"You have to go back to the period immediately following The Great Depression to find a time where business owners were confronted with so many new programs from the Federal government," says Ricky Rahaman, principal at Rothstein Kass, the New York and New Jersey based accounting firm.

Within the past two years, there have been four major tax and stimulus related programs to come out of Washington, all meant to spur economic activity. Increasingly, the economic effect these programs are designed to create tax revenues for the government.  Business owners are understandably concerned.

That was the theme of our conversation at The Cotsakos School of Business of William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey and again at Inc. magazine's headquarters in downtown Manhattan.

Ricky Rahaman and Ed Renn, a private client attorney at the law firm, Withers Bergman, were on hand to help business owners navigate the treacherous waters created by a lame duck Congress and historic government stimulation efforts. 

Ed Renn describes the situation this way:

"You may not be able to find any pleasure in the news coming out of Washington but you can avoid some pains if you take advantage of certain windows before they close at year end."

Rahaman laid out the key opportunities found in the Small Business Job Act, passed in September of this year. These include:

  • Accelerated schedules for depreciating capital expenditures (buy things for your business before the end of 2010 and you'll be able to take deductions faster)
  • New Roth 401k provisions that allow you to shelter more of your retirement benefits (pay taxes in 2010 on retirement assets and you don't have to pay them later)
  • Small business stock purchase programs (buy shares in small companies before the end of 2010 and hold them for at least five years. When you sell them, you don't have to pay capital gains taxes).

Renn suggests the counter-intuitive idea of accelerating income and postponing losses (most advisors tell you to do the opposite) because tax rates are likely to go up in the future. He says, "pay taxes now when they're cheaper."

Rahaman and Renn suggested that there's real opportunity in some of these programs which can be a boon for companies that fit particular profiles. While there's still a couple of months left in the year, they suggested you ask your advisors to help you make the most of this difficult time and turn the lemons of a cash-starved government into lemonade for you and your business.

Thank you Rick Rahaman and Ed Renn for your insight and your advice. And thanks to the fine folks at William Paterson University for joining us to present this information to the business owner community.