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Feb 01

China moves into second place in global R&D spending

Posted by Karen1 in R&DinnovationChina


By a wide margin, the US maintains its place at the front of the line when it comes to spending on R&D, as well as its perceived leadership in different areas of research, including healthcare, energy generation and aerospace, the 2011 Global R&D Funding Forecast by Battelle Memorial Institute, found. Battelle, based in  Columbus, Ohio, is a charitable trust dedicated to scientific, educational, technology and community endeavors.

Still, this isn't the time to get cocky. A number of other countries have significantly increased their R&D spending and are gaining ground. China, for instance, boosted its R&D outlays by about 10 percent annually over the past few years. It now accounts for 12.9 percent of global R&D spending, having inched ahead of Japan, which is expected to record 12.1 percent of R&D expenditures this year. Europe's share has slipped from 24.1 percent in 2009 to a forecasted 23.2 percent in 2011.

Jan 31

Health care tax credit can help SMBs

Posted by Karen1 in SMBIRSCBOAffordable Care Act


Even as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - AKA the Healthcare Bill - has now been declared void by a federal judge in Florida, the White House is trying to reach small business owners to let them know of several features of interest. A blog post on the US Treasury's website from late January includes a letter from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner that describes the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this provision will provide $40 billion over the next 10 years to help eligible small businesses offset the cost of insuring their employees.

Here's how it work: for 2010, the credit typically was available to businesses with up to 25 FTEs, and whose average wages stopped short of $50,000. The employer must have contributed an amount equal to at least 50 percent of the cost of employee-only health insurance, according to the Treasury. The credit covers up to 35 percent of the health insurance premiums a business paid to cover its employees. This rate stays at 35 percent until 2014, when it jumps to 50 percent. Eligible small businesses who provided their employees with insurance last year can claim the credit on their 2010 tax return.

Jan 26

Don-and-doff suit goes company's way

Posted by Karen1 in overtimeJennie-OFair Labor Act


The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently decided that Jennie-O, the company behind Jennie-O turkey franks, meatloaf and other turkey products, did not have pay its workers for the time it takes them to put on and remove the uniforms and safety equipment they are required to wear on the job. Similar lawsuits - often referred to as "don and doff" cases - have been filed by other employee groups, including workers in food processing and manufacturing plants, as well as police officers. "The ruling prevents what could have been an expensive, slipper slope for organizations employing non-salaried staff," said David Olson, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber had filed a "friend of the court" brief in the case.

The workers in the suit, which first was filed in 2004, claimed that under the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act (MFLSA) they should have been compensated for the time they spent putting on required uniforms and safety equipment.

Jan 25

1099 repeal efforts gain traction

Posted by Karen1 in SBANFIBIRS1099


As almost every business owner has heard, the health care bill that passed last year contained a provision that would require companies to issue Form 1099 to individuals and companies from which they buy $600 or more of goods and services in a year.  The provision promised to blanket both small business owners - who would be in the position of sending 1099s to companies like OfficeMax and Dell - and the IRS in paperwork.

Now, the calls to repeal this specific provision are getting louder. Three Democratic senators, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska wrote to John Boehner, Speaker of the House, asking him to support H.R. 4, a bill calling for a repeal of this provision of the Health Care Bill. H.R. 4, otherwise known as the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011, was sponsored by Rep. Daniel Lungren, a Republican from California and has 254 co-sponsors.

Jan 19

MSEPs, or multiple small employer plans, attract interest

Posted by Karen1 in Sifmaretirement planNFIBMSEP


Although the SAVE (Small Businesses Add Value for Employees) Act introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) last year appears dead, one of the ideas contained within the bill has attracted attention. The legislation would have provided several incentives to encourage small employers to offer their workers retirement savings programs.

Nearly three-quarters - 72 percent - of businesses with fewer than 100 employees don't offer a retirement savings plan, a 2010 study by the SBA, "Small Business Retirement Plan Availability and Worker Participation," found. The study noted that the costs and regulatory requirements likely dissuaded many small employers from establishing retirement plans.

Jan 17

Early retiree reinsurance program ramps up

Posted by Karen1 in Patient Protection and Affordable Care ActEBRIearly retirees


At times, offering older employees the ability to take early retirement can be a way to downsize, yet minimize the number of outright layoffs. However, ensuring these former employees have some sort of health care coverage can be tricky. Most will be too young to qualify for Medicare. On the other hand, keeping them on your firm's health care plan can get expensive.

A program established through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may help. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) reimburses participating employer-based healthcare plans for 80 percent of the claims costs for each early retiree, spouse, surviving spouse or dependent, during a plan year. The claims must meet a threshold of $15,000, and are limited to $90,000. The claims that qualify for reimbursement are those for services that normally are covered by Medicare, including surgical, hospital and prescription drug benefits.

Jan 12

ERP implementation budgets: penny wise, pound foolish?

Posted by Karen1 in Untagged 


While companies appear to be keeping a tight rein on their ERP implementation budgets and time frames, their well-intentioned efforts actually could come back to haunt them. That's one conclusion Eric Kimberling, founder and president of Panorama Consulting, is drawing from the preliminary data available in the firm's forthcoming 2011 ERP Report.

Since 2008, Panorama has published an annual ERP Report, which summarizes information from more than 1,000 implementations around the world. While this year's data still is being tallied, at least one observation can be made: implementation costs are continuing their downward trend. For 2010, the average price tag was $5.5 million, or 4 percent of annual revenue. That's a solid drop from 2009, when implementations were running 6.9 percent of revenue.

Jan 10

Roth 401(k) and 403(b) plans slowly gain steam

Posted by Karen1 in MercerHewitt403(b)401k


The slow pace of employer adoption of Roth 401(k) and 403(b) plans appears to be changing. While just under 30 percent of mid- to large-size employers currently offer a Roth, another 25 percent were likely to offer one in 2010, a recent report by Hewitt Associates says.

As their name indicates, Roth 401(k) and 403(b) plans combine features of both Roth and 401(k) retirement savings plans. Plan participants make after-tax contributions to their account; as a result, their distributions in retirement are tax-free. Plan sponsors can match their contributions. Employees at any income level can participate, and the contribution limits are fairly generous -- $16,500 in 2011, plus another $5,500 if the participant is 50 or older.

Jan 05

PCAOB focuses on foreign inspections

Posted by Karen1 in secSarbanes OxleyPCAOBAICPA


One item that's high on the To-Do list of the PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board) for 2011: foreign inspections. "Robust oversight of audit work done in other countries is critical to the protection of US investors, given that significant operations of many US public companies are located beyond our shores," said Daniel Goelzer, acting PCAOB chair in a December speech at a national conference of the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs). In fact, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported last year that sales by majority-owned foreign affiliates of U.S. firms came to about $5.5 trillion, or nearly 60 percent of the sales generated by their U.S. parent companies.

What's more, according to Section 106 of Sarbanes-Oxley, non-U.S. auditors of companies who register with the SEC are subject to PCAOB rules to the same extent as U.S. auditors.

Jan 04

Business finds some help in tax relief act

Posted by Karen1 in taxesSection 179 expensingresearch tax creditH.R. 4853depreciation


So was the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, which the president signed into law on December 17, 2010, a nice holiday gift for business, or more like a lump of coal?

Most businesses will find something to like in the legislation, AKA H.R. 4853. Among the provisions that should boost most companies' bottom lines:

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