Top Tips for Becoming More Productive

Unless you happen to be a sloth, everyone wants to be more productive. Productivity is one of the keys to personal and careersuccess. The problem is, many people just aren’t willing to do what it takes to become more productive. Thus, being productive is easier said than done. However, if you really want to make changes, here are some bad habits you need to let go of.

Do you like to surf the Web? Of course, who doesn’t? Unfortunately this is a huge time-killer for a lot of peopleespecially if you do it every time you get animpulse. When you’re busy working on something important and you stop for a quick “surf”, you lose valuable time and you become less productive.

Is it time for another meeting? Meetings seem important on the surface, but how many meetings are really that useful? They typically take up too much of your valuable time, which you could be using to do more important things, like actual work. To be more productive, set a time limit for your meetings and stick to it.

We all love email and it’s a great way to get work done. However, email can be a huge distraction, as well. When you’re working on something important don’t let a new email distract you from your current task. In most cases, the majority of your messages can wait.

Avoid being a perfectionist. If you’re preoccupied with getting everything exactly right, then chances are you will never complete any projects. In some cases, you might not even start them. No one is perfect and you don’t have to be perfect, either.

It may not be easy, but letting go of some of your bad habits will help you become more productive.

Tagged with: , ,

Five Helpful Tips to Be More Productive and Organized

You want to be more organized, right? Most people do. However, there are certain things you need to do in order to get more organized and become more productive. The problem is, many people spend way too much time on tasks of little or no consequence. In other words, we waste valuable time on pointless things.

So what can you do to become more organized and in turn, more productive? Better organization leads to more productivity so you must get organized to really achieve your goals. Start by keeping your desk,and/or office free of clutter.

Straighten things up, tosswhat you don’t need and put things where you know you can find them.You should also clean up at the end of each workday and have everything in order for the next day.

Organized people don’t get caught up in several to-do lists. They have one task sheet and they focus on that. Having multiple to-do lists leads to a cluttered mind and a cluttered workspace, where not much is accomplished.Just like your bills, it’s best to consolidate your tasks into one comprehensive list.

Organized and productive people don’t procrastinate. In fact, they focus on the worst tasks first, so they can get them done and out of the way. Doing this,frees up their minds to focus on more pleasant tasks.

Another bright idea to be more organized is to plan your next day the night before. This not only gives you a focus and purpose for the next day, but it frees you from worrying about everything you have to do the next day and how it will all get done.

Tagged with: , ,

Senate’s Tax Bill Would Raise Taxes on Stock Sales

Capital gains have long been a controversy when it comes to taxes.  Many high net worth individuals use capital gains to make the majority of their money. Because the tax rate on gains from stock sales are much lower than taxes on personal income, this is one of the chief ways wealthy taxpayers avoid paying higher tax rates.

That’s why many groups complain that capital gains need to be taxed at a higher rate. Republicans have never been in favor of this kind of proposal. That’s why it’s quite surprising to see such legislation in the Senate’s tax bill proposal.

To be clear, they haven’t proposed raising the tax rate, but they have added a provision that would increase taxes on many investors, and add an estimated additional $2.7 billion over 10 years to the U.S. Treasury.

The provision would eliminate the “specific identification method” currently in place that allows investors to sale shares that were purchased on a specific date.  That means investors would be forced to sell their oldest shares first, which usually bring in higher capital gains.

So, while the proposal is not technically a tax rate hike, it could definitely lead to investors paying more in taxes on their capital gains. This is not lost on the president and CEO of the Investment Company Institute, Paul Schott Stevens who said: “It would increase significantly the amount of taxable distributions made to investors every year and tie the hands of fund managers as they pursue investment strategies on behalf of savers.”
The plot thickens…

How to Get A Charitable Tax Deduction for Remodeling Your Properties

By Steven Singer, CPA, MS (tax)

If your home or rental property needs remodeling, consider getting a charitable tax contribution by helping a worthwhile cause. Many charities build and renovate homes for the needy. The tax law allows you to take a charitable deduction for donating used building materials removed from your house or rental property when they are used by a qualified organization.

How much you can deduct depends on the fair market value (FMV) of the materials you donate and when you donate them.

AMOUNT OF YOUR CHARITABLE DEDUCTION

• For property held for more than 1 year, you will usually get a deduction of the FMV of the materials donated. If the property was used for business or rental purposes, you must reduce the FMV by any gain (if you sold the property) that is considered ordinary income. This is a simple calculation if you ask your tax advisor.

• For property held less than 1 year, you will usually get a deduction of either the FMV or the cost basis (less any depreciation allowed) of the materials donated, whichever is less.

• There may be limits depending on how much you contribute and your adjusted gross income, but the good news is, you can carry forward any unused deduction to later years.

STEPS NEEDED TO GET A CHARITABLE DEDUCTION

Before you begin your remolding process:

1. Get your licensed contractor to give you two bid quotes. One for deconstructing the space that you are remodeling and another one for demolishing it. Deconstructing the space is more expensive than demolition because fixtures, sheetrock, wood studs and more are taken apart slowly and carefully by hand to recycle every last piece as opposed to demolition where they rip out the materials without any consideration for reusing them (e.g. they just go into the dump).

Deconstruction usually is 1.5 to 2 times more expensive than a demolition process. However, since demotion is only a small part of your remodel, it should not add a large cost to your overall remodel.

2. Find an appraiser that can appraise the reusable materials that result from the “deconstruction” process. Usually they can give you an idea of the FMV per sq. ft. of real property you are remodeling. Appraisal costs range but typically are around $2,000-10,000. They will need to see the materials before they are donated to a charity so they can issue an appraisal report.

3. Consult with your tax advisor. They usually know a qualified appraiser you can use in your area or one can be recommended by the charity to which, you are going to donate the materials.

Your tax advisor should also be able to determine whether it is cost beneficial to consider getting a charitable deduction. For example, if the appraisal cost is $5,000 and the additional contractor cost of deconstruction is $5,000, the donation you must receive must exceed $35,000 to give you a net tax benefit. Some of our clients have obtained charitable benefits of over $100,000.

4. Pick a 501(c)(3) US charity in your area that has as their mission to use the materials in their programs such as Habitat for Humanity.

After your remodeling process:

5. The appraiser will give you a signed appraisal report and an IRS form 8283 signed by both the appraiser and the charity to which, you contributed the material; both must be attached to your tax return.

If these steps are followed correctly, then there is an excellent chance that much of the costs of your next remodel can be claimed as a charitable contribution.

For more information about this and other tax strategies to help you pay only your fair share of taxes, please contact or call Steve at 510-797-8661 X 226 or email him at ssinger@groco.com.

How to Manage and Beat Stress

There are really two kinds of people in the world: people who act and people who wait to be acted upon. Of course, that’s a generalization, but the reality is, most people fall into these two categories.  Some people take control of what happens in their life, while others sit back and let life happen to them.

It’s also interesting to note the difference in how these two groups handle stress.  Those who take control of their lives tend to deal with stress much better than those who allow life to control them. Both groups feel stress and they both feel the negative effects of stress, but they deal with it differently.

Here is how the first group takes control of the situation and manages stress. For starters, they expect change, and they prepare for it. Change is going to happen. It’s a part of life. People who are prepared for it can manage unexpected change more effectively.

People who handle stress well tend to focus on the positive instead of the negative.  For example, they recognize the freedoms they have instead of the limitations they face. Speaking of avoiding negativity, those who manage stress well, avoid negative self-talk. They know that staying negative will not help so they focus on the positive instead.

Successful stress managers also remember to be thankful for what they already have. There are no guarantees, so it’s important to recognize all the good things there are in life. This will improve your mood, lower your stress level, increase your energy and make you even more grateful.

Stress is inevitable, but when you choose to control and manage it, you remain in charge of your life and its outcomes.

Tagged with: , ,

Will Equifax Breach Open Door to Tax Scammers?

The tax season is always ripe with challenges, not the least of which is dealing with another wave of tax scams. Scammers are constantly looking for newer and more deceptive ways to steal your hard-earned money, including your tax refund.

Although, the tax-filing season is still a few months away, there is already a new threat emerging, thanks to the massive data breach that affected nearly half of all taxpayers in the country. Hackers were able to find a breach in Equifax’s security and steal the private information of about 143 million U.S. adults.

What does that mean for taxes? Now that this information is available on the dark web, the chances of your tax refund being hijacked have greatly increased. So what’s the number one thing you can do about it?

Of course, you need to keep a vigilant eye on your credit score and accounts, but you also need to be prepared to file your tax return as early as possible. That’s because if you file your return before a scammer does, they can’t file it for you and steal your refund.

While the IRS and the FTC always recommend filing your taxes early, this coming tax season it will be even more important. According to the FTC, taxpayers should file “as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can.”

That means you should start preparing now so you’re ready when tax season begins.
Tagged with: , ,

Five Tips to Identify Exceptional Employees

Every company wants to hire the best people. After all, your employees are what make your company successful. There are many ways to search for exceptional employees, but if you follow a few keys tips you’re more likely to have the most success in your search.

So what things should you be doing to identify and hire the best employees? Here are some of the most important factors.

  • Anyone who is willing to be patient and trade short-term gains and recognition for long-term success and gratification is usually an exceptional employee.
  • Employees that deal with conflict well are generally exceptional people that you want on your team. They don’t look for trouble but they know how to handle it when it comes their way.
  • Exceptional employees are never happy with the status quo or comfortable with their current standing. They always look for ways to go further and achieve even more.
  • Exceptional employees know how to check their egos. It’s not that they don’t have egos; they just understand how to control their egos. They don’t let their egos control them.  They can also admit when they are wrong and learn from their mistakes.
  • Exceptional employees know how to stay focused. They don’t let distractions and conflict hinder their view of the ultimate goal. They understand the difference between small issues and real problems.
Everyone wants to hire the best employees. By keeping these tips in mind, you will have a better chance of being successful in your search.
Tagged with: , ,

Selling globally: How to get started

For many businesses, selling their products or services globally is a natural next step in their growth.  But while the prospect of billions of new potential customers is attractive, going global can be a daunting proposition.  Here are a few tips on how to get started.

Tap your network.  Take advantage of your network for ideas about going global and assistance in finding strategic partners and international customers. This includes your advisors, colleagues, customers, suppliers, employees, trade association contacts and social media connections.

Leverage technology to boost your global presence.  To attract international customers, make the most of today’s technology to “broadcast” your business. Examples include websites, YouTube, blogs, social media networks, and other online platforms.  Regardless of the tools you use, the key is to make your business known internationally and to provide content that attracts international visitors to your website.

Determine how you will sell internationally.  You can sell directly to overseas customers, but keep in mind that you will be responsible for shipping and other logistics, as well as collecting, which can be risky. A safer option may be to set up an e-commerce site or use an e-commerce platform, such as Shopify, to streamline and automate the sales and collection process in exchange for a percentage of your sales. Other strategies to consider include joint ventures or strategic partnerships with firms overseas, outsourcing global sales, using an intermediary to ship products to international consumers, and licensing and franchising arrangements.

Determine how you will collect. Fear of not getting paid is the biggest obstacle to going global for many businesses, so it’s important to have a collection strategy before you dip your toes in international waters.  Strategies to consider include getting paid in advance; online payment platforms, such as PayPal; and banking products, such as letters of credit and sight drafts. In addition, the Export – Import Bank, the Small Business Administration and other organizations have programs that assist businesses in financing international transactions.

Get help.  To mitigate the risks associated with going global, it’s important to work with a team of advisors — including lawyers, bankers, and accountants — with international experience. It’s particularly critical to find a qualified lawyer who can help you preserve your intellectual property, comply with the laws in the countries in which you do business, and draft contracts that clearly spell out the parties’ respective rights and responsibilities and protect your interests.

Here are a few sources for more information about selling globally:
Tagged with: , ,

Five Mistakes That Can Destroy your Career

There all kinds of ways people can end up hurting their careers. Sometimes they make honest mistakes, and in other cases, people make poor choices that can totally ruin their careers.

In most cases, people don’t get the boot or destroy their career by one big mistake or poor decision. It’s more likely to occur little by little with several bad choices or traits. So what kinds of mistakes do you need to be aware of and avoid at all cost if you don’t to send your career into a tailspin? There are all kinds of mistakes but here are five big ones that can have a huge impact.

Having a super ego – never let your ego damage your career. It’s great to be successful, but don’t forget to be humble. Remember, success can be fleeting so don’t let your victories go to your head. As soon as things go downhill, the fall will be painful.

Being negative – no one wants to be around negative people. If you spend too much time being negative, even if things are tough, you’ll eventually drag everyone down with you.

Being a kiss-up – being a brown noser is one of the worst mistakes you can make for your career. Your co-workers won’t respect or like you and your relationship with your boss won’t be real, but rather based on superficial interactions.

Being complacent – complacency is harmful in any situation. As soon as you feel like you’ve arrived and put your career in cruise control so-to-speak you risk becoming complacent, and that can damage your career. It’s important to keep learning, continue improving and expanding your network. Don’t let complacency set in and stall your growth.

Promising too much – everyone wants to impress his or her boss and co-workers, but when you make promises you can’t deliver on you won’t impress anyone. You’ll do exactly the opposite and damage your reputation.

Tagged with: , ,

Yacht Owners Feeling the Tax Pinch in French Riviera

The French Riviera is one of the most popular waterways in the world for high net worth individuals. Luxurious yachts dot the docks up and down these waterways, as some of the world’ wealthiest enjoy spending time basking in the sun. However, all is not perfect in this exotic location.

It appears the French government is putting the tax clamp down on yacht owners, and the wealthy are looking for other places to dock. According to reports, many yacht owners are fleeing the Riviera and heading for more tax-friendly docks in Spain and Italy.

According to several government officials in the region, the port of Saint-Tropez has already lost nearly a third of its business since the year began. Elsewhere, Toulon is hurting even worse, having lost 40 percent of its business in 2017.

So why are so many wealthy yacht owners fleeing the Riviera? It comes down to taxes, namely diesel taxes and the national insurance tax on any crew that lives in France. In fact, the insurance tax has jumped from 15 percent to 55 percent, meaning an owner’s insurance taxes for a crew of seven living in France could be as much as €300,000.

So if you’re looking for a good place to dock your luxurious yacht on the Riviera, you might want to check in with Italy or Spain, instead.

Tagged with: , ,
Top