Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

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That’s Pot Luck…

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Taxes on June 17, 2015 by Sufen Wang

weedquestionColorado Dispensary Faces EFTPS Penalty, Takes IRS to Court

Federal law requires businesses to file employment withholding taxes via the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), a process which requires a bank account. When a business doesn’t do this, it’s not the end of the world – but they do get dinged with a steep 10% penalty. That’s incentive enough for most companies to do their federal EFTPS duty. But what if a business would pay their Form 940 and Form 941 employment taxes through EFTPS if they could, but they can’t because they can’t legally open a bank account?

bankThat’s exactly what happened to a Denver, Colorado medical marijuana dispensary called Allgreens LLC. The dispensary is a licensed business within the state itself. However, federal law trumps state law, and pot is a Class 1 controlled substance in Uncle Sam’s eyes. And any bank that knowingly accepts funds which came from selling a controlled substance, such as marijuana, starts wading into illegal money laundering waters. You probably know where this river is headed now. Although Allgreens is licensed to sell marijuana in Colorado, and although the dispensary, like a good taxpayer, pays its taxes in cash at a brick and mortar IRS office, the dispensary can’t actually get a bank account, and thus can’t file employment taxes electronically through EFTPS.moneylaundering

Allgreens LLC of course found getting burned with the consequent 10% penalty unfair, and challenged the IRS accordingly by filing a petition with the Tax Court. The IRS responded in turn with a big NO on penalty relief. According to the Agency, alternative payment methods exist. But let’s just say these alternatives have a faint whiff of so-called “dirty” money made “clean” about them. For one, the IRS suggested something along the lines of using a same-day loan to change the cash into a money order, which could then be deposited and sent via a same-day wire transaction through a bank. The IRS also proposed enlisting a third-party, such as a CPA, to deposit the cash for Allgreens.

Money+launderingIn both instances, Allgreens’ attorney has pointed out that that “could still be considered money laundering.” The dispensary argued that “an alternative should not force a taxpayer to engage in a potentially unlawful activity under a federal statute.” And the other alternative offered by the IRS certainly isn’t hitting the nail on the head either: just pay the penalty. Most glaringly, that last option doesn’t answer the very important question of whether a business should have to pay the penalty if they are essentially prevented from using EFTPS.

denver_signAllgreens was not satisfied with the Agency’s response either and has filed a second petition in Tax Court to appeal the decision. The dispensary has claimed that “Even though the IRS has acknowledged that there are conditions outside of taxpayer’s control which make EFTPS payments all but impossible, the agency refused to consider abasement as a means to avoid unfair tax treatment to legitimate, licensed and tax compliant businesses within Colorado.” This one’s at least a mile-high up in the air for now, all puns intended, and we’ll have to wait until the smoke clears for any answers.

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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The nuts and bolts of life….

In Business,Culture,Family,Human Resources on March 18, 2015 by Sufen Wang

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe nuts and bolts of life as Russ Rosell

 When you’re 93 years old, what do you see yourself doing every Tuesday and Thursday for four hours each day? Perhaps napping? Or reading a large print book with a cat curled up in your lap? Maybe playing bingo? Most likely, going to work and doing an important job is not on yours or most people’s retirement list.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut Russ Rosell is a man who does exactly that, and who does it well. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 12 to 4 p.m., he works at Hillco Fastener Warehouse, Inc., located in Garden Grove, California. Hillco specializes in automotive applications, with more than 12,000 parts in stock, and has been doing business since 1976. And for the past fourteen years, Russ has played an integral role in the company. He sorts, packages, and labels bags of sundry nuts, bolts, and washers according to their shape, size, material, and more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARuss has his own station set up in the Employee’s Only section of the Hillco warehouse, including a swivel chair where he can sit comfortably while he combs through fasteners. Billie Hill, one of the owners, described him as a “very meticulous and particular” worker, and the proof is in the pie: when we showed up to interview Russ, he was hard at work bent over several yellow containers chock-full of washers, with completed bags neatly labeled and arranged on his desk. And he doesn’t take a break at work – just a few moments to eat a sandwich and a soft drink.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So how does he do it? For one, Russ has stayed healthy by walking two miles every day up until recently.  And although he no longer drives, he gets to work and back via rides with his son. Moreover, his response to his doctor’s reservations is simply, “I feel good doctor. I’m going to do it.” But maybe the better question is why does he do it? For Russ, it’s really about the people. When asked what his favorite part about working at Hillco is, he said without hesitation, “The people – the people themselves, they’re all nice. And the owners are just terrific people.” He reiterated a few minutes later that, “They’re the nicest people I think I’ve ever met.” And again later he said that, “The owners are just the most terrific people I’ve ever met.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the feeling is mutual. From Christmas dinners, to trips to the casino, to attending baseball games, the Hillco owners love having Russ around. Billie explained that, “He’s part of our family. When Russ walked in the door, it was a very lucky day for us. He performs a valuable service and the other employees are crazy about him.” One such employee, Steve, who has been at Hillco for three years, said that his favorite thing about Russ is “his ambition – he wants to get to work. There’s no down time. To sum it up, he’s a no-nonsense guy who’s here for work.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAndy, who has been employed at Hillco for five years, said that he loves “sitting back there and hanging out with Russ…he’s a funny guy.” Russ quipped that he’s “just tryin’ to be.” But a glimpse of his humor is visible in the tune he often hums while packaging fasteners. There’s an old Glen Miller song that goes: “If there’s a gleam in her eye/each time she straightens your tie/You know the lady’s in love with you.” Russ likes to hum the version that goes: “When there’s a gleam in her eye/she’ll unbutton your–” well, you get the point.

imagesNIOH9DHMDespite the fun and games, Russ is a hard worker and has been his whole life. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan, as one of three children (he still keeps in contact with his two sisters, who live in California). He went on to serve as a flight engineer in WWII, flying over the South Pacific. Russ navigated the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, a propeller-driven bomber which was one of the largest and most advanced aircraft of its time. For him flying in the war “was a great education, and I really enjoyed it – the first time. Then it got rough.”

imagesCXLL0IOZRuss eventually worked for a window installation business and also managed two lumberyards in California. He especially enjoyed this managerial job. Later, he became a driver for Sagan Auto Parts. He joined the Hillco team after Billie’s father, who he was acquainted with, asked, “When are you going to come work for us?” And so Russ did. He considers himself an apprentice in life because he likes to do things and help people, but a teacher in the sense that he has taught his two daughters and son everything he knows. He also has two grandchildren whom he loves very much.

images4ZL6D4Q5Babe RuthPerhaps a little ironically, Russ currently lives in the Leisure World senior community in Seal Beach, California. When he’s not working at Hillco, you can find him getting a hamburger, French fries, and a soda at his local In ‘N Out, where – in what is a perfect indication of the kind of guy he is – he has also been welcomed in as part of the family. In fact, Russ was given three complete In ‘N Out uniforms replete with his name. His other favorite pastime is collecting baseball cards, with Detroit, of course, being his favorite team, and his Babe Ruth card being his most prized piece.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARuss does not plan on doing much to celebrate his birthday when it comes around on October 24. For him, “It’s just another day, really.” This humble response showcases his unpretentious personality, because to him the most important thing, and the motto of his life, is to “just be kind to each other.” Simple words we should all carry into our golden years as gracefully as Russ.

 

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Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805
Photographs by Jax NTP, MFA, GWC Dept of Arts & Letters, jaxntp@gmail.com

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Just Do It!!!

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture on March 1, 2014 by Sufen Wang

WWS-Procrastinate1The First Step is the Always Hardest: Just Do It

Here’s an idea: what if everyone just did his or her assigned job? I am NOT talking about working beyond one’s responsibility, but rather, doing what one is supposed to do in the first place…nothing more. After all, you can’t do more until you finish first things first.

I have been in a constant battle with a property manager to give me her books, from January 2013 onward. I’ve written countless e-mails and made numerous phone calls following up with her, chasing after her for the books. And all of that so I can do MY JOB, like reconcile the bank accounts and see if there are bills that we missed, or hey, just close the damn books so I can get a loan refinanced or even sell the place.

A note pinned to a cork board with the text Do It Now! Later Becomes Never!The time wasted is unthinkable. The money missed is uncountable. The loss of opportunities is unrecoverable. The lack of response and urgency is unbelievable. I am not asking for her to go beyond her duties, but just to do her job on a timely basis! But maybe that’s asking too much in today’s society.

imagesI like to imagine a world where everyone does the job they “agreed upon.” What a concept, right? Do what you promised you would do…deliver on time what you promised to deliver…just do it! Think how much more fluidly everything would progress instead of this grating, grinding, stop-and-go procrastination and miscommunication. Work is already hard enough in and of itself; it doesn’t need to be made doubly stressful by people dragging their feet like they’re stuck in a swamp.

But all we can really do is ask these questions and hope there’s some response: Why is it so hard to just do it? Where is one’s integrity?  Where is one’s pride of accomplishment, of satisfaction? Because ultimately it’s up to those very individuals to realize how much easier life could be, if they Just Do It…

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
www.sufenwang.com
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

Articles

Has All Pride Been Swallowed?

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education on January 23, 2014 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , ,

guys_89_M4Below Average is the New Average

Have you noticed that we take no pride in our actions nowadays? Or is it that we no longer have any shame in our actions – or non-actions?  Maybe the question should be “Have you no shame?”

I recently received a handful of homework assignments from my students, and let me tell you, they were shamefully bad. The writing was barely decipherable, and never mind the numbers and calculations. Oh, and some papers were physically dirty with coffee and food stains. The work was sloppy to say the best and despicable to say the least. I was angry at first, then anger turned into disappointment.

images“Where is our pride? Have we lost it? Why haven’t we strive for ‘excellence’ instead of ‘just okay, that’ll do, happy with passing?’ Why is ‘just getting by’ an actual goal instead of seeking brilliance?”  My students were speechless when I asked them these questions. 

I told them to re-do all of the assignments in a more polished manner. “Pretend those assignments are your financial statements being given to your company’s shareholders, and the retention of your job is dependent upon the appearance of the documents. You should be proud to place your name on the presentation!”

motivational_quote_work_hard_and_be_proud_of_what_your_achieveWell, my soap-box speech reached 50% of my class, which was more than I had hoped for. And I was pleased with that 50%. Wait, did I just lower my expectations to meet the mass “I don’t care” generation?  Shame on me!

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

Articles

Entitlement…

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture on December 26, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

entitlement_is_important_to_your_b2b_messagingThe Entitlement Generation: Success is NOT Guaranteed

Entitlement is defined as “having a right to something and/or the amount to which a person has a right.”  Note that the key phrase is “having a right” to something – not “having to earn the right.”

urlSeveral comments from my accounting students had prompted me to ponder the word “Entitlement.”  When I asked one student what his 5-year goal was, he replied, “To be a Chief Financial Officer.”  Ah, a very aggressive goal from someone who never showed up to class on time, missed over 22% of classes, could not find his textbook for two weeks, and who hardly turned in any homework assignments and projects. But he was also one of my smartest students who grasped accounting concepts almost immediately.

j01186631My response to him was, “How about you locate your accounting book and try to pass my class first?!”  He laughed with a hint of embarrassment. (Maybe this means there is a glimmer of hope for him?!) He ended up receiving a low D – not due to a lack of knowledge on the subject matter, but instead due to his lack of assignment completions, projects, and attendance. Sadly, this “D” will follow him for a long time.

Students do not understand that their Grade Point Average (GPA) is their resume as they accumulate actual job placements and experiences.  A “D” in an upper division course in one’s specific field will hinder a job seeker’s chance of competing with his peers.  Again, unfortunately because he assumed his “smarts” entitled him to a free pass in terms of class requirements, my student acted unwisely and did not advance well in his pursuit of his college degree.

Entitlement3Another case of assumed entitlement happened last year when one of my business major students came to class saying exasperatedly, “I’ve been filling out job applications for the last week and every opening requires that I have 3 to 5 years of experience in my field. How the heck am I going to get that?”  Ah, perhaps there should be an App where you can download 3 to 5 years of experience instantaneously, and voila! it’s added to one’s resume. 

good_study_habitsThese are sad examples of what our young (future) generation of college students is dealing with. They feel that simply because they’re going to school, they are entitled to jobs for which they have made no effort to prepare – on an educational level and/or on an on-the-job work experience level.  If only they would shut down that video they’ve been playing day and night and instead pick up the textbooks, do the work, and put in the time. Then, and only then, will they have a “chance” to reach their career goals!

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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A Home Away from Home:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture on November 18, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

IRS Waives Low-Income Housing Limits for Colorado Disaster Victims

MH900437833When natural disaster strikes, the IRS strikes back with letting regulations slide. The landslides, severe storms, and flash floods that wracked the Colorado landscape in mid-September destroyed at least 1,500 houses and damaged 17,500 more. That left a lot of people with no place to call home.

It’d be plain silly to make someone who just waded through mud and muck wade through rules and paperwork for a warm bed. Accordingly, the IRS suspended certain limitations for projects financed with low-income housing tax credits or exempt facility bonds. In other words, any Colorado disaster victim, regardless of income, can temporarily stay in one of these residential rental projects. And not just in the immediate area – operators of these facilities anywhere in the nation can provide shelter for the storm victims.

MH900423029And FEMA also didn’t give victims a rain check on relief. FEMA approved a third extension to the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program. The TSA pays for eligible flood evacuees to stay in participating hotels and motels, with FEMA and the state picking up the bill. Victims whose homes are still uninhabitable or without utilities will continue to have a safe place to stay until November 17, replete with sticky remote and lumpy pillows. Let’s give these federal agencies a round of applause for giving the disaster victims one less thing to worry about. And if you want to lend a helping hand, then check out http://helpcoloradonow.com/.

MH900250101

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (562) 806-5805

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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Human Resources on October 23, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , ,

MH900325732Make a Difference By Nurturing Diversity: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Presidential Proclamation, October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Put your party shoes on because this national campaign celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. Okay now take your party shoes off and listen up because NDEAM also raises awareness about disability employment issues that continue even as we speak. I mean as I speak. I mean as I write and you read.

How about we just let President Obama speak for himself:

“During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we nurture our culture of diversity and renew our commitment to building an American workforce that offers inclusion and opportunity for all… I urge all Americans to embrace the talents and skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities and to promote the right to equal employment opportunity for all people.”

2013PosterEnglishFrontAppropriately, the theme for 2013 is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.” And here’s your first task: spread the word. You could start by sprucing up the décor around town with NDEAM Posters. Or if tape and paper is too old school for you, then post about NDEAM on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. And while you’re at it, leave a NDEAM link trail wherever you go. Look – here’s one: http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/. And wait, what’s this? It’s another link with great ideas on how to get people to think about equal employment! http://www.dol.gov/dol/media/photos/slideshows/20131001-NDEAM.htm.

But you can’t be promoting NDEAM’s message if your own company isn’t up to scratch when it comes to disability awareness. So use October to review company policies, train supervisors, and educate employees about fostering a workplace culture inclusive of people with disabilities. National Disability Employment Awareness Month is above all a reminder to work together and appreciate everyone’s differences – ahem, members of the House of Representatives. When that happens, there’s no task that we’re not equal to. 

MH900436025Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy

Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793

Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A.

Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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