Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Last night I did our income taxes. They were exceptionally simple this year.

I've almost always done all our taxes. The one exception was when we filed our business tax returns for our shipping business. That was an S corp (aka *sub s corp* or *subchapter s corp,* etc.). An s corp is a flow-through corporation. It's a sort of corporate form of sole proprietorship. The corporation itself pays no taxes. Only the owners do.

This nice little vehicle gives you protection from personal liability for corporate acts, while avoiding the double-taxation other forms of corporate ownership usually impose: first by paying corporate income taxes; then, as you receive and report your earnings via corporate dividends, paying personal income taxes on the dividends. An s corp generally gets to skip the first step. No corporate taxes are due. It's basically just an informational return.

Neat trick, huh?

I've owned a number of small businesses throughout my life. Usually those went under Schedule C, Self-Employed individuals. Your basic sole proprietorship. I've done income averaging (remember that?), net loss carrybacks and carryforwards, capital gains and losses, depreciation and amortization, ordinary stuff like moving expenses and employee business expenses, yada yada yada...No prob. Filed them all, I did, and never paid an accountant. Even before I got a degree in finance.

The only one that defeated me was the one where no taxes were supposed to be paid at all. That damn s corp just made me throw my hands up in the air, slam my files shut, and pay a highway robbery fee of $600/year to an accountant - when I provided all the numbers pre-crunched on Quickbooks!

So the nice simple taxes of today are rather pleasant, all told.

I like doing taxes. It's kinda peaceful. I like to read the little example stories in the instruction publications. I don't roam far afield these days, so I end up reading the same little stories year after year. Is it a business trip or not? Say Mr. and Mrs. Sloan go to Memphis. Mrs. Sloan has a business meeting; Mr. Sloan goes along for the ride. They share a hotel room, which costs an extra $8/night for double occupancy. On the way home they swing by Mr. Sloan Sr.'s house for a visit, adding another 382 miles to their drive...

and then I want to see if they updated this damn story, I think I've been reading the exact same one in 2004 2005 2006 2007, don't they ever change these things, liven them up a little? huh.

As a former federal bureaucrat, I enjoy a good dose of GovSpeak here and there, too. So I gave up on finding any new stories among the usual suspects last night, and moseyed over to a different part of the playlist.


Meal per diems! Lodging! Incidentals!

As an interstate trucker, Walter gets a countrywide Transportation Industry Worker Subject to DOT Hours of Operation meal rate of $52/day. If he were not an interstate trucker, he might be unhappy with the small-town per diem of $39/day. He might wish to peruse his Actual Cities Visited, to plug in the higher major metro area per diems where ever he could.

Same would go for lodging. Naturally.

For those figures, we must leave the IRS site and go to the GSA (General Services Administration) site. Those are the good folks who give us things like per diems in the first place.

I'm sure it would be a comfort, then, to know this:

As in FY 07, GSA still uses:
-Only "fire safe" properties;
-Properties that fall within the mid-price range. This range includes all properties from the lowest to the highest of the mid-price, upper and upper-upscale properties in an area;
-Data from the prior 12-month period. For FY 08, this is from April 2006 through March 2007;
-Business travel week data (Monday through Thursday); and
-Ceilings and floors.

I think it was the *Ceilings and floors* line that really got me. Bad.

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