Amazon Battles States Over Sales Tax

from the TaxProf blog:

WSJ: Amazon Battles States Over Sales Tax

Wall Street Journal, Amazon Battles States Over Sales Tax: Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, hasn’t charged sales tax in most states since its founding in 1994. And it has taken some extreme measures to keep it that way.

Among them: Staff traveling around the U.S. have been required to first consult a company map that shades each state red, yellow or green, said three people who have worked for the retailer. These people said they needed permission from managers or company lawyers before entering “red” states because a worker’s actions might trigger laws that force Amazon to collect taxes in those states.

Such steps to avoid local levies allow Amazon to undercut in-state retailers by the amount they must add in sales tax, which can exceed 8%.

A close examination of Amazon’s corporate practices, based on interviews with more than a dozen former employees and people who have done business with the Seattle company, as well as a review of corporate documents, indicates that the company believes its sales-tax policy is critical to its performance.

Credit Suisse recently estimated that if Amazon were forced to collect sales taxes in all states, it would lose as much as $653 million in sales this year, or 1.4% out of an estimated $45.5 billion in revenue. …


Like many online retailers, Amazon says it is obliged to add state and local sales taxes only on purchases from residents of states where Amazon has physical retail operations. But it also has defined retailing narrowly as selling, so related operations such as warehouses don’t put it on the hook to charge tax, company representatives have said.

Amazon said it follows a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Legal experts say the retailer’s approach is aggressive but within the law.

In response, lawmakers in nine states have passed new legislation aimed at limiting Web retailers’ wiggle room to avoid charging sales tax. Amazon is now challenging the bills through a lawsuit and a ballot initiative. It is simultaneously redoubling its efforts to avert triggering their requirements for tax collection by retreating from states it deems unfriendly.

State and local governments nationwide this year will lose $10.1 billion to $11.3 billion in sales taxes not collected by Web retailers, estimated University of Tennessee researchers in a 2009 report.

Basics of Accounting Are Vital to Survival for Entrepreneurs

New York Times

Business Day
Published: August 3, 2011
Business owners do not necessarily need to know how to prepare a balance sheet, but they do need to know which gauges to watch.

Few people start a business because they are good with numbers. In fact, the terms “accounting” and “financial analysis” tend to put business owners to sleep or send them screaming from the room. But to run a business effectively, most owners need to have some understanding of their finances.

Eric Schultz for The New York Times

Bart Justice, owner of a paper-shredding operation, credits his business’s survival with his decision to hire an accountant.

It is, for example, entirely possible for a company to be profitable but fail anyway because it does not have enough cash coming in to pay its bills.

“It’s like a racecar that goes too fast and runs out of gas,” said Doug Tatum, a serial entrepreneur who is a visiting professor of entrepreneurship at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. Business owners do not necessarily need to know how to prepare a balance sheet, but they do have to know which gauges to watch.

One obvious step is to work with a bookkeeper or accountant, someone who can help navigate arcane accounting and tax rules and organize your affairs. But owners should understand that accounting is not just about paying taxes or reporting results.

“Small-business owners tend to hate accounting because it’s boring,” said Brian Hamilton, chief executive of Sageworks, a company in Raleigh, N.C., that tracks financial data for privately held businesses. “The mistake they make is not thinking about how they can use certain numbers as tools to better manage where their business is headed tomorrow.”

What follows is a guide to better understanding the numbers that drive a business. As the examples make clear, even smart people with advanced degrees can become confused by accounting issues.

Read more here.

even smart people with advanced degrees can become confused by accounting issues.” So true!

Carol Topp, CPA

How to Teach Your Kids About Money radio interview

I’m being interviewed on The Sociable Homeschooler today (Friday July 22, 2011) at 9 am EST on teaching our kids about money and starting a micro business.

Listen in at

How to Teach Your Kids About Money

Link to Micro Business for

Hope you enjoy the show!

Carol Topp, CPA

What Your Child Can Learn From Starting a Business

The Ultimate Homeschool Expo 2011 starts Monday May 2!


I have pre-recorded two sessions:
5 Ways a Homeschool Co-op Can Benefit Your Child
Career Exploration for Homeschool High School Students

and on Wednesday May 4 at 11 am EDT, I will be presenting:
What Your Child Can Learn From Starting a Business

Does your child have a desire to earn money or share their talents in the marketplace? Encourage them to start a micro business. By running a micro business you child will develop skills in business, time management, speaking, writing and grow and mature in confidence all while making some money of their own!

The Ultimate Homeschool Expo is the largest on-line homeschool convention with over 100 sessions and 50 speakers.

Here’s a schedule for the week:
May 2 @ 11:00 AM EST Cindy Rushton:Lord, Give Me a Vision–YOUR VISION!
May 2 @ 2:00 PM EST Marnie Swedberg–Kitchen Shortcuts.
May 2 @ 4:00 PM EST Lorrie Flem:The Ten Suggestions for Moms.
May 3 @ 11:00 AM EST Rick Boyer:Take Back the Land.
May 3 @ 2:00 PM EST Debbie Strayer:Reviving Your Teaching and Your Students
May 3 @ 4:00 PM EST Coach Rick Andreassen-SAINTS Ministering to a Child’s Heart
May 4 @ 11:00 AM EST Carol Topp:What Your Child Can Learn From Starting a Business.
May 4@ 2:00 PM EST Kim Kautzer:College Prep: Is Writing on Track?
May 4 @ 4:00 PM EST Cathy Duffy:Learning Styles: Choosing Curriculum to Fit Each Child.
May 5 @ 11:00 AM EST Cyndi Kinney:Using the Psychology of Color in Education.
May 5 @ 2:00 PM EST Dr. “Doc” Thomas Sharp:Truth in Science: Biblical View of Dinosaurs.
May 5 @ 4:00 PM EST Regina Hicks:Incorporating a Thomas Jefferson and Classical Approach to Your Educational Adventure.
May 6 @ 11:00 AM EST Maggie Hogan:Highly Effective Habits of Happy Homeschool Moms.
May 6 @ 2:00 PM EST Denise Mira:7 Keys To Unlocking the Leader Within Your Child:
May 6 @ 4:00 PM EST Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. If Homeschooling Is So Good Why Don’t Educators Promote It?

Isn’t that a great line up?
But there are more audio sessions, a virtual vendor hall, with freebies like ebooks, audios, giveaways and door prizes.

Learn more here.

If you can’t join the Expo live, the workshops are recorded and you can listen on your computer or download to your mp3 player and listen at your leisure. I like to listen as I take my morning walk!

Tickets are $39.95, but on special for only $24.97 for a limited time.

Buy your ticket here

Carol Topp, CPA

Have a book in your head? Get it out!

I took some information that was in my head and wrote an ebook about it. It’s so much easier than you think!

From Idea to Information Product to Profitable and Very Successful Business.

It only takes 4 short weeks to create your own information product…

If you have an idea, then you can go From Idea to Information Product to Profitable and Very Successful Business in only 4 short weeks! Yes, YOU! Even if you do not have a website or even one customer yet!

My fiend and business mentor, Cindy Ruston, is offering her Information Product on-line, live coaching sessions again starting Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

I took this on-line class in December 2009 and learned a TON. It is one of the best classes I have taken to help me learn how to package and sell my information. It is PACKED with helpful information, resources, how-tos, tutorials, etc. This is very hands-on. Cindy is a great teacher and shows you step-by-step how to set up a website and sell your information product.
This class would be good for a teenager or parent or anyone who has some information about something that they can share!

Here’s what you get:

WEEK ONE: From Idea to Information Product to Profitable and Very Successful Business
Who are You?
Which Topic TODAY?
Ideas! What Do I Do with Them?
My Idea-A BUSINESS??? Also, includes Question/Answer Session recorded in our coaching session.

WEEK TWO: Information Products-YEP! YOU Can Do It!
What Can You Do With Your Ideas? Let’s Make it Easy!
Tips and Practical How-To’s for Creating Your Own Products
What Do You Need?
What Do You Do With Your Information Product?
How Do You Get It All Done-With the Hubby, Kids, and a Busy Life? Also, includes Question/Answer Session recorded in our coaching session.

WEEK THREE: Get Ready for Success! Secrets that will EXPLODE Your Business!
Setting Up Your Site to Sell!
Building a Responsive Mailing List
Stepping into Social Networking
Taking it Uplevel! Also, includes Question/Answer Session recorded in our coaching session.

WEEK FOUR: Finished! Now What????
Now WHAT???
Getting Ready to Launch
Lining Up Your Help
Marketing: Getting the Word Out
Marketing Mistakes  Also, includes Question/Answer Session recorded in our coaching session.

Cindy’s class was great. I created an information product (an ebook) in those 4 weeks, learned how to set up a website to sell it, and started a mailing list. It was amazing how much I learned and did in those 4 weeks.

Go here to sign up for the class:

But that’s not all. I was amazed that Cindy set up a membership site that I can revisit at any time and watch videos, listen to the sessions again, chat with other classmates and read helpful articles.

  • Access to our Membership Site-– When you join this group, you not only receive access to the live group coaching sessions in April, but you also get immediate access to the Membership Site with all of the audios, tutorials, and videos from the last group coaching course. You will LOVE this!
  1. Video Tutorials on setting up your website step-by-step!
  2. Video Tutorials on setting up and using WordPress!
  3. Video Tutorials on how to set up your mailing list!
  4. Bonus Audios and Ebooks!

The From Idea to Information Product to Profitable and Very Successful Business class is offered in three different price packages:

  • 4 week class and membership site (recorded; not live, so listen when you want) $99.00
  • 4 week class, membership site and live Group Coaching Sessions $149.00
  • 4 week class, membership site, live Group Coaching Sessions plus 4 private coaching sessions $349

I bought the middle package. I really enjoyed the live sessions because I could ask a lot of questions and the live sessions kept me on track to accomplishing my goals. The Membership site alone is worth $149 (or more). I still keep up with other students and go back to the site to refresh what I’ve learned.

Cindy Rushton

Do you have some knowledge or information in your head! Get it out and create an information product. Consider joining Cindy in her 4 week class. I encourage you to do the live sessions. I think they were worth every penny. I might pop in too, because as an alumni I can join in the sessions!

Read more about the class here and scroll down to the bottom page to order.

Sign up for the class today:

Carol Topp, CPA Author and accountant

See you in Cincinnnati March 31-April 2!

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (March 31-April 2, 2011) at the Midwest Homeschool Conference at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, Ohio (my hometown!)

I’ll be doing two workshops this weekend. The one for leaders is a support group meeting for leaders. I will briefly discuss Homeschool Leader: Are You Burnt Out? and then we circle the chairs and just share our questions and support each other as leaders. (the picture is me in the blue shirt meeting with homeschool leaders in Memphis, TN at a convention)

Here’s the handout: Burnout Handout

This session is scheduled for Friday at 11:30 am in the MILLENNIUM Hotel Pavilion room (you’ll have to walk to the hotel connected to the convention center)

I’ll be doing a workshop on Micro Business for Teens on Saturday at 11:30 am in the MILLENNIUM Hotel Pavilion room.

This workshop covers the basics starting and running a micro business and is geared toward teenagers. I will show why a micro business is great for a teenager, share ideas, explain the business basics like taxes and record keeping. Teenagers interested earning money and their parents are encouraged to attend together!

Download a complete schedule of all the workshops offered  or visit the convention website.

In my workshops, I always try to leave time for questions, and you’re welcome to come back to Booth 1118 to ask more questions, sit for a while, and see what resources I have for teenage micro business owners!

Hope to see some of you there!

Carol Topp, CPA

I love webinars: Preshow by the Schoolhouse Expo

Last night I sat with my feet up, laptop on my lap and headphone logged in and attended the Old Schoolhouse Expo March Preshow program.

I “arrived” to the webinar a bit late and caught just the end of Terri Johnson talking about all the cool ways she uses her iPad in homeschooling.

But then I spent an enjoyable hour hearing how Malia Russell manages 5 children, 4 business and homeschooling! She’s my hero!

I had just met Mary Jo Tate in person last week at a homeschool convention, and so I really enjoyed hearing her story of raising and homeschool 4 sons as a single mom. Her focus on balance and goal setting was very inspiring.

All in all, it was such a nice way to spend the evening. The technology worked great. I could see the speakers’ PowerPoint slides and hear them clearly. I didn’t worry about background noise at my house because we were all muted. I could also follow the chat going on in a sidebar. It was a handy way for the host to post links and for participants to ask questions.

If you’ve never tried on on-line webinar, you’re in for a treat.

The Old Schoolhouse Expo will have another Preshow on April 12, 2011 and their full week long Expo May 16-20, 2012.

I’ll be doing a workshop on Micro Business for Teens. I have my Powerpoint slides all ready to go!

Join us by grabbing a ticket to the Expo here.

Carol Topp, CPA

Give your heart a refill at the Schoolhouse Expo

Take time to “get a refill” at the

Schoolhouse Expo, May 16–20, 2011.

Right now, you can buy your ticket to the live 2011 Schoolhouse Expo for an amazing price! Purchase your ticket by February 9th, and receive a $20 discount and gifts (valued over $419.87) for only $19.50!

In addition to the privilege of attending approximately 20 live, hour-long sessions, you will receive a one-year membership to the Homeschool Legal Advantage and a free will, valued at $65; 21 downloadable gifts worth more than $200; access to MP3 files of the sessions, for future reference; door prizes; access to a virtual vendor hall jam-packed with the market’s most outstanding vendors; and a whole lot of fun!

This special offer won’t last long! The Early Bird Sale ends February 9 at 11:59 p.m. We’d love to have everyone there, but space at the Schoolhouse Expo is limited. Tickets for the live conference are available on a first come, first served basis—we only have a limited number of tickets. Our May 2010 conference sold out within a few weeks. We want you to join us, so make plans to pick up your ticket during the Early Bird Sale! Get all the details here!

I’ll be there speaking on Micro Business for Teens! This is an on-line event, you can join us live in May or order all the workshops to listen to later.

I hope you’ll join me there!

Carol Topp, CPA

What’s a micro business?

Micro business differ from small businesses in several ways. Their unique descriptors are:

  • Simple and fast to start up and to close down if you need to.
  • No employees. Only one worker, the owner.
  • Sole proprietorship (only one owner, no partners).
  • Little start up money needed or completely debt free.
  • Usually home based.
  • Low risk.  You’re not in this to lose money.
  • Manageable.  You can still have a life, be in sports, youth group, and finish your homework.
  • Learn a lot while earning cash.

Notice I didn’t say anything about micro profits! You can earn a lot of cash with a micro business.

Hop on over to my Micro Business For Teens website (even if you’re not a teenager) to learn more!

Carol Topp, CPA