Category Archives: General Small Business Info

Getting a Business Phone


Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2011
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

It can come in handy to have a phone number for your small business, but it can be expensive to have a separate land line or cell phone when you are just starting up.

I’m a big fan of personal privacy so I definitely was not interested in giving out our home number (especially knowing this about tax registration).

Looking to keep expenses at a minimum we looked to online services and decided to try Magic Jack which has worked well for us:

http://www.magicjack.com

It’s a bit cumbersome as a program starting it up (and plugging a phone into the computer) but for less than $75 we got a phone number that’d be just for the business for at least 5 years including a voicemail account and free domestic calls (and free directory assistance, call waiting, three-way calling and call forwarding).

If we don’t have the Magic Jack phone hooked up or the computer is offline, callers can leave us a voicemail. When that happens we get an email with the voicemail attached that I can listen to right from my email inbox. If I don’t have internet access I can call and get my voicemail using any phone.

If I need to call a customer, I just plug the MagicJack & phone into the front USB port on my computer and it works like any other phone.

A free option would Google Voice which wasn’t around yet when we got our phone number through Magic Jack:

https://www.google.com/voice

We’ve since gotten a Google Voice account and I’ve used it a few places though I am hesitant to make the number our primary number for business since I don’t know if Google will continue the service or keep it free (and we just don’t need to pay for second phone number for the business).

It gives you a phone number and free calls within the US & Canada but I’ve never tried to use it to make an outgoing call with it myself.

One cool thing about Google Voice is that when I get an email about a voicemail it includes a text transcript of the message. It’s sometimes a little off, but it does give me the general gist without having to turn on the speakers for the computer (we like our computer to be quiet–scares the daylights out of me when I use someone else’s computer and it makes noise, LOL).

Another affordable option through the computer is Skype:

http://www.skype.com

There’s a reasonable fee with different features depending on which service you choose. I’ve found their tech support to be difficult (really, no phone support line??), but if the phone line & billing are working well it’s a good tool.

This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

What is Use Tax?


Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2011-2013
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

Many buyers think that their online purchases are tax exempt, but if their state has sales tax when they purchase locally, they might be mistaken. It’s a common misconception and states are starting to crack down on internet purchases.

For states with sales tax there is generally a complimentary tax that buyers should be paying called use tax:

  • Use tax is owed by individuals & businesses for items purchased without having paid sales tax that would have had sales tax on it if bought locally. (In some states that also includes tax on the shipping & handling, downloadable goods, services…)
  • Ex: Bought a book online, but the seller didn’t collect sales tax like they would have if you bought it at the local book shop? You owe use tax to the state for that transaction.

    Ex: Bought something for your business that wouldn’t qualify for exemption from sales tax if purchased for your business locally, and the seller didn’t collect sales tax? Then your business owes use tax to the state for that transaction.

    Each state decides what is and isn’t taxable for personal use and for your business use, so the rules about what you’ll owe use tax on varies from state to state–be sure to get the details straight from the state (links to official state web pages here).

  • Use tax is payable by the buyer directly to the state.
  • Many states now allow you to pay the use tax you owe on your state income tax forms in April. You can also you fill out a use tax form reporting the amount you spent that you didn’t pay sales tax on, and send a check with that form to the state with the money to cover the use tax due.

    Links to the forms to pay use tax for many states can be found on the forms & publications pages of your state’s website. Links to many of those are here: Sales Tax-Business Registration

  • Use tax is usually the same rate as sales tax.
  • If that book was $10.00 & your state (and perhaps local) sales tax is 8%, you would have paid $10.80 if you bought it locally. You probably need to remit $.80 as use tax to the state. It’s best to get the details from your state to be sure you are doing it right–some states also tax shipping costs.

  • Use tax is not a new tax–it has been around in most states for decades.
  • Use tax isn’t new, it’s just that until the internet most people didn’t do so much distance-purchasing, so the topic isn’t much talked about.

    In short…:

    Just because you bought it online doesn’t make your purchase tax exempt.

    Use tax is what you owe your state when you should have paid sales tax but didn’t. 🙂

    Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2011-2013
    This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

    New NY Business Info Page

    I’ve grouped all the info I’ve posted for NY businesses in one easy to find place–find this page any time using the gold link on the right side of the page:

    NY Sales Tax & Business Registration

    If you need help with sales tax & business laws for 33 other states in the USA, please see here:

    US: Sales Tax & Business Registration
    Links to official state websites

    Don’t see your state? Leave a comment on that post and I’ll update it as soon as possible for you.

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    Do I Need to File a Tax Return?

    There’s so many people asking if they need to report their online income on their income taxes that I thought linking to this IRS app that will help you determine if you need to file (or if you should because of a benefit to you even though you don’t have to) might be useful.

    This should still give you a good idea if you need to file–click the Begin link below the paragraph of text:

    Do I Need to File a Tax Return?

    There are other questionnaires like this on the IRS site too (page down below the intro text for links):

    Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA)

    If you need to file, you’ll need to report all your income. The following posts should be helpful to you:

    Getting Ready to File Your Income Taxes?
    and
    Help for Filing your Federal Income Taxes for Your Small Business

    Getting Ready to File Your Income Taxes?


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    Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2011
    This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

    It’s that time of year! Lots of folks looking for info on getting their records ready for income taxes–the links below should help. (Links open in a new window.)

    Help for downloading your Etsy & Paypal records:

    Etsy: Download your Sales and Billing Data to a Spreadsheet

    Download Your Paypal History

    You’ll need a program with a spreadsheet to open csv files. If you don’t already have one this is great free software which has a spreadsheet available:

    Open Office

    You might also find the IRS publications listed here helpful for figuring out what goes where on your income taxes:

    Help for Filing Federal Income Taxes for Your Small Business

    And if you haven’t registered with your state yet (or on a more local level like city or county), you might want to check into the requirements for people selling from your area–the laws are different everywhere.

    What you consider your hobby might be considered a business by the government, and their opinion is the one that counts… 🙂

    US Sellers: Sales Tax & Business Registration

    Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2011
    This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

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    Visit our 2nd Etsy shop: GoToSupplies

    Looking for a discount at JoAnn's Fabric & Craft Stores?

    Bats from GoTo's Etsy shop

    Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2010
    This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

    A little plus for USA sellers who have registered their businesses–amid the updates of our Sales Tax & Business Registration–Official State Website Links page…:

    If you shop at Jo Ann Fabric and Craft stores, and you’ve registered for a state sales tax id number or otherwise registered your business with your state, you are eligible for a VIP discount card that entitles you to 10% off your purchases, in addition to purchasing many supplies exempt from sales tax in most states (so long as the supplies are for use in your business).

    See all the details here on their website:

    Jo-Ann VIP Discount Card

    You are also eligible if you are part of a Sewing/Crafting Organization, an NPO or can prove you are an interior design professional.

    Hope that helps increase your profits!

    Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2010
    This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

    New states added & links updated: Sales Tax & Business Registration

    The Sales Tax & Business Registration link page is up to 22 states now, & new links have been posted for some of the states that were already there:

    Alabama Arizona
    California Colorado
    Connecticut Florida
    Illinois Kentucky
    Louisiana Massachusetts
    Michigan Minnesota
    New Jersey New Mexico
    New York North Carolina
    Pennsylvania South Carolina
    Tennessee Texas
    Washington Wisconsin


    If a state isn’t there and you’d like to see links please leave a comment with the state and I’ll add it to the top of my list!

    Sales Tax & Business Page–updated with more states

    I’ve updated the new Sales Tax & Business Registration link page–we’ve now got info for the following states:


    Alabama
    Arizona
    California
    Connecticut
    Florida
    Illinois
    Kentucky
    Louisiana
    Massachusetts
    Michigan
    New York
    North Carolina
    Pennsylvania
    South Carolina
    Washington
    Wisconsin

    If a state isn’t there and you’d like to see links please leave a comment with the state and I’ll add it to the top of my list!

    New: Sales Tax & Business Registration Page

    Well I’ve been meaning to do this for the past few years and now that Etsy is trying to add a sales tax feature to the site there’s been an even greater need for info on sales tax & business registration requirements.

    I’ve got a hundred or so links bookmarked for sales tax issues in many states that have come up in the Etsy forums and I’m putting them up on the blog’s new:

    Sales Tax and Business Registration Page

    So far I’ve got info for only 10 states up, but I’ll be adding to the page as much as possible. If your state isn’t there yet and you’d like to see some links for it, please leave a comment on this post with your state and I’ll put your state at the top of the list for states to be added.

    I’ve got direct links to answers many of the frequently asked questions from the forums–links that take you to official government pages because I believe you should only get your answers from the authorities.

    Any other place you get answers–be it forums or unofficial websites–may or may not have accurate answers, and that’s just not good enough if you want to be obeying the law.

    This post from 2008 should still prove very useful in your quest for information–it lets you know what questions are asked repeatedly by sellers, so finding out your state’s answers to these questions should help you understand issues you may not have faced yet, so you’ll be prepared to handle them when they arise:

    Sales Tax Questions
    You Need to Know the Answers To

    Here’s to everyone getting legal!

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