Thursday, May 16, 2013

Starting a Business - Twice

Guess what.  I went to go search for my new L number on the Department of Assessments and Taxation's website.  I found I had not one number, but TWO.  Apparently they actually did process that application I sent four months ago.  They just never told me they did.

Now I have to look into getting the superfluous number "terminated."  Communication is a life skill, people.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Starting a Business - Progress!

On Friday, after another semi-random search through a trail of links on various government websites, I discovered a portal specially designed to streamline this process.  I applied for my L number (state tax ID) and actually got a prompt reply!

I received an email this morning informing me that my application had been accepted and that my number had been approved.  However, they didn't tell me what my number actually was, and apparently I have to wait five business days for it to be searchable on the Department of Assessments and Taxation's website.  I can only hope they're also sending a paper copy by mail.  Maybe.

Next, we apply with the county.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Some Sanity Regarding Internet Sales Tax

Ok, I've been Googling the latest articles, and apparently a threshold has indeed been set for the proposed law.  Unless small online retailers (such as Ebay and Etsy stores, specifically) do more than $1,000,000 in sales in a state in which they do not have a physical presence, they will not be required by that state to collect and remit sales taxes.

W00T!  Not so hopeless after all.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Decoration Renovation - Tealight Centerpieces

I've always liked candles on the table.  When our table has actually been clear enough to use, we've had little glass candlesticks.  Here's the new idea.

  • 1 large thrifted glass, $0.90
  • 2 small thrifted glasses, $0.80
  • jute twine, preexisting
  • craft twine, preexisting
  • 1 bag crushed shells, $5.00
  • 3 tealights, preexisting
  • craft glue, preexisting
Retail cost:  $6.70

Total cost to me:  $5.70

Decoration Renovation - Flower Vases

We have a side table sorely in need of a few accent pieces.  So, here's where we start.

I found the tall glass vase/carafe at the thrift store.  The other one was sitting around already being generally useless.  I don't remember how much I paid for it, but it dates from back in the penniless days so it's can't have been much.  The rest of the supplies were acquired at my workplace, Joann Fabric and Crafts.  The fabric paint, brush, and adhesive stencils were leftover from previous projects, and all this is laid out on my "craft mat," a repurposed swatch of discontinued upholstery vinyl.

The supplies:
  • thrifted glass carafe, $0.90
  • inexpensive glass vase, preexisting
  • 1 pound skein of jute twine, $5.00
  • 1 yard of woven brown ribbon, $3.00
  • 6 long-stemmed burlap roses, $30.00
  • 5 small burlap roses, $20.00
  • adhesive stencils, preexisting
  • black fabric paint, preexisting
  • paint brush, preexisting
  • 1 discontinued swatch of upholstery vinyl, $2.00
  • 1 bottle of glue, $7.50.
  • 1 bag brown excelsior, $3.00
Retail cost:  $71.40

You know I didn't pay full price for any of this stuff.  Fortunately I clip coupons and can combine my employee discount to sale prices.

Total cost to me:  $38.05

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Decoration Renovation

I am officially changing the theme of this apartment.  Through the collection of various odds and ends from here and there, we've been heading in a classic stuffy European direction, which was fine for a while.  I've been feeling the call to a more rustic, craftsy theme for a while now; seeing it come together at Meredith's wedding just sealed it.

So, I'll be trying for less of this:

And more of this:

The greater part of this renovation will involve retouching and repurposing a lot of the things already collecting dust around here, so I expect to be buying a lot of paint and decoupage paper.   Hopefully any new things I need can be repurposed from the thrift store.  Whenever possible, I want to make things from scratch.  I'm cooking up an idea for a new bedspread which, unlike garments, I think my sewing machine and I will be able to handle.

I will be heading out to work tomorrow armed with coupons and my employee discount.  Before and after pictures will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, here's the first major project already completed.  This wall used to feature a flimsy poster frame with a cheap poster print of Raphael's School of Athens.  I replaced it with a nine-panel display of John 1:1-5 decoupaged onto the pages of an antique (1907) Latin commentary on St. Thomas Aquinas.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Business, Nipped In the Bud

Just for the record, if congress passes this Internet Sales Tax bill, I will be officially shutting down whatever official bits of my business I have been able to construct.

I was willing to jump through all these hoops and wait all this time and pay these fees for one state.  I will never do it for fifty.  I keep hearing about all these tiny "brick and mortar" stores who feel disadvantaged because they're losing business to the internet.  Tough beans; that's the free market.  Maybe these little brick and mortar shops should get websites.  At the most basic level, it doesn't take much to set up an Ebay store.  In fact, it takes almost no effort at all.  Sorry, no sympathy.

In the meantime, the solution seems to be to let all fifty states charge sales tax on internet transactions.  When you have a license to collect and hold sales tax, you have to file every month regardless of whether you owe anything.  Imagine little Etsy stores being required to file with FIFTY different offices EVERY MONTH.  It's a paperwork nightmare.  Never mind the fiscal imbalance in time, manpower, and record-keeping required to collect chump change from thousands of individuals each month.  Can you imagine, as an infinitesimally small business owner, being audited by some random state for those $3 you allegedly owe?  What a pain in the butt.

Apparently the states will be required to provide software that will be embedded in every American retail website to calculate these taxes.  Is every state going to embed it's own program?  Is it going to be some strange conglomerate?  Will these websites appreciate having strange code embedded in their design?  We've all seen how slick and efficient government websites can be (*sarcasm*).  It seems to me that if they want to collect sales tax on all online transactions, the onus should be on them to collect it from their own citizens who are doing the buying.  But they would, of course, have to come up with some invasive and inconvenient way to doing that as well, so there really is no great alternative.

I sent my form letter to all my elected officials (though I elected none of them), proposing Ebay's solution.  The idea is to exempt from these new internet sales taxes all sellers who generate less than $10 million in income each year.  The popular statistic is that Amazon does $10 million every ninety minutes.  Or maybe we could just pay a flat rate percentage income tax across the board and do away with this pesky sales tax altogether.  But nobody asked me.

I suppose the last option for me would be to exclusively attend craft fairs within the state.  What a lovely way to squelch free enterprise.