Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on updates to our atb.tax website. We are expanding our service offerings to include website design and all the bells and whistles that go along with a website: domain name registration, web hosting, security, mobile compatibility, maintenance and upgrades. We started with our own site to give an example of what is possible. Check out our site, and let us know what you think.
If you need money to help keep your business afloat we can help!
We just applied for the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund It’s not super hard you just need your last two years Profit & Loss Reports and why you need the loan and a little personal info! This fund can provide you and your business up to $10,000 in grants to help you survive the crisis. We also applied for the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund This fund can offer you a loan of up to $50,000 for operating expenses. I have heard that if you use it to pay employees that you may not have to pay it back. We are helping business owners like you apply for aid for a nominal fee. Call James @ 410-457-7331 for more information!
One of the things we offer is touch-screen Point of Sale Systems for Restaurants. Recently I had a potential client I’ve been working with say to me.
James “So I am leaning towards full self-service kiosk. I Think it would help my Business a lot. I don’t think that I should partner up with anything unless I have what I really need?”
Rehan, Besides the food your biggest asset is the charm of your restaurant. You should always be trying to connect with your customers. Asking your customers to pay at a kiosk is not very charming and it’s definitely not very personable. You should always be bending over backwards to give your clients the best experience possible at your restaurant. When they leave your restaurant they should be saying: Wow we were seated quickly, they took our order quickly, the food arrived in a short time, the food was great, and they made it easy to pay and tip. One of the biggest problems with a kiosk is that 1 out of 5 people will need help. Suddenly it’s doing the opposite of what you wanted which was to save time. It needs to be easy in, easy to order, easy to pay, and easy out! Your restaurant is too small for a kiosk. The food and your charm is what makes your place great. A kiosk can’t smile and ask how the meal was and it’s not very charming! Anytime you get interact with your customers the better! let me know when you’re ready to revolutionize your business. Harbortouch Elite POS can do it! All the best! James
One of the companies I work with for credit card processing is an Allentown Pennsylvania company called Harbortouch. Harbortouch has been in business for more than 20 years and I have worked with them for more than 10. The key reason for going with any merchant services provider today is technology and support. The best technology in the world is useless unless they answer the phone when you have a question and Harbortouch does it well! They also have a wide variety of technology to help your business.
To assist their agents in their sales efforts they offer a once a year conference called Accelerate. They had the last few in Las Vegas but this year they held it in Fort Lauderdale at the W Fort Lauderdale resort. The W is an incredibly beautiful property right on the beach. They even got us a discount for the room at $225 a night and we upgraded to Ocean Front for just a little bit more. We flew in Tuesday on Southwest and it took us about 2 ½ hours to get there from BWI. We grabbed a Lyft to get to the hotel and in no time at all this was our view!
During the summer when you are at the beach you have to get up so early to try to take in a sunrise but in October you have no such trouble. I got this pic around 7:15 am unreal!
They had an opening reception around 7pm in the courtyard of the hotel and it was all you can eat and drink for $FREE. They had a band too. So we chowed down and rocked out! The coolest thing about these shows really is that you get a chance to see people in the business you mostly only see once a year and some you get to hang out with and discuss your challenges. Some you just slap them on the back, grab a handshake, smile and say hey!
Bright and early the next day we got to sit with some of our partners and share a great breakfast. Next, we had some opening comments from our fearless leader Jared Isaacman. He noted some of the Harbortouch’s top agents while also mentioning some of the company’s achievements over the past year.
The next speakers basically talked about future products, products in development and new products that are client ready! The client ready product is Sky Tab.
Sky tab is a mobile point of sale terminal and printer in one that allows servers to take orders from the customer tableside thus speeding the order through our Hospitality POS Harbortouch Elite then directly to the kitchen for prep. Now servers can take orders tableside without the need to write down and then enter the order into the POS System. But wait there’s more. SkyTab can also help with the check. Usually the server has to present the check to the table and then wait for a credit card, go back to the table, collect the check and the credit card and swipe or dip the card at the POS. Then return to the table with the receipt and ultimately wait for the customer to enter a tip and sign the receipt. Now with SkyTab not only can servers take orders at the table but they can leave the SkyTab terminal at the table so the customer can pay their bill, leave a tip, and offer a compliment or concern. They can even leave their email for future offers from the merchant. This has been tried a few times by others in the past but SkyTab truly masters it! This is a game changer for Harbortouch, it’s sales reps in the field and for restauranteurs looking for every advantage in their business!
After lunch we had four breakout trainings to choose from. I chose Selling POS to restaurants. This course offered a foundation and some fresh ideas for selling Touch-screen Point of Sale Systems to restaurants. The second class I attended was how restaurateurs can utilize Doordash to add delivery as an added service for their customers. Currently if your restaurant would like to delivery through Doordash they have to buy or rent a tablet rom Doordash to assist in facilitating each order but once again Harbortouch has added a feature no one else has. When you have a Harbortouch Elite POS then when someone places an order through Doordash for your restaurant’s food, the the order instantly populates in the POS while simultaneously printing in the kitchen for preparation. Once again Harbortouch offers more ways to help your restaurant make more money!
To top it all off our keynote for the day was Ed Viesturs. In an effort to help us reach new heights Ed shared with us how he reached the summit of 14 of the world’s highest peaks without supplementary oxygen! His story was amazing, harrowing, and tragic as he ultimately watched his friends perish by continuing to climb while Ed and company decided to turn around. It was a great speech and I along with many grabbed a copy of his book along with a photo and autograph. Truly Amazing!
They always hold the company party after the first full day, so we had dinner after a 5-minute walk at the Wild Thyme Oceanside Eatery. It was super nice, we had the run of the place, and the conversations were more about the goodness and the good times of this business! We definitely shared a few smiles, a few laughs, and a goodtime was had by all!
On Thursday morning we started by learning more about the Advantage Program. The Advantage Program allows agents to help merchants surcharge customers who feel they need add a fee to cover their credit card acceptance fees. Personally I think it’s a mistake to surcharge customers because they will always have a bug in their ear telling them it cost extra to do business with this merchant. Merchants should instead pad their prices 1 to 3% and your customers will never know the difference but if you feel you need to surcharge your customers for your credit card acceptance we can help!
Next, we learned how to offer business loans to our customers and an overview of Lighthouse. Harbortouch’s online business management system! More to come on that.
We had another great lunch sponsored by American Express and two more classes in the afternoon. Security is now top of mind to many business owners today and Harbortouch is a leading the industry. Whether it’s using a stand-alone credit card terminal like the VX 520 or the Harbortouch Elite POS Harbortouch tokenizes every credit card number swiped or dipped into the system. Then offers Point-to-Point Encryption that keeps the info secure. The PCI-validated P2PE solution prevents cardholder data from entering your payment environment, protecting your customers and your business from the harmful and costly effects of a data breach. Businesses large and small have suffered from the devastating effects of a hack. Today with Harbortouch your transactions can be worry free!
My last class of the trip was focused on Lighthouse. Lighthouse is a great way to get details from your business. From sales and tax information to payroll information about your employees. If you find your needed to make a change to your menu or simply wanting a look at your sales while your out of town then Lighthouse is for you! But wait there’s more. Have you ever wished you had help managing your reputation online, making social media post or email marketing? Well if your accepting credit cards through Harbortouch it’s all a part of a broader plan to assist in your success. Marketing to help get the people in your store or restaurant, a management system for your business, a way to get paid and security in those payments! Harbortouch has it all.
To end the day and the conference Harbortouch gave away 2 cars a BMW and a Lexus. I had 30 entries or so based on deals I have written in the past year, but I wasn’t picked. The first guy who won was all smiles, but the second guy who won was truly tickled, and he let out a few screams. It was Too Cool!
It was impossible to say goodbye to everyone but I a managed to catch a few. That night my fiancé Julie and I ate dinner at the 15th Street Fisheries. We read online that not only did they have the best seafood in town, but you could actually feed the fish dockside! So after looking at the menu and traveling 1200 miles to eat there I ordered the King Crab LOLL, but I can say it was the best ever! Then we did get some bread to feed this fish. It was too Cool!
We hit the beach the next day and the water was so warm compared to Maryland. While I was relaxing, I was able to get some planning in. It’s so tuff to plan for your business while your running your business! Last but not least we hit the Hard Rock Casino for some cards. I have a small fetish for poker, so I sat for about 2 and ½ hours and I dropped $49 but it was fun, and I did hang!
It was a great conference and I definitely learned a few things. I hope you have too!
If you need to accept credit cards for payment or better yet you need to modernize operations at your restaurant Harbortouch has the means. When your ready I can answer your questions and help you get started!
James Darle Jones Sr President, Author, Tax, & Payments Specialist NetPay2K International Corp Answer Tax & Business Services Harbortouch of Maryland http://www.harbortouchposmd.com 301-829-3331
So I want to start a business? What type of business formation should I choose? Should I be a sole proprietor, a partnership, an S corporation, or a C corporation? I’ll just set up an LLC that’s what everyone is doing now right? LOL NOOOOOOO!!!
An LLC Is a limited liability company. Basically what this means is that if someone sues you for something that you did within the business then all they can get is the total amount of money you have put into the company. They cannot go after you personally.
Did you know that when it comes to tax time there is no tax form for an LLC? Once you’ve chosen to be an LLC you have to choose how you will act. LLC owners must run their business as a sole proprietor, a partnership, or an S or C Corp. Also if you own an LLC in the state of Maryland you must file an annual report and when you file it there is a $300 fee!
When you file your annual return, they will ask you if you’re using any personal property to run your business. If you live in Frederick County, it doesn’t matter but if you live in Carroll County Maryland the county will turn around and hit you with a property tax bill. It’s not much but it adds up especially after you get my bill. LOLL
Sole proprietors are the most common and the easiest. You operate our company and at tax time you file a Schedule C with your 1040 and you will pay self-employment taxes and income taxes. If you are profitable you need to consider paying estimated taxes to the Fed and your state so you do not end up with a big tax bill come tax time.
Partnerships are great for multiple owner companies. Taxes are paid per your percentage of ownership and the profit but via a special allocation any of owners pay can be increased. Paying estimated taxes to the state and the Fed and encouraged to stay ahead of a back tax bill.
If you’re an S Corp, you will need to take a salary. The benefit of being an S Corp is that once you take a decent salary which is an expense to the business, the profit left over is taxed as a capital gain and you would not have to pay payroll taxes like social security on the profit. If you do not take a salary, then all your profit is taxed as a Sole Proprietor and this can add up. S Corps are great for single owner businesses with revenue of $50,000 and over.
C Corporations have mostly been reserved for public companies in the past but the Tax and Jobs act of 2018 offers the biggest tax break of any type of business. While all other business can receive a 20% discount on gross profit C corps can get up to 40% and this can really help you at tax time. Be careful how you select your formation and if you need help I have my calculator ready call James @ (410) 457-7331 for $FREE HELP!
James Darle Jones Sr
President, Author, Tax & Payments Specialist NetPay2K International Corp Answer Tax & Business
Its tax time. What do you need to do to get ready to get your taxes prepared? The first thing you will need if you are using a new tax preparer is last year’s tax return. Depending on how much you made last year there are penalties for not paying enough in throughout the year. The rule is that you need to pay in at least 90% of what you paid in last year if you made the same or more in advance of doing your taxes. So, if you owe more than $1000 in federal taxes this year and you paid in more than $900 for the entire year you are in the clear! If you made as much as you did last year but paid in less than 90% there could be a penalty. This rule is normally true, but the IRS actually changed it to 85% for 2018 only because so many people either didn’t change their withholding or didn’t withhold enough.
If you’re seeing a new tax preparer this year, he or she will need to see you and your children’s Social Security cards. As a tax preparer the IRS ask’s us if we have seen it or not and if we have seen your driver’s license and I always have to answer honestly, or I could risk my ability to prepare taxes returns.
This is a short list of more things you will need
Name, Date of Birth, and Social Card
What is your current address?
What do you do for a living?
Did you live in your home state all year?
Are you single or married? Did your marital status change before December 31st of the tax year?
Were there any changes in dependents?
Did you have any child or dependent care expenses? Please include care provider’s name, address, EIN, and amount.
Did you have any Child Dependent Care for day care or summer camps that were not overnight?
W2’s and any other income from a small business or contract work that would supply you with a 1099.
Did you buy or sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds or other investment properties?
Did you buy, sell or refinance your home?
Mortgage interest you paid + escrow you earned + Property tax.
Did you donate money, household goods, cars or stock?
Did you incur any tuition or continuing education expenses?
Proof of health care in 2018 1095 A, B or C Did you have health care all year or only a portion?
Did you pay out of pocket for doctors or prescriptions? How many medical miles did you drive?
Did you receive any of the following IRS documents? Form 1095-A, 1095-B, or Form 1095-C? If so, please send.
Do you own or have a controlling interest in foreign financial institutions, businesses or investment funds?
Do you want to file your tax return electronically? Can your state either deduct the amount owed or direct deposit your refund into your bank account?
For direct deposit, please provide your bank name, routing number, and account number.
There are probably a few more things you could be asked for but this is a good start.
We wish you all the best in getting your taxes completed. Give us a call is you need help.
James Darle Jones (410) 457-7331
Believe it or not I ran into a business the other day that had decided not to accept credit cards for payment. It was a new tattoo shop in Frederick Maryland. How could it be, in this day and age, that a business would actually consider not accepting payments in an electronic form when it makes it so easy for their customers to pay? After doing some digging it seems there are several tattoo shops in Frederick that don’t accept credit cards. These businesses are mostly comprised of a younger generation who thinks they don’t need to conform to run their business and I get it but……I don’t get it.
Let me tell you why they’re missing the boat. As a retail or service business, you need to make it as easy as possible for people to buy your product or service and in this case it’s both! Say a new client comes in and looks at some designs and says ok I’ll take it. Instantly your creating a barrier to your sale when you either have a sign that says cash only or you have to say we only accept cash or worse yet you create the tattoo and when they go to pay with plastic you say “sorry cash only.” First if you have the sign it’s also a red flag that says there is an extra step to buy from me. Second if you say cash only before they buy it makes the customer decide again whether they wish to do business with you. Sure, times are good but no-one with any sense would make a potential customer think twice about their purchase. If you were to spring it on them after the tattoo was completed what are you going to do follow them to the bank? Anyone who says they always get it anyway is lying to themselves and I’m not LOL. What about those tattoos that cost $4-5-$600.00 or more? I’m sorry but not many people have that kind of cash to drop on a tattoo, but they might have that much in credit.
Ahhhh…Do you see all of the problems you are solving when you accept credit and debit cards for that matter? By accepting credit cards, you have a built-in financing program with no risk as long as you dip the card into the reader and get a signature for the cards that do require one now. By accepting credit cards you’re also giving your clients a level of security. Think about it, it’s a risk for you just to go to an ATM and withdraw money. Years ago, when I was living in Baltimore I was robbed at an ATM, the guy got $300 and wanted more before I ran off and yes, he had a gun Clint Eastwood would be proud to holster. I had an insurance agent complain once because I paid a large some of cash for my car insurance and she didn’t like making cash deposits at the bank. If your potential customer must get a cash advance from a credit card it’s another fee or should I say obstacle for them to buy from you. Let’s say you wanted to get a cash advance from your credit card, but you don’t know the pin #? You’re not waiting a week or more to get the pin # in the mail. You’re going to a tattoo shop that accepts credit cards. It’s that simple
By accepting credit cards, you are making it easy for your customer to pay and in the back of their head they will always know it’s easy to buy from you. You get a built-in financing program and you don’t have to make as many cash deposits at the bank either. Most of your would-be clients might be able to get the cash but it’s a hassle and no-one likes a hassle especially when your customers are buying something like a tattoo that is supposed to make them happy. In the long run not accepting credit and debit card will cost your business customers and it will cost you money.
If you’re worried about the fee, then increase your pricing 4% to 5% but whatever you do don’t make them pay a surcharge for many of the same reasons!
For more information about the solutions we offer to help your business accept electronic payments in your store, in the field, or online Call James @ (410) 457-7331 or complete our contact page https://atb.tax/contact/ and we will be in touch. Good luck with your business and keep in mind “The Key to Profitability is making it Easy for Your Customers to PAY!” We make it Affordable!
3 Tax Deductions Available Only to Startup Businesses
If you started a business last year and incurred some expenses before you officially opened your doors, you may be entitled to deduct certain startup and organizational costs on your tax return this year. But the IRS has strict guidelines you must follow to claim them. Here’s a look at the rules.
The Allowable Deductions
According to the IRS, there are three categories of startup costs eligible for tax deductions, and you can only deduct them if you actually opened the business. The startup costs must be related to:
- Creating a trade or business or investigating the creation or acquisition of an active trade or business. Some of these costs might include surveying markets, analyzing products or the labor supply, visiting potential business locations, and any other costs associated with creating or investigating a new or existing business.
- Preparing the business to open. Any costs you incurred before opening your doors and begin to generate income are included in this category, with the exception of equipment, which will have to be depreciated. Eligible expenses could include employee training and wages, travel costs to locate suppliers and distributors, advertising, and consultant fees such as attorneys and accountants.
- Organizational costs. If you legally set up your business as a partnership or corporation before the end of your first year in business, you can deduct these costs as well. The expenses typically associated with incorporating are legal fees, state organization fees, salaries for temporary directors, and organizational meetings. Expenses to set up a partnership agreement include legal expenses and filing and accounting fees.
Chapters 7 and 8 of IRS Publication 535 outline these deductions in full detail.
How to Take the Deductions
The IRS allows you to deduct $5,000 in business startup costs and $5,000 in organizational costs, but only if your total startup costs are $50,000 or less. If your startup costs for either area are in excess of $50,000, the amount of your allowable deduction will be reduced by that amount. And if your startup costs are more than $55,000, the deduction is completely eliminated. For instance, if your start up costs are $53,000, you would not be able to deduct $3,000 of the expense, and would only be allowed to deduct $2,000. And if your start up costs were $55,000 or more, you don’t qualify for the deduction at all. The costs remaining after your deduction should be amortized annually in equal portions over the next 15 years. If have questions about a startup business, taxes, or merchant services we can help. We offer $FREE consulting!
Call James @ (410) 457-7331
I made a small fortune when the internet was gaining steam back in the early 2000’s helping small businesses get paid online. The cool thing was that businesses found our website from across America and I was truly amazed at how well it worked. Then as more and more businesses went online to find customers my traffic decreased and before I knew it, it was dead. I blame most of it on the ending of the gold rush as many businesses went online to find fortunes with little or no plan but to just get online. I also blame big business. As the big players started to dominate, many smaller players just quit but what most people didn’t know was that search engines like Alta Vista and Yahoo started recognizing local businesses and then actually putting them on the map! Today it is not only possible but imperative to gain traction in local search by hiring a website developer to design and create a website, submit it to the search engines, and putting your business on the map.
What does a website really do?
Your website is your first chance to make an impression and for many your last if you’re not putting your best foot forward. When I’m on my phone searching for something and click on a URL (Web Address) I better be able to easily utilize the website from my phone. So, your website must be mobile ready. Mobile ready means that it’s easy to read from a smart phone and when you present a Call to Action like “Call Now.” All you need to do is touch the phone and it dials your phone number. It’s a major pain to have to try and remember the phone number while punching it into your phone. If your mobile website design is not mobile ready YOU WILL LOSE BUSINESS, PERIOD! As a potential new customer, I want to learn, can this company meet my needs? How close are they? What are their hours? Do they look like the kind of people I want to do business with? Do they look friendly, approachable? So yes, a photo would help! Does their website offer clear instructions on how to contact or call for more information? Ease of use is the key.
So, your website is looking good but what features does your website require to get the job done? First you need a good logo or theme or combination that visually explains your business name and maybe even what you do. Next, you need at least three to four of the things you offer to use as subtitles on the home page. Each subtitle would then link to another page for a service business in this case that explains exactly what goes into each service and what you do to complete it. So, if you are an auto mechanic I would start with your bread and butter like oil changes. State why it’s important and provide a call to action such as Call (410) 457-7331 to set up an appointment along with a contact page they can fill out on your website, that sends you their contact info by email so you the business owner can call them. Maybe you could also put something like, “Drop by anytime or call us for an appointment.” Once again you need to make it easy and friendly. I can’t tell you how many websites over the years I’ve come upon that made it super difficult or nearly impossible to inquire about the products or services they offered.
The bottom line is that your website needs to be easy to use, say and explain what you do and why you are better than the other guy while including a clear call to action. The rest is up to you! What is the cost to design and host and update your website? Give us a call or complete our contact page.
James Darle Jones