Now We’re Talking: Tax Tips for Public Speakers

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Do you run your mouth – but in a professional way as a public speaker?

If so, we’d like to recognize all those who spread positive messages with the spoken word in honor of Professional Speakers Day. These tax tips for public speakers can save you money:

Consider establishing a formal business entity.

If your public speaking work is done under a sole proprietorship, consider setting up a formal business entity like an LLC, an S corp, or a C corp. Not only will this give you added credibility, but also it will open the door to more IRS tax savings. Plus, it can help you separate your personal and business finances and activities.

Don’t forget about estimated taxes.

You must file quarterly estimated taxes, whether your public speaking work is conducted as a 1099 independent contractor or is done under a formal business like an LLC, S corporation, or C corporation. Estimated tax deadlines are January 15th, April 15th, June 15th, and September 15th.

Carefully document the locations of your speaking engagements.

Keep close tabs on exactly where you are doing business as a public speaker. Traveling to different cities, states, and even countries can be a significant part of being a public speaker who talks to a variety of groups. In these cases, you might be on the hook for filing additional state income tax returns based on where you earn income as a speaker each year. If you travel abroad, there could be unique income tax requirements as well.

Save your receipts.

You might not have a huge mound of receipts piling up in your closet as a public speaker. But if you get receipts for any business expenses you incur to conduct your trade, be sure to document and save all of them. Receipts help small business owners provide to the IRS that they’re indeed eligible for business tax deductions on relevant expenses.

Use the vehicle deduction

Mileage for driving to speaking engagements can be one of the top expenses for public speakers who frequently travel by car.

Maintain a mileage log for your speaking-related business trips to fully document this information. You can claim either mileage (57.5 cents per mile) or actual expenses (gas, tolls, insurance, maintenance, etc.) as a write-off on your income tax return.

Claim other travel deductions.

Many professional speakers travel regionally, nationally, or even abroad. These trips can certainly take a bite out of your budget. You can deduct airfare, lodging, rental cars, cab fares, and any other expenses related to traveling in order to conduct your trade as a public speaker.

Claim any additional tax deductions for public speakers.

As a self-employed public speaker, you can write off a number of business expenses when filing your taxes. These include

  •  Office supplies, i.e. pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, scissors, stamps, paperclips
  • Equipment, i.e. desktop computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, land lines, printers, fax machines, copy machines
  • Rent and utilities of a separate office space
  • Home office expenses, including power, water, Internet access, home phone service for business purposes
  • Meals and entertainment, i.e. restaurant bills, sporting events (only 50% deductible – and only when business is discussed before, during, or right after the meal or event)
  • Subscriptions to relevant publications for public speakers, i.e. magazines, journals, newsletters, online websites
  • Fees for accounting, legal, and other professional service providers
  • Marketing/advertising expenses

Handle “miscellaneous deductions” with care.

Avoid listing a significant amount of expenses under “miscellaneous deductions” on your income tax return. This could be a red flag that you do not have the proper documentation on file to prove these write-offs to the IRS.

more tax tips for public speakers – and for all other professions – by teaming up with the business accounting professionals at 1-800Accountant. Call 1-800-222-6868 or visit

11 Pieces of Info You Should Collect from Your Customers

As a small business owner, you should know who is buying your products or services. Not only should you know the names of these customers, but also you should have more knowledge about who these individuals really are – and why they choose to do business with you over others.

For Get to Know Your Customers Day, let’s explore the types of information you should learn and collect about those who support your small business:

1. Name

Get a customer’s full name, including middle initial. If you have two customers with the same name, you need to find a way to distinguish between the two as your business marketing strategies should target all unique individuals you know. If someone has a nickname, it’s helpful to obtain it as well.

2. Mailing address

Be sure to get the mailing addresses of your customers. This includes street address, city, state, and the full zip code. If you ever send out flyers, mailers, or other direct-mail marketing pieces, you’ll need to know exactly where to send these materials. Be sure to clarify any P.O. Box, apartment, or suite numbers to ensure what you’re sending out is going exactly where you intend to send it.

3. Phone number

Get all phone numbers for a customer. These may include a home phone landline number, an office phone, and a cell phone. Categorize these numbers appropriately. You may want to send text messages to your customers with special offers or alerts. You obviously want to send these messages to cell phone numbers.

4. E-mail address

Get your customers’ e-mail addresses. Whether they only have one e-mail account or use several accounts on Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail, get as many of them as possible. E-mail marketing is a big part of the business marketing strategies out there that can help increase your sales. Create customer e-mail lists that you can use to blast out your latest special offers.

5. Payment information

Obtain specific payment information from customers, such as a credit or debit card number. Doing so can make it so easy for a return customer to buy from you without having to swipe their card or enter this payment information on your website. Also, consider noting whether customers pay with cash or check. Just make it clear that all customer payment information is kept completely confidential and will only be used if a customer chooses to make a future purchase.

6. Date of birth

If they’re willing to provide it, obtain the date of birth of a new customer. Demographical information can be a huge help in your small business marketing efforts.

7. Purchase information

Determine the specific steps a customer took to buy from your small business. Document all purchases made by each client. By determining these actions, you can find out what people are buying most, what is causing them to make these purchases, and then you can use this info to increase sales in the future by having past purchasing data on file.

8. Hobbies and other interests

It may sound corny, but find out what your customers like as far as hobbies and other interests. This information may help you pitch certain products or services to specific customers in the future. Perhaps you could give out a survey and include a question like this.

9. How they found your small business

Determine how each customer came to you. Was it a referral? A YouTube commercial they watched? A website that linked to your company’s Facebook page? Collecting this information lets you know how effective your business marketing strategies are working – and which strategies are the most effective to utilize.

10. Where else they shop

Ask customers where else they have shopped in the past – or currently shop – for similar offerings that you offer. Find out why they have shopped at those businesses, and ask if there’s anything different about your approach. This could be vital information to help you learn how your small business separates itself from the rest of the pack.

11. Customer reviews

If you can get customer reviews, testimonials, or any other feedback, this data can go a long way. Learn what customers like most about your offerings. Determine how you can improve things based on any negative feedback you receive. You can also use positive reviews in your business marketing efforts.

Learn more about building your small business while staying compliant with all business regulations by working with 1-800Accountant. Call 1-800-222-6868 or check out

6 Ways to Make Every Business Meeting Productive

1-800Accountant explains how to hold a productive meeting in a small business.

1-800Accountant explains how to hold a productive meeting in a small business.

Meetings are a significant and necessary aspect of working as a small business owner. Perhaps you’ll be meeting with current employees or job candidates. Maybe you’ll meet with potential business partners, investors, marketing firms, web designers, or anyone else out there who could lend a helping hand to the success of your startup.

To ensure you make the most of each and every business meeting you’re involved in, 1-800Accountant offers up these simple tips to make a business meeting productive:

1. Type up and distribute a meeting agenda.

A meeting agenda is basically a roadmap to help all attendees follow the meeting. Your agenda should consist of bullet points that outline the various subjects you’ll be covering. Prepare it in advance, and e-mail it or print out hard copies for everyone. This document should be fairly short as the actual meat of the meeting will come through the ensuing discussions. Consider including people’s names on the agenda in relevant sections as well to bring their attention to certain items.

2. Determine what you want to accomplish ahead of time.

Make an effort to set specific goals for any meetings in your small business. Determine what you want to get out of a meeting, what information you need or want to learn from the meeting attendees, and what you need to communicate to those around you. The biggest key to knowing you’ve had a productive meeting is by walking away feeling better and more informed.

3. Set specific and consistent meeting times.

Perhaps you hold weekly meetings with your staff. Nail down a specific day and time to meet each week, and stick to it, whether it’s Mondays at 9 a.m. or Wednesdays at 3 p.m. Be sure to select a time when everyone is available to meet – and can give you their undivided attention.

4. Ensure everyone is engaged and participatory.

When all participants are fully engaged in a business meeting, everyone will benefit from the discussions at-hand. It’s difficult to deal with individuals who don’t seem interested in what you’re talking about and have nothing to contribute. Ask these types of attendees questions about the topics being discussed. When everyone offers something to the conversation, the meeting will be much more productive and comprehensive.

5. Eliminate any potential distractions.

Have your business meetings in a quiet place, such as a conference room in your office. Require all participants to turn off their smartphones and put them away. If possible, avoid using complicated technology to present information in case there’s a technical glitch that delays things. Distractions are not only annoying, but they also can increase the length of a meeting. Who wants to meet any longer than they have to?

6. Only hold meetings when they are truly necessary.

Business meetings should only take place when necessary. There’s no point in rounding up people for a face-to-face meeting or conference call if there is not enough business to discuss. If you hold a standing meeting on a certain day and time, don’t feel like it’s set in stone because there just might not be much for your agenda. Hypothetically, every meeting should accomplish something new – or at least make progress on an ongoing subject. On another note, only invite people to a meeting who really need to be there.

For all of your small business tax and accounting needs, along with business development guidance, turn to 1-800Accountant today. Call 1-800-222-6868 or visit

Image credit: The image included in this blog post is used with permission via the Flickr Creative Commons license.

Cutting Your Taxes: Tax Tips for Beauticians & Barbers

There are many tax tips for beauticians and barbers that can help you keep more money.

There are many tax tips for beauticians and barbers that can help you keep more money.

If you’re a beautician, hair stylist, or barber, you’re probably used to cutting hair on a daily basis. What you may not be an expert at is how to cut your taxes and keep more of your money. Consider these tax tips for beauticians and barbers to help reduce your next tax bill from Uncle Sam:

Consider setting up a formal legal entity for your business.

If you run Jodie’s Hair Salon, having a formal name is one thing. But you should consider establishing your salon as a formal legal entity, such as an LLC, S corporation, or C corporation. Business entities allow their owners to take advantage of more IRS business tax deductions, give them added credibility, and can also reduce the chances of an audit.

Claim all eligible tax deductions for beauticians & barbers.

As a self-employed professional in the beauty industry, you may be eligible to claim these deductions on business expenses when filing your return:

  • Property rental costs for your salon
  • Maintenance expenses for property, i.e. utilities, a cleaning service, structural repairs
  • Equipment, i.e. computers, cash registers, furniture, lighting fixtures, barber chairs, scissors, razors, hygiene supplies, hairdryers, window displays, office supplies
  • Cost of goods sold, i.e. hair care products, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, hairspray, etc.
  • Employee salaries, insurance, retirement accounts, sick leave, vacation pay, awards, bonuses, etc.
  • Depreciation on property
  • Fees for accounting, legal, and other professional service providers
  • Property insurance, liability insurance, etc.
  • Marketing/advertising expenses to spread the word about your hairstyling services
  • Business gifts to customers (limited to $25 per recipient per year)

Remember that tips are considered taxable income.

Cash tips you receive from your customers are considered taxable and are subject to federal income taxes, along with Social Security and Medicare taxes. Tips are also subject to taxation through your state income tax – if you operate your business in a state with such a tax.

Account for property taxes.

If you operate a beauty salon or barber shop in a space that you’ve purchased, you are likely on the hook for property taxes. These taxes can take a big bite out of your budget, especially if you operate your salon in a high-traffic area or downtown in a major city.

Account for possible sales taxes.

Generally speaking, a service like a haircut is not considered taxable. However, if you sell hair care products like shampoo or hairspray, you’ll need to collect sales taxes from your customers who purchase these items from your business. Be aware of your local area’s sales tax rates. If you have multiple salons, these rates could vary by location.

Get more tax tips for beauticians and barbers – along with tax tips for all professions – by working with the accounting pros at 1-800Accountant. Call 1-800-222-6868 or check out the “Services” page on

Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog post is used with permission via the Flickr Creative Commons license.

What Kinds of Small Business Marketing Costs are Deductible?

Social media marketing is one of many types of marketing you can deduct as a small business owner.

Social media marketing is one of many types of marketing you can deduct as a small business owner.

Opening the doors to a new small business and spreading the word about it is not cheap. Fortunately, the IRS allows entrepreneurs to claim marketing expenses as a tax deduction when filing their taxes each year. No matter what type of startup venture or established company you operate, you should be able to deduct the following types of small business marketing expenses:

- Print advertising

Let’s say you run a small ad for your small business in your local daily newspaper. Maybe there’s an industry-related publication in which you buy ad space. Perhaps you print out marketing collateral or have business cards made to promote yourself. Whichever options you choose, you can write off print advertising costs as a tax deduction when filing your taxes with Uncle Sam.

- TV and radio commercials

Would you love to hear an excited narrator describe your startup venture in a booming radio voice? Want to see your products come to life via a television spot? These types of small business marketing can be costly, but they remain a very effective way to gain leads and make sales. The good news is that TV and radio advertising expenses are tax deductible. From production to buying ad time on a local or cable station, you can typically claim all of these related costs as a write-off for your business.

- Signage/billboards

If you have a retail location for your bike shop, you’ll probably need some signage on the exterior of your building with your company name and perhaps some other information. You could also have a marketing firm create a billboard ad for your company to be displayed on the side of the road. These types of marketing costs are also deductible.

- Internet/search engine marketing

The Internet is a fantastic 21st-century marketing tool. You may want a “.com” or “.mobi” website for your small business. You may choose to utilize Google AdWords or create banner ads on relevant sites as a way of driving traffic to your own website. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo offer other search engine marketing tools as well. Most forms of Internet marketing cost something, so you can deduct your online advertising costs since they’re considered a business expense.

- Social media marketing

Do you have a Facebook business page, a Twitter business account, or a LinkedIn business profile? Social media is an extremely effective and convenient way to reach your potential customers online, especially since everyone is browsing the web on every possible device these days. From Facebook ads to YouTube commercials that precede your favorite videos, social media marketing is a big industry. Thankfully, small business owners can write off these costs.

- Promotional events

If you haven’t officially launched yet, you may want to hold a “grand opening” for your new retail store or mom-and-pop restaurant. If you’re established, you may choose to hold events or attend trade shows to make others aware that you exist. Any expenses for promotional events you host or attend to get the word out about your small business are generally fully deductible.

Get more small business marketing and tax deduction tips through 1-800Accountant. Call 1-800-222-6868 or check out

Image credit: The image included in this blog post is used with permission via the Flickr Creative Commons license.