Are you neglecting to deduct business expenses on your tax return?You could be leaving money on the table. Whether you’re an established entrepreneur or just setting up shop, you can save thousands of dollars in tax deductions. So which expenses qualify? To receive a tax deduction, business expenses must be necessary and typical for the type of business you run.There are exceptions to the rule. You can’t write off speeding or parking tickets. But don’t let this stop you from saving serious money on your tax return. Place those dollar bills back into your wallet by adding these commonly overlooked business expenses to the list.1. Costs to Keep Your Business RunningAs you maintain your business, you’re bound to purchase office supplies and advertising. But did you know that you can also write off equipment repair, business calls, and office furniture payments?There are limits though.
If your business goes under, you can’t deduct costs for exploring a business opportunity. But you can deduct costs for products, materials, and supplies in your inventory.
You also can’t completely deduct costs from starting your business. Instead, you can deduct up to $5,000 the first year and write off any remaining startup costs periodically over the course of 15 years.
Every cent you invest into your business is referred to as either a capital expense or a current expense.
Capital expenses are your business asset purchases, long-lasting equipment that will continually improve your business in subsequent years. Because capital expenses normally don’t wear out after the first year, these expenses are depreciated and deducted over a period of time.Current expenses are charges for equipment or services used every day to maintain a profitable business. They’re normally used up in the first year, so you can deduct the total cost of current expenses on your tax return.
Repairs that add value to equipment, prolong the lifespan, or adapt an item to a different use can be deducted on your tax return.
Advertising fees to create promotional materials like business cards and print, radio, yellow pages, and banner advertisements are completely deductible.
If you regularly use the phone to call clients or customers, you can deduct charges relevant to your business.
Be forewarned though: if you try to mask personal purchases by claiming them as business expenses, you might be in deep waters when your tax return triggers an audit.2. Home Office Fees and RentDo you work from home? Deduct a portion of rent, insurance, and utility payments if you have an office that is dedicated to business.There is one drawback. Your office has to be exclusively for business use.It’s fine to work in your slippers, but you can’t take a home office deduction if your bed is in the room unless your office is sectioned off. You also can’t let your children play Legos in your workspace. And you most certainly can’t watch TV in your office during downtime.If you do, your office won’t be considered exclusively for business.You also have to use your office consistently to take advantage of the home office deduction. Feel free to call clients, bill customers, take notes, set appointments, meet with clients, order materials, or write reports in your office. But an office that you only use occasionally doesn’t count.There are exceptions to the rule. If you run a daycare business or you have a room set up for inventory storage, you can still take the deduction even if the room isn’t used 100% for business.3. Auto PaymentsDid you know that you can deduct the cost of gas consumed while driving to and from client meetings?Whether you own a real estate business, regularly meet with clients, or rent an office away from home, you can save hundreds of dollars on your tax return.Use your car for business? You can calculate your deduction one of two ways.
Deduct based on the standard mileage rate. If your regular business routine requires that you constantly be on the road, you might be able to save more by deducting a certain amount of money after every mile driven, along with toll and parking costs.
Deduct actual expenses. If you occasionally meet with clients or your car consumes more gas than average, you can save a great deal more by deducting a portion of expenses for gas, replacement tires, oil changes, insurance, and car registration.
Always keep an organized record of your car usage, and filing your federal and state income taxes will be as simple as doing a few math calculations.4. Travel and Entertainment CostsDo you remember that vacation deal you purchased right before your last business trip?Write off a portion of your plane fare, depending on how you spent your vacation. Part of your transportation costs is qualified as a deduction if over half of your trip was spent on business. The more time you devoted to your business, the higher the deduction.Needed to pay for clean clothes while you were away? You can deduct laundry and dry cleaning expenses. You can also deduct commuting costs, lodging fees, tips, fax charges, and costs to ship product samples and display materials.Moreover, if you’ve ever hosted an event for your business at your office, restaurant, or another location, you can deduct entertainment expenses that helped promote business growth or well-being. Keep in mind that only 50% of meals are deductible.You can even deduct moving costs if you had to relocate your home because of work. If the move wasn’t directly related to your business though, you can’t claim the deduction.5. Educational Materials and Professional FeesHave you purchased a book to learn a skill that would directly impact your business? How about that copywriter you hired to craft a sales page that would later transform a product launch into a massive success?Business-related books, legal fees, and professional services are all fully deductible on your tax return.You’re not just limited to books and independent contractors though. If you pay an accountant or purchase a tax program every year, you can deduct tax preparation fees.Own a business with hired staff? You can reduce taxes by deducting salaries, bonuses, and fringe benefits like health insurance and sick leave.6. Bad DebtsIf you sell your own services, you’ve likely stumbled across an occasional troublesome client. Your client might refuse to pay you for work performed, lowering your profit margin for the month. Maybe you’ve even loaned money to customers or suppliers, but the loan was never paid off.Luckily, this income loss is completely deductible as long as you provide written documentation stating the amount of the debt, interest rate if applicable, and the steps you took to collect the debt. If you can prove that you’ve made several attempts to receive payment and the debt is impossible to collect, you can write it off on your tax return.Save your hard-earned cash at the end of the year by keeping a detailed record of business-related purchases and activities. You can use financial software to help with this, but simply opening an excel spreadsheet to jot down expenses as they pop up works as well.Separate payments into clearly marked categories and you’ll save both time and money the next time you file taxes.7. The Hummer DeductionHas your business purchased a car or a large machine recently? This can be converted into a large tax benefit using “The Hummer Deduction”, also know as section 179 of the tax code. Learn MoreDisclaimer: You should consult with your tax advisor before following any of the ideas in this article. This article is a starting point for discussion with your advisor. I am not a tax professional and while I believe that what is contained in this article is generally true, it may not be true in your particular case.

Older Students May Still Be Eligible for Student Loans

Not every student arrives at college fresh out of high school. A growing number of students over the age of 25 are returning to the college classroom or enrolling at a college or university for the first time.This trend also means that some returning students may have already exhausted their available federal student loans. Federal college loans not only carry annual borrowing limits but lifetime maximum borrowing limits. Students returning to college who previously took out federal college loans their first time around may have less federal student loan money available to them.The Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education reports that students over the age of 25 represent nearly half of all currently enrolled college students. This migration back to the classroom is not merely the product of the current economic downturn, however: According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of students age 25 or older in college classrooms rose from 28 percent in 1970 to 41 percent in 1998. The number of students age 35 or older at degree-granting institutions increased from 823,000 in 1970 to nearly 3 million in 2001.Clearly, the current “aging” of the college student population was underway long before the Great Recession took hold.Finding Financial Aid as a Returning or Older College StudentDetermining eligibility for federal financial aid as an older student can be challenging. In some cases, today’s older student may be relatively well-established financially and may hold a number of assets, including real estate, investments, and retirement savings. At the same time, the older student may have additional liabilities, including a mortgage, credit card debt, and student loan debt from a previous run at the college-and-university track. S/He may also be supporting children who are themselves in college.The FAFSA For any student, regardless of age or level of educational attainment, the first step in finding financial aid for college need to be the filing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA takes into account a student’s broad financial picture — from income, assets, and liabilities to the number of other family members in college — to determine eligibility for federal financial assistance.Federal financial aid can include need-based grants (Pell Grants) and subsidized student loans (Perkins loans and subsidized Stafford loans), as well as unsubsidized student loans (unsubsidized Stafford loans) that are available regardless of a student’s financial need. For graduate students, credit-based graduate student loans (Grad PLUS loans) are also available.The Financial Aid Office If you’re a returning student, a consultation with a financial aid officer at your institution could be very helpful, since rules and regulations regarding student financial aid have changed significantly in the past few years. A financial aid officer may also be able to help you determine your eligibility for federal student loans and how previous student loans may affect your current borrowing limits.Your financial aid office will also have information about locating grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities, though many older adults may already be employed full-time. Consider asking your financial aid office about student loan companies that offer non-federal, private student loans, which may be used to pay schooling costs not already covered by your federal student loans or other federal financial aid.Other Financial Aid Considerations Returning students may also be eligible for itemized tax deductions related to college expenses. These tax deductions may help take the bite out of returning to school. Consult a tax advisor for help.Federal financial aid is largely reserved for students who are seeking a degree, although in some cases, non-degree-seeking students may be eligible for federal financial aid if the courses they take are prerequisites for a degree program.Keep in mind, however, that as a student loan borrower, you’ll be on the hook for any student loan debt you incur, even if you don’t complete a degree as planned. Current U.S. bankruptcy law prohibits bankruptcy courts from discharging either federal or private student loan debts except in the most extreme of circumstances, so if you’re a prospective returning student, make sure to thoroughly research all your academic options and their costs before entering a degree program that will require you to take on significant debt.College loans: http://www.nextstudent.com/private-loans/private-loans.asp, Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education: http://www.antshe.org/

Why Is E-Mini Trading Risky When You Can Get in and Out Quickly?

The outcome of the vast majority of e-mini trades is binary; you either win or lose. There is an occasional break even trade, but they certainly aren’t the norm. With these simple odds it would seem obvious that you should be able to hit at least a 50% rate of success. Yet, according to various sources that are often quoted, more than 90% of e-mini traders are out of the business in less than three months and broke as a result of their efforts. Something doesn’t add up here. What causes this disparity in outcomes?Let’s analyze this phenomenon from a cause and effect standpoint; we’ll look at typical behavior on the winning side of things and look at the losing side of things. As you will see, much of the risk is in considering and managing trades.Behavior on the winning side:It is important to understand, from the onset, that your profit target and stop/loss point need to be at least equal, and your entries and exits need to be at least equal. I usually set my stops based on 2x of the Average True Range (ATR), so the profit target and stop/loss usually fall in the 15-20 tick range. I look at the ATR as a measure of market noise present in my trading session; and I then have a realistic expectation of the trade potential.But here is where the problem starts with the vast majority of the e-mini traders I am mentoring. When I am trading with the trend, my 2x ATR gives me a good idea of where the trade could terminate. Of course, I am leaving out several variables like set-ups and support/resistance, to name a few. Anyway, on most days, even in a strong trend, the market doesn’t move in straight lines, which is to say that there is quite a bit of movement on your trading DOM. New e-mini traders typically get pretty excited when they are up ten ticks and take profit. They take their profit prematurely and don’t let the trade develop. That being said, I have had a slew of traders compelled to take profits at the 6-8 tick range; they simply don’t give their trade a chance to hit its peak price. In short, their emotions drive them to take profit early, typically it is fear.So let’s assume, very generously, that the average new trader takes his profits at +9 ticks. Remember that number.Behavior on the losing sideFor reasons that my one-watt brain cannot fully understand, woefully so, traders are far more comfortable letting their losers run. What gives? I was trained at one of the Wall St. trading houses and it was much like boot camp. Basic trading principles were drilled into my head until they became mantra.One of the most important rules was “don’t get married to a trade.” These lessons served me well; if a trade doesn’t look like it’s going to work out and I can confirm that suspicion with some real time indicators. I get out of the trade and start looking for the next enticing entry. But most new traders trade differently.They feel they have made a good entry and it’s only a matter of time before the trade goes your way. I’ve watched new traders move their stop/loss to accommodate a losing trade in hope that the trade will reverse. The result? They tend to slam into their stop/loss point. Why? People hate being wrong.The equation you would think would look like this: the winning traders letting their trades run and on losing trades cut their losses quickly. But for most, the exact opposite is true. They chop their winning trades too soon and hang on to their losing trades in hope they will recover. We will put the short side loss generously at -15I’ve concluded that holding on to trades is an aversion to “being wrong.” When we look at the net of our average winning trade, +9 ticks, against a typical result of -15 ticks it becomes obvious how traders lose money. I want to note that this is the most common problem I see, and when I see a student’s account slowly falling I can easily pinpoint the problem. While win/loss behavior is the largest group of problems most new e-mini traders experience, I want to acknowledge other problems new e-mini trader face: trading against the trend, overtrading, trading too many contracts, the list is long. But the dilemma I have described in this article represents the most significant problem in my experience.In summary, I have pointed out an inverse relationship of risk/reward on the winning side of a trade and the losing side of the trade. I encourage you to let your winning trades run and have confidence you have taken a high probability set-up and don’t chop your winning trades so early. On the losing side, I encourage you to constantly evaluate whether the technicals of the trade you initiated remain the same about half way down to your stop/loss. If the dynamics of the market have changed and your trade now carries a much lower probability, get out of the trade. I have also stated that new traders tend to let the price hit their stops.

Are You Choosing the Right Stock Market Advisory Company

What do you do if you want to learn driving a car? You will try to find an expert teacher, isn’t it? You do not want to avail the services of a novice individual to help you out, but a professional person can provide you the vital tips and most importantly guide you efficiently. Similarly, when it comes to investing in the stock market for the first time, you require a knowledgeable advice to attain your financial goals and get profitable returns.

If you are a beginner, then it is quite obvious that you may be having no information about the process of buying the right shares in the market. In such a situation, getting the right tips from an experienced financial advisor or a registered advisory company will truly prove to be a great blessing in disguise. However, there are some of the important things that have to be kept in mind while choosing the top stock market advisory company, which are as follows:

How much assistance do you actually require?

Before you make up your mind to hire an advisor, it is imperative that you must first decide about the kind of service you require from them. You may need their help at the beginning or during the time of any issues. This is because an advisor has to formulate a map according to your requirements. Hence, it is suggested to ascertain your needs first and then take further action.

Choose a top ranked advisory company

It is a very important point that has to be taken into the consideration. Availing services of the well known advisory company or a financial advisor is an absolute necessity. Make it a point to carry out a proper background or research work about the company. Check out their credentials, reputation, experience, etc before hiring them.

Asking for a sample financial plan initially makes sense

When hiring a financial advisor, then do not forget to ask for sample plan first. It is imperative to note that there is no such thing called the perfect plan. A sample plan will help you to determine whether an advisory company is actually making sense according your requirements or not.


The financial planners or advisory companies can really turn out to be the greatest asset for you if you choose the best one. They are just like the professional sailors who can help you out to sail through stock investment related problems quite efficiently.

Deepak is a financial advisor who likes to provide quality tips to the people facing any issues with regard to investing in the stock market. He likes to keep himself updated about the stock market by reading articles, news and blogs, etc.

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