Your business and the end of the year

Year end tax prep picIf you are a business owner, you are probably searching for ways to save money on your state and federal taxes. It can be confusing since tax laws are complicated and change frequently. What was deductible last year may not be deductible this year. Ask your tax professional about whether any of these suggestions will benefit you and if he or she advises you to take advantage of any of them.

  1. Purchase equipment, supplies and software: Whether these expenses are totally or partially deductible changes each year so you need to check with your tax professional to determine what is allowable for the current tax year. Make all possible eligible purchases of necessary items by December 31 so you can include the deduction on your 2014 tax return.
  2. Review personal financial records to be sure that business expenses have been paid: It is common for owners of a small business, whether a partnership or sole proprietorship, to pay for some business expenses through personal checking or charge accounts. Sort through your personal receipts and cancelled checks and submit them for reimbursement from your business account.
  3. Submit expense accounts for yourself and your employees: Be sure all receipts for all business expenses incurred by you and your employees are submitted by the end of the day on December 31 so that you can claim all possible allowable business expenses.
  4. Make maximum contributions to employee retirement accounts: Employer contributions are tax deductible so be sure that, by year’s end, you have made the maximum allowable contributions.
  5. Treat employees and/or clients to a holiday party: Expenses for holiday parties are generally tax deductible, so you have the benefit of being a good guy and treating employees and clients to a party while, at the same time, deducting the costs from your taxes.
  6. Make a charitable contribution: You can give money as well as donate items. Both categories are tax deductible.

Before you take any action, be sure to discuss with your tax professional specific recommendations to be sure you are doing all you can to lessen the amount of your tax bill.

Thanksgiving and Parenting Time

Norman Rockwell PhotoDivorced parents often find it challenging to make plans for the Thanksgiving holiday. They want their children to enjoy the tradition they have always associated with the celebration, but the facts are, things have changed. The old ways for handling holidays no longer work for most people who are dealing with the new family structure.

The first step: check your court-ordered parenting plan. The plan is controlling and if it spells out specifically how the time will be divided, you must comply with the order. If the court order leaves it open for you to arrange with the other parent how the holiday will be divided, some suggestions from parents who have risen to the challenge may be helpful.

  1. First and foremost keep in mind what is in the best interest of the children. Consider what arrangements will best meet their needs. Do this without putting them in the position of choosing between parents.
  2. Many parents alternate holidays annually. One year the children spend Thanksgiving with one parent. The next year, with the other parent.
  3. Keep in mind that children are not as tied to a specific day or date as adults are. Children may enjoy two Thanksgiving dinners on two separate days. One parent can arrange to have the traditional dinner on Thanksgiving Day. The other parent can set aside another day over the Thanksgiving weekend holiday to celebrate.
  4. When discussing with your children how the holiday will be spent, focus on the time you will spend with them, not on the time they will spend away from you.
  5. Develop new traditions instead of trying to replicate the old ones. Spend the day with your children serving Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter or delivering dinners to shut-ins.
  6. Do not compete with the other parent. Focus on the children and encourage them to enjoy the time with each parent.
  7. In communication with the other parent and the children, be sure the arrangements are clear as to what the holiday week-end plans entail. Specifically, what day and time will the children go from one place to the other and which parent will be dropping off and picking up.
  8. If the children spend the entire Thanksgiving holiday week-end with one parent, arrangements may be made for them to “visit” the other parent by Skype.

Some parents put aside their differences for the day and spend it together with their children. Just be sure that if you try this, you agree not to disagree or argue so that you do not end up spoiling the holiday for your children.

 

Psychologists and Their Divorcing Clients

Psychologist with divorcing parentAccording to many authorities, a divorce is both a legal and psychological process. Psychologists working with clients who are going through a divorce walk a fine line; they are called upon to help their clients make important life decisions during a legal process that will affect their future while, at the same time, the psychologist must avoid giving the client legal advice.

On the other hand, a divorce attorney is often faced with angry and sad clients whose emotional overload may be interfering with the ability to make sound legal decisions. But, the attorney too must be wary of stepping out of his/her role into that of a therapist.

The professional can help the client by working to ease the transition from being a married person to being a single person again. In order to do this effectively, it is helpful for the psychologist to know how the legal process works and what issues may be needed to be resolved in an effective manner.

The goal is for the professional to help the client make his/her own decisions on major issues such as payment or receipt of alimony, child custody and support, and the division of marital property; and, to figure out all of this at the same time as adjusting to a new situation at home. Each one of these hot button issues on its own can bring up deep underlying feelings.

Child custody

Which parent should the children live with? Will the parents equally share physical custody of their children or not? How will each parent get to spend time with their children? Which parent has final decision-making authority over child care issues? What is the procedure for when there is a disagreement over the children?

Georgia family law courts encourage parents to work together to create a Parenting Plan, a document that is filed with the court. This plan lays out the visitation schedule for parenting time during the week, on week-ends, holidays and extended summer vacation.

The plan also spells out the responsibilities of each parent to their children, including who will pay for the children’s health coverage as well as for uncovered medical expenses. It can also prohibit a parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend from spending the night when the children are present. By taking the focus away from the parent and putting it on the children for the long term, a divorcing client may be better able to achieve a successful life transition.

Division of assets and liabilities

Georgia is an equitable division state, which means the assets and liabilities are divided based on what is “fair” and “equitable,” not necessarily “equal.” Under certain circumstances, George case law finds that conduct can affect a property division, awarding one party a greater share than the other.

Psychologists can help their clients work toward a realistic division of property that both parties will live with and ultimately follow rather than disregard. It is best if the parties can reach their own agreement regarding their property division, but if they are unable to, the court is prepared to do it for them.

Alimony or spousal maintenance

The key to an alimony award is “one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay.” This, not surprisingly, is traditionally a very contentious issue for the divorcing client if the parties are not able to work this out between themselves. Alimony, if paid at all, can be for a recipient’s lifetime, or it can be for a finite number of years. What is almost always a given is that it will end upon the remarriage of the recipient or upon the recipient cohabiting with a “live-in-lover,” a quasi spouse.

Psychologists and attorneys working together

In a divorce, a lawyer will give advice regarding the client’s rights and obligations under the law. In a divorce, a psychologist who has been made aware of the divorce process and the many nuanced issues the client must navigate, has a greater chance of guiding the client to a healthier, more satisfactory outcome

Research shows that when a divorcing couple is guided through the process to make decisions based on what is in the best interest of their children as well as in the best interest of each other, the emotional trauma of the process is lessened. Recovery and moving on with the single life is hastened and the former spouses increase the likelihood of their being able to maintain a workable post-divorce family for the benefit of all.