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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

Kodak’s cyrptocurrency could save themselves and photographers

(FINANCE NEWS) Kodak’s foray into cyrptocurrency is more than a financial play, it could be their very salvation in some peoples’ eyes.

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Not one to be left behind, Kodak recently announced their decision to hop on the cryptocurrency bandwagon with their own currency for photographers: KodakCoin. It’s not as hokey as it sounds, we promise.

It’s easy to make fun of Kodak, the Blockbuster of film companies, for buying into the cryptocurrency world, but their motive isn’t as bizarre as it first appears.

KodakCoin is actually a virtual token that will be used on Kodak’s new photographer platform, KodakOne. The idea behind the platform is that photographers can register their work and monetize any cases of copyright infringement, all through the KodakCoin system.

KodakCoin itself is based in the same foundation as Ethereum, and the KodakOne platform uses the same blockchain technology that we’ve come to expect when dealing with cryptocurrency.

As far as KodakOne goes, most of the authentication process is autonomous. Once photographers have uploaded their work and records of fair use, KodakOne searches for instances of unauthorized uploads and then requests payment from the uploader. The payment is processed in KodakCoin, and photographers are left with 60 percent of the resulting currency while Kodak and Wenn Digital share the other 40 percent.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this whole affair is the effect that merely announcing KodakCoin had on Kodak’s stock. After revealing KodakOne and the accompanying KodakCoin at CES on Tuesday, Kodak’s stock hit a high point that more than doubled their previous stock value. This goes to show how infatuated our culture is with cryptocurrency at this point, but it also raises some questions about Kodak’s true motives: is KodakCoin a legitimate enterprise, or a Hail Mary pass?

Kodak’s official stance on the matter is that their move into cryptocurrency represents their initial business goal: to provide photographers with a stable, supportive platform that places their needs and concerns above those of similar venues. On the other hand, sources virtually everywhere have been quick to skewer Kodak for what appears to be an obvious bid for relevancy in an era unsuited for the dinosaur of a company.

There’s no telling where KodakCoin will take the aging company, so for now, these speculations will have to do. KodakCoin goes public on January 31st of this year.

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Business Finance

Super-investor Warren Buffett calls cryptocurrencies a mirage

Famed investor Warren Buffett has stated he believes cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will end badly because they are a “mirage.”

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For many, cryptocurrencies have become an investment well worth the risk, but for many others they are something to vehemently rail against. Try posting something on Facebook about crypto and see if you don’t get lovers and haters instantly weighing in.

One of the most prominent members of the “rail against” group is CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett.

Buffett, while widely respected for his shrewd investment foresight, is not a fan of cryptocurrency and warns potential investors he thinks, “almost with certainty they [cryptocurrency] will come to a bad ending.”

Buffett went on to state to CNBC, that he didn’t really understand how Bitcoin operated but he would never “have a position in them.”

Will Buffett’s word have an impact on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin? Surprisingly, Buffett’s words have had little effect (so far) on Bitcoin’s value.

Remember a few months ago when Buffett bought Synchrony? The lesser-known stock seemed to take off overnight after Buffett/Berkshire Hathaway’s investment, leading us to believe than many powerful investors take heed of Buffett’s business acumen, which could potentially impact how other investors feel about cryptocurrencies overall.

Buffett told the Washington Post, “there are basically two kinds of assets: one you look to the stream of income it will produce and the other you hope like hell that someone will pay you more for it.” The second type would most definitely include Bitcoin.

Buffett contends that since cryptocurrencies are backed by computer power instead of a national bank, they are unreliable and fluctuate too much to be trusted.

The takeaway?

There is no doubt that Buffett is the go-to man for investments, but how can you repudiate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies worth if you admittedly do not understand how they work? If you don’t understand how they work, how could you possibly appreciate their value?

I’m not sure if this was meant to be a sarcastic statement on Buffett’s part, or if he genuinely doesn’t understand how they work, but still dislikes them. Back in 2014, Buffett told investors that it was nothing more than a “mirage” and that investors should “stay away from it.”

There’s no doubt, the man is a genius in the business sphere, but is he right about cryptocurrencies?

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Business Finance

Spotify files to go public directly, won’t be the last to buck tradition

(FINANCE) Spotify directly filed to join the stock market late December, forgoing the traditional IPO process. Will other tech companies follow suit?

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It’s official: Spotify, the wildly popular music streaming platform, took a leap and filed with the SEC to become a public company late last year. Many in the tech industry expected this move was in the works, and the news was confirmed by Axios this week.

However, the most noteworthy part of this announcement is how Spotify has chosen to join its competition in the public space.

Instead of entering the stock market through a traditional IPO process, Spotify has reportedly opted for a “direct listing,” which means it won’t need to travel to seek out investors and will bypass bank underwriting fees, among other things. As a direct listing, Spotify could also promote its new business model to the media ahead of its projected Q1 debut, something SEC rules strictly prohibit for IPOs.

The direct listing process could also encourage high stock value sales day-of debut, avoiding a “leave money on the table” situation, which can happen when high net worth individuals and institutional investors get first dibs on IPOs but banks recommend the company only trades up to about 20 percent or so. Under its chosen process, Spotify stock values could debut much higher, driven by demand and what investors are willing – and able – to pay.

By taking this non-traditional route Spotify will, however, forgo potentially millions of dollars they could have fundraised in an IPO. Those dollars could have helped pay down debt or settled lawsuits, but Spotify’s direct listing move seems to be about more than money. Spotify was last valued at $8.5 billion, so it might not need monetary help anyway.

Overall, a direct listing may reduce the hassle of going public. Spotify is just filing paperwork to make it legal for anybody to trade company shares, basically. Direct listing is casual and less structured.

However, some are concerned that chill approach won’t do enough to help Spotify once it’s actually public. Sure, networking with investors to build equity and relationships may be tedious, but those connections could pay off down the road when it’s time for financial reporting and underwriters can help shareholders trade more easily, along with Wall Street sponsorship aids that help buyers and sellers in similar ways, according to David Golden of Revolutions Ventures.

Spotify’s actions could be risky, too, as their stock may not fit customary Wall Street standards and in turn be avoided by some investors, David Menlow, president of IPOfinancial.com, told Marketplace.

For now, all eyes are on Spotify and its decision. Wall Street, industry leaders, and even the SEC are all interested in how their direct listing will play out. As others in the tech space have expressed frustration with the traditional IPO process before (think Uber), more companies may follow suit if Spotify succeeds as a directly listed public company. That could put pressure on Wall Street and the SEC to change the IPO process, too.

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