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6/29/2016

Independence Day 2016

Summer has taken off in a huge way and the most celebrated holiday of the season is just a few days away. So fire up those grills, get the pool and drinks ready, and don’t forget to have some sunscreen nearby because it’s the Fourth of July holiday weekend!

And while we all have our unique plans to celebrate this much anticipated day of the year, let’s also be mindful of those extended tax deadlines that are approaching if you filed a tax extension earlier this year. Here’s a quick recap of those due dates:


The Fourth of July commemorates our nation’s signing of the Declaration of Independence in which we succeeded from British rule. And for our current American troops, who still protect and maintain our freedoms, check out our blogs about some significant tax benefits specifically for military men and women:

  • Combat-Zone Extension - If you’re serving in a combat zone or a contingency operation, then you receive an automatic tax extension. This extension is for 180 days, roughly six months, which extends your deadline to file your return as well as paying any taxes you may owe and filing claims for a refund.
  • Military Personnel Extension - During tax season, if you’re in the military and are located abroad or in a combat zone, you may qualify for certain automatic extensions that relate to the filing and paying of your federal taxes. For those in the military or a combat zone, the IRS has resources in place to help you make accurate and informed decisions regarding your taxes.

In honor of the Fourth of July, our office will be closed on Monday, July 4, 2016; however, we will still have limited email support available with support@ExpressExtension.com. On the following business day, our office will resume regular hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST - you can call us at (803) 514-5155 for any questions about the e-filing process.

Be safe and enjoy the Fourth of July weekend!!!





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6/27/2016

Yearning for Revenue? Try These Grant Writing Tips!

When it comes to nonprofits or charities securing operating revenue, writing a thorough proposal letter to various sponsors is one of the many ways of achieving an organization’s monetary goals.

But writing for grants isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” scenario - a lot of times it can end in frustration, require numerous edits and re-writes, resubmitting the same proposal, and then maybe you’ll draft the perfect version.

Don’t let that discourage you, though. Statistics show that about $50 billion dollars are given to exempt organizations each year with at least 1.5 million certified nonprofits all aiming for a piece of the prize. So you’re not the only one sweating, but you do need to stand out. With these helpful hints, you’ll be well on your way to pulling in some major funds for your cause.

Carry Out Research
If a sponsor or a grant doesn’t share or reflect the value of your organization’s mission, then why ask them for money? Before you even look at the grant application form, make an effort to get the facts down first - check out their website or see if they’re on social media.

You may find that there are specific requirements your organization has to follow to be eligible. Or you may figure out that a particular grant just doesn’t fit your organization too well. There’s no point in asking a sponsor that isn’t on the same page as your nonprofit - no matter how perfect of a proposal you deliver.

Determine your Organization’s Category
Different strokes for different folks, right? And the same goes for grants. Money given by corporate and foundation programs usually fall into these main two types:
  • Program Development
  • Operational General Purpose Support
These two branches break down even further - you can find more information by checking your state’s nonprofit association website.

Make Use of Resources
You wouldn’t blindly take a test or sign a contract without looking it over would you? Even by reading this information, you’re practicing well due diligence. There are way too many resources available out there that can provide a concrete step to take.

There’s always the Internet or the library - you can look into nonprofit associations or even other local exempt organizations for pointers. If you have proper means, check your local community college or adult education center for any grant writing courses available.

Remain Positive
If at first you don’t succeed, try it again. Keep in mind that your first attempt won’t be perfect - “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and failure with frustration comes with the territory. But having a good attitude throughout the process is key to getting over the hurdles you encounter. Practice makes perfect - and the more you do, the better it becomes.

Once you’ve mastered your proposals and have that grant money pouring in, you’re required to report those amounts to the IRS. With ExpressTaxExempt.com, you can quickly and easily enter your received grants and contributions, which then generates on your IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ. You can also e-file IRS Form 8868 to get an extra three months filing time.

We offer live customer support from our U.S.-based, e-file professionals. Contact us at (704) 839-2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST or send us an email day or night with support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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6/22/2016

5 Summer Tips for Nonprofit Fundraising

The summer season is in full swing - the weather is already becoming warmer, schools are letting out for summer vacation, and it’s one of most opportune times of the year for you to sponsor your nonprofit or charity cause and draw in contributions.

Shake things up this Summer by breaking away from conventional means of asking for donations - take advantage of these gorgeous days and interact with the community. Here are five quick ways you can make the best use of this season to bring in donations towards your exempt organization.

Set Up Outdoors
Lately, the weather has been way too nice just to be confined indoors, and most people aim to spend summertime leisurely outside. It’ll be perfect to set up a fundraising campaign with outdoor activities. You can hand out cups of lemonade or scoops of ice-cream for donations - even something as simple as giving out ice-cold water bottles on a hot, busy day at the park can generate funds for your cause.

Have a Specific Request
Whether you’re asking for contributions, volunteers, or whatever, make sure that your “call-to-action” is as clear as sunny, blue skies. The key is to be transparent with the people you are getting involved - let them know the use of their donation, what your organization’s goals are, and how they can volunteer their time if they choose.

Collaborate with Your Community
To help the people, you have to be out with the people. When you think summertime, you naturally think of summer gatherings like barbecues, pool parties, or even sporting events. Why not put together a summer event with all proceeds going directly to your nonprofit’s mission? Or if there are other city-sponsored festivities in the area, inquire how your organization can get involved, and inform attendees how they can donate towards a great cause.

Let the Creativity Flow
The limits are within your imagination - even activities considered as a summer chore can flip into a fundraising opportunity. Get a small team together to wash cars or offer to mow lawns for donations. If you have the proper resources, organize an afternoon program throughout the week for children; the parents can contribute for each hour their child is there. If you can think it, try it - some ideas my work surprisingly well than others.

Remember to Have Fun
Even though you’re working to bring in revenue to your organization, the overall goal is to get outside and have fun with the community. You would be amazed at how much just one fun activity can accomplish - even a water balloon fight can serve as a fundraiser.

And after you’ve collected all those donations, head on over to our affiliate site, ExpressTaxExempt.com, where you can bulk upload your entire list of contributors, and enter fundraising events, to report on your 990 tax return. Or if you need more time to get all those donations documented, you can also e-file IRS Form 8868 from the same account.

Our live, US-based team of e-file experts can assist or answer any questions you have about the e-filing process for exempt organizations. Give us a ring at (704) 839-2321, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, or speak with us 24/7 with support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.


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6/20/2016

Doing Volunteer Work this Summer? Deduct these Service Expenses

While others may be relaxing and taking it easy this Summer, you see it as an opportunity to get extra work done. And if that work includes volunteering at a nonprofit organization, you can deduct your time and money spent on volunteer work. Here are a few guidelines about tax deductions you can claim with volunteering this season.

Qualifying Organizations
To qualify for any of the available deductions, the nonprofit you’re donating time to must have official recognition as a 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS. If you can deduct cash contributions from the charity or nonprofit, then that’s a clear sign of an eligible organization. The IRS website also has an exempt organization tool, which you can search and confirm an organization’s exemption status.

Travel Expenses

A trip deduction can include any necessary airfare or mileage to reach your volunteering site. With driving, you can claim on average 14 cents per mile - check with a local tax professional to be sure. You can also deduct any costs towards meals and housing during your trip.

If your charitable work has you hopping on a plane somewhere, you could probably deduct the cost of the entire journey; however, there are some regulations. For instance, your volunteer work must be the primary reason for the flight - you can’t expect a full claim by flying to Miami or New York for a week just to volunteer an hour or so at a local shelter or soup kitchen.

Value of Time
Keep in mind that there is no way for you to deduct an hourly rate of the time you spent volunteering. Let’s say you volunteer to clean the operating base or office of a nonprofit. You can’t attempt to claim the standard rates you would have charged as a service; however, costs for cleaning supplies and utilities would be eligible deductions.

The key here is the restriction on your tax claims to actual expenses while volunteering. Another example would be if you made a significant purchase for the organization - like a printer - or if you paid out-of-pocket for printing services.

You should also note that claims have to be itemized to receive any charitable deductions. We recommend using a local CPA or tax preparation software program to assist with itemizing your tax deductions - you can find even more resources on the IRS website.

Don’t rush or stress yourself with volunteering expenses during the next tax season - e-file IRS Form 4868 with ExpressExtension.com and receive six months of extra filing time to get all your tax claims in order. You can also download our FREE Express 4868 App for iOS and Android devices, and quickly e-file a personal tax extension wherever you are.

For any questions or assistance with the e-filing process, give our live, US-based customer support a call at (803) 514-5155. We are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, and we offer 24/7 online support with support@ExpressExtension.com.


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6/15/2016

Tax Deadline! Americans Living Abroad

The deadline to file IRS Form 4868 for personal taxes was back in April; however, if you are a U.S. citizen or a resident foreigner living outside the country, you were granted an automatic 2-month extension to file your taxes without submitting anything. And today, June 15, is the end of that extension period.

No matter how far you venture beyond the U.S. and its continental borders, you are still required by law to file an American income tax return - even while living abroad.

Along with the requirement to file, you could also be distinctively eligible for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. With these IRS resources, you can determine if you’re affected by the tax benefit and how conditions may apply.
Important Reminders:
Any worldwide income, like revenue from a foreign trust, bank, or securities account, is required by federal law for U.S. citizens and non-U.S. residents to report. Within IRS Form 1040, Part III of Schedule B, it asks about these foreign accounts, where you’ll need to list each country hosting the account.

You may also need to report foreign financial assets - especially if your assets’ aggregate value exceeds maximum thresholds. You can complete and attach IRS Form 8938 to your income tax return to successfully report these amounts. With the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the IRS requires financial assets outside of the United States to be declared with Form 8938.

Living abroad is often considered as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Don’t let that treasured experience become a sullied nightmare by falling out of compliance with the IRS. And if you ever find yourself back stateside, remember you can file a personal tax extension by April 15 each year to get six months of extra time to file.

With ExpressExtension.com, all you need to do is enter your basic personal information, confirm any owed taxes, choose an IRS payment method if necessary, and transmit directly to the IRS - you can e-file and get quickly approved in minutes. Feel free to contact our live, U.S.-based customer support at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. We’re also available 24/7 through support@ExpressExtension.com.


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6/13/2016

Summer Startups with No Money Needed

Trying to break into the self-employment enterprise? You’ve probably thought extensively about the pros and cons of going into business for yourself - such as resources, type of management, and most importantly, financial support. It’s enough to keep you from ever attempting, right? But don’t let it discourage you - one way to kill a dream or idea is overthinking it.

Sometimes, it’s just best to inexpensively “test the waters” and get perspective about how things could work. And with these small business ideas that require little or no money, you can decide if entrepreneurship is a viable choice to explore.

eBay Merchant
It’s the old concept of buying cheap and reselling high, but with a digital twist. You won't have to do much with the logistics, and the only other pocket expenses you could face starting out are shipping fees. Other than that, Summer would be a great time to run an online “garage sale.”

Cleaning Services
Whether you want to clean homes, offices, or vehicles, this is a venture you can get into with items you already have underneath the kitchen sink. Substantial success will most likely come from how well you market yourself - making your name known along with some outstanding customer reviews could lead to bigger contracts.

Delivery Driver

No, we’re not talking about promising a hot pizza in 15 minutes or less - unless that’s your core consumer base. But typically, in large metro areas, businesses need things delivered on a daily basis. All you're required to do is to create a few flyers and cards, charge less than the competition, and then take advantage.

Editor/Transcriptionist
You may need to prove prior experience to back up your skill set, but there are numerous opportunities for writing and editing for others or even for established businesses. You can even subscribe to legit websites where companies nationwide outsource for this type of work. On a local level, transcription services are wanted by doctors and lawyers.

Landscaping/Lawn Care/Gardening

Just in time for Summer - a seasonal occupation that can have you outside enjoying the weather. Like the labor suggestions mentioned earlier, the key to growth is great marketing and beating out the local competition. And though the work may seem seasonal, there are ways to have work available all year long.

House or Pet Sitter
If you’re just looking to supplement your income, watching over someone’s house or pet is a good way to net some extra revenue. But as one online example shows, watching 20 dogs, five days a week, at $20 per dog yields about $4K a month - that’s living income in some areas.

You don’t have to limit yourself to just this list - there are many other ways you can test self-employment with little or no cash. If it works, take off with it. If not, at least you know being an entrepreneur isn’t for you.

The important thing to remember is that any cash earned by doing work for others is always taxable, and many business expenses can count as a deduction. If you need more filing time to get those amounts together, e-file IRS Form 4868 with ExpressExtension.com. Within minutes, you can file and get approved by the IRS for six extra months.

Our live e-file support team in Rock Hill, South Carolina, is more than happy to answer any questions you have about the e-filing process. Dial us up at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST - or chat with us via email through support@ExpressExtension.com.


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6/08/2016

Easy Summer Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Summer is on the way along with some fantastic opportunities - and weather - for branding or marketing your small business or startup. The season can either cause profits to sizzle or business activity to roll at a snail’s pace. Whichever way it goes, be prepared to make your products or services the talk of the town with these blazing marketing techniques.

Holiday Plans
With holiday celebrations, comes explosive holiday sales. And your company is in prime position to bank from the three major summer holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.

Get creative with how you can attract consumers and other businesses - this can include offering spectacular deals and savings, or eye-catching marketing materials that express celebratory themes.

For more summer holiday ideas, check out our informative blog: 4 Ways to Increase Business During Summer Holidays.

Customer Appreciation
Bring in more business by showing your current clients just how much you appreciate their value. Host a picnic or a cookout open to the entire community, or get together with other local businesses and throw a special event.

As a bonus, you can take all your expenses for client entertainment and claim them as a tax write-off. In the end, it seems like a win-win situation - the customers are happy and talking about your business, and you managed to cut a little bit from your tax bill.

Giveaway Opportunity

There’s no doubt that giveaways are awesome with getting a client base excited about doing business with you. Use some creativity to incorporate a summer theme with your giveaway - you don’t necessarily have to give something that’s related to your business.

During the summer, people are typically at the beach, a cook-out, or on vacation. Why not offer something they can use at either of these summertime functions?

The Tourist Crowd
If your business is in a hotspot area for vacations, you can gain a significant boost from the tourism. Give a discount to anyone with an out-of-state license - you could even reward the locals with an exclusive deal for bringing in someone from out of town.

You could capitalize even more by teaming up with hotels and restaurants that agree to host your business flyers or brochures. And make sure that your company name is showing up in local online searches.

There are so many other ways to make this Summer work for you and your small business - all it takes is a little research and some creative thinking. And if you need to backtrack your summertime success during tax season, get more filing time with a tax extension with ExpressExtension.com.

We offer IRS Form 7004 for large businesses and IRS Form 4868 for single member LLCs and sole proprietorships - e-file and get approved within minutes. Contact our live customer support with any questions and concerns regarding the e-filing process at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. We’re also available through support@ExpressExtension.com.


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6/06/2016

Filing as Self-Employed? Slash Your Tax Bill with These Tips!

There are plenty of appealing benefits that come with working as self-employed. But one of the main drawbacks is the responsibility of having to handle your taxes. Filing taxes is probably your least favorite thing to do - even if you have an accountant do them for you. But with self-employment, you’re completely on your own.

It doesn’t have to be all bad, though. And if done correctly, filing your taxes can serve as a platform to further grow your small business. The goal is to have excellent recordkeeping and know what to look for, and with these tips, you can have your taxes work financially in your favor.

No Up-Front Taxes
Don’t let this important aspect of self-employment catch you by surprise - taking taxes from your paycheck isn't automatic. To avoid a high tax bill at the end of the year, you’ll need to put aside tax money. Create a plan of how much you’ll have to take from your checks for taxes.

Home Office Deductions

If you’re using a home space for your job, and it’s in compliance with IRS guidelines, you can take advantage of this significant tax deduction. Not only will a qualified home office reduce your tax bill, but it can also lead to tax cuts with your utilities, insurance, real estate, and more.

Vehicle and Travel Deductions

You might not be able to deduct each time you used your car or traveled for business, but with good records, you can receive a portion of those expenses back. Check out the IRS website about deduction travel costs for business or IRS Publication 463 for travel, entertainment, and vehicle expenses.

Professional Costs and Supplies
Remember buying that tablet/laptop hybrid or that sturdy filing cabinet - those costs are deductible along with professional liability insurance, trade association fees, and just about any monetary costs required for you to stay in business. Write-off these expenses and have your receipts ready as proof.

Meticulous Income Records
If your business is booming as a contractor or freelancer, it’s critical to have your 1099s and other tax documentation properly filed within your records. Keeping a detailed record of your income can help avoid audits and make filing during tax season less of a hassle. It never hurts to review complete records before filing for the current tax year.

Health Insurance Costs
With mandatory health insurance for US citizens, you’re more than likely responsible for paying the entire premium as self-employed. But with proper resources, you can deduct the full cost of your health insurance. Learn more from the IRS about free tax breaks for health care.

Tax Prep Write-Offs
If you’re receiving assistance for filing your taxes, why not get money back for that too? You can also deduct expenses for books with tax tips or even tax software. The IRS has more information about how you can claim professional, legal, and tax preparation costs.

Our suggestions are only scratching the surface for eligible tax cuts for self-employed individuals - we recommend speaking with a local tax professional or CPA firm to find out exactly what deductions qualify for your tax situation. While you’re getting all your tax breaks in order, e-file IRS Form 4868 with ExpressExtension.com. You can receive six months of extra filing time, but you need to submit the form before April 15 of each filing year.

Our friendly, e-filing professionals in Rock Hill, South Carolina, can help you with any questions or assistance needed with the e-filing process. We’re available Monday through Friday at (803) 514-5155 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. And we offer 24/7 email support with support@ExpressExtension.com.


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6/01/2016

4 Ways to Increase Business During Summer Holidays

Summer is almost upon us, and with it comes the three top holidays of the season: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. These special days can serve as great opportunities to bring more revenue towards your business or startup.

Traditionally, people have a great deal of free time during the season with summer vacation, closed schools, and sunlight lasting to the late evening. You can take advantage of the extra activities with these easy four tips.

Tip #1 - Promote as soon as possible
It’s quite common to see companies hold out until the week or weekend before a summer holiday to begin marketing special deals or sales. You can push through the competition by promoting as far as three weeks in advance for any holiday specials you’re planning.

You can send emails, postcards, or booklets to your mailing list or place flyers in areas frequented by your target audiences. Whatever you decide to do, get it done early, and when the competition catches up, people will already know about your deals.

Tip #2 - Give back to the community
There are reasons why we celebrate these summer holidays - Memorial Day is to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our country, Independence Day is to celebrate our nation breaking away from British rule, and Labor Day is to recognize the contributions and achievements of American workers.

You can host a community event for each celebration if you choose - a cook-out on the Fourth of July, sponsor a sculpture or a trophy for our fallen soldiers, or have a car wash - something that will get people out and around your place of business. You could also get free publicity from any media coverage gained from your events.

Tip #3 - Get creative with marketing
You already know to use “ole reliable” during July - red, white, and blue for logos, company mascots, and other marketing materials. But what are some other associations you make with Summer? What are some thoughts or activities that come to mind when you think of this season? 
Incorporate that with your marketing campaigns - you never who could be at a summer function and think [enter business name here] because they saw the same thing in an advertisement.

Tip #4 - Use premium materials
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the last one - appearance is everything, and it could prove to be a deciding factor on whether or not people take your business seriously. Premium materials give your advertisements more credibility - think about why you print business cards on some type of card stock rather than regular printing paper. If you can afford it, don’t be cheap. Invest in the best, and you’ll profit the best!

The best thing about these tips is that they can also be used year round - and not for just the other holidays, but in any season you want a spike in consumer interaction. Along with the extra revenue, you can also write off many of these expenses as tax deductions. And to get more filing time for those deductions, e-file our available tax extension forms with ExpressExtension.com.

You can have an extension filed and approved by the IRS within minutes. Our e-filing experts in Rock Hill, South Carolina can help you with questions or assistance needed. Give us a call at (803) 514-5155, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST - or reach us through email at support@ExpressExtension.com.


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