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Fraud Quiz! How Good Are You? How Bad Can You Become?

What is wrong with the displayed Invoice? There are at least ten(!) clues to its falsity — and none of them have to do with Accounting or addition. ( For a LARGER version  of the invoice click:  ZZZ BIGGER or   ZZZ  BILL ) This invoice was part of a court case that put  Mark Morze* 

“CrowdFunding” for Creative Ventures — A New Way (click on title to comment)

  Kickstarter (and RocketHub and others)  are new type of  funding platforms for all you “artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers.”  (no, you do not have to be a Client.).  Described as a “new way to fund and follow creativity. Kickstarter aggregates pledges online — if the  project does not meet its target within a

Buddhist Mensch CPA on TV

Indeed. Yours truly, self and other styled “Zen Mensch CPA” was interviewed by a local cable show, “One Hour With Bob”. I talked about my background and some tax issues. The show airs in Rhode Island starting Thursday March 3 and plays at various times through the next week — may be extended to two

Microlender Forecloses on GOAT!:

Are you kidding me?  Read on:

The Medical Deductions Quiz: Breast Implants? Sex Therapy? Wigs? Music Lessons?

How well are YOU taking care of your (tax) body?  Tell me whether these are Y-Deductible;  N-Not Deductible;  USC –Under Specific Circumstances Answers in the Comment section below The one you ALL ask me about –  Cost of hotel room for sex therapy? Navajo healing ceremonies (a/k/a “sings”) Jewish healing ceremonies (a/k/a “zings”) Clarinet lessons Flute


Dispatches from the Zen Mensch


Can I deduct volunteer time as a charitable expense?

No. Charitable contributions must be tangible and measurable — money, securities, art, real estate. You can deduct mileage and unreimbursed expenses under some circumstances. Read more here:

Okay, I build boats for a living and this guy named Gilligan jumped ship and stiffed me. Can I deduct that, please?

You can’t write it off if you never wrote it in. So if you report “cash basis”, then you never paid taxes on it and thus cannot deduct the loss. If you include your receivables (“accrual basis”), then you reported it as income when the sale was concluded and may deduct the loss.

I landed a new job in sales and upgraded my wardrobe. Pretty please?

Nope — the tax code can be magnanimous but these are purely personal expenses. You also cannot deduct perfume, lipstick, lip balm, an electronic toothbrush or your coconut-lime shaving cream. (Okay, lipstick if it is part of a costume and you are an actress; lip balm if you work for Mary Kay and buy samples.)

My mom passed away and left me a small inheritance. I hear all kinds of stuff about “estate taxes”.

Finally, some good news! Mom’s estate may need to be pay taxes but the beneficiaries do not. Now, the income on the investments she left for you is subject to tax and if you are a beneficiary of mom’s retirement plan you may be subject to taxes on some of that income when she passes.

I live alone and my nine cats are my life. I feed them and they live in my shoe. Why can’t I deduct them?

Prior to the 1980′s you may have been able to pull this off, albeit illegally. Then they started asking for social security numbers and the number of dependents suddenly dropped by millions….

NOTE: Federal and state tax laws are subject to change. This article is presented exclusively for informational purposes and is not intended to substitute for obtaining tax or financial advice from a tax or other business professional.

WHEN BANKS WON’T LEND — Alternative Financing for Small and Micro Businesses


You have a great product. A detachable shower head that runs on solar energy to vacuum your floors and discipline your children. You’ve done the prototypes and only need $10,000. Chump change for the banks, right?

The credit landscape has changed dramatically since 2008. (A reputable accounting firm that owns its building finally got approved this year to expand its line of credit; accounting is not known as a high-risk enterprise.)

Banks want air-tight financials, proven multi-year success, collateral and (often) a personal guarantee. What’s a start-up with limited resources to do? Read more

The Price of Success:
Crowdfunding and Taxes


Banks (still) aren’t lending, the government is broke (or broken) and venture capital is highly competitive. How then to start a business in 2013? Crowdfunding says “Ask my friends (and their friends).” It goes against everything we are taught to believe in a hyper capitalist society. We give only when there is a return –a dividend, a tax break, a stake in the growth. Enter crowdfunding – Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RocketHub and others are proving this notion wrong in a Big way. While by no means a sure-fire method to raise funds for a business venture, there are success stories, some of them in the millions of dollars. And taxes are the last thing the founders are thinking about while they are consumed with starting the business and pitching it for crowdfunding. Until. They. Win.

See the full article at crowdsourcing.org


Getting Hitched Without Strings — Health Insurance and Taxes for Same Sex Couples



(Post-DOMA Edition!)

by Rich Streitfeld, CPA

Wow! I am still celebrating the demise of the federal “Defense of Marriage Act”.  This wonderful news puts married same-sex couples on the same playing field as heterosexual couples when it comes to federal benefits, at least if you are ”in the right state”*.   For most situations, this is great – you can file your taxes jointly, your partner reaps Social Security survivor benefits upon your death, and you can automatically sponsor your partner for a green card.

Yet there are hidden complexities and, yes, even disadvantages, to being married when it comes to some tax and financial matters.  Maybe not enough to keep you from tying (or untying!) the knot, but these are worth your being aware of.  Take health insurance. If you are “in the right state”* then here is:

The Great news: Read more

Help! They are Going to Audit Me!

Income Tax AuditsEvery taxpayer’s worse nightmare.  On the other hand, it is the price we pay for having a kind of  “honor” or “voluntary” or system.  I don’t mean at all to suggest that the government has no right to collect taxes or that you are not (generally) obligated to file — (I am not a Minuteman).  But there are certain Western countries where the government essentially computes your taxes  “for you” — it’s not up to you/your accountant to decide which deductions to take or whether a certain position is “risky”. Read more

Divorce Can be Taxing — Tips and Traps


In the best of worlds, taxes can be complicated, provoke anxiety, and, of course, be costly.  In a divorce situation taxes have the potential to become yet another battleground for the exhausted parties.  Many of the financial decisions made by the parties – or made for them if they cannot agree – have serious, long-lasting tax consequences.  Care and consideration must be given, as illustrated in the following examples:

It ain’t over till it’s over.  Bette and Peter* are negotiating a particularly nasty separation that will span two calendar years.  Peter is a banker and Bette is a stay-at-home mom. Peter wants to file as a couple – “married filing jointly” – so they will get a small refund.  Because of the acrimony between them, Bette will not agree and thus they have to each file “married separately” returns  – she will still not owe anything (no income) and Peter will owe a ton (the rates are much higher and the credits limited for “married filing separately”).

Logic dictates that Read more


Answers to your questions


Q:  I donate my time to a non-profit.  Is it tax deductible?

A:   No. The tax code allows for many types of donations – cash, real estate, old clothes and securities are among the most common. Now,              volunteering your services is invaluable, even charitable, but clearly not tax-deductible. However, if you itemized your deductions then mileage driven on behalf of the organization is deductible as a charitable contribution at $.14 per mile for 2012.  Certain unreimbursed expenses of volunteers may also be itemized as charitable contributions – for instance, Read more


The author (Gary Schine)




How much is my business worth?

A Guest article by Gary Schine

We hear these questions a lot from business owners.  Sometimes it’s because they want to sell their business or take on a partner, or do some estate planning.  More often, it’s because they’re just curious; it’s just nice to know how much something you own might be worth.

There are all kinds  of rules of thumb out there as to how the value of a business is established, such as: Read more

How to Make Your Art and Design Add Up: An Outline

Arts and BusinessHere is the slide show from one of my recent presentations.

Some of the topics I address:

Tax deductions for artists, designers and makers; minimizing audit risk; incorporation options; record-keeping.

I love doing these; let me know if you want me to speak, in person or remotely, to a receptive audience you are familiar with. View the slide show: Read more

Biz Aid Expands!

Free, informative and friendly — What’s not to like? Building on its initial success, I will be holding Biz Aid sessions in Southern Rhode Island in October, while continuing the monthly business-legal sessions in the Providence area. Meanwhile, my newest partner is  the fabulous business coach Ed Drozda.


My friend, the  “Small Business Doctor” Ed Drozda, will be offering free sessions at my firm’s office in Cranston the afternoon of October 19 from 1 PM to 3 PM.

As with all Biz Aid offerings this is a no fee, no obligation consultation designed to help you remedy a burning business challenge.

You can sign up for one of the October 19 sessions with Ed at 508-695-2146 or ed@thesmallbusinessdoctor.com.

Ed has been instrumental in challenging me to fulfill my dreams and potential.  He is a fun and creative thinker. I would not miss a chance for some free insights!



I am thrilled to be bringing this popular FREE business consulting series to Southern Rhode Island (or,as the locals call it, “South County” — although there is no such county.) Saturday October 20. Details below.


FINALLY, The next  Biz Aid in Providence metro, with lawyer extraordinaire Tobias Lederberg and myself, will take place the mornings of Wednesday, October 10 and Friday, November 9. These slots have filled quickly in our first two offerings.  E-mail me at rich@alscpa.com to sign up.



Life on the Ledger Returns









Please join me for this live and lively webinar. The topics I will cover in this popular presentation include:

  • What can an artist/designer deduct?
  • Keeping the books
  • Should I incorporate?
  • Sales tax blues
  • Minimizing audit risk

Learn from the privacy and convenience of your couch, studio, or maybe even your car.

The webinar is sponsored by Rhode Island School of Design’s Alumni Relations Department.  They are generously inviting any working artist or designer to attend; you do not need to be affiliated with RISD to participate. Read more