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Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Colorado has the nation’s 10th best state tax environment for entrepreneurship and small business, according to a report from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
The Oakton, Va.-based SBE Council’s “Business Tax Index 2010” report rates Colorado particularly favorably for having low top corporate income tax rates (eighth lowest among the states).
The Centennial State is ranked 10th for top corporate capital gains tax rates (with first meaning lowest); 12th for unemployment taxes; 15th for lowest sales, gross-receipts and excise taxes; 17th for lowest top personal income tax rates; 18th for top capital gains tax rates as well as for gas taxes; and 20th for state and local property taxes.
The SBE Council deemed South Dakota to have the best tax structure for business, followed by Texas, Nevada, Wyoming, Washington, Florida, Alabama, Alaska, Ohio and Colorado.
It rated the District of Columbia as having the most burdensome tax environment, followed by (in reverse order) New Jersey, Minnesota, California and New York.
“We applaud the political leaders of states who have refrained from raising taxes on the nation’s job creators,” SBE Council President and CEO Karen Kerrigan said in a statement accompanying the report.
“Sales have been down and business owners continue to struggle with rising costs such as health care coverage,” Kerrigan said. “States that have kept taxes low will reap rewards as their businesses recover more quickly and shore-up durability for the long term. Low-tax states will become even more competitive for investment and business relocation.”
The SBE Council is a business lobbying and policy group that says it “works to educate elected officials, policy makers, business leaders and the public to advance initiatives that enhance the environment for entrepreneurship, business start-up and growth.”
The group has been visible recently in its opposition to the health-care reform measure that was signed into law recently, calling it overly burdensome to business.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Posted by Mai Ling at MSN Real Estate on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 12:09 PM
With the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit just a month away, we can expect a lot of new homebuyers to be wandering aimlessly through their yards in the coming months.
If you haven't bought a home yet but still hope to qualify for the program, you have until April 30 to be in contract for a home, which means you need to be ready to put in an offer on a home this week to be on track, says Move.com.
That also puts you (ideally) on schedule to close on your home by the program's final expiration of June 30, giving you plenty of time to don some gardening gloves.
Don't know where to start? Whether you're a new homeowner, a renter trying out container gardening or a city dweller who just bought a lush vacation home, Bart Ziegler with The Wall Street Journal shares the lessons he learned -- the hard way:
1. Yes, they will get bigger
Believe the labels on the plants that you buy, and heed the spacing suggestions. Trees need plenty of room to grow, and remember that they eventually will provide a canopy that could smother other plants below them.
2. If one is good, six may not be better
Similarly, edible plants also get bigger, and the vegetables and fruits that you create grand plans for all summer could end up taking over your garden if you don't plan correctly. Unless you've got a family of six, just one of each plant could be more than enough to keep food on your table.
3. If the label says "can be aggressive," you've been warned
Of course, that's assuming you're reading labels, which we really hope you are. If you thought edible plants that take over your garden were bad, aggressive plants can be even worse, taking over your whole yard year after year. Again, you've been warned.
4. Roses are red–and brown and spotted and buggy
There's a reason expert gardeners have the most lush, magnificent roses: They know what they're doing. From Ziegler:
The list of ailments they can contract sounds like a medieval book of spells: black spot, powdery mildew, botrytis blight, canker and mosaic virus, to name a few. And then there are the bugs they attract: aphids, thrips, Japanese beetles, leaf hoppers and more.
Bottom line: Unless you live in a dry, sunny climate avoid roses or stick to newer varieties such as Knock Out and Easy Elegance, which are bred to avoid most (though not all) of these ills.
5. Keep it simple
There is a lot to choose from out there, but the more you narrow down what you would like to add to your garden, the better it will look in the end. Ziegler recommends that you plant flowers in clusters of three or more to produce a more visible clump, and that you try to not go too crazy with different varieties. Similarly, stick with just a few varieties of shrubs or trees, and try to keep them together to create some symmetry.
6. Start small
Until you've figured out how much time you have for your garden, and how much time it takes you to properly maintain it, smaller is simply better.
Each plant can suck up your precious free time, what with weeding, watering and trimming off dead flowers. Limit the size of your beds until you know what you're getting into (I sure didn't). And avoid plants that require maintenance such as spraying or covering to prevent winter damage.
7. Befriend an expert
As much help as labels on plants are, they can only tell you so much. It never hurts to ask for a little help, and who knows more about how a plant will thrive in your area than a local expert?
8. Admit mistakes and move on
Maybe you read No. 5 too late and you've already bombarded your garden with so many plants that a few have to go. Well, go ahead. Dig them up and let them go. It's really for the best!
9. Don't be afraid to cull
And sometimes you'll even have to dig up some of the plants you love, especially perennials or even hardy annuals that can multiply until nothing else will grow in its path. Maybe your expert gardening friend will be willing to take a few of the cast-off extras.
10. Relax—it's just a garden
You're not a landscape architect or a Master Gardener, so don't expect your garden to look like a magazine spread. Weeds and brown leaves are going to happen, but it's not the end of the world. You'll get to it when you get to it.
What kind of gardening advice can you offer to other novices? Do you have any horror stories from your first experience gardening?
In another two weeks, it’s going to be easier, and a fair bit cheaper, to save electricity and take a little off your utility bill.
On April 19, the Governor’s Energy Office is launching a new set of rebates on energy-efficient appliances and energy-saving home improvements. It will also launch a new Web site with energy efficiency and rebate information.
“It’s a one-stop shop where people can get all of the information they need,” said Tom Plant, executive directorof the Governor’s Energy Office, who was in Colorado Springs on Monday promoting the new program.
The $18 million program, dubbed Recharge Colorado, is being paid for from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Earlier ARRA funds were aimed at immediate needs, Plant said, whereas the rebates are designed to give the economy a boost as things begin to turn around.
“We’re partnering with consumers, which requires a certain amount of consumer confidence,” Plant said. “We’ve tried to spread it out so we could have an impact across the economy.”
The rebates include energy-efficient appliances such as clothes washers ($75 rebate), dishwashers ($50) and tankless water heaters ($300), plus services like home energy audits (up to $100) and home solar and wind power systems (up to 30 percent of the system cost). The GEO plans to award about 75,000 rebates in all.
The rebate on washing machines is likely to be the hot item, said Colorado Springs Utilities spokesman Gabriel Romero, because the Recharge Colorado $75 rebate can be matched with another $75 from Utilities.
“Buying a clothes washer on the 19th is a great time to do it,” Romero said.
The Recharge Colorado rebates will last as long as the money does (Utilities’ rebates are ongoing, Romero said, and have to be applied for separately), but there’s a set limit for each type of rebate. Plant said he expects the appliance rebates to be used quickly, and he’s planning for a big demand right off the bat.
“Everybody’s vacation is denied for the 19th” at the GEO, he said.
Plant said the Recharge Colorado Web site will continue after the rebates are gone and act as a clearinghouse for everything from finding an installer to what to look for in a high-efficiency furnace, plus information on local and federal rebates.
On April 19, the Governor’s Energy Office will begin offering rebates on energy-efficient appliances and energy-efficiency improvements. Here’s a sample of the rebates that will be available:
Clothes washer — $75
Dishwasher — $50
Refrigerators — Up to $100
Furnaces — $500
Hot water heaters — $200-$300
Insulation and air sealing — Up to $400
Duct sealing — Up to $75
Whole house energy audit — Up to $100
For more information, go to colorado.gov/energy. A new Web site and a call center will be available on April 19. Once the program launches, consumers need to reserve a rebate before they buy the product or service. The rebates are not retroactive.