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  • September 22, 2020 2:47 PM | Rachel Rasmussen

    GUEST BLOG POST: We know a lot about small business here at Rescue Desk, but there are some topics that we quickly defer to an expert. Since we work with a ton of number-loving businesses, we have lots of folks to turn to when accounting questions pop up. Thanks to our long-time friend Kari Apel — CEO and President of Apel Associates, Inc — for sharing her wisdom and penning this post on how to handle business Website costs when it comes to tax time.


    The business use of websites is widespread. But surprisingly, the IRS hasn’t yet issued formal guidance on when Internet website costs can be deducted.

    Fortunately, established rules that generally apply to the deductibility of business costs, and IRS guidance that applies to software costs, provide business taxpayers launching a website with some guidance as to the proper treatment of the costs.

    Hardware or software?

    Let’s start with the hardware you may need to operate a website. The costs involved fall under the standard rules for depreciable equipment. Specifically, once these assets are up and running, you can deduct 100% of the cost in the first year they’re placed in service (before 2023). This favorable treatment is allowed under the 100% first-year bonus depreciation break.

    In later years, you can probably deduct 100% of these costs in the year the assets are placed in service under the Section 179 first-year depreciation deduction privilege. However, Sec. 179 deductions are subject to several limitations.

    For tax years beginning in 2020, the maximum Sec. 179 deduction is $1.04 million, subject to a phaseout rule. Under the rule, the deduction is phased out if more than a specified amount of qualified property is placed in service during the year. The threshold amount for 2020 is $2.59 million.

    There’s also a taxable income limit. Under it, your Sec. 179 deduction can’t exceed your business taxable income. In other words, Sec. 179 deductions can’t create or increase an overall tax loss. However, any Sec. 179 deduction amount that you can’t immediately deduct is carried forward and can be deducted in later years (to the extent permitted by the applicable limits).

    Similar rules apply to purchased off-the-shelf software. However, software license fees are treated differently from purchased software costs for tax purposes. Payments for leased or licensed software used for your website are currently deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses.

    Was the software developed internally?

    An alternative position is that your software development costs represent currently deductible research and development costs under the tax code. To qualify for this treatment, the costs must be paid or incurred by December 31, 2022.

    A more conservative approach would be to capitalize the costs of internally developed software. Then you would depreciate them over 36 months.

    If your website is primarily for advertising, you can also currently deduct internal website software development costs as ordinary and necessary business expenses.

    Are you paying a third party?

    Some companies hire third parties to set up and run their websites. In general, payments to third parties are currently deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses.

    What about before business begins?

    Start-up expenses can include website development costs. Up to $5,000 of otherwise deductible expenses that are incurred before your business commences can generally be deducted in the year business commences. However, if your start-up expenses exceed $50,000, the $5,000 current deduction limit starts to be chipped away. Above this amount, you must capitalize some, or all, of your start-up expenses and amortize them over 60 months, starting with the month that business commences.

    Need Help?

    An experienced accountant can determine the appropriate treatment of website costs for federal income tax purposes. Rely on an expert to help you navigate the proper deductions and expenses at tax time.

  • September 17, 2020 10:11 AM | Rachel Rasmussen

    I talk about the value of time quite a bit with colleagues and clients. We talk about what’s eating away the hours, the benefits of delegating, how it works to have a “virtual” team, and the goals we are all trying to achieve.

    Then we talk numbers.

    I have this handy little chart I’ve used for years. It’s admittedly very elementary, but it’s effective at showing where you’re leaving money on the table by not getting the support you need. This is especially easy to determine if we’re working with billable-hour business models.

    Let’s say your billable time is worth $100 an hour (which I’m only using to keep the math simple … I can practically guarantee your billable time is worth a lot more) and you spend 4 hours a week on non-revenue-generating tasks. You’re basically giving up potentially $400 a week in billable hours… or $20,800 a year!

    x 4 hours/week
    $400 per week

    Otherwise looked at like:

    $400 per week
    x 52 weeks/year

    You’ll never bill for those hours because, unfortunately, nobody will ever pay you for those tasks.


    Say you outsourced some of those tasks to a service provider who specializes in business support – a bookkeeper, a virtual assistant, a copywriter, a Website expert, a virtual receptionist, etc. You pay that specialist $50 an hour to tackle those 4 hours of non-revenue-generating tasks every week (or roughly 16 hours every month).

    At the end of the month, they will send you an invoice for $800.

    $50/hour fee
    X 4 hours/week
    X 4 weeks/month

    If your time is worth $100 an hour, and you just gained back potentially 16 hours of billable time in a month, you’ve just earned a minimum of $800 in potential revenue after paying for some much-needed support.

    $1600 in potential revenue
    – $800 fee for services
    $800 in potential revenue

    That $800 per month … or almost $10,000 a year …. will remain out of reach until you have support because you’ll continue doing it yourself. Nobody will ever pay you for that time or those tasks.

    As I mentioned, I used these numbers to keep the math easy. Now do the math using what your billable time is really worth. $150/hour? $200/hour? $400/hour?

    If your typical billable hour is $150/hour, for example, and you hire an expert for the same $50 an hour to do those 4 hours worth of work, you potentially opened up more than $20,000 in annual revenue.

    Now consider the work you do that’s arguably worth even MORE than your typical billable hour … strategic planning, business development, product or service innovation, etc.

    The bottom line is the cost of your support team remains the same, but your potential revenue increases significantly.

    Business owners need to spend their time growing their business, generating revenue, strategizing, innovating, and exceeding customers’ expectations. They don’t need to spend time managing marketing touch points, or updating their Websites, or researching vendors, or maintaining their social media, or reconciling their books, or answering their phones, or any number of other process-driven, systems-based tasks.

    Invest in growing your team and stop bumping your head against the ceiling of capacity.


    Rachel Rasmussen is the owner of Rescue Desk Virtual Assistant Services. Since 2008, and she and her team have been an "executive assistant for hire," helping overworked business owners make their to-do lists more manageable. Read more of Rachel's musings on business, life as an entrepreneur, and making the most of all of it on the firm's blog.

  • September 14, 2020 10:05 AM | Rachel Rasmussen

    As business owners, we’re often up against challenges we aren’t sure how to figure out.  So, what do we do?

    We find an expert and ask.

    Many of us have partnered with experienced consultants, business coaches and executive advisors, and it’s often one of the best investments we can make in our companies ... and ourselves.

    Without the expert guidance of an experienced business consultant or coach, we might never build our perfectly-suited teams. We may struggle to learn truly effective finance-based decision making. We might never be pushed to make meaningful stretch goals. It might take us longer than we’d like to understand how to pull ourselves out of the day-to-day operations when our long-term strategy needs some attention.

    It’s like the old adage: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” It’s the same premise working with an expert business consultant. Nobody doubts that you can teach yourself how to reach the next level of success. But, if someone has already “been there, done that” and has the training and expertise to teach others, wouldn’t it be more efficient and cost-effective to simply ask them?

    Finding a consultant, coach or advisor is easy. Finding the right coach takes some effort. You need to know what you don’t know, you need to be open to feedback and guidance, and you need to have the self-awareness to understand where the gaps are in your learning.

    Do you need tactical guidance in a very specific area? Do you need to evolve your role to match your succession plans? Do you need a sounding board and someone to challenge you to think bigger and ask better questions? Do you need help evaluating growth strategies that balance growing customer demand without diluting service? Do you need someone who can expertly advise both you AND your leadership team?

    Making the right investment in the right consultant can pay back exponentially in time, resources, revenue, and most importantly, knowledge. It’s difficult to go wrong in partnering with an advisor who can help you push your organization to the next level.


    Madison Area Business Consultants, Inc. is a professional association of business consultants located in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Our members specialize in providing an objective point of view to help you and your organization spot and analyze problems you might not be able to see or recognize.

  • August 05, 2020 3:15 PM | Trey Fischer

    Here's a great LinkedIn article by Trey Fischer of KatLanTat Services.  Click the link below for more information.


  • July 27, 2020 10:01 AM | Anonymous

    Check out this great Focus Matrix handout from Tina Hallis Ph.D!

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