual sales volume. The second quarter survey will include the launch of the Salon/Spa Performance Index (SSPI), a quarterly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the US salon/spa industry.

Much like the national housing market index and the national restaurant performance index, PBA anticipates a sustained level of interest in these economic indicators. The results of the first quarter 2009 survey are challenging, yet encouraging. Nationally, salon/spa owners reported a decline in both service and retail sales between the first quarters of 2008 and 2009—44 percent of respondents reported a decline in total service sales, while 49 percent reported a decline in retail sales.

However, 54 percent of salon and spa owners are generally optimistic about service sales growth in the months ahead, while only 15 percent expect lower sales. In addition, 62 percent of salon/spa owners expect business conditions to improve in the next six months, while only 7 percent think conditions will be worst than they are now.

Other First Quarter 2009 Salon/Spa Facts:

Salon/spa owners reported an average 0.5 percent increase in back bar costs in the first quarter.

On average, salon/spa owners reported a 2 percent increase in their service prices.

35 percent of salon/spa owners made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling, and 41 percent plan to make one in the next six months.

24 percent of salon/spa owners reported "building and maintaining sales volume" as their number one challenge.

16 percent of salon/spa owners plan to open at least one new establishment in the next six months.

Although salon/spa owners reported relatively steady staffing levels in the first quarter, the reported a cutback in overall employee hours.

The PBA Salon/Spa Industry Tracking Survey is $195 for a yearly subscription for non-members and is provided complimentary to PBA members. For more information, please visit"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. -George Bernard Shaw

Monday, August 24, 2009


There is a very interesting article about diversion on Link directly to it by clicking on:


'Nebraskan: Cap-and-trade bill would be final nail in coffin for U.S.'

(Norfolk Daily News) -- reports that U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns visited "with about 30 manufacturing, utility and business leaders" in Norfolk, Neb. recently. During the meeting, Don Heller, a Stanton County farmer and member of the Stanton County Public Power District board of directors, said: "This (cap and trade legislation) would be the final nail in the coffin in the America we have known for 50 years - and it doesn't solve anything." The article notes the climate legislation is "a priority of the Obama administration," and would create "an artificial market for various industries to buy, sell and trade" what are known as carbon emission allowances. Johanns said he expects the issue to come up by late September after health care reform is dealt with. Johanns said "China has said it won't consider similar legislation for at least 10 years. India doesn't even buy into the concept of global warming. A legislative body in Australia just voted down similar legislation." A spokesperson with Nucor Steel in Norfolk said "the environmental irony of cap and trade legislation is that, if it passes, it will put Nucor and other U.S. companies at more of a competitive disadvantage," meaning China's steel industry "will produce even more and do so without any kind of concern for the environment." See the story at <>

'Business Owners Weary of Cap and Trade'

( -- reports that "business groups remain concerned about cap and trade (global warming legislation), which they say could place an unnecessary burden on U.S. companies." The story notes: "In a letter to Congress, the National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business advocacy group, asserted its opposition to cap-and-trade. ... With the nation still reeling from the burst of housing bubble, which was fueled in large part by the subprime mortgage market, the commodities market that would be created by carbon credits is also something to worry about, according to David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. 'Not only would cap-and-trade drive up the costs of energy, but it has the potential to create a dangerous new commodities bubble.'" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has given committees a September 28 deadline to produce a bill. See the story at <>

'Anti-Cap-And-Trade Rallies Begin Tuesday'

( -- reports that a coalition of business organizations will kick off "a series of rallies throughout the country to decry efforts to enact a 'cap and trade' bill." According to the article, the coalition, known as Energy Citizens, includes industry and interest groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau, and FreedomWorks. "Many of the Energy Citizens rallies will take place in the home states of Senators viewed as key swing votes on climate legislation, especially moderate Midwestern Democrats from coal, farm and manufacturing states that fear that their home industries could suffer under a system that would raise costs for coal, oil and gas use. Additional rallies will be held in New Mexico, Ohio, Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Alaska, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Michigan." See more at <>

Friday, August 21, 2009


"One hand cannot applaud alone."
Arabian pro

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Hi Larry, with this health care issue, don’t you think it will hurt the large commission salons? I have heard salons under 250K will not be in the rules and businesses over 250K that don’t provide insurance will be charged a 8% charge. Do we need to get salons to start writing their congressman?


Ray, Right now there are so many proposals that are being debated that it is hard to say what the final verdict will be. Most definitely, if they do an 8% additional payroll tax it will hurt all small businesses. Where salons work on such a small markup it could be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back.” Fortunately, they are going to recess without a bill being passed so what I am reading is that, unless the Democrats put health care in with the budget resolution (which does not require 60 Senate votes), it will be November before we see activity.

I wonder what PBA’s take is on this?

I recently sat on a health care roundtable with Senator Johanns. He was not very optimistic about the outcome of this reform.

In other words…. Your guess is as good as mine.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


At noon on August 6th, "The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) and the National Cosmetology Association (NCA) released an announcement that the two organizations have signed an agreement to merge, effective immediately.

Read more about the merger in Modern Salon at PBA & NCA Announce Merger.


Summertime brings no relief from phony e-mails that claim to come from the IRS, but which really come from scammers trying to steal the identity of the e-mail recipients.

Check out this recent IRS alert.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The Professional Beauty Association's recently conducted study on retail was published on July 21, 2009. In this study, "Presenter Neil Stern demonstrated how an overall 3 percent increase in retail sales would mean an additional $30,000 in revenue and $15,000 in incremental profits to a salon.

Click on Retail Mythbusters to read more.


I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. -Winston Churchill


Last week, a new study by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) – one of the State Chamber’s national affiliates – found that the House global warming legislation (also known as the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill) could cost the United States nearly 2.5 million jobs by 2030. According to the analysis, over the next two decades, as emission reductions are tightened, “U.S. jobs would decline by 1.8 million under the low cost case” and by “2.4 million under the high cost case” due to higher energy prices and greater competition from overseas manufacturers with lower energy costs. Up to 66% of the total job loss from the climate bill could come from the U.S. manufacturing sector.

The study notes that “by 2030, U.S. manufacturing output would decrease by 5.3% to 6.5%.” The production of metals, stone and glass, motor vehicles, computer and paper would be hit particularly hard. The study notes: “In addition, the general shift away from coal would result in a 76% reduction in coal production and electricity production would fall by 13.7% to 16.9% by 2030.

These losses will have a lasting effect on the economic base of the United States.” High energy prices, fewer jobs, and loss of industrial output are estimated to reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by between $419 billion and $571 billion by 2030. Cumulative GDP losses range between $2.2 trillion and $3.1 trillion. Residential electricity prices would increase 50%, while gasoline prices would rise 26%. The study can be seen by clicking here.

Monday, August 17, 2009


We apologize again for the technological problems we experienced today, Monday, August 17, 2009, during our Double Feature Webinar. I was all psyched for the presentation: I got a great night's rest, abstained from alcohol all weekend, and had consumed just the right level of caffeine to knock out an A+ performance. Oh well, what can you do? When technology is working, it's great; when it's not, I guess we're sunk.

Anyway, the GoTo Webinar team is researching the problem. As soon as they get it figured out, we'll send out an email to all of you who registered. The email will include the new date of the Webinar, and the registration information.

Until then, if you have any questions be sure to call us at 800.975.4829 or email

It is a pleasure serving you!

Larry Kopsa CPA


(Wall Street Journal) -- reports that "two recent lawsuits raise a question that many employees and employers have deliberated: Should hourly workers be paid for time spent responding to work calls or emails while off the clock?" According to the article, "The federal suits highlight the legal issues sparked by the proliferation of personal technology as well as the blurring of work and free time." The story notes that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act "says employees must be paid for work performed off the clock, even if the work was voluntary. ... When the law was passed in 1938, "work" was easy to define for hourly employees," said an employment lawyer, adding that "employers should adopt policies to regulate smart phone use outside the office," while "managers should contact employees sparingly, and make sure they are paid for responding." See the article at <>


'Climate bill could cost 2 million jobs'

(The Hill) -- reports that a new study by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) finds the House global warming bill could "cost 2 million jobs by 2030." According to the story, "one key finding is that the climate bill will hurt the manufacturing sector particularly hard. As much as 66% of the total job loss from the climate bill could come from manufacturers, the report notes." The story notes that "though the impact of the bill will grow over time, the economy will start feeling the effects of the carbon cap almost immediately." The ACCF and NAM study can be found at <>. The Hill story may be seen at <>

'House global warming bill's new bureaucracy: $8 BILLION'

(USA TODAY) -- reports "it will cost nearly $8 billion over the next decade to pay for the expanded federal bureaucracy needed to combat global warming under a bill passed by the House of Representatives, a report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says." According to the story, "the complex bill, which runs more than 1,400 pages, assigns new tasks to at least 21 federal agencies, from the Energy Department to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. It also creates new government programs, such as an effort to limit deforestation in developing nations." See the USA Today story at <>


A lot of times people say to me, "you probably aren’t busy right now". My answer to them is that this is a really busy time for us. People that just prepare taxes are not busy right now because they just simply fill out the forms. Tax planners, on the other hand, are busy year round helping their clients keep the IRS out of their pockets.

Currently we are doing what we call “pre-tax appointments.” What we do is take your current information, along with the changes in the tax laws, changes in your personal situation, and anticipation for what will happen in the future, and we use that information to devise a plan to minimize your tax burden over the long term.

If you feel that you could benefit from a pre-tax appointment, please call our office at 800.975.4829 and we will be happy to find a time that is convenient for you.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Friday, August 14, 2009


Noncustodial parents: Bad news on claiming dependency exemptions. Any conditions in the divorce agreement nixes the exemption if the parent with custody hasn’t signed Form 8332 to waive his or her right to the exemption.

For divorces before July 3, 2008, a signed divorce decree awarding the exemption to the noncustodial parent is 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.

This is so even if the parent has documentation showing that the condition was met.

That’s even more reason to ensure that the custodial parent provides a signed Form 8332.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I thought you might be interested in this article I found as I was going through some old magazines.

As a parent, I know how difficult it can be to effectively communicate with our children. What we mean to "say" to our children isn't always what they "hear."

The following Reader's Digest article explains that a child's brain cannot be expected to process words the same way an adult's does. This article contains some great information to help us inspire our kids, and gives examples of 7 important things to say, and (7 things not to say).

Check it out at: Reader's Digest.


“The world is a dangerous place
to live; not because of the
people who are evil, but because
of the people who don’t do
anything about it”
- Albert Einstein

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I've talked about The Law of Big Numbers before, but I really think people should understand the magnitude of what the government is talking about when they say Million, Billion and Trillion.

Recently, while speaking at Senator Johanns' Roundtable on Healthcare Reform, I brought this issue up again.

This is what I said:

The papers have abounded with big numbers. The bailout - $700 billion dollars, the deficit - $1.2 trillion dollars. Million, Billion, Trillion...

The only difference between the words is one letter and sometimes people get those things confused. I think there should be a law of big numbers so people really understand the difference between a million, and a billion, and a trillion. Everett Dirksen once said, “a million here, a million there, pretty soon we’re talking big numbers.”

Being a math guy, I like to explain it like this:

If you were going to count to a Million, and you counted one count per second, it would take you a little bit over eleven and one half days of counting non-stop.

Now let's go to a Billion, mostly when I ask people this, they usually guess 100 days. Well actually, to count to a billion, would take you 31 years and 8 ½ months. Remember, a billion is a thousand millions.

Then we can talk about a Trillion. How long would it take to count to a trillion? Do the math. Again you move the decimal point but it would take you 31,709 years plus 8 months to count to a trillion.

Think about this the next time you hear a politician talk, or when you look at the deficit calculator.

Larry Kopsa CPA

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Larry, My husband has been cheating on his taxes. If I file a separate return, can I avoid being liable?


Mary, for the current year, if you file as "married filing separately," you will owe tax only on your own separate income, not on your husband's income. But, if your husband has cheated in past years, and you filed joint returns for those years, you can't switch to filing separately for those years. (After filing a separate return, you can still switch to filing a joint return.) But, you may still avoid liability for your husband's taxes on your past-year joint returns by claiming "innocent spouse" status.

You may want to look at IRS Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief. If you are a Kopsa Otte client, please come talk to us regarding this issue. If not, please make an appointment with your accountant.

It is a pleasure serving you.

Larry Kopsa CPA


A political action committee, or PAC, is a private group that organizes to elect political candidates. PACs receive and raise money from the group’s constituents and make donations to political campaigns. PACs that donate to federal races (e.g., U.S. Senate and House races or presidential races) must report all of the financial activities to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which makes the reports available to the public.

To see the list of top political contributors go to: Top Political Donors.

Monday, August 10, 2009


"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress....But then I repeat myself." -Mark Twain


Larry, I saw you speak last year and you talked about being cash or accrual when it came to paying taxes. I was hoping you could send me some additional information on this subject. Thanks!


Ben, We have a worksheet on our website that shows how to tell if you are a cash or accrual taxpayer. Just click on the following link: Cash Or Accrual. I hope this helps

Larry Kopsa CPA

Friday, August 7, 2009


One of President Obama’s pledges was that he would only increase taxes on those wealthy Americans who make over $250,000 per year. I’m not sure exactly what he meant by this but it appears to me that with some of the proposals they’re talking about in the health care reform, it seriously increases people’s taxes.

Here’s an example. I just had a young couple in my office. Both are college graduates who are working hard. He is a banker and she is a nurse. Between them, they are making close to $100,000. The income they are making throws some of their income into a 25% federal bracket and a 7% state bracket. In addition to this, they have to pay social security of 7.65% which is matched by their employers.

As we discussed their situation, the conversation evolved into health care reform. Currently, their company is providing them with $4,200 of health insurance. They are putting $5,000 into a cafeteria plan and they are completely funding a health savings account in the amount of $5,950. In Washington D. C. they are discussing eliminating the deduction for all of these items. If this were the case, I calculated that their tax will increase by $5,551. They couldn’t believe it. They don’t have an extra $5,551 with three children, house payments, etc.

I told them it’s actually worse than this. If they consider it, their tax cost is actually $5,551. In their tax bracket, they would have to go out and earn an additional $9,200 to bring home this amount of money. In addition to this, their employer would have to pay social security on those funds which would cost the employer an additional $700 in taxes.

Although President Obama didn’t say, “Read my lips,” as the first president Bush did, he certainly doesn’t seem to be following his promises. If they pass these measures to fund health care, he definitely isn’t following his promises.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


As you know, I live in the Midwest. The following YouTube video presents some interesting information taking place in the Heartland that a lot of people don't know.

Click on the following link to view: From Grass to Glass.


The following study was published in the August 2009 issue of DAYSPA Magazine.

Industry Insider

The Professional Beauty Association (PBA, polled 600 spa and salon owners for its newly published study, PBA Salon/Spa Industry Tracking Survey. The new report, which will come out quarterly in the future, reflects business trends in the first quarter of 2009. Here's a sampling of what it found:
  • Backbar sales increased an average of .5% in the first quarter.
  • Service prices increased 2%.
  • 35% of salon/spa owners invested in equipment, expansion or remodeling, and 41% plan to make these improvements in the next six months.
  • A quarter of respondents reported "building and maintaining sales volume" as their No.1 challenge.
  • Expansion plans are in store for 16% of salon/spa owners, who plan to open at least one new business in the next six months.
  • Staffing levels have remained steady, but most businesses reported cutting back overall employee hours.
  • 44% of respondents noted a decline in total service sales, while 49% reported a decline in retail sales.
  • More than half are optimistic about service sales growth; 54% projected an increase in revenue.
  • The future looks bright for 62% of business owners, who said they expect conditions to improve in the next six months.

PBA members will receive a free copy of the survey, while nonmembers can purchase an annual subscription for $195. For more information, visit

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I just ran across this information from 2007. It is somewhat dated and I am not sure how they arrived at the numbers or if they distinguished between part time and full time.

In case you are interested, here is the article. Best Careers For A Changing Job


An army of 200 sheep lead by
a lion will always defeat an army
of 200 lions lead by a sheep.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Here is a lesson maybe we business owners can learn from professional golfers.

The NewYork Times recently published an article titled Settling for Par: Pros MoreLikely to Play it, Safe. The story details how PGA Tour professionals, including Tiger Woods, lose millions due to the same risk intolerance that affects business owners.

Specifically, the article discusses a forthcoming study from Wharton School professors Devin Pope and Maurice Schweitzer. They analyzed data from 1.6 million putts made by 200 golfers from 2004-­2008, using data the Tour records on each ball's green location, accurate to the nearest inch. (These guys must be a hoot at faculty parties.)

What did they find? Surprisingly, "even the world's best pros are so consumed with avoiding bogeys that they make putts for birdie discernibly less often than identical-length putts for par." Meaning, fear of failure keeps even the greats from trying as hard as they can. The difference, 3%, is enough to cost the average golfer one stroke per tournament. And for the top 20 pros, that means $1.2 million less prize money per year. Even Tiger Woods showed the same effect.

We've said before that pain is a better motivator than gain. Economists even have a name for it: "loss aversion." As the article says:"

The psychological preference to avoid a perceived penalty (losing a stroke relative to par) rather than go for a perceived gain (gaining a stroke) has some benefit. Golfers tended to leave their conservatively stroked birdie putts slightly closer to the cup than more aggressively missed pars­--leading to their making their follow-up shot more often. But that temporary gain was far outweighed by the overall cost in strokes."

That's some powerful insight, from a statistically significant sample of some of the world's top performers! So how can you put the study's findings to work in your business? Consider these points:
  • When you make business decisions are you more concerned about pain then pleasure

  • What about your customer's? Do you need to emphasise the pain that they will avoid by using Your product or services?

Bottom line here: your clients hate pain more than they love gain. Use that knowledge whenever you can to build your business and make sure that you don't fall into this trap.


Want to know where your state falls in Workers Comp?

See the Oregon Workers Comp study at

Saturday, August 1, 2009


The government debt clock is still running. See what it's up to now.