11 Smartpens to Boost Your IQ
If the pen is mightier than the sword, that means the smartpen is, like, a knowledge bomb ticking away and about to explode with crazy confetti. From pens that create electrical circuit-forming doodles to ones that spell check as we scribble, we’re never the type to turn down awesome new technology that combines the best of our digital and analog worlds. Here are 11 smartpens, all with some seriously handy superpowers, that we would be okay keeping at our desks and in our office toolkits.
1. A Smartpen Fit for Photoshop ($75): It writes, it saves, it makes a digital copy of your drawing that can be loaded directly into Photoshop or Illustrator via a USB connection. In other words, the Wacom Inkling Digital Sketch Pen is an illustrator and hand letterer’s dream. Possibly the coolest feature is its ability to add layers into your work that you can then edit or remove in digital post-production.
2. The Best Smartpen for Taking Notes ($40): The sleek simplicity of this Smart Stylus Pen is what initially caught our eyes. A fairly straightforward addition to your collection of writing instruments, it pairs a soft touch sensitive nib stylus pen with a high quality rollerball. Perfect for those of us who can’t seem to choose between tablets and traditional day planners.
3. A Smartpen for Staying in Sync ($120): The perfect pen for a contemporary girl in perpetual motion, this WiFi-connected smartpen syncs your handwritten notes and any recorded audio (it can hold over 200 hours worth) with your personal Evernote account, giving you quick and effortless access to information wherever you go.
4. The Best Smartpen for Editing Your Work ($125): This Mobile Notes Pro pen captures your handwriting and then, once connected to your PC, allows you to save and edit what you’ve written.
5. A Smartpen Score for Sketching ($112): Another pen for the creatives, Staedtler’s Digital Pen 2.0 saves notes and sketches and then transfers them wirelessly to your PC or mobile devices. It also seamlessly adapts them to computer text.
6. The Tech-Savviest Smartpen ($25): You may remember our article about the Circuit Scribe pen last year, but just in case you missed it, these tools take something as simple as a pen, an LED module and two coin cell batteries and allows you to use them to create personalized electronic sketches. We just want to know why these weren’t around when we were in middle school.
7. The Top Spying Smartpen ($40): Trying to figure out whether it’s your dog or your significant other who keeps eating all the freshly baked cookies straight off the counter? Wondering who’s stealing your carefully prepared lunch at work? Just want to film a fun time-lapse scene at the next party? That’s precisely where the Video Camera Spy Pen comes in. It captures still, audio and hours of video all in one seemingly innocuous little package.
8. A Smartpen to Spark Your Creativity ($79): Still in the making, Creopop is a 3D printing art pen that has definitely caught our attention. It allows you to create objects practically out of thin air with a cool melting technology that won’t burn your fingers + the option of different inks, including, possibly, one that’s magnetic.
9. The Most Versatile Smartpen to Do All the Things ($150): This Livescribe 3 smartpen is a premium writing instrument that also contains an infrared camera, an ARM processor, Bluetooth technology, a flash memory and an ion battery all dedicated to bringing your notes to digital life on either your tablet or smartphone. Sign us up.
10. A Smartpen for Fine Points ($75): Specifically created for the art of taking crisp, clear notes on your tablet, the Jot Script Evernote Edition Stylus has a thinner barrel, a textured grip and a 1.9mm tip reminiscent of your favorite writing utensil. We’ll take two.
BONUS: A (Dream) Smartpen to Color the Rainbow (TBD): We’ll admit it. We want a Scribble. The dreamers behind this crowdfunding-bound project say they are creating a scribbler that writes in any – seriously, any – color you can find. Supposedly, you’ll be able to simply hold the pen’s scanner up to a color you like and in a matter of moments the hue will be saved in Scribble’s internal memory, where it can be used to draw on either paper or your favorite device depending on which version of this super-smartpen you purchase. Here’s hoping that this incredible idea actually comes to life, and soon!
Our smartpen research is complete. Which high-IQ piece of tech will you be adding to your purse? Let us know in the comments!
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