SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

75 Items You May Be Able to Deduct from Your Taxes

tax tips

 

- VIP Contributor
Author, Attorney and CPA
 

Life is expensive, from business expenses to personal expenses to paying Uncle Sam on April 15. Wherever you go, it may seem like your wallet is open. One way to save money each year is to find legitimate tax write-offs that intersect both personal and business expenses.

As a certified public accountant, everywhere I go, even when I'm at dinner with friends, I constantly am asked the question: "So, what can I write off my taxes?"

Surprisingly, there isn't some master list included in the Internal Revenue Code or provided by the Internal Revenue Service. There is simply the tax principle set forth in Code Section 62 that states a valid write-off is any expense incurred in the production of income. Each deduction then has its own rules.

A good CPA should be teaching their clients to think above the line -- that is, your Adjusted Gross Income line. Your AGI is the number in the bottom right-hand corner on the front page of your tax return. Any tax return. And what I mean by thinking above this line is constantly trying to think of any and all personal expenses that may have a business purpose. With a small-business venture in your life and on your tax return, you may be able to convert some personal expenses to business expenses, as long as you have the proper business purpose for that expense.

Seasoned business owners become proficient over the years at keeping good records and realizing when expenses have a legitimate business purpose. For some, this thought process becomes so ingrained that it becomes almost impossible to buy something without first considering a tax purpose for that item or service.

Consult this list of 75 possible tax deductions for business owners. It's just a start and not every one of these items is always a legitimate deduction. For example, you may be able to deduct entertainment expenses, but only when entertaining a client, customer or employee, while also meeting particular IRS rules. Some deductions may only cover a percentage of your expenses, like the aforementioned dinner with clients (usually 50 percent) or the home-office deduction, which is based on the square footage of your office. When documenting, go beyond collecting receipts. If you hire your teenager as an employee, document his or her duties and hours. On parking and toll receipts, write your destination and business reason for the road trip.

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Top 10 Hot Big Data Technologies

Gil Press, Contributor

As the big data analytics market rapidly expands to include mainstream customers, which technologies are most in demand and promise the most growth potential? The answers can be found in TechRadar: Big Data, Q1 2016, a new Forrester Research report evaluating the maturity and trajectory of 22 technologies across the entire data life cycle. The winners all contribute to real-time, predictive, and integrated insights, what big data customers want now.

Big Data



Here is my take on the 10 hottest big data technologies based on Forrester’s analysis:

  1. Predictive analytics: software and/or hardware solutions that allow firms to discover, evaluate, optimize, and deploy predictive models by analyzing big data sources to improve business performance or mitigate risk.
  2. NoSQL databases: key-value, document, and graph databases
  3. Search and knowledge discovery: tools and technologies to support self-service extraction of information and new insights from large repositories of unstructured and structured data that resides in multiple sources such as file systems, databases, streams, APIs, and other platforms and applications.
  4. Stream analytics: software that can filter, aggregate, enrich, and analyze a high throughput of data from multiple disparate live data sources and in any data format.
  5. In-memory data fabric: provides low-latency access and processing of large quantities of data by distributing data across the dynamic random access memory (DRAM), Flash, or SSD of a distributed computer system.
     distributed file stores: a computer network where data is stored on more than one node, often in a replicated fashion, for redundancy and performance.
      

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Silicon Valley Exhales: Dropbox Shares Jump More Than 40% In High-Demand IPO

Alex Konrad, FORBES STAFF

Covering venture capital, software and startups

DropBox

Dropbox made everyone wait. But its shares are now trading on the public markets after one of the most hotly-anticipated public offerings for a technology company in months.

Two hours after CEO Drew Houston and cofounder Arash Ferdowsi rang the opening bell at Nasdaq and after long minutes of the company’s executives milling around Nasdaq’s MarketSite center in Times Square in New York, Dropbox finally opened for trading at 11:35 ET as Houston grabbed a glass of champagne for a longer-than anticipated toast.

Shares of Dropbox were trading at $30.90, up 47% percent from the company’s list price of $21, as of 12 pm ET, a major boost even in what has been one of Wall Street's most troubled recent weeks for stocks.

A collaboration software company known for its file-sharing tools, Dropbox was founded by Houston and Ferdowsi in 2007 and quickly became one of Silicon Valley’s more closely watched startup companies. It reached a multi-billion-dollar valuation in 2011 and a $10 billion valuation in 2014, and reported revenue of $1.1 billion for 2017, up 31% from the year before. At its opening price of $29, Dropbox’s market capitalization would be about $11 billion.

“The market and investors responded really well to our message,” chief operating officer Dennis Woodside said in an interview. “What’s interesting to them is, we built this enduring business that combines the best of consumer tech in its virality and ability to scale—with hundreds of millions of people using it around the world—with the predictability of a subscription business.”

That positioning of Dropbox as a “consumerized enterprise” company, or a subscription software company that users bring home with them after work, has helped the company become one of the most scrutinized in Silicon Valley. In its regulatory S-1 filing for the IPO process, Dropbox had disclosed it had more than 500 million registered users, the majority of whom use the product for free: 11 million users pay for the service, according to Dropbox’s filing, paying an average of $9.33 per month.

A key difference between Dropbox and many other software companies: the product mostly sells itself. Dropbox reported sales and marketing spend of $314 million in 2017, less than it spent on research and development. Box, an enterprise collaboration company most typically invoked as a foil to Dropbox, reported sales and marketing of $303 million for its fiscal year ending in January, on revenue of $506 million.

While Dropbox says its relatively low cost of customer acquisition helped separate it from other software companies for investors, Woodside credits the decision about three years ago to build product for business use cases as arguably the most important in its path to public company. Dropbox’s business popularity had been a surprise to Houston and Ferdowsi, the COO says.

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Zanni: World Backup Day, GDPR, Race Cars!

I’m a guy and of course delay going to the dentist and so on. Over morning coffee, today March 31, 2018, I realized I can’t avoid it any longer. Today is World Backup Day! Darn it,  I’m making a couple special backups just to honor the holiday.

I spoke with John Zanni, well-known in the SMB partner channel for his work as a Microsoft general manager back in the day plus his tenure at Parallels. Today he is the president of Acronis, a leading backup solution ISV. Later in this blog I’ll do a “where is John Zanni now?” commentary. 

World Backup Day

"This is of course an international event, not an Acronis event. It is to remind people that many attacks happen on April 1st as it’s April Fool’s Day. You want to make sure you are fully-protected on March 31st.” Zanni shared. “The important part is that backup isn’t good enough anymore. You need to have ‘secure backup’ which means making sure your system is up-to-date. You need have the latest anti-virus, anti-spam solution and you have a strong anti-ransomware solution. The good news is that all of our of products come with Acronis active protection that is AI-based anti-ransomware.”

But wait! There is even more good news. Even if you don’t have the Acronis backup solution, you can get just the active protection piece for free from the Acronis website. 

DSC06776

John Zanni, president of Acronis

Earlier this month, Acronis completed a consumer survey regarding data protection, polling the general internet population in seven different countries, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany, Spain, France and Japan. Additional results include:

Nearly 39 percent of the respondents have four or more devices in their household, meaning more end points and data to protect

Over 29 percent of the respondents experienced data loss

A prediction on the future of secure backups? Zanni offered that the quantity of data being generated by the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) segment will require a focus on secure backups. “The trick is how do you have IoT data backed up locally, in transit and at rest in the cloud so it can be analyzed.” Zanni offered. “An example of extensive amounts of IoT data relates to our race car sponsorship with Williams Martini Racing.” 

I’d add that it’s this back-office function that makes data visualization tools rock. 

GDPR

For those living in a cave and don’t know, there is a European Union data privacy protection regulation coming in late May 2018 called the “General Data Protection Regulation” (GDPR) that will impact MSPs.  “It’s coming fast but it’s not as complex as you think; but it’s important you understand the GDPR requirements. We have a webcast that tries to bring GDPR to the masses.” Zanni said. “With a good backup system, you are already 80-to-90 percent of the way there towards GDPR compliance. But the responsibility of “process” rests with the MSP and the client. Acronis cannot help there. That said, we are adding some features in May to cover some of the secure data backup storage GDPR scenarios that we can impact.”

Zanni extolled that “by no means should anyone ignore GDPR; the government(s) will be going after violators such as businesses who are not GDPR compliant. Individuals clearly understand that they have a right to control their data and will insist on the GDPR-type protection.” More on GDPR over the next several weeks – I promise. 

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS ZANNI?!?!?

So here is the net-net on Zanni and Acronis. 

Moved to Europe (Acronis HQ in Switzerland from Boston.

Zanni is overseeing the 15th anniversary of Acronis.

Acronis – has now moved its full product stack to the hybrid cloud architecture, folly scalable to run in your data center and/or our cloud. 

MSPs adore the multi-tier, multi-tenant Acronis approach, according to Zanni.

Growth – core business (on premises sold through distribution); is growing at low double digits.MSP business is growing over 100% year over year with 5,000 transacting partners and heading to 12k+ by 2020.

MSPs like the model we have both in terms ease of onboarding/getting started and as well as the commercial terms (which are very simple – mostly per gigabyte per month).

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How it all started!


    Everything is clear looking in the rearview mirror.

    This is the story about how it all started with SMB Nation “back in the day.”  I can literally share the first chapter of this book, right here, right now. What’s not as clear is how it all ends; the final chapters have yet to be written LOL.

For Your Consideration

    Exhibit A below depicts the first newsletter I wrote in the SMB Nation community realm. It’s about Small Business Server (SBS) of course. Look closely at the date and you’ll see it was mid-2001; a timeline marker that only justifies the fact that life is short and time goes so fast. The first issue was only 400-readers; today we can click a button to hit 50,000 readers.

SBS newsletter Issue1 1 page1 small
Issue 1-1

Just perusing the topics is worth the price of admission alone – and causes pause for reflection on where we were and, in essence, where we’re at 17-years later. I’ll speak to a few nuggets.

On the technical side, it was all about Exchange Server 2000 SP1, Windows 2000 SP and a deep dive into an MMC-based ITProConsole. There is even a newbie tip on how to add a user.

For the business side, there was a conversation with Brian Jeans, a senior product manager in the bCentral area. I’ll be speaking with Brian Jeans in April 2018 and have an update on where he is today inside Microsoft. I make mention of a few conferences (who remembers FUSION?!?!?). And I concluded with a welcome editorial. PM me if you’d like me to email you the entire Issue 1-1 newsletter (it’s several pages long – all text back in those days!).

Looking forward

Over the years and beers, we built an avid enthusiastic community on the back of SBS. It’d be easy to fast forward the movie and simply say we’ve evolved with the times but the story is much richer than that. We’ve tried over two dozen startup ideas; most weren’t successful. Some ideas didn’t see the light of day. Several ideas were home runs such as our exploration of Microsoft Response Point, Cisco UC and VoIP. Today we’re exploring analytics.

We’ve made countless friendships along the way. But like any journey, we’ve lost a few friends due to death, divorce and irrelevancy. I celebrate the community we built and still have and stay focused on the positive. Everyone reading this blog can count grievances and resentments on two-hands but that’s not really news.

Anyways

There you have it – a focus on how it all began. BTW – did you look closely at the original name for SMB Nation? It was NetHealthMon which was an RMM play using the SBS Health Monitor before Level Platforms, Kaseya or nAble capitalized on that opportunity. What’s also interesting is that the “channel partner” (aka MSP) wasn’t part of our conversation yet; we were focused on the SBS product stack!

Talk to Me!

So what’s your day zero story? PM me.

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