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February 17, 2015

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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From the desk of Bob Meyer... 02/17/2015

All back issues of "From the Desk..." can be accessed by clicking here.

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Three Ways Using Barter Can Lower Your Taxes!

Trade dollars are far more flexible than at first imagined. You can use them to chisel away at the tax bill, and chip away at your payroll. Here's a look at three ways you can use barter to reduce the revenues of the tax collector.
Capital Gains
Consider the business owner who, knowing she would be selling the property in the future, wanted to make improvements on her real estate investment.
Because she did not intend to "roll over" the property on a tax-free exchange, she would have a capital gains tax on any amount she received above her basis. But with a creative use of the trade dollars in her account, she was able to avoid any gain on the sale. This was accomplished by increasing her property value with trade dollars spent on improvements.
Consequently, when she finally sold the property her tax bill was nearly eliminated with the increased basis. Wisely, she used trade dollars to lower the tax liability, while at the same time making valuable improvements that increased the property’s marketability and value.
Employee Costs Versus Contractor Costs
Every business owner knows it is less expensive to use independent contractors than it is to hire employees.

Because employees cost the business owner FICA, worker’s compensation premiums and other expenses, the cost of employees frequently soars above an average cost of 25% of the actual payroll amount.
Independent contractors, on the other hand, cost only the amount of their contract fees, since they are responsible for their own employee taxes.

An independent contractor who belongs to a trade exchange, and who accepts trade dollars for (some) services has created evidence of being in business — much the same as if he or she has a business license or rents his or her own office space.
Because the aforementioned are things that business owners do, an independent contractor who does them has shown a strong indication of being a business owner. As opposed to someone who simply performs tasks for another, yet claims to be an independent contactor.
Employee Benefits
Business owners who have workers with no chance of being classified as independent contractors can still convert trade dollars into tax savings. By setting up a Cafeteria Plan, under Section 15 of the Internal Revenue Code, one can convert trade dollars to cash in several ways. A Cafeteria Plan is a tax-qualified employee benefit that allows employers to reduce employee wages, in order for the employees to pay their own benefits with "before tax" dollars.
The employees get benefits that they would otherwise have to purchase with "after tax" dollars, while the employer gets a reduced payroll and therefore reduced payroll taxes. First, by arranging for the employees to have a Premium Plan under Section 125, the owner withholds dollars from the payroll that are then used to pay premiums for the health plans which the employees select.
If the trade exchange has an insurance broker who takes commissions on trade (which usually amounts to one month’s premium per year), the owner is able to pay that premium with trade dollars and conserve the cash from the employees for the month in question.
Besides converting the trade premiums to cash, the owner has also reduced payroll taxes! This "double whammy" effect is further enhanced by the fact that employees are happier than otherwise, since they are also saving taxes on the benefits they are paying for under the plan.
Second, by setting up programs with trade exchange members in the medical professions, the owner can further reduce payroll taxes through the Cafeteria Plan. And at the same time can convert the trade dollars spent into cash.
The trick is to withhold the amount for the Cafeteria Plan from payroll that the employee expects to spend each year on unreimbursed medical expenses — such as deductibles or co-payments, or for dental expenses where there is no dental plan. If the business owner then pays the costs of the dentists, chiropractors or the medical doctors with trade dollars, the firm has converted significant amounts of trade into cash.
As an example, some employers provide that the Cafeteria Plan covers annual physicals for employees, then provides the on-site physician for the exam. Since they then pay the doctor with trade dollars, the withheld cash from payroll amounts to a very efficient conversion of trade to cash.
As we've seen, a truly efficient use of trade dollars cannot only replace cash expenditures, but it can generate tax or worker's compensation premium savings as well. — World's Largest Depository Of Barter Information

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Why You Should Meet With Your Job References 

During a job search, references are every bit as important as a sharp résumé and strong interview. Here, Peter K. Studner 
shares five important things to do when organizing your references.

Each time you make it past the résumé-review stage and interview with a potential employer, the meeting seems to go really well. But then — silence. If you do hear from the employer, it’s only to say that they've decided to go with another candidate. As you wearily send out application after application, you just can't figure out what's going wrong. Peter K. Studner has an idea: One of your references might inadvertently be derailing your job search campaign.
"When a potential employer checks your references, it's because they're serious about hiring you," says Studner, author of Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers & Career Changers. "And especially in today's competitive market, a single lukewarm reference can kill your candidacy. The good news is, by choosing your references thoughtfully and talking with them before giving out their contact information, you can guide the process in your favor."
Studner, who is a master career counselor and whose outplacement firm has helped over 27,000 people transition from one job to the next, speaks from experience. In Super Job Search IV, he guides readers through the complicated process of evaluating their accomplishments, contacts and goals; then channeling those things into a targeted and ultimately successful job search campaign. Best of all, his book is a systematic approach to finding a job that includes online resources and an app.
Studner shares the following things to do when organizing your references:
I) Choose your references carefully. Your best references will support claims you've made about your achievements, skills and experience; so ideally, they'll be people who have worked closely with you in the past. Consider former managers and supervisors, of course, but if you've been in a managerial position yourself, you might also want to include a few people you've supervised.
"In addition, put some thought into how your references might present you to potential employers," Studner advises. "Effective references are good communicators who can discuss you and your work in an objective manner without exaggerating or offering long-winded tributes that might only provoke more questions in the interviewer's mind."
II) Think about how each reference can best support you. While most references will give you a good to excellent report, some might inadvertently include a hint that your previous work was less than standard or that the circumstances of your leaving were not good. For instance, "Cameron is a high achiever and doesn’t suffer fools," might make an interviewer think, what if Cameron is too picky and demanding to get along with our team?
"Put some thought into what you'd like each reference to say about you," Studner recommends. "Think about the specific skills and accomplishments you'd like them to emphasize. Keep in mind that this information might vary from person to person, and even from potential job to potential job."
III) Set up a time to meet. Now it's time to discuss your job search, career goals, and résumé with your references. "Whenever possible, your reference meetings should be face-to-face," Studner says. "If distance is prohibitive, though, consider a video conference or phone call. However you meet, make sure your references have a copy of your résumé."
IV) Discuss the hard questions. When potential employers call your references, it's unlikely that the employer will simply say, "So, tell me about Taylor." Ergo, your references will probably have to go beyond the script you’ve given them about your skills and accomplishments. "That’s why it's a good idea to talk about how the reference would approach common interview questions," Studner says. "This conversation might be uncomfortable at times, but it’s best to have an honest discussion about how each reference might approach difficult questions."
To guide the discussion, here are 13 common questions potential employers might ask your references:
How did you know the candidate? 
What were the circumstances of his leaving the company?
Was she on any performance improvement plan? How did she do? (This may be asked if there are hints of any problems with your application.) 
What are his strong points?
What areas does she need improvement? 
Would you hire him again?
What were her greatest achievements at the company? 
Who else supervised him? (Be prepared — another supervisor may also be approached, even though he is not on your list.) 
Did the candidate live up to your expectations?
How were her leadership skills? (This question will be asked if you are applying for a managerial position.) 
Did his colleagues appreciate him? 
Was she reliable? 
Anything else you can add about the candidate?
V) Keep your references in the loop. So that they aren't blindsided, keep your references informed about positions to which you've applied, interviews you've had, and potential employers who have requested contact information for references.
"See if your reference will update you about when they're approached and how the discussion went," Studner suggests. "If appropriate, nurture the relationship with non-job-search communication, maybe over lunch or coffee. And when you get hired, thank your references for their support.
"Just like your résumé and interview question responses, the more time and energy you put into cultivating your references, the more valuable they'll be," he concludes. "So don’t treat references as an afterthought — these people can make or break your job campaign!"

Peter K. Studner is the author of Super Job Search IV. He is a master career counselor and former chief executive as well as board member of companies in the United States, France, and Great Britain. He has helped thousands of people with their career transitions and trains other career professionals to deliver this easy-to-follow program.


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