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Why Your Small Business Needs a Board of Directors

Learn why having a Board of Directors for your business can have a great impact on business operations.

How to Balance Work & Play as a Small Business Owner

Want to start your own business but concerned it will consume all your free time? Check out these ideas to help you balance work and play while remaining a successful business owner.

3 Ways to Improve Your Online Customer Feedback

3 simple ideas for improving the feedback you receive from your customers by Kevin Stirtz, The Amazing Service Guy.

Recommended Management : Sales

How to Handle Customer Complaints

Learn what to do with those pesky, but valuable customer complaints from Kevin Stirtz, The Amazing Service Guy.

Kevin Stirtz, The Amazing Service Guy

Expert customer service advice from Kevin Stirtz, The Amazing Service Guy.

How and Where to File Sales Tax in Your State

Link to your state's website for more information on filing sales tax in your state.

Looking Out for Your Business During Flu Season

Your business may have already been impacted by the spring and summer outbreaks of 2009 H1N1 influenza. The CDC anticipates more communities may be affected and/or more severely affected this fall and winter than were in the spring and summer of 2009. The

How to Choose a Business Partner

Choosing a business partner is one of the most important parts of starting a partnership-based business. Here's what to think about to ensure you make the right choice.

Most Commonly Used Tax Forms

Do you need a W-2? Maybe a W-4? They are all here, along with that they're exactly for.

Recommended Employees : Management : Taxes

5 Tips About Workers’ Compensation Coverage

Almost all employers are required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage, however the specific details can vary by state. There are number of issues related to workers’ compensation coverage that are either unknown to most, or easily misunderstood. Here are five tips that will better help you manage your workers’ compensation insurance...

Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax

The federal generation-skipping transfer tax is an extremely complicated system meant to fill what was once a gap between the federal estate tax and the federal gift tax, which were meant to levy tax on substantial wealth transferred between generations.

Recommended Management

Holding Down Estate Planning Costs

If you are interested in passing along your business or other possessions at death to individuals or organizations of your choosing, the process of estate planning will give you greater certainty that your wishes will be carried out in a way that maximizes the amounts going to the objects of your bounty and minimizes the amount that will be lost to taxes and estate settlement costs.

Recommended Management

Alternate Valuation Date

There is an election that the executor of your estate can make regarding the time at which property included in your gross estate will be valued: the date of death (the usual valuation date), or a date that is six months after the date of death (the alternate valuation date). For example, if a catastrophe hits your business and it's worth much less six months after your death than it was on the date of death, it may be worthwhile to use the later date.

Recommended Management

Special Use Valuation

Property must be valued at its fair market value for purposes of the estate tax. In turn, fair market value normally is determined by a property's "highest and best use," that is, the use which would make the property the most valuable. This is true even if the property currently is not being employed in its highest and best use. For example, if the deceased was using a gold bar as a paperweight, you'd have to base its value on the price of gold per ounce, not on the going rate for heavy paperweights.

Recommended Management

Deferring Payment of Estate Tax

Generally, any estate tax owed by a decedent's estate must be paid within nine months of the decedent's date of death. However, if more than 35 percent of the decedent's adjusted gross estate is an interest in closely held business, including a farm, the executor may elect to extend the time for paying the portion of the estate tax that is attributable to the closely held business.

Recommended Management

Powers of Appointment

A power of appointment gives the holder of the power (usually the trustee of a trust) the right to appoint or give away property, usually the property held by the trust. The power may be limited by the trust document. A special power of appointment (one that a power holder cannot exercise in his or her own favor, meaning that the power holder can't get the property out of the trust and into his or her own hands free and clear) is often teamed up with a marital deduction transfer to obtain tax savings.

Recommended Management

Lifetime Gifts

Since, after 2010 and before 2013, lifetime gifts and transfers at death are added together for purposes of the unified transfer tax, and taxed at the same rate, how can it be that lifetime gifts can save you transfer taxes? Two reasons: first, the gift tax annual exclusion, and second, the fact that any appreciation in property value that occurs after the transfer is not taxable to the decedent's estate.

Recommended Management

Life Insurance

If you're trying to reduce the amount of your wealth that will be subject to the federal unified transfer tax by making lifetime gifts, giving away a life insurance policy can be a good idea. Life insurance is an example of an asset that can be expected to greatly appreciate in value. It may be worth relatively little while you are alive (particularly if it's term insurance, which has no cash value), but once you die, its value balloons.

Recommended Management


Trusts are extremely valuable estate planning tools. They are extensively used in connection with property held for minors, life insurance, marital deduction bequests, and charitable transfers.

Recommended Management

Credit Shelter Bequests

While the marital deduction under the estate and gift tax excludes from your federal taxable estate only the value of property transferred to your spouse, the "unified credit" (now called the "applicable credit amount") serves to exclude from estate taxation lifetime gifts and transfers at death of up to $5 million for those who die after 2010 and before 2013. This exclusion from estate taxation applies regardless of who receives the gifts and transfers.

Recommended Management

Charitable Deduction

A gift of property or money to a qualified charity is fully deductible against the gift tax (if made by the donor during lifetime) or against the estate tax (if made after death). By themselves, each of these transfers can save up to 35 cents on each dollar contributed (35 percent being the maximum transfer tax rate in 2010 through 2012). But if the charitable gift is made during lifetime, it also carries with it the advantage of being deductible against current income taxes. This could mean up to another 35 percent tax savings (based on the maximum individual income tax rate through 2012.)

Recommended Management

Marital Deduction

For purposes of the federal unified transfer tax, you can — during your lifetime, or at death — give an unlimited amount of wealth to your spouse tax-free. This can be a great advantage, but may not be the panacea that it seems. The reason: although you can transfer any amount that you want to your spouse, if your spouse survives you (and does not remarry), there will not be a marital deduction available to lessen the estate tax liability at his or her later death. For this reason, it's often a good idea not to give everything to the spouse outright, but to use a credit shelter bequest.

Recommended Management

Special Exemption for Family-Owned Businesses

If qualified family-owned business interests (QFOBIs) make up more than 50 percent of your taxable estate, you may benefit from a special provision that can increase your total effective exemption from estate tax to $1.3 million.

Recommended Management

What to Do About Your Business

The question of what to do about your business comes down to two main choices:

Recommended Management

Avoiding the Estate Tax Collector

In order to pass on your wealth to your chosen beneficiaries at death, in addition to probate and other estate settlement costs, you (or more correctly, your estate) may have to pay death taxes at the federal level, and possibly also at the state level.

Recommended Management