CPA Practice Advisor

SEP 2018

Today's Technology for Tomorrow's Firm.

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SEPTEMBER 2018 ■ 13 BUILDING YOUR NICHE PRACTICE Meals are deductible when you’re away from your tax home in pursuit of your trade, AND your business trip is overnight or long enough that you need to stop for sleep or rest to properly perform your duties. Depending on the facts, your main place of business or work may be a port, a vessel or the location of the business conducted during non-fishing months. When meals can be deducted, you calculate them based on actual cost or the standard meal allowance. The latter is the federal rate for meals and incidentals, which will vary by area and when you travel. Meal expenses under either method must be reduced by 50% before being deducted. For lodging expenses, only the actual cost is allowed. Depreciation Fish tender vessels and fish processing vessels are classified as water transportation equipment and are depreciated over 10 years. Fishing boats, nets, pots or traps used in a fishing trade or business are depreciated over 7 years. You may be able to deduct expenditures in the current year if you can establish that the items won’t be used for more than a year. Under the new tax reform law, bonus depreciation has been increased from 50% to 100% and the section 179 limit has been increased from $500,000 to $1 million. Capital Construction Fund It’s smart to take advantage of the Capital Construction Fund (CCF) which was created to assist fishermen. The program allows fishermen to defer taxable income by making contributions to an approved depository and eventually using the funds to buy or improve a fishing vessel. Estimated Taxes Small business owners need to pay estimated taxes on time to avoid paying a penalty and there is a special rule for fishermen. If at least two-thirds of your gross income is from fishing, you can choose either of the two options and avoid the estimated tax penalty: 1) pay all of your estimated tax by January 15 and file your individual return by April 15, OR file your individual return by March 1 and pay all the tax due. Recordkeeping For most small business owners or self-employed folks, a business checking account or QuickBooks’ software is the main source for tracking income and expenses. Supporting documentation or receipts must be maintained, such as fish tickets, paid bills, invoices, receipts and cancelled checks. It’s wise to organize these records well and store them in a safe place in case of an agency inquiry down the road. Closing Hopefully, we’ve been able to enlighten you about some general principles and tax tips that pertain to commercial fishing. You don’t need to stop at issuing tax and accounting advice and services to clients in a given field. Over time you may develop the accompanying business acumen too, which can bolster yourself, your practice and value to clients and prospects as an end-to-end trusted advisor. ■ Mike D’Avolio, CPA & JD, is tax law specialist and staff program manager for Intuit’s ProConnect Group. Additionally, research jargon in the region where potential clients are located and use that language in marketing, social media, traditional marketing, and website content. For example, terms for saltwater fishing are different than freshwater fishing. Below is an example of an online saltwater fishing ad versus a freshwater ad. Saltwater Ad: Aquaculture Business Advisors | Snappers Accounting LLC Tax planning, return filing, consulting, bookkeeping and more for fishermen + women. Drop us a line. 1-888-Salty-CPA. Freshwater Ad: Stop Fishing for a CPA | Walleye Accounting Services Avoid becoming IRS bait. We can help you with taxes, payroll, financial planning + more. Call today at 1-888-Hook-CPA. Also, pay close attention to the description and keyword tags used on your website. These tags are located in the code of your site and should include keywords phrases to help increase organic search result clicks. For example, the Snappers Accounting LLC firm’s home page SEO meta tag description would be something like “Tax, payroll, and accounting firm specializing in the aquaculture and saltwater fishing industries for more than 25 years.” The keywords meta tag for that page might include terms like, “aquaculture accountant,” “saltwater fishing CPA,” “fish farming business,” “tax accountant,” “aquaculture business solutions,” etc. The Walleye Accounting firm’s website home page meta tag description might be something like, “Tax, payroll, and accounting services for freshwater fishermen- and women-owned businesses for more than a decade.” The keywords meta tag for their home page may include terms like “freshwater fishing accountant,” freshwater fishing CPA,” “freshwater fish business,” “freshwater business solutions,” etc. When it comes to social media, you can drop in photos of fishing activities, such as company events like a family fishing day, or even consider adding quotes and fun stories about fishing in your feed. Depending on the social media platform you use, keep things short, fun, and linked back to your website. For video channel posts, keep videos informative and less than 2-3 minutes in length. Informational videos, how tos, and quick tips are great for this platform. Keep in mind, catching those clients is going to take work. You’ll have to repeatedly cast in order to get their attention. Once you’ve defined the audience and your services, think of a variety of ways to reach them, such as traditional marketing like print media and radio ads, search engine marketing, social media posts, events, webinars, podcasts, video, and more. How do you plan to catch your next big fish? ■ Becky Livingston is the President and CEO of Penheel Marketing, a boutique marketing firm specializing in social media and digital marketing for CPAs.

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