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Louisiana’s First Sales Tax Holiday is This Weekend

If you’ve put off your holiday shopping and live in or near Louisiana, you’re getting a break this weekend. The 2005 Sales Tax Holiday, passed during a special session of the state legislature last month, will be in effect Friday, December 16, to Sunday, December 18. Shoppers throughout Louisiana, will save 4 cents on every dollar of the first $2,500 of the purchase price on most individual items. The tax holiday applies only to the 4 percent that is the state portion of the sales tax.
Practice Management

Small Businesses Looking for a Bundle of Telecommunications

When it comes to communications, a majority of small businesses (64 percent) prefer purchasing bundled services from a single provider, according to a new survey from AMI-Partners. The 2005-2006 U.S. SMB Telecommunications Market Overview and Assessment indicates the most popular bundle consists of local, long-distance and high-speed Internet access services. Interest is also being shown in bundles that include wireless voice services, possibly because 38 percent of small businesses have “mobile” employees who travel frequently and 13 percent have telecommuting employees.

Free Microsoft Software Links POS and Accounting Systems

Microsoft announced Thursday it would provide, free to customers, a small piece of software integrating Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 with either Microsoft Point of Sale or Microsoft Retail Management System, smallbusinesscomputing.com reports. Known as the Small Business Accounting 2006 and Point of Sale/Retail Management System Connector (the Connector), the software permits retailers to transfer point-of-sale data, such as transactions and purchase orders, directly into their accounting system, HardwareZone.com says.

Tax Preparation Solutions: TaxACT!

With the 2005 tax season looming, the competition for tax preparation dollars is starting to heat up. TaxACT Standard 2005 Federal editions enters the fray by announcing users will be able to e-file, prepare and print their tax returns free of charge through www.TaxACT.com. “Tax preparation and filing should be convenient and affordable, but that may not be the case this year for many taxpayers as the industry evolves,” Lance Dunn, TaxACT’s president, said in a prepared statement announcing the program.

Household Employment Services Offer Employers a Helping Hand

Accounting for eldercare providers, nannies, and other domestic employees can be difficult on your own. Fortunately there are several alternatives. You could purchase payroll software developed especially for household employers, such as Essentia Software’s NannyPay 2000. You can also contract with one of several Internet-based services that provide tax and payroll specifically services for household employers. GTM Associates offers a tax and payroll service and provides tax and overtime calculators on their web site, as well as a tax calendar and tax forms for easy reference.
Community News

Regulators Call for More Transparency, Less Complexity

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking help from the accounting industry to simplify the rules that may be partly to blame for the corporate scandals of recent years, the SEC chairman said Monday.The SEC, working with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), is undergoing a “major national effort to make accounting less complex,” said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

DOL Waves Red Flags for CPAs

Last month, CPAs from around the country convened in Minnesota to take part in the State CPA Society’s annual conference. Despite an early season snow storm, the CPAs and other financial professionals in attendance had no trouble getting fired up over recent developments in the accounting profession.Topics put forth by representatives of the Department of Labor were of special interest to conference attendees.

President, Congress Turn to Immigration Reform

President Bush delivered a major speech last week outlining his plan for immigration reform, bringing into focus, once again, Americans’ troubled relationship with undocumented workers, the Hudson County Journal News reports. The House and Senate are considering four other separate proposals.Estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. today range from 8.7 million (U.S. Census Bureau) to 20 million (Bear Stearns, the investment company), according to Reuters.

The Art of Office Gifting

“It’s important to give gifts at the holiday,” Leah Ingram, author of You Shouldn’t Have! How to Give Gifts They’ll Never Forget, told the Ladies Home Journal. “It’s how you say thank you to people who support you throughout the year, and how you show appreciation to your professional mentors.”It may be important but it can also be a nightmare. Striking the right balance between a truly heart-felt, appropriate gift and shameless sucking up can be quite a challenge, especially in a small office.

Working Lunch? On Mondays, Think Again

If you think your staff is working through their lunch-hour this holiday season you might want to take a closer look at what they are doing. A survey recently conducted by Atlas, a provider of digital marketing technologies and expertise, reveals that lunchtime and primetime are the best times for converting web browsers into web buyers.
Education & Careers

Ask Tough Questions Before Decision to Start Franchise

High startup costs, long hours, and hitching your fortunes to a find-it-anywhere chain; these are the dilemmas that keep many entrepreneurs from starting a franchise. But some see advantages instead of obstacles and leap in with both feet. Some franchise owners see great value in services the franchisor provides, such as use of the brand name, and the company's help in administration, finding a good location, training, store leasing, construction, and more.
Education & Careers

The Art of the Elevator Speech

In a world that is as busy and hectic as ours is, it is important for you to have some idea on how to properly answer the question, "So what do you do and where do you work?" This is your 20-30 seconds of fame, the time when you have someone’s attention and you can distinguish your firm from all others.
Practice Management

CCH Accountants’ Suite Arrives in Canada

Last week, CCH Canadian Limited launched the most complete and integrated toolkit of its kind, the CCH Accountants’ Suite, for Canadian accounting professionals.“With the launch of CCH Accountants’ Suite, we are bringing to the Canadian market the first genuinely integrated solution of its kind,” Ian Rhind, President and CEO of CCH Canadian, said in a statement announcing the launch.

AICPA National Conference on Current SEC & PCAOB Developments

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is holding its 33rd annual National Conference on Current Securities and Exchange (SEC) and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Developments this week. The conference is being held at the Marriott Wardman Park located at 2660 Woodley Road, NW, Washington, DC. The conference will conclude Wednesday, December 7, 2005. The AICPA’s new Chair, Leslie Murphy, opened the conference. Murphy said, “Reliable and transparent financial reporting is fundamental to the well-being of our capital markets.

Microsoft Yields: Will Adopt Open Document Formats

In an apparent effort to respond to Massachusetts’ Governor Mitt Romney’s plan to adopt a so-called OpenDocument format for storing state documents by 2007, a move that could eventually cause the state to remove Microsoft’s Office software from its computers, Microsoft announced in November that it would submit its Office Open XML (XML) to the standards body Ecma International, at their December meeting, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Diverse December Celebrations

The holiday season often sparks employee creativity, especially when it comes to decorating their space, and community space, with the signs of the season.
Practice Management

Why Every Business Needs a Cafeteria…Plan, That Is

They’ve been called one of the most under-used employee benefits for small businesses. Not only do they allow employees to set aside a portion of their pre-tax salary for qualifying insurance premiums, medical expenses and even child-care expenses, they also reduce employer payroll tax liability by eliminating matching FICA taxes of 7.65 percent and, depending on the state the business is operating in, possibly also workers compensation. What are they?

High Deductible Health Care Plans Off to Slow Start with Small Businesses

Health care plans with high deductibles that can offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) grew only 2 percent among small businesses this year, according to a survey by Mercer Health and Benefits consultants reported on by USA Today. The high deductible plans are more popular among employers of more than 20,000, 22 percent of whom will offer some form of the plan this year.
Practice Management

QuickBooks: New Solutions for Small & Mid-Market Firms

QuickBooks 2006, which hit the shelves last week, is being called the most significant update to the nation’s leading small business management software so far. Along with a new, easier to use interface, a redesigned QuickBooks Solutions Marketplace and other features, QuickBooks 2006 users will find the support experience to be easier and more efficient.

FASB to Review Proposed Fair Value Reporting of GICs

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) will meet Tuesday to consider the proposed FASB Staff Position (FSP) Reporting of Fully Benefit-Responsive Investment contracts Held by Certain Investment Companies Subject to the AICPA Investment Guide, issued on August 15th.


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