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WHAT’S IN STORE FOR ALABAMA’S SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS THIS YEAR

  • January 5th, 2016

Legislative session expected to address new tax credits, infrastructure problems.

The Alabama Legislative Session begins on Feb. 2, and there are several issues likely to be debated that will impact small business owners. Here’s a look at them.

HSA Tax Deduction

Legislation seeking to align Alabama’s income tax law to federal law with regard to health savings accounts—SB 9, HB 70 and HB 215—failed in the 2015 session, but is expected to resurface this year. These bills would give a state income tax deduction to those who make contributions to their HSAs to pay for healthcare costs.

Tax Rate Notification

Legislation on this topic—SB 322—also failed in the 2015 session, but we expect to see it again in the 2016 session. Under this bill, taxpayers would not be liable for collection and charge of incorrect tax rates based on the rate published by the Alabama Department of Revenue website. Local governments would have procedures with which to notify ADOR of rate changes, and these changes wouldn’t take effect until the first day of the third month following the notification. This would allow business owners time to update their bookkeeping for local and state changes and relieve them of penalties or interest for use of outdated rates.

Tax Credits

Two bills, which would give business owners tax credits for hiring veterans and for establishing an apprenticeship training program, are currently in draft form. “A trained and ready-to-work workforce is a priority for Alabama business owners,” says Rosemary Elebash, NFIB’s Alabama state director.

General Fund Cuts

Alabama legislators have stayed opposed to tax increases in the face of the state’s budget woes, and as a result of this and rising costs, cuts to the General Fund are expected this year, the Montgomery Advertiser reported last month.

The chairs of the Legislature’s General Fund committees, Representative Steve Clouse and Senator Trip Pittman, told the Advertiser that level funding in the budget was an optimistic best-case scenario.

In the current budget, Medicaid, Corrections, Mental Health, Human Resources and Pardons and Paroles were shielded from cuts, but Sen. Pittman says he doesn’t think any agency would get protection this year. Budget committees will hold budget hearings this month in preparation for the beginning of session.

Infrastructure

Alabama earned a C- for its infrastructure system of roads, bridges, ports, railroads, airports and more, according to an assessment recently conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

ASCE studied 11 infrastructure categories, grading each individually:

Aviation (B-)

Bridges (C-)

Dams (N/A—Alabama has no dam safety program)

Drinking water (C+)

Energy (B)

Inland waterways (D+)

Ports (B-)

Rail (B-)

Roads (D+)

Transit (D)

Wastewater (C-)

“Whether you’re driving across roads and bridges, taking a shower, or charging your cell phone, infrastructure affects everyone in Alabama,” the study says. “Infrastructure also impacts our businesses and helps move our economy, taking freight from ports to store shelves and taking workers to their jobs.”

Proposals to solve this growing problem are expected to be debated in session, starting next month.

For the original article from NFIB click here

SURVEY: Record number of shoppers gearing up for Small Business Saturday

  • November 23rd, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Rosemary Elebash, 334-264-2261, or Todd Pack, 615-872-5897

MONTGOMERY, Nov. 18, 2015—Black Friday might be the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, but a survey released today by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express shows that a record number of shoppers plan to shop local on Small Business Saturday.

The survey said a record 55 percent of U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday, while 83 percent say Small Business Saturday makes them want to shop local and shop small all year long.

“That’s really encouraging,” said Rosemary Elebash, Alabama state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. “When you shop local and shop small, you’re supporting your community. When you shop at a chain store, most of the money goes back to some corporate office somewhere else, but when you support small, most of that money stays here at home.”

According to the fourth-annual Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey:

  • 80% of consumers are willing to pay slightly more for an item if it is purchased from a small, independently-owned retailer as opposed to online or at a large retailer
  • On average, consumers are planning to do 35% of their holiday shopping at small businesses
  • 45% of consumers who expect to shop on the day plan to spend more on Small Business Saturday this year than they spent last year
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of consumers who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday are motivated by the contributions that small businesses make to their community

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for most of the jobs in this country, and small businesses create most of America’s net new jobs.

“You probably don’t know the owner of a big department store, but there’s a good chance you know a few small-business owners,” Elebash said. “They’re your friends and neighbors. They’re some of the most generous supporters of civic groups, local charities, youth sports, schools and virtually every other form of community activity. They’re what make our communities strong.”

What’s more, small businesses often sell merchandise—and provide a level of service—that you simply can’t find at a chain store, she said. “Instead of dealing with temporary workers who don’t know the merchandise, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with the owner who cares very much about making you happy so you’ll come back time and again throughout the year.”

The Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,847 males and females 18 years of age or older. The sample was collected using an email invitation and an online survey. The study was conducted anonymously by independent marketing performance specialist Ebiquity on October 19-27, 2015. The survey has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.3%, at the 95% level of confidence. To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/1MBv1QC

To learn more about what NFIB is doing to help small businesses promote the sales event, visit www.NFIB.com/smallbusinesssaturday.

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NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information is available online at www.NFIB.com/newsroom.

 

Contest offers Alabama businesses a shot at ‘game-changing’ exposure at UA & AU games

  • November 20th, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) has released a video detailing the ways their “Small Business Game Changer” could genuinely change the game an Alabama small business.

A first-of-its-kind opportunity, the BCA is awarding a complimentary 2016 football sponsorship package for both the University of Alabama and Auburn University. Season football sponsorships offer enormous exposure for companies fortunate enough to land one, and BCA aims to“proudly recognize the importance and impact of small businesses on our state.”

“This contest is truly unprecedented and will be a game changer,” said BCA Presdient and CEO William J. Canary.

Corporate sponsor benefits will include hospitality, game tickets, in-stadium logo exposure, radio time and more.

University of Alabama Corporate Sponsorship Benefits:
• One 15-second pre-game and one 15-second post-game radio commercial on the Crimson Tide Sports Radio Network for the 2016 regular season (24 total commercials)
• LED recognition in Bryant-Denny Stadium for all seven home football games
• 300,000 impressions on RollTide.com during the regular 2016 schedule
• One half-page program ad
• Two season tickets, two corporate hospitality passes and one parking pass

Auburn University Corporate Sponsorship Benefits:
• One (1) 2016 half-page color advertisement in Auburn Football Illustrated
• One (1) Auburn Football Pre-Game Show radio spot before each 2016 regular season game
• 300,000 banner advertisement impressions on AuburnTigers.com during the 2016 football regular season
• Pro-Ad LED Ribbonboard exposure inside Jordan-Hare Stadium during 2016 football regular season home games
• Two (2) football season tickets and two (2) IMG Pre-Game hospitality passes for the 2016 regular season

Small businesses can apply by going online to BCA’s contest website and share in 150 words or less why a 2016 Alabama or Auburn football sponsorship would be a game changer for their small business by the application deadline on Jan. 29, 2016.

The “Small Business Game Changer” contest is open only to small businesses located in the state of Alabama that are BCA members in good standing.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to expose a deserving Alabama small business to fans and the campus community through association with Alabama football,” said Jim Carabin, general manager for Crimson Tide Sports Marketing. “We’re grateful to the Business Council of Alabama for graciously extending this offer and working closely with us to bring it to life. It will bring huge visibility to one company, and we encourage all applicable small businesses to register.”

For more information on the “Small Business Game Changer” contest, visit www.bcatoday.org/football.

 

For the original article click here.

Small town Alabama business is a top 10 finalist to win an ad during Super Bowl 50

  • November 3rd, 2015

SELMA, Ala. — Robert Armstrong is owner of G Mommas Cookies, and one of 10 finalists competing in the Small Business Big Game competition by Intuit QuickBooks. The national competition could provide this small southern cookie business the chance to appear in a prime time commercial during NFL Super Bowl 50 next year.

To vote for G Mommas Cookies before Nov. 3, visit smallbusinessbiggame.com.

The commercial for the winning entry, valued at $4.5 million is set to air during the “Big Game” on Feb 7, 2016. Last season’s Super Bowl audience averaged 114.4 million viewers, making it the most watched broadcast in U.S. history.

Armstrong has already said business has picked up since the announcement.

“I’ve gotten a lot of PR just regionally and state-wide just because of the competition,” Armstrong said. “It’s just such a big opportunity, people have really grabbed on to what this would mean for my business and what kind of big deal it is. From that I’ve really seen a sales pickup. It’s been crazy.”

With Armstrong getting the message out to go vote online for his business, other local businesses have come to aide Armstrong promote his store. Selma City Councilwoman Angela Benjamin sponsored a cookies and cream social on Oct. 26 at Sweet Advantages, a local ice cream shop.

“We wanted to promote G Mommas Cookies, so we thought cookies and cream,” said storeowner Towanda Friday. “Ice cream and cookies go good together. They are good cookies, and Robert is a good guy.”

Armstrong will be flown out to California to find out the winner of the competition on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

“It really probably hasn’t hit me yet,” Armstrong said. “When I get to California, I’m going to be a nervous wreck, because if I get it — it will change my life.”

Though he understands the potential effects of winning such a national competition, Armstrong still remembers his hometown and reasons why he started his business in the first place.

“The reason I started this business is to make an impact on my hometown not only tangibly, but also intangibly by showing people that you don’t have to live in a big city to start a business and be successful on a national scale,” said Armstrong. “My roots are in Selma and it is apart of who I am, and one of my passions is to see it revived and improve economically.”

To vote for G Mommas Cookies before Nov. 3, visit smallbusinessbiggame.com.

Find the original story here.

Alabama listed among the most tax-friendly states

  • October 2nd, 2015

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Washington, D.C-based finance and business magazine Kiplinger recently named Alabama among the most tax friendly states in the nation.
Though the state has been embroiled in its own battle over whether or not to raise taxes to increase revenue, it still remains one of the lowest-tax states on net.

Coming in at #5, Kiplinger noted Alabama’s low income, sales, and property taxes, but also mentioned the relatively uncommon practice of taxing groceries.

State income tax: 2% (on income up to $500/individual, $1,000/joint) – 5% (on income of more than $3,000/individual, $6,000/joint)

State sales tax: 4%

Gas taxes and fees: 21 cents per gallon

Alabama’s property taxes are the second-lowest in the U.S. (Hawaii has the lowest on a percentage basis, helped by the sky-high value of property there.) Median tax on the state’s median home value of $122,700 is just $532.

It doesn’t take much income to find yourself in the state’s top income tax bracket, where a 5% rate kicks in for those making as little as $3,000 for single filers and $6,000 for married couples. However, the Yellowhammer State allows residents to deduct all federal income tax from state taxable income.

While the state sales tax rate is a modest 4%, additional levies from state and local jurisdictions boost the average combined rate to 8.9%, among the highest in the U.S. And unlike most states, Alabama doesn’t exempt food from its sales tax. Prescription drugs and insulin-related items are exempt.

Here are the top 10 most tax-friendly states, according to Kiplinger:

Delaware
Wyoming
Alaska
Louisiana
Alabama
Mississippi
Arizona
New Mexico
Nevada
South Carolina

Article by Elizabeth Beshears, original link here.