Has the thought ever crossed your mind that smart devices are becoming too smart? It turns out that iRobot, the company that makes the popular robot vacuum cleaner, Roomba, has been collecting more than just dust bunnies. Reuters recently reported that your robot vacuum cleaner has been amassing data on your home, as well as the crumbs and stray pet hair on your floor.
For a robot vacuum cleaner to do its job well, it needs to familiarize itself with your floor plan. In Roomba’s case, the machine does this by building a map of your home by bumping into objects, reversing its direction, and ultimately navigating its way around objects, such as your couch and coffee table.
iRobot’s CEO, Colin Angle, feels that there are many benefits to be gained by using this information outside the confines of the robot vacuum industry. Angle stated, “There’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared.”
The most important word of Angle’s statement is, of course, the term “allowed.” After all, this is your private residence we’re talking about here. Privacy concerns are likely to be a point of contention for most consumers.
When asked if maps of their customers’ homes gathered by Roomba’s sensors would be sold to other companies, such as Amazon, Google, or Apple, in the future, Angle clarified his statement. He noted that this information would not be sold to third parties, but could potentially be shared pending customer consent.
Nevertheless, how this data could be used is still being explored. At the very least, this information could be used to operate other appliances in the home. For example, smart lights could turn on or off automatically during different times during the day, or even in parts of the house that don’t receive much natural light. Furthermore, a sound system could reconfigure itself when it receives information that a room layout has been altered to ensure the best acoustics.
Now more than ever, the small to mid-sized business owner has the ability to develop the same Big Data analysis as larger corporations—an important step in achieving a competitive position in your industry.
From technology-based accounting solutions to management information, analysis, and reporting, Talley LLP is the premier business consulting firm for entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses. For more information on how to leverage your business’s data technology, contact Talley today.
On Sunday, Federer became the oldest man to win Wimbledon when he won the tournament for a record 8th time and extended his lead in most Grand Slam titles held by a man in the Open era; he now has 19 Just as older tennis players are working longer, Americans are too. In May 2016, almost 20% of Americans 65 and older, roughly 9 million people, were employed full- or part-time, up from 4 million in 2000. Here are some things all entrepreneurs can learn from Federer’s example of career longevity and success.
Find ways to prevent burnout. Many workers don’t take all their vacation days for various reasons, but taking time off to recharge or do something that’s important to you outside of work can pay off.
After losing at Wimbledon a year ago, Federer took some time off to recover from some nagging injuries and rested for 6 months. When 2017 came around, he entered and won the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open. He skipped the year’s second Grand Slam event, the French Open, to give his body time to rest.
He then returned to the tour and won Wimbledon. Federer realized, as he has gotten older, that he needs to give his bodymore time to recuperate. After he won Winbledon, he told ESPN, “If I don’t play too much, I won’t be as tired and hurt.”
Use your experience to your advantage. Federer has turned his age into a positive and put his experience to work for him. When he was serving for the Wimbledon title at 5-4 in the third set, Federer said he told himself he was going to lose the set. He reasoned that he’d never won Wimbledon without losing at least one set over the two weeks. And if he won his service game, he wouldn’t have lost any sets.
When Federer mentioned this to Paul Annacone, his former coach, Annacone was surprised and said a younger Federer never would have done that. But in the end, Federer won the match and the title. The anecdote shows he has come up with new approaches to competing as he has grown older.
Those who want continued success adapt to change. Workers who fear they’re becoming obsolete can take a cue from how Federer has had to adapt to modernization. A 35-year-old Federer had to switch to a more modern tennis racket, one with a larger head size and more power. His career goals have changed too. In his early playing days, being ranked No. 1 in the world was the most important thing to him. But now he is happy to be competing at the highest level, on the world’s most famous tennis courts -winning more Grand Slam titles is a bonus.
Proper business planning is a complex and on-going effort, requiring expert counsel—a professional with knowledge and experience, familiar with the challenges that characterize an entrepreneur’s business ventures. Talley LLP shares the same entrepreneurial spirit that has helped propel our clients to their current level of success. With over 25 years’ experience helping high net worth individuals and business owners, Talley has the expertise necessary to assist entrepreneurs throughout their entire journey, from formation through succession.
Eager to pay more taxes? Just move to Norway. To no one’s surprise, Norway’s voluntary tax contribution has not been successful. Hammered by the opposition for slashing taxes and going on a spending spree with the country’s oil money, the center-right government has hit back with a bold proposal: voluntary contributions.
Launched in June, the initiative has received a tepid reception so far, with the equivalent of just $1,325 in extra revenue being collected by the program so far, according to the Finance Ministry. That is a paltry amount, considering Norway has a population in the neighborhood of 5.3 million people, many of whom are already accustomed to paying some of the highest taxes in the world (the top rate of income tax is 46.7 percent).
“The tax scheme was set up to allow those who want to pay more taxes to do so in a simple and straightforward way,” Finance Minister Siv Jensen said in an emailed comment. “If anyone thinks the tax level is too low, they now have the chance to pay more.”
Who is ever eager to pay more taxes??
In late 2013, the Norwegian government was faced with one of the worst economic shocks in recent memory as the price of crude plunged. The government responded by aggressively cutting taxes and tapping into the country’s massive wealth fund for the first time.
Left-of-center opposition parties claimed the tax cuts would benefit the richest and boost inequality. Jonas Gahr Store, the wealthy Labor Party contender who is leading in the polls ahead of the September 11 elections, has so far refused to take up the government’s offer.
Ironically, it was Store, whose net worth is $8 million, who prodded the government into action by complaining earlier this year that he had ended up paying less taxes under the current administration.
“This is an election campaign showcase by the government,” said Harald Jacobsen, a political adviser at the Labor party, who argues that the scheme has cost more than what it has generated.
Only broadly experienced tax advisory professionals can provide a truly global perspective so you can preserve, enhance and pass on to the next generation the assets and wealth that you’ve worked hard to build. Talley welcomes the opportunity to discuss with you the current opportunities available to you and your family. For more information, contact us here.
A sense of uncertainty has emerged under the new administration surrounding estate planning for the year 2017. President Trump has expressed his intent to implement significant changes to U.S. tax policy. However, the degree to which those changes will occur remains ambiguous. Nevertheless, there are strategies that individuals, families and small businesses can use when faced with new issues regarding tax, wealth-transfer and business succession.
President Trump has indicated that the estate tax could be replaced with a capital gains tax at death, eliminating the current step-up in basis system. This could cause an administrative nightmare, as many investors do not have cost basis documentation (especially for assets purchased before the internet was established). Thus, it would be a good idea to begin to determine how to collect data that documents the cost basis of long-held assets.
What can entrepreneurs and families do, given all the uncertainty around the future of transfer taxes?
Planning for “if” and “when” is challenging, and estate documents should be drafted with as much flexibility as possible to account for the unknown. Documents should reflect the consequences of dying with an estate tax in place, dying when the estate tax could be repealed, and dying when the estate tax could resume (either in its current state with 2017 exemption amounts, or in an altered state, with different exemption amounts).
And then there are those non-tax strategies that people should be employing, that will not change even if tax legislation does. These strategies, such as planning for guardianship and health care decisions in the event of death or incompetence, and asset protection and management, are essential for all people, regardless of wealth. People will still need wills and trusts so their wishes are carried out and their assets are protected for future generations.
Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley today.
Tax experts are poring over the Senate version of the Republican health care bill, examining the bill’s tax provisions and its differences from the House version of the legislation. Here’s what they have to say.
The two versions of the Senate and House bills are not that far apart, per Dustin Stamper, a director in Grant Thornton’s Washington National Tax Office. “The tax titles are pretty similar in a lot of ways,” he said. “The biggest difference is what to do going forward to continue to offer refundable tax credits for purchasing insurance. The Senate draft is much more generous than the House bill.”
Elliott, the lead executive responsible for overseeing all aspects of the ACA implementation at the IRS, cautioned that what was released was a discussion draft and is likely to change during negotiations.
“Both the House and Senate effectively repeal the individual and employer mandate,” she said. “And they both make significant changes to Medicaid. While the Code will still require applicable individuals to maintain minimum essential coverage, the penalties for filing to do so will be lowered to zero, effective as of Jan. 1, 2016.”
“Both the House and the Senate versions repeal ACA taxes such as the taxes on medical devices, insurance providers, and the tax on high-interest earners,” she noted. “That’s what’s drawing the ire of critics who are claiming it’s in part a tax break for the rich.”
The discussion draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 expands the Affordable Care Act’s “state innovation waivers,” also known as “Obamacare 1332 Waivers,” to provide states additional flexibility to use waivers that exist in current law to decide the rules of insurance and ultimately better allow customers to buy the health insurance they want.
“The key provision for individual taxpayers is that both the House and Senate versions repeal the 3.8 percent tax on net investment income,” said Howard Wagner, managing director in Crowe Horvath’s National Tax Office. “And the Senate version follows the House bill in that the 0.9 percent additional Medicare tax on wages and self-employment income is not repealed until 2023.”
“The important issue for individuals is that until something is enacted, everything is subject to change,” he added. “If you’re considering a transaction such as the sale of a business or the sale of stock that would result in the imposition of tax on net investment income, don’t do it today on the assumption that the tax will be gone for 2017. Aside from the fact that the bills don’t make it into law, there is always the possibility that negotiations could result in changes to the effective date. The final bill that ultimately passes might not repeal the NII tax until 2018 or later.”
The BCRA is slated for negotiation and a vote as early as next week, but four Republican senators have already said they’re not on board. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., needs 50 votes out of 52 Republicans in the Senate, assuming every Democrat will vote against the bill.
Talley offers a broad spectrum of services to fulfill the needs of high net worth individuals, entrepreneurially driven companies and their owners. Whether you are considering an M&A transaction or experiencing a financial windfall event, the professionals at Talley & Company can make the most of both your earnings and winnings.
Source: Accountingtoday.com; June 23, 2017
16 Jun 2017
With its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Amazon went from testing the waters with its grocery-retail concept store, Amazon Go, to carving a direct path to becoming a major U.S. grocery retailer. While the e-commerce giant doesn’t need to be the biggest grocer in the country, Amazon is aiming to be among the top grocers in key cities, experts say.
Even though their grocery delivery service, AmazonFresh, was launched a decade ago, brick-and-mortar grocery retail is a category that Amazon has been carefully working its way into over time. By acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon has bought a well-known grocery brand whose customer base overlaps with Amazon’s shoppers, creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
For Amazon, the deal marks an ambitious push into the grocery business, an industry that accounts for $700-$800 billion in annual sales in the U.S. With Amazon, Whole Foods gets an owner with significant technological expertise and a willingness to invest aggressively in the grocery retailer’s success.
“The Whole Foods customer is the Prime customer,” said Cooper Smith, director of Amazon research at L2 Inc., a business intelligence firm., who defines the demographic as “high- earning, young millennials.” Amazon is asking itself how it can “capture as much of their wallet as possible.”
To that end, it’s not Amazon’s goal to necessarily be the top grocer overall in the U.S. Rather, according to Smith, Amazon wants to be among the top five in its core markets, places where these affluent millennials can be found: San Francisco; New York City; Boston; Austin, Texas; and Philadelphia.
This acquisition will have an effect beyond these five geographies, experts say. Major players in the grocery space are now in Amazon’s cross-hairs: including Kroger, which had already closed down nearly 19% in Thursday trading and is down again in Friday trading, Target Co. , which discussed the need to transform its grocery business during its analyst event earlier this year, and Costco Wholesale Corp., which has certain pricing advantages but has yet to fully capitalize on them, according to analysts.
“As other brick and mortar retailers have come to realize the hard way that competing with Amazon is a formidable challenge, supermarkets will now have to contend with not only competition with each other and nontraditional grocers like Walmart and Target, but with a retailer like Amazon which has the financial capacity to price aggressively, and the smaller regional supermarket chains and independents will bear the most pain,” said Moody’s Vice President Mickey Chadha, who expects that there will be additional consolidation in the supermarket sector.
Amazon shares were up more than 3% in Friday trading, while Whole Foods shares have skyrocketed more than 27%. Year to date, Amazon is up 32.5% and Whole Foods is up 36.6%.
Growth through acquisition is often mistakenly considered the exclusive domain of the largest companies. However small and midsize company looking to achieve substantial growth can benefit just as well. For more information about how Talley can help you plan, negotiate, structure and execute on your growth strategy, contact us today.
Last year, non-tech companies spent nearly $10 billion on venture capital-backed businesses. These days large companies are increasingly partnering with, investing in, and acquiring startups that disrupt their own core business -and doing so at a price premium. Here are several examples of corporate giants thinking outside of the box that provide a lesson to both startups as well as entrepreneurs looking to sell their businesses.
Wal-Mart’s Acquisition of Jet.com
At $3.3 billion, Wal-Mart’s acquisition of Jet.com in the largest deal to date for an online startup. Jet, despite its promised $1 billion run rate, is still burning cash and often not making a profit on sales.
What we miss when we focus just on the above is that Jet is a way for Wal-Mart to counter its greatest weakness and make a play against one of its strongest competitors—Amazon. Despite six decades of success as a brick-and-mortar retailer, Wal-Mart has consistently had issues competing online.
Jet is a real innovator, incorporating dynamic pricing based on warehouse location into its model and incorporating the best of AI to ensure that the client experience is exemplary—a very different selling point than Walmart has traditionally focused on.
The lesson for entrepreneurs: Pay attention to the weak spots of would-be acquirers. How would your strengths complement their weaknesses? If you can identify and demonstrate the ways you can help them patch those holes, you instantly become a more attractive acquisition candidate.
General Motors Acquisition of Cruise Automation
Last spring, automotive giant GM closed on its $1 billion acquisition of Cruise Automation, a startup that hadn’t even launched a product yet. The San Francisco-based startup develops software for self-driving vehicles, a technology that on the surface threatens GM’s core business as a legacy automobile manufacturer.
Some might say GM didn’t have much choice but claim a stake in the self-driving vehicle industry. Its competitors are working to develop new technology for autonomous cars—with Cruise, GM at least has a chance to compete against front-runners like Google and Tesla. GM has high hopes for its self-driving vehicle initiatives. Last January it entered into a partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft that it hopes will result in a fleet of robo-taxis—a pilot program for driverless non-taxi cars to come.
The lesson for entrepreneurs: Don’t be afraid to compete with the big names in your industry—even if they have a head start. When Cruise was founded, Google had already been working on self-driving cars for more than 5 years. But automakers are hungry to own the technology that they see as the future of their industry, and buying Waymo from Google is not an option. It’s no surprise that Cruise got such a high price even in a crowded field.
With over 25 years’ experience consulting with industry-leading companies, we understand the challenges facing entrepreneurs with generating and protecting income. Whether you’re looking to improve your profitability, build your brand through a business transaction or capital raise, Talley is the consulting and financial services firm dedicated to strategic business solutions that deliver meaningful results.
“No taxes for you!”
The CFO of the soup chain made famous with Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” character, Robert N. Bertrand, CFO of the Soupman, Inc. has been indicted for tax crimes. The indictment alleges 20 counts of failure to pay Medicare, Social Security, and federal income taxes. Soupman, Inc. is based in Staten Island, and licenses the name and recipes of Al Yeganeh, the “Soup Nazi” character from Seinfeld. No crime has yet been proven, but the charges are quite serious.
Prosecutors claim that Bertrand was cutting corners in a big way; alleging that between 2010 and 2014, Bertrand paid Soupman employees on the side in unreported cash amounts. A conviction could bring up to five years’ imprisonment.
The indictment claims that he also compensated certain employees in large unreported stock awards. Bertrand never reported this employee compensation to the IRS, and never paid trust fund taxes on the cash payments or the stock awards. The indictment suggests that it may be difficult for Bertrand to claim ignorance. Prosecutors even say that Bertrand received a 2012 warning from an external auditor that these payments should be reported to the IRS.
In fact, from 2010 through 2014, Soupman’s total approximate unreported cash and stock compensation was $2,850,967.59. That translates to a total approximate tax loss to the United States of $593,971.52. Noting the dollars at stake to the federal government, the authorities have also mentioned the potential loss of future Social Security and Medicare benefits for the employees of Soupman Inc.
If you are in business, it can be tempting to figure that you have to keep the rent paid and supplies ordered, and that the IRS won’t miss the payroll tax money if you just divert it temporarily. But, no matter how good the reason, the practice is dangerous. Any failure to pay—even late payment—is serious, regardless of how or why the employer or its principals use the money.
When a tax shortfall occurs, the IRS will usually make personal assessments against all responsible persons who have ownership in or signature authority over the company and its payables. The IRS can assess a Trust Fund Recovery Assessment, also known as a 100-percent penalty, against every “responsible person”. You can be liable even if have no knowledge the IRS is not being paid.
“America’s Favorite Dad” Alan Thicke, who died suddenly in December, is at the center of a legal battle between his sons and his wife arguing over his estate. Co-trustees Brennan and Robin Thicke claim they were left with no choice but to file a petition in order to “honor the memory of their father, protect his legacy, and prevent his testamentary intentions from being undermined by avarice and overreaching of his third wife, Tanya Callau.”
In the trust, Thicke left each of his three children equal shares of a Carpinteria ranch, 75 percent of his personal effects and 60 percent of his remaining estate, according to the petition. He left Callau the ranch’s furnishings, 25 percent of his personal effects, a $500,000 life insurance policy, all of his death benefits from pensions and union memberships and 40 percent of his remaining estate. He also provided that she could live at the ranch, as long as she paid for its upkeep and maintained the property.
According to the petition filed Tuesday in L.A. County Superior Court, Thicke updated his trust regularly over the years, and the most recent iteration was signed in February 2016. It designated his brother Todd as the trustee, and left the estate in the hands of his children if Todd declined the role, which he ultimately chose to do. Brennan and Robin say Callau made no complaints about the prenuptial agreement or the estate plan at that time.
Thicke’s sons assert Callau is now changing her position after their dad’s passing, insisting that the prenup she signed is invalid and is also insisting “Marvin rights”, arguing that she had to forgo opportunities advancing her own career in order to support Alan and raising their son Carter.
Brennan and Robin Thicke are asking the court for instructions concerning the extent to which the Trust’s property is the actor’s separate property and whether Callau’s challenge to the prenup is barred because she waived her community property rights upon signing it.
Thicke’s living trust is a lesson that even though sometimes the best wills and trusts cannot avoid legal disputes, regular check-ups will make any potential disagreements less difficult, costly and drawn-out. You may have concerns or questions about the details involved in making arrangements regarding the inheritance of your estate. Talley & Company can provide the best available options to protect your legacy. For more information, contact Talley.
Earlier this week, UFC President Dana White issued a weekend deadline for the Mayweather vs. MacGregor boxing match. White hopes to finalize McGregor’s terms by Sunday before moving on to Mayweather’s camp. The deadline could finally help get both sides to work toward a deal that would make this mega fight a reality in 2017. Both MacGregor and Mayweather are no strangers to negotiating contracts worth mega-millions, but Mayweather may be the winner when it comes to inking the best deals.
Floyd Mayweather Turns Down $12.5M, Builds Empire Instead.
Close to twenty years ago, 21-year old Floyd Mayweather was already being termed by many as the “best boxer in the world.” With an Olympic medal around his neck and a professional fight record of 24-0, Mayweather showed great promise to live up to that title.
Recognizing Mayweather’s potential both as a boxer and revenue generator, HBO offered him a six-fight, $12.5 million contract extension, an eye-whopping amount for the young boxer that many critics thought would be foolish to turn down. So what happened? Mayweather had bigger plans for himself and his personal brand.
Mayweather was willing to say “no” to a great opportunity. His promoter at the time, Top Rank, wanted to mold Mayweather into becoming the next De La Hoya or Sugar Ray Leonard and take the HBO deal. Mayweather saw it differently, recognizing that he was destined to rise far above boxers in his midst and that his potential value far exceeded HBO’s $12.5 million offer. He soon parted ways with Top Rank and signed on with a promoter & advisory team that shared his “bigger, better” vision of himself and executed upon his goal to build upon his dominance in the world of boxing. The results speak for themselves: the now “semi-retired” Mayweather is undefeated (47-0) as a professional, a five-division world champion, and was listed as the world’s highest-paid athlete in 2012, 2014 and 2015 (#16 in 2016 after retiring).
Surround yourself with the right advisory team. “There’s a lot of smart businessmen around me. You can’t do it by yourself,” Mayweather says. Having a trusted team of advisors you can turn to can make the difference between spinning your wheels and making decisions that allow you — and your business — to grow and thrive.
At Talley & Company, we understand the challenges facing both professional athletes and entrepreneurs when it comes to generating and protecting income earned in the ring, on the field or in the boardroom. Whether you’re looking to improve your tax position, build your brand through a business transaction, or wish to guarantee a legacy for your family, Talley & Company is uniquely equipped to provide the technical and managerial expertise to help you plan, negotiate, structure and execute upon your goals.