One Time At BlissDom

 

Most of us have been to professional conferences. Maybe you’ve been to a conference as an attendee, or maybe you’ve gone because you worked for one of the sponsors or at an expo booth. Not all conferences are created equal. Some have great programming, some don’t. Some leave you inspired and wanting to get to work, while others make you wonder why you didn’t just go back to work.

While I consider myself a professional blogger, it’s not my primary profession. Four years ago when I started blogging, I heard of a conference where women bloggers gathered to learn from other bloggers. Brands came to this conference to learn about these women who sit at their computers and type out their thoughts, insight and advice. It was called BlissDom, and it was in 2010 in Nashville that I found “my people”.

This year, I headed to Grapevine, Texas for my fourth BlissDom. For the third year I was invited to be a speaker. Truth be told, I love speaking at BlissDom. Even though I get so nervous, I love sharing legal information with bloggers so they can be knowledgeable professionals. It gives me so much joy to know that hundreds of women walk out of a room knowing how to do their job better. So, I go to BlissDom and speak to my fellow bloggers and get all geeked out talking about legal stuff. Clearly, I’m not normal (although you probably already knew that).

Each year I’ve come away with different feelings and takeaways from Blissdom. Last year, as the first time speaking on my own with a stage and a full audio team I felt like a super star. The year prior, I united with my friend Laura to create BlissMitzvah, a gathering for Jewish women who blog and are involved in the online space. My first year, I walked away having met so many extraordinary women, a few of whom would become very dear friend.

I’ve never gone to a legal conference and met anyone with whom I would create a deep bond. I don’t think anyone has. Probably the same thing for doctor conventions, tech, insurance, or accounting. But blogging is different. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s different. I went to that first BlissDom looking for people I had something in common with. I went to that second BlissDom connected to a few people on a level that was deeply personal. The third BlissDom was an opportunity to look inside myself and find more of me while making room for others. My fourth BlissDom, well, I wanted more. I couldn’t put it in to words, but the talented and encouraging Lisa Leonard did. In my speaker bag I received a necklace that summed up why I was there – follow your bliss.

Lisa Leonard Photo

The best way to explain why BlissDom is the starting line for this “follow your bliss” philosophy is for me to share with you my key moments.

1. People – With over 700 women (well, there were about 10 guys there) there was no way I was going to meet everyone. I had my core group of friends that I talk to almost daily on social media. Comfort is good. But BlissDom isn’t about good, it’s about great. So I push my quiet introvert to step up and meet new people, to go up to total strangers who don’t need me to explain what blogging is or why I do it. I gather my courage to say hello, just like I did when I didn’t know who was a big name blogger and that I should be nervous. I start conversations with people I’ve never met. I risk rejection. It’s not really rejection though. We don’t become friends with everyone we meet, but we find something to appreciate in each other.

2. Inclusion – I was invited to meet with about 5 other bloggers to talk with Johnson & Johnson Cares about their Global Mom Relay program. I sat in a suite, as a special guest. I felt important. I was waiting for the moment when they realized I didn’t belong. Clearly, these other women were invited because they have proven themselves as influential within their community. Me? I don’t see myself as being in their same league, but I was there. I belonged. I listened as global partners spoke passionately about a program where everyday people can read about women who make a different and by sharing the article a $5 donation would be made to one of four charities. I wiped tears as I sat among women who’ve clearly made a difference as video played about a program where women in developing nations were provided pre- and post-natal information via cell phone messaging. Information that is life saving to them and their baby. I highly encourage you to get involved in the Global Mom Relay and read to give. We are the change. We are the women who will educate the next generation. And I was included in that discussion on how we will make a difference. It set the tone for Blissdom. We were all there because we belong. Because we will make a difference.

Chris Mann Music

3. Fear – As an ambivert (part-time introvert, part-time extrovert), I’m like a fear whisperer. Keynote speaker Jon Acuff got people tweeting about punching fear in the face, which might work for him and many others. I don’t think I’m one of those people. Have you ever punched something in the face? I haven’t but I’m pretty sure if I did they (or it) wouldn’t like it. Fear seems like it would punch me back like I was in a UFC bout. And fear would probably win. I like neat and tidy kernels of information like that. They’re easy to digest and often make you think. I have lots of fears, we all do. The key is to keep them at bay. Fear motivates me sometimes, because I don’t like to fail. Which is why I’ll have to pass on the punch fear in the face part and instead let fear know it’s not the boss of me. Fear isn’t going to stop me from meeting people at BlissDom, because I refuse to equate fear with rejection. I might not be able to kill fear but I can surely fear less. And while I couldn’t

BlissDom 2013

bring myself to say hello to  Susan Cain (she’s got one of the top TED Talks!), I did manage to spend time talking to Chris Mann (he’s famous, was on The Voice, and took a picture with me!) and getting my super-friend Mary-Anne (famous blogger who gave up blogging because she’s too busy creating marketing and promotion programs for huge companies) to take a picture with me that looks like we were going to prom.

4. Learning – That should also include teaching, too. My job as a speaker is to give useful information thatBlissdom speakers bloggers (and PR people and Brand reps) can use. I know that no one wants to listen to a lawyer drone on about random legal nonsense. Every year I dread doing my Continuing Legal Education because there are few lawyers who are passionate about their topic. I take my job as a speaker very serious and want those who choose to attend my session to leave the room feeling my talk was worth the price of admission. I want the women attending BlissDom to go home and raise the bar on the blogging profession. I want the people who choose my session to know that as they follow their bliss they’ve got an arsenal of information to keep fear at bay. I’m also there to learn. I attend sessions. Sometimes I end up in a session I have no business being in. This year, I sat in a session about photography. Not “how to become a better photographer”, because that would make sense since I’m still learning. No, I sat in a session with professional photographer to the stars David Molnar and iPhonetography goddess Alli Worthington about becoming a professional photographer. So, (1) outside comfort zone and (2) outside my ability. But I was there and I was going to learn something. Could I have got up and left? Sure. And it would have been quite obvious since this was an intimate group. So I stayed, partly out of professional courtesy to my fellow speakers but also to see what concerns were roadblocks for these women in finding their bliss and if I could, in some way, encourage them. So despite having no business being in that session, I was there because I was following my bliss.

5. Comfort – When you think of a conference, you rarely think of comfort. A conference almost always is about discomfort. With so many Blissdom Conferencepeople, I do have to push beyond my comfort zone. If bloggers stayed in their comfort zone we’d all be in yoga pants hiding behind a keyboard. But there are people who break down the barrier and welcome you to the table. For me, I found that in Dedra Herod (photo at left). She was the speaker coordinator. Juggling flaming batons might have been easier. As a third-year speaker you’d think I would be comfortable. But I’m not. I am humbled to be invited to speak. I’m keeping the fear at bay. And I’m trying to fit in. There were others, like Alli, Barbara, and Paula, who all made me feel like I was visiting with dear friends. And Malia Carden, community manager for the One2One Network, sat down and chatted with me in the One 2 One Network suite as if we were long-time friends. There was Megan Francis who, despite being big time, took time to chat with me and laugh with me. I spent hours talking to Heather Solos, a best-selling author and techy extraordinaire. There was Danielle Smith, Megan Jordanand Doug French. Angela England and Chrysula Winegar. And Tonia, with whom I learned I have so much in common. I can rattle off more names, making me realize how many women are there making others feel welcomed and comfortable.

6. Photos – My only camera was my iPhone. I took about 8 photos. I’m afraid to ask people to take a photo with me. I feel awkward. I’ll whisperAmber Riley photo fear into submission to go up to people and talk to them. I’ll laugh and cry and eat cupcakes with them. Last year at BlissDom I think I took 4 or 5, so I see this as an improvement. But, honestly, you can only take so many photos of food, shoes, and flowers. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the connection made by talking with someone is lasting. They can go together, don’t get me wrong. So while I lament not taking more photos I’ll be happy with the fact I took this photo of Amber Riley, which she retweeted.

7. Gratitude – BlissDom doesn’t happen with the wave of a magic wand. Conferences of this size and caliber are often out of reach for most of us. I am thankful for the companies who see us as a worthwhile investment. Not to hawk their product or service, but to support a community of women who are making a difference. Not everyone who attends BlissDom is looking to partner with brands. There are brands I’d love to work, and others that don’t fit my lifestyle and I can’t be me if I’m hawking something that just doesn’t feel right. However, I am thankful these brands step up and subsidize my attendance. I’m thankful they believe in the power of my voice to share what I feel is important. Products like Duck Brand tape, which my daughter loves, were at BlissDom to promote their brand but also encourage us to be creative and help our kids to be creative. Pedia Care wasn’t slingin’ freebies but, instead, provided us with a sneak-peek of new product packaging that I believe will revolutionize the pediatric OTC medication industry. The National Honey Board was there to provide information, learn how we use honey, and offer recipes on how to include honey in our cooking and baking. As someone who has sleep problems, I was glad to see National Sleep Foundation supporting moms and women by bringing in experts to provide information to make our lives better but also to share with our readers so they, and their families, can have good sleep. Then there’s ConAgra Foods, with the Child Hunger Ends Here program. Child hunger in the US is a very real problem, with 1 in 5 children not knowing where their next meal is coming from. ConAgra has chosen to return to BlissDom, not to sell their brands but to connect with a community of women who will mobilize their communities to be the solution to a fixable problem in our country. With over 40 brand partners, BlissDom has brought together companies who see value in bloggers, who are willing to partner with us so we can follow our bliss, and who realize gratitude doesn’t come from a suitcase full of freebies but rather from an appreciation of what we do for others.

If you’ve gotten this far, thank you. I got a bit long-winded. I wrote this because it helps me feel like I belong. I hope it helps others to see that they belong too. And I hope that those who made me feel like I belong know how grateful I am. We all have different experiences, but we all have the opportunity to find our bliss no matter what our path is.

Disclosure: As a speaker I received non-monetary compensation for my participation at the BlissDom Conference. All thoughts and opinions are mine, and may not reflect the views of any person or organizations included. My thoughts and opinions were not influenced by this compensation. This article was not reviewed or edited by a third-party, nor are there any affiliate links used. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”, although I’m most likely not required to do so. Why do I put these disclosures in my posts? Besides being a lawyer and writing about this stuff, sometimes they’re required by consumer protection laws, and you deserve to know.

Sara

To Be Recognized And Valued … Something We All Want

Pompeii Photo

Just over two years ago I started this blog with big dreams and a goal to encourage others to find ways to fund their dreams. As a new blogger I wanted to connect with others who were doing the same thing. So I signed up for a conference, boarded a plane and headed to Nashville knowing of just a few other bloggers.

Two of the first people I met were the founders of this online community called BlogFrog, Rustin and Holly. They both had this belief that bloggers were creating little communities and needed a place to bring their readers together. What a great idea! The passion they had to create a place where blog readers would come together was exciting. They both saw that bloggers had a lot to offer and that readers were looking for information from a number of different sources.

I’ve supported BlogFrog from the first day I met Rustin and Holly because they were committed to supporting the men and women who were sharing information and bringing people together through their blogs. Like you, I try to only support people and organization that are meeting or exceeding my expectations. Supporting BlogFrog was one of those no-brainers. Rustin and Holly, from day one, were asking bloggers what they wanted their communities to look like. They were asking readers how they wanted to engage with each other and bloggers. And, most importantly, they were taking the information and creating an online tool that wasn’t what they thought people wanted but was, in fact, what people wanted.

It was a natural extension for brands to notice the growing BlogFrog community and become involved with bloggers. Through the BlogFrog, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several brands. Brands that may not have come to me individually, but recognized that my community is important and through the BlogFrog got to know more about me … and you.

As you know, I don’t work with a lot of brands here. Besides being picky, I have a great deal of respect for you, the reader, and only want to share products and services that would be beneficial to you. Through the BlogFrog’s branded programs I’m able to offer access to other bloggers who are also respected in a particular area and provide a way to maximize the benefits of your time online.

I work with the BlogFrog and highly recommend them to other bloggers as well as you, my wonderful readers, not only because I have a special place in my heart for Rustin and Holly (the first person to retweet me!), but also because they have the same high standards for everyone they work with.

As a part of the BlogFrog Influencer Circle, I have the chance to create meaningful, authentic content for brands I love.  If you’re a blogger interested in new opportunities, join BlogFrog’s Influencer Circle and check out some of the top brands already working with BlogFrog.

If you’re a brand looking to work with online influencers, learn more about BlogFrog’s Brand Solutions here.

And, of course, if you’re a reader, the BlogFrog offers hundreds, if not thousands, of communities on nearly any topic you’d be interested in.

Now, I’m curious. What do you love most about blogs and blogging?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BlogFrog. The opinions and text are all mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

Because Sometimes I Buy From Companies Because Women Work There

Red Umbrella Among Black

Growing up I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I think I was 7 when I told my family. It was a family friend who inspired me. He was a legislative attorney, often traveling to Washington, DC to meet with members of congress and the president. I thought that was so cool!

As I got older I started to realize that I’d never met a woman attorney. Certainly, women lawyers had to exist. In the 1980s I started to see them on TV, not often in the best light, and it continued to fuel my drive.

Then it was time for law school and I was fortunate to have extraordinary women professors, access to powerful women attorneys and women judges. I knew I’d made the right choice.

Women in the workplace are very common. But when it comes to the tech industry, women are often missing. Sure, there are a few high profile women that are used as ‘poster women’. In general, though, there aren’t many women in the technology sector.

Years ago, when it came time to buy my first domain name, I went to a small company called GoDaddy. Based in Phoenix, it was my way to ‘shop local’ long before it was popular. Then I went to a seminar and the General Counsel of GoDaddy was speaking. I’d met someone who was doing what I dreamed – a lawyer in the tech sector! And over the years, while I’ve only met her once, I’ve watched Christine Jones and have learned from her.

I then noticed there was a woman leading the marketing team. Although, by this time there were a few high profile women in Silicon Valley. This was Phoenix, though. A very conservative state. Yet, here was a local company being led by women.

Despite what many may believe based on the ads GoDaddy has become known for, it’s a company that empowers women. While it is becoming more common to see women executives in corporate america, there’s something about the technology field that seems to be a big hurdle.

With a daughter who sees technology, science and math as viable career options, I need other women to point to and say “it is possible”. I can tell my daughter a million times that she can do anything she wants. But the fact remains that unless girls see women breaking down the barriers, and young women find women willing to crack the glass ceiling, my job as a mom is difficult. And just as I said I wanted to be a lawyer when I was 7 and no one told me it wasn’t possible, I’m glad I have a local company I can point to and tell my daughter that it is possible.

Choosing GoDaddy as my domain name registrar (and also other services) because it employes women probably isn’t the best factor for decision-making. However, I gave them a try for that exact reason because I wanted to know that the company I was doing business felt women in technology isn’t an anomaly. They keep my business because they provide good service AND continue to provide great role models for women in tech.

There’s a lot you don’t know about Go Daddy, including all the tools they have for bloggers! Check out www.godaddy.com to learn more!

Join the conversation for your chance to win 3 year Unlimited 4GH Hosting from Go Daddy!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Go Daddy. The opinions and text are all mine.


Image Credit:Ventrilock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sara

BlissDom At Home: Legal Confidence Session

BlissDom At Home

 

Nothing like a recording of your speaking session to make you feel like a rock star! As many of you know, I was a speaker at the BlissDom Conference in February 2012. This year my session was recorded and is now available as part of the BlissDom At Home program. This is a great opportunity to get access to all the sessions. If you couldn’t make my session, or you weren’t able to attend the conference live, you can get it all online!

For $99 you get unlimited access to all the sessions posted, as well as any mastermind worksheets that were made available in the sessions. There were fabulous speakers, all sharing their expertise to help you take it to the next level. And this isn’t just for bloggers. These sessions are excellent for work at home professionals, writers, and photographers of all levels.

“BlissDom At Home is your ideal conference…  To Go! Imagine the concentrated intellectual and creative power of 30 experts, in one space, absorbed at your own pace. You are one click away from grabbing the reins of limitless potential!”
                                                                                                                                                                                        ~ BlissDom At Home website

If you missed BlissDom 2012 or just my session, listen to my session on BlissDom At Home. Due to some technical difficulties in the recording, my session will also have an accompanying transcript to help ensure you are able to get all the information presented.

If after listening to my session you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me and I will do my best to clarify the information.

Disclosure: As a BlissDom speaker I have been provided complimentary access to BlissDom at Home. In addition, I am an affiliate and may be paid a small commission for your support and purchase of access to my session.

Sara

Tax Tips For Bloggers

 

Tax Tips for Bloggers

Every week I get a few emails from bloggers or online professionals asking me questions about taxes. Most of them are the same questions again and again. Because I can’t answer fact-specific questions individually without potentially creating an attorney/client relationship, I tend to give the same general answers. First and foremost, seek counsel from a reputable accountant. Unfortunately, I understand, too well, that many accountants don’t understand about how blogging works and some of the nuances related to making money online. And I also understand that finding a tax lawyer who may understand these nuances can be very expensive.

I started out my legal career in the tax group of a boutique firm. I’ve spent thousands of hours working with tax laws. That said, I am not a tax attorney. Through the online world I have gotten to know tax attorneys. One, in particular, is not only an exceptional tax attorney she happens to understand the online and blogging worlds. Kelly Erb is a practicing tax attorney, writes tax-related articles for Forbes magazine, has spoken at BlogHer and is well-known by her pseudonym, TaxGirl. I had the pleasure of speaking with her to clarify my knowledge and get some insight about how the IRS thinks when it comes to bloggers and taxes.

Tax Tips For Bloggers

SWAG (Stuff We All Get) – It may surprise you that the IRS defines this as compensation. Of course, while we like to think we hit the trifecta of SWAG bonanzas at blogging events, it was celebrity awards shows that led the IRS to look into this concept of giving people stuff for showing up. Under federal income tax law, such gift bags are treated as taxable income, not gifts, by the IRS since they are not “solely out of affection, respect or similar impulses for the recipients of the gift bags”. This may come as a shock to many people, because despite the fact that bloggers aren’t getting free trips to Tahiti, Botox, and jewel encrusted sunglasses we do get some pretty nice gifts in our conference attendee bags. Are bloggers really claiming the value of their SWAG bag as income? I can’t answer for anyone else. I can only tell you that if you are audited and you’re taking deductions for going to a conference, the IRS has every right to ask you if you claimed the value of the swag as income. Can you argue it away? Sure, but talk to your tax preparer or seek legal advice before doing so.

Promotional Items in the Expo Hall – If you’ve gone to tradeshows, you know some have better stuff at them than others. Having been to a number of legal conventions, I’m likely not alone in saying that our expo halls tend to have pretty lame stuff compared to the housewares show or the candy and gourmet food shows. Depending on the event, bloggers are walking trade shows and convention exposition halls where companies are plying men and women, moms and dads, especially, with all kinds of products. Are these income? Again, the companies aren’t giving you this stuff solely out of affection and respect for your awesome blogging. The company likely wants something in return. Many people throw around the number of $25 as the baseline to determine if something is income or a gift. The value of $25 comes from that being the threshold in deducting business gifts. It’s a good rule of thumb, but it’s not ‘the law’. That being said, what you get in an Expo Hall may or may not be ‘taxable income’ depending on the circumstances surrounding how you received it. If there are discussions about doing reviews, writing abou the company on your blog, tweeting, or creating social media impressions, you may have created a business relationship. Or, are you a ‘big time A-list blogger’ and when they saw your badge they began plying you with everything they had in their booth (we can dream, right)? This is one of those circumstances where you have to look at what the expectation is regarding your getting the product or service.

Affiliate Income – seems pretty easy to say, it’s income. And not just income, taxable income. However, this is one area I have many people wanting to argue with me. The IRS does not care if you get paid in non-US Treasury currency. Payment in money, products or services can be considered income. If you are using affiliate codes, links, banners, etc., the money generated from them is taxable income because it is payment made for helping a direct seller make sales. And keep in mind that even if you don’t have enough in your affiliate account to cash out, you are still responsible for reporting the funds sitting in the account. To the IRS, it doesn’t matter if your compensation is in the form of martian bucks, if you can spend in on earth, the IRS want’s their cut!

Beginning in 2012, for tax year 2011, a new form has been introduced that may impact affiliate income reporting. The 1099-K is a new informational reporting mechanism for the IRS. Online affiliates that once sent out 1099-Misc may move to the 1099-K. Given that the reporting thresholds are much higher ($600 vs $20,000) you may not get a form reporting your income earned. This puts the responsibility on you to track this income closely.

I didn’t get a 1099, do I have to report that money? – Yes! A 1099-Misc form is an informational filing that is required only if the income is $600 or more. If you did not fill out a W-9 the company does not have your information on file and can not report using a 1099-Misc, even if you earned $600 or more. Regardless of what you earned, it is still up to you to report this income.

“Free Trips” – There’s no such thing! No one is flying you anywhere out of their affection or respect for you. Except maybe your family. If it’s a company, PR agency, brand rep, or anyone business related, your trip is for a reason. What is that reason? Why are you going? Are they paying you in addition to covering your travel expenses? Most likely you’re being given a trip so you can do something for the organization. Even if they’re not giving you any cash, the cost of the plane ticket, the hotel, the car service, the meals and any pampering, events or attractions you’re taken to should be reported as taxable income. Regardless of whether you get any money to pay the taxes on this several-thousand-dollar-trip, it is taxable income. That magical trip doesn’t seem so magical after all, does it?

Products for review – while many bloggers frequently talk about the cool products that just show up at their door, most products arrive with some expectation. The company or PR rep had to get your address or possibly exchanged emails with you regarding some expectations they may have with regard to sending you their product or service. If there has been conversation where you have agreed to try their product or service and then write about it, the brand or PR rep is sending it to you with the expectation of getting something in return. That is the fine line separating ‘random stuff dropped off by hot delivery guy’ (not taxable income) and ‘item provided for something in return’ (taxable income). If you’re sent a product for your use to help facilitate a giveaway you’ll be doing, that item you received is taxable income.

“Free Stuff” – There are many examples of things bloggers get that the IRS would find to be taxable income, despite the fact that you may not ever receive a dime. I’ve seen bloggers tweet, post and facebook about their home full of new appliances, the fashionable new clothes for their kids, the best organizational products, and so on. Regardless of whether they are theirs to keep or simply to use for 6 months, the value of the products is compensation and the IRS would expect to find it reported as taxable income. And those ‘free cars’? Not so free, really. Bloggers given the use of vehicles to drive to a conference – tweeting weeks in advance, on the way, etc. – are given those vehicles for one reason only. To talk about it. True, you can’t talk about the vehicle unless you use it. However, use of the vehicle is the compensation the blogger is receiving in exchange for their social media engagement. It’s easy to come up with a value for this, even if the company doesn’t send you a 1099-Misc.

Conference ‘Sponsorships’ – Not every company sends bloggers a check to pay for going to a conference and touting a specific product or service. I’ve seen tweets about ‘free clothes’, ‘new shoes courtesy of …’, ‘my new luggage’, and much more filling up a conference’s twitter stream. Add a hashtag and tell twitter how excited you are that company XYZ has given you something for the conference chances are they gave it to you in exchange for you giving them time in social media, on your blog and maybe other platforms. Most likely you’ve sent the company or PR rep a sponsorship pitch detailing what you will do if they ‘sponsor’ you. Bloggers are not charities. You know as well as I that you’re not getting ‘free stuff’ for your conference experience. You’re entering into a business relationship, no matter how much you don’t want that ‘free outfit’ to be taxable income.

But I Donate The Stuff I Get! – That’s awesome! Here’s the general rule: If you don’t report it as income, you don’t get to take the charitable deduction. That ugly sweater Aunt Martha gave you? Donate it all you want and take the charitable deduction. She gave it to you because she loves you. Nothing about it will be considered taxable. However, if the item would be taxable income you need to report it as such if you want to get the benefit of a charitable deduction. This is definitely one of those ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’ type of situations.

Conclusion

While many don’t want to hear that their ‘free’ stuff is actually taxable income according to the IRS, in reality it likely is. When it comes to taxes, the Number One piece of advice you’ll get from almost every tax preparation professional is to keep good records. But don’t just keep them in a pile in a shoe box. Annotate them. Make notes regarding the circumstances that led you to getting the product or service, take photos.

Keep in mind that all those blog posts, tweets, facebook status updates and countless social media check-ins may tell a different story than you’re hoping to tell to the IRS should you get audited. Good record keeping does take time, but it will always be helpful should you find yourself being audited. As to how long to keep tax records, it depends. For most things it’s 3 years, but there are some instances where it could be 4 years or 7 years. Before you discard them, double check the time period for the IRS and determine if you might need them for another purpose, such as insurance which may require they be maintained longer.

While many accountants may not understand the blogging world, they do understand the concepts of income. If you don’t feel your accountant ‘gets it’ then find another accountant that will take the time to understand your industry nuances. Many people now opt to do their own taxes since tax preparation software is very comprehensive and rather easy to use. But that tax prep software is only as good as the information it is given. If the person putting in the information doesn’t understand the tax laws, it doesn’t matter what the software spits out at the end.

When it comes to taxes, if you don’t know what to do, ASK! The consequences of the IRS finding errors in your tax return can be significant. Even if it is a paper audit, the stress, time, anxiety and frustration can often be more than the penalty potentially assessed.

UPDATE: I’m not here to tell you that if you don’t do exactly as I say you’re going to jail, will be reported or find yourself audited. Like many laws, there are people willing to push the envelope. Tax laws are no different. If you feel you have a logical and legal ground for what you choose to do, then do it. This information is to help you make decisions based on what the laws say.

For other articles about the legal implications of being online, check out my series on blog law and online rights.

Disclosure: While I am a lawyer, I am not offering legal advice. Posts on legal matters are intended to provide legal information and do not create an attorney/client relationship. This post is part of my Blog Law Series. All references to tax codes are to the US Tax Code. This is not tax advice. See advice from a tax professional to address your specific needs.

 All references to taxes are to the United States Federal Income Tax.

Image Credit: Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sara

Educational and Fun Apps for Kids

BabyGirl has been playing Rainforest Survival Challenge for awhile. It’s a great app to help kids learn about Rainforest animals as well as the animal food chain.

Ruckus Media has a number of Apps for kids, all of them educational in some way. I wish there had been an iPad when BabyGirl was a toddler because I know she would have enjoyed using these apps. Also, I know I would have liked having audio books of classical stories for her. I mean, really, what mom wouldn’t want to listen to Denzel Washington, Robin William or John Cleese read to their child?

For a few dollars (and often free for the Lite version), we can entertain our kids while sharing with them a fun, positive and educational message.

The newest App from Ruckus Media is Chuck and Friends. Chuck and Friends is available from iTune. You can download the following:

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul $3.99 (for iPad and iPhone)

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul Lite FREE (for iPad and iPhone)

 

Disclosure: Ruckus Media sponsored Social Soiree. I received no compensation. As a hostess of the event I did agree to tell you about them. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

Bruegger’s Free Bagel

 

I’ve mentioned Bruegger’s before because they were running a special promotion. By me, there is only one location and I’ve stopped in a few times when I’ve been nearby. I like that they’ve got an under 500 calorie menu and feature Skinny breakfast sandwiches. I wish they had that on their Facebook coupon but not everyone is in to that. But if you “Like” the Bruegger’s page you can get a coupon for a free bagel. It’s a one-time thing so if you’ve already done the liking keep your eyes out for their next promotion. They do run them periodically.

 

Disclosure: Brueggers sponsored Social Soiree. I received no compensation. As a hostess of the event I did agree to tell you about them. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

Social Soiree Sponsor Bruegger’s Offers Free Bagel

Bruegger’s has joined in as a sponsor for the Social Soiree event I’ll be hosting next week in San Diego. By me, there is only one location and I’ve stopped in a few times when I’ve been nearby. My daughter likes their Skinny breakfast sandwiches. I’m a traditional bagel and cream cheese gal though. But since there are no gluten-free bagels at my location I’ve gone for the non-bagel options and all have been very tasty.

Fortunately, my gluten intolerance ebbs and flows so if I’m craving a bagel I know where to get one that is like the ones I grew up on. If you’re near a Brueggers or traveling where you’ll be able to stop in to one, head over to Facebook and find the Bruegger’s page and like them to get a coupon for a free bagel. Even if you’re a die hard Bruegger’s fan you’ll appreciate a free bagel!

Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. While Bruegger’s is supporting Social Soiree and will be providing something for the attendee gift bags, (of which I will get one b/c I am attending), all opinions are my own and have not been moderated by a third party.

Sara

San Diego – For Business and Pleasure

This coming week I’m heading to San Diego for the BlogHer Conference where I will be speaking. As you also know, I’m part of a group of blogging friends hosting an event to pay it forward to other bloggers and help them meet brands.

I’ve been to San Diego quite a few times and have always enjoyed my time there. On this trip I won’t be visiting many attractions. However, I will get the opportunity to learn about San Diego. One of the sponsors of Social Soiree is the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. As the official point of contact for people wanting to visit San Diego, the San Diego CVB has established relationships with businesses that will help you have a wonderful visit. Whether you’re looking for a hotel, restaurant, transportation, family-friendly attraction, romantic dining or free events, the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau should be your first stop.

Even if you just want to do some arm-chair traveling their site is full of information and beautiful photos. San Diego is beautiful all year ’round, too, if you’re thinking you might need to escape the heat or the cold.

The San Diego CVB reached out to me to be a sponsor for the Social Soiree event I’m hosting with a few friends. I look forward to learning more about how they can help with travel planning. I love their ‘Happy Happens’ phrase too. Because I remember being in San Diego with BabyGirl when she as just a few months old and that feeling of ‘Happy Happens’.

Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. While these companies are supporting Social Soiree and will be providing something for the attendee gift bags, (of which I will get one b/c I am attending), all opinions are my own and have not been moderated by a third party.

Sara

Social Soiree Sponsor: Family Fun Apps by Ruckus Media

 

Awhile back I shared with you a fun kid’s app called Rainforest Survival Challenge from Ruckus Media. It’s a great app to help kids learn about Rainforest animals as well as the animal food chain.

Recently, they’ve teamed with HUB TV and Hasbro to bring everyone’s favorite truck and his friends to an app kids will love! Chuck and Friends have become interactive to help kids learn, problem solve and understand how working together is the way to go.

Features of the Chuck and Friends app include:

• An original story of more than 70 “pages”
• Narrative-driven matching, touch and reveal and spelling activities progress the adventure and teach letter recognition, picture/word association and basic problem solving
• Read along, play along and record your voice: Users can read the story, have it read to them, or even record their own voice for a personalized reading experience.
• Words illuminate as Chuck tells the story, enhancing basic reading comprehension
• Randomized activities provide multiple learning adventures

 

 

Chuck and Friends is available from iTune. You can download the following:

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul $3.99 (for iPad and iPhone)

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul Lite FREE (for iPad and iPhone)

Ruckus Media has provided us with several codes for the FULL version so join us at the Twitter party on Wednesday for a chance to win this and over $1,500 worth of other prizes.

I know you may not be coming to the conference but I sure hope you’ll join in the Twitter party because we have over $1,500 worth of prizes to share from our sponsors.

Join A Social Soiree on Wednesday, July 27th from 9pm – 10pm (EST) by following the hashtag #SocialSoiree! Be sure you RSVP in advance to be eligible to win prizes and we can be sure to follow you in advance! Also please follow each of The Frugalistas incase any one of us gets locked out of Twitter.

Disclosure: Ruckus Media has paid a sponsorship fee to Social Soiree. I have received no compensation personally.

Sara