Council Bluffs Elementary School Supply List

I took the back to school list for Council Bluffs Elementary, and turned it into a spreadsheet that can make a shopping list for those with more than one child in school. Enter the number of children in each grade in Column A of the School List tab and get a list of items to buy and total quantities in the Shopping List tab.

Link to supply list from Council Bluffs Schools

Download the Spreadsheet from Google Docs

Iowa Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Update 2014

The Iowa Finance Authority has revised the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program summary effective October 1, 2013 (10/01/13). For 2014, a beginning farmer may be qualified if their net worth is less than $678,731 according to the Iowa Finance Authority’s notice for January 1, 2014. Currently, the program summary contains an error in stating that net worth can be $691,172 in Qualification 2. I have inquired with the Iowa Finance Authority, and they said that a corrected program summary will be released soon.

This is a significant change from the December 31, 2012 program summary where a beginning farmer’s net worth could not exceed $366,324. So even if you have considered the credit in the past, but did not meet the net worth qualification, 2014 may be a good year to review the application again.

I have attached a copy of the current Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program Summary, but keep in mind that Qualification 2 is incorrect that net worth can be $691,172 and should read $678,731 instead.

I will post a new copy of the summary as soon as I find that they have made the correction.

IA Beg Farmer Tax Credit Summary 10-01-2013

Iowa Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Calculator

I created a couple worksheets in Google Docs to help calculate a comparison of the Iowa Beginning Farmer Tax Credit on a crop share basis and a cash rent basis. I wanted to share this worksheet to help others evaluate their options and make better decisions.

The main conclusion I’m seeing is that the amount of credit per acre is significantly higher with a crop share agreement than a cash rent agreement. A 50/50 crop share with a 163 yield and corn priced at $4.39 can generate about $50/acre in credit. However, cash rent of $300/acre will only generate a credit of $15/acre. Even cash rent at $500/acre will only yield a $25/acre credit.

Click Here for the worksheet (Go to File > Download As > .xlsx if you want to edit it in Microsoft Excel)

Or use the link below if you want to access it from the Google Docs Template gallery. This template link doesn’t seem to be working right in Internet Explorer. Just use the link above if you are having issues viewing this link in Internet Explorer.

Where’s my refund?

Expecting an income tax refund?

You can find your IRS refund here. Have your social security number, filing status, and refund amount ready.

You can find your Nebraska refund here. Have your social security number and refund amount ready.

You can find your Iowa refund here. Have the tax year, social security number, and refund amount ready.

 

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

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Review #5: Wave Accounting

Wave-Accounting

I want my clients to keep a good set of books so that I can help them make good decisions. I also want them to have as few barriers to getting that system running as possible, including the excuse of how costly it is. This is where Wave has given me an opportunity to recommend a quality product to get my clients organized and help us work together more effectively.

Goal: Give small businesses the tools they need to run their business at the best price point possible: Free.

Pros:

  • Free (and intends to stay that way!)
  • Balance sheet and profit and loss reports
  • Export reports to Excel
  • Banking integration (import transactions automatically)
  • Bank reconciliation (feature in progress)
  • Can make general journal entries to adjust your books (or for your accountant to adjust them)
  • Transaction splitting
  • Send and track invoices
  • Accounts payable tracking
  • Accept payments with integrated payment processing
  • Integrated payroll tools
  • Free multiple user access (Read only or Edit access available)
  • Special accountant user role for your external accountant
  • Attach receipts to transactions (can add right from the camera on your phone)
  • Multiple businesses under one user login
  • Premium services and support at reasonable cost
  • Find a Pro to find an accountant that uses Wave
  • Integrate with Shoeboxed, Etsy, and PayPal
  • Foreign currency considerations

Cons:

  • Reports sometimes look funny. It’s a Canadian company which explains some of it.
  • No account numbers in the chart of accounts
  • No control over ordering of accounts on Income Statement
  • Cannot show multiple periods side by side in reports (no comparing to last year)
  • No report customization
  • No equivalent to “Classes” in QuickBooks
  • I would rather classify my transactions between accounts than use the “transfer” feature
  • Difficult to troubleshoot why my balance sheet balance does not agree to the imported bank balance in the dashboard (this is why a bank reconciliation is so desperately needed)
  • Only 2 user role options: view or edit
  • Stops categorizing transactions if you are inconsistent with the vendor (for instance if you categorize Wal-Mart as both Groceries and Hardware)

Summary

I have used Wave to track my personal expenses for several years and will continue to do so. I like the banking integration and the fact that it’s free and has all intent to remain that way. I like the way that they are using advertising and premium services in their revenue model to keep the basic product free. I’m interested to see how well the bank reconciliation feature works. I do recommend Wave to some of my clients that are struggling to total up their spreadsheets at the end of the year and can’t bring themselves to pay anything for software that they think just makes my job easier.

The style of Wave reports has always annoyed me a bit as well as the fact that expense accounts on the Income Statement seem to have no particular order. I have asked customer support to ad comparative reports and they told me to export both periods to Excel and do it myself. I would really like some type of report builder so that I could make reports that the development team doesn’t think are important.

If you have a relatively simple business that doesn’t need to track divisions or profit centers, Wave may be an application that will suit your needs. The fact that it includes a Balance Sheet in its reporting makes it usable even if your business is organized as a corporation or partnership and needs to report a Balance Sheet for tax purposes.

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MACRS HY Depreciation Schedule

Just to show how big of a dork I am, I wanted to share a spreadsheet that I made in Excel originally, then realized it was simple enough to even be used as a Google Document. It’s set up to put in the asset information you have, then figure the MACRS depreciation based on the half-year convention. The depreciation schedule is on the first tab and the MACRS table it refers to is on the second tab.

MACRS Half Year Convention Depreciation Schedule

 

 

NE and IA Beginning Farmer Tax Credits

For landowners that have qualified tenants, the benefits of the beginning farmer tax credit can be huge. Both Iowa and Nebraska have significant beginning farmer tax credits that can serve to offset your state income taxes.

The Iowa beginning farmer tax credit is calculated as 5% of cash rents or 15% of gross revenue from crop shares. A qualified beginning farmer is one that has net worth under $366,324 and has adequate education, training, or experience in their area of farming. For more information visit http://www.iada.state.ia.us/BFTC/.

The Nebraska beginning farmer tax credit is calculated as 10% of cash rents or 15% of gross revenue from crop shares.  A qualified beginning farmer has farmed or ranched for less than 10 of the last 15 years, has a net worth of less than $200,000, and will provide the majority of the daily physical labor and management for the farm. For more information visit http://www.nda.nebraska.gov/beg_farmer/taxcp.html.

 

 

The water is rising…

As the Missouri river swells between Omaha and Council Bluffs, we have a unique opportunity to watch a major flood event slowly develop into a major emergency. This also gives us a highly unique opportunity to become incredibly prepared for this impending disaster. Sue Pitts at the Iowa Western Community College (IWCC) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has identified some ideas and resources to help your business stay in business, even if your operations are washed downstream.

 

  1. Assess critical functions and employees
  2. Identify critical customers and vendors
  3. Plan for alternative work space
  4. Have essentials ready to move QUICK!
  5. Discuss this plan with your employees

Read the full article and additional resources!

 

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Somebody has to pay taxes

The bar chart presented on the National Debt A...

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A lot of people are getting fired up talking about significant income tax reform. Everyday there is someone posting on Twitter about income tax being unconstitutional or that the founders would be rolling in their graves about it. While that may be a fair point, no one seems to offer a viable solution.

It would be nice to have a more transparent tax system that is easier for individuals and businesses to comply with. That’s where the fair tax and flat tax supporters start their argument. However, neither of these taxes would get a broad base of support when most taxpayers realized they would be paying significantly more than they are now under our convoluted system of deductions, credits, and income exemptions.

The truth is, everyone would like the total tax burden to be lower than it is now. However, they don’t want to give up any government spending programs to achieve this reality. That fact has made it almost politically impossible for any politician to be elected with a platform based in reality. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die to get there.

It’s going to take a national awakening and a big shot of reality to restore fiscal balance to our current system. There really are only two options to choose from: less government support and lower taxes or continued mass welfare programs and acceptance of significantly higher taxes to fund those programs.

So are we hooked on government programs like a crazed addict or can we have an honest discussion about the necessary functions of government and be willing to cut anything that doesn’t fit that definition? I don’t think we can cut enough to make a significant difference without cutting something that hits too close to home for most taxpayers.

I think we need to prepare for significantly higher tax rates in the future just to support the program levels we currently have, and increasing tax rates as the government continues to bloat. Then we need to figure out the rules of the bloating system and figure out how we can get our piece of the taxes back through programs that are increasingly applying to much of the middle class. Big brother wants to hold your hand, and he’ll push you down just to prove you need that hand.

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Iowa tax policy activity

Cedar Rapids, City Hall, photographed by User:...

Image via Wikipedia

The Des Moines Register has a nice summary on the activity that the state government has taken, will likely examine, and also notable items that are pretty much dead in the water.

A few items that have cleared the hurdle into approved territory are the Taxpayers First Act that reduces funding for university sabbaticals and a few other government spending items and state tax exemption for active duty military pay. It is also now illegal to impersonate a decorated military veteran in Iowa and certain state agencies and pension funds are now prohibited from investing in companies that do business in Iran in an effort to reduce support for terrorism. I’m glad to see some spending cuts rather than just grasping at revenue straws and some recognition of our military personnel.

A couple items that are likely to see activity are restrictions on the ability of animal rights activists to take undercover videos on producer premises and the transformation of the Economic Development office into a public/private partnership. I think both of these moves should be positives for Iowa businesses as the activists are usually from out of state groups that have no vested interest in Iowa and forming a public/private partnership in Economic development should bring some more perspective to the table and perhaps make the agency more nimble.

Several items have been shot down, some making pretty good sense, others may come back to life under further review. Same-sex marriage has been put to rest and Cedar Rapids flood aid has been taken off the table after the citizens of Cedar Rapids refused to pick up their part of the tab.

The state has refused to legalize in-state internet poker gaming, but this is set to be reviewed further by the state gaming commission. It seems to me that this may come back into consideration as a revenue generator since the tax hike on brick and mortar gross gambling revenues (from 24% to 36%) was also shot down. Can you imagine owning a franchise with royalties at 24% of gross revenues (and then having the audacity to think it’s not enough)?

Education policy changes regarding private school accreditation and hours instead of days requirements for education were also rejected. We still won’t need a valid identification to vote (wonder who this helps…) and there is still no limit on “Red Light Camera” fines aka the city pension re-balancing fund.

I also wanted to point out a little typo egregious error in the comment left by MercedesSLK (obviously a low income taxpayer) who asserted that commercial property tax relief was unnecessary because Iowa “ranks near the top of states with a favorable business climate” as the Tax Foundation has ranked Iowa as 45 out of 50 for business climate (yeah, that’s the bottom 5).

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