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Who knew? Tax talk can be used for more than just political debates

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Knowing how states collect taxes can help individuals and companies decide where to start or where to move. Do you know about your state?

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Time to talk about taxes

Don’t run! I promise, this will be neither a) a godawful political screed on how The Fedral Gubmit should or should not be dealing with your funds nor b) a dust-dry finance tract riddled with the kind of economic obscurities that would make Andy Dufresne doze off.

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Instead, courtesy of Pew Charitable Trusts, here’s an easy-to-read breakdown of how and how much every state in the Union bring in their taxes.

8 flavors of taxes

Per Pew, state taxes come in eight conveniently color-coded flavors:

Personal income, the “ouch” that comes with the paycheck, the money taken out of what individual citizens earn.

Corporate income, the literal cost of doing business.

General sales, a little bit of extra money charged for (almost) everything. When by some weird, wee little number the price tag matcheth not the receipt, this is your guy.

Licenses, the little extra fee you pay for your official license to do anything worth licensing. Hunting, marriage, surgery: if you want the government to recognize that you can do it, pony up.

Other, where the tax code honors what makes your state… what’s a nice word? Special. What makes it special. Nevada skims about 8% of its annual revenue off casino and lottery winnings. That kind of thing.

Property, tax paid for the privilege of actually owning a thing, rather than borrowing it, renting it, or just generally hanging out with, on or by it.

Selective sales, tax applied to particular products as opposed to just everything. Rates are usually higher than general sales, and they’re frequently applied to things your state would rather you use less of. Alcohol, gasoline and tobacco are the big hitters.

Severance, the tax you pay for pulling nonrenewable resources out of a state so you can sell them, because then they’re not there anymore.

Matt’s Glossary of People Taking Your Money

What’s the value of Matt’s Glossary of People Taking Your Money, you ask?

The value is that understanding how the tax structure works, and above all what places do it in which ways, is how you keep as much of your coin as possible.

Try it like this

Imagine, if you will, the life of a prospector in North Dakota. I assume you have a mule, some overalls, one of those helmets with the little light on it (I have never been to North Dakota).

Like any self-respecting member of your profession, your dream is a comfy digging operation where you can cook your sourdough and play your harmonica in profitable peace.

Before you pound in your tent stakes, it might just be worth your time to know that your home state makes 41.8% of its tax revenue in severance tax, which is to say, taxes levied on your business model. Hop the border to Montana? 6.3%. Oh, and if you can find something to dig up in Iowa, guess what? No severance tax. At all.

That’s how it works everywhere

AG’s beloved home of Texas lives and dies by general sales tax: 62% of state tax revenue. There is no, repeat no, personal income tax at the state level. Instead, we charge 6% extra on everything. That makes Texas utterly rad if you roll with comparatively high income and comparatively few purchases.

By contrast, Oregon gets 70% of its state income from personal income tax.

Ouch, right?

But there’s no sales tax. If your lifestyle, business plan or both involve a whole lot of buying and selling, going Evergreen rather than Lone Star, much as I hate to say it, could be what it takes to bring your business to life.

That’s why this matters

“Taxes” aren’t one thing. They’re a field, a complex interaction of policies, and understanding how – and where – they work is make-or-break knowledge for any serious entrepreneur.

Dig in the right spot.

#MattsGlossary

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Business Finance

Ex-PayPal execs launch new payment system, raising eyebrows

(FINANCE) A new payment system has been launched, already causing controversy, raising skeptical eyebrows, all while earning fanfare.

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initiative Q payment system

Have you heard of Initiative Q yet? Perhaps your friends’ Facebook posts about it (or maybe you’ve posted about it yourself, asking your friends to sign up for this “payment system of the future”).

A quick Facebook search revealed several friends (and friends of friends) who had posted “invites” to join the effort to create to a new currency in the past couple months.

Most of these posts contained various iterations of the following description:

“Initiative Q is an attempt by ex-PayPal guys to create a new payment system instead of credit cards that were designed in the 1950s. The system uses its own currency, the Q, and to get people to start using the system once it’s ready they are allocating Qs for free to people that sign up now (the amount drops as more people join – so better to join early). Signing up is free and they only ask for your name and an email address. There’s nothing to lose but if this payment system becomes a world leading payment method your Qs can be worth a lot. If you missed getting bitcoin seven years ago, you wouldn’t want to miss this.”

These posts then included a signup link and a warning that the link would no longer work once the person who posted was “out of invites,” creating a sense of urgency for interested friends.

But what are people signing up for, exactly? The folks behind Initiative Q have explained the economic model behind the currency system, but for those of us who don’t hold an economics degree, here’s the gist:

The first thing to know is, it’s not a cryptocurrency. Second, despite accusations saying otherwise, it isn’t a pyramid scheme, according to Forbes. This is because a pyramid scheme needs money to operate, and — so far — no one who has joined has been asked to invest a single penny. Think of it as a global currency.

Founder Saar Wilf (whose payment security company was acquired by PayPal in 2008) told Forbes, “We want people to be able to pay for a meal like they would an Uber. To use artificial intelligence to allow families and businesses to share accounts. To have an international currency that can be traded and shared without the ill-equipped processes that are currently in place and cost so much time and money.”

The initiative has some skeptics, for course. Some see several hurdles in Q’s way, including meeting government regulations and requirements across multiple jurisdictions across the globe.

So, what’s ahead for Initiative Q? According to its road map, it will continue its membership drive through mid-2019, then begin work on developing an advanced payment network, with hopes of launching select Q locations in 2020.

The verdict?

Initiative Q is still in its infancy. Will it become the global success its creators hope it will? Or will it follow in the footsteps of the thousands of dead cryptocurrency and blockchain projects? Only time will tell.

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Business Finance

7 ways to get your freelance invoices paid more quickly

(FINANCE) It’s easy to feel uncomfortable bringing up money with your superiors, but for a freelancer, it’s more important than ever to bring up the issue. Here are 7 tips to get your invoices paid quickly.

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For many, an awkward topic of conversation revolves around money. Whether asking for a raise or asking to borrow money, people often feeling uncomfortable when talking money.

This is equally, or possibly even more so, true for freelancers who are solely in charge of their finances. Without a system of weekly direct deposit, freelancers have to work overtime to keep their earnings in order.

The issue with this is that clients also have a lot on their plates, and something as simple as a freelancer’s paycheck is common to fall through the cracks. This causes freelancers to have to work friendly reminders into their repertoire.

However, freelancers may not always be knowledgeable of the best ways to keep their finances in check (no pun intended). Below are seven ways to enhance payment methods.

  1. You have to be willing to make billing a priority. Due to the fact that money is awkward to talk about, as aforementioned, many let this fall by the wayside. The best way to do this is to keep up to date with your invoices and send them as soon as they are done. Making a calendar specific for billing can help with this idea.
  2. This second bit dates back to when we were young and learning our manners: it is crucial to be polite. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also increases speed in payment. Using “please” and “thank you” in invoicing emails are said to get you paid five percent faster.
  3. It is best to try and keep a complicated concept like finance as simple as possible. Make sure you are creating specific due dates. This will help to signify importance of payment.
  4. Now that virtually anything can be done online, it would make sense to use electronic payment verses an old-school check. Accepting online payments will get a user paid, on average, eight days faster as opposed to a check.
  5. This is an important notion to keep in mind for any aspect of your business life: be professional. Invoices are often seen by many eyes so it is best to include your business’s logo on said invoice. This has been found to increase chances of being paid on time by 10 percent.
  6. Specificity is urged again in the form of transparency. Make sure you are giving detailed descriptions on each invoice so that anyone looking at it knows exactly what you are being paid for. By doing this, you are 15 percent more likely to be paid on time.
  7. While you may be invoicing month by month, try to avoid sending on the 30th or 31st. Being that everyone, generally, sends their invoices in on these dates, it takes 10 – 20 percent longer to be paid. With everyone sending it at the end of the month, it has a tendency to back up payroll.

The most important thing to remember is that while the topic of money may be awkward, it is your money. If you let a few invoices fall behind because you are uncomfortable reminding your client, this has a way of adding up. Be sure to keep on track with your finances to earn what you are working for.

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Business Finance

Laugh at Bitcoin all you want, but Ohio business taxes can soon be paid in crypto

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Cryptocurrencies are still widely misunderstood, but an innovative Treasurer in OH is making crypto history.

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Ohio. The part of a title of that one Bowling for Soup song, home of Lake Erie and now the first state to start accepting crypto as a form of payment for taxes.

On Monday, December 3rd, businesses in Ohio will be able to pay their taxes in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

It seems like a rather easy process to enroll. Companies that want to join in on all of the history-making, crypto fun just have to go to OhioCrypto.com and then register to pay whatever taxes they want in crypto. There are 23 eligible business-related taxes and there is no transaction limit.

While there is no timeline set, there are hopes of expanding the program to individual tax payers.

Ohio’s state treasurer, Josh Mandel, is the man responsible for the state’s light speed propulsion into the finance future. The crypto program is just one step of many of the state’s bigger picture goal of rebranding itself as tech-friendly. Mandel is quoted as saying, “We’re doing this to provide Ohioans more options and ease in paying their taxes and also to project Ohio’s leadership in embracing blockchain technology.”

I had no clue Ohio residents were referred to as Ohioans, but onto the thought I’m sure looming in the back of everyone else’s mind:

What could go wrong with a crypto tax payment program?

For starters, the crypto market is currently the definition of a dumpster fire. Crypto has been in a nose dive for sometime now. Last November, Bitcoin prices capped off at about $8,000. This November, it isn’t even half of that.

Also, what is a stat going to do with a bunch of crypto currency. The treasurer’s office is not holding, mining or investing in crypto for payments or processing. Instead, the state will work with a cryptocurrency payment startup, BitPay to convert the bitcoin to dollars. But per the startup’s official blog, their open-source Bitcoin wallet Copay has been compromised by malicious code. BitPay says that their app was not vulnerable to the malicious code but that they are investigating whether or not any of the CoPay users had been exploited by the vulnerability.

Ignoring those slight holes in the plan, it is kind of cool that Ohio is the first state to make its foray into blockchain payments. They even have plan to expand into other cryptos in the future.

Never thought I’d say that Ohio would lead the way into the future but hey, it’s been a weird year, so why not.

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