Monday, September 26, 2022

GOLA’s new electronic billboard promotes legally operating transportation companies Orlando — The members of the Greater Orlando Limousine Association (GOLA) saw a December chock-full of activity, with two city council meetings and the launch of a new billboard campaign promoting passenger safety through awareness of licensed ground transportation options, as well as its annual holiday party.

GOLA members took to Orlando’s City Hall first on December 8 and again on December 15 in their efforts to encourage the city to regulate illegally operating TNCs. Uber and Lyft representatives were present at the first meeting but only Lyft was in attendance at the second one.

A ruling issued after the second meeting mandated that rideshare companies have until February 1, 2015, to acquire appropriate insurance, conduct adequate driver background checks, and ensure that their drivers are operating properly inspected vehicles, according to GOLA President Cliff Wright of Royal Transportation Group.

“It’s everything we’ve been asking for since Day One,” he said. “Public safety has been our big push, with the billboards and everything.”

The association has seen a great deal of success with the inaugural billboard campaign it launched at the end of the September, which had directed the public’s attention to TNCs’ safety issues. Its newest billboard focuses on promoting legally operating transportation companies and will run through the first week in January.

“We were really happy with the first billboards but decided to change the message to keep Uber and Lyft out of it this time,” Wright said. “I’m sick of hearing about Uber and Lyft, and everybody else felt the same way. We didn’t want to give them any more press.”

GOLA closed out its year with a well-attended holiday party at Westgate Lake Resort, which offers a view of Disney World’s fireworks display. The nearly 100 people in attendance were also treated to dinner, music, and entertainment, courtesy of an association member’s dance company.

The first GOLA meeting of 2015 will be held January 13.

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Washington, D.C. — Congress recently renewed several business tax benefits, including 50 percent bonus depreciation with expensing levels at $500,000 (with a $2.5 million ceiling) through Section 179. The bill, H.R. 5771, had been approved by the House but toiled around the Senate before passing the same day that Congress left for its holiday break.

While it does give businesses a bonus, it doesn’t give them much time to take advantage of it (just 8 days until the end of the year). When the clock strikes midnight on January 1, bonus depreciation disappears and expensing levels return to just $25,000 with a ceiling of $200,000. This also applies to any equipment you leased or purchased and put into service in 2014.

That means that if you purchased qualifying equipment (see your tax expert for qualifying vehicle purchases and special limits on deductions), you can deduct the full cost of the investment in the year you purchased it rather than taking the deduction over a number of years—up to the $2.5 million ceiling. For select small and midsize operators, that could reduce your tax obligation to nothing for the fourth quarter of 2014. Some of the deductible items include office furniture, computers, off-the-shelf software for computers, business office equipment (copy machines, garage machinery), and business vehicles over 6,000 pounds GVWR. Used equipment does not qualify for bonus depreciation.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is also getting a small window of life, so if you’re on the fence about hiring a candidate before the end of the year, it might be worth it to go ahead and extend the offer. The credit is worth up to $9,600 per qualified hire, including unemployed veterans, recipients on welfare or food stamps, or ex-felons. Of course you don’t want to rush the hiring process just to get a credit, but it could be worth it if you’ve already been interviewing and need a tie-breaker between two great candidates.

Remember, these deductions are only valid through the end of the year. WOTC and bonus depreciation go away completely, while Section 179 is significantly reduced.

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London — Tristar Worldwide, one of the world’s leading chauffeured transportation providers, scooped up three separate awards in the annual Professional Driver QSi Awards, run by the magazine Pro Driver. The company won Gold in both the Chauffeur Operator (31-plus vehicles) category and the Marketing category, while Tristar chauffeur Paul Alleman won a Bronze Award in the prestigious Professional Driver of the Year category.

The QSi Awards—which stand for Quality, Service, and Innovation—are the only national awards for the UK's growing chauffeur and private hire industry, and the results were announced at a gala dinner at the Effingham Park Hotel near Gatwick this past November.

“Tristar Worldwide is still the class of the field, setting and raising the standards for the executive chauffeuring market not just in the UK, but around the world, while presenting a polished, professional image right across the business,” says Mark Bursa, editor of Pro Driver.

“We are delighted to have won Pro Driver QSI awards in every category that we entered,” says Dean De Beer, Global CEO of Tristar Worldwide. “This is the second year in a row that we have won the Gold Award in the Chauffeur Operator (31-plus vehicles) category and we are committed to continually evolve and innovate to ensure we provide the best, most efficient service for our customers. We are also delighted to see Paul Alleman rewarded for his dedication to being an excellent chauffeur, with exceptional customer service, attention to detail, and advanced motorist driving skills.”

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