Is This the World’s First Driverless Golf Cart?
Today, Google is the company behind your search engine, email, maybe even your wearable of choice, but tomorrow it could be making the car you drive. Or more like not drive, as it imagines you with the keys to a future fleet of 95.4 million self-driving cars — expected to make up about 75% of car sales by 2035.
That’s only 20 years away, so not that long considering things like the World Wide Web and Joe Jonas are already 25 (don’t try to do the math, it will hurt your brain). Plus, Google’s self-driving car has been cruising for years and now, new driverless vehicles are hitting the road overseas.
French company, Indut’s, autonomous electric automobile, the Navia, is currently scooting around seven locations at Oxford University and in city centers in Singapore and across Europe. And they might be looking for a home over here soon too.
Navia isn’t the kind of whip you’d see in your driveway. It looks like a big golf cart and functions more like one of those trolleys that shuttles you from funnel cake to ferris wheel at an amusement park, but that’s the point. It’s revving up to solve the “first and last mile” problem that a lot of commuters face, getting to and from their destinations or chosen forms of mass transit. But doesn’t that vroom over the toes of walking or biking to work or to the train? Not really, since it aims to actually remove private cars from city centers altogether. Pedestrians should dig that.
The electric Navia uses lasers (more specifically, LIDAR — Light Detection and Ranging), GPS and sensors to steer and avoid obstacles like other vehicles or pedestrians. It follows all of the rules of the road and maintains a cool 12.5 mph. Using an app on their smartphones, people can order Navia to pick them up and shuttle them where they’re going. An on-board touchscreen lets you select your destination and the doors automatically open for you once you’re there. It’s free to use now for passengers, but costs the buyer about $250,000.
Indut is trying to get Navia on the streets near us with two vehicles currently demoing in California and in Florida — only two of the four states (+ Michigan and Nevada) where driverless cars are street legal. A boost for your commute might be a little bit farther away, but you could hitch a ride from a vehicle like Navia in a walkable city center, campus, airport, park or even hospital complex in the next couple years.
Where would a driverless vehicle like Navia make sense in your city? Share your thoughts below!
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com