Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Tax Club Investigates: The Taxes of Blogging, (while Blogging on Taxes)

           I'm excited to announce our first ever guest blogger.  Today we have a blog post from the fine folks over at The Tax Club.  They have a great blog as well called The Tax Club Report.  We look forward to other guest blogging opportunities from them. 

             As we begin to rely more on the World Wide Web for our every day needs, entrepreneurs are learning different ways to use the internet to generate income.  Sure, the “Dot Com” era might be something for the business section of the news, but not everyone needs the Wall Street Journal or a high-tech understanding of computers to learn how to make a dime. For example, a lot of people have taken up something that’s as old-fashioned as apple pie and book clubs: sharing hobbies!
            Whether it’s knitting, cooking, or fixing houses, the best way to share your special talent with an international crowd is to start a weblog, or a blog.  This term is often used by the media to describe political weblogs, but any kind of online journal can be a blog. It’s likely that even a few of our readers have blogs of their own. Usually, a blogger makes income by letting third parties advertise on their website. If the blog was created as a platform to share your thoughts on some relevant issues and not to generate a profit, anything made should be filed under the “hobby” section of the tax return.  
Expenses of a hobby can be deducted, but only up to the amount of your hobby income.  The expenses are treated as a miscellaneous tax deduction on Schedule A of your tax return, limited by the 2% of Adjusted Gross Income threshold, so not every hobby will get the deduction.  If the income becomes significant and more time and effort is expended to generate a profit from the blog, then the blogger might be able to treat it as a business, which means some of their expenses can be deducted directly against the income. That’s great news for people who put a large sum of money into their blogs yearly.
            So how does one cross over and become a blogger with a business? For the IRS not to think you’re just trying to claim some deductions off your hobby, you have to become a pretty serious blogger. In determining whether you have a business or a hobby, the Internal Revenue Service and the courts rely heavily on the following factors:
(1) the manner in which the taxpayer carries on the activity; (2) the expertise of the taxpayer or his advisers; (3) the time and effort expended by the taxpayer in carrying on the activity; (4) the expectation that the assets used in the activity may appreciate in value; (5) the success of the taxpayer in carrying on similar or dissimilar activities; (6) the taxpayer's history of income or losses with respect to the activity; (7) the amount of occasional profits, if any, which are earned; (8) the financial status of the taxpayer; and (9) elements of personal pleasure or recreation involved. The preceding factors, although not all inclusive, should guide you, so that your business activities are seen as professional and well planned.  If you cannot meet these factors, there is a “backdoor” way to prove that your activity is a for-profit activity by showing that the activity made a profit in at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year. 
To have the activity treated as a business, rather than a hobby, you need to approach the activity in a professional and serious manner.  You should be able to show that you put time and effort into your blog and you have a dynamic business plan that changes to make your activity more lucrative on a regular basis. You also shouldn’t be teaching people beginner’s knitting when you yourself haven’t reached intermediate; the IRS will be looking for a higher level of expertise. But as long as you are accomplished, you needn’t have your M.B. in Knitting Sciences; there are a lot of people out there who maintain informative blogs for income whose skills were self-taught.
            Once you’ve made sure you’re almost at the point where your hobby is no longer just fun, and you are generating enough income, you can start examining your expenses. The IRS says that anything you use that is “necessary and ordinary” is deductible, and for many of the crafts I mentioned, there are certainly some very necessary items that are used. To start with, all of them would need a website, so hosting the website itself can be deductible. On top of that, anyone knitting, cooking, or fixing houses would probably take photos, both to illustrate the exact motions or actions for old readers, and to attract new ones (everyone loves photos). Thus, a new digital camera for your blog could be deducted.  Once you get down to your hobby-specific items, you need to remember that only what is necessary is deductible. This means that if you are knitting, the yarn for the first Blue Cabled Alpaca Scarf will definitely be deductible, but the three you made for your nephews’ birthdays will not. If you are fixing houses, you can justify showing your readers how to replace roof shingles once, but you can only deduct the expenses that one time.
            If all these rules seem overwhelming, then don’t be dismayed! You can still just keep a blog as a hobby, report your income as miscellaneous income and deduct the expenses limited to the income received from this activity on Schedule A. You can sleep sound at night knowing the IRS won’t be interested in your website (unless you have photos— as we said, everyone loves photos). But if this sounds like just a step away from what you’re already doing, consider filing your appropriate blog expenses under Schedule C this year and give yourself a pat on the back— congratulations! You’re a business owner!

Monday, February 22, 2010

10 Ways to Get on the Front Page of Reddit

Before I start, you might ask "why not Digg?". Well, for one, Reddit is my all time favorite website. Additionally,  Digg might get more traffic and a front page story on Digg might translate to more unique visitors to your website, but the front page is ruled by only 5% (approximately) of their user base.  Basically if you're not a power user, you are shit out of luck unless you dedicate hours daily to becoming one.  The content on Digg isn't bad, I just do not like the website for that and a multitude of other reasons.  That being said, the traffic you can obtain from a front page Reddit story is upwards to 50,000 unique visitors in a 24 hour period..nothing to sneeze at.  Given allt he submissions done on a daily basis through Reddit, how does your entry become a front page story? Below are ten tips that will help increase your chances.

1. Submit Something "Reddit-Related": Find random shit around the house, make it look like a Reddit alien, snap a picture of it, submit it to Reddit and watch the upvotes come!  If you're not that artistic or creative, find an article that mentions Reddit positively (or better yet..a celebrity who mentions that they love Reddit) and that will do the trick.  Just make sure it's not your lame blog that nobody has ever heard of.  You'll find yourself here:

2. Make fun of Nickelback: Just like the rest of the world, Reddit hates Nickelback.  Find a clever way to make fun of these no talent ass clowns and the Reddit community will adore you.  Are there Reddit users who are indifferent towards Nickelback or even ones that like them? Sure, but they are greatly outnumbered by the ones who hate them.

3. Use a Credible Source (Preferably the Original One): If you find a great video, do NOT post it on your blog and then submit the blog link to Reddit.  That folks is called spam and will get you nothing but downvotes. "But what about getting traffic to my blog?".  Trust me, randomly spamming isn't the way to do it.  You might not see the immediate benefit, but building up karma and trust is key to achieving success on Reddit or most other Social Media communities.

4. Be Transparent: Don't make believe that the website you are submitting to Reddit isn't yours.  Be open and honest about it.  As long as the content you are submitting is worth reading, Reddit won't necessarily care that it's your content.  That being said, this doesn't mean you can submit your stuff all the time, but it is okay to do it every so often. Again, just don't be obnoxious about it. When doing it, be transparent with your submission headline.  You can include "my view on x" or "a picture I took of x"..whatever makes the most sense.

5. Are you Interesting? Do an AMA!: AMA stands for "Ask me Anything" and there is a popular subreddit for it (  The subreddit actually stands for "I am A", but you get the point.  People are curious nature so if you do something unique for a living or have been a part of something interesting, do an AMA.

6. Advertising: If all else fails or you just have money to kill, you can advertise your content on Reddit.  It won't appear mixed in with the other front pag stories, but will show up above them on the rotating banner.

7. Remind Everybody How Long it Is Since Sean Hannity Promised to be Waterboarded: This involves simple math so if addition isn't your thing you might want to forget this.  April 22nd (I believe) was the date that Sean Hannity promised to be waterboarded for charity, claiming that it really isn't torture.  Just a heads is and Sean hasn't followed through with his promise.  Make sure if you go down this submission route to wait at least two weeks after the previous Sean Hannity waterboarding reminder.

8. Hate on Digg: Make fun of Digg (kind of like what I did in my opening paragraph) and most of Reddit will love you (while others will say "why all the hate?").  Create a cartoon that compares Reddit to Digg (with Reddit looking far more superior of course) and Reddit will love you even more.

9. Share Your Porn Collection: I usually see at least one or two NSFW (Not Safe for Work) submissions appear on the front page of Reddit at any given time.  Come across a great nude pic? Share it with the Reddit community.

10. Do a Follow Up Submission: This works especially well with a "Self" submission.  If you had something that reached the front page that calls for a follow up (i.e. You asked Reddit how to break up with your girlfriend), create another post, reference your original one and let the them know what happened.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Top 10 Best Unknown Websites - 2010 Addition

Given the success of our previous "top 10 best unknown websites" list (we still get about 50 hits a day to this year and a half old article), I decided to make an updated list with more current "unknown websites".  Feel free to add others in the comment section.

10. 27 B Slash 6 - Unusual name, unusual website.  This funny funny website, run by Australian Web Designer (maybe?) David Thorne, mostly consists of e-mail exchanges of David screwing with people.  These people range from landlords, gym staff, and coworkers.  You might recognize this site from the Spider Drawing Story, but there are a dozen more hilarious e-mail exchanges on the site.  Also a somewhat under the radar article are his son's rants on every day life.

9. Awkward Family Photos - They could be a little more strict with what they allow on their website, but Awkward Family Photos is still an entertaining time killer.  The website is exactly what it sounds like...a list of awkward family photos. 

8. Passive Aggressive Notes - Ever receive a "not so nice" e-mail or note? Submit to this blogging website and you'll likely see it appear in a future post.  Passive Aggressive Notes is entirely made up individuals submitting passive aggressive notes they come across to the website hosts who post it and blog about it.  Very addicting.

7. People of Walmart - This site might make you think twice before enterting a Walmart again (or maybe it will entice you to go even more).  People of Walmart highlights the weirdest breed of Walmart customers via hilarious pictures. 

6. Who's Your Champion - From Chuck Norris to Epic Beard Man, if you can think of a true "champion" you'll likely find them on here.  Who's Your Champion is a website that allows you to submit  who you think is a champion and vote for other people's submissions.  Submissions includes a bio of the person, video, and various imagery.  This is a great site to find a ton of "wtf" YouTube gems.

5. Please Rob Me - This is starting to get out of unknown territory given the fact that it was featured on TechCrunch and Mashable (not to mention that it was a front page story on Reddit).  This website is just more comical than anything else.  It's also a website where you probalbly will visit it once and never come back again.  I won't spoil the'll see what I'm referring to when you visit.

4.  The Engagement Club - The Engagement Club is a new Social Network that revolves around all things engagement related. Seek advice from the site owner Josh or various forum users, read some educational articles, or see how the love story between Tim and Jill unfold.  My personal favorite feature of the site are the proposal videos.  They have a directory of various engagement proposal videos sorted by "best", "worst", and "most romantic".  Definitely can spend hours watching these.

3. Chatroulette - Chatroulette is exactly how it sounds.  It's a random chat program where you don't know who you'll be speaking to. The program allows you to type in your text and see the other person via video.  Very interesting and often hilariously entertaining.

2. Lamebook -  To me, nothing is funnier than seeing a Facebook Status update gone wrong.  Lamebook has a ton of them.  You might have to sit through a few of them to find the truly hilarious ones, but definitely worth it once you do.

1. BoxerJam - I put CandyStand as one of my favorite "free online games" websites for my last post.  BoxerJam has TONS of extremely addicting games (mostly focused on mind challenging ones which are my favorite).  Favorite game here has to be MindStein.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Top 5 New Restaurants in New York City

NYC is known for many things, including the wide variety and greatness of their restaurants. Every year there are many new (and delicious) eateries that sprout up in New York City. It is nearly impossible to be kept in the loop on all the new restaurants in the area making it highly likely that you are missing out on a new potential favorite food spot of choice. We've visited a few new ones over the past few months and narrowed it down to the five best new restaurants (3 months or later) in New York City.

1. This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef - Brand spanking new, but our favorite. Katz deli needs to watch out because This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef is one of the best sandwich joints I've ever been to. Seriously. Go now before the lines start to pick up because this place will catch on quickly. The menu is limited, but I think this works to their advantage given how great the food is.
Must Have: Pastrami Sandwich (the best I've ever had)
Location: 149 1st Avenue

2. Led Zeppole - Led Zeppole I believe is run by the same owners as This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef (if this is the case, congrats on having two kick ass new eateries). If you have a sweet tooth this place will satisfy your craving and then some. From deep fried Oreos, to soft serve ice cream, to fried dough this place has it all when it comes to desserts. Downside is the size (very small), but might make it's way as the best dessert spot in NYC.
Must Have: Funnel Cake
Location: 328 E 14th St

3. The Tax Club Cafe - You would never guess from the look of their website, but The Tax Club Cafe seems to pride itself on its exclusivity (made evident by the lack of address or phone number information). We'll tell you that it's on Lexington Avenue, but that's all we'll reveal :). The Tax Club Cafe is an American joint that specializes in brunch (although they do serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well). Food is excellent, service is great, just a pain in the ass to find. If you do find it, you'll be in for a treat.
Must Have: Breakfast Risotto with Quail Eggs.
Location: Lexington Ave

4. Matsukado - For those of you looking for a new Asian eatery look no further. If you're a fan of Japanese noodle, this place will be perfect for you as they offer amen, udon and soba. If you're on a budget, this place has plenty of food for a low price as well.
Must Have: Miso Ramen
Location: 104 2nd Ave

5. Carteles - I personally hate the decor (too vibrant), but it doesn't take away from the great food that this Cuban sandwich shop serves up. Service is a little slow (which is the only downside), but you can easily get around this by calling ahead of time. If Cuban sandwiches are your thing..or even if your'e not sure...definitely check this place out.
Must Have: El Cubano
Location: 443 E 6th St