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OPPAL Available to Help Businesses on Oct. 1

  • October 7th, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Sept. 28, 2016 — Beginning Oct. 1, Alabama businesses will be able to report equipment, tools,
machinery and other business personal property through the Optional Personal Property Assessment Link (OPPAL)
online system.

OPPAL is an optional, free, reporting-only portal. The electronically filed return will contain all information included
in the standard paper tax return. There is no charge to the taxpayer for utilizing this service. The OPPAL Web portal
will be available to accept taxpayer information from Oct. 1 of each year until the following Jan. 31.

OPPAL was designed per the requirements of Section 40-7-56, Code of Alabama, 1975, that states the Department of
Revenue will develop, maintain and administer an online business personal property tax filing system to allow any
taxpayer required to file a business personal property tax return with any county assessing official or applicable agency
the ability and option to file the return electronically.

“We are always looking for better and more efficient ways businesses can interact with state and local governments.

OPPAL provides that and I’m appreciative for the support of those who helped build it, especially the OPPAL Advisory
Council made up of representatives from county governments and the business community,” said Revenue
Commissioner Julie P. Magee.

For more information on OPPAL, visit http://oppal.alabama.gov/.

For the original ADOR press release, click here.

Scammers Making Phone Calls to Collect Tax Debt, Claim to be ADOR Staff

  • October 5th, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Sept. 28, 2016 – The Alabama Department of Revenue has received several complaints
regarding a phone scam targeting taxpayers. The callers claim to be ADOR employees who are attempting
to collect debts. These callers are NOT employees of the Department of Revenue.

Victims who answer these calls may be told they owe money to ADOR or to the state, and it must be paid
promptly, perhaps through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The criminals who make these calls can
sound convincing and may use fake names and other bogus ADOR identification methods. They may know
a lot about their targets, and they may alter the caller ID to make it look like ADOR is calling.

Victims who refuse to cooperate may be threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or
driver’s license. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private
information. NEVER share your Social Security number or other private information to someone who has
called you in this manner. These callers may become hostile or insulting to victims who do not cooperate.

Just hang up if this happens. Scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request when their calls are not
answered. Ignore these messages and DO NOT call the number they leave.
Remember – the Alabama Department of Revenue WILL NEVER:

 Call a taxpayer to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit
card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, ADOR will contact taxpayers by mail to handle official business.

 Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have a taxpayer arrested
for not paying.

 Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount
ADOR says is owed.

 Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Stay alert! Scammers continuously change tactics, and variations of these scams continue year-round,
peaking when scammers find prime opportunities to strike.

For the original press release, click here.

Business Owners – Be ADOR’s B.E.S.T.

  • October 4th, 2016

Business Owners – Be ADOR’s B.E.S.T.

Attend Auburn-Opelika State Tax Seminar on Oct. 12

AUBURN, Sept. 28, 2016 – State tax obligations can sometimes confuse business owners. Licenses,
sales tax, property tax, etc. – business owners are responsible for many details. To make that task easier,
the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) invites business owners to come learn the “B.E.S.T.”
ways to handle state taxes at ADOR’s free Business Essentials for State Taxpayers Seminar on
Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 2 p.m. in Auburn.

The seminar will be held at the Harris Senior Center, 425 Perry Street.
ADOR specialists conduct B.E.S.T. Seminars, which include a brief but comprehensive overview of
Alabama’s business taxes, the business owner’s tax obligations, and the forms that are required, as well
as information on electronic filing and other requirements. Presenters cover a variety of state tax
information topics, including employer withholding taxes, state and local sales taxes, property taxes, and
business licensing requirements. The B.E.S.T. Seminars help new business owners navigate through
unfamiliar tax complexities while updating current business owners on tax law changes.

Seminar attendees receive ADOR’s “Starting a New Business” guide and information about Alabama’s
ONE SPOT, a free Internet filing and payment portal that allows business taxpayers to file and pay state,
county, and city sales, use, and rental taxes all in one place!

While there is no charge to attend the B.E.S.T. Seminars, reservations are required to ensure adequate
space is available. To make your reservation for the Auburn/Opelika B.E.S.T. Seminar, contact Marcia
Sanders at 334-887-9549, ext. 221.

For more information on B.E.S.T. Seminars and other B.E.S.T. resources, visit our website at
http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/taxpayerassist/workshop.cfm. B.E.S.T. Seminars are two hours long
plus additional time for questions and answers. Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the
scheduled seminar.

For the original press release, click here.

Helping Businesses in Alabama- Alabama Secretary of State

  • October 4th, 2016

Alabama Secretary of State

Press Release

Helping Businesses in Alabama

MONTGOMERY – Under the direction of Secretary John Merrill the Secretary of State’s Office has worked to more expeditiously process the large volume of business filings coming in from throughout Alabama. This new process will better serve Alabama’s businesses and strengthen business development in the state.

“During my time working to earn the People of Alabama’s trust to serve as their 53rd Secretary of State, I was made aware that when someone wanted to form a new business in the state, it would take 5 to 7 months or longer from the time the Secretary of State’s Office received certain business filings for them to be placed in the online state business filings database available to the public, banks and the business community. After a period of better understanding the process, it became apparent that a dramatic restructuring, including new leadership as well as the establishment of certain financial controls and employee accountability measures, was necessary to end this continuous cycle of failing to meet the highest expectations of service to business in Alabama,” Secretary Merrill said.

Following completion of Secretary Merrill’s internal restructuring efforts, the waiting period for filings to be completed dropped and, for the past two months of July and August, recently reached for the first time the goal of completely handling from start to finish the processing of the incoming filings to no later than the next business day.

“Once our team met this new and high standard they were then reminded that we may have tied the game but the clock is still ticking. I have instructed our team to communicate with each other at the end of each week and the beginning of the succeeding week to ensure that we stay on track,” Merrill said.

Secretary Merrill continually emphasizes to the staff that it is our duty as public servants to be a resource to new and existing businesses. Resolving this issue is one of many changes made by Secretary Merrill during his administration.

Federal grants could help Alabama recover from coal losses

  • August 31st, 2016

By: Kelly Poe, al.com

Alabama coal miners have recently faced mine closures, job losses and benefits reductions, and two recently awarded federal grants aim to ease some of the problems the industry decline has caused.

The federal government’s Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded two groups in Alabama grants to help the industry figure out what’s next.

Southern Research in Birmingham received a $60,202 grant to develop a strategic plan to increase entrepreneurship in Alabama’s counties that have been most impacted by the decline of coal.

“We’re going to have an energy industry in the state. What’s it going to be for the next 100 years?” Southern Research’s Director of Energy and Environment Corey Tyree said. “For the last 100 years, coal was a big part of that. I don’t see an economic driver that’s going to bring that back.”

Tyree estimates that since the industry’s peak in 1990, Alabama has lost 21,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in the coal sector throughout the entire supply chain. Tyree used Energy Information Administration data to develop that estimate.

“Coal is an important part of our historical economic base,” Tyree said. “This region, like others in the Appalachian region, was disproportionately affected by the downturn in the industry.”

The plan will focus on how to use existing research and development assets in the energy and agricultural sectors to encourage small business growth.

The Shoals Entrepreneurial Center in Florence was awarded a $997,150 grant for the “Shoals Shift” project. The funds will fund entrepreneurial programs to increase profitability of area companies and startups through more efficient use of broadband technologies.

ARC estimates the project will create or retain 110 jobs, start 20 new business, and leverage $10 million in private estimates.

Last year alone was a devastating blow to the Alabama coal industry, following a long history of decline in the coal industry. Walter Energy eliminated hundreds of jobs last year as it navigated bankruptcy, but it was far from alone. North American Coal Corporation closed its Jasper operation, and Cliffs Natural Resources laid off more than 200 workers.

Alabama is one of nine Appalachian states to receive grants totaling nearly $39 million that are expected to create more than 3,000 jobs. The other eight states to receive grants are Texas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Appalachian Regional Commission estimates that 23,000 Appalachian coal jobs have been lost between 2011 and 2015.

For the original article, click here.

Small Business Forum Web Conference

  • August 23rd, 2016

Does your organization or association work closely with small business owners? If so, please join us September 14 at 10 a.m. as we exchange ideas, gather information, and create new partnerships within the small business community. Our Virtual Small Business Forum is free and open to those with an interest in small business or self-employment. This forum will provide your organization with helpful resources to share with your clients, members, partners, etc.

The Forum will take place via WebEx from the comfort of your own computer. Please RSVP to Regina.P.Malisham@irs.gov or call 251-341-5937. Once your RSVP has been received, you will be sent the login information for attending.

Find step-by-step instruction for accessing WebEx: Attending a WebEx Session – Participant Info

You can view the original event event invitation here: SBF Flyer – 9.14.2016

Veteran-owned business receive official letters

  • August 8th, 2016

Eugene Overstreet is the owner of Street’s Restaurant and Street’s Seafood and Meat Market in Bay Minette. He is a Vietnam veteran and a member of the two veteran service organizations in Bay Minette. He regularly supports, donates to, and sponsors veteran events, veterans, and their families and the community. ADOL’s Nicholas Bowen makes the presentation of the official VOB letter and decal.

Bob Harry is a retired disabled Army veteran and the owner of Aabon Home Health Care Supply in Ozark. ADOL’s Larry Vaughn makes the presentation of the official VOB letter and decal.

Wiley McWhorter is a retired disabled veteran and the owner of Wiley’s Smuteye Grill in Banks. ADOL’s Dan Perkins makes the presentation of the official VOB letter and decal.

Justin Garner is a veteran and owner of Garner Technologies in Dothan. He started the business two years ago. As of now, he has two employees and of them is also a veteran. He also plans on hiring someone with sales experience in the future. ADOL’s Larry Vaughn makes the presentation of the official VOB letter and decal.

60,000 Alabama Jobs Affected by Overtime Rule

  • July 7th, 2016

Come Dec. 1, business owners across Alabama and nationwide will be paying higher labor costs as a result of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule. The DOL estimates the regulation will impact more than 60,000 workers in Alabama.

The rule will raise the threshold at which employees are exempt from earning overtime pay—from $23,660 to $47,476. The Fair Labor Standards Act dictates that employees are not eligible for overtime pay if they are compensated at a minimum wage level (now $47,476), if they are paid on a salaried basis, and if they perform duties considered professional, administrative, or executive in nature. Now, under the new rule, the minimum wage level triggering overtime exemption is nearly double the old rate.

NFIB has spoken at length to the media about the harmful impact of this ruling, including decreased staff morale stemming from employment status changes, reduced hours, and falling pay rates. Rosemary Elebash, NFIB/Alabama state director, says the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule is going to hurt small businesses throughout Alabama.

“It’s going to mean higher costs for employers, and that’s going to force them to make some tough decisions when it comes to staffing,” she said. “On top of that, you’re going to see some salaried positions disappear and some workers slide back to hourly jobs. In other words, these new rules are going to hurt the very people officials say they’re trying to help.”

For businesses that operate on calendar year budgets, this unplanned mandate for increased labor costs in the final month of 2016 complicates matters. The Birmingham Business Journal spoke to several Birmingham employment law experts, who advised employers to begin planning and budgeting now, evaluating the job responsibilities and the hours worked for those who will no longer be exempt.

One small item of relief: Bonuses, incentive pay, and commissions can account for up to 10 percent of the salary threshold if the payments are made on a quarterly basis. However, the exemption level will continue to rise, tied to inflation, every three years, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.

For more information, please visit NFIB.com/Overtime.

For the original article, click here.

How can Mobile help small businesses?

  • June 21st, 2016

FOX10 News is committed to tracking the growth of our local economy.

The City of Mobile has started a new program where Mayor Sandy Stimpson will meet with small business owners to discuss the challenges they face.

Small business owners and others attended a Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday morning listening to the latest developments at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley.

Mayor Stimpson has announced he would like to meet with small business owners in a new initiative called Meet Mobile.

The purpose?

Laura Byrne with the City of Mobile said it’s to “find the best way to address their needs. Every small business owner has different needs, different challenges that they face every day, and we have that conversation to figure out what those are and how we can better serve them as a city.”

What would small business owners say to Mayor Stimpson?

David Calametti, who owns Alabama Coasting, said, “It’s difficult to build in this town. It’s difficult to understand what the rules are because they seem to often change when you’re opening a new restaurant or new business

The owner of Elegant Knights Limo and Party Bus and says she would discuss transportation issues.

Mary Taylor said that would be “getting around and to have more exposure.”

But not everyone has a laundry list of issues.

Sam St. John with Logical Computer Solutions said, “Things have been really going great for us. As you know, the City of Mobile is growing rapidly.”

Glenda Snodgrass with the The Net Effect said, “I think we’re definitely going in the right direction. Things are looking up.”

Byrne says there’s already been good response to the program and meeting schedules are being drawn up.

For the original article, click here.

Alabama 20th Best for Business, CEOs say

  • June 16th, 2016

Out-of-state perception of workforce quality and living environment shows room for improvement.

More than 500 CEOs across the country took part in Chief Executive magazine’s annual “Best and Worst States for Business” survey, and Alabama ranked just above the middle of the pack at No. 20. However, there were discrepancies between out-of-state CEOs and those who operate businesses located in Alabama.

Across the board, the CEOs surveyed had a generally positive view of the state’s business-friendliness, but non-Alabama CEOs tended to have a less positive impression of the workforce and living environment. Forrest Wright, president of the Economic Development Authority for the Shoals area, told the Associated Press this was a common perception that recruiters fight to overcome in discussions and that some parts of the state do better than others. But when prospective industries listen to presentations about Alabama’s business climate with an open mind, he said, it’s easier to show them that the state is a good place to locate a company.

The survey focused on three factors—taxes and regulation, workforce quality, and living environment—all of which incorporated several variables:

  • Taxes and regulation included state income tax, corporate tax rates, perceived attitude government has toward business, employment rates, environmental compliance regulations, and tax incentives.
  • Workforce quality included employee-management relationships, work ethic, education level, wage rates, and availability of workers with specialized experience and education.
  • Living environment included crime rate, quality of education and healthcare, cost of real estate, transportation access, and arts and cultural institutions.

Alabama ranked No. 17 in taxes and regulation, No. 33 in workforce quality, and No. 33 in living environment. Its overall No. 20 ranking was up from last year’s ranking of No. 24, but down from No. 17 in 2014 and No. 16 in 2013.

Click here for the original article.