Federal Deadlines for Filing Your Business Taxes

It’s a timeworn cliche, but it’s true. Time flies. How is it possible that we’ve turned the corner into February?

Now that we’re a month in to 2016, let’s review important tax payment deadlines you need to be aware of if you’re running a small business. Congress changed some deadlines this year, so these are the new dates for 2016. As with anything tax related, be sure to check with the IRS or your accountant to make sure you’re up to date on all the requirements.

Partnership tax returns are due March 15, not April 15 as used to be the case. If your partnership isn’t on a calendar year, it is due on the 15th day of the third month following the close of your tax year.

Conversely, C corporation tax returns are due April 15, not March 15. For non-calendar years, they are due on the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the tax year.

S corporation tax returns haven’t changed: they are still due March 15, or the third month following the close of the taxable year.

C corporations with tax years ending on June 30 will continue to have a due date of September 15 until 2025, when it will be a month later.

Here’s the link for Publication 509, published by the IRS, that will tell you all you need to know about taxes, due dates, and details.

If you need more time to complete your 2015 business tax return, you can request an extension to file your return. However, even if you do so, you must calculate how much you owe and send in that estimation by the due date. Otherwise, the IRS can invalidate your extension.

Additional important tax dates for individuals and businesses:

April 18
individual tax returns (or request for extensions) are due
first quarter estimated taxes are due
last day to contribute to IRAs, HSAs, or 401Ks

June 15
second quarter estimated taxes are due
last day for Americans living abroad to file taxes

September 15
third quarter estimated taxes are due

January 15, 2017
fourth quarter estimated taxes are due

The due date for foreign account FBAR forms, also known as FinCEN Form 114, goes from June 30 to April 15. (You can get a six-month extension, just like tax returns.) FBARs are important if you had foreign accounts that topped $10,000 at any time during the year.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

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“The Best We Can Be” — Up Your Ante with a Mentor

We understand that in sports there is a great coach behind every great player, and we celebrate these folks, but in work we somehow forget their importance. We leave behind what we learned in school athletics and approach our professional lives without giving much thought to coaching (or mentoring) or where to look to continue to build our skills and abilities and be the best we can be.

— Maynard Webb, Forbes

“The best we can be.” Isn’t that the goal?

Think back to someone who really impacted your life in a positive way. Maybe a parent, or a middle school teacher, or a trusted older friend with good listening skills you sought out at a confusing time of your life. Think about how you felt when good advice was given, grievances were aired, or you felt you learned something incredibly valuable.

In every case, a mentor brings something to the table that the mentee is lacking: experience.

To find the right mentor for you, have an honest conversation with yourself about your weaknesses. (If it makes you feel better, list your strengths first — lead with the positive!) Could you use some help with public speaking or giving presentations? Does your team feel adrift with you at the helm? Are you seriously talented at sales but pretty hopeless at marketing? What do you need to become the best you can be?

Once you’ve sorted that out, you’ll want to approach someone in the field who has the time, energy, and inclination to give back. Think about it: a mentor has already arrived at the place you’re dreaming of going and has the potential to take you on a journey you never could have imagined. He or she can give you encouragement or kickstart you in a direction and then continue to inspire you as you move forward.

And a good mentor is not a short-term thing: he or she is someone who will remain in a position of trust for the rest of your life. Who knows, you may even get a job offer or a valuable networking opportunity down the road as a result of that connection.

Don’t forget that in order to maintain the quality of a mentor relationship, you need to give back. A good (and smart) mentee is always ready for any task assigned by the mentor, no matter how seemingly trivial at the time. Or you can simply ask how you can offer value in return for their time and effort, as well as show your appreciation in more tangible ways. A thank-you card or email never goes amiss.

If finding a mentor the traditional way doesn’t pan out, you can always contract with someone for business coaching. You’re probably used to paying an expert for their knowledge, whether it’s home maintenance, car repair, or legal advice; this time, it’s simply making an investment in yourself and your future.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

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Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Your Business Start-up To-Do List: How to Begin

A great idea is the genesis of any successful business. Many entrepreneurs know that “Aha!” moment when the thought “it would just be so much easier if I could get this note to stick to my page!” magically becomes the Post-it® note — now amplified from its original pale yellow to be available in rainbow colors, finishes, and sizes.

If you’re ready to start your business, you’re already in possession of an idea you think will succeed. The next thing on your Business Start-up To-Do List is research the market. Does your idea solve a problem, fulfill a need, or offer something desirable? Is there anything similar out there? Who are your competitors? What do you bring that’s fresh and different to the table?

In a parallel process to figuring out those elements, you also want to check in with yourself that this is the right time, mentally and physically, for you to undertake this exciting and challenging process.

A formal business plan is essential if you plan to seek funding from other sources, but even if you don’t, it’s a valuable tool that will clarify and solidify your idea. If you’re lucky enough not to require outside funding because you are using your own start-up funds, creating a simple plan will keep your goals up high and keep you on track as you reach your milestones.

This far in you will have thought about what your business structure will look like: is it an LLC? A sole proprietorship? You may choose one direction at the beginning and shift to something completely different as you get underway. Paperwork and, potentially, legal advice are a part of this process, as is choosing a name (and a domain name) that suits you and your business needs. You’ll want to make sure you are covered with the proper licenses, registrations, insurance, and permits in advance of your launch.

If your business is the brick-and-mortar variety, you’ll need to find a location that works. If it’s a home office, you’ll definitely want to plan how to shift your living space so that it doesn’t unbalance the flow of your home. In particular, if you live with other people, it’s beneficial to discuss any upcoming changes in advance so that everyone can be operating from the same vantage point. At least in theory!

Are you hiring employees? Working with contractors? What about your accounting structure, the backbone of every well-run business? The earlier in the process you address all the moving parts the better your business will function down the road at a high level.

With these things checked off your list, your new business is essentially ready to roll out. Marketing, promotions, perhaps a free offering, and a social media blitz should be on your radar. Stay connected to your business plan, which is a fluid document that should grow and morph with your business and function as a touchstone and an inspiration all in one.

Good luck!

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

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Put small business attorney Elizabeth Lewis to work for you by calling 720-258-6647, email elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com or schedule online now!

 

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Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Is Now a Good Time for You to Start a Business?

Often, the start of a new year can raise a lot of different feelings in us. What do I want to change? What are my goals? Will 2016 be the year I actually use my gym membership?

You may have turned the corner into the new year determined to cease working for “the man” and ready to strike out on your own. If so, congratulations! While deciding to start your own business is an exciting idea, it’s also important to remember that it’s a significant undertaking, no matter the scale.

Several steps are involved in starting, getting up to speed, and then maintaining your new company. The most useful thing you can do at the outset is make sure you’re as ready as possible.

If the new year has indeed gotten you up close and personal with a switch over to the entrepreneur track, consider these things first.

Jumping in with both feet to a new business takes commitment. Do a gut check: are you passionate about your idea? Do you believe in it so deeply that it will carry you through the long hours and lean times in the start-up phase? Your business concept doesn’t matter as much as your belief in it. That becomes your lifeblood once the initial excitement has passed.

Ask yourself how well you tolerate risk. Some people thrive on it, but for others it’s more difficult. Your business isn’t guaranteed to succeed, no matter how much you think it will. Factors out of your control such as location, political volatility, or cultural change can make or break a company overnight. Will you be able to deal with the ups and downs that usually come with a business start-up — or even its potential failure?

Starting a business means that you will be chief cook and bottle washer for a while — everything becomes your responsibility initially. You have to get your idea out there in front of people and wear several different hats in the beginning stages: sales, HR, administrative, marketing, financial. Is taking on major responsibility a good fit for you? And are you nimble enough to handle it?

Included under the umbrella of responsibility is the ability to make decisions, many of which can be challenging in a small business atmosphere. Do you wear decision-making well? Is this an area in which your strengths consistently show up?

Lastly, the elusive work-life balance. Any entrepreneur who has started her own business can tell you that you go full speed at the outset, and sometimes it doesn’t slow down as quickly as you would like. You may lose time with family, friends, or hobbies that feed you in other ways. Is this the right time in your life to devote all your energies to this undertaking, and do you have the support of others to do so?

Starting your own business is an exciting ride, and one that should be undertaken with realistic consideration. If now is your time, dive in! And let me know how I can support you.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

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Put small business attorney Elizabeth Lewis to work for you by calling 720-258-6647, email elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com or schedule online now!

 

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Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Your Small Business and Social Responsibility

In a previous post, we discussed how to craft an elevator pitch for your business or even for yourself. The key is to come up with a simple but powerful way to describe what problem you solve and how that can really make a difference. In this post, we will talk about some more marketing ideas that can help your small business shine.

The first is to highlight the social impact and responsibility of your company. One survey found that 55% of global online consumers across 60 countries were willing to pay more for products and services offered by companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.

As a small business, you may not think that you are poised to compete with bigger companies when it comes to sustainable practices or changing the world, but really, that is not all that social responsibility is about. As a small business, you are actually better situated to really own that message of social responsibility because you have a trait that bigger companies often lack, which is authenticity. As a small business, you can leverage your smaller size by highlighting the positive impact that you generate even with fewer people.

Social responsibility isn’t something that only big companies with big ideals can achieve. No, social responsibility is something that bigger companies have to remind themselves about, it is a part of the entrepreneurial spirit of doing something differently for the better and remembering the people that make it all possible in the process.

You can start by looking at things your business is already doing. Are you locally owned and operated? Tell people. Are you following sustainable business practices and partnering with other businesses that do the same? Tell people. Do you use local sources for your products or make your final products in Colorado? Tell people. Even if you are not currently following some of these practices, be sure that you announce it if you do make such a change.

Consumers are more conscious about the purchasing decisions they are making. As we talked about in another post about being a customer of your own business, consumers are likely to research their purchasing decisions online. Consumers therefore want more information about what they are buying, so why not tell them? Informational costs are low when it comes to your website and social media pages, so tell them about the good things your business is doing and they will likely be more interested.

Alternatively, if your business is not following some of those practices, that does not mean you don’t have great characteristics about your small business that you should market. For example, if your business is more service-oriented, you can try telling the stories of yourself, your employees, and also your clients. You can tell them about charities and other community projects that you, your employees, and your business all help to support. When people develop a personal connection with the people of a particular business, they are more likely to keep going back and tell other people about it. This is why great customer and client service can be so effective.

Are you or employees of your business involved with any charities? Tell people about it, and see if you can get more employees and partners with your business to get on board too. Overall, this will be something both good for others and for your business, and that is what social responsibility marketing is all about.

If you need legal help for you business, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

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Put small business attorney Elizabeth Lewis to work for you by calling 720-258-6647, email elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com or schedule online now!

 

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Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Growth in Denver and What that Means for Small Business

For this post, we are going to talk about something that has been on a lot of people’s minds for at least the past few years. We are talking about growth in Denver, and what a key concern with this growth should be for small businesses.

The Metro Denver’s population growth rate has held steady at a high level of 1.5% annually between 2004 and 2014 according to the MetroDenver Economic Development Corporation. In January of this year, Forbes ranked Denver #6 among the top twenty fastest growing cities in the country. More recently, in June, Metro Denver ranked #1 in economic job growth among the top ten Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

With the growing population, as well as the booming economic environment, these people and businesses all have to go somewhere. As to be expected, the Denver area has been experiencing some growing pains, especially when it comes to both residential and commercial space availability and rates. Over the past year, rental rates for offices in Denver jumped up 7.5 percent, which amounts to the 6th biggest jump in the country. Residential rental rates increased 9% over the last year, the highest in the country, even higher than notoriously high rental markets like San Francisco. So what does all of this growth mean for a small business owner?

Whether you operate a small business as a landlord of commercial or residential space, or are a small business that is a tenant of commercial space, with this growth and rising rental rates, people have a lot more at stake when it comes to their leases. Your small business might not be able to stay afloat with a large unexpected rent increase on its commercial space or it might not be able to afford to move somewhere else. Similarly, if you are a landlord, your tenants might not be able to afford higher rates or might be looking over leases more critically, since they are paying more. Either way, with more money at stake, people are more likely to get into a dispute leading to a legal battle over a lease now more than before.

After all, rates are high, so tenants are more likely to want to fight to stay where they are now or might try and get away with more at their rented space due to the high price they are paying. All of this means that there is no better time to look over your leases, whether you are a lessor or lessee, than right now. This goes for leases that are currently in effect, and ones that might be coming up. You should be sure that you know exactly what terms are in those leases, exactly when they will end, and all the other details and problems that could arise. Even if you have looked at your leases, give them another look, and have an experienced attorney look them over too. This is not an area you want to have any surprises in, as they can be quite costly. Investing some time and money now with your leases can save a lot of money and headache down the road. Additionally, you should consider preparing now for upcoming lease negotiations that will likely happen in this tight market, and knowing what the existing lease contains is the first step in that process.

If you need legal help in writing or reviewing your leases as a landlord of rental properties or as a tenant of commercial space, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

SCHEDULE NOW

Put small business attorney Elizabeth Lewis to work for you by calling 720-258-6647, email elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com or schedule online now!

 

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Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
3773 Cherry Creek North Drive, Suite 575
Denver, CO 80209
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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