Friday, November 22, 2013

In This Season of Thanks, This is How One Dentist Gives Back to His Community

Here is another guest blog from our client Dr. Don Lurie.

It seems to me that in this season of the year, our thoughts should turn to the ideals and morals of our history, of our parents and grandparents and even of the faith that has united and nourished us.  We all hear the expression ""I want to give back" but it is something that has to be nurtured, reflected upon, and then acted upon.  It must be sincere.  I guess that the sentimentality of this season of the year has given me the desire to share thoughts about this so-called "giving back." 

Last month, I discussed mentoring to both our younger practitioners and even to our patients.  This should be extended to anyone who might think that our experience, knowledge, and professional bearing might give them insight into their future and to help shape their career attitude to enable the practitioner to love his practice, his patients and staff, and to guard against the cynicism of just practicing for the dollar.  It is most difficult in this current climate to have these "noble" feelings and it is quite difficult to find the words to just address them.  I almost want to quote scripture to help me find the words and to share what I feel in my heart.  In my blog titled Mentoring Equals Outreach, I have started to share the ideal of gift giving and of thanks giving.  I have also suggested that this is, if sincere, a great function for marketing of your practice.  But do you know what? It just makes you feel good and that good feeling should be expanded.  As it was handed down to us by someone or at some place, the good that we have done, are doing, and should continue to do (even in retirement)  expresses who we really are and what is dear to our hearts.

A local group of friends and myself have started an outreach to patients who have difficulty getting around.  Their caretakers must spend time taking them to doctor visits, going to the pharmacy or many other mundane daily activities.  The caretakers, who are saints, are usually other elderly family, friends or neighbors who can only do so much and who, in turn, need to have a break.  Some of the doctor visits are just to have a BP, pulse, and other vital signs on an interim basis until their thorough check-up is due with their primary care physician.  These are easy visits for us since it is something that we do on a daily basis in our practice.  These folks welcome us, enjoy our visit, and feel like it is a social hour.  And you are right - it is a social hour of love and togetherness.  After taking vital signs, the doctor is called and, in 99 % of the time, that is all he wanted to know.  The patient is told to keep his normal appointment and the caretaker is told of the request also.  Actually, the caretaker has an hour off (haircut, personal errands) etc…  The group that I am in consists of active practitioners, nurses, retired docs, other health professionals including one EMT person (who gives one full day/week to this endeavor).  We call it a ministry or an outreach program but it so simple, so necessary, and has just been a joy to be part of it. And guess what? We learn from our visits, gain life experience in our conversations, and get more out of the visit than the shut-ins.  We now have increased our group to include non-professional types for things like drug store errands, haircuts, shopping, lunch, or just a plan visit so that the folks can change the scenery.  Our visitation includes seniors, recovering adults, folks home from the hospital, etc...  "There but for the grace of God, go I."

Next week is Thanksgiving.  Let it be a joy to share your love with family, extended family, and all your loved ones.  And when you are saying Grace at this festive meal, start thinking about how you are giving or going to give back.  I seems to me that this is what Thanksgiving is all about.

I would love to hear from you and share your ideas and experiences.  More Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned next time.

Dr.Donald B. Lurie    
Phone:   717-235-0764
Cell:       410-218-2228

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Several IRS Tax Court Rulings Dentists Should be Aware of... (if for no other reason than to dispel the myth that the IRS is humorless).

A Bike Sharing Program Isn't Mass Transit

Employee Benefits—Bike Sharing: Expenses an employee incurs by participating in a "bike share program" do not qualify for the favorable tax treatment provided for qualified transportation fringe benefits. According to IRC Sec. 132(a)(5), employers that provide their employees with transportation benefits can exclude those benefits from employees' gross incomes if the benefits are qualified transportation fringes as defined in IRC Sec. 132(f)(1) . A qualified transportation fringe includes any transit pass that entitles a person to transportation on mass transit facilities. A bike share program is not a mass transit facility. Information Letter 2013-0032. 

You Would Imagine They Could Have Thought of a Better Business Purpose...

Travel Expenses for Good Night's Rest: A self-employed tax return preparer that operated out of her home was denied a deduction for travel expenses that were necessary "just to get rest" from the stress of her neighborhood and harassment by clients that called her home at any hour. The Tax Court said that a taxpayer's choice of where to live is personal and her travel to get a good night's rest was a personal, not a business, expense. Meals and entertainment expenses claimed for meals with clients and a catered client party were denied as a business purpose was not established. Joyce Linzy , TC Memo 2013-219 (Tax Ct.).

Bad News for an Independent Contractor Deemed by IRS to be an Employee

Income Tax—SEP Contribution Disallowed: The taxpayer signed a letter of appointment with the British Consulate General (BCG) to serve a three-year term as a trade officer. He was referred to as "self-employed for tax purposes" in the letter and so filed a Schedule C reporting his income and related expenses and took a deduction for a SEP contribution based on his BCG earnings. After finding that the taxpayer was a common law employee of BCG and not self-employed, the Tax Court disallowed his SEP contribution and imposed a 6% excise tax on the excess contribution. On review of that decision, the 9th Circuit agreed that taxpayer was a common law employee. As such, he was not an employer under IRC Sec. 401(c)(4) with respect to his BCG earnings and could not contribute to a SEP and deduct his contributions based on those earnings. Rosenfeld v. Comm. , 112 AFTR 2d 2013-5638 (9th Cir.).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dental Mentoring Equals Dental Outreach

Here is another guest post from our client, Dr. Donald Lurie.

It seems to me that part of the continuing attempt to refresh and recharge our enjoyment of practice is the chance to be a mentor.  In these times, there is an obvious decrease in the ability to sit back and enjoy the practice of dentistry and medicine.  Interference from many sources,  stress of compliance, making the numbers work are so problematic that the doctor can lose focus on one of the things that brought him into private practice in the first place.  These are indeed difficult times.  The solo practitioner is almost extinct and the mega practices have their own set of problems from a morale standpoint.  

One of the areas that I found to be energizing and helpful was mentoring.  It started with teaching of residents in the early years of practice.  This was a great way to relate and to also keep current.  As all teachers know, you learn more from teaching than as a student.  Not only is it challenging, but it is a great reward to bring the missing link to the "new doc" - experience.  To be in a group and acknowledge an "ah ha" moment is so rewarding.  For those who are fortunate enough to be in a university city with medical and dental students, there is ample opportunity to give (and to relate).  You will find that the student is greatly appreciative that you took the time to help and point the way.  You will also find that you return to the office or to your home with an exhilarating feeling yourself - remember, "it is better to give that receive."  From another view, these contacts become friends, referral sources, and associates that may lead to other projects and outreach possibilities. This is just another example of a means to refresh and recharge.

Knowing how good the feeling is to give a gift to someone, I also had a grand time in mentoring patients of mine.  Actually, my staff also enjoyed it and related to the mission.  There were numerous opportunities where a young patient, entering college, had no idea of his major or area of interest.  This was an opportunity to chat and just become a friend and counselor. We would actually make an appointment in a off time (lunch etc.) to meet and advise.  Did it happen every day?  No, but often enough that we were invited to many graduations (and even some weddings).  I am convinced that we know more than just how to be a good doctor and this ability can be a wonderful way to have that "feel good" day or moment.  So you want to talk about marketing.  This, if done from the heart, is number one in my mind. 

So, it seems to me that you can make some fun out of you practice and have it actually become a source of an outreach program.

I would love to hear from you and share your ideas and experiences.  

More Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned next time.

Dr. Donald B. Lurie 
Phone:  717-235-0764

Cell:      410-218-2228