Local Ordinances and Your Home-based Business

For the HBB aspirant

Every year several thousand people develop an interest in going into business. Many of these people have an idea, a product or a service they hope to promote and grow into an income producing business which they may be able to operate from their homes. If you have such aspirations, there are some practical steps to consider before hanging out your “Open for Business” sign.

Ordinances in some areas may prevent you from operating your business, in the sense that, if you live in an area that is zoned “Residential Only,” your proposed business could be illegal depending on the activity in which you must engage to operate it. In those areas, zoning restrictions rule out home businesses that depend on the coming and going of too many customers, clients and/or employees; and if your business is the type that sells or even store anything for sale on the premises, it will fall into this “restricted” category. So be sure to check with your local zoning office to find out how the ordinances in your particular area may affect your business plans.

Quite possibly, a special permit may be needed to operate a business from your home; but you may find that making small changes to your plan will put you into the position of meeting zoning standards. There are a number of communities that grant home occupation permits for businesses that involve typing, sewing, teaching and/or tutoring, but turn a thumbs down on requests from photography, interior decoration and home improvement businesses to be operated from the same home. The variety of home-based business that does not require special permits or licenses and does not violate any zoning ordinances, is commonly known as network marketing businesses, many of which are done via the Internet or Web; thus, Web-based business.

Get into your zone

Keep in mind that, if you are permitted to use your home to operate a given business, there may be restrictions and requirements that you will need to take into consideration; but by all means get to work with your zoning people and save yourself the time, trouble and dollars by finding out what is permissible and what is not for your area. One of the most obvious requirements you may have to comply with is off-street parking for your customers or patrons; and since signs are generally forbidden in residential communities this will likely have a direct impact on the number of students you could have at any one time if your business is teaching or tutoring, for example.

Need a little help with what to write? Click here!

Obtaining zoning approval for your business is not something you should worry about too much because the process could be as simple as filling out an application. However, it is important to understand that it could also involve a public hearing. In either case there is no cause for worry; just know that the important points zoning officials will consider often center around how your business will affect the neighborhood. Will it increase the traffic noticeably on your street? Will there be a substantial increase in noise? And how will your neighbors feel about this business in such close proximity to their homes?

So check into the zoning restrictions, and then check again to determine if you will need some kind of license from your local government. For example, if you’re selling something, you may need a vendor’s license and/or be required to collect sales taxes on your transactions. A sales tax requirement would result in the need for careful record keeping.

License to operate

Licensing can be an involved process and, depending upon the type of business, it could even involve the inspection of your home to determine if it meets with local health, building and fire codes. Should this be the case, you will need to bring your home business facility up to the local standards. Usually this will involve some simple repairs or modifications that you can either do personally, or hire out to a handyman to do at a nominal cost. Still more items to consider: Will your homeowner’s insurance cover the property and liability in your new business? This must definitely be resolved; so be sure to talk it over with your insurance agent.

Tax deductions, which were once one of the beauties of engaging in a home business, are not what they once were. To be eligible for business related deductions today, you must use that part of your home designated EXCLUSIVELY AND REGULARLY as either the principal location of your business, or a place reserved to meet patients, clients and/or customers.

An interesting case in point: if you use your den or a spare bedroom as the principal place of business, working there from 8:00 to 5:00 every day, but permit your children to watch TV in that room during evening hours, the IRS dictates that you cannot claim a deduction for that room as your office or place of business. There are, however, a couple of exceptions to the “exclusive use” rule. One is the storage of inventory in your home, where your home is the location of your trade or business, and your trade or business is the sale of products at retail or wholesale prices. According to the IRS, such storage space must be used on a REGULAR Basis, and be a separately identifiable space.

Exceptions and expenses

Another exception applies to daycare services that are provided for children, the elderly, or physically/mentally handicapped. This exception applies only if the owner of the facility complies with the state laws for licensing. To be eligible for business deductions, your business must be an activity undertaken with the intent of making profit. It is presumed you meet this requirement if your business makes a profit in any two years of a five-year period.

Once you have started and are reasonably far along in your business operation, you can deduct business expenses such as supplies, subscriptions to professional journals, and an allowance for the business use of your car or truck. You can also claim deductions for home related business expenses such as utilities, and in some cases, even a new paint job for your home, depending on the necessity for such improvement as it relates to operation of your business.

IRS is going to treat the part of your home used for business in the same manner as it will treat a separate piece of property. This means that you will have to keep good records and take care not to mix business and personal matters. No specific method of record keeping is required, but your records must clearly indicate and justify the deductions you claim.

You can begin by calculating what percentage of the house is used for business, either by number of rooms or by area in square footage. Thus, if you use one of the five rooms in your home for your business, the business portion equates to 20 percent; and if you run your business out of a room that is 10 by 12 feet out of a total area of your home measuring 1,200 square feet, the business space factor equates to 10 percent.

An extra computation is required if your business is a home day care center. This is one of the exempted activities in which the exclusive use rule does not apply; but you can certainly check with your tax preparer and/or the IRS for an exact determination. Also keep in mind that if you are a renter, you can deduct the part of your rent which is attributable to the business share of your house or apartment. Homeowners can take a deduction based on the depreciation of the business portion of their home.

There are limitations to the amount you can deduct which equates to an amount equal to the gross income generated by your business, minus those home expenses you would deduct even if you were not operating a business from your home. The best examples would be real estate taxes and mortgage interest that are deductible regardless of any business activity in your home; so you must subtract from your business gross income the percentage that is allocable to the business portion of your home. You should then arrive at the maximum amount for home-related business deductions.

Reporting income

Your self-employment business deductions are claimed on form SCHEDULE C (Profit or Loss from Business). The IRS emphasizes that claiming business-at-home deductions does not automatically trigger an audit on your tax return; but even so, it is always wise to meticulously adhere to proper guidelines and, of course, keep detailed records if you claim business related expenses when you are working out of your home. it is a good idea to discuss this aspect of your operation with your tax preparer or a person qualified in the field of small business tax requirements.

If your business earnings aren’t subject to withholding tax, and your estimated federal taxes are $100 or more, you’ll probably be filing a Declaration of Estimated Tax on Form 1040 ES. To complete this form you will have to estimate your income for the coming year based upon projections and also make a computation of the income tax and self-employed tax you will owe.

The self-employment tax pays for Social Security coverage; but if you have a salaried job covered by Social Security, the self-employment tax applies only to that amount of your home business income that, when added to your salary, reaches the then current ceiling. When you file your Form 1040-ES, which is due April 15 (unless April 15th falls on a holiday or weekend day during normal times), you must make the first of four equal installment payments on your estimated tax bill.

Private Label Resell Rights: Choosing a Product

Avoid failure

Millions of Americans who tried to make money online have failed in that pursuit due to a number of factors, ranging from lack of experience and/or Web marketing savvy to insufficient time devoted to the field of expertise they chose. If you are interested in taking part an online business opportunity, no matter what that opportunity may be, it is recommended that you know exactly what you are getting into before agreeing to invest your hard earned money in a venture with which you are unfamiliar or signing a contract which, by its very nature, is binding. Adhering to this tiny bit of advise may be helpful to you in protecting yourself.

If you are in search of an online business opportunity and come across a product, or multiple products to which the ownership rights to it – or to them – are being offered for sale, you may want to consider such an offer, but not before doing a little research of your own to determine the quality of such products. These products, mostly informational in nature, and the rights to them being offered for sale are known as private label rights (PLR) products, and the field of endeavor is known as private label rights. Such rights are offered on a number of different products pursuant to varying levels of limitation.

PLRR defined

These products are all Web-based and most commonly include e-books, software programs, or written content for blogs and websites. Private label resell rights are best described as those rights offered by product creators who often do not have the time, money, or experience needed to sell their own finished product; and since a product creator tends to lose money each day that his/her product does not sell, s/he needs assistance from more savvy Web marketers who may not have the same level of creative skill or knowledge to create his/her own product, and if you identify better with the latter you could could avail yourself of the opportunity to make money online via PLRR buy-sell transactions.

To get their product on the market and make money at the same time many product creators, such as e-book authors or software designers, sell the resell rights to their product. The asking price for these products will vary, but most resell right products do not cost more than a few hundred dollars. So if you are able to come up with this money you will not only be helping the product creator make money, but yourself as well will make money; and since you legally obtained the resell rights to the product(s) in question, you can start to profit from each sale that you make immediately depending on how good a marketer you are. Of course, like any other business venture, it is not always as easy as it sounds.

PLRR taboo

Get started now… Free!

When it comes to purchasing the resell rights to a private label product, such as an e-book or software program, there are buyers who quite often make the one costly mistake that s/he is unlikely to correct with the same transaction. That mistake entails picking a product that does not sell due to poor quality, lack of demand or too many of that particular product type already over represented in the marketplace. To make money you cannot just select a random private label product, instead you must research the market and learn what customers want and need to buy. Doing so will allow you to obtain the resell rights to a product that is in high demand and therefore will sell, which in turn will result in you making money.

The best way to learn about products, topics, or issues that are currently popular on the Web is to use the Web. There is a great selection of books, audios and videos on the subject of private label resale rights at the PLR Treasury website, and the best part is that it is free. Also you will want to read the news on a daily basis and you may also want to actively participate in online discussions. You can easily do this by joining a number of different message boards in which many Web users post important questions and product requests. If you are able to find a product such as a specific software program or e-book that is being requested on a large scale, you may be able to use that product into an opportunity to make money on a profitable scale.

Research, research, research!

In addition to using the Web, you are also advised to always keep your eyes and ears open because you never know what or where you will learn something new. Reading the news and participating in online message board discussions are just a few of the many ways that you can go about researching the need (market demand) for a particular product. This research may be time consuming but it is, necessarily, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from a money-losing (money-draining?) investment which, not only result in a severe blow to your budget, but to your confidence as well and turn you completely off the Web marketing franchise.

being simple and expand step by step