Steve Ulrich Marietta’s Own Escape Room Host

Steve Ulrich is fortunate to have not just one, but five jobs that many would consider to be “dream careers”.  His businesses include two video-related companies: My Digital Conversion and Wilkum Studios, an escape room: First National Escape, a co working space: First National Coworking, and an outdoor ice cream café: Mulberry Thrill. He manages these companies with the assistance of his wife Abby out of an 1875 Victorian Bank in Marietta. If this isn’t enough, he enjoys serving as an adjunct professor of Video Production at Lebanon Valley College!

With a degree in Film Studies & English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh and a second degree in Business Administration from Albright College in Reading, PA, Steve is able to combine his passion for film and business.  His resume includes 13 years of freelance post-production with shows airing on PBS, Discovery Channel, TLC, NBC, and National Geographic, and 10 years of independent production through his company Wilkum Studios, providing all of your video production needs locally, including videography, 360 videography, motion graphics, voice-over, color correction, encoding for web or mobile, and custom music.  

At My Digital Conversion, Steve and his employees can transfer your film, audio, photos, and videos to digital CD, DVD, thumb drive, hard drive, or the web.  They can create custom slideshows and videos where you play the part of the “director.” Reminder: Christmas is right around the corner and custom DVDs and videos make a great Christmas gift!  

First National Coworking is one of the more unique co working spaces in the country, if not the world. A variety of eclectic, historical, and functional spaces serve the business needs of individuals and groups such as: small business owners who do not (yet) have their own private space, those traveling for business, teams who require conference space outside of their normal offices, students and writers.

First National Escape is an exciting variation on your typical escape room.  Located in an authentic 1875 Victorian Bank, the object is to break into the vault and collect as much money as possible in an hour before getting caught.  The artifacts found in the vault are antiques that span the age of the original bank from 1875 to 2000. The escape room provides more than your typical venue of this type.  If you are looking for a day with friends or family or to build up your corporate team, First National Escape offers common areas to relax and drink a cup of coffee, or conference areas that can comfortably fit up to 30 people.  From there, you can explore the rest of historic Marietta including the newly completed Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. This 14-mile long mostly flat paved trail is very popular for bikers and hikers and offers beautiful views of the Susquehanna River, White Cliffs, and bald eagle nests.

And if you happen to be on the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, take a break and enjoy some ice cream or iced coffee at Mulberry Thrill, served out of the former Drive-Thru Teller Window located at the rear of the bank at 100 West Market Street in Marietta. All ice cream sandwiches are homemade, and they also offer classic novelties that you would find in an ice cream truck in the 1970s, along with some modern gluten-free and dairy-free items.

Whether you are in charge of planning your next company team building experience, producing a video, or in need of assistance converting those old delicate family memories into something digital, contact Steve to find out how he can help!  He is available by email at  stephenulrich@wilkumstudios.com

 

 


“ITP, LLC is supporting local small business owners through this post.  The experiences described are personal to particular users, and may not necessarily be representative of all users of the products and/or services.  We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all users will have the same experiences. Your individual results may vary. We are not affiliated with the organization referenced and are not paid or compensated for this publication.”

 


Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

In August I was fortunate to present to a group of business professionals the exciting topic of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).  This act brought about several changes and I spoke about the larger implications to taxpayers and businesses.

One of the changes with the TCJA were the taxable income brackets, which are now broader.  Meanwhile, most tax percentages decreased. The net result meant a lower tax percentage for most taxpayers and paying less tax overall.  The following chart shows the difference between tax years for those filing married jointly.

 

2017 Taxable Income 2018 Taxable Income
10% $0 – $18,650 10% $0 – $19,050
15% $18,651 – $75,900 12% $19,051 – $77,400
25% $75,901 – $153,100 22% $77,401 – $165,000
28% $153,101 – $233,350 24% $165,001 – $315,000
33% $233,351 – $416,700 32% $315,001 – $400,000
35% $416,701 – $470,700 35% $400,001 – $600,000
39.6% $470,701 or more 37% $600,001 or more

 

In addition to the percentage and income bracket changes, there were several other impacts to come from this act.

Individual:

  • On the positive side, the standard deduction almost doubled from $12,700 to $24,000.  This change means fewer people will be taking itemized deductions at tax time as we have discussed in early entries.
  • The Child Tax Credit doubled from $1,000 to $2,000 and the phased out for the credit has been raised to $400,000.
  • 529 Education Plans now encompasses elementary and secondary public or private schools.  
  • Personal exemptions have been eliminated
  • Alimony is no longer allowed as a deduction by the payer, nor as income for the receiver effective on divorces beginning after 12/31/18.

 

Business:

  • C Corporations now pay a flat 21% of their taxable income which is a change from a varied rate before.  The rate before ranged from 15 to 35% depending upon taxable income.
  • Depreciation has seen some big changes as well.  The Section 179 expense allowed was $500,000 and that has been raised to $1,000,000.  The Phase-out threshold for depreciation has increased by the same amount to $2,500,000.  
  • The new 20 percent QBI deduction, is a powerful tool that will reduce the taxes associated with income from many pass-through businesses. This may encourage pass-through businesses to stay in their current form, rather than converting to a C Corporation.

At the end of my presentation, I provided 4 real life client examples comparing their tax situation in 2017 against how it will look with the new changes.  If you are interested in learning more about how the TCJA will impact you, my door is open!


Vacation Tax Deductions

While the official end of summer has come, your vacation travel doesn’t have to stop.  Especially if you are able to turn that trip into a tax deduction.

Perhaps the easiest way to claim a tax break on a vacation is by attending a seminar or conference related to your current profession.  Work can include seminars, conferences, meeting a potential client or business partner, and doing research in your field. This is a win win as you are improving yourself while enjoying the destination of your dreams.  It is necessary to spend four or more hours a day in professional development and you will also need records of attendance. But that leaves 20 hours for surfing, sailing, and fun! Before leaving on your trip you must have at least one work related engagement planned and set.  This allows you to fulfill the IRS “prior set business purpose” rule.

If the primary purpose of your trip is work, then you can write off your travel costs.  When looking at travel expenses, airfare and driving are both covered. Airfare is covered for you but not family or friends who accompany you.  However, if the destination is close enough to drive, then $0.50 a mile is allowed. When driving you may bring other passengers with you and the mileage is still deductible.  Days spent traveling are counted as work days as well.

Lodging stays for the work days are also tax deductible.  As an added bonus, book ending the weekend between Friday and Monday work days allows for the lodging and food expenses accrued over the weekend to be covered.  Reimbursable are lodging expenses for you only. If a second room or room with additional beds are required to house your family, you will only be reimbursed at the rate for a single room.  

Your personal meals are deductible at 50%, but if you bring family on the trip their meals are not included. With the exception of lodging, receipts are not required for expenses less than $75.  However, documentation, such as a travel diary, will be needed to claim the deduction. When in doubt, more is better to make sure you can claim your trip. The key is thorough documentation throughout the trip.  

Trips outside of the United States have some additional considerations, as do conventions.  IRS Publication 463 contains additional details on deductible expenses on a work / play vacation.


Bennett Mayer Tour Driver for Adventure!

Regardless of the season, Warm Wind Tours wants you to “come play with us”.  This locally owned and operated touring company offers luxury packages to exciting destinations at affordable prices.  Just take a look at their current listings and you can find four seasons worth of adventure! There is not much that is prettier than New York Wine Country in the fall.  Looking to visit New York City during the Christmas season? Or are you already planning ahead for next summer? If so Warm Wind has got you covered with southern beach and sailing trips.

Warm Wind Tours got its name from creator and owner Bennett Mayer who has been driving bus groups for many years.  Bennett began sailing with a friend 30 years ago in a Hobie 16 named “Chinook”. He learned that Chinook was an Indian word for warm wind.  Because of the happiness and fond memories Bennett has of those sailing years, Warm Wind Tours got its name when the venture began In February 2018.  He uses the “come play with us” slogan because that’s how he wants his customers to feel. Playing carefree and having fun! Bennett enjoys working with people and his satisfaction comes from seeing and helping people smile and have a good time.

Warm Wind Tours has a beautiful and very user friendly website for booking tours and learning more about the company.  Bennett is also available by email at bennett@warmwindtours.com or phone at 717-629-4242 to help you plan your getaway!

 

 


“ITP, LLC is supporting local small business owners through this post.  The experiences described are personal to particular users, and may not necessarily be representative of all users of the the products and/or services.  We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all users will have the same experiences. Your individual results may vary. We are not affiliated with the organization referenced and are not paid or compensated for this publication.”