This may be a decade of tremendous corporate profits and economic growth, but for vast majority of North Americans, 90's have been a dismal, uphill climb. And many economists believe that this next, new millennium won't be getting better any time soon.
Changing business and government attitudes are reason. There has seemingly been more anti-business legislation in last decade than in any other this century. Stronger employment and labor laws, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, which includes mandating health insurance for workers for a period of time after they leave employment), safety laws, much tougher laws for discharging workers, more liabilities for lawsuits, Family Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (which is creating immense numbers of lawsuits), along with higher minimum wages and fringe benefits.
Just reading this list is exhausting.
While these acts have beneficial and protective aspects, they have also encouraged businesses to move their facilities. That "sucking sound" popularized by Ross Perot is not just down to Mexico, but elsewhere as well. The result has been a dramatic loss of heavy industry in U.S.
The young and middle-aged alike are realizing that their dream of "having a job with a company forever" is an illusion. Companies have been downsizing, rightsizing, and capsizing for some time now, and they continue to do so - more now than ever before. Even federal and state governments are getting into act with layoffs and attrition of jobs.
In addition to all this uncertainty and mutual lack of loyalty between companies and employees, even workers who do not keep their jobs have no guarantee of promotions due to shrinking number of management positions. These circumstances aggravate already tryingly long commutes in rush hour traffic and increasingly typical frustrated boss-spelled backwards, that double S-O-B.
Finally, if all this isn't bad enough, under recent tax laws employees are shafted more than ever with limits and thresholds for their employee deductions and higher social security tax limits. This results in more couples working than ever before and, on many occasions, working more than one job. It is now almost impossible to have only one job in family and make ends meet! Today, many households need three incomes just to survive.
Sadly, even having more than one job does not produce any major positive effect on most people's bank accounts. Why? Because of tax laws. This was well illustrated in 1994 by Jane Bryant Quinn in her Woman's Day article on "How to Live on One Salary."
Where The Money Goes
Ms. Quinn's example assumed that a man was earning $40,000 per year. His wife (we will call her Lori) wasn't working. They had more month than money. (Sound familiar?) Lori subsequently got an administrative job for $15,000 per year. You would think this would improve family's financial situation, but when Ms. Quinn examined economics of getting this extra income, results were startling!
Lori had to pay federal and state taxes on her new income. Since they filed jointly, family's combined income was what established their tax bracket. She paid $4,500 in new taxes, most of which was non-deductible, for federal and state income tax.
Lori had social security withheld from her paycheck at rate of 7.65 percent, which amounted to an additional nondeductible amount of $1,148 being extracted from her salary. She also had to commute to work 10 miles a day round trip, which is probably conservative for most people. This resulted (in 1995) in nondeductible commuting costs of $696.
Lori also had some child care expenses, which give a partial tax credit. Ms. Quinn figured that amount spent over and beyond tax credit was $4,250 per year.
Lori also ate out each day with colleagues, spending an average of $5 per day, five days a week. This results in a nondeductible expense of $1,250 per year. (I would love to know where she ate fore only $5!)
Now that Lori has a job, she has to have professional clothing, this means a hefty dry cleaning bill. Ms. Quinn assumed that Lori's increased expenses here amounted to an extra $1,000 per year, nondeductible, of course.
Finally, with both spouses working, Lori wasn't in mood to cook dinner every night. They bought more convenience foods and ate out more frequently. This resulted in increased food costs of a nondeductible $1,000 per year in minimum.
Add it all up and Lori's take home pay was a paltry $1,156 a year, for which she had to put up with a daily commute, an unpleasant boss, and corporate hassles. (See following summary of all of these numbers, so you can do math for yourself.)
No wonder more and more people are starting home-based businesses. In fact, there are currently an estimated 30 million people working from their homes. This number is expected to more than triple, to 97 million, by year 2000, and to keep on growing. This has become and will continue to be one of greatest mass movements in U.S.
Why a Home-Based Business Makes So Much "Cents"
There are many reasons why so many people are favoring home-based over traditional business.
There is no commute (unless you have a really big home), no boss, little if any chance of lawsuits, must lower overhead, no employees, (or few), and far fewer government restrictions. In fact, many of laws previously cited don't apply to small firms with few or no employees. It is for these reasons, according to Entrepreneur magazine, that 95 percent of home-based businesses succeed in their first year and achieve an average income of $50,250 per year with many earning much more.
There are really two sets of tax laws in this country. One is for employees, and it allows deductions for individual retirement accounts, 401(k)s (if you have one set up by your company), interest and property taxes on your home (which some in Congress want to do away with ), and charity. Then there are laws for home-based business people who conduct their business either full-time or part-time. They can deduct, with proper documentation ,their house, their spouse, and even children (by hiring them), their business vacations, their cars, and their food with colleagues. They can also set up a pension plan that makes any government plan seem paltry by comparison.