Mike Gingerich

As small business owners, we’ve talked about which hats to wear to create the most successful operation.  Some jobs you can take on yourself and others are best left to someone with the expertise in that field. Unless you enjoy unleashing your creative side and have time to keep current with social media marketing, these tend to be some of the best areas to outsource.  This is where Mike Gingerich and Digital Hill can help!  They offer website development, website tools and software, as well as online and social media marketing strategy and management to their clients.  Digital Hill has completed more than 500 projects!

Mike has the experience to create exactly what you need with 10 years in online marketing. He received his MS degree in Organizational Development and Leadership from Shippensburg University.  Mike shared that when he went to college, there was no such thing as social media so he’s learned on the fly. He has a passion for technology, so working with website and social media keeps him on the leading edge where he likes to be.

In addition to the work he does through Digital Hill, he has a podcast, Halftime Mike, which is a monthly resource on web/social media/business/fitness/life mission topics.  Mike does 2 weekly Facebook Live shows about online marketing trends.

His aim through his work in business and life is to add value and help businesses and organizations set themselves apart.  To this end he has written a 30 day guide to becoming a better leader which can be found at www.mikegingerich.com/lead.  

Shop local!  Mike is here in Lancaster working at the Candy Factory when he isn’t out training for triathlons and long distance races.  

Online you can find him at:


@Mike_Gingerich on Twitter


@mikegingerich on Instagram

Bankruptcy and Foreclosures

When life doesn’t go as you had planned, and either bankruptcy or home foreclosure is necessary, what are the tax implications?  

Cancelled debt is generally considered taxable income, but fortunately bankruptcy is a big exception to that rule.  However, expenses accrued as the result of bankruptcy cannot be itemized and claimed as deductions either. When filing bankruptcy, there are several important tips to remember regarding taxes.  It is usually best to file your taxes for the year before your file bankruptcy, if you are going to owe money.  If you have already filed taxes and received a refund, do not use your tax refund to pay bills. Do keep receipts of how any refund money is spent because the information will be needed during bankruptcy proceedings.

When your home forecloses there is a possibility for taxable income in any gains that are achieved from the sale of the foreclosure or through the taxable cancellation of debt income.  However, as in the case of bankruptcy, losses from foreclosures are not reportable as tax deductions.

What is the difference between a short sale and a foreclosure?  Both occur when the homeowner cannot continue to make mortgage payments.  In the case of a short sale, you sell the home for less than your owe on it and the mortgage company forgives the remaining balance.  This differs from foreclosures which involve the mortgage lender actually taking possession of the home and canceling the entire balance due.  When this happens you are liable for the taxable income on the capital gain from the foreclosure.

IRS website includes tools to calculate cancellation of debt income and gain from foreclosure.  There are a high number of different scenarios possible when it comes to taxes and bankruptcy or foreclosure.  If you are looking for more specific information related to your own unique situation, the IRS website also contains a publication on bankruptcies as they relate to taxes.  ITP Taxes, LLC is also available to help answer your specific questions as they arise!

Brittney Hippensteel

We are very pleased to introduce you to Hamilton Wax Co….the quintessential “Shop Local, Shop Small Business” company.  Hamilton Wax Co has been in business for a year, based in Lancaster’s west end neighborhood of Hamilton Park.  Named after the neighborhood, this small business is run out of an 850 sq. ft. home that was built in the 30’s for the Hamilton Watch Factory workers and their families. The owner’s love for beautiful home goods, and simple design is where this dream began.

Brittney Hippensteel has a BFA in Graphic Design, but loves all kinds of art.  In addition to creating quality hand crafted candles, Brittney is a full time Graphic Designer.  She enjoys package design, photography, and social media marketing. As a self taught candle maker she has fulfilled her dream to make something tangible – outside the computer generated graphic design world.

Hamilton Wax Co offers 5 classic scents in 9 oz jars or 8 oz tins.  Holiday and seasonal scents are available as well. The candles are richly scented, soy wax candles poured in small batches. All candles are proudly vegan and phthalate free. Orders can be placed by visiting the Hamilton Wax Co website or locally at the following vendors:

Sophie Stargazer – 323 N Queen St, Lancaster, PA 17603

Realm and Reason – 213 W King St, Lancaster, PA 17603

To get in touch with Brittney, please check out Hamilton Wax Co on facebook and instagram.  She can be reached by email at hello@hamiltonwaxco.com with specific questions.  Subscribe to Hamilton Wax’s eNewsletter through their website, and receive 15% off your first order!  



Workplace Tax Deductions

Chances are your career brings some tax deductions that you didn’t even know about!  Of course, with the new December 2017 tax law, it makes sense for most people to stick with the standard deduction than itemize each year.  But if you find yourself in the group of taxpayers for whom those itemized deductions are higher than the standard deduction, here are some workplace deductions that you can claim!

If you are self employed, the number of work deductions available are generally higher.  Some examples of these savings include your home office costs, car for business, and health insurance.  Included in health insurance are premiums paid on medical and dental insurance.

If you pay dues to a professional society as a result of your career, those can be deducted.  Union dues and expenses are also available for deduction.  The portions that are paid towards benefits or pension funds are not deductible.

Travel costs can also be deducted including mileage from your your place of employment to another work site.  These deductions are most common in careers such as sales, midwifery, residential service providers and the like.  Among the available travel type deductions are the cost of a passport if needed for a business trip and parking garage fees.

Work clothes, or uniforms, are one of the most common employment related deductions.  These can be taken when the uniform is required for your job and it is not suitable for wear in situations outside of your workplace.

Teachers from grade K to 12 who work 900+ hours a school year, can deduct up to $250 for expenses that are not reimbursed.  These expenses could include books, supplies, and computer equipment. Save those receipts!

As usual, we turn you over to the IRS or your tax preparer for more in depth info if needed on this topic.  The IRS has a comprehensive list with links to numerous different industries and their tax considerations.  Our office is open for questions as well as you plan for this tax season or the future!


Matt Landis

Introducing this week’s Local Businessperson, Matt Landis!  Matt has practiced law for 7 years since graduating from Widener Law Commonwealth in 2010.  He has his undergraduate degree from Susquehanna University as well. In September 2014 Matt transitioned from a firm in Harrisburg to Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP (RKG) and he’s been there ever since. His favorite part of his job at RKG is helping entrepreneurs and business owners achieve their goals. Matt works with a wide variety of businesses, learning how they work and how he can help them achieve their business goals.

If your company needs help with business law issues such as entity formation and governance, contract drafting and negotiation and business transactions, RKG is the place to turn.  They also assist clients with estate planning and administration, domestic relations, litigation and municipal law. Why choose RKG instead of another firm? Matt says his firm prides themselves in their flexibility in communicating with clients.  RKG also has alternative fee arrangements available for many types of projects. This provides an option aside from the traditional hourly billing model. They offer flat fees for many services, and also have a subscription option geared towards business owners and entrepreneurs to encourage proactive resolution of potential legal issues and predictable costs for businesses.

To find out more about how RKG can help your business achieve its next goal, call 717.293.9293 or send an email to mjl@rkglaw.com.  From there the firm is flexible and can be available to consult via phone or in person.  They can meet with you at one of 3 local offices or travel to a place that is convenient for the client.  Video conferencing is a popular option as well when necessary. For more information about this local business you can visit their website www.rkglaw.com  or their blog at www.lancasterlawblog.com.  RKG keeps their blog updated frequently with information on legal topics that may be of interest to clients and the community.


Your Family Budget

If you’ve tried to create a budget for yourself and stick with it, you know how challenging it can be.  Trying to expand that budget to include a family of four or more, only compounds this challenge.  We have several tips to help get you started with the task, and hopefully follow through!

Experts recommend starting any budget plan with a goal in mind.  There are a multitude of possible goals depending on your family’s current situation.  For some, that goal might be to pay off debt.  Others may be saving for a dream vacation.  A college education.  Retirement.  Whatever your goal might be, do the research ahead of time to determine how much money you will need to save and a timeline for when they money is needed.

Next you will want to decide whether to do an online budgeting worksheet or go with paper, pencil, and a calculator.  With this decision, it is best to keep it simple!  Choosing a budgeting tool that is too cumbersome means you will be more likely to abandon the budget long term.  There are several very simple online budgeting programs available.  You can select from a variety of excel type spreadsheet that can be set up as you like it.  If you want to go with a budgeting tool that has already been set-up for you, Kiplinger’s has a very easy to navigate sheet on their website. This budgeting program lets you delete or add your own expenditure categories as needed.

It’s time to start tracking your money, both in and out. With money out, list bills or expenses in their order of importance, greatest need first down to least.  For most people this begins with either your mortgage or monthly rental cost.  When planning for regular monthly expenses, budget high based on the most you’ve ever paid for that particular bill.  After you’ve calculated the total amount of money you spend on needs each month, compare that to the amount of income earned each month.  

The hard part is then figuring out which of the wants to cut out when necessary.  It is also important to budget money towards credit card debt every month.  Make sure you pay at least a little more than the minimum amount due each month so that you are putting a little towards the actual debt and not just paying off the interest.  Finally, be sure to budget in a certain amount each month towards the goal you set at the beginning of your budget planning.  This amount will be based on how much money you need to reach your goal and when it is needed.  However, in months where other needs take precedent or money is tight, it might not be possible to allocate funds towards this goal, depending on how crucial it is to your situation.

Creating and sticking with a budget can be a challenge, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.  Beginning to follow a plan is a great step towards reaching your financial dreams!

Saving for College with 529 Plans

accomplishment, ceremony, college

529 plans, also known as Qualified Tuition Plans,  are not a new thing but they have certainly evolved since their introduction in 1996.  These savings plans for higher education are attractive for many reasons and they have a number of tax benefits.  Earnings grow federal tax free and are not taxed when withdrawn for educational expenses.  In addition, many states offer a tax deduction for contributions made to state managed 529 plans during the year.  The IRS website has a Q&A page on 529 plans that answer almost any question in a very simple manner.  

Anyone can utilize a 529 plan regardless of income or age!  At this point, almost every state offers at least one 529 plan but you are not limited to the plans of your state.  To see what is available and determine the best 529 for you, check out savingforcollege.com.  Many plans charge administrative and maintenance fees, application fees, and a number of other fees.  Make sure you familiarize yourself with the plan’s fee structure before committing.   

Anyone can make contributions to your 529!  This can be helpful in the case of aunts, uncles, and grandparents who like to make donations towards college.  Contribution amounts are limited to the amount needed to cover the financial costs of schooling.  If you make a gift or combined gifts greater than $14,000 to one beneficiary in a year, you might be subject to gift taxes.  

With the new tax law changes introduced in December 2017, there are actually some good additions to the depth of 529 plans.  One of these benefits is being able to use 529 plans to cover private elementary through high school tuitions up to $10,000 per year.  Previously 529 plans were only to provide for secondary schooling.  This change definitely makes life easier for anyone struggling with the costs of private schools for younger children.   

Due to the nature of 529 plans – with so many different options available combined with so many unique situations encountered by college students, the questions and answers surrounding these plans are limitless.  If you have additional questions about 529 plans and their impact on your taxes, please feel free to contact our office!


Irene Mouchlizis

When tax time rolls around, do you find yourself uncertain whether you will owe money or receive a refund?  Being able to estimate these numbers annually can help when you are budgeting for something big, trying to pay off some debt, or making any other financial planning decisions for your business.  

Assisting clients by allowing them to plan for taxes throughout the year is one of the things Irene Mouchlizis loves about her job and it is a great reason to turn to her for your bookkeeping needs!   In her own words, Irene says “I love being able to help clients become more organized and aware of how their business is doing. By becoming more organized, they are better able to make sound business decisions and predict what their tax situation will be, so they are not surprised at year end.”  Irene has worked with several non-profit clients as well.  She enjoys helping these organizations to strengthen the community in which we live!

Irene has been running her own business, Bookkeeping N Beyond LLC, for 4 years now.  Prior to that she worked at an accounting firm, utilizing her bachelor’s degree in accounting.  Irene has years of training and expertise in bookkeeping, payroll services, and cash management – including bill pay and invoicing.  When you remove these time consuming pieces from your own business plate, you can better focus on what you do best.  Irene points out that not every business will have the same needs.  She can work with you to determine which services would most benefit your individual organization and customize to fit your specific areas of need.  

Get in touch with Irene to schedule an appointment today!  She can be reached at 717-333-6989 or irene@bookkeepingnbeyondllc.com.  Additional information can also be found by going to her website at  www.bookkeepingnbeyondllc.com


Karl Diffenderfer

Successful sports teams aren’t the only ones who need great coaches leading them!  The best organizations often rely on a business coach to help guide them.  This is especially true for navigating big changes and new ventures.  A business coach can take an objective look at your business and industry.  They have the tools available to guide major decision making.

If your organization could benefit from the skills of an experienced life coach, Higher Impact Business and Life coaching has got you covered!  Coach Karl has coached hundreds of business owners in many different industries all over the world for over a decade.  He has studied underneath 4 other national coaches, 5 coaching platforms, and is also an accredited leadership coach.

Higher Impact Business and Life Coaching offers help to business owners and professional leaders to go to the next level in their lives and businesses. They help their clients work on their business, and build a company that runs itself so they can live out their life purpose. Karl inspires leaders to move into a greater version of themselves which he calls “YOU 2.0”. He also empowers business leaders who want to become a coach by teaching them his duplicatable system.

Karl understands business!  He built a successful internet marketing firm from the ground up with hundreds of customers across the globe. His company was award winning and generated millions of dollars in revenue. When presented with the opportunity, he decided to sell the company to transition into teaching others how to do what he has done.

As influencers, we know we don’t have all it all figured out.  We all get stuck.  We get in our own way.  We hold ourselves back from our true potential.  If you could double, triple or quadruple your success, would you be willing to put forth the hard work and effort to do that?  Wouldn’t that be invaluable if you could achieve that?  If so, then you should talk to Coach Karl.  He is committed to your success and proves this through his RESULTS based coaching platform.  If you a leader who is serious about going to the next level, then reach out to Coach Karl today!

The coaching team at Higher Impact now includes a total of 6 coaches with locations in:

– Lancaster, Pennsylvania

– Raleigh, North Carolina

– Frederick, Maryland

– Denver, Colorado

Karl’s latest venture is called Virtual Assistants Company. This company gives Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs their own personal administrative assistant at a fraction of the cost. It is a social enterprise providing jobs and training for those in less fortunate regions of the world. The administrative assistants are trained to take huge workloads off of the business leader through an intuitive proprietary process. This enables the business owner to delegate large amounts of monotonous tasks freeing up the business owner’s time and mental resources. This empowers them to do the things they really should be doing.

The best way to get in touch with Karl is by sending an wmail to Karl@higherimpact.me or via phone at 717.201.8536. For more information on Higher Impact, check out their website at ( http://www.higherimpact.me ).  You can learn more about Virtual Assistants Company at (www.onevirtualassistant.com).  Karl enjoys speaking and teaching worldwide and his first book is currently underway!



W-4s & You: How Much to Withhold

If you find your tax refund is not as large as you hoped it would be for 2017, it may be time to look at your withholding allowances.  The number of allowances claimed on your W-4 determines the amount of tax withheld from you income.  Too little tax being withheld each paycheck trickles down and affects the amount of your tax refund or amount owed come April 15th.

How many allowances are right for you will vary from individual as can be seen below.  If you find it advantageous to receive more money throughout the year on paychecks and are okay with paying money to the IRS in April, then claiming more allowances might be a good choice.  Or, if you have credits and deductions that offset the larger number of allowances being withheld, this can also be your best bet.  

If you are being claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return you can claim 0 allowances.  This option leads to more money held from your paycheck but a larger refund at tax time. Claim 0 allowance if you are single and have one job and wish to receive a tax refund.  If you chose to claim 2 allowances as a taxpayer and are single with one job, you will have less money taken from your paycheck for taxes but you may owe money in April.  If you are married you would also claim 1 allowances, or if you are single and working two jobs. 2 allowances are optimal if you are married and have a child.  You may claim additional allowances as head of household or if you are eligible for the Child Tax Credit.  

New life situations can necessitate a change in number of allowances withheld.  These life events essentially break down into the categories of employment, marital status, and dependents.  Likewise, if you find your refund (or lack of) to be problematic in April, it is always possible to change your number of allowances.  Speak to your employer or HR department to request a new W-4 withholding form or go online to make electronic changes.  These changes are not retroactive and will only affect paychecks going forward.  To see the biggest results, make a W-4 switch earlier in the year.  

The IRS calculator for determining your withholding is not available at this time because of the December 2017 tax law changes.  It can normally be found at IRS.gov.  However, the IRS site does have additional information for anyone considering a change to their number of allowances here.  If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact our office for help.