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We hope you find our blog full of useful info to help you understand the ever changing tax landscape. We work diligently to provide the most up to date news and helpful information for you to consider.

Lessons from 10 years of toil

This month marks the ten year anniversary of the start of my accounting practice. A lot has happened over the course of that decade. Here are a few lessons:

Valuing Commercial Real Estate

“I think we’ll just have a market analysis done.” That’s what the CPA said to me and my client as we discussed the value of a commercial building that my client was considering buying from the CPA’s client. 

Captain Herman, Part 4

If you haven’t read the first three installments about Captain Herman, you will find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

Excellence. As a business grows and expands...

Captain Herman, Part 3

If you haven’t read the first two installments about Captain Herman, you will find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. They are the backstory for the following lessons:

Seek out opportunity. Captain Herman left...

Captain Herman, Part 2

As a “numbers guy” my mind was reeling with all of the opportunity that Captain Herman was tapping in to. 

Captain Herman, Part 1

Our family recently returned from a much needed respite in the Cayman Islands. It was there that I met a most interesting entrepreneur. 

Are business meals still deductible?

A client texted me last week to ask if business meals are still deductible. It’s a good question given all of the confusion around last December’s tax reform. 

Is alimony still deductible?

A client emailed a question that you may also have:


Good morning.   Have you heard or do you know anything about a 2019 tax law change that makes alimony NOT deductible for the payor anymore?   I presently pay alimony as you might remember.  

Nervous Client

ACA Penalties Gone?!?


I heard that the tax law passed in December of 2017 eliminated the ACA penalty for not having health insurance. Does this mean I don’t have to pay a penalty on my 2017 return? Can I just not report my health insurance information?


Nervous Client

New year, new business!

One of the first emails to hit my inbox in 2018 is from someone looking to start a new business. Below is my correspondence and general advice to this new entrepreneur. Happy New Year!

Hi Bob,

Thank you for getting back to me.  In the new year I will be looking to start my own business.  I will be working as a 1099 contractor managing studies for clinical research.  I was wondering what it the best type of business entity for me to setup and begin a retirem

Selling a rental

“Bob, I’m selling my condo and should pocket $20k after paying off the mortgage. How much tax will I owe on the $20k? Just to provide specifics, I bought the condo at the top of the market for $135k and the sales price is $132k so would it be -$3k, even though I pocket $20k? Thank you!”

The taxation of cryptocurrency

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin…and the list goes on. Cryptocurrencies were once only known to those making a living online, but have grown in popularity and usage in recent years. Much has been written on their origin and...

The Power of Pain

“Joshua fell and hurt is arm.” Those are the words I heard letting me know that my evening plans were about to change. As we sped to the hospital to meet up with our youngest son who had been spending time with friends, the rest of the story began to unfold.

Facing Fear in Business

Last month I had the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at a wedding industry event. In telling my story, I highlighted three components of growth that benefitted me. Here is the first lesson: not all fear is the same.



Roth 401k or regular 401k?

This week a client asked a great question about investing and taxes. Here is her email:

“Hi Bob,
I was wondering if you could help me out with a question. My company has decided to offer Roth 401K instead of just traditional. If I stuck with my traditional 401K do you know what my tax savings would be, in one full year? 

Can I write off my RV?

A new client asked a good question this week: can I write off the interest and excise tax on my camper? In her situation, the answer is "Yes!" Here's a thumbnail sketch of her situation and why she can write off those expenses.

What a ballerina can teach you about business

My younger daughter is a ballerina. If you are picturing a small girl wearing pink with her hair in a bun, you’re only half way there.  Add to that picture 10 banged up toes, 5 days/week of practice, regular stretching at home, shoes that last 4 weeks or less, and a constant focus on tiny details and you’re getting close.

Watching her over the years has taught me three things about ballet that have direct application to the business world.

New tax deadlines this year

This year the IRS has shifted the filing due dates of several returns. If you are a business owner, take note of the new dates below.

Focus on the Fundamentals

My oldest daughter has competed in several sports over the years: gymnastics, diving and cross country. This past year, however, has seen her take up the unusual sport of pole vaulting. Pole vault is a sport where the fundamentals are essential. As in business, without a mastery of the fundamentals of pole vaulting, you’ll never attain great heights. Here are three lessons from the pole vault pit:

Focus like a swimmer

My younger son is a swimmer at the local YMCA. To say it didn’t come naturally to him would be an understatement. Let’s just say that whining, crying and bribery were all involved in teaching him how to swim. But once he finally learned the basics he has taken off. His success in the pool now is due to one key factor: focus. Here are three lessons in focus from the pool.

Should we file separately?

A recent email from a client asked this question. Here it is:

“Hi Bob - Because of our financial struggles, we believe that we will finally be qualified for some assistance in regards to MaineCare and health insurance. My wife is wondering about the implications of filing separately, as we have yet to prepare the profit and loss for my schedule C, which is a factor holding things up. 

Discipline like a wrestler

My son is a wrestler. Not the John Cena type of wrestler, the Jordan Burroughs type. He’s a high school wrestler. I’ve learned more about business and entrepreneurship from watching him than in any of my MBA classes. Here are three lessons in discipline that I have learned from the sport of wrestling

Year end tax tips for your 1040

As 2016 winds down, there are a few things that taxpayers can do to reduce their tax liability for the year and none of them are related to the election or the President-elect!

Are personal distributions a business expense?

I received an email today with a common question about shareholder distributions.

Great news for FAFSA filers!

If you have a student in college, you are familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. And you know the drill...

We moved!

Our new office is located at 18 Middle Street in Brunswick, around the corner from our old office. 

Year-end Tax Planning for Individuals

As 2015 winds down, there are a few things that taxpayers can do to reduce their tax liability for the year.  Charitable Contributions: Now is the time of year that many of your favorite charities are looking for a contribution to help them finish the year well. Cash, appreciated stock and vehicles all make great gifts. And don’t forget to clean out those closets and bring those old clothes to Goodwill or Salvation Army so they can enjoy another life. Applica...

Everyone's taxes are going up. And that includes you.

Taxmageddon, taxpocalypse, the fiscal cliff, the largest tax increase in the history of the universe. That's how the coming tax increases have been described. And they aren't inaccurate descriptors. Everyone's taxes are going up and that includes you. Yes, you.   "But wait," you say, "We're a two income MFJ family with two kids making $75,000/year. We're as ordinary as it gets. Surely our taxes aren't going up." They are. Only the 15% bracket is s...

Why hiring assessments are a great idea: from A,B,C to 1,2,3

If you're like most business owners, you've hired and fired many people and you are characterized by the following traits: A) You have high expectations for your employees B) You think that you read people well C) You are beginning to think that high turnover rates are the price for excellence Bad news: you are wrong on all three accounts. Here's why: 1) Rarely do employers with high expectations convey those expectations well to their new hires. I'm not just talking about during...

A case for networking with just one person

When I started my own tax and consulting practice I set out to network with the local business community so that I could grow my business. Not being a natural networker, I had to learn the hard way how to go about using networking opportunities to grow my business.

The Red Sox collapse & your company culture

This was a sad year for Red Sox fans. On September 3rd the Sox lead the Tampa Bay Rays by 9 games in the AL wild card race. By September 28th they had lost 18 of 24 games and were eliminated from the wild card race. What happened? Is the curse back? No. Not unless stupidity and arrogance can be considered a curse. The Red Sox epic collapse can only be blamed on the Red Sox and their management. As the days go by we learn more and more about players partying during games (if beer, fried chicken &...

Uncomfortably agreeing with Big Brother...

I have long been a proponent of smaller and simpler government. While I don't self-identify as a Libertarian, I do lean that way. So it is with some sheepishness and reluctance that I have to say I agree with one area in which Big Brother is increasing it's oversight and control: regulating tax preparers. Anyone can prepare taxes and anyone can be paid to prepare taxes. Prior to this year there have no restrictions or requirements placed on unenrolled tax preparers (those that aren't CPAs or En...

What the Chilean miners can teach us about money

As I write this post the Chilean miners are being extracted from the depths of the Earth. CNN tells me that 17 have been rescued and 16 remain underground. This wonderful story can teach us three important lessons about money: 1) What you think is really important might not be important at all. So you really think it's crucial to get a new car? Buy a new toy? Purchase a larger house? What if that money was spent on something else? Something more lasting? A date with your significant other? Time...

So you want to sell your business...

In the past few months I've had clients come to me that have expressed an interest in selling a business and want to know what steps to take. Here are some basic principles to consider. Bear in mind that I am not offering legal advice and I am not a business broker. 1) What's it worth? For most owners of small businesses the answer is, "less than you think." Someone who has worked for 25 years as a plumber, taken home $75,000/year for the last three years and has steady work lined up for a few ...

Stop it! You're not a pro at everything!

I'm a big fan of the internet. So much information a few mouse clicks away makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel that I can do anything. Never before in history has it been easier to find out how to read the engine codes for your car, bake the perfect gluten-free birthday cake or find out how many fireplaces there are in the White House (28). But there's a big problem with the internet: It makes me feel like a professional at virtually anything. And I'm not. No matter how many, "how to cross...

You're not a pro....but someone is!

I'm a big fan of the internet. So much information a few mouse clicks away makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel that I can do anything. Never before in history has it been easier to find out how to read the engine codes for your car, bake the perfect gluten-free birthday cake or find out how many fireplaces there are in the White House (28). But there's a big problem with the internet: It makes me feel like a professional at virtually anything. And I'm not.

Want to succeed in business? Catch a bat!

Yes, I mean that kind of bat....the nocturnal terror that flits about mocking us as we stumble in the dark. If you are an entrepreneur and you want to succeed in business, you have to be able to catch a bat. Or at least possess several of the skills necessary to do so. In the course of the past week, I have caught two bats in my house. This simultaneously delighted my children and terrified my wife. The process of catching them is much like being an entrepreneur seeking to grow your business. H...

Why the rich should NOT get a tax hike next year.

Some of you are already mad at me based solely on the title. I'm okay with that. Hear me out. First, let's get the following out of the way: 1) This is a very contentious issue 2) The definition of "rich" is arbitrary and relative. For the purposes of this post, I'll use those with incomes (combined or otherwise) of over $250,000. 3) I am not rich (at least by my arbitrary definition of financial wealth) Now that we understand each other, let me lay out my reasoning. 1) The rich buy stu...

Maybe the market is still working!

News today from Detroit: the market has rewarded Ford for not being part of the bailout/stimulus fiasco! Free market economists like to believe the following: 1) The market always self-corrects. 2) Good companies will be rewarded. 3) Bad companies will be punished. 4) Hands off, Uncle Sam! Recent history, however has shown that this is not always the case. Ford was not part of the bailout and has now made 5 straight quarterly profits. If GM reports a profit, it will be the second quarter...

Be like Bach!!

I know what you're thinking, "What does Bach have to do with business?" The answer: EVERYTHING! Bach composed around 2000 pieces of music during his lifetime. That's the equivalent of one piece of music every week for 40 years. In addition to doing some composing, Bach was an acclaimed organist and also played the harpsichord, viola and violin. How was one person able to accomplish so much in his 65 years of life? Excellence. Bach pursued excellence in all that he did. Now we can't all h...

Service still matters!

Two weeks ago my wife and I traveled to Eugene, OR for a family wedding. It was also our anniversary weekend so we spent a few extra days there in a beautiful bed & breakfast called C'est La Vie. I had reviewed several other B & Bs online and settled on this one for one reason: service. C'est La Vie is not the most or least expensive B & B in Eugene, but reviewers consistently rank it high in service. So we decided to try it out. Two words: expectations exceeded. The inn is beautifu...

Are credit cards evil?

I've heard both sides of this argument for years now. I've listened to (and have a great deal of respect for) some of the prominent national voices that are anti-credit card. I've heard lots of people espouse the virtues of credit cards (most of whom were carrying significant credit card debt). I've always tried to stay in the middle ground. The way I see it, credit cards are like the internet. Can the internet be used for evil? Yes? Can the internet be used for good? Yes. If you...

Are you making or losing money right now?

Sounds like a simple enough question, but I continually meet business people who don't know if they are making or losing money. And I view this question as merely a big picture question. I want my clients to know how much they make on each latte, widget, contract, etc. But I'll save that for another post. This question is one that should be asked regularly by business owners or their coaches. When an owner knows the current financial health of his business, he can proceed with confidence toward...

Hire around your strengths to diminsh your weaknesses

We all have strengths and weaknesses. The most successful among us are not threatened by their weaknesses, instead they see them as opportunities for improvement. Now, I'm not talking about working on your weaknesses and trying to bring them up to par with your strengths. I think that's a waste of time. What I'm talking about is hiring people around you whose strengths are your weaknesses. Let them work in their strengths while you work in yours. You may ask, "What about improving myself and my...

What if we wrote weekly tax checks?

Have you ever thought about what it would feel like to write weekly checks for our taxes? Consider the following scenario: An employee is paid $900/wk. He is married with two children. Each week he gets a check for $900 on Friday. When he gets home with that paycheck he gets out his checkbook and writes the following checks: $42.88 for federal income tax $55.80 for social security $13.05 for medicare $24.00 for state income taxes Leaving the family with $764.27. Each week this is repeated unt...

Make the List!!

I've had productive days. I've had unproductive days. I've even had some super-productive days. What was the single biggest factor in boosting my productivity? The list. I used to get to work and dive right in to whatever project seemed the most urgent. I'd often end up frustrated at the end of the day as other projects fell by the wayside and were delayed. Years ago someone told me that I should make a list of all of the work that I wanted to accomplish that day. My thought was, "I don't have ...

What's the point of income taxes?

As I prepare tax returns for businesses and individuals, I am increasingly aware of the dual purpose of the our tax code. We're all aware of the primary purpose: to bring money in to the US Treasury. The secondary purpose (some might argue that it's the primary purpose) is to control behavior. "That's ridiculous. The government isn't trying to control our behavior," you say. Consider the following recent examples: 1.) Cash for Clunkers. This program put many people into...

Who defines affordability?

Last night we went out for Vietnamese food. The total with tip for the 6 of us was $31.60. That was affordable. Five minutes away there is a restaurant that would have cost us at least $400. That is not affordable for us. For my friend John, $31.60 to eat out is not affordable. For my friend Steve, $400 easily fits within his means. What is affordability? The cost of an item/service relative to what the purchaser is able to pay. So it would seem to me that we each get to determine for ourselv...

Why do we hire for skills and fire for character?!?

Anyone who has ever held a job has met an employee that is a poor fit for his or her job. How does this happen? We have more HR professionals than ever before, we have more possible vocations than ever before, we have more job training than ever before and yet we keep sticking square pegs in round holes. Why? The answer is simple: character. The typical hiring process looks something like this: 1.) Post an ad 2.) Receive 173 replies 3.) Screen all but three based on: Experience – Do ...


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Lessons from 10 years of toil
Valuing Commercial Real Estate

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