Libman Tax Strategies July 2019



JULY 2019

A Little-Known Trade Secret Want to Legally Write off That Family Vacation to Hawaii?

If your family is anything like mine, the second the school year is officially over, your spouse and kids start planning some legendary summer vacations. If this hasn’t already started for you this year, trust me, it’s coming soon! Even though they have lived their entire lives in sunny California, my boys love the beach, so, whenever the opportunity for a family trip comes up, you can bet they are begging to go to Hawaii to swim with the turtles. If you’ve vacationed in those small tropical islands just across the pond, then you know that compared to other sandy beaches throughout the world, Hawaii can be a little pricey. But that’s no reason for your kids to unpack their bags. Let me tell you how you can legally write off that family trip to Hawaii this year. According to the IRS, anything and everything can be considered deductible as long as there is a business-driven purpose behind it. 1. GET TO WORK In order to write off your vacation, the very first step you need to take is making sure you have some type of business. I see how this step can seem both simple and difficult from various perspectives. If you either don’t already have an established business or aren’t sure if your vocation counts, give me a call, and we’ll get this step taken care of. 2. IMPORTANT ACRONYMS When you decide it’s time to start a new business, you’ll have to explore the various business structures available, such as a DBA Directions for the Perfect Family Vacation (from your favorite local tax strategist):

and LLC. One of the most common questions I run into is “What is the difference between a DBA and an LLC?” While it’s all quite complex, here’s a quick breakdown.

DBA is simply an acronym for “doing business as.” It is sometimes referred to as a trade name, fictitious business name, or assumed business name. A DBA allows a business to operate under a name that is different from its legal name, whereas a limited liability company, or LLC, means a business is operating as a distinct and separate legal entity from its owners. While LLCs require more formalities than a DBA, they have fewer restrictions than corporations.

If you need help deciding between these options, setting them up, or establishing an employer identification number (EIN) — which you’ll definitely need — give me a call!

3. IMPORTANT PARTNERSHIPS Once you have established some kind of business, you’ll need to create a general partnership with the other immediate members of your family (spouse and kids). The law states you can’t write off the money you spend bringing your kids with you on vacation, but if you make your kids part-owners of your business, then you can write off their financial portion of the vacation. You don’t have to incorporate; you just need a general partnership where everyone is technically an owner. If you get stuck, let me know! 4. MONEY FUNDS The next step is to open a business bank account. Transfer money into that account, then find a conference in Hawaii (or any other travel location) hosting an event or conference for you to attend. For IRS purposes, if you’re taking a trip in the U.S., you’ll need to spend at least four hours at this event/conference, document it, and then pay for everything through the business bank account in order to write it off. 5. KEEP TRACK Lastly, you’ll need some kind of documentation to verify you attended this event or conference. You can use a certificate of completion or log any associated email correspondences. In short, try to find a way to track your time spent working. 6. BOTTOM LINE While these steps might sound fairly simple, they are easy to mess up. The bottom line is you should give me a call, so we can work together to ensure you have all aspects in order and enjoy your Hawaiian vacation the way you deserve to!

-Adam Libman

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Common Financial Pi tfal ls

The bulk of retirement planning is spent discussing how you will save money in the years leading up to the end of your career, but that’s only half of the picture. Once you enter retirement, your focus shifts to the smartest way to divest your money for both your own enjoyment and your continued financial security. There are countless ways to wisely spend your nest egg, such as taking trips, providing for the education of your grandchildren, and more. However, this article isn’t about good ideas. Instead, let’s talk about some of the worst ways to spend your retirement funds. TIMESHARES The appeal of a timeshare seems obvious. It’s a space of your own for a few weeks of the year, and you get to enjoy a nice change of pace from your regular environment. The problem is that these properties are full of hidden costs and have been outpaced by other vacationing options. In a world where you can book an Airbnb with just a few clicks, timeshares are poised to become a relic of a past age. ONLINE SCAMS Hackers and cyberscammers love to prey on the elderly. As gross as it may sound, they know that older generations tend to be less tech savvy than their younger counterparts. You should be wary of online offers that look too good to be true. If you have even the slightest doubt, have a loved one take a look at the offer to ensure you’re

not being scammed. Never provide your private financial data to a source you don’t absolutely trust.

TCHOTCHKES Many of us have walked into the house of an older relative to find a room full of American Girl dolls or a display case of Candlewick glassware. Collecting can be a rewarding hobby when done in moderation, but amassing junk simply for its own sake is a waste of money and space. Make sure you’re acquiring objects because you truly want to treasure them. RUSHED RELOCATIONS In general, real estate-based purchases can be extremely beneficial for retirees. The exception to this rule is a spur-of-the-moment relocation in order to be closer to your family or a retirement community. Because real estate transactions are so expensive, it’s best to approach them with extreme care and due diligence.

OneVery Cool Client!

Meet Sherry Hodge of Sherry Hodge Design

successfully sell their properties. An ability to collaborate with agents, contractors, and her clients has earned Sherry a well- deserved reputation as a true professional. Sherry is so great at what she does that she made my office look beautiful and sellable even with the cheap budget I gave her to work with back in 2014. In the five years she and her husband have been clients of mine, I’ve been impressed by their dedication to hard work. I distinctly remember when her husband decided to take on the challenge of going back to school to become a registered nurse. It was amazing to me not only that he had the ability to start his career over and assiduously work to earn the career he wanted, but also that Sherry supported him emotionally and financially during this time. If you are ever looking for a professional with a keen artistic eye to help stage your home or work space, I’m telling you, Sherry is the gal! You can check out her portfolio at!

Originating in China almost 6,000 years ago, feng shui literally translates to “wind” and “water.” In ancient times, farms and villages were often built within the protective folds of mountains, shielded from harmful winds and nurtured by the gentle, winding streams. Since then, this concept has managed to stay at the forefront of the architectural and design world and influences people all over the world to closely consider the placement, layout, and color of buildings and objects in relation to natural energy. These rules of thumb allow for the most ideal arrangement in any given situation. Perhaps no one has mastered this concept better than Sherry Hodge, owner of Sherry Hodge Design. Sherry began her career in the television production business working with clients like HGTV, Fine, and Sony Television. While working in TV, she and her husband were also renovating and restoring homes in South Pasadena. After 25 years in the TV business, she decided to focus on her passion for real estate. Since 2006, she has worked side by side with nearly 200 homeowners and real estate agents to

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Which Financial Tech Platforms Should You Use? Pair These Helpful Apps with Adam's Advice, and You're Lookin' Good for 2019!

efficiently. Connect all of your accounts, and the app will show you what your money goes to every month and ways you can save by improving your spending in certain areas.

For all the people out there who have deemed math their eternal nemesis, the invention of the modern-day calculator was nothing short of groundbreaking. But even after you reach the end of your high school or college calculus classes, you still need to keep track of how much of your paycheck you’re saving, where to allocate all your hard-earned cash, and how much you can safely dedicate to your fun and travel fund. Fortunately, the era of having to hand-balance your checkbook has come to an end. Just as you harnessed the awesome technology contained within your calculator, you too can take advantage of the coolest phone apps to manage your money with ease. Here are a few you should check out! ACORNS This app is made for the easygoing or novice investor. You can start by connecting all your cards to the app, and every time you use them for a purchase, it rounds up to the next dollar and puts the spare change into exchange-traded funds. You can also set up daily, weekly, or monthly recurring investments, or make one-time investments at your discretion. POCKETGUARD This budgeting app acts as your own personal financial advocate by studying your debts and bills and recommending strategies to curb bills and pay down debt more

SPENDEE This financial tracking and planning app proffers a shared wallets option, which makes it ideal for couples, families, and roommates looking to track their finances together. Additionally, the app will let you know whether you’re on track to spend less than you earn. Plus, if your household is saving up for a big expense, like a vacation or tuition costs, you can set special event budgets to help you reach your shared goals. Here at Libman Tax Strategies, we encourage clients to use these apps in the early stages of investing or automating their wealth because these programs can definitely help with the process. But still, you can’t rely on an app alone to change your behavior or make smart, well-informed decisions regarding your taxes. While they are great tools to use, financial apps can’t serve as a stand-in tax strategist. Only a human can do that. Let Adam show you how!

Here at Adam Libman Tax Strategies, our Diamond Club is invitation only and reserved for our top clients. If you have questions about the privileges that come with being a Diamond Client or want more information, make sure you give Adam a call! Diamond Clients Have You Heard About Our Diamond Club?




• Randy Gleckman * • Jay & Laine Zuckerman * • Ken Ma & Juliana Tu • Max Keylor • Lynn Adkins * • Ms. X

*Founding Members of the Diamond Club

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HikingWithYour Kids

Watch Their World Expand With Every Step

option is a bug holder to let your kids catch smaller insects, such as grasshoppers or pill bugs, and give them a close-up look.

The value of a strong brand cannot be overstated when it comes to growing your business. We call adhesive bandages Band-Aids and cotton swabs Q-Tips because those companies excel at creating memorable, trusted brands that consumers can rely on. There’s no recipe for creating a brand so strong that the name of your product becomes common vernacular, but developing a strong, consistent brand is within the reach of every business owner. This is why it’s frustrating to see companies hurt their branding through easily avoidable mistakes. Business owners often deprioritize branding in the early stages of their company, but that’s a dangerous mistake. If a potential customer interacts with your brand and it doesn’t resonate with them, it’s going to be hard to win them back. By avoiding these common errors, you can create a brand that people will support and interact with. BLAND BRANDING “Branding is deliberate differentiation,” says author and consultant Debbie Millman. In other words, don’t create your brand by copying somebody else’s. The best brands stand out. Think about the iconic Nike swoosh, one of the greatest logos in business history. There was nothing like it at the time, and there’s little like it today. Hiking has many benefits as a family activity, such as mental health improvement, strengthening your relationships, and experiencing new sights and discoveries together. It’s also great exercise, and you get plenty of quality time, fresh air, and sunshine. Here are three guidelines to help you and your kids have fun on your next hike. ENCOURAGE THEIR CURIOSITY One of the best ways to have your children learn about the world is letting them explore it. Being there for your children and encouraging them to ask questions about flowers, bugs, or animals you see on the trail will help them expand their vocabulary and learn how things work. When they learn they can explore independently and ask about the world around them, they’re gaining the confidence to teach themselves. BRING ALONG SOME TOOLS OF DISCOVERY Getting your children to engage in nature while you’re out hiking can be as simple as bringing a magnifying glass along with you. Let your kids look at leaves, rocks, insects, or anything else you might come across on the trail. You can also bring binoculars to help them look at a bird that might be perched a little too high up. Another

KEEP SAFETY IN MIND While you’re out on the trail, it's essential to make sure that both you and your family are safe. Wear breathable, noncotton material and sturdy shoes that don’t expose your toes. It’s important to dress according to the weather. For example, if the day is sunny, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and apply plenty of sunscreen on any exposed skin. Bring your kids’ favorite snacks and water bottles for everyone to stay hydrated. It’s crucial that you also bring a fully stocked first-aid kit in case someone is injured on the hike. Starting with one of your local hiking trails can be a rewarding way to spend the day with your kids. You can watch their excitement as they expand their world with new discoveries.

That Can Torpedo Your Company’s Image Common Branding Mistakes

SLOPPY COPY Branding is far more than just a cool logo and a flashy website. The words you use to convey your values — and the value you offer customers — are crucial. Bad grammar, weird word choice, and other linguistic faux pas can make you look silly. Make sure you have professional editors look over your copy to ensure it relays the message you want it to.

PLATFORM INCONSISTENCY Have you ever logged onto a mobile version of a website and wondered if you were in the wrong place? When that happens, it’s because a company hasn’t made the effort to mirror their branding across all platforms. It’s one thing to have an irreverent online presence — look to MoonPie’s Twitter feed for an example — it’s another to have such disparate branding that you leave customers confused. A great brand synergizes all aspects to create one indelible image for consumers. Share your values, convey clear messages, and provide a professional image. Once you’ve done that, you’re on the road to building a brand that people want to support.

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The Real-Life Ramen King Jason Easton of Ramen Manichi

shared with the Los Angeles Times, the location was previously a video shop, but the distinctive tiles on the floor date back to when it was a shoe store in the 1930s. Easton and his wife, who also works there, specialize in Tonkotsu ramen, the dense pork-built bone broth that originated in Kurume, a region known for its pigs. They also serve the usual delicious accompaniments: spicy miso, pickled greens, bamboo, shrimp, soft-cooked egg, and pork. In the two years Jason has been a client, I’ve seen his shop featured more than a handful of times in the news. Customers love Ramen Manichi so much that reporters have done several television and print stories on the most popular menu items to let even more people know what they are missing out on. I like to joke that Jason is L.A. famous, but in reality, he is. If you’re a lover of all things ramen or you want to give this staple Japanese dish a try, I would highly recommend Ramen Manichi over any other noodle restaurant. Now that I think about it, I’m getting pretty hungry myself!

I love it whenever I meet clients who own and manage their own restaurant because it gives me a great excuse to drive over and sample their tastiest of dishes. Perhaps none have kept me coming back for second and third helpings more than Ramen Manichi, a trendy and delicious noodle house located in Little Tokyo. Jason Easton, the owner of the restaurant, worked in construction for several years prior to opening Ramen Manichi in 2015, so he was actually the one who built the stylish shop, complete with a red-and-black color scheme and 16 two-top tables and a 10-seat ramen bar. According to an interview Jason

These prizes are absolutely real, and they are our FREE gifts to you. For more information about this program, please visit Our Prize Giveaway Program Gift Cards, Tablets, andVacations!

Here at Libman Tax Strategies, our mutual relationship with you is what makes our business function at its highest level. I am honored that so many customers trust us enough to recommend our services to others. We can’t possibly express how much these referrals mean to us, but with our new referral PRIZE GIVEAWAY PROGRAM, we hope we are at least coming close! PRIZE NO. 1: If you like reading our newsletter and think someone you know might enjoy it too, we’d love to add them to our mailing list. Send us their name and address, and we’ll send them a newsletter. To thank you for your referral, we’ll give you a $5 gift card to Starbucks! PRIZE NO. 2: If you get a friend, family member, colleague, or even a stranger in the grocery store to use our services, we will give you a FREE Amazon tablet! Easy as that! PRIZE NO. 3: After we give you the FREE Amazon tablet as a thank-you for your referral, we will enter your name in a quarterly drawing for a romantic weekend getaway to Palm Springs!

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'Fierce Conversations' Learn How to Get Your Message Across

your body knows.” Instead of relying on fake bravado or false modesty, the author argues it’s better that the bravery be genuine. Breaking down those social barriers to be authentic in our conversations takes true ferocity.

So often, we talk to our friends, coworkers, and loved ones without actually saying anything. We’ll beat around the bush on important subjects or hesitate to bring up sensitive matters. Global business coach and best-selling author Susan Scott has set out to change that. In her book “Fierce Conversations,” Scott argues that the key to get more out of our personal and professional relationships is to learn to lower our barriers and convey our message honestly. “Fierce Conversations” is one of those works born out of a simple idea with big implications. As the author explains it, “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can.” By having the communication skills necessary to create lasting bonds, handle strong emotions, and overcome barriers, you’ll be prepared when crucial conversations present themselves. Those who tend to judge a book by its cover may make the mistake of associating the word “fierce” with “aggressive.” However, as a master of meaningful communication, Scott has found that it’s important not to force emotions one way or the other. As she observes, “If your behavior contradicts your values,

Scott does more than simply explain why frank

and honest communication is important; she gives readers the tools to get there. Having spent years as a business coach, and now as the head of a firm that trains CEOs around the globe, Scott is well-versed in the art of teaching exercises. “Fierce Conversations” is brimming with action items, tactics, and tailor- made examples of how to communicate in every situation, from board meetings to parenting. If you’re someone who likes concrete guides over vague concepts, this book will pleasantly surprise you.

Take Advantage of the Summer

And Host a Great Company Picnic

enough in your budget, you can

Are you tired of watching perfect summer days pass your office by from the wrong side of the window? Instead of leaving work to enjoy the weather, bring your company outside! A company picnic is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the warm weather and foster team camaraderie through awards, team-building exercises and, of course, good food. Putting on a slam-bang company picnic is no easy feat, but if you start with these three fundamentals, you’ll be well on your way to pulling off an event the whole company will remember for years to come. PICNIC THEME The first step to organizing a company picnic is to choose a theme your employees will be excited about. From a Hawaiian luau to a country western barbecue, the possibilities are endless. To generate more hype at the office, you can hand out fun invitations that go along with the theme, like lei necklaces or custom sunglasses. At the actual picnic, the theme should influence your setup, team-building exercises, activities, and food and drink. PICNIC LOCATION Large public parks can easily accommodate big groups, but if you’re in a pinch, you can also use your company campus. If you have

rent a venue nearby that works with your theme. Make sure your location has enough seating for everyone and keep track of the weather reports for that day if you’re grilling outside. PICNIC FOOD/DRINK Let’s not forget the most important part of a good company picnic — the food! First, you need to consider what type of picnic will go best with your theme. Will this picnic be a potluck, or will the food be catered? Will alcohol be allowed at the picnic? If so, will the company provide it, or will it be BYOB? When in doubt, just choose the realistic option for your budget and remember to stick with your theme. Ultimately, the purpose of your company picnic is to give your employees opportunities to bond outside the office and celebrate one another through awards and team building. Follow the above tips and your company picnic will go off without a hitch!

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Do You Know Any Facebook Marketing Experts? I Do!

Watermelon Cucumber Skewers


Inspired by

Skewers are a Fourth of July favorite, but these are not your classic kebabs. They’re a fresh, light, and fun way to start a barbecue. Oh, and they don’t require any actual cooking.


1 medium-sized watermelon, cubed 2 cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

• • • • •

1 block feta cheese, cubed 1 bunch fresh mint leaves

Salt, to taste


This is a business I’ve been excited to feature in the newsletter for quite some time simply because I think what this company provides its customers is necessary, modern, and cutting edge. RPM Group, run by Rebecca McDonalds, works with other businesses and individual clients in all sorts of vocations to improve their Facebook advertising and digital marketing. As of December 2018, Facebook reported having 2.32 billion monthly active users, which is a 9% increase in users since 2018. Over 1.52 billion people log onto Facebook every day, posting 510,000 comments every 60 seconds, 293,000 status updates, and 136,000 photos. Suffice it to say, while many young technologically savvy people believe Facebook is becoming more outdated, numbers like these prove it is still as popular as ever. Rebecca’s success as a social media marketer demonstrates how effective advertising is on this platform, and Rebecca runs marketing campaigns from start to finish for these companies and entrepreneurs. She uses Facebook algorithms to pinpoint a target audience, creates the advertisement, including design and copywriting, and then tracks its progress. I speak honestly when I say her clients are lucky to have access to her guidance and advice. She is both creative and technical, a great combination that has helped drive her success. In addition to her hard work at RPM Group, Rebecca is also a great mother to a beautiful little girl. The two of them go on endless adventures in Rebecca’s Tesla. If you or anyone you know needs some guidance with social media marketing, you needn’t look any further. I’d be happy to pass along Rebecca’s information. Just give me a call today.

1 packet of bamboo skewers


1. Assemble skewers by placing one watermelon cube, one cucumber round, one feta cube, and one mint leaf on skewer in that order. Repeat until skewer is full. 2. Lightly season with salt and chill in fridge until right before serving.


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150 N. Santa Anita Avenue, Suite 740 Arcadia, CA 91006 424.253.0200


INSIDE THIS ISSUE P1 Want to Know HowYou Can LegallyWrite Off That FamilyVacation to Hawaii? P2 TheWorst Retirement Spending Decisions Client Spotlight: Sherry Hodge P3 Are Money Managing Phone Apps the Answer? Our Diamond Club P4 HikingWithYour Kids AreYou RuiningYour Brand? P5 Business Spotlight: Ramen Manichi Check Out Our Free Prizes! P6 MakeYourself HeardWith 'Fierce Conversations' Hosting a Company Picnic P7 Let Rebecca McDonalds ShowYou How to Become a Social Media Expert! Watermelon Cucumber Skewers P8 Maria's Corner Maria's Corner All the Happy Days Coming up in July!

July is one of my absolute favorite months of the year because it means two wonderful holidays are coming up: Independence Day on July 4 and my birthday on July 8! While one is possibly the most widely-celebrated national holiday, the other probably could be observed a little more closely, in my humble opinion. The Fourth of July is always an exhilarating time at the Libman residence. With a house full of males, I could never expect anything less than pure, unadulterated enthusiasm for brats sizzling on the grill and colorful fireworks lighting up the night sky. My kids are also fond of those small Snap-It fireworks they can throw at the ground — and sometimes each other’s feet. After a couple of my most serious “Mom” looks, they avoid throwing them near me. Just days after this fun-filled American holiday, I’ll get to celebrate my birthday. While I look forward to my birthday every year, I’m especially excited for this one in particular. I wonder if the excitement stems from the fact that it’s one of my last couple of birthdays before I hit the big 4-0. Either way, I’m ready to spend a day out of the house out hanging out with

my girlfriends where “I don’t have to cook and clean as much,” as Adam likes to say.

All in all, I’m ready for all the high energy this month warrants, and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to be one year closer to 40. All the wisdom is certainly nice; the gray hair and wrinkles I can do without!

Hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July, and you’re able to spend it with the people you love most!

-Maria Libman

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