Opinion: How small businesses can save money to stay afloat - The Detroit News

Opinion: How small businesses can save money to stay afloat - The Detroit News

Opinion: How small businesses can save money to stay afloat - The Detroit News

Posted: 23 Apr 2021 08:11 PM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Opinion: How small businesses can save money to stay afloat  The Detroit News

San Francisco North Bay recovers most all jobs lost to the pandemic, economist says - Sonoma Index-Tribune

Posted: 21 Apr 2021 06:30 PM PDT

Restaurant and hotel jobs, the hardest hit during the pandemic, are among those returning fastest to the North Bay as COVID-19 restrictions ease, a local economist said Wednesday.

But for other sectors, like government and brick-and-mortar retail, it remains unclear when — and how — those jobs may return.

Robert Eyler, Ph.D., dean of Sonoma State University's School of Extended and International Education and a professor of economics, also said the North Bay has now recovered 94.7% of the jobs lost since January 2020.

"And a lot of economists are revising predictions from even just the previous quarter (because) the speed of recovery is gaining momentum," he said. "And that's good."

Eyler presented his views during a virtual webinar held by Nelson Staffing, titled "Today's Economy and the Remote Work Revolution: Expert Insight to Help Your Business Thrive in 2021."

The pandemic's impact on brick-and-mortar shops could be lasting, he noted.

"From a retail standpoint, we've seen our lives move from kind of a hybrid situation where we're doing some shopping online, but a lot of it was still local," Eyler said, "to now seeing large online retailers taking advantage of the current conditions in such a way to gather more market share because we have moved our lives online."

On the other end of that online retail surge is a boost in jobs for the transportation and warehousing sector, he noted.

And economists are watching government jobs as the pandemic recovery continues.

"The COVID-19 recession triggered some retirements," he said. "And as government budgets shrink — even though now we're going to see a lot of federal money come in and help a lot of city, state and local governments over the next couple of years — one question is whether or not the budget contraction gave government a sense of, 'Maybe we don't need to rehire in completely the same capacity we started with before COVID-19.'"

Eyler also addressed jobs-recovery comparisons between the current recession and past economic turndowns.

"One thing I try to tell people is, don't run to the recession after the First World War simply because the Spanish flu was there at the same time, and don't run to the Great Depression because the numbers were relatively similar in terms of job loss," he said. "You should really look at the Great Recession (that started in late 2007) because the global integration in terms of supply chains, labor markets and financial markets are more similar."

Expenses reimbursement for remote employees

Bruce Sarchet, a Sacramento-based employment and labor law attorney at Littler Mendelson, addressed the potential legal pitfalls employers could run into when it comes to their remote workforce.

He said that with 80% of people working from home and two-thirds of those workers wanting to continue working remotely, according to Gallup polling, a big concern for employers is expense reimbursement.

"Who pays for the internet at home? Who pays for the electricity? Who pays for the cell-phone bills, the rent?," Sarchet said. "These are all subjects of pending wage-and-hour class actions, and you need to think these questions through in advance."

Sarchet stressed the importance of employers having structures and systems in place for their telecommuters, which can get complicated if such an employee moves to a different city, out of state or even out of the country, he noted. For example, unemployment and workers' compensation laws vary, while some states don't have any income tax.

A remote worker's location also can be challenging when it comes to hourly wages, as even some cities in California have differing rates.

"Generally speaking, the law where the worker is sitting is the law which applies," he said. "If your worker wanders across the state line, things start to get complicated pretty quickly."

Sarchet also addressed how human resources management is pivoting to a remote environment and getting more familiar with remote onboarding, and how supervisors are having to manage from afar without being in the same room as their staff.

Tracer Communications continues expansion - Harrison Daily

Posted: 23 Apr 2021 09:00 PM PDT

By DONNA BRAYMER donnab@harrisondaily.com

Tracer Communications has been serving the River Valley since 1995. The company originally began in the Russellville area when Josh Sperry bought the company from the original owner Danny Tracer. They expanded into Harrison and the southern Missouri area in 2019.

Their original speciality was servicing older phone systems —  which they can still do.

"We are a small fish in the communications business … sort of a low voltage system. We do jobs the 'big guys' don't want to do," branch manager and CFO Nathanael Smith said. 

One of the things we do is install phone systems for businesses including over-head speaker systems. We often sub out for larger companies and electricians to install low voltage cabling "in an organized and professional manner." We install cable for networked devices, phones, speakers, TV's, cameras and more.

They also install fiber optics which can include fusion splicing and mechanical termination for multimode or single mode fiber.

"We've found our 'niche' and enjoy doing the odd projects for home owners or businesses small or large," he said.

"Some people just automatically call the big communication companies first, but honestly, we can save you more money. Start by calling us," Smith said.

Tracer Communications is an 'all-in-one solution' for anything to do with routers. "We can hook up security cameras inside and outside for you as well as burglar alarms. The staff is licensed and bonded and have been background checked with the FBI."

Smith said they often think like a criminal to make a home system safer for the family. He said there are often "online" specials that offer a wireless camera which someone outside the home can have direct access to. Cameras need to be hard lined into the home and then backed up with a difficult password for the router. Plug and play systems aren't as secure if it's just hooked to wifi and it's only as secure as the password is strong."

"I don't do scare tactics," he said. "But we will try to educate the home owner and business owner to take care of their needs." 

The old Nortel (Norstar) phone systems were the top of the line but went out of business due to a lack of new parts. Alltel used a lot of them and they are still good systems —  just analogue, he explained.. 

In 1995 Tracer realized other companies weren't able to service those phones and big companies like the hospital in Russellville still had those systems. So Tracer knew that system and taught it to Sperry before he sold him the business.

"So we can keep your old system going, or we can bring you into the 21st century," he said. He said so many times a business has a problem and it's a minor one. But no one else knows how to work on it, so they spend a lot of money to upgrade, when it isn't always necessary."

With the security systems Tracer Communications sells, installs and services, they can ensure a home or business is secure with state of the art access control. 

"Save time and money by keeping access to your property in your hands. Unlock/lock on a schedule, log who comes and goes, grant access remotely, or revoke access instantly," Smith said. Alarm systems for home and businesses can have a phone application that gives notification of anything that goes right or wrong while the owner is away," he said.

Visit tracercoms.com or call 870-517-0678 for more information. A new office should be ready by the middle of May in Crockett Tower located at 303 N Main St Suite 503.

What Gig Workers Need to Know About Filing 2020 Taxes - AARP

Posted: 01 Apr 2021 12:00 AM PDT

A man sitting at his desk working in his home office

Getty Images

En español | No matter what you call it — gig work, side hustle, freelance — if you earn income of $400 or more in a year, you'll have to pay federal taxes on those earnings, along with contributions to Social Security and Medicare.

Figuring out what you owe can be especially tricky if you just started doing gig work, if you haven't kept good records or if you haven't set aside money during the year to cover your annual tax bill.

These tips from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can help you complete your taxes if you're a gig worker and if you earn income from work that may not provide you with a W-2 or 1099 tax form at the end of the year.

What counts as gig work?

Roughly 57 million people a year do gig or freelance work in the United States, according to research firm Statista. Part of the reason so many Americans fit into this category is that the range of jobs that fit this description is so broad. Many gig opportunities use smartphone apps or websites to connect you with people who want to pay you for goods or services. But short-term work that you find on your own could also be considered gig work. In general, these jobs include (but certainly are not limited to) some of the following:

  • Driving people or deliveries in your car;
  • Selling products or crafts online;
  • Renting your home or other property for short-term use;
  • Using your skills and experience to provide temporary, contract or freelance work;
  • Running errands, dog walking or providing similar services for others;
  • Renting out your car or other equipment.

I do gig work, but I also got some unemployment benefits in 2020. Do I have to pay taxes on those benefits?

In general, you would, but there is a big exception for 2020. Thanks to stimulus legislation passed in March, if you earned less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income (AGI) last year, you won't have to pay federal income taxes on the first $10,200 you received in unemployment benefits. According to the Century Foundation, 40 million people collected unemployment benefits in 2020, with the average amount totaling $14,000.

Even better, the IRS recently announced that you can exclude that $10,200 altogether when you're figuring out your modified AGI. That means that some people who may have passed the $150,000 threshold for eligibility may now qualify for that $10,200 unemployment-benefits exemption. On March 31, the IRS announced it would automatically provide refunds to any eligible individuals who filed their 2020 taxes before this deduction took effect in mid-March. The agency says eligible individuals should expect those refunds to arrive starting in mid-May and continuing through the summer.

You should receive a 1099-G tax form telling you the total amount you received in unemployment benefits.

Both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program — which made gig workers nationwide eligible for unemployment benefits — and the $10,200 tax-free exception were created by federal pandemic relief legislation. That means it's not completely clear how gig workers should plan for the 2021 tax year. Enhanced unemployment benefits have been extended through Sept. 6, 2021, but the $10,200 tax break is currently available only for benefits collected in 2020.


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