Guest Blog: Professional Development Series Recap: “Guide to Perfect Your Networking”


By Sebastian Matta, Dale Carnegie Training Tampa Bay

Have you ever been to a networking event and did not know how to start up a conversation? Nor did you know what to talk about after the initial introduction? Thanks to Dale Carnegie Training Tampa Bay, Emerge members who attended our last Professional Development Speaker Series event of the year on a “Guide to Perfect Your Networking” now have the tools necessary to make a stronger first impression when building their professional network.

The speaker did a great job and taught us the proper way to:

  • Start a conversation
  • Build a relationship by focusing on the other person
  • Capture their information by being sincerely interested
  • Setting an appointment to follow up
  • Gaining a referral or giving a referral

Everyone that attended was highly engaged and found great value in more than one, if not all, of these objectives. It is safe to say that after this networking workshop everyone is a stronger networker than before!

If you are interested in getting involved with the Professional Development Committee and being a voice in determining our topics for next year’s Speaker Series events contact Sebastian Matta at 813-385-4250.

Guest Blog: Now Is a Good Time to Start Planning and Organizing Your Taxes

Courtesy of Marsocci, Appleby & Company, PA

You may be tempted to forget all about your taxes once you’ve filed your tax return, but that’s not a good idea. If you start your tax planning now, you may avoid a tax surprise when you file next year. Also, now is a good time to set up a system so you can keep your tax records safe and easy to find. Here are some tips to give you a leg up on next year’s taxes:

marsocciTake action when life changes occur. Some life events (such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child) can change the amount of tax you pay. When they happen, you may need to change the amount of tax withheld from your pay. To do that, file a new Form W-4 (“Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate”) with your employer. If you make estimated payments, those may need to be changed as well.

Keep records safe. Put your 2014 tax return and supporting records in a safe place. If you ever need your tax return or records, it will be easy for you to get them. You’ll need your supporting documents if you are ever audited by the IRS. You may need a copy of your tax return if you apply for a home loan or financial aid.

Stay organized. Make tax time easier. Have your family put tax records in the same place during the year. That way you won’t have to search for misplaced records when you file next year.

If you are self-employed, here are a couple of additional tax tips to consider:

Employ your child. Doing so shifts income (which is not subject to the “kiddie tax”) from you to your child, who normally is in a lower tax bracket or may avoid tax entirely due to the standard deduction. There can also be payroll tax savings; plus, the earnings can enable the child to contribute to an IRA. However, the wages paid must be reasonable given the child’s age and work skills. Also, if the child is in college, or is entering soon, having too much earned income can have a detrimental impact on the student’s need-based financial aid eligibility.

Avoid the hobby loss rules. A lot of businesses that are just starting out or have hit a bump in the road may wind up showing a loss for the year. The last thing the business owner wants in this situation is for the IRS to come knocking on the door arguing the business’s losses aren’t deductible because the activity is just a hobby for the owner. If your business is expecting a loss this year, we should talk as soon as possible to make sure you do everything possible to maximize the tax benefit of the loss and minimize its economic impact.

Avoid Gift Treatment by Paying Expenses Directly. The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $14,000 for 2015. (Married couples can gift up to $28,000 combined.) This limit applies to the total of all gifts, including birthday and holiday gifts, made to the same individual during the year. However, any payment made directly to the medical care provider (for example, doctor, hospital, etc.) or educational organization for tuition is not subject to the gift tax and, therefore, is not included in the $14,000 limit.

So, when paying tuition or large medical bills for parents, grandchildren, or any other person who is not your dependent minor child, be sure to make the payment directly to the organization or service provider. Don’t give the funds to the parent or other individual first and have them pay the school, doctor, or hospital. By doing so, you have made a gift to that person, subject to the $14,000 limit. In summary, make direct payments to schools or medical providers and avoid taxable gifts that could be subject to the gift tax or reduce the payer’s unified credit.

Caution: Direct payments of tuition reduce the student’s eligibility for financial aid on a dollar-for-dollar basis. However, if the gift were made directly to the student, only 20% of the gifted assets would be counted as assets of the student for financial aid purposes. Accordingly, careful analysis of the trade-offs between the gift tax exclusion and impairment of financial aid eligibility should be considered.

On our website, WWW.MACCPAWEB.COM  you will find information about Marsocci, Appleby & Company, PA, including our list of services. We also provide you with online resources to assist in your tax and financial decision-making. Please contact Gerald Appleby or Mike Demas at (813) 932-2116 for all your tax and accounting needs.

Marsocci, Appleby & Company, PA
3815 W Humphrey St, Suite 101
Tampa, FL 33614
Telephone: (813) 932-2116
Fax: (813) 930-0489
Email: or

Membership Has Its Benefits: Office Depot Chamber Perks Program

Are you participating in the Office Depot affinity program? You are eligible simply by being a Chamber member. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce serves you by advocating for initiatives that will improve the Tampa Bay business climate and by creating programs that will help you promote and grow your business while watching your bottom line.
The Office Depot “Chamber Perks” program is free to GTCC members and gives you access to the power of a $70 million group purchasing program, resulting in a very aggressive pricing structure on items you use the most. The program is also very convenient. When you find the office items you need, you can order them online through a dedicated gateway on the Office Depot website and receive next-day delivery, or you can use your Affinity Program Discount Card to buy discounted items at your nearest Office Depot store, helping you realize substantial savings.
If you would like to learn more about the program, contact Thomas Sander or 813-453-9996 for a price analysis to demonstrate your significant savings potential.

Tampa Chamber Hosts Senate President Andy Gardiner

Rep. Dana Young, Chamber CEO Bob Rohrlack, Chamber Chair Ron Christaldi, Chair-Elect Guy King, III,  and representatives from St. Joesph's Hospital.

Rep. Dana Young, Chamber CEO Bob Rohrlack, Chamber Chair Ron Christaldi, Chair-Elect Guy King, III, and representatives from St. Joesph’s Hospital.

On Tuesday, September 29, Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner traveled to Tampa to meet with members of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce to discuss the issues facing the legislature and the state of Florida

During his speech, President Gardiner discussed the importance of finding a solution to the rising cost of health care and doing something to help the uninsured Floridians who struggle to have quality affordable health care. He also highlighted the significance of tax cuts and helping the economy of Tampa Bay and the State of Florida grow.

“It was an honor to meet with the Senate President to hear more about his priorities for the upcoming 2016 Legislative Session,” said Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chair Ronald Christaldi.  “The Chamber continues to be a player in key policy discussions and it is the voice of the business community in Tampa Bay.”

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce represents over 1,200 members in the legislative process. An important component of the Chamber’s mission is to communicate the views of the business community to elected policy makers.

For more information on the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, please visit

Make an Impact: Diploma-See


The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Hillsborough County Public Schools partner with Junior Achievement every year to recruit volunteers for Diploma-See, set for Friday, October 23. Over the past 9 years 2,500 volunteers have provided valuable time and learning experiences with over 25,000 children being positively impacted. This legacy project is one that many organizations embrace to allow their employees to participate in giving back to the community. We need community members to volunteer to present practical information at a critical time in an 8th grader’s life.

This program includes personal finance and the importance of identifying education and career goals based on a student’s skills, interests and values. It demonstrates the economic benefits of staying in school. Training sessions will be held during the month of October to prepare volunteers. No experience is necessary! The training is brief – only two hours – and the in-class experience is half a day. For companies that have 10 employees volunteer, Junior Achievement will offer training to your employees at your location.

Click here for more info or to register. Thank you to our sponsor Regions. Questions? Call Carla Prescott at 813-631-1410 ext 222 or email

Chamber Names Winners of the 2015 Small Business of the Year Awards

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the 2015 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony on Friday, September 18, at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay’s small business community and toasted the evening’s big winners.

This year’s event was presented by Bay Cities Bank & Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors and represents the 35th year the Chamber has recognized this key segment of the region’s economy. Small business awards were presented in three categories based on the number of employees and a fourth business category honoring a startup company. Companies are evaluated on financial success, community involvement and ethical business practices.

The 2015 Small Business of the Year Award winners are:

Startup Company: Bourbon and Boweties

Bourbon and Boweties is a jewelry brand most recognizable for its wire-wrapped bangles adorned with semi-precious stones. Each bangle is hand-crafted in the Tampa Bay area. Over the past few years, the company has hosted trunk shows with hundreds of retailers including Lilly Pulitzer Signature Stores, Jack Rogers and Nordstrom. Bourbon and Boweties’ signature bangles can be found in more than 2,500 boutiques and in Nordstrom locations across the country. As a company with local roots, Bourbon and Boweties often donates jewelry to local charities for fundraisers including Wine Women & Shoes, Wine to Wine and Relay for Life.

5 – 20 Employees: Flatwoods Consulting Group, Inc.

Flatwoods Consulting Group Inc. assists clients in navigating the complex environmental regulations associated with wetlands, wildlife and water. Flatwoods works at the intersection of natural resources and development with public and private sector clients on projects that involve mining, transportation, utilities, agriculture, industry and residential or commercial development. Flatwoods supports several charitable organizations that promote science education and environmental causes including the Florida Association for Water Quality Control and the State Science & Engineering Fair of Florida.

21 – 50 Employees: Tudi Mechanical Systems of Tampa, Inc.

Tudi Mechanical Systems is a mechanical repair service company specializing in HVAC, electrical, plumbing, indoor air quality, design-build projects and preventive maintenance. Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration News recognized Tudi as one of the four best contractors to work for in the country. Since 2007, Tudi has quickly become the area’s premier full-service building management partner, servicing many of Tampa’s commercial, industrial and hospital facilities. Tudi supports several community initiatives including the Muscular Dystrophy Association and raising funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.

51 – 250 Employees: Bill Currie Ford

Bill Currie Ford is a full-service automotive dealership that has been incorporated in Tampa for 55 years. The company manages new and pre-owned sales, automotive service, parts, a collision center, as well as a separate “Buy Here Pay Here” operation. In 2014, annual sales exceeded $99 million. Corporate citizenship and community involvement are at the heart of Bill Currie Ford’s business philosophy. Among the numerous causes they support, Bill Currie Ford works with the Children’s Cancer Center, Jason Ackerman Foundation, Metropolitan Ministries and Tijuana Flats Foundation, raising over $100,000 within the last year alone for those organizations.

For more information on the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, please visit

Guest Blog: Every Contractor’s Nightmare: An Unenforceable Indemnity Provision

By Joseph Etter

Joe-Etter-WP-Bio-PageWe hear the same story from contractors when they are sued, “I have indemnity, so I am protected.” Unfortunately, contractors who believe they are protected are shocked when their indemnity clauses do not hold up in court. Contractors must be wary when drafting their construction contracts so they can avoid the nightmare of defending a lengthy lawsuit that could have easily been avoided by careful drafting.

Why Is Indemnity Important?

Indemnity occurs when one party agrees to undertake a duty or be contractually obligated to pay for a loss suffered by another party. Essentially, indemnity shifts the risk of loss from one party who would otherwise be responsible to a separate party. Let’s face it, like all businesses, profits drive construction companies. One way to keep the lights on is being insulated from any liability and avoiding costly litigation. Each time a claim against a contractor is made, the insurance premiums rise, often times minimizing profits and making it too difficult to continue to operate one’s business. Contractors want their subcontractors or suppliers to indemnify them for their work or for a particular scope of a project out of necessity and because it makes great business sense. Thus, indemnity solves this dilemma for many contractors.

What Does Florida Law Require For a Valid Indemnity Provision?

Florida Statute § 725.06 contains two important restrictions for an indemnitee (e.g. general contractor) against an indemnitor (e.g. subcontractor): (1) any indemnity provision must be expressed in bid documents or project specifications; and (2) a monetary limitation must bear a “reasonable commercial relationship” to the contract.

Where Do Most Indemnity Provisions Fall Short?

More often than not, Florida courts strictly construe this statute and find indemnity clauses to be invalid and unenforceable. In most instances, contractors fail to comply with the statute by not including a monetary limitation. Other times, the monetary limitation does not bear a “reasonable commercial relationship” to the contract; i.e. a $10 million monetary limitation for a $1 million project.

How to Avoid the Nightmare?

It makes sense to protect your business at the outset with valid and enforceable contracts. Consulting an attorney prior to finalizing a construction contract is essential to ensure you limit your potential exposure. Should you have any further questions regarding indemnification provisions or any other area of construction law, please contact Englander Fischer at 727-898-7210 to see how one of our attorneys can assist you.