Blog

2/29/2016

Stay “In Flow” with Productivity




Often, we find that our daily multitude of thoughts can slow down or completely halt the flow of productivity. And while the momentum of these thoughts is difficult to control at times, they also lead to a disorganized mind. Studies have shown that a disruptive mind can lead to high stress, chronic negativity, and impulsive action, which in turn can cause health issues - not to mention the wasted hours of incomplete work.

Of course, we live in a world of balance - so the opposite is an organized mind, which can lead into a state of flow. Experts describe flow as being fully immersed in a task, free from all distraction. Those “in flow” have shown to be five times more productive than they would be with their attention drawn elsewhere.

In some cases, being “in flow” is essential for a startup, or small business owner. The more productive you are, the more business you’ll eventually bring. Here are five ways you can stay “in flow” and remain productive.

Challenge Yourself Carefully
It can be easy to lose focus when the task at hand is either too hard or too easy. Flow is achieved through a healthy challenge that stimulates without causing anxiety or boredom. Be mindful when choosing which tasks to tackle to increase your chance of flow.

Control Your Emotions
As humans, we can’t help how things make us feel; however, we do have complete control over how we react to these feelings. Be truthful about how you feel and why you’re feeling such a way - this can help redirect those emotions into productivity.

You want to point out and categorize your emotions as you feel them - make them more physical by associating them with words. The goal is to remain calm and make sense of why you’re feeling the way you do. By simply tucking your emotions away, they’ll continue to fester and distort your focus.

Keep Up the Focus
Nothing hurts worse than having the desire to get a task done, but constantly losing focus. It takes time for the mind to become deeply involved in a task, and studies have shown that it typically takes 20 minutes. So for 20 minutes, turn off all distractions and attempt your tasks. You’ll find yourself more absorbed with your work around the 20-minute mark.

Use Breaks
Quite possibly the most important step of all - half the battle can be won by remembering to take breaks. Our bodies just weren’t meant to sit through long hours of work. According to research, a 17-minute break should taken after every 52-minutes of consecutive work. While that may seem a bit unrealistic, the mind can get tired. And the body cannot properly function without the mind - take regular breaks.

Shift Back into Work
After taking a break, you may find yourself back at square one trying to become focused and achieve flow. Basically, you’ll want to repeat the first three steps over again, find your flow, take a break when needed, and then cycle all over again. It’s not quite as difficult getting back “in flow” after a short break, but it becomes more possible with a purpose.

And while you’re “in flow” with your work, let ExpressExtension make e-filing your tax extension as easy as can be. With our FREE downloadable app for iOS and Android devices, you can quickly and easily transmit your Form 7004 to the IRS within your 17-minute break - and have time to spare.

Our live e-file professionals in Rock Hill, South Carolina are available to help at any step of the way. Contact us at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. We’re also available through 24/7 email at support@expressextension.com.


Read More »

2/24/2016

“Only The Facts” Business Tax Extensions




Reminder: The business tax deadline for this year is on Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

If you’re still deciding whether or not you want to file an extension, these 10 facts could help with your decision:

Fact #1 - Inactive corporations still need to file.
The only exception is if your corporation is exempt under Section 501(c)(3). Otherwise, you must file a tax return, or an extension, whether your business has taxable income or not - this also goes for corporations in bankruptcy.

Fact #2 - Only basic information is required.
All you need is your EIN/Federal ID number, basic business details, contact information, and an estimated tax amount that is due.

Fact #3 - No reason is needed to file an extension.
Short, sweet, and to the point - there’s no reason needed for a business tax extension.

Fact #4 - Form 7004 is for a business tax extension.
With ExpressExtension, we have three extension forms available:
Fact #5 - A federal extension may also be accepted by the state.
Of course, state requirements may vary for extensions - some are automatic, while others aren’t even needed, but some may need to be filled specifically with the state.

Fact #6 - ExpressExtension offers extensions for state returns.
Currently, we support extensions for five states: Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Michigan, and South Carolina - more information for each state can be found on our State Tax Extension page.

Fact #7 - Other extensions aren’t necessary.
If you choose to extend your business tax deadline, that does not mean you have to extend your personal tax deadline too - unless you want to. But if you know you’re going to need more time, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Fact #8 - You can re-transmit a rejected extension.
With ExpressExtension, if your extension form comes back rejected, our service pinpoints the error, allows you to make corrections, and resend to the IRS at no extra charge.

Fact #9 - You can receive up to six months of extra time.
Depending on your type of business, Form 7004 can automatically extend your tax deadline up to six months - five months for certain partnerships, estates, or trusts.

Important: Tax extensions are meant to extend your time to file only, not time to pay. You must still pay any taxes owed by your original tax deadline.

Fact #10 - Instant acceptance of extension form.
Soon after you have e-filed your form with ExpressExtension, you’ll receive an e-mail once it has been accepted by the IRS. Typically, it takes just a few moments - a lot quicker than mailing or processing a paper form.

Still don’t know if you should e-file or not? How about receiving assistance from the best e-filing professionals in the industry - our live support team in Rock Hill, South Carolina is available for any questions or help you may need. Call us Monday through Friday at (803) 514-5155 - our office hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, and we accept emails 24/7 at support@expressextension.com.


Read More »

2/22/2016

IRS Online Security




Similar to how programs and systems need to be regularly updated, the security of these digital institutions also needs to be upgraded to counter the ever evolving threat of identity thieves and criminal syndicates.

To continue to successfully combat these threats, an unprecedented cooperation between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), state revenue departments, and the tax industry has been established to make a safer, more secure filing season for taxpayers choosing to e-file.

On The Backend
There are security changes that you won’t be able to see, but are installed to efficiently verify the taxpayer and the authenticity of the tax return way before it enters the IRS’ processing system. Software providers will share information such as how long it took to create a return, which can help pinpoint computer-generated returns that are filed fraudulently and in bulk.

With this new cooperation, the IRS, state revenue departments, and the tax industry will also share details of fraudulent tricks that are seen regularly so that actions to increase taxpayers protection can be made accordingly.

At The Forefront
The visible security changes will be apparent to taxpayers utilizing tax software or online products to file tax returns.These new procedures are to prevent online predators from overtaking taxpayers’ accounts and will include
  • The inclusion of three security questions
  • Specialized verification for email addresses
  • A timed lockout function for a number of unsuccessful login attempts
  • New standards for passwords such as a requirement for eight characters including upper and lower case letters, and special, alpha, or numerical characters
Along with updating security measures, this partnership has become more proactive by making sure that taxpayers are aware and understand the dangers to personal and financial data. Protection of online and physical data from taxpayers is important, and people are encouraged to use security software on their computers along with encrypting files containing tax information, or keep physical files under lock and key.

With ExpressExtension, and any other products from our Express Tax Zone family, your information is of utmost importance. That is why we have taken the highest safety measures to ensure your information stays safe within your account. Our site is encrypted, McAfee secure certified, and protected by 1286H SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) - your information is never shared with anyone except the IRS.

Sign up for a FREE account with ExpressExtension today, and receive peace of mind knowing that your tax information is sent safely and securely to the IRS. Our live support team from Rock Hill, South Carolina is ready to assist when needed. Give us a call at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, or email us at support@expressextension.com.


Read More »

2/17/2016

Money-Saving Tax Strategies




To reduce tax liabilities, small business owners should be familiar with the tax benefits and deductions that are available to them. Even though there’s never been a foolproof plan on how to run a successful business, one common goal has always been saving money - no matter what type of business you’re in. And with these methods, you can save your small business some extra money during tax season.

#1 - Deduct Startup Costs
Creating a small business can be time consuming and expensive - no question about that. However, the IRS allows you to deduct a maximum of $5,000 from your startup costs within your first year of business. This will allow a reduction in both your income and self-employment taxes, which also includes Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Generally, your startup costs include buying equipment, supplies, and any operating fees - experts say that the rest of your startup costs should depreciate over 15 years.

#2 - Take Advantage of Special Depreciation Rules
Typically, you can’t deduct the entire cost of large items for your business within that same year; you’re required to deduct a portion each year on your tax return as the item gradually depreciates. There is a way around this - you can use a special depreciation allowance, which lets you deduct 50% of an item purchased within the same year, and it applies to just about any tangible property.

There is the possibility of deducting a full 100% of property costs during the year with what is called a Section 179 Deduction. It can be used - up to $500,000 - for tangible properties purchased for your business in the same year. The only drawback is that residential rental property doesn’t qualify.

#3 - Commit to a Retirement Account
After your business is operational, and income starts to flow, you can save more of your money from being taxed by putting it in an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) account. With an IRA account, you can contribute up to $5,500 for the year - tax free. There are also other retirement accounts available for self-employers in which you can contribute both as an employee and employer - easily doubling your amount saved.

#4 - Deduct Expenses from Home Office
You could deduct some living expenses as a business expense if you’re working from your home either part-time or full-time. There are qualifications that have to be met in order to classify your space as a home office. But if you meet those requirements, you can potentially deduct utilities, mortgage interest, insurance, depreciation, and repairs.

Check out our other blog for more information: Home Office Deductions
There are many more ways small businesses and owners can save money with their taxes - speak with your local tax professional about your specific situation and inquire about your available options. If you need more time to gather all of your deductions before filing, get an extension of time with a tax extension.

ExpressExtension offers a quick and easy online solution to filing your extension form directly to the IRS. Within minutes, you can e-file a business, personal, or exempt organization extension and get instantly approved for up to six months of extra filing time.

Our super support team of live professionals - in Rock Hill, South Carolina - is ready to assist with your e-filing experience. Feel free to contact us at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. And we happily accept email requests 24/7 through our support@expressextension.com account.




Read More »

Deadline Extension for Nonprofits




A little bit of current news for all you nonprofit organizations - Presidents’ Day is today! Also known as Washington’s Birthday, today is a federal holiday in which we recognize George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and a combination of all the other U.S. Presidents. 

“Okay. So it’s Presidents’ Day…”

Right! But it’s also February 15, which means that if your tax exempt organization operates in a Fiscal Tax Year with today as your due date, then it has been effectively extended to Feb 16, 2016 because of the holiday - thank you U.S. Presidents!

So you now have an extra day to e-file for your exempt organization - make it count! If you need more time to file your actual 990 form, you can quickly and easily e-file an Extension Form 8868 with ExpressExtension and receive an automatic 3-month extension instantly.

Important: Tax extension forms can only extend your time to file - not to pay. Any estimated taxes that you owe will still have to be paid by the original due date, which in this case is Feb. 16.

But if you’re ready to get that 990 form completed and transmitted, head on over to our affiliate site, ExpressTaxExempt.com - your #1 online solution for everything tax exempt. There you can create a FREE account and fill out your Form 990-N (e-Postcard), 990-EZ, or 990 (Long). You can even keep all your exempt organization e-filings in one account by e-filing your Form 8868 with ExpressTaxExempt as well.

Need to e-file while on the move - ExpressTaxExempt has got you covered! Download the FREE mobile app for iOS and Android devices, and e-file your 990-N (e-Postcard) or extension from wherever you are. And whether you e-file from a computer or smartphone, your 990-N (e-Postcard) will be FREE to file for the current tax year.

If you’ve never had a reason to get excited about Presidents’ Day before, you do now. And we’re still available today to help with e-filing extensions. Call our live, U.S.-based support team at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. You can also send emails 24/7 to support@expressextension.com.


Read More »

2/10/2016

IRS Representation


An important issue within the world of taxes is knowing who can represent your business, company, or organization before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and how. If you have a tax professional who prepares your taxes, it’s imperative that you’re aware how they can speak for you with the IRS. New guidelines have been implemented this year, and the IRS is taking the initiative to inform organizations of who can represent them and how.

According to the IRS, representation rights - you may also know these as practice rights - are filed under two different classifications, which are called Unlimited and Limited.

With unlimited representation, a certified tax professional can represent you on any tax matter - no matter who originally prepared your tax return. Tax professionals who can have unlimited representation rights are:
Limited representation only allows a tax professional to represent you if they were the one who prepared and signed your tax return; however, they can only speak with IRS revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees. Even if the tax professional prepares and signs your return, they cannot represent you for collection issues or appeals.

At the start of the new year, the only tax preparers with limited representation rights are those listed within the IRS Annual Filing Season Program - a voluntary program of non-credentialed tax professionals. There are a set of fundamental rights that each and every one of us taxpayers should be familiar with. For more information about these rights, check out our easy-reading blog: The Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

If you’re shopping the market for a tax professional before you file this year, extend your time to file by e-filing a tax extension with ExpressExtension. With an easy, intuitive process, you can electronically transmit your form to the IRS, and receive an automatic extension for up to six months - all on your own!

If you need further assistance with e-filing an extension, our live support team from Rock Hill, South Carolina can make your e-filing experience a pleasant one. We can be reached at (803) 514-5155 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. Or send any questions or issues to support@expressextension.com.



Read More »

2/08/2016

Strong Online Presence




For the new small business owners of today, there was a time long ago when you had to send out flyers or pay for newspaper or television advertisements to reach and inform people about your product or services. 

Primitive yet effective, these ancient techniques are still in use today; local, state, and national politicians still mail out flyers and postcards; you can still see 15 second commercial ads for a neighborhood service or dealership, and newspapers stay full with local advertisement.

However, in today’s social media driven world, we can get all that information and more from just one place - the Internet. You can buy an ad within Facebook and be seen more than those old methods combined.

“But I still gotta pay for it, right?”

With a small start-up, we understand that media advertisement may not be within the budget. But with these five strategies, you can build an impressive social media presence for your business that won’t cost you a dime.

Build Engagement
It’s not enough to just make a social media post and then leave it alone; it also won’t matter how many followers you have if they don’t have an interest in what you share. The goal here is to get your followers to converse. Your posts shouldn’t be just for the sake of posting, but have the purpose of getting people talking, leaving comments, and replying.

You want to interact with your audience, and that interaction will lead to other people wanting to interact with you as well. Engagement is half the battle - have your audience talking with your business and talking about your business.

Increase Your Audience
There are a million and one things you can do to build your business, but if you only have a few people to see those things, or none at all, then what’s the point? You need to have a target audience, which typically are your main consumers.

With building an online presence, many small business owners have found success by guest posting on other pages, being featured to write on an authority website like Huffington Post, CNN, etc., or having interview podcasts. If you find those methods difficult, you can always just find where your target audience is online, and demonstrate why it’s best to follow you.

Avoid Feeling Envious
In this digital age, anyone can easily flaunt their success - they have a right to. It could be in a social media post, a podcast, or anything that shows an achievement in the same area that you’re struggling with. And while you may feel a little jealous, remember that worrying about someone else draws focus from yourself and your goals. You can simply acknowledge that person’s success, and then keep it moving with your own grind of building your business.

Have Indisputable Value
Remember the first tactic about building engagement? Well, this strategy goes hand-in-hand because to promote an engaging audience you must have quality content - no posting for the sake of posting. When audiences see your posts, they should be seeing valuable information. So put in some genuine effort towards the content you create; it should be good to the point where others are talking about what your business is doing.

Keep An Open Mind
You have to understand that there is no failsafe blueprint to building a dominant online presence - what may worked for others didn’t go well for you, while other things played to your advantage. Successful small businesses have owners who are constantly learning their craft.

It’s your responsibility to figure out what works for you, or experiment with what worked for others. With the right amount of effort and a repertoire of social media techniques, you can increase your small business' exposure without having to invest much money in advertisements.

Of course, a process such as this isn’t achieved overnight. And there are other obligations you are accountable for with your business like federal compliance. Get more time to file your business tax returns with an extension from ExpressExtension. With our FREE downloadable app for iOS and Android devices, you can quickly e-file your business tax extension form 7004 from anywhere, and get back to how well your social media posts are trending.

Contact our live customer support team in Rock Hill, South Carolina for any questions or assistance with e-filing your tax extension. We’re available at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, or send an email to support@expressextension.com.


Read More »

2/03/2016

E-file Tax Forms (2016)




There are some methods that are difficult to break from, and old habits that die hard, or never leave at all. But if you’re still paper filing your tax returns, for whatever reason, it may be time to catch up with the current trends.

As with trying anything for the first time, we understand that there is some reluctance, and even some concerns. But we’re here to help you get off the fence about e-filing in 2016 with these reasons.

Quick & Accurate
E-filing allows you to quickly and easily enter your filing information from screen to screen instead of having to flip back and forth through paper forms. And with ExpressExtension, our service automatically checks your tax form for any possible errors so that you transmit the most accurate information the first time around.

Safe & Secure
The IRS e-filing system follows strict security protocols and guidelines that must be met every year. To date, 1.5 billion e-filed tax returns have been processed electronically with the Internal Revenue Service, and the IRS continues to work with the state and tax industry to keep your precious information protected.

With ExpressExtension, our site is encrypted, McAfee secure certified and protected by 1286H SSL (Secure Sockets Layer); your information goes directly to the IRS/SSA and no one else.

Convenience
Within the parameters of tax deadlines, e-filing allows you to complete forms at your own pace, and electronically transmit at your own time. For even more convenience and simplicity, ExpressExtension also supports mobile apps for iOS/Android devices - download for FREE to e-file forms 7004, 4868, & 8868 on-the-go, or visit our mobile site.

Faster Response Time
Typically, e-filing can get your forms approved faster and refunds sent sooner; the IRS recommends you add your bank account details and select direct deposit for a fast approval and refund. Your tax extensions can be completed and accepted by the IRS in minutes with ExpressExtension. If your form was rejected, you can quickly make corrections to your form and send it again at no extra charge.

Payment Options
If you owe taxes, you can easily pay them at the same time you e-file your tax form. The IRS supports a number of payment options including their Direct Pay service, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), and debit/credit card accounts. ExpressExtension also supports electronic fund withdrawals (EFWs), in which payment is accepted online using your checking or savings account information.

For more information about paying taxes while e-filing, give these helpful blogs a look.
And for any questions or assistance needed with e-filing our available tax extensions, our live team of e-filing professionals are more than happy to help you transmit your form quickly and easily. Call us at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. You can also send us an email 24/7 at support@expressextension.com.



Read More »

2/01/2016

Side Hustle “Turnt” Small Business




You’ve been working your side gig for some time now. It’s something that you have a genuine interest in, and you start to realize there’s a growing market for your service or product. You want to take advantage; your friends want you to take advantage; it would behoove you to take advantage, but you’re hesitant to take that full leap into a small business venture. And you know what - you wouldn’t be the only one.

Unless you had some sort of reassurance, there aren’t many of us who would leave our day jobs, and attempt a full-time business venture with no resources or any backing. And to try both at the same time is suicide, right? Well, two full-time jobs would be detrimental. But growing a side hustle into a small business is quite manageable - even with a full-time job.

In fact, studies have shown that businesses that are established part-time - then become full-time - are less likely to fail than businesses that started out full-time. So how can you turn your small time hobby into big time business without risking daytime income? With these five steps, you can grow your side hustle into a small business while still employed.

Step 1 - Build A Foundation
The first move will undoubtedly be your best move. And before you decide to just leave your daytime job, you’ll want to crunch the numbers and figure out how much you need to make with your side hustle per month to sustain living expenses, and for your side gig to be successful.

Because you’ve already invested personal time and energy into your side hustle, you should already have an idea of its validity as a possible business idea before risking everything. Create and follow a set of financial goals that can turn your project into a reliable business.

Step 2 - Invest Time & Energy
On a much larger scale than just free time, you’ll need to invest a significant amount of time and effort into growing your side gig into a small business. And because you’re also working full-time, you can only put in work during your SPARE TIME - we at ExpressExtension do not condone using your current company’s time and resources to grow your own business.

Be prepared to dedicate a great deal of off-time towards your goal - that means a lot of weekends spent at home, and evenings coming straight home to get more done. If you’ve ever had to cancel plans to study, complete a term paper, or take care of a family member, then you already know how this goes.

Step 3 - Expand When Necessary
Even though the goal is to grow into a small business, you’ll want to avoid the “startup hype” of investor-backed companies - the glitz and glamour of pouring money into your venture. All you really need is what’s necessary; a new work laptop or business cell phone is awesome, but can the work still get done without it?

All that stuff will come in due time. Be careful about racking up so much debt in the beginning. Your side hustle should gradually grow into what it’s meant to become - don’t force it unnecessarily.

Step 4 - Prevent A Burnout
“The struggle is real,” as people would say. You work throughout the day just to come home and work some more on your startup - this can become exhausting really quick. To avoid “burning both ends of the candle,” you should dedicate just a few hours where you can be completely productive. Those hours should be before midnight though, as it becomes rather difficult to focus on anything at 2 a.m. after working all day.

And while it’s a good idea to work your side hustle whenever you can, trying to do so seven days a week will burn you out quickly. Be sure to allow yourself at least one full day to rest and relax.

Step 5 - Make Your Move
Keep in mind that there probably won’t be a perfect time to leave your job and pursue your small business full-time. But if you’ve been able to reach your financial goals, and your venture is showing steady growth, it may be now or never to make that leap. If all your major pieces are in place, then the little things that are probably causing you to hesitate will also fall in place. We hear so often about those who were able to drop everything, pursue their business venture, and actually succeed. And while it is possible, the majority of small businesses find success from careful planning and hard work with a steady foundation.

Once you get your start-up completely off the ground and running, you’re also responsible for the federal compliance that comes with owning a business. If you ever need additional time to file your federal forms, you can e-file a tax extension with ExpressExtension. We offer business, personal, and exempt organization extension forms, which can give you extended time to file - up to six months - automatically.

Our live support team of e-filing professionals can get your started! Contact us if you have any questions or need assistance with your e-filing experience. We’re available at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. Or send us a message anytime of day at support@expressextension.com.




Read More »

Watch
IRS Tax Extension

Support Center

Chat with us