Monday, August 29, 2011

Balancing the Budget

Thanks to Roman May

My wife and I recently decided to start living on a cash budget. She cut back to working part-time when our first child was born two years ago, and it cut our income in half. She said that she would be willing to make financial sacrifices in order to stay home with our two kids, and I supported her in that decision. Our budgeting had gone pretty smoothly until last week when our house was broken into. We weren’t home when it happened, and our cash budget envelope was taken. We called the police, and after filing their report, they let us know that we really need to get a security system. We decided that with the strict cash budget we’re living on, it would be more than worth it to invest in a security system for our home. We asked around the neighborhood and found out that many neighbors used the system they found at With my wife being home with the kids all day, I would feel better knowing they feel safe.
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

California State Laws & Statute of Limitations for Credit Card Collections

by Malinda Winkle
Basic creditcard / debitcard / smartcard graph...Image via Wikipedia
Once a credit card account goes past due, applicable fees mount quickly. By the time the account has been turned over to a collection agency, the late fees and over-limit fees often account for a considerable amount of the debt owed.

In California, under state law, Statute 337 provides a four-year statute of limitations on the collection of credit card accounts that are considered written agreements. Once the statute of limitations is reached, collectors may continue to attempt collections, but they may not bring suit to collect or even threaten to sue the debtor.

In the event your credit card agreement is an oral agreement, the statute of limitations is only two years.

Consider both the state where you lived at the time you took the credit card and the state where the credit card company is located. Depending on the fine print, the statute of limitation laws of either or both states may apply to the rules for collection.

Credit Cards; State Statutes of Limitation for Credit Card Debt; Connie Prater; April 2011
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The End of Federal Grants for Antique Yacht Restorations

Coronet (yacht) at sail in 1894, digital file ...Image via Wikipediaby Malinda Winkle
Photo: The "Coronet" yacht at sail in 1894

Antique yachts with exceptional historical significance, such as the famous "Coronet," used to win government grant money to fund yacht restoration projects through the National Park Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of the Interior. It funded important yacht restorations through its Save America's Treasures program. This grant program helped make the conservation and preservation of nationally significant artifacts a reality.

The Coronet

The Coronet, a 133 foot yacht first launched in 1885, is an invaluable historical artifact. In October 2002, The Save America’s Treasures program awarded a $350,000 grant to the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) where the Coronet is being restored. The school's advanced students and its master shipwrights embarked on a multi-year project of restoring the yacht to its original splendor. The work was conducted on the school's waterfront campus, 2.5 acres in Newport, Rhode Island. The Coronet gained further attention in 2004, when it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Closing of Save America's Treasures

Sadly, due to budget constraints, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced the closing of the  Save America’s Treasures office. These two organizations have worked together to save many important historic projects all across America. According to the Preservation Nation website, our U.S. Congress allocated no funding for Save America’s Treasures programs for 2011 or 2012. No future funding of planned.


"Rhode Island Roads": Restoring A Legend: The IYRS Is Restoring the Classic Schooner Coronet
National Park Service: U.S. Department of the Interior: Save America's Treasures Grant Program

National Trust for Historic Preservation; Important Update About Save America's Treasures

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    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Tax Advantages of Agricultural Exemption in Texas

    by Malinda Winkle

    Dallas, Texas Skyline from I-35 EastboundImage by Ken Lund via FlickrJohn Benda owns and operates Fuel City No. 2, a truck stop at the intersection of Interstate 30 and Interstate 35E in Dallas, Texas. Due to the longhorn cattle grazing on the acreage  behind the truck stop, Benda estimates that he saves about $30,000 a year. The presence of the cattle gives the property an agricultural exemption, providing a hefty savings when figuring its annual property tax bill.

    In the 1950s, land values began increasing in response to the post-war boom. As residents began buying and building in what was previously agricultural areas, the increased property values hurt the remaining farm and ranching operations. Agricultural use exemptions were born. Having an agricultural exemption in Texas lowered ad valorem taxes and shielded farmers and ranchers from the threat of rising property taxes. But, farmers and ranchers are not the only beneficiaries today.

    Whether you are a cattle farmer of a Fortune 500 company, land you own may qualify for the lucrative agricultural exemption as long as you use it for either agricultural purposes or wildlife management.
    In Texas, unlike other states, the agricultural exemption transfers from one owner to the next. No reference is made to a minimum amount of acreage. Instead, qualification is based on the use of the land.


    The Land Report; Cut Your Taxes With An Agricultural Exemption; Trey Garrison; April 2007

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    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Missouri Bus Driver License for 14 Passengers or Less

    An internal shuttle bus in NUSImage via Wikipediaby Malinda Winkle

    In Missouri, if you drive a shuttle bus or other vehicle for work and it carries 14 or fewer passengers, you must obtain a Class E or for-hire license. The Class E license enables the driver to operate any bus that weighs 26,000 pounds or less in gross vehicle weight as long as no hazardous materials placard is required.

    At the time you apply for Class E license, you must be at least 18 years old and must meet the under-21 requirement for obtaining a full license. Obtain the Class E by passing a road sign test, a vision screening and a written exam. The driving test is only required of applicants who do not already have a valid Missouri driver's license.

    References: Special Licenses in Missouri

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    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    IRS Code 6039(a): Incentive Stock Options and Employee Stock Purchase Plans

    by Malinda Winkle

    Seal of the Internal Revenue ServiceImage via WikipediaBusinesses that administer an incentive stock option program or an employee stock purchase program (ESPP), sometimes called Section 423 plans, must comply with Internal Revenue regulations in Code 6039(a), first enacted in 1986. It has been repeatedly revised regarding the plan administrators' requirements related to reporting to both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to affected employees.

    2004 Revisions

    In the 2004 amendment, when the employee exercised an incentive stock option or the employee transfers stocks in an ESPP, the new regulations mandated that corporations provide a written statement to each employee about these transfers by January 31 of the following calendar year. At that time, the requirements did not require a filing of information returns to the IRS.

    2006 Revisions

    Code 6039(a) was amended again by Section 403 of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, modifying the reporting requirements again. This time, it required employers to file an information return with the Internal Revenue Service. It also required plan administrators to track exercised options as described in Section 422 of IRS Code and employee stock transfers as described in Section 423 of IRS Code. Since that time, the IRS waived these 2006 requirements for years 2007, 2008 and 2009 only.

    Current Requirements

    Under the current Internal Revenue Code 6039(a), effective January 2009, plan administrators must report all transfers to the IRS on Form 3922, either on paper or electronically.  They must also provide participants the option of receiving electronic statements. (See References 1) In the last amendment, while reporting requirements on incentive stock options plans remained unchanged, there were some changes in requirements for ESPP transfers. Section 6039(a)(2) clearly requires plan administrators to file an information return on ESPP transfers. For each such transfer reported, an employee statement is also required. Only the initial transfer is recorded. When the employee sells or transfers a stock previous purchased under an ESPP, the reporting requirements does not apply.

    Equity Compliance Software

    If manually managing incentive stock option and/or employee stock ownership plans becomes cumbersome, consider some equity compliance software. From every stage, from enrollment through options, purchases, statements and reporting requirements, the use of software may minimize your compliance problems and streamline the complex tracking requirements the plan administrators face. The software has built-in options for employees wishing to opt for electronic rather than paper statements, for instance. Software solutions can simplify an otherwise intricate process, saving required compliance data and with an auditing option.


    Option Ease; OptionEase Delivers First End-to-end Employee Stock Purchase Program (ESPP) Solution; December 2010

    Cooley; Special Reporting Requirements Regarding Incentive Stock Options and Employee Stock Purchase Plans; January 2009

    Internal Revenue Service; Information Reporting Requirements Under Internal Revenue Code Section 6039; December 2009

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    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    The Importance of Role Delineation in Co-Leadership Models

    Co-leadership models allow two individuals to share a leadership roll. The co-leaders may be co-CEOs, co-directors, co-teachers, co-principals, co-managers or a nurse-physician co-leadership, for instance.

    Regardless of what businesses utilize the co-leadership model, clearly delineating each co-leader's role and responsibilities allows them to function confidently and allows their staff to interact with them efficiently. Without the staff having a clear understanding of which co-leader to approach for what problem, confusion can surface, diminishing efficiency. Further, the staff may attempt to play one co-leader off against the other in much the same way a child plays mom off against dad or vice versa.


    IT Business Edge; Co-CEOs Not Common, but Leadership Model Works for Some; Ann All; February 2009

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