NCBA Cooperative Professionals Conference, Nov 9-11

Are you a legal or accounting professional working for or with a cooperative? The 2015 Co-op Professionals Conference, scheduled for November 9 – 11 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is your chance to share best practices with colleagues and earn up to 12 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and Continuing Professional Education  (CPE) credit. With in-depth discussions on co-op organization, governance, financing and taxation, attendees will become experts on the unique legal and accounting issues co-ops face.

Last year I attended the National Cooperative Business Association’s first-ever “Cooperative Professionals Conference“.  It was incredible — as much as I’d learned at the National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives conference earlier in the year, I’d felt like it catered to large-scale industries like agriculture and rural electric… where were the worker co-ops, grocery co-ops, housing co-ops?  Where were the types of cooperatives that I worked with and of whom I was a member?

Here they are!  Although NCBA works on behalf of cooperatives everywhere, they definitely serve as the primary resource for small business co-ops.  The conference — which invited accountants and attorneys from across the country to learn and network together — was a resounding success, and they decided to do it again this year.  I was honored to be invited to join the plenary committee and to co-chair two of the workshops, and I couldn’t be more excited about them.  See the schedule here.

This conference is not just for accountants and attorneys that already work with cooperatives.  In fact, one of the sessions I am co-chairing is a “Co-ops 101” pre-conference… designed to provide the basics of cooperatives, as well as legal, accounting and taxation issues specific or common to co-ops.  It should be amazing.  Please join us in Minneapolis this November 9-11, and spread the word!

2015 Best of Logan Square Winners + Honorable Mentions | LoganSquarist

LoganSquarist’s 2015 Best of Logan Square Winners + Honorable Mentions came out last week, but in my excitement about the Green Apple podcast interview, I haven’t yet made time to share!  SO many deserving local businesses made the list, many of whom are clients — congratulations to these folks in particular:

Dill Pickle Food Co-op
Winner, Best Grocery Store
Winner, Best Community-Focused Business

City Lit Books
Winner, Best Bookstore

Wolfbait & B-Girls
Winner, Best Clothing Boutique

Rosetta Magdalen, Flamenco Chicago
Winner, Best Business Owner
Honorable mention, Best Community Member

Cafe Mustache
Winner, Best Karaoke Venue
Honorable mention, Best Place To Work While Enjoying a Drink Or Two

Logan Square Farmers Market
Winner, Best Place to Make New Friends/Meet New People
Winner, Best Family Activity
Honorable mention, Best Unique Event
Honorable mention, Best Community Member (Paul Levin)

DAS Doner
Honorable mention, Best Place to Get Late Night Grub
Honorable mention, Best New Restaurant
Winner (among three), Best Brunch Menu Item – Donuts

Das Radler
Winner, Friendliest Staff at a restaurant or bar
Honorable mention, Best Place To Take A Date at a restaurant or bar
Honorable mention, Best Business Owner (Nathan Sears)

Check out the rest of the winners — many longtime friends and favorites made the list, here!

Interview on the new Green Apple Podcast highlighted in Accounting Today

A month ago, I received an intriguing email from a guy named John Garrett — a CPA-turned-comedian who gives frequent keynote addresses, and who is working on a podcast and book about accountants who stand out in their careers: in part due to being recognized for their interesting hobbies.  One of the fine folks at had suggested to him at a recent conference that he speak with me.

Turns out we got along really well — he’s an engaging, funny person and asks interesting questions, and he interviewed me for his Green Apple Podcast (as the folks he hopes to highlight stand out, “like green apples in a red-apple world”).  It went so well, in fact, that he decided to feature me as his first interviewee when the podcast went live this past week.  Quite the honor — and as if that weren’t enough, Accounting Today picked up the news and mentioned me in their post!

If you’re a fellow accountant, I strongly recommend this podcast series.  The first three episodes are up now, and they really are inspiring and entertaining.  And if you’re not a fellow accountant, I suggest you listen anyway — much of what John’s trying to share is generally applicable, especially if you’re in the corporate world and feel disconnected from your colleagues.  He also speaks a lot about how we can inspire each other to share, to follow our dreams, and to conquer fears.  Can’t wait to hear more from this series.  Check it out here.



Crowdfunding and Taxes

I’m seeing so many small businesses and individuals jump on the bandwagons that an internet economy has provided us: crowdfunding, airbnb/vrbo, and ride-sharing are among the most common. And in each of these situations, the ease of doing business belies the complexity of the accounting and taxation principles and rules underlying the true nature of the transactions.

These two articles do an amazing job of explaining the factors to consider when evaluating how (or in less frequent instances, if) crowdfunding income should be taxed. I’ve taken excerpts and copied/pasted a summary here, but I strongly encourage both accountants and small businesses/individuals considering crowdfunding to read the entirety of each article.

The first, “Crowdfunding and income taxes,” deals with income tax ramifications, and the second, “Crowdfunding Contributions and State Sales and Use Taxes,” deals with sales and use tax considerations (note: as of the publication date, the link to this second article is incorrect where referred to in the first article; however, the link here is accurate).

Thousands of businesses and individuals have succeeded in attracting funding through crowdfunding sites, but often with little thought to the ramifications for income taxes. Congress and the IRS have not addressed crowdfunding income specifically, leaving scant guidance for CPA tax advisers whose clients may have this source of income. Still, applying common tax principles and common sense may help tax preparers and advisers in talking through the issues with their clients who have taxable crowdfunding income and deciding how to report and pay taxes on it.

Crowdfunding in the United States falls into three distinct types:
1) for creative enterprises, which can be characterized as reward-based crowdfunding;
2) as a means of personal fundraising, or donation-based crowdfunding; and,
3) equity-based crowdfunding, which raises capital for companies.

While pledges received from donation-based crowdfunding are likely to be considered nontaxable gifts, reward-based crowdfunding is likely to carry income tax ramifications for the project creator. As for which expenses should be deductible against the income, that depends on several factors, including:
– Whether the crowdfunding activity is deemed a trade or business or a hobby;
– Whether the activity is deemed a startup business;
– The method of accounting used by the creator; and,
– The value of rewards given to backers.

[Note: in my practice, I most often see crowdfunding used for startups and expansions, and therefore follow the rules for capitalization of costs — and in certain situations, deferral of income until the year the trade or business becomes active. If you are working in this context, please read that section of the article carefully and do your due diligence in researching the particulars, as it is a ‘facts and circumstances’ situation.]

It is important to recognize that amounts received as a reward-based crowdfunding campaign which promises a reward that has some value is unlikely to be considered a gift, and much more likely that at least some portion of it should be considered a purchase. This should lead to a discussion of how sales and use taxes should be handled on purchases of products. Factors to consider, addressed in the second excellent article, include:
– Nexus
– Taxability
– Tax Base
– Timing

To reiterate what I said at the beginning of this post: I’m seeing so many small businesses and individuals jump on the bandwagons that an internet economy has provided us: crowdfunding, airbnb/vrbo, and ride-sharing are among the most common. And in each of these situations, the ease of doing business belies the complexity of the accounting and taxation principles and rules underlying the true nature of the transactions.