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Link Direct Mail to Mobile with QR Codes and Save

As cousins from opposite sides of the marketing family, direct mail and mobile marketing haven’t had much in common.  That is until now, thanks to the folks who deliver our snail-mail, the good old U.S. Postal Service.  USPS will soon launch a “Mobile Barcode Promotion” program to boost the value of direct mail by integrating it with QR codes (also see The Power of QR Codes for Small Business).  Those quirky little pixilated squares are popping up in lots of places lately – in magazines, on products and in mail as well. Mobile barcodes provide a connection between print and the digital world.

QR codes are also called “2-dimentional” (2-D) barcodes because they store information both vertically and horizontally, while traditional 1-D bar codes are only read horizontally.  They can be read by smart phones that have a 2-D barcode application/reader. When scanned, these mobile barcodes can motivate an otherwise passive consumer to take immediate action: make a purchase, register for an event, or download a coupon.

The idea is that QR codes can make your mail pieces work harder for less. When you add a mobile barcode to your mailings, you add value. And during July and August 2011, the Postal Service is offering business mailers an upfront 3% discount on First-Class and Standard Mail letters and flats that include a mobile barcode – either inside or on the envelope itself. Here are the rules: 

  • Mobile barcodes must be two-dimensional and readable by a mobile smart phone. One-dimensional barcodes do NOT qualify.
  • Mailing documentation must be submitted electronically, and mail must be sent with postage paid through a permit imprint. Current methods include: Mail.XML, Mail.dat, and Postal Wizard. (Mailings submitted via Postal Wizard cannot exceed 9,999 pieces.)
  • Business mailers must certify that each mail piece contains a mobile barcode either within the contents or on the outside of the mail piece.
  • The objective of the QR code on eligible mail pieces must be to initiate interaction with consumers via mobile smart phones to market, promote or educate them in some way. Two-dimensional barcodes used for other purposes – such as internal corporate operational processes or postage evidencing – are not eligible for the discount.
  • Nonprofit mail is not eligible for the discount.

For more info email: mobilebarcode@usps.gov

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

A Better Way to Carry Cash Overseas

If you’re traveling overseas on business, here’s a better way to carry local currency:  Pre-loaded, security protected, foreign-currency debit cards good at millions of locations that accept Visa or MasterCard worldwide.  Two dominant players are the Cash Passport Card (www.cashpassportcard.com) and TravelMoney card (www.visa.com), which carry the MasterCard, Visa or other name brand labels and are issued by various banks, global companies such as Travelex and organizations such as the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Travel money cards are a secure way to carry cash when traveling. The card is PIN protected and if it’s lost or stolen, just notify the issuer for a replacement or refund. Some provide zero liability coverage. Under Visa’s policy, for example, you have 100% protection from unauthorized transactions made with a lost or stolen card.

They are also hard to beat for convenience. Instead of jumping through hoops to cash a travelers’ check at a bank, store or other location, these cards are readily accepted worldwide, and let you get cash in local currencies from an ATM 24/7. And since these are pre-paid cards, you won’t be facing any surprise credit card bills when you return from your trip. If there’s money left on the card, just bring it back for a refund or take the remaining funds from any ATM.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

Best Local Place for Free Business Startup Help

They don’t have money to really market or advertise their existence, and most business owners and would-be entrereneurs have never heard of them. But America’s 1,100 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are a terrific resource for startups. Most SBDCs are hidden in out-of-the-way corners of local colleges and universities, chambers of commerce and vocational schools, but finding one is well worth the effort.  If you’re looking to unleash your inner entrepreneur, one of the the best places for most people to start is at a local SBDC.

“We’re seeing more individuals interested in starting businesses, and I can’t say we’re surprised,” says Christian Conroy, State Director of the Pennsylvania SBDC, a network of 18 college-based centers providing help to new and existing businesses in PA.  On-Site Heavy Equipment Repair in Clarence, PA is one example of a startup that forged ahead despite a dubious economy. Husband and wife team Don and Coleen Reese began their business just after the collapse of Bear Stearns in 2008. Working through the Penn State University SBDC, the couple got help developing a financial model and doing market research that helped them secure startup capital.

SBDCs offer counseling, training and tech help in all areas of business management, including finance, marketing, production, engineering, and feasibility studies. The program is run jointly by private enterprise and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Despite cuts in funding, SBDCs are seeing a surge of interest in starting a business.  Sharon and Frank Gundy of Hazleton, PA, looked at a new venture as a way to recoup lost income. Frank had been laid off, and Sharon, a real estate agent, was hard-pressed for sales. The couple sought help from the Wilkes University SBDC to launch their novelty gift business and build an online presence.

And Kelly Schick joined the entrepreneur ranks after being laid off from her job at Osram-Sylvania, the giant lighting manufacturer. The Gannon University SBDC helped Schick take over a former sports bar in downtown Warren, PA, after navigating her through the loan process. “I might have given up without help and encouragement from the SBDC,” says Schick, now the proud owner of Kelly’s Pub.

Free help from an SBDC is available to anyone interested in starting a small business for the first time or simply improving and expanding an existing small business, and who cannot afford the services of a private consultant. To locate a  Small Business Development Center near you:

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

B2B Daily Deal Sites for Small Business

Times have never been better for small business owners and startup entrepreneurs looking for deep discounts of up to 70% on the products and services they need to run their businesses day to day. A bevy of B2B daily and weekly deal sites have emerged, offering big discounts on everything from printing, food services and web development, to online surveys, computers, travel and office furniture.  They include RapidBuyr, BizDeals, BizSaves, Bizy, GroupPrice and MarketSharing.  Some are still in startup mode and aren’t yet operating in a large number of cities, but more cities are being added almost weekly.

Here’s BizBest’s roundup of six key players (in no particular order):

RapidBuyr is a business-to-business (B2B) deal of the day site that offers daily deals — both local and national— for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs).  The site provides access to deep discounts (30-70%) on products and services such as computers, software, peripherals, web development & design, IT outsourcing, marketing, local services, office furniture and equipment, travel and business events. The site was launched by a group of entrepreneurs formerly with firms such as Amazon.com, Microsoft, CNET, Dow Jones and Ziff Davis. One thing that sets RapidBuyr apart is its exclusive relationship with American City Business Journals. ACBJ is the largest publisher of metropolitan business newsweeklies in the United States, and has over 40 city and regional business journals nationwide. This strategic partnership gives RapidBuyr an edge over other B2B deal sites, and allows them to reach nearly 8 million monthly visitors to 40 regional business journal websites.

BizDeals calls itself a “social eCommerce” site offering deals on products and services that help small business owners generate brand awareness and drive growth. Its weekly deals deliver savings on products and services in the categories of Business Essentials, Business Growth, and Rewards & Recognition.  From marketing services and computer products, to travel deals and entertainment, these categories include key areas where savings can do business owners the most good.  One example:  PR Newswire, a BizDeals launch sponsor, offers discounts on its enhanced PR Toolkit, an online public relations resource tailored to small business and entrepreneurs. 

Chicago-based Bizy helps small business owners buy a wide array of products and services at deep discounts, including office equipment and supplies, IT network equipment, software and hardware, mobile communications devices, shipping, payroll services, legal and accounting services, travel, car rental, banking, credit cards, insurance and more. It works like this:

  • Sign up to receive an email when there is a new and interesting Bizy deal, or look for invites from friends, colleagues, ads or the website.
  • When you see an offer you like, you can click the big “buy now” button.
  • Some deals only work if a minimum number of businesses buy.
  • Within 24 hours you’ll receive a purchase confirmation.  Print it and take it with you to the supplier or quote the reference number featured in the email to redeem your offer.

BizSaves bargains on behalf of business owners for deals on products and services that small companies and startups need most, with discounts reaching 50% or more. Sign up at the website to receive email notices of new deals weekly.

GroupPrice “Daily Deals for Your Business” brings small biz owners discount deals on services, software and supplies, including access to top end features on the software and services many small firms can’t get because they don’t meet minimum volume requirements. GroupPrice aims to take the hassle and stress out of getting a good deal. A couple of clicks and you’re done.

Meanwhile, MarketSharing hopes to position itself as a “premium B2B deals provider for exceptional business products and services.”  Initial deals are in New York only, but the site plans to expand to other major U.S. cities quickly.  Their first three daily deals include discounts on SeamlessWeb food delivery, BlogWorld and New Media Expo passes and TeamWorx team building events.

MarketSharing aims to offer businesses high quality, deeply discounted (50-80%) daily group deals on a wide range of products and. With an emphasis on brick and mortar to support local businesses, MarketSharing focuses on curating the best local products and service deals for businesses.  “Our vision is to provide deals that foster the discovery of new experiences for businesses, creating a happier, healthier, and more well rounded work environment,” says John Amato, MarketSharing’s CEO.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

A New Dental Discount Plan for Small Business

When it comes to offering a dental insurance plan as an employee benefit, most small business owners have to pass on affordability grounds.  Cheap or low-cost dental plans are nowhere to be found. But low-cost, easy-access dental discounts plans are something worth chewing on, and a newly launched service called Brighter is providing a way for small businesses and even startups to offer employees access to deep-discount dental services for a tiny annual fee.

The Brighter Small Business Plan – at an annual cost of just $49 per employee (that could easily be a monthly charge under most insurance plans) – can save that and then some in a single dentist visit.  Overall, Brighter estimates that employees and family members can cut their dental costs in half, with no limits on dental visits and discounts of 54-65% on all procedures,  including exams, cleanings, x-rays, fillings, crowns, extractions, root canals, TMJ, broken teeth and bridges.

Brighter’s mission, in part, is to help provide affordable dental care to small businesses and employees who don’t have access to or can’t afford dental insurance.  And Brighter, a startup itself, walks its own talk by encouraging its employees to take time out of the work day to visit a dentist during a designated week every six months.

What’s more, with Brighter you aren’t stuck with choosing a dentist from someone’s narrow, pre-defined list. Brighter gets patients the best possible price on dental care through a partnership with Careington International, a leading provider of dental discount plans. Careington has negotiated up to 60% discounts on nearly every procedure with over 25,000 dentists in 87,000 locations across the United States.

The prices you see on Brighter are the prices you will pay to that dentist – no asking for estimates or waiting until the end of the visit to find out how much you owe. And since you can see exactly what a procedure costs on the Brighter website, you can also shop around for the absolute best dental deal. And since finding a trusted local dentist can be difficult, Brighter also lets members plug into social media sites to find and select a dentist based on recommendations from friends in their personal networks. 

The Brighter basics are simple:

  • Find a Brighter dentist from the network, online.
  • Join Brighter to tap into the member discounts.
  • Pay your Brighter dentist directly.

With Brighter, business owners can build a cost-effective, do-it-yourself (DIY) dental plan that will give employees something to smile about.

Here’s the list of Brighter cities and states:

Brighter Cities: Atlanta | Austin | Baltimore | Birmingham | Boston | Buffalo | Chicago | Cincinnati | Cleveland | Columbus | Dallas | Denver | Detroit | Fort Worth | Hartford | Houston | Indianapolis | Jacksonville | Kansas City | Las Vegas | Los Angeles | Louisville | Memphis | Milwaukee | Minneapolis | Nashville | New Orleans | New York | Norfolk | Oakland | Oklahoma City | Philadelphia | Phoenix | Pittsburgh | Portland | Providence | Raleigh | Richmond | Riverside | Sacramento | Salt Lake City | San Antonio | San Bernardino | San Diego | San Francisco | San Jose | Seattle | St. Louis | St. Paul | Virginia Beach | Washington DC

Brighter States: Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | D. Columbia | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Missouri | Mississippi | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

10 Ways Small Business Uses Google Apps

BizBest has often recommended Google apps (some free; some fee) as great productivity tools that any small business or startup can access quickly and easily, including business email through Gmail, shared online calendars (Google Calendar), documents, spreadsheets and presentations (Google Docs), easy-to-build websites (Google Sites), and many others.  

These easy-to-use applications offer dozens of ways to leverage the web to work efficiently and get ahead of the competition.  Here are 10 ways that small business owners are using Google Apps for key tasks every day using Google’s template galleries for such tasks as invoicing, conducting customer surveys, managing employees, building a budget, writing a business plan or creating a website.

The first six tasks use the Google Docs template gallery; the other four use website templates from Google Sites.

  1. Design your business letterhead:  Create a professional looking template for your outgoing letters and share it with others in the company. Print letters directly from your browser.
  2. Build a business budget: Easily build budgeting spreadsheet that you can edit from anywhere throughout the year – no matter where your spending takes you.
  3. Create professional looking invoices: Save time by creating invoices in a spreadsheet – totals are automatically calculated, and you can share them with co-workers to ensure accuracy and speedy payments.
  4. Survey your customers: Get feedback from customers and visitors about your product or service with a form. Easily analyze and graph the data.
  5. Write a business plan: Put your vision down in a doc. Share it with family, investors, banks, and others to get input and spread your ideas.
  6. Manage your projects:  Give others in your company insight into key milestones, completion dates, and other project details.
  7. Build your own company intranet: Build an internal website (intranet) where employees can access company news, employee training information, company policies, holiday schedules, and more.
  8. Track all of your projects: Centralize project information in one place. Display a team profile and key dates, and embed project docs and spreadsheets directly in the site.
  9. Take your team online: Build a team site with team rosters, schedule team meetings, and track progress of action items all in one place.
  10. Create an in-house community:  Build a community by creating employee profile pages where your employees can post their goals, internal resume, and internal blog.

Also check out some of Google’s new resources, including product videos and other templates at www.google.com/apps/smb.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

New Business to Business Deal Sites offer Big Discounts

Small and local business owners of all types will have new opportunities to grab deep discounts on business-related products and services thanks to a battle heating up in the daily or weekly deals marketplace.  Several B2B daily and weekly deal sites have sprung up recently, offering big discounts on everything from printing, food services and cell phones, to online surveys, computers, travel and cloud-based business applications.  New York-based MarketSharing, one of the latest to launch, joins the likes of BizDeals, BizSaves and Bizy, in jockeying for position in the booming business of B2B deals.  

BizDeals calls itself a “social eCommerce” site offering deals on products and services that help small business owners generate brand awareness and drive growth. Its weekly deals deliver savings on products and services in the categories of Business Essentials, Business Growth, and Rewards & Recognition.  From marketing services and computer products, to travel deals and entertainment, these categories include key areas where savings can do business owners the most good.  One example:  PR Newswire, a BizDeals launch sponsor, offers discounts on its enhanced PR Toolkit, an online public relations resource tailored to small business and entrepreneurs. 

Chicago-based Bizy helps small business owners buy a wide array of products and services at deep discounts, including office equipment and supplies, IT network equipment, software and hardware, mobile communications devices, shipping, payroll services, legal and accounting services, travel, car rental, banking, credit cards, insurance and more. It works like this:

  1. Sign up to receive an email when there is a new and interesting Bizy deal, or look for invites from friends, colleagues, ads or the website.
  2. When you see an offer you like, you can click the big “buy now” button.
  3. Some deals only work if a minimum number of businesses buy.
  4. Within 24 hours you’ll receive a purchase confirmation.  Print it and take it with you to the supplier or quote the reference number featured in the email to redeem your offer.

BizSaves bargains on behalf of business owners for deals on products and services that small companies and startups need most, with discounts reaching 50% or more. Sign up at the website to receive email notices of new deals weekly.

Meanwhile, MarketSharing hopes to position itself as a “premium B2B deals provider for exceptional business products and services.”  Initial deals are in New York only, but the site plans to expand to other major U.S. cities quickly.  Their first three daily deals include discounts on SeamlessWeb food delivery, BlogWorld and New Media Expo passes and TeamWorx team building events.

MarketSharing aims to offer businesses high quality, deeply discounted (50-80%) daily group deals on a wide range of products and. With an emphasis on brick and mortar to support local businesses, MarketSharing focuses on curating the best local products and service deals for businesses.  “Our vision is to provide deals that foster the discovery of new experiences for businesses, creating a happier, healthier, and more well rounded work environment,” says John Amato, MarketSharing’s CEO.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

How to Buy Business Excess Inventory and Government Surplus Cheap

Small business owners by the millions, worldwide, are saving money and building entire businesses by purchasing excess commercial inventory and government surplus super cheap online.  You can buy in bulk by the truckload, pallet or small package.  The condition of the goods or other assets ranges widely from new in a box, to customer returns, closeouts, refurbished, used and salvage.  Major product categories include computers, electronics, tools, machinery, house wares, industrial equipment, vehicles, store fixtures, apparel and hundreds more.

As corporations and public sector agencies continue to focus on cost-reduction, they are turning more and more to leading online liquidators like Washington, DC-based Liquidity Services, Inc. (which operates Liquidation.com among other sites) to move items quickly and effectively.  The result is an easy, one-stop place where small and local businesses can get incredible bargains on wholesale, surplus and salvage products and other assets in over 600 categories.  

Saving money is more popular than ever, and the marketplace for buying and selling excess inventory and surplus goods and equipment online is soaring. Publicly-traded Liquidity Services (LQDT), for example, has grown revenues at a compound annual rate of 27% since 2002 and just reported another big jump.  While there are still other sites offering similar services, Liquidation.com (and its sister sites GovLiquidation.com, GovDeals.com, Secondipity.com and others) has become the go-to place for millions of biz owners.  

How to Grab the Bargains:  To buy on Liquidation.com you first need to register at the site for free.  Then browse for what you need and put in a bid.  New stuff arrives all the time, so many business owners check the site daily, set up “watch lists” or sign up for free email alerts.  Most Liquidation.com auctions start at $100 with no reserve, letting bidders decide the final price. New auctions are added daily. Here are some buyers’ basics:

Five ways to find what you need:

  1. Home Page: Some of the best bargains are featured in Hot Deals. Or click on a category to browse that way.
  2. Search Box:  Use the search feature to find auctions by keyword, product category, location, lot size, condition, or shipping option.
  3. Advanced Search:  This feature lets you search by seller, auction ID/title and price.
  4. Email Alerts:  Weekly notices and/or occasional Special Alerts depending on what you sign up for.
  5. Search Agents:  These are product searches that you create based on specific criteria. If your automated search produces a match, you’ll receive an email. 

How Bidding Works

To place a bid, enter your maximum bid amount in the “Place Bid” box on any auction page and click submit.  After you provide shipping and credit card (or other payment) information, you’ll receive a “Confirm Bid” notice that you must click to complete the bid.  You will only need to submit shipping and payment info once per auction.  If you win an auction, you can still use other payment options you’ve designated in your account to make the purchase.

You can also set up automatic or “proxy” bidding.   It works like this:  Enter the highest amount you are willing to pay in the bid box.  The system will record your “maximum bid” amount and place a bid at the current LOWEST minimum bid. If another bidder outbids your lowest minimum bid, the system will automatically place another bid for you, putting you back on top. The proxy system will continue to make lowest minimum bids on your behalf until you are the winner of the auction or another bidder exceeds your established maximum.  

This Buyer FAQ has detailed answers to dozens of key questions on registration, binding merchandise, bidding, payment and shipping.  

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

Top 10 Benefits of Sams Club Small Business Membership

Sam’s Club, the Wal-Mart division that caters to small business, is certainly popular.  The membership-based buying outlets now number over 600, claim 47 million members, and have become America’s 8th largest retailer.  So what’s the big deal?  BizBest took a closer, inside look to identify the key benefits that aren’t always visible in one place.   

Like its corporate parent, Sam’s Club specializes in super low prices – in this case, geared to products and services that small, local and main street businesses need and use the most.  A regular Business membership is $35/year.  Business Plus ($100/year) gets you extra savings on top of the regular low prices.  Here is BizBest’s list of the top 10 most useful small business benefits of a Sam’s Club membership:

  1. The handy “Shop by Business” feature on the Sam’s Club website is a quick and easy way to find things for your type of small business or specific need.  Shop by Business categories include restaurant supplies, office furniture, janitorial & cleaning, vending & concession, technology (projectors, computers, software, copiers), specialty business (salons, barber shops, construction and repair, retail and convenience stores), auto and tires, hotels and child card.
  2. Early Shopping Hours: Sam’s Club offers early shopping hours for small business owners from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the week.
  3. Merchant credit card processing:  This program offers rates as low as 1.49% plus 20 cents per transaction, and no application fees.  In addition, you get a free Sam’s Club Plus Membership for the term of your contract (worth $100 yearly). 
  4. Click ‘n’ Pull and Fax ‘n’ Pull:  Sam shops for you.  Submit your online or faxed order before 5 p.m. and your items are ready for pickup at your local club the next day.
  5. Tech Experts:  Free, member-exclusive help for any camera/camcorder or computer you buy at Sam’s Club.
  6. Delivery and assembly: Tech Experts will also assemble, deliver and install Sam’s Club items, starting at $59.
  7. SBA small business loans:  Need working capital for your small business?  This program offers loans of $5,000-$25,000 to small businesses and startups.  Sam’s Club membership gets you a 20% discount on loan fees (a $100 value); low affordable interest rates with simple easy terms; and no collateral required.
  8. Check printing:  Sam’s Club offers a full line of computer and manual checks for business, as well as business kits and check writing accessories.  
  9. Extra savings and cash back: Combine a Business Plus Membership with a Sam’s Club® Discover and earn up to 2 percent cash back on a variety of purchases. Average savings are more than $500 for Business Members.
  10. eValues paperless coupons provide personalized savings on hundreds of items including office supplies. The eValue benefit is included in both the Advantage and Business versions of the Sam’s Club Plus membership. Sam’s Club estimates Plus Members save an additional $200 per year with eValues.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

Bonus Depreciation Tax Breaks Make 2011 a Year to Buy

If you are thinking of buying new vehicles, equipment, machinery, phones, computers or other technology for your business, 2011 could be the year to do it.  That’s because not one, but two laws passed late last year have greatly increased the amount of your immediate tax write-off for making such purchases.

The so-called Section 179 deduction limit, slated to revert to $25,000, was increased to $500,000, and the total amount of equipment that can be purchased was increased to $2 million (up from $200,000). This includes most new and used capital equipment, and also includes software.  In addition, bonus depreciation was increased to 100 percent on qualified assets (new equipment only). When applying these provisions, Section 179 is generally taken first, followed by bonus depreciation. 

Bonus depreciation, a special depreciation allowance, is a limited-time tax benefit for business purchases of qualified items during 2011, or in some cases 2012 as well.  Basically, bonus depreciation offers a giant tax incentive for businesses to buy new property and other assets now by allowing you to write off (or “expense” in accounting lingo) the entire purchase (100 percent) immediately rather than having to take those write-offs in little pieces over many years (called depreciation). Normally, businesses recover these types of capital investments through annual deductions spread over as many as 20 years. 

Now 100%:  This provision of the Tax Relief Act passed late last year doubles the amount of bonus depreciation allowed – from half of the purchase cost, to the full amount (100 percent) for this year. That’s up from 30 percent a few years ago. In other words, if you buy some PCs, servers, phone equipment, machinery, or all kinds of other qualifying items, you can take the entire amount as a deduction on your 2011 tax return.   

The temporary rule change also makes 50 percent bonus depreciation available for qualified property placed in service during 2012. Some long-lived property and transportation property is eligible for 100 percent expensing if placed in service by the end of 2012. What’s more, there is no cap on the amount you can spend and deduct, and the benefit applies to businesses of any size.

Where Section 179 Fits:  Other benefits available only to small businesses fall under different provisions known as the Section 179 rules.   The maximum amount of property that small businesses could deduct immediately under Section 179 was scheduled to revert to its old limit of $25,000, but that’s now been raised to $500,000. This includes vehicles, machinery, furniture and other equipment.  A detailed list of qualifying types of property is available at IRS.gov.

To qualify for the Section 179 deduction, your property must have been acquired for use in your trade or business. Property you acquire only to produce income, such as investment property, rental property (if renting property is not your trade or business), and property that produces royalties, does not qualify.

When you use property for both business and non-business purposes, you can take the Section 179 deduction if you use the property more than 50 percent for business.  If you use it more than 50 percent for business, multiply the cost of the property by the percentage of business use. Use the resulting business cost to figure your Section 179 deduction.

When to Forego the Bonus: The IRS also ruled recently that you can forego bonus depreciation if you want to.  That’s something you might want to consider if your business has an expiring net operating loss, an expiring capital loss carryover, or you believe that much higher tax rates in the future will make deductions more valuable in later years.

The website Section179.org is a helpful resource for figuring out Section 179 deductions, and covers the details in plain language, including what property qualifies and the many ways that the deduction can impact your bottom line. The site also has IRS tax forms, and tools for you to use, including a free Section 179 deduction calculator.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.