HUMAN RESOURCES

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Hotline information paragraphs: March 1990
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The IRS will devote more energy to business audits, predicts recently retired IRS commissioner Lawrence B. Gibbs. According to Gibbs, the IRS has begun and will continue to shift auditing resources from individual to corporate returns. The shift, he says, is a natural outcome of tax reform, which gave businesses more of the tax burden while simplifying individual taxes. That simplification, combined with the ability to check many individual filings by computer, leaves the IRS with more personnel to focus on business, says Gibbs. While he expects large companies to be the main target, he thinks the aggressiveness will "trickle down" to smaller businesses.

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How large is the demand for part-time work at the executive level? Large enough that a handful of young search firms in major cities have started to specialize in placing managers -- particularly women with children -- who no longer want to work full-time. (One hot subspecialty: providing maternity leave replacements.) The driving force behind the part-time market is employee demand, says Cecile Klavens of The Pickwick Group, in Wellesley, Mass., but businesses are interested, too. "We're beginning to see companies realizing they have to address the issue of flexibility to be competitive."

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Look for more states and municipalities to require businesses to sort office papers for recycling. At least 4 states and the District of Columbia have recently passed laws that are beginning to take effect, according to the National Solid Wastes Management Association. More such requirements can be expected, particularly since another 18 states have set ambitious solid-waste reduction goals for the 1990s. Meanwhile, the high cost of trash disposal is driving more companies to look at recycling voluntarily: Waste Management's recycling division reports that business inquiries were up about 50% in 1989.

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Now, family business heirs don't need to be intimidated by the family's legends about their forebears: they can get everything straight by watching the video. Or that's what David Bork, an Aspen, Colo., family business consultant, hopes. His new product, the family business video, is designed to give founders a chance to share their views and stories about the company with later generations. A video's base cost ranges between $10,000 and $20,000. For those who prefer another medium, Webster Bull of Memoirs Unlimited, in Beverly, Mass., writes similar books, at a starting price of about $11,000.

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The financial community is beginning to take notice of the rapidly growing environmental services business. One sign: at least two groups -- including Hambrecht & Quist -- have started special venture funds devoted to environmental or related technology companies. In addition, there are now several mutual funds specializing in the area. The attraction? Over the past five years, a 26% compound annual growth rate in revenues and earnings, according to Brian Foley, who will be the portfolio manager of a Chicago Corp. fund that is raising money to invest in both public and private companies. "These numbers are at least twice as good as the economy as a whole."

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Between 1987 and the year 2000, national health expenditures may triple, to more than $1.5 trillion. That's the prediction of the U.S. government's Health Care Financing Administration. Businesses won't be the only group affected. According to Wendy Gray, benefits specialist at The Conference Board, the federal budget for 2005 is expected to include more spending for Medicare than for Social Security or defense.

-- Martha E. Mangelsdorf

Last updated: Mar 1, 1990




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