Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame, the standup/movie/music icon, has added entrepreneur to his list of achievements. But the businessman is staying in character with the Tommy Chong we have all grown to know and love. It’s all about weed. His new business venture in Colorado is manufacturing two products for distribution: Chong Star, a form of weed high in CBD and THC named after Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) in which Chong was a contestant last season, and “Tommy Chong’s Smoke Swipes” which instantly rid clothes and hair of smoky smells from cigars, cigarettes and cannabis. Chong tells me that Len Goodman, a judge on DWTS and a heavy cigar smoker, swears by the swipes product.

According to Chong, growing, distributing, and selling marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes is legal in Colorado as long as the product stays within the state borders. The product is also subject to sales tax which is levied at the dispensary level. Chong believes that levying a sales tax is tax overload on citizens. He says, “We are already taxed to death on everything.”

However, these activities are still illegal at the federal level. Even so, Chong does not fear reprisal from the Feds. He feels that pending court cases on the side of legalizing marijuana and, finally, recognition of its medicinal qualities will soon result in federal legalization of the drug.

Chong credits his remission from prostate cancer to the use of a hemp product under the direction of his naturopath in Canada. He strongly believes in its medicinal qualities. You certainly don’t have the litany of “side effects include…” when it comes to marijuana. “After all,” Chong adds, “The worst thing that can happen if you smoke too much marijuana is that you will regurgitate. This demonstrates that the body is equipped to handle it. When it comes to marijuana, the medical benefits far outweigh these issues.”

Chong adds that government resistance to legalization can also be attributed to their inability to regulate. He states, “You cannot regulate marijuana in the same way you can regulate alcohol because there is no one manufacturing point. It’s a cottage industry.”

The trend toward legalization is also evident with the leniency the IRS has demonstrated the last few years towards the marijuana industry. Previously, business owners were required to report their illegal income without the benefit of taking deductions against it. Things have changed. Beginning in 2011, deductions for cost of goods sold, which are the costs involved in production are allowed on tax returns. Most marijuana farmers are using the “full absorption costing rules” and “unified capitalization rules” to include administrative, overhead and direct costs normally not associated with cost of goods sold. In other words, they are basically writing off every expense. And the IRS is allowing it.

Chong is excited about his new enterprise. Although, he says, “Owning a small business is like doing time in jail. You are dedicated to that business. You don’t have a life. It absorbs all of your time. When I was in jail I had more time to myself than I had on the outside.”

Chong was jailed in 2003 for 9 months for selling marijuana paraphernalia.

Chong is joined by his son Paris and John Paul Cohen, a former Sanwa Bank executive, in his new business. “These guys handle the business end of things. I am not a businessman; I am an artist,” Chong states. It’s his wife Shelby, who he says has the business brains in the family. She has an accounting background. He always heeds her advice.

Chong says the best business advice he’s ever received is to prepay his taxes. “If you pay too much, you get a refund. And you’re not on the red flag list. Because you paid in advance, they’ll likely leave you alone.”

The best advice he has to offer to other entrepreneurs, however, is what he tells his son, “Research, research, research. You need to know habits and trends. There’s no excuse to not know everything you need to know. The knowledge is at your fingertips.”

Tonight will be our first date. Luke is taking me to dinner. Just two more hours before I get to see him! I feel a tingle as I move the queen of hearts below the king of spades. I’m like a teenage girl with the rush and crush of it all. You’d never know I was a 34 year old professional woman. I feel like snapping my gum and calling my girlfriends flat out on my stomach on the bed with legs raised behind me kicking off shoes and yammering into the phone, “and he’s all, and I’m like, and he’s like…” Christ. But I can’t help the delicious burst of joy that’s running from my tummy into my chest.

My life is about to change. I smile and move the four of clubs across to the five of hearts. Yes, my life is about to change. I can just feel it. A new man. A new adventure.

I look up. Andie is shouting, “You can’t go in there! You can’t go in there without an appointment!” And from the hallway, the thundering of heavy footsteps advancing across the oak plank floor. “Wait!”

Then a man rushing through my open office door. His handsome face is puffy, red and vaguely familiar. It blurs as he speeds to the front of my desk. He upends a black satchel and my eyes grow large as they move from his face down to stacks of bound hundred dollar bills tumbling onto the desktop, off the desk onto the floor. Mounds and mounds of them. I can’t even guess how much.

“Pay the IRS for me.” The words tumble just as rapidly from his mouth as the packets tumble onto the desktop. A waft of stagnant scotch hits my nose. Is he drunk?

I finally recognize the new client with the horrendous tax problem who paid me a small advance a couple of months ago, signed the IRS’ Power of Attorney form, but never returned with the paperwork I needed in order to proceed. “Simon? What’s going on?” He is so intent on his task that he doesn’t answer. “Simon?” I prompt again this time a little more insistently.

Simon scoops the last banded pack from the satchel, finally looks at me and says, “I trust you Kim. Pay the IRS for me. I’ll be in touch.”

By then Andie is in the doorway but rears back quickly when he barrels back through it. We watch him leave then stare at each other slack jawed for a beat. Then I’m up and running after him. “Simon! Wait!” He’s gone through the front door. I whip the door open, step out to the landing, and pause. I look to the right, nothing. I look to the left and see him running down the sidewalk. Shielding the late afternoon sun from my eyes with one hand, I call out to him again, “Wait, Simon. You have to come back!”

A squeal of brakes causes me to look across the street. A bronze vintage Oldsmobile, something out of the 1960’s, pulls to a stop. A woman in big round sunglasses, sun hat, and gloved hands, lowers the window, brings up a revolver and shoots Simon. I watch as he crumbles to the ground and the satchel flies out of his hands.

The car door swings open and the woman starts to get out but looks over at me as I scream. She turns toward me, raises the gun and before I can react, she fires. I hear a hiss and smell gunpowder as the bullet whizzes by my ear and lodges into the door frame behind me. Throwing myself to the ground, I crawl back inside and slam the door with my foot. I hear the crack of one more bullet then hear the sound of peeling rubber.

I stay on the floor. Tears erupt from my eyes as I hyperventilate. Alarmed, Andie is leaning over me. “What happened? What’s going on?” Her voice is anxious.

I put my hand over my heart and breathe deeply, exhaling loudly, trying to slow my breathing. Finally, I can speak. “Call the police, Andie. Call the police. And get an ambulance. She shot Simon.”

“What? Who? Who shot Simon? What?”

I glower at her. “Andie. Just. Call. Now.”

The door bursts open. I scream and pull myself into a fetal position, covering my face with my hands. Andie jumps back. After a terrifying moment, I hear her say, “Damn! I was just about to call you.”

Slowly, I pull my hands down from my face to see a police officer, hand poised over his weapon. It’s Mac, Officer McCarthy, who interviewed me several months ago when Dominic Rodriguez disappeared. Outside I hear another officer speaking into a two-way, asking for an ambulance.

I sit up feeling a tad embarrassed. Andie lowers a hand to help me up. I brush off my skirt. Mac sighs and drops his hand to his side. “It’s Kim, right? Kim Stillwell?” I nod as he pulls a small notebook from a chest pocket. “Well, you want to tell me what happened this time?”

Harley the Dawg says: You may be able to write off a service animal, security dog (they scare me), and herding farm dog. Talk to your tax pro to see if you qualifyPicture of a dog  in a party hat

I’ll bet you didn’t know that some of these are deductible!

For more information, read my article for

A Novel – Excerpt From Chapter One

“Kim, your one o’clock is here.” Andie’s voice comes through the intercom over little waves of static.

I swing my chair back around from the window where I had been gazing at the view of rain streaming from a sky that looks just as slate gray as the sidewalk below it. The view is gorgeous even if the day is dreary.  My office overlooks the plaza, a gem of a park with tall redwoods and green grass crisscrossed by walking paths in the center of downtown Sonoma.  Exotic ducks from all over the world grace the pond in the southwest corner. At one time chickens roosted near the pond and would wander all over the downtown area giving new meaning to the question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” My window’s exterior is nicely framed with a Meyer lemon tree plump with fruit and white blossoms plump with promise. If the rain doesn’t knock them off, that is.

It couldn’t be the view so I’m guessing it’s just the unseasonal rain that has me down. The mad rush and long, long hours of tax season have been over for six weeks but I haven’t had a vacation yet. Okay, I took a spa day but that proved to be tantalizingly depressing, knowing it will be another two months before I can enjoy a proper hiatus. And boy, do I need one. It’s that and the rain that pushes me into doldrums. I press the intercom button. “Have him take a seat. See if he wants anything to drink. I’ll be out in about five.”

I pull a little compact out of my purse and check my makeup. Not that I wear very much. I come from a family blessed with great skin – pale with naturally rosy cheeks that set off my blue eyes and long blond tresses. I refresh my passion pink lipstick, shuffle the papers on my desk into a basket, stand and straighten my pencil skirt. Most tax professionals in this wine country tourist town dress casually, some even show up to work in shorts on a hot day but I like the idea of formal office wear – like what I have on today: a light pink Chanel suit with Gucci heels. Totally trendy. Even if I am all business, I’m still a woman. I enjoy the flirty half-buttoned blouse that shows off some cleavage. My mom used to say, “If you got it, flaunt it.” And like Mom, I do, so I do. A little bit sexy is fine, but most of all my clothing must be classy.

I button my suit jacket as I head to reception to receive my new client. He’s a musician. I’ve handled a few artistic types before so this is nothing new. Scattered, oblivious, usually not numbers oriented and always scared of the IRS. If only they knew that the IRS is not as demonic as they imagine. In fact, I’ve run into quite a few mensches in that bureaucratic jungle.

As I open the door to the reception area, I see the back of my new client’s head and I stop dead in my tracks. Suddenly it feels as if the wind is knocked out of me. Recovering, my breath hitches.  From the top of his chair I see thick wavy brown hair tucked behind his ears sweeping just below his collar line then curling up. His broad shoulders bend over an open worn leather satchel on his lap. I have a feeling I’ve known him all my life. I hear a voice inside of me saying, “Is he your soul mate?” And I have this weird out-of-nowhere thought that I will marry this man.

Overcome, I return to the hall where I gather myself. I lean against the wall and mutter, “What the hell was that?” Okay, I’m used to encountering good looking men – they’re all over town, in all the clubs and at business affairs. I’m constantly surrounded by them. And I’ll look at a guy and go, ‘oh yeah, I’d like some of that.’ Or I’ll look at a guy and even if he’s drop dead gorgeous, I might find there is absolutely no connection, no chemistry whatsoever. But I have never looked at the back of some guy’s head, even if he has luscious hair that I’m dying to run my fingers through and thought, ‘I wanna marry him.’ Marry? I haven’t even seen his face. And I haven’t thought about marriage since my ridiculous jump 14 years ago when I was just a babe of 19 into supposed wedded bliss that lasted all of six months. And now all of sudden words like soul mate and marriage have dropped into my brain like a ten pound barbell landing on my foot.

Okay, Kim, take it down a notch. I exhale. I’ve been exceptionally happy on my own. Maybe that’s what happens with maturity, in arriving at your 30s, you don’t want all the drama and unhappiness that seems to sprout up in most relationships.

What I’d like to know is how in the world I could be so taken and shaken by someone whose face I haven’t even seen yet? Oh, I’ve heard of this before. Where a woman points to a stranger across a crowded room and tells her BFF, “I’m going to marry him.” And sure enough she does, usually two weeks later or maybe even the same day. And they go off hand in hand for the next 60 years into the sunset, smiling contentedly at each other. But I always figured that was just part of some movie.  This can’t really be happening to me now. Or is it?

I take another breath and decide I must be losing my ever loving mind. Maybe I stood up too fast from my desk. Yeah, that has to be it. I take another deep breath and exhale loudly. With new resolve I open the door to reception and say, “Luke? Luke Hunter? The wavy brown hair turns, I swear in slow motion like a shampoo commercial, and large intense blue eyes meet mine. He’s got the most handsome yet rugged face I’ve ever seen. Chiseled perfectly formed lips, high cheekbones and ears that are just a little too big. I stanch the melt down I feel coming on.

“That’s me.” Luke shuffles some papers into the leather case and rises from his chair. I almost gasp again. He is tall. I mean really tall. His smile is engaging. I grin back hoping that I’m not leering.

“I’m Kim Stilwell.” I extend my hand and it all but disappears into his firm grasp. He’s leaned in and I get a whiff of clean but earthy masculine scent. A little tingle runs up my spine as I attempt to maintain a business like composure. “Follow me back, please.”

Fountain PenI’ve started writing my next book.

I’ll share snippets from the book with you it in future posts.

Join Bonnie Lee, E.A., author of Taxpertise, for tax tips for foodies at the epicurean connection.

For details, contact: | 707.935.7960 | 122 West Napa Street, Sonoma, CA 95476

Redwood Writers Meeting 2:30-5 PM at the Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, 2777 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95405 • Phone: (707) 545-8530  Click here for map.
We ask for a small fee of $5 from members and $8 from non-members to cover costs.

Bonnie Lee

Bonnie Lee

Sunday, November 11th, 2012, 3-5 pm

“It’s All About the Benjamins: Taxes 101 for Writers”

Join Bonnie Lee as she brings comedy to the topic of taxes for writers. Taxes can be boring, yes…especially for artistic types who prefer to deal with word play rather than dollar signs. Do you want to keep more money in your pocket? Lee will teach you legitimate ways to do so. You will be informed and delighted by this entertaining presentation.

Bonnie Lee is an Enrolled Agent admitted to practice and representing taxpayers in all fifty states at all levels within the Internal Revenue Service.

Lee founded Taxpertise (formerly Symmetry Business Services) in 1982 to represent taxpayers in audits, offers in compromise, tax problem resolution, tax preparation, tax planning, and to help non-filers safely re-enter the tax system. For more than two decades, she has specialized in tax issues relating to entrepreneurs. Learn more at her website.

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31 of the Best Business Books for Solopreneurs and Micro Business Owners
Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 7:00AM
Knowledge is power and this is especially true for small business owners; solopreneurs and micro business owners. Whether it’s staying ahead of the curve or operating your business with limited resources, you have to be able to make adjustments and decisions based on relevant and current information as it applies to you and your business.

We asked over 97 solopreneurs and micro business owners what business books have they read that not only have they read multiple times, but made such an impact on them or that they found it so profound, it changed the way they do business. Some of the books are well known and others are considered “best kept secrets.” One thing is for sure, these books can be powerful tools for you to build, develop and grow your business.

When you read business books, it important that you take action where necessary, delve deeper when needed and re-read for reminders.

Get the most from your business books:

Read one business book a month or quarter, implement one or two new practices and see where your business ends up after a year.

Create a business book club within your network. Each person reads a business book shares or reports back to the group key insights and tips or the most important aspects of the book.

Swap or trade business books with your network, colleagues and friends.

Many of the tips, tools and techniques found in the following books have been found to be useful, empowering and inspiring. Here are 31 of the best business books for solopreneurs and micro business owners:

1. 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris – Provides a variety of tips and practices to achieve the 4-hour workweek the title refers to; however, it is NOT a get-rich-quick-scheme book. Submitted by R. Kaplan,

2. 9 Lies That Are Holding Your Business Back by Steve Chandler and Sam Beckford – Helps shed light on some of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make and how to prevail. Submitted by T. Scarda,

3. 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch – A little-known must-read. I took it out of the library 4 times before I realized I had to buy it, have multiple copies, and distribute to everyone I know. Submitted by L. Enock,

4. 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence by Thomas J. Peters – Reference for business practices that produce immediate results. Great for those with short attention spans. Submitted by L. Baer,

5. Become Your Own Boss In 12 Months by Melinda Emerson – Step-by-step guide for stepping out on your own the SMART way, the PRACTICAL way… the ONLY way. Submitted by A.Michelle Blakeley,

6. Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port – (Received numerous amounts of submissions for this book) A must read for solopreneurs and micro business owners. Submitted first by M. Tremblay

7. Coherent Strategy and Execution: An eye-opening parable about leadership and management by Ravi Kathuria – Part fiction but based on real business, not just theory. Ultimately, the company is a success, but only because the CEO was willing to let down his guard, listen to a mentor and realize that he still had a lot to learn – a lesson many small business owners still need to learn. Submitted by B. Price,

8. Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk – Teaches honesty and transparency above all else, as well as “getting into the trenches” through social media to effectively interact with customers, peers and the media. Submitted by B. MacGregor,

9. Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The only networking book you’ll ever need by Harvey Mackay – Details what it means to network and the types of people one should have in one’s network. Submitted by T. Lobell, Ph.D.,

10. E-Myth by Michael Gerber – (Received numerous amounts of submissions for this book) A must read for solopreneurs and micro business owners. Submitted first by H. Cohen,

11. Four Steps To The Epiphany by Steve Blank – A heavy focus on truly understanding customer needs before you determine the business model that is right for your business. Submitted by A. Rodnitzky,

12. Getting Real by 37 Signals – Learn how to limit your hours to 40 hours maximum every week to maintain steady, sustainable motivation. Submitted by D. Croak

13. Getting to Yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in by Roger Fisher and William Ury – Negotiate fees and terms that benefit you, your company and your clients. Submitted by S. Bender Phelps,

14. Go Givers by Bob Burg and John David Mann – This book gives new relevance to the old proverb, “Give and ye shall receive.” Submitted by C. Hasbrouck,

15. How to Become a Rainmaker by David Fox – Recommended reading for all my existing and new clients. Submitted by N. Anderson,

16. Interview Tactics: How to survive the media without getting clobbered by Gayl Murphy – Helpful guide to learning how to make the most of media interviews. Submitted by S. Levin,

17. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath – Teaches one how to convey ideas in very powerful ways that “stick” in your listener’s brain. And what’s more important than that when you’re trying to sell an idea, a service or a product? Submitted by M. Lindenberger,

18. Making a Living Without a Job by Barbara Winters – A hand-holder for when you want to give up on the “solopreneur” thing. Submitted by K. Caterson,

18. Making a Living Without a Job by Barbara Winters – A hand-holder for when you want to give up on the “solopreneur” thing. Submitted by K. Caterson,

19. Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice by Alan Weiss – Recommended for anyone starting of any type of business. Worth re-reading at least once a year. Submitted by C. Smith,

20. Mommy Millionaire: How I turned my kitchen table idea into a million dollars and you can too! by Kim Lavine – Step by step guide. Unlike other books that are just motivational, Kim describes her personal experiences with buyers, how to get their numbers, how to determine pricing, how to manufacture your product, etc. Submitted by S. Krikelis,

21. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi – A book full of strategies, advice and confidence builders for networking, connecting and building your brand. Submitted by B. Carnduff,

22. Off the Wall Marketing Ideas by Nancy Michaels and Debby J. Karpowicz – Full of fun success stories and anecdotes. The book never gets old; its lessons are just as applicable in everyday life as they are in business. Submitted by A. Fisher,

23. Permission Based Marketing by Seth Godin – Marketing in the modern environment. How to focus not just on selling your products but on gaining permission for further contact through newsletters, blog subscriptions, e-blasts, etc. Submitted by L. Sanders,

24. Predictably Irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decisions by Dan Ariely – This book makes behavioral economics fun, interesting and even laugh-out-loud funny while providing real world examples. It also saves you from making poor buying decisions because you’ll soon know why the human mind really wants things like that free gift with purchase–even when you know you don’t need it. Submitted by S. Karacostas

25. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki – The phases a startup company should go through to be a successful company. Essential for creating a progressive company focused on excellence instead of marginal company. Submitted by Ellen Lytle, M.A., M.Des.

26. The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back by Judith Sherven, Ph.D., and Jim Sniechowski, Ph.D. – It is the solopreneur’s guide to heart-based, client-oriented, soft-sell marketing. Submitted by S. Dayhoff, Ph.D,

27. The Long Tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more by Chris Anderson – Shows the power of the Internet to sell products and services that would never have been viable on the offline world. Submitted by B. Fuhrmann,

28. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield – Following along with the adage “how you do anything is how you do everything,” I’ve slowly incorporated many of the lessons in the book into my life and my business has flourished because of it. Submitted by A. Faiola,

29. The War of Art: Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles by Steven Pressfield – Hits head-on so many of the excuses used in small business and how to change and adjust your mindset. Submitted by W. Riggens-Miller,

30. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – (Received numerous amounts of submissions for this book) A must read for solopreneurs and micro business owners. Submitted first by R. Williams,

31. To the Rescue: The small business survival guide by Ray Silverstein – How to translate “tighten your belt,” “do more with less” and “think creatively” into specific actions. And what do you do if you are already in trouble. Submitted by J. Levine,


Make Today County by John C. Maxwell – Get your personal priorities in order and your business priorities will follow.

Taxpertise: The Complete Book of Dirty Little Secrets and Tax Deductions for Small Business the IRS Doesn’t Want You to Know by Bonnie Lee – In a conversational tone, tax issues for small business from what you can or cannot deduct to self-employment tax (the big hit that can put even low income entrepreneurs into a 50% tax bracket) to home office, to IRS problem resolution including the formula the IRS uses to determine an acceptable offer in compromise on delinquent tax liabilities (pay pennies on the dollar!) are addressed.

WANT TO RE-POST THIS ARTICLE ON YOUR BLOG OR USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE, E-NEWSLETTER OR WEB SITE? You may, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

A.Michelle Blakeley is in the listening business. As a Micro Business Therapist, she provides an open-minded and non-judgmental ear to listen to the real issues and concerns that start-up, emerging and women entrepreneurs experience and negotiate solutions through comprehensive discussions and practical micro business plans. She is featured in and the Financial Post as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter, contributor for the San Francisco Examiner and Fearless Woman Magazine; the host of Simple Truths for Women Entrepreneurs on and author of the NEW e-book: “Get it Right and Move Along… a collection of practical tips, tools and techniques for small business owners.”

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© Taxpertise | Bonnie Lee, E.A. | Ph: 707.935.1755, ext 1 Fax: 707.938.1891 | 450 2nd Street West, Sonoma, CA 95476