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201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business
Beating the Odds in Small Business
Business Know-How: An Operational Guide for Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets
The Business of Consulting: The Basics and Beyond
The Business Side of Creativity
The Complete Caterer: A Practical Guide to the Craft and Business of Catering
Complete Guide to Home Business
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Money in Freelancing
The Essential Business Buyer's Guide
Futurize Your Enterprise: Business Strategy in the Age of the E-Customer
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How to Make Money Publishing from Home: Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Publish: Books, Newsletters, Greeting Cards, Zines, and Software
Inc. Yourself: How to Profit by Setting Up Your Own Corporation
Money Hunt: The 27 New Rules for Creating and Growing a Breakaway Business
Running a One-Person Business
Secrets of Self-Employment: Surviving and Thriving on the Ups and Downs of Being Your Own Boss
Small-Time Operator: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes, and Stay Out of Trouble
Smart Strategies for Growing Your Business
The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies
What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants
The Work at Home Balancing Act: The Professional Resource Guide for Managing Yourself, Your Work, and Your Family at Home
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422 Tax Deductions for Businesses and Self-Employed Individuals Business
The Business Plan Guide for Independent Consultants
Collection Techniques for a Small Business
Don't Let the IRS Destroy Your Small Business: Seventy-Six Mistakes to Avoid
Financing Your Small Business
Get Your Money! How to Protect Your Business Without Losing Your Customers
J.K. Lasser's Taxes Made Easy for Your Home-Based Business: The Ultimate Tax Handbook for Self-Employed Professionals, Consultants, and Freelancers
Keep Your Hard-Earned Money: Tax-Saving Solutions for the Self-Employed
Keeping the Books: Basic Recordkeeping and Accounting for the Successful Small Business
Minding Her Own Business
The Small Business Money Guide: How to Get It, Use It, Keep It
Tax Planning and Preparation Made Easy for the Self-Employed
Tax Savvy for Small Business: Year-Round Tax Strategies to Save You Money, 4th edition
Smart Tax Write-Offs
Wage Slave No More: Law and Taxes for the Self-Employed
100 Best Retirement Businesses
101 Best Home Businesses
121 Internet Businesses You Can Start from Home: Plus a Beginners Guide to Starting a Business Online
The 101 Best Freelance Careers
Consulting for Dummies
Finding Your Perfect Work: The New Career Guide to Making a Living, Creating a Life
Guide to Self-Employment
Harvard Business Review on Entrepreneurship
Home Business, Big Business
The Joy of Working from Home: Making a Life while Making a Living
Moneymaking Moms: How Work at Home Can Work for You
Money-Smart Secrets of the Self-Employed
The New Pioneers
On Your Own: A Guide to Working Happily, Productively & Successfully from Home
Soloing: Realizing Your Life's Ambition
Spare Room Tycoon: The Seventy Lessons of Sane Self-Employment
Strikingitrich.com: Profiles of 23 Incredibly Successful Websites You've Probably Never Heard Of
Survival Jobs: 154 Ways to Make Money While Pursuing Your Dreams
Un-Jobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook
White-Collar Sweatshop
Working for Yourself
Working Solo
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101 Home Office Success Secrets
The Home Office Book
The Home Office
The Home Office and Small Business Answer Book
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Home Offices: Your Guide to Planning and Furnishing
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Organize Your Home Office! Simple Routines for Setting Up an Office at Home
Practical Home Office Solutions
The Stay-At Home Mom's Guide to Making Money from Home: Choosing the Business That's Right for You Using the Skills and Interests You Already Have
The Ultimate Home Office Survival Guide
The Work-At-Home Mom's Guide to Home Business
Working at Home while the Kids Are There, Too
Working From Home: Everything You Need to Know About Living and Working Under the Same Roof
The Contract and Fee-Setting Guide for Consultants and Professionals
The Copyright Handbook
222 Ways to Promote Your Small Business on a Budget
AMA Complete Guide to Small Business Advertising
The Brand You 50
Bringing Home the Business: The 30 Truths Every Home Business Owner Must Know
Guerrilla Marketing for the Home- Based Business
Marketing on the Internet
One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time
Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing
Jobshift: How to Prosper in a Workplace Without Jobs
The Perfect Business
The Way of the Guerrilla: Achieving Success and Balance as an Entrepreneur in the 21st Century
Work with Passion
Starting Out
101 Best Home-Based Businesses For Women
The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century: The Inside Information You Need to Know to Select a Home-Based Business That's Right for You
The Business of Bliss: How to Profit from Doing What You Love
Business Start-Up Guide: How to Create, Grow and Manage Your Own Successful Enterprise
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business
The Concise Guide to Becoming an Independent Consultant
Get a Life! Start Your Home-Based Business Now: One Action Step at a Time
Going Indie: Self-Employment Freelance and Temping Opportunities
Going Solo: Developing a Home-Based Consulting Business from the Ground Up
Homemade Money: How to Select, Start, Manage, and Multiply the Profits of a Business at Home
Honey, I Want to Start My Own Business
How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Communications Business
How to Really Start Your Own Business : A Step-By-Step Guide, 3rd Edition
Making Money in a Health Service Business on Your Home-Based PC
Start Up: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Launching and Managing a New Business
Upstart Start-Ups! How 34 Young Entrepreneurs Overcame Youth, Inexperience, and Lack of Money to Create Thriving Businesses
The Young Entrepreneur's Edge: Using Your Ambition, Independence, and Youth to Launch a Successful Business


The Complete Internet Business Toolkit
The Consultant's Guide to Getting Business on the Internet
Growing Your Business Online: Small-Business Strategies for Working the World Wide Web
Making Money in Cyberspace


     book review

Being Self-Employed
By Holmes F. Crouch
Reviewed by Tina Pamintuan

Question: how annoyed can one man get at the IRS during an audit? Answer: so annoyed that he learns all the ins and outs of tax law, switches his career from nuclear engineer to tax practitioner, and writes a series of straight-talking guides that help others meet their taxation obligations without shelling out any more money than necessary.

Meet Holmes F. Crouch. From the full-page head shot that begins Being Self-Employed, Crouch may not look like the tax terminator he proves himself to be in the next 224 pages. Indeed, he looks more like a kindly grandfather, complete with snow-white hair, horn-rimmed glasses, and white hankie tucked carefully in his breast pocket. He plays the part, too: in Being Self-Employed, a relatively slim addition to the All-Year tax guide series, Crouch treats his readers to a gold mine of accounting tips like an indulgent grandfather spoiling his grandkids with sweets.

Well aware that tax books hold low priority on the average person's reading list, Crouch makes his medicine easy-to-swallow by dissecting the confusing text found on tax forms and translating it into plain language. The result is a tax guide that can significantly reduce the time you spend doing your taxes come April.

Being Self-Employed is designed to be read in less than eight hours. For those truly pressed for time, Crouch says, even 30 minutes of skimming will teach you something helpful. There's real meat here, though, be assured of that. Even if you consider yourself well-informed on tax matters, give this guide a few hours if you can. After all, at $20 a pop for the paperback version ($16.96 from Amazon.com), it's not the cheapest guide out there. But it pays for itself by providing solutions to some of the most perplexing financial conundrums.

Take the matter of working out of your home, for example. As Crouch explains in chapter 4, "Business Use of Home," the IRS is picky about deductions claimed for housing expenses. The key to claiming deductions that the IRS won't challenge is to be specific. Guessing about square footage and then going through dubious calculations to determine the percentage of office space in your home won't fly with Uncle Sam.

Crouch's advice? Get out your tape measure, take exact measurements, and then draw a sketch of your home, shading in all areas used as "regular and exclusive" office spaces. Don't forget to indicate clearly on your drawing (which does not need to be to scale) the total square footage of your office space as well as the total area of the residence. Attach this drawing to your tax return and -- here's the clincher -- make sure you've been reasonable! That's right, no deductions for areas that aren't truly used for business purposes. You cannot (read should not), for example, take deductions for partial areas of the kitchen simply because you sometimes serve refreshments to clients in your home.

Here's another hint from Crouch: business-use percentages that turn out to be less than 5% are generally unacceptable to the IRS. So are percentages that turn out to be more than 30%. Make sure you fall somewhere in this range, or prepare to be challenged by the IRS.

Plain and Simple

Some of the most helpful sections in Being Self-Employed are Crouch's translations of certain tax laws. The laws are often so dense as to be incomprehensible.

Not for Crouch. of course.

On the tricky subject of how to treat taxable income from business partnerships involving married or unmarried persons, Crouch pulls sub-section 1402(a)(5)(B) from the tax law books. First, he prints the original law written by the IRS. Directly beneath it, he prints his own.

"In any portion of a partner's distributive share of the ordinary income or loss from a trade or business carried on by a partnership is community income or loss under the community property laws applicable to such share, all such distributive share shall be included in computing the net earnings from self-employment of such partner, and no part of such share shall be taken into account in computing the net earnings from self-employment of such partner, and no part of such share shall be taken into account in computing the net earnings from self-employment of the spouse of such partner."

Compare this to Crouch's version.

"In other words, each member of a partnership, whether married or unmarried, whether in a community property or separate property state, shall regard his/her distributive share (of the partnership income or loss) as his/her separate self-employment net earnings."

Neither version rolls off the tongue, but Crouch's is clearly more accessible. He takes 63 fewer words to make his point -- an advantage for IPs who don't have the time or patience to wrestle with full-bore legalese.

Readers can further cut down the time spent with this book by concentrating on the chapters relevant to their particular circumstances (not all the sections apply to all IPs).

Truly Strapped for Time?

The truly taxophobic, those who put aside their 1040s until April 14th and then find a formidable task staring them in the face, should at a minimum read Chapters 1-4 and 8-10. The first four chapters cover all the basics from an explanation and illustrated diagram of a 1040 form to instructions on how to IRS-proof your records. Chapters 8, 9, and 10 are required reading as well. These sections discuss the IRS's tendency to view self-employed individuals with suspicion, as well as about reporting net profit or loss, calculating and prepaying estimated taxes, and other critical matters of taxation.

The remaining five chapters are interest-specific. For instance, IPs engaged in the selling or re-selling of what Crouch calls "tangible" products, such as handicrafts, should take special note of chapter 5, "Direct-Cost Items." Those who have received notice of an impending audit should waste no time in proceeding directly to chapters 8 and 11, "Surveillance Matters" and "The Audit Strike," respectively. (The audited should take heart in the knowledge that the author understands their hardships from first-hand experience.)

And if the audit escalates into penalties and (gulp) tax suits, Holmes F. Crouch will be there every step of the way. Just pick up the appropriate volume of the other guides in the All-Year tax series: Winning Your Audit, Disagreeing with the IRS, Contesting IRS Penalties, and Going into Tax Court.

Return to Books main page | Buy this book

May 1, 2000
Edited by Eric Gershon
Production by Fletcher Moore

We'd love to hear your comments about this article!

Tina Pamintuan is a freelance writer who lives in Washington, D.C. If you like, we'd be happy to put you in touch with her, or with any of the other IPs named in this article.

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