Um, Why is Someone Trying to Reinvent the iPod?
I don’t mean to sound like I’m throwing shade at a music legend, I’m just genuinely curious. Stumped even. Neil Young is the man behind PonoPlayer, a portable music device that plays PonoMusic. Together they are an “end-to-end ecosystem” here to change the way you can access and enjoy tunes from your favorite artists. The device may or may not (may) look a little like a skinny Gameboy or a triangular Wii remote, but I digress. Onto the facts!
What makes PonoPlayer a standout in a fairly-established (you guys know ‘bout iPods, MP3 players and smartphones, right? Cool, just checking…) field is exceptional sound quality. Songs in PonoMusic supposedly make MP3s sound like American Idol iPhone audition videos, giving devout audiophiles a direct line to the recording studio and a finished song that sounds exactly like the artist meant it to. In other words, Pono is a way to bring the vinyl listening experience to the digital generation.
You browse, search, buy and download the high-resolution music to your computer through the PonoMusic.com Store and connect PonoPlayer to your computer to upload your tunes to it. There are two output jacks, one for listening to Pono with headphones and another output designed for jamming in the car or hooking up to your home system.
Sounds great (intentional pun alert), but we’re still skeptical about PonoPlayer’s longevity and how many people are rallying for a music player like this. Or at least we would be if not for the Kickstarter campaign’s Veronica Mars-size results. Pono raised almost $4 million in its first few days, more than quadrupling its still-steep $800,000 goal. $200 early bird offers are sold out but you can pledge $300 for a black or yellow PonoPlayer (a deal since the players will retail for $399) and $400 for a player from the Artist Signature Series. These limited edition chrome PonoPlayers feature laser-engraved John Hancocks from musicians like Patti Smith, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty and, of course, Neil. Pono has an estimated delivery of October 2014, so this could be THE holiday gift for the avid music lover (cough, maybe the music snob) in your life.
Still not sold? As if answering our soon-to-be asked snark, Pono poses this scenario to ponder on its site: Do you think Leonardo da Vinci would be a happy dude if we could only see photocopies of the Mona Lisa. Touché, Neil Young. Touché.
What do YOU think? Is Pono the wave of the music lover’s listening future or a flashy celeb Kickstarter that won’t have a life post-funding?
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