Don’t Forget How Lucky You Are

I’ve been taking my financials to the same certified public accountant for the past three tax seasons. (I actually found him through Yelp and have been extremely pleased with his service. See, social media can generate new business!) Each year as my CPA calculates my deductions, he provides me with financial advice, which I make a point to follow. During my appointment with him last month, he added a few more insights to his usual wisdom: He reminded me we live in the best country in the world.

My accountant grew up in the Philippines and moved his family here more than 30 years ago for the same reason people have emigrated to the U.S. for generations: a better way of life and more opportunities. He admitted the recession has been longer than the one we experienced in the 1980s and more difficult than the downturn in the late ’90s. Although my CPA is at the age where he should be thinking about retirement, he can’t for several reasons, including that he’s now supporting one of his unemployed adult children and his family. However, my accountant’s optimism about and love for the U.S. remains unchanged.

Yes, the recession has been difficult and, to make matters worse, it seems the remodeling industry has been hit especially hard with new regulations in the past few years. But I’m willing to bet you would agree that regulations are backed by good intentions, and one of the best things about this country is that your voice can be heard when you disagree with the government. If you need some encouragement to contact your legislators, see the video Mike Nagel, CGR, CAPS, partner with MAW Chicago, Palatine, Ill., and NAHB’s Remodeler of the Year, recorded about why he’s involved in advocacy. (

The lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule certainly has created a lot of debate and anger. In our RRP roundup on page 32, you’ll see there are folks working on your behalf to improve the implementation of this regulation and others who are creating products to make following the rule a bit easier.

“Business Solutions,” page 24, addresses the pros and cons of hiring employees or subcontractors. It also covers the legal implications of incorrectly classifying employees and the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is offering if you’ve erroneously been classifying employees. Although the IRS is trying to dig our nation out of its budget deficit through employment taxes like this, the agency is willing to cut you a deal if you’ve made mistakes.

In addition, the other “Business Solutions” article, page 20, offers guidance for diving into the real-estate market. With a little help from a trusted group of advisers, you are well suited to purchase, renovate and sell houses. You may want to consider this opportunity to expand your business now that many neighborhoods with foreclosed-upon homes could use a boost from your skills.

An ongoing recession and an election year make it especially easy to grumble about the state of our nation. It’s not difficult to let those complaints snowball to the point where you begin to lose sight of how good we have it. Sometimes it’s those little unexpected nuggets of gold, like the words of my CPA, that remind me to take a breath and see the beautiful forest for what it is and stop focusing on all the trees in my way.