Hello, Fellow Court Reporters
It’s an exciting time of renewal. Leaves and flowers will be blooming. Days are longer and warmer. It’s an all-around uplifting time of year.
The extra hours of daylight offer us an opportunity to be more productive, and studies have shown that it can also elevate your mood. Spring can be a time to try new things. Plan something special for yourself or your family. Maybe a painting class, a vacation, or commit to taking a walk each day.
If you’re planning a spring project, make a list. Lists are helpful to keep you organized and focused. But instead of just a list of tasks to accomplish in a day or a week, try time-blocking. Experts say that time-blocking can increase your productivity. It’s simple….just “block off” the time you need to complete a task on your list. This way you will be sure to start and finish, instead of getting pulled in another direction.
Here’s wishing you a wonderful kickoff to the season!
Court Reporter and Court
We are on the Video Record
Video-Synchronization and the deposition transcript.
Many attorneys are requesting videotaped depositions to be synchronized to the transcript. This process involves a significant amount of work by our video department. It is also something that we reporters need to be mindful of since our transcripts can be read with the audio simultaneously playing. My practice has been to get a copy of the audio file from the videographer and go over the transcript with their audio.
To make this process easier, I have purchased transcription software and a foot pedal so I can continue to edit the job and use my software keys without having to also hit a rewind and play button on the keyboard.
There are many transcription devices and software versions that can be purchased for this process with prices ranging from very high (over $500) to quite low ($50).
The product I use is an All In One Transcription Kit form Martel Electronics which sells for $129. It was easy to load on my computer. I download the audio from the videographer and load it into the software. It’s very easy.
Any questions or tips for future newsletters, please send them to me at [email protected].
RPR, CCR, and
Court Reporter Liaison
New Standard Order for Copies
Client Services Manager
New Transcript Order Form
At the Reporter Roundtable Meeting in January, we introduced a new Transcript Order Form. The form was created with Copy sales in mind. All Copies will be delivered electronically as the standard order. If a Copy sale would like to order a paper copy of the transcript, they need to initial the order form. If they do not initial the form, we will email all standard electronic formats.
Note: If you have a signed TOF, you will be paid for the Copy sales in advance.
The Standard Package for the Original remains the same. The firm will initially be emailed the transcript. They will also receive a paper Original and Copy (this varies depending on the state rules). If the firm requests email only, a paper copy will not be sent.
Note: You do not need to have the scheduling firm sign an order form.
Our standard electronic formats are Full .pdf, Condensed .pdf, E-trans (.ptx) and Ascii (.txt) files. If a firm requests the transcript in another format, please specify on your Reporter Worksheet.
Don’t you hate finding parking in the city, especially when the clock is ticking? There is nothing worse than running late because the parking lot is full.
Have you tried a parking app? Personally, I use Best Parking. The morning of my job, I will input the address of the job location and the estimated time of my arrival and departure. Then a map will show me what parking lots are located near my job and how much they will charge. You can also make a reservation before you arrive, which is truly a timesaver and sometimes a money-saver as well. You’ll receive a code corresponding to your reservation. When you enter the lot, you scan your phone at the entrance. Your spot it waiting. Can’t get any easier than that. It’s also a great way to keep a record of parking expenses for accounting purposes. Drive safely!
Are You Ready for Tax Season?
Court reporters are responsible for their own financial situation, which includes paying their annual taxes. The more they plan throughout the year and properly record all expenses, the easier it will be to reduce their tax liability and complete their tax forms. With the 2017 tax filing deadline quickly approaching, court reporters still have time to maximize their tax deductions.
The following are key deductions a reporter may be able to take advantage of:
- Equipment and Direct Supplies – Cell phones, laptops, stenographic machines, software, paper, pens, etc.
- Outside Consultants – If you hire an outside service provider such as a Scopist or Proofreader for more than $600, be sure to keep track of the cost and issue the provider a 1099.
- Automobile and Related Expenses – Including car lease, gas and auto insurance. If you own your car, you can also deduct mileage at a rate of 53.5 cents per mile.
- Local Travel – Taxis, car services and parking while traveling to and from depositions or other meetings
- Meals and Entertainment – Whether you are taking out attorneys to drum up a business or existing clients, be sure to claim it.
- Home Office Expense – While working from home, take advantage of the business use deduction of your home office. This includes a pro-rated deduction for rent, utilities, internet, and maintenance.
- Advertising and Marketing – If you are posting ads for a publication or have a website, be sure you are capturing the cost of advertising on your tax return.
- Business Telephone – The cost associated with the business use of both your cell phone and landline is tax deductible.
- Insurance – Health Insurance, business insurance and errors and omissions policy are all tax deductible.
- Education, Dues, and Subscriptions – The cost of continuing professional education, seminars and any dues (e.g., NCRA) are all deductible.
- Retirement Planning – Independent contractors have several easy ways to set up options to choose from which are tax deductible. They can put away up to $6,500 in a traditional IRA, utilize a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) account to contribute up to $54,000, or contribute greater amounts through a defined benefit plan.
- Child Care – Should you need to pay for child care while working, the IRS offers a child care credit equal to 20% of up to $3,000 of expenses per child (limited to two children).
In addition to understanding and applying appropriate tax deductions, there are some other helpful tips to help with filing tax forms for 2017 and beyond. One is to keep track of expenses. While this is always a challenge, the most efficient way is to use a separate bank account and dedicated credit card that supplies a year-end summary. This will allow court reporters to know exactly where to look when figuring out income and expenses for the year.
Paying tax liability quarterly throughout the year prevents court reporters from getting hit with one big bill when they file taxes at the close of the year. A good rule of thumb is to set aside 30% of gross receipts to pay taxes.
In December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed. The Act has impactful changes to how court reporters and independent contractors are taxed. In particular, it allows them to deduct 20% of their net income, with some limitations. Changes to their business structure may be necessary in order to use this deduction and should be discussed with a tax professional.
Mike C. Deo, CPA
Partner, Perlson LLP
Magna is working on a creating a new Reporter Worksheet for easier job submission. The new Worksheet will be introduced at the next Reporter Roundtable Meeting.
MAIN HEADQUARTERS EXPANSION
On March 26, 2018, Magna’s management team and administrative staff will move to the 9th floor of Seven Penn Center in Philadelphia. Local reporters should bring exhibits to Production on the 9th floor. There will be an office for Philadelphia Standby on the 9th floor.