Millions of small-business owners overpay their taxes every year, in part because they’re reluctant to take the deductions to which they’re entitled. According to a recent article on, contractors can deduct the following tech tools from their business income:

  • The basics: Laptops, personal digital assistants, digital cameras and cell phones are all deductible. Because they are fairly standard items, most business owners don’t miss these deductions.

  • The fancy: High-definition televisions, DVD recorders, MP3 players and other “toys” can be deducted if they’re used primarily for business. However, the article advises owners not to get greedy: A $12,000 plasma television set might rise the eyebrows of a tax auditor, where the $3,000 model might not.

  • Hybrid cars: There is a tax incentive for choosing lower-emissions vehicles for personal and business use. Many states have separate tax incentives for these vehicles as well. Note that most jurisdictions do not give tax incentives for diesel vehicles, even though they may get better gas mileage than their gasoline-powered counterparts (and even some hybrids), because they are not classified as low-emissions vehicles.

Click for more tax tips, or to read the rest of the article. The site also offers reviews of tax-preparation software, receipt logs and laser printers, among other tools.

Want to make sure your e-mail doesn’t end up in your customers’ spam dumps? Two of the world’s biggest e-mail providers, America Online (AOL) and Yahoo, plan to introduce services to charge senders a fee to route their mail directly to the recipient’s inbox, bypassing filters, according to

The service, which would cost between 1/4 cent and 1 cent per message, is the latest attempt by internet providers to prevent “spam” e-mail from reaching their customers’ boxes, without blocking legitimate e-mails.

Companies that don’t want to pay — legitimate mailers and spammers alike — can still send their messages to AOL and Yahoo customers, but the mail will be filtered, as usual. However, some technology experts believe such charges are unfair to small businesses, and are the equivalent of private taxes.

The U.S. Small Business administration recently released an online version of its popular Business Matchmaking initiative. The Business Matchmaking Online Network, a joint venture between SBA, business-consultant organization SCORE and computer manufacturer HP, matches small businesses with buyers, and also provides educational tools, web seminars and downloadable articles.

“Business Matchmaking has been a tremendous success over the past three years, and I am pleased to see this initiative continue to grow in 2006,” SBA administrator Hector Barreto says in a release.

Attention Blackberry addicts: Don’t throw out your other cell phones and handheld computers just yet. A small company called NTP Inc. sued the manufacturer of the popular Blackberry handheld, which business owners use in place of separate cell phones, personal digital assistants and wireless e-mail devices, Research in Motion Ltd., for patent infringement — and, in early rounds, NTP won.

The ultimate fate of the BlackBerry still is pending, and remedies could range from license fees to a shutdown of the service. estimates 3.2 million Americans use BlackBerries. Most analysts don’t expect a total and permanent BlackBerry ban, but the situation should be monitored for future developments.

A new survey from the Employment Law Alliance finds that 5 percent of American workers maintain personal blogs, but only 15 percent of their employers have a policy that directly addresses blogging activity.

Of those workers whose companies regulate blogging, 62 percent say the policy prohibits posting any employer-related information and 60 percent say the policy discourages employees from criticizing or making negative comments about the company. Contractors may want to add blog policies to their employee handbooks in order to ensure their workers keep confidential or disparaging items off the Internet.

Meanwhile, most of those surveyed think employers should be allowed to discipline or terminate workers who post negative or embarrassing information about the company, and 23 percent say employees should be able to post criticism or satire about employers and co-workers without fear of discipline.

Collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its 21 “Plug-In To eCycling” partners over the past three years has resulted in the safe recycling of more that 60 million pounds of old electronics, such as outdated computers and cell phones. Through the program, manufacturers and retailers raise public awareness of electronics reuse and recycling.