DaveWentzel.com            All Things Data

April 2011

Dynamic Disks

When an uninformed admin sees an option to create a Basic vs a Dynamic Disk, which do you think he'll choose?  This is another situation where sounding cool probably isn't cool.  Dynamic Disks have some serious limitations that you should know about:

SIMPLE IRAs

SIMPLE IRA

Use form 5304 or 5305 to set one up (the former allows your employees to pick a custodian, the latter does not...utlimately it really doesn't matter).  Employer contributions are deductible and employee contributions are excluded from gross income for FIT purposes (you are still going to pay FICA though).  Your plan must be in writing and must be communicated to employees.  Most providers will provide you with a master or prototype plan to get started.  I chose TD Ameritrade.  
 
Some advisers recommend going with SEP IRAs vs SIMPLE, but in my mind the additional paperwork doesn't make sense.  With a SEP IRA you can contribute the maximum amount of money tax-deferred.  This isn't appealing to me since I'm pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and can't afford to sock away a large portion of my income for retirement.  Here's a breakdown of SEP and SIMPLE differences:
 
  SEP IRA SIMPLE IRA
Employer Considerations A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA is for self-employed individuals and for use by small companies for qualified employees to receive employer contributions.  Employers may contribute up to 25% of an employee's compensation (capped at $245,000 or $49,000) per participant in 2010. For 2011, these limits remain unchanged.  

A Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA is an employer-run savings plan that features employee tax-deferred contributions and matching contributions by the employer. Employers with 100 or fewer eligible employees who did not maintain another retirement plan are eligible to establish a SIMPLE IRA.

Employer contributions are mandatory.  

The employer matches employee salary contributions dollar-for-dollar up to 3% of compensation (can be reduced to 1% in any two out of five years), or makes a non-elective contribution of 2% of compensation for all eligible employees (including those who decide not to contribute for themselves).

The compensation cap for determining employer contribution amounts is $245,000.

Employer contributions are tax deductible.  

Employee Considerations Employees may also make traditional contributions to their SEP-IRAs of $5,000 for 2010 and 2011. Workers age 50 and older may contribute a total of $6,000 each year for 2010 and 2011. Workers who make their maximum Traditional contribution to their SEP IRA may not contribute to another Traditional or Roth IRA for the same tax year.

Each eligible employee can decide whether or not to participate and how much to contribute.

Employees may contribute up to 100% of compensation or a maximum of $11,500 for 2010 and 2011. Participants age 50 and over may contribute up to $14,000 for tax year 2010 and 2011.

Other Goofy Considerations   Funds cannot be removed from the SIMPLE IRA until it has been established for at least two years. Withdrawals from a SIMPLE IRA after two years are still subject to federal income tax and/or a tax penalty.
Special Forms Requirements A copy of the employer's SEP plan document (e.g., 5305-SEP Plan Document) must be filed with the custodian.   A copy of the IRS Form 5305-SA, and either 5305-SIMPLE or 5304-SIMPLE, must be on file with the custodian.  

 

Optional SQL Parameters and Performance

A long time ago I wrote up some methods I used to make stored procedure parameters optional in the blog post "How to Make a Stored Procedure parameter optional".  This was just a cursory overview and really didn't cover in detail some of the performance considerations when doing this.  At the time performance wasn't a critical goal, we only used optional parameters for reporting procedures that were not run often and tended not to conflict with other writers.  It's time to look at the performance implications of the various approaches.  I try to summarize them here.

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Hiring Your Family

This is the next post in my independent consulting series, specifically dealing with business expenses that might help reduce your taxable income.  

Life Insurance Premiums

Life insurance premiums are deductible by an S Corp, but not an LLC.  This is another reason I like using an S Corp.  Just ensure your S Corp pays your premiums and it becomes a expense for the business and a nice benefit for you.  The one caveat is the beneficiary of the policy cannot be the corporation.  

Health Insurance Premiums

This is really confusing.  So do you pay your premiums out of your own pocket, or does your S Corp?  If you pay them out of pocket then you can deduct them on Schedule A (below the line) with the 7.5% limitation.  

Home Office Deduction

Everyone seems to fear the home office deduction.  And there is good reason for this if you are a W2 employee.  However, for S Corp employee-owners this can be a great deduction without increasing your audit risk at all.  

Business Expenses

As a new IT contractor (see the other posts in this series) you should be acutely aware of what legitimate business expenses you might incur that can lower your tax bill. 

Martin Luther King Jr

Today is the 42nd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's assassination in Memphis.  I'm kinda surprised this hasn't been publicized on the news more.  This is my favorite clip of MLK's where he states that no one should fight American wars.  This has incredible parallels for us in our wars today, especially the new supposedly "humanitarian war" we are undertaking in Libya.  My favorite quote, "We need to prove our moral power, not our military power."  

 

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