Question: I’m starting a small company and am trying to educate myself. Can you recommend some tax reference sources that are easy to use and understand?
Answer: There are several online sources and some inexpensive print publications that serve as terrific resources on tax topics. Gregg Wind, an accountant based in Marina del Rey, outlined a few.
“The IRS website, www.irs.gov, is a terrific resource for tax forms, tax publications and tax news,” Wind said.
Check out Publication 583, on starting a small business and keeping records; Publication 535, on when and how to deduct business expenses; and Publication 15 (also called Circular E), an employer’s tax guide that explains how to calculate payroll and deposit payroll taxes. Publication 17 includes line-by-line explanations for filling out your individual income tax return (Form 1040). All these publications can be read online or downloaded to your computer and printed.
The Internal Revenue Service website is only one of hundreds listed on www.taxsites.com, which Wind also recommended for its extensive list of links to tax, accounting, payroll and human resource sites.
Another of his favorites is Quickfinder (www.quickfinder.com, a company that has been producing and selling technical publications for 35 years.
“But don’t let the word ‘technical’ deter you,” Wind said. “The publications are written so that they are easily understandable.” Small-business titles sell for under $50.
Finally, Wind recommended the California Society of Certified Public Accountants at www.calcpa.org. The site includes a find-a-CPA option that allows you to search for an accountant based on factors such as geographical region, areas of expertise and languages spoken. Another feature lets you post questions to society members free of charge.
Identifying a Niche
in Photography Market
Q: I’ve been a portrait photographer 28 years. I also sell scenic photos and would like to ramp up that portion of the business when I retire. How do I do this effectively and reach a large audience?
A: The obvious answer is to do great work that people love and market that work through the standard channels.
For instance, you’ll want to create a website that not only showcases your photos but also conveys your artistic expertise through the site design itself. Investigate the feasibility of exhibiting and selling your prints at weekly street fairs and art festivals that are held around Southern California.
You may also benefit by contacting local art galleries and asking them to suggest ways you can build your artistic resume.
Make sure that you market the unique and unusual aspects of your photography, suggested Peter Gregory, president of BoundlessGallery.com, an online art and photography store.
“Go looking for a new way to view the world, then be bold and invent a new method of work that only you follow. Then you’ll have a chance to become a prominent artist in any discipline,” Gregory said.
Keep in mind, however, that the business of selling stock photos no longer generates substantial revenue for photographers, primarily because of the rise of low-cost Internet services such as IStockphoto (www.istockphoto.com) and the improving quality of reasonably priced color printers designed for home use.
“IStockphoto.com has over 1 million images for royalty-free sale for $1 to $5 per image,” Gregory said.
“Many professional photographers have seen their stock business fall to practically nothing. I don’t think you can count on a normal portfolio of great shots to make money the way you could 10 years ago.”
Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to karen.e.klein@ latimes.com or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012