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As a small business person-slash-advice columnist I dread the first quarter of the new year. Not because in my mind my own business fortunes start at zero again every January or because I have already dismissed every New Year's resolution I made when the clock rang out the New Year.
No, the reason I dread the first quarter of the new year is that my email box floods with questions about business taxes and the IRS, my two least favorite subjects on earth. It's not that I am opposed to paying my fair share of business taxes. It's that I consider the IRS to be a little like Beetlejuice, the movie demon who appeared only after his name was called three times in a row. My fear is if I write too many IRS columns their dark agents may appear on my doorstep, ready to drag me away to an uncertain fate.
Oh well, one must do his duty no matter the consequences, so here we go?.
Q: I am starting a small retail business. While talking to a potential supplier last week he asked for my EIN number. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I told him I would have to get back with him because I didn't have the number handy. What is an EIN number and why do I need one? -- Robert P.
A: Robert, do you remember the old Johnny Rivers song "Secret Agent Man?" There was a line that said, "They're giving you a number and taking away your name." An EIN isn't as cool as a secret agent number, but it works much the same way when it comes to your business' relationship with the IRS. Instead of identifying your business by name, the IRS identifies your business by EIN.
EIN stands for Employer Identification Number and is also known as a federal tax ID number. The EIN is a nine-digit number that the IRS assigns to businesses and is used to identify taxpayers that are required to file various business tax returns.
Does your business need an EIN? According to the IRS the answer is yes if:
· Your business has employees
· Your business is a corporation or partnership
· You file returns for Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tax
· You withhold taxes on income (other than wages) paid to a non-resident alien.
· Your business has a Keogh plan
· Your business involves trust, estate, real estate mortgage investment conduits, non-profit, farmers' cooperatives, or plan administrators.
Applying for an EIN is a relatively painless task. You can apply online at the IRS website (irs.gov), apply by mail or telephone, or if you do business in a state that participates in the Federal Employer Identification Number project you can apply through you local IRS office (sorry, Alabama is not one of them).
You will need an EIN number prior to filing business returns with the IRS, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to obtain one. For more information on EINs and your business, consult your accountant.
And while we're on the subject ?
Q: I made extra money selling things on eBay last year. These were items I picked up at yardsales mostly. My husband says I am responsible for paying income tax on the money I made, but I disagree. This is just my hobby, not a business. What do you think? -- Gladys A.
A: With so many people selling on eBay these days this is a question I get quite a bit. In fact, I have plans for a future "eBay and taxes" column, but I believe your question is more, "is it a hobby or is it a business?"
Again, I went to the horse's mouth (at least I think it was the mouth) for the answer. According to the IRS there are a number of factors that help determine if your hobby can be considered a business and thereby make you susceptible to the IRS tax rules governing business.
Do you carry on the activity in a business-like manner? If you conduct your eBay activities like a business, i.e. you keep business records, track your profit and loss, keep a separate checking account, etc. then whether you think so or not, your hobby is considered a business.
If you put considerable time and effort into your venture, the IRS may contend that you do so for profit and not fun. It seems the folks at the IRS don't believe in doing things strictly for pleasure. My guess is, neither do you. If you weren't making money selling on eBay I doubt you'd be bothering getting up at 4am to hit all those yardsales. Then again, maybe you would?
If you depend on income from your eBay activities for your livelihood, it's a business, not a hobby.
There are a number of other factors the IRS considers to determine if a hobby is really a business, but in your case I think that covers the basics.
For detailed answers to any tax question you should consult a qualified accountant or tax attorney. God forbid you rely on a guy who is afraid to mumble the letters "IRS" three times in a row.
Small Business Q&A is written by veteran entrepreneur and syndicated columnist, Tim Knox. Tim's latest books include "Small Business Success Secrets" and "The 30 Day Blueprint For Success!" Related Links: http://www.smallbusinessqa.com http://www.dropshipwholesale.net
Antiques and the Arts Online
Yale Halfback's 1937 Heisman Trophy Drives To $312000 At Heritage Auctions
Antiques and the Arts Online
DALLAS — Numerous bidders made a run at the 1937 Heisman Memorial Trophy presented to Yale University halfback Clint Frank to drive its final price to $312,000, with buyer's premium, claiming top-lot honors in Heritage Auctions' Fall Sports ...
Roberto Clemente Game-Worn Jersey, World Series Trophy Up For Auction
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — One of Roberto Clemente's game-used jerseys and a World Series trophy awarded to a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher are both up for auction. Clemente's 1971-72 home jersey is one of a number of items available from Robert Edward ...
Stolen and Seized Items from Municipalities and Police Departments to be Auctioned Off through PropertyRoom.com
PR Web (press release)
From July through June, September, ten (10) Municipalities and Police Departments chose to partner with PropertyRoom.com to auction off their unclaimed stolen, seized or surplus assets and goods. PropertyRoom.com is an online auction site offering “$1 ...
Need a Porsche at bargain-basement prices? Saturday's state auction has you covered
All vehicles must be paid for in full the day of the auction. Cash, credit and debit cards (Discover, MasterCard and Visa) are accepted. There is a 3 percent service fee on all credit and debit card transactions. Temporary tags are no longer available ...
AmmoLand Shooting Sports News
Morphy's To Auction Wyatt Earp's Gun, Chief Rain-In-The-Face's Winchester Oct. 30
AmmoLand Shooting Sports News
Colt single-action Army revolver that belonged to legendary sheriff Wyatt Earp in the 1890s, extensive Earp family lineage and documentation. Est. $75,000-$100,000. DENVER, Pa. – -(AmmoLand.com)- While Morphy Auctions strives to make each of its sales ...
Oil study attributed to Thomas Gainsborough (Br., 1727-1788) will headline Woodshed's Nov. 1st auction
The auction will be held on Thursday, November 1st, online and live in the 500 Gallery, at 475 Franklin Village Drive in Franklin. Live bidding will begin promptly at 5:30 pm Eastern time. People can register and bid now, at www.woodshedartauctions.com.
Business Wire (press release)
Over a Half a Million Dollars Raised to Benefit Tilly's Life Center
Business Wire (press release)
Sponsors, supporters and friends of TLC gathered for an evening of dancing, drinks, family style gourmet food, music, live and silent auctions accompanied by a TLC graduate's captivating story of forgiveness. Their overwhelming support resulted in ...
Yield curve flattens before auctions
NEW YORK: The US Treasury yield curve flattened to its lowest level in more than two weeks on Monday before the Treasury Department is due to sell $108 billion in new short- and intermediate-dated debt this week. The debt sales will include $38 billion ...
November Basrah Light Cargo Sold At OSP +$0.20: Dubai Mercantile Exchange Auctions
Exchange News Direct
Iraq's National Oil Company SOMO Monday sold a 2-million barrel cargo of Basrah Light via DME Auctions, achieving a premium of $0.20 per barrel over the November Basrah Light Official Selling Price (OSP). SOMO increased its Basrah Light OSPs for ...
250 year-old Christie's could be a 21st century digital disruptor
James Christie, the founder of Christie's auction house, conducted his first sale in London on 5 December 1766. Over 250 years later, the global business holds around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and ...
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