GO TAKE A HIKE: TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED

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So, you want to get outside, take a break, enjoy nature, and walk a bit without worrying about your Wi-Fi? You’ve already won, because often the hardest part is just getting out the door. And hiking is one of the most accessible ways of enjoying the outdoors without going full hunter-gatherer. Here are a few tips to get you on your way.

FIND YOUR PATH

One of the main differences between hiking and just walking is doing it on a route intended to take you beyond the ordinary. Word-of-mouth recommendations can provide some of the best boots-on-the-ground intel so don’t be shy about asking friends, colleagues, and the staff at your local outdoor store about their favorites. You can also use the AllTrails app or the American Hiking Society’s “Hikes Near You” feature to scout out potential trails.

GET REAL

Be realistic about your ambitions, whether you’re searching for a nice pre-brunch hike in the city or looking to go off-road and off the grid—if only for a day.

  • SUNDAY STROLL (EASY): On average, this hike will take between 30 minutes to 2 hours while covering around 1-5 miles with light elevation gain/decline on groomed trails.
  • FEEL THE BURN (INTERMEDIATE): This hike will take around 2-4 hours while covering about 5-10 miles of moderate elevation gain/decline across varied terrain with some obstacles.
  • WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS ANYWAY? (DIFFICULT): Half-day to full-day hikes, covering longer distances and/or routes with higher elevation gain/decline, rough terrain, and numerous potential obstacles.

GET GOING

Whether you’re planning your hike well in advance or hitting the trail on a whim, be sure to check weather conditions and routes so you can pack accordingly. Here are some essentials:

  • Boots or Shoes. A mid-high trail shoe provides support with the lightweight flexibility to cover more ground faster. A classic hiking boot has a taller silhouette for added support and protection against ankle-grabbers like rocks, roots, and ruts.
  • Navigation. A compass is a timeless tool for general bearings, but using a physical trail map, the AllTrails app, or a GPS-equipped device is also recommended. Whenever possible, scout out your route online beforehand.
  • Water. Bring more than you think you will need, especially on warm days. Insulated bottles (like Hydro Flask®) can keep liquids cooler—and warmer—longer while backpack hydration systems can be a convenient way to carry multiple liters on longer excursions.
  • Food. The amount depends on hike length and difficulty, but it’s always a good idea to have lightweight snacks like granola bars or homemade trail mix at the ready to keep energy levels up.
  • Layers. Conditions can change dramatically in a short amount of time, regardless of season. Having at least one extra lightweight layer handy will help you adapt to whatever the weather—or the trail—dishes out.
  • Emergency supplies. Even on shorter hikes, it’s wise to carry at least a small first aid kit (bandages, waterproof tape, gauze, antiseptic wipes, ibuprofen, etc.) and a pocket multi-tool, just in case.
  • Illumination. For early morning or evening excursions, a headlamp can provide convenient hands-free lighting, while a flashlight and waterproof matches are a nice-to-have for longer or more remote outings.
  • Garbage bag. If you pack it in, pack it out.
  • Daypack/backpack. For carrying some or all of the above, a durable, lightweight pack is one of the most useful pieces of equipment you can take with you.

#worldfamousehikingwithfriends

HIKING

IN A POST-QUARANTINE WORLD,
NATURE IS THE NEW GYM!

During lockdown, gym rats discovered hiking as exercise. Now they say they’re never going back.

“I’ve always loved being out in nature but I didn’t realize how little I was making an effort to visit amazing outdoor spots. My perspective has changed. Since coming out of lockdown, I have visited mountain peaks, wild swimming locations, and walked 25 miles in less than 12 hours at three mountain peaks. This is now my main form of exercise.” ~Katy Jane Woodroffe

Walter Meyer was a regular gym-goer for more than 40 years. Prior to the pandemic, the 58-year-old San Diego resident never missed a workout. In fact, he had a faithful regimen: 30 minutes of cardio; 60 minutes of weights; and a 20-minute cool-down stretch.

Yet when COVID hit, the fitness fanatic was forced to stop his gym workouts. Confined to the house, he tried things like push-ups and resistance bands but it wasn’t quite the same. Desperate for exercise, Meyer began exploring nearby hiking trails.

As he frequented them more and more, a funny thing happened: He discovered he loved it. Not only that, it was a better form of exercise than he’d imagined.

“(My hiking partner and I) keep up a fast enough pace to sweat a lot,” he said. “It’s a better workout than I got in the gym.”

Man hiking in the woods.

Jim Regnier, 76, crosses a log as he hikes through the Pecos Wilderness area in New Mexico.Meyer isn’t the only gym rat who’s taken his fitness routine outside since COVID struck. Across the pond, Katy Jane Woodroffe, a 32-year-old dive instructor from Britain, said she used to hit her local gym five days a week. She’d combine heavy compound lifting with tabata and gym classes. However, once lockdown went into effect, she found it difficult to stay disciplined.

“I struggled to maintain consistency from home,” the Birmingham resident said. “It’s important for me as a scuba diver to keep a good level of fitness. I tried bodyweight sessions from home but ultimately, I started getting out in nature and walking.”

Similarly to Meyer, she found that she liked hiking more than she ever would have thought. Soon, what began as simple strolls in nature became a broader passion for the outdoors.

“I’ve always loved being out in nature but I didn’t realize how little I was making an effort to visit amazing outdoor spots,” she said. “My perspective has changed. Since coming out of lockdown, I have visited mountain peaks, wild swimming locations, and walked 25 miles in less than 12 hours at three mountain peaks.”

“This is now my main form of exercise. Although I revisit the gym from time to time, it’s no longer the same with the stringent measures and face masks.”

The gym no longer holds the same appeal, she said, with such strict social distancing measures in place. Working out in masks is no fun and there are long waits for the machines. Instead of returning to the gym, Woodroffe has developed a four-point workout plan for the coming year that integrates hiking, running, scuba diving, and cold-water swimming.

“The lockdown really altered my mindset and I now think of the gym in a different capacity,” she said. “Why stay in a building to exercise?”

Meyer agreed.

“Not having a gym to go to has made me remember there are other ways to get a workout that don’t involve being cooped up inside,” he said.

Two hikers on a distant cliff.

Jamie Hickey, a personal trainer and owner of Truism Fitness, said there are tons of health benefits to hiking. First of all, the combination of altitude and cardiovascular activity increases your lung capacity, which, over time, makes it easier for you to perform physical activities without falling short of breath.

It also lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, ultimately reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Hiking downhill, he explained, is actually effective at decreasing blood sugars and increasing your tolerance for glucose. Hiking also strengthens your heart, he added.

“Hiking is a great aerobic activity and when done at a moderate or high intensity, it will make your heart stronger, allowing it to increase its blood flow (and) oxygen output,” he said. “It will also decrease the chance of heart disease, making you experience overall healthy benefits to your lifestyle.”“Not having a gym to go to has made me remember there are other ways to get a workout that don’t involve being cooped up inside.” ~Walter MeyerHiking is also a great weight-loss recipe, he said, noting that one hour of hiking can burn up to 500 calories, depending on the terrain and how much weight you carry.

“The increase in altitude also puts you into a state of oxygen deprivation, which has a direct effect on your metabolism,” he added.

Hickey said that when the lockdown began, he started taking his clients outside for workouts. After a bit of trial and error, he found that hiking was the most effective solution.

“When the gyms closed, I realized that a large part of my clients didn’t have any workout equipment at home so I started to try and figure out ways to safely work out with a group of people,” he said. “Hiking trails ended up being the best form of exercise due to the changes in elevation, footing, and types of ground. Not to mention the scenery made it fun and enjoyable.”

Three friends hiking in a forest.

“The response from my clients during the last few months has been so positive that even after the gyms open back up we will still be making these outings twice a week,” he said. “Nature provides mental and physical benefits that you can never replicate inside a gym. I have noticed that I don’t need to motivate people nearly as much when we’re outdoors hiking as when we’re in the gym.”

Woodroffe said she’s experienced similar benefits.

“It’s certainly hard work,” she said. “(But) the great thing about hiking is that you set the difficulty beforehand. I sometimes go to easy spots that simply burn calories and make for a beautiful day. Other times I walk 18 to 25 miles up three mountain peaks.

“I sweat and my heart races during the harder hikes—it’s no easy feat.”

However, she has noticed tangible benefits.

“My resting heart rate has improved since regularly hiking and I still do some high-intensity exercises,” she said. “I’ve noticed that walking has helped me maintain a great level of fitness. Plus, it’s more of a steady-state cardio, allowing you to really push on, in everything you do.”“Nature provides mental and physical benefits that you can never replicate inside a gym. I have noticed that I don’t need to motivate people nearly as much when we’re outdoors hiking as when we’re in the gym.” ~Jamie HickeyHickey said that if you’re really intent on getting a good workout during your hikes, there are things you can do to make it tougher. First of all, hike on uneven terrain. (Just be sure to have a good pair of hiking shoes.) This can increase the amount of energy your body uses by 28 percent compared to walking on flat ground, he explained. Another strategy is to add weight, either via a heavy backpack or a weighted vest, Hickey said. The latter can increase your heart rate from 3 to 5 percent, making an already efficient cardiovascular workout even more effective. It’s so effective, in fact, that there’s a whole fitness movement rooted in it called “rucking.”

Jamie Hickeys hiking workout.

In addition to all of the physical health benefits, both Meyer and Woodroffe pointed to a number of intangible perks.

“Hiking allows me to keep my sanity,” Woodroffe said. “I can rationalize my thoughts and day-to-day stresses. I also love the fresh air, smell of the greenery, and the sound of the wind through the trees. Many of my hikes are in locations with beautiful views too. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing all of your hard work at the top of a mountain.”

Meyer said that there are also benefits you don’t get in a gym.

“Constantly having to plan which machine or weights to do around the other people working out, it is hard to turn my brain off,” he said. “There was a zen to (outdoor workouts) that I never found in the gym. Just letting my mind turn off and stop thinking too much. In addition to the improvement in heart rate and lung capacity. I can now storm right up hills that used to make me pause and wheeze.“I am too hyper to be good at meditation or tai chi or yoga so hiking lets my body be active while my brain sort of checks out and relaxes. I never take my pulse but I am sure my resting heart rate has improved not only from the exercise, but from letting myself relax.” ~Walt Meyer“Hiking makes me feel complete,” Woodroffe said. “I live in a city center, thus not being able to connect with nature as much as I’d like to. It gives me a liberating feeling to start with and emotions change throughout just one hike, really showing you what a journey it is. By the end, there’s a huge sense of accomplishment and you sleep well that night. Hiking to the top of a mountain allows you to sit and enjoy your hard work with a view.”Ready to get out there and sweat? Here’s a complete 5-minute guide to getting started:

  • Grab your hiking workout (screenshot the exercise plan above)
  • Buy hiking shoes (trust us, you’re gonna need something with good tread)
  • Select a trail (try to find one with some elevation gain)
  • Pick a date (give yourself ample time to complete your hike)
  • Go hiking!

The Big List of Small Business Tax Deductions (2021)

One of the simplest ways to reduce your income tax bill is to ensure you’re claiming all of the tax deductions available to your small business.

What exactly is a tax deduction?

A tax deduction (or “tax write-off”) is an expense that you can deduct from your taxable income. You take the amount of the expense and subtract that from your taxable income. Essentially, tax write-offs allow you to pay a smaller tax bill. But the expense has to fit the IRS criteria of a tax deduction.

Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of write-offs commonly available to sole proprietors, and businesses that are organized as partnerships or limited liability companies (LLCs). Some of these are directly related to running a business, and some are more personal deductions that a small business owner should be aware of.

Tax deduction savings

Making the most of all your available tax deductions can save you hundreds—even thousands—of dollars at tax time.

Let’s look an at example.

Joe is a self-employed writer and had $60,000 in self employment income in 2020. He has to pay 15.3% self employment (SE) tax plus income tax based on his individual tax rate. The SE tax on $60,000 is $9,180 and the income tax is $4,865, for a total of $14,045.

(For simplicity, we assumed Joe is single with no children and no other types of taxable income to consider.)

In early 2021, Joe joined Bench and his bookkeeper located $6,000 worth of contractor expenses that he was not aware of. These expenses count as tax deductions and reduce his net self employment income to $54,000.

Now, with $54,000 in taxable self employment income, he pays $8,262 in SE tax and $4,200 in income tax, for a total of $12,462.

That’s $1,583 in savings after including the contractor tax deduction.

By locating the $6,000 in contractor expenses, Bench was able to reduce Joe’s tax liability by over $1,500 dollars. A nice saving he can use to upgrade his laptop this year.

Repeat this for all the available deductions Joe had expenses for, and he can significantly reduce the income he has to pay taxes on—saving him thousands of dollars.

Staying on top of your deductions

As a small business owner, it can be difficult to know what deductions are relevant to you.

Many people struggle to stay on top of their deductions year round and instead try to piece things together at year end and run in to difficulties. Remember that restaurant expense you incurred in January last year? Most people don’t, and therefore they miss this tax write off. Add them all up and you’re missing out on a lot of tax savings.

That’s where bookkeeping comes in.

To claim these deductions, you’ll need to keep accurate records and stay on top of your monthly bookkeeping.

The top 16 small business tax deductions

Each of these expenses are tax deductible. Consider this a checklist of small business tax write-offs.

Small Business Tax Deductions List Infographic

And remember, some of the deductions in this list may not be available to your small business. Consult with your tax advisor or CPA before claiming a deduction on your tax return.

Pop quiz: how much money did you leave on the table this tax season?

Try our free expense finder, and get your industry’s top deductible expenses in 60 seconds or less.Get Started
Click the links below to skip ahead to a specific deduction, or keep scrolling to learn about them all.

Advertising and promotion

The cost of advertising and promotion is 100 percent deductible. This can include things like:

  • Hiring someone to design a business logo
  • The cost of printing business cards or brochures
  • Purchasing ad space in print or online media
  • Sending cards to clients
  • Launching a new website
  • Running a social media marketing campaign
  • Sponsoring an event

However, you cannot deduct amounts paid to influence legislation (i.e., lobbying) or sponsor political campaigns or events.

Business meals

You can generally deduct 50% of qualifying food and beverage costs. To be eligible for the deduction:

  • The expense must be an ordinary and necessary part of carrying on your business
  • The meal cannot be lavish or extravagant under the circumstances
  • The business owner or an employee must be present at the meal

You can also deduct 50% of the cost of providing meals to employees, such as buying pizza for dinner when your team is working late. Meals provided at office parties and picnics are 100% deductible.

Be sure to keep documentation for the outing that includes the amount of each expense, the date and place of the meal, and the business relationship of the person you dined with. A good way to do this is to record the purpose of the meal and what you discussed on the back of the receipt.

Further reading: How to Deduct Meals and Entertainment

Business insurance

You can deduct the premiums you pay for business insurance.

This may include:

  • Property coverage for your furniture, equipment, and buildings
  • Liability coverage
  • Group health, dental and vision insurance for employees
  • Professional liability or malpractice insurance
  • Workers compensation coverage
  • Auto insurance for business vehicles
  • Life insurance that covers employees, as long as the business or business owner is not a beneficiary on the policy
  • Business interruption insurance that covers lost profits if your business is shut down due to fire or another cause

Bank fees

Having separate bank accounts and credit cards for your business is always a good idea. If your bank or credit card company charges annual or monthly service charges, transfer fees, or overdraft fees, these are deductible. You can also deduct merchant or transaction fees paid to a third-party payment processor, such as PayPal or Stripe.

You cannot deduct fees related to your personal bank accounts or credit cards.

Business use of your car

Do you use your vehicle for business? If you use your vehicle solely for business purposes, then you can deduct the entire cost of operating the vehicle. If you use it for both business and personal trips, you can only deduct the costs associated with business-related usage.

There are two methods for deducting vehicle expenses, and you can choose whichever one gives you a greater tax benefit.

  • Standard mileage rate. Multiply the miles driven for business during the year by a standard mileage rate. For miles driven in 2020, the standard mileage deduction is $0.57½ per mile. In 2021, it is $0.56 per mile.
  • Actual expense method. Track all of the costs of operating the vehicle for the year, including gas, oil, repairs, tires, insurance, registration fees, and lease payments. Multiply those expenses by the percentage of miles driven for business.

Both methods require that you track your business miles for the year. You can keep a detailed log of your business miles, use an app to track your trips, or reconstruct a mileage log using other documents, such as calendars or appointment books. If you keep a mileage log, clearly document the miles driven, time and place, and business purpose of your trip.

Note that you cannot count the miles driven while commuting between your home and your regular place of business. These costs are considered personal commuting expenses.

Contract Labour

If you hire freelancers or independent contractors to help in your business, you can deduct their fees as a business expense.

Just remember, if you pay a contractor $600 or more during the tax year, you’re required to send them a Form 1099-NEC by January 31st of the following year.

Depreciation

When you purchase furniture, equipment, and other business assets, depreciation rules require you to spread the costs of those assets over the years you’ll use them rather than deducting the full cost in a single hit.

Expensing these items upfront is more attractive because of the quicker tax benefit. Fortunately, the IRS gives business owners several ways to write off the full cost in one year.

  • De minimis safe harbor election. Small businesses can elect to expense assets that cost less than $2,500 per item in the year they are purchased. You can read more about the de minimis safe harbor election in this IRS FAQ.
  • Section 179 deduction. The Section 179 deduction allows business owners to deduct up to $1,040,000 of property placed in service during the tax year. This includes new and used business property and “off-the-shelf” software. The Section 179 deduction is limited to the business’s taxable income, so claiming it cannot create a net loss on your return. However, any unused Section 179 deduction can be carried forward and deducted on next year’s return.
  • Bonus depreciation. Businesses can take advantage of bonus depreciation to deduct 100% of the cost of machinery, equipment, computers, appliances, and furniture.

If you purchased a new vehicle during the tax year, the IRS limits write-offs for passenger vehicles. In the first year, if you don’t claim bonus depreciation, the maximum depreciation deduction is $10,000. If you do claim bonus depreciation, the maximum write off is $18,000.

Depreciation is more complicated than your average deduction, so we recommend reading our article What is Depreciation? And How Do You Calculate It?, and asking your accountant which assets you can deduct in your business.

Education

Education costs are fully deductible when they add value to your business and increase your expertise. In order to decide if your class or workshop qualifies, the IRS will look at whether the expense maintains or improves skills that are required in your current business.

The following list contains examples of valid business education expenses:

  • Classes to improve skills in your field
  • Seminars and webinars
  • Subscriptions to trade or professional publications
  • Books tailored to your industry
  • Workshops to increase your expertise and skills
  • Transportation expenses to and from classes

Keep in mind that any education costs that would qualify you for a new career, or costs related to education outside of the realm of your business, don’t qualify as business tax deductions.

Home office expenses

If you use a home office for your business, you may be able to deduct a portion of your housing expenses against business income. There are two ways to deduct home office expenses.

  • Simplified method. You can deduct $5 per square foot of your home that is used for business, up to a maximum of 300 square feet.
  • Standard method. Track all actual expenses of maintaining your home, such as mortgage interest or rent, utilities, real estate taxes, housekeeping and landscaping service, homeowners association fees, and repairs. Multiply these expenses by the percentage of your home devoted to business use.

To qualify for the home office deduction, you need to measure up in two areas:

  • Regular and exclusive use. To pass the regularly and exclusively requirement, you must regularly use your home office exclusively for conducting business activities. A desk that doubles as your kitchen table won’t work. You don’t need to dedicate an entire room to your business, but your work area should have clearly identifiable boundaries. You may want to keep photos of your home office workspace with your tax documentation as evidence in case the IRS selects your return for audit.
  • Principal place of business. Your home office must be your principal place of business. This means you spend the most time and conduct important business activities here.

If you use the standard method for calculating your home office deduction, you’ll need to file Form 8829 along with your Schedule C. Learn more about the home office deduction.

Interest

If you take out a loan or use a credit card to cover business expenses, you can deduct the interest paid to your lender or credit card company as long as you meet the following requirements:

  • You are legally liable for the debt. For example, if your parents take a second mortgage on their home to help you start a business, you are not legally liable for the debt. In that case, interest on the loan is not deductible, even if you make all of the payments on the mortgage.
  • Both you and the lender intend for the debt to be repaid. A loan that doesn’t have to be repaid is a gift.
  • You and the lender have a true debtor/creditor relationship. The IRS tends to scrutinize loans between related parties, such as family members. If you use the accrual method of accounting, you cannot deduct interest owed to a related person until the payment is made.

Keep in mind that if a loan is part business and part personal, you need to divide the interest between the business and personal parts of the loan.

Legal and professional fees

Legal and professional fees that are necessary and directly related to running your business are deductible. These include fees charged by lawyers, accountants, bookkeepers, tax preparers, and online bookkeeping services such as Bench.

If the fees include payments for work of a personal nature (for example, making a will), you can only deduct the part of the fee that’s related to the business.

Moving expenses

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the deduction for moving expenses for all nonmilitary individuals, but businesses can still deduct the cost of moving business equipment, supplies and inventory from one business location to another.

Be sure to keep good records to substantiate all costs associated with your business move.

Rent expense

If you rent a business location or equipment for your business, you can deduct the rental payments as a business expense.

Keep in mind, rent paid on your home should not be deducted as a business expense, even if you have a home office. That rent can be deducted as a part of home office expenses.

Salaries and benefits

Salaries, benefits and even vacation time paid to employees are generally tax-deductible, as long as they meet a few criteria:

  • The “employee” is not the sole proprietor, a partner, or an LLC member
  • The salary is reasonable, ordinary, and necessary
  • The services were actually provided

Taxes and licenses

You can deduct various taxes and licenses related to your business. This may include:

  • State income taxes
  • Payroll taxes
  • Personal property taxes
  • Real estate taxes paid on business property
  • Sales tax
  • Excise taxes
  • Fuel taxes
  • Business licenses

Telephone and internet expenses

If telephone and internet services are integral to your business, they can be deductible business expenses.

Keep in mind, if you use a landline at home, you cannot deduct the cost of your first line, even if you use it solely for work. However, if you have a second landline devoted to the business, the cost of that line is deductible.

If you use your cell phone and internet connection for both personal and business reasons, you can only deduct the percentage allocable to business use. Keep an itemized bill or other detailed records to prove the amount of business use in case your return is audited.

Travel expenses

For a trip to qualify as business travel, it has to be ordinary, necessary, and away from your tax home. Your tax home is the entire city or area in which you conduct business, regardless of where you live. You need to travel away from your tax home for longer than a normal day’s work, requiring you to sleep or rest en route.

Deductible, IRS approved business travel expenses include:

  • Travel to and from your destination by plane, train, bus, or car
  • Using your car while at a business location
  • Parking and toll fees
  • The cost of taxis and other methods of transportation used on a business trip
  • Meals and lodging
  • Tips
  • Dry cleaning while on a business trip
  • Business calls
  • Shipping of baggage and sample or display materials to your destination
  • Other similar ordinary and necessary expenses related to your business travel

Remember to keep records that include the amount of each expense, as well as dates of return/departure, details of the trip (whom you met with), a mileage log if you drove your own vehicle, and the business reason for the trip.

Further reading: Are Travel Expenses Tax Deductible?

Personal tax deductions for business owners

The above-mentioned deductions can be claimed on Schedule C or Form 1065, but there are a few other tax breaks small business owners commonly claim on their individual returns.

Charitable contributions

Sole proprietorships, LLCs, and partnerships cannot deduct charitable contributions as a business expense, but the business owner may be able to claim the deduction on their personal tax return.

To qualify, the donation must be made to a qualified organization.

Starting with 2020 returns, taxpayers can claim up to $300 of cash contributions as an “above-the-line” deduction on Form 1040. To deduct more than that, the business owner has to itemize deductions on Schedule A attached to Form 1040.

Child and dependent care expenses

If you pay someone to care for a child or another dependent while you work, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit. To qualify, the person receiving the card must be a child (under age 13) or a spouse or other dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

The credit is worth between 20% and 35% of your allowable expenses, depending on your income. Allowable expenses are limited to $3,000 for the care of one dependent and $6,000 if you paid for the care of two or more dependents. IRS Publication 503 provides more information on the Child and Dependent Care Credit. You’ll need to attach Form 2441 to your Form 1040 to claim the credit.

Retirement contributions

You can deduct contributions to employee retirement accounts as a business expense, but business owners who contribute only to their own retirement funds claim the deduction on Schedule 1 attached to their Form 1040.

The amount you can deduct depends on the type of plan you have. Check out the IRS’s tips for calculating your own retirement plan contribution and deduction for more information.

Health care expenses

In addition to insurance premiums, you can deduct other out-of-pocket medical costs, such as office co-pays and the cost of prescriptions. These costs are included on itemized deductions on Schedule A.

Self-employed business owners can also deduct health insurance premiums for themselves, their spouse, and dependents on Schedule 1 attached to their Form 1040. However, if you are eligible to participate in a plan through your spouse’s employer, then you can’t deduct those premiums.

The bottom line

Tax deductions are an essential way to minimize the amount of tax you have to pay, and good record keeping will ensure you get to keep those deductions if the IRS ever comes knocking.

Have your team of dedicated bookkeepers at Bench track all of the expenses related to running your business to ensure you’re taking advantage of every legitimate deduction. Send Bench’s books to your accountant at year end, or let us take the tax filing off your plate for good! Learn more.

Own a retail store or a startup?

Our friends at Gusto put together a handy list of store deductions and startup tax deductions.

All The Reasons Why Bok Choy Belongs In Your Next Stir Fry

Julia SullivanMarch 17, 2021

Photo credit: The Washington Post - Getty Images

First, spinach had its heyday in the early aughts. Then kale became trendy (remember when people would throw kale in the oven and have the audacity to call it chips?!), and now cauliflower is having a moment.

The next type of produce that’s poised for fad-dom? Bok choy.

“Like other leafy green vegetables, bok choy is a rich source of antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin A,” explains nutritionist Jennifer McDaniel, RDN. She notes that bok choy contains a trove of heart-healthy and potentially cancer-preventing and bone-building benefits. The list really goes on, making it an all-around veggie powerhouse.

And while McDaniel adds that bok choy is in the cabbage family, don’t let that categorization fool you. Unlike cabbage’s semi-bland, watery taste and texture (no shade to cabbage, but it had to be said), bok choy contains two very unique different bites in a single plant.

“The dark, velvety leafy greens have an earthy flavor, while the white stalks, while less flavorful, have a crisp, crunchy bite when eaten raw,” McDaniel explains. “Both pair well with a variety of vegetables, as well as oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil.”

New to the bok choy bandwagon? We’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about this multi-use vegetable—and how best to prepare it.

Where Bok Choy Comes From

Hailing from China originally, bok choy falls under the Brassica cabbage family, which also includes kale, turnips, mustard, and broccoli. As far as its connection to the United States and other western countries, you have immigrants to thank for that. When Chinese populations settled in California in the 1800s, they brought their crops (including bok choy) with them, according to the Real Food Encyclopedia.

As McDaniel notes, bok choy likely became a staple in Chinese cooking due to its versatility. The green is quick-cooking (making it a key part of a busy weeknight dinner) and can be cooked with a variety of methods, like grilling, stir-frying, baking, stewing.

Bok Choy’s Nutrition, Broken Down

Although boasting a ton of flavor, bok choy is fairly minimal as far as calories, fat, sodium, and sugar go. Here’s what a 1-cup serving of the veggie looks like:

  • Calories: 9
  • Fat: 0.1 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1.5 grams
  • Protein: 1.1 grams
  • Sodium: 45.5 milligrams
  • Sugar: 0.8 grams
  • Fiber: 0.7 gram

Despite its low stats, bok choy is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. A single cup contains vitamins C, K, A, and B6, as well as folate, calcium, and beta-carotene.

5 Ways Bok Choy Boosts Your Health

With a measly 9 calories and 1.5 grams of carbs, a single serving of bok choy isn’t going to fuel your next workout—let alone qualify as a super-filling snack. But what it lacks in sustenance it makes up for in other benefits:

1. You could be less likely to develop cancer.

Studies from the National Cancer Institute have found a tie between leafy green (including bok choy) consumption and a lower risk of developing lung, prostate, and colon cancer. “Like other members of the cruciferous vegetable family, bok choy contains sulfur-containing compounds that may reduce the risk of certain cancers and ward off carcinogens,” McDaniel notes.

Another cancer-fighting property contained in bok choy? Selenium. Studies show it can boost your immunity and cognitive function, too.

2. Your heart will thank you.

“Bok choy is rich in folate and B vitamins that help protect the heart,” explains McDaniel. She says that a single cup of shredded bok choy contains 11 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for both folate and vitamins B6.

The likelihood that you’ll get heart disease may also dip. One study found that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables could reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 15 percent.

3. You might see clearer.

According to McDaniel, when it comes to eye health, there are two major carotenoids to watch for: lutein and zeaxanthin. She notes that, in addition to being responsible for boosting eye health in general, a diet rich in both can help ward off macular degeneration.

4. Your bones will get the nutrients they need.

“Build better bones with bok choy,” McDaniel says, noting that the vegetable is ideal for vegans who refrain from eating dairy when it comes to getting their fill of bone health-bulking nutrients. “A single cup of shredded bok choy contains 3 percent of your RDA for magnesium, 7 percent for calcium, and 26 for vitamin K.”

5. Your thyroid function might improve.

Think of your thyroid—the little butterfly-shaped gland in your neck—as your body’s project manager. It’s responsible for producing hormones that tell your body how to grow, metabolize, sleep, and eat.

One vitamin that can help it function more smoothly, according to studies? Selenium. Another study found a connection between low levels of selenium and certain thyroid conditions, like hypothyroidism, autoimmune thyroiditis and enlarged thyroid.

How to Select And Store Fresh Bok Choy

Although it’s available year-round at your local supermarket or farmer’s market, bok choy is a cold weather crop, meaning that you’ll find its freshest varieties in the winter.

When shopping for bok choy, McDaniel says that it’s important to look for firm, smooth white stalks and dark, crisp greens—minus any mush or wilting. She adds that baby bok choy will typically have lighter green stalks and smaller leaves (because it was picked earlier in harvest). Expect a slightly sweeter flavor than the full-sized type.

The greens last a decent amount of time in your fridge, too. “Store bok choy in a plastic bag or in your vegetable bins for up to a week,” McDaniel says. “Wash them immediately before using instead of washing ahead of time and then storing,” she adds.

How To Enjoy Your Bok Choy: 3 Recipes to Try

Bok choy preparation techniques will depend on the type you’ve purchased: adult or baby, according to McDaniel. “If you’re working with large bok choy, start by cutting off the leafy green portions, then slice thinly,” she explains. “These slices can then be added to salads or soups, much like lettuce.”

Similar to asparagus, you’ll want to discard the root portion at the bottom of the stalk (roughly 1 inch), McDaniel adds. “The rest of the stalk can be used in dishes like stir-fry or soup.”

Got baby bok choy? You can eat the veggie in its entirety.

A few preparation pitfalls to watch out for: “Make sure you fully rinse and dry the plant before using. It’s relatively easy to overcook bok choy using wet cooking methods,” McDaniel says. Instead, try pan-frying or roasting, she suggests. “This will give you a nice, brown look without overcooking or becoming soggy.”

Ready to whip up your perfect helping of bok choy? Try these recipes:

  • On its own: Sesame Ginger Seared Baby Bok Choy (Killing Thyme). “This is one if my favorite bok choy recipes,” says McDaniel. “They incorporate anti-inflammatory ginger and sear the baby bok choy to get a beautiful brown look with lots of flavor.”
  • As part of a soup: Spicy Feel-Good Chicken Soup (Epicurious). Think of it like your traditional hearty, comforting chicken soup–but a million times more interesting.
  • As part of a stir-fryChicken Stir-Fry with Bok Choy and Garlic Sauce (The Spruce Eats). A tangy stir-fry like this one is quick and satisfying (a.ka. perfect for a last-minute meal).

From Better Immunity to Better Mood: The Little-Known Benefits of Vitamin D

We’ve been told time and time again that exposing our bodies to a little bit of sunshine is good for us. (As long as we don’t bake under those UVA and UVB rays for too long without shade and sunscreen, that is—doing that is basically asking for skin damage.) After all, responsible sun exposure is touted for its ability to boost our mood and increase our physical health.

But what about fall and winter when our days are much darker and colder? Come January and February, our sun exposure is often pretty limited (especially for those of us living on the East Coast and in the Midwest, where winter is three straight months of swirling snow and cloudy skies), leading to vastly diminished vitamin D levels.

And according to Dana Kofsky of Wellness Styled, the consequences of vitamin D deficiency are major, and can include things as depression, anxietyfatigue, and muscle pain. To learn more about the way vitamin D effects the body, along with the foods and supplements that can keep your levels steady, keep reading.

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“Vitamin D has several very important functions,” Kofsky tells us. “Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, building a healthy immune system, fighting disease, and regulating moods.” That’s why being deficient in the nutrient can have such far-reaching consequences, result in everything from depression and anxiety to back pain, blood sugar issues, and weight gain.

1. Depression

Research supports vitamin D’s effect on mental health, especially where depression is concerned. One study conducted in the Netherlands found that low levels of vitamin D were linked to symptoms of both major and minor depression in research participants. Another study found that supplementation of vitamin D improved participants’ symptoms, resulting in better health and overall well-being.

2. Anxiety

It’s not just depression either. Some research indicates low levels of vitamin D play a role in heightening levels of anxiety. In fact, one study showed that children who were vitamin D deficient experienced significantly more anxiety and stress than their peers. In this way, lack of vitamin D and sun exposure could be seriously messing with your mental health. Story continues

Amazing hike..

wisdom tree

Med beds update..

Hello everyone,
Can you tell we’re getting closer to our transition? Although the media is still pushing the narrative, many of us are informed about what’s really about to happen. It’s been a long haul, but the signs are affirmative.

medbed

MedBed

If we’ve been paying attention, we see how the narrative went from one story to another as we sunk deeper into the deep state agenda. Not any longer. We know about the jab, Fraudci, the fake statistics, stolen election, etc. so let’s move on to what’s next.
The big question now is, will the MedBed reverse the damage from the jab? The short answer appears to be no. Listen to what this women appears to know.

click here – MedBeds Available to the public.

broken heart

broken heart

So what do we do now? It’s so heartbreaking to know of so many people who are destined to suffer. As I listen to her explain their prognosis, it all seems so surreal like how can this be happening? The reality of the information is still not easy to comprehend for those of us who have been awake following this narrative for years. The mental challenge to accept what’s transpired will be more devastating than many will be able to handle. The slow drips of the magnet jokes are becoming more disturbing as the days continue to reveal the truth about their situation. Everyone will feel the pain as no one wants to watch anyone suffer. Deep state being the exception.

leaf sprout

Faith

Do you think maybe now people are ready to surrender? That time is typically when people have nowhere else to turn but to let go and let God. Had they taken my hand they would have had faith in the body that God created. Whenever the Queen is off the board, the next move will prove Game Over.
Faith is imperative or else we make decisions in fear which will always deliver consequences.

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