​For the third year in a row, in collaboration with Gulf Coast State College, the Business Innovation Center played host to Startup Weekend Panama City at the Advanced Technology Center April 15, 16 and 17. On Friday, the event started with team building; followed by guest speaker Dave Dyell, president and CEO of Jellyfish Health, sharing his perspective.
Event activities continued with pitching, in other words, 19 individuals in the packed audience participated in 60-second presentations. From the pitches, the top seven, chosen by the audience, formed teams and continued to develop their idea for the two days that followed.
This is the third year to bring Startup Weekend (SUW) to Panama City, but this event is by no means confined to Bay County. The organization is global in reach, diverse in makeup, broad in expertise, and rich in startup experience. BIC Executive Director Pamela Kidwell embraces her organization’s role in arranging this event with full community support. “The BIC’s mission is fostering entrepreneurship in our community. The room is full on pitch night. So many people are experiencing what we experience every day. We are so pleased to be a part of such a unique event.”
Local organizers make every effort to set up the ideal environment for participants to be successful and learn as much as possible in just 54 hours. It is that simple. Startup Weekend is designed to get going, FAST. All teams produced their business ideas, gathered the opinion of their clients or customers by conducting surveys, thus fleshing out their idea with market research, business processes, and financial modeling.
On Sunday, each team presented a well-crafted 5-minute presentation to a panel of three judges including local entrepreneur and Chief Operating Officer, Jellyfish Health, Patrick Leonpacher; District General Manager for Gulf Power’s Eastern District, Sandy Sims; and author, artist, serial entrepreneur, and cheerleader, Rob “Kingfish” Wood.  


​After much deliberation, the 3rd place went to team “Keenies”, a shoe that would expand as the child’s foot grows.


In the 2nd place were the creators of the “Skat Away” ornament, a device that would scare a cat from Christmas tree climbing. 


The 1st place went to the startup idea “Toddler Tracker” bracelet, a wearable technology providing a tracking system to parents.

The top three teams won gift baskets, the largest valued at $1,000. Also, participants of Startup Weekend gained valuable knowledge, experience and new contacts, but also an opportunity to work in the stress and strain required to make it in the startup world.
Kidwell added, “All seven projects have potential. They are varied products reaching different markets. Now, these participants are better prepared to move forward with a grasp of the promise and pitfalls of turning a concept into a business reality. A big KUDO to this year’s mentors, volunteers, organizers, and sponsors.”

Last Last Minute Filing Tips for 2015 Tax Returns


Are you one of the millions of Americans who hasn’t filed (or even started) your taxes yet? With the April 18 tax filing deadline at MIDNIGHT tonight, here is some last minute tax advice for you.

1. You’re Out of Time for Procrastinating. You have managed to put off your taxes until the very last minute. It takes time to prepare accurate returns and additional information may be needed from you to complete your tax return. 

2. Include All Income. If you had a side job in addition to a regular job, you might have received a Form 1099-MISC. Make sure you include that income when you file your tax return because you may owe additional taxes on it. If you forget to include it you may be liable for penalties and interest on the unreported income.

3. File by Midnight or Request an Extension. This year’s tax deadline is April 18 (April 19, in Maine and Massachusetts). If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 17, 2016. You should keep in mind, however, that filing the extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will still owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late-payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date.

Call the office if you need to file an extension or file for late-filing penalty relief.

4. Don’t Panic If You Can’t Pay. If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, there are several alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card.

5. Sign and Double Check Your Return. The IRS will not process tax returns that aren’t signed, so make sure that you sign and date your return. You should also double check your social security number, as well as any electronic payment or direct deposit numbers, and finally, make sure that your filing status is correct.
For more information contact Easton Ramer, CPA at or (850) 769-7471.

Six Overlooked Tax Breaks for Individuals


​Confused about which credits and deductions you can claim on your 2015 tax return? You’re not alone. Here are six tax breaks that you won’t want to overlook.

1. State Sales and Income Taxes
Thanks to last-minute tax extender legislation passed in December, taxpayers filing their 2015 returns can still deduct either state income tax paid or state sales tax paid, whichever is greater.

Here’s how it works. If you bought a big-ticket item like a car or boat in 2015, it might be more advantageous to deduct the sales tax, but don’t forget to figure any state income taxes withheld from your paycheck just in case. If you’re self-employed, you can include the state income paid from your estimated payments. In addition, if you owed taxes when filing your 2014 tax return in 2015, you can include the amount when you itemize your state taxes this year on your 2015 return.

2. Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
Most parents realize that there is a tax credit for daycare when their child is young, but they might not realize that once a child starts school, the same credit can be used for before and after school care, as well as day camps during school vacations. This child and dependent care tax credit can also be taken by anyone who pays a home health aide to care for a spouse or other dependent–such as an elderly parent–who is physically or mentally unable to care for him or herself. The credit is worth a maximum of $1,050 or 35 percent of $3,000 of eligible expenses per dependent.

3. Job Search Expenses
Job search expenses are 100 percent deductible, whether you are gainfully employed or not currently working–as long as you are looking for a position in your current profession. Expenses include fees paid to join professional organizations, as well as employment placement agencies that you used during your job search. Travel to interviews is also deductible (as long as it was not paid by your prospective employer) as is paper, envelopes, and costs associated with resumes or portfolios. The catch is that you can only deduct expenses greater than two percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Also, you cannot deduct job search expenses if you are looking for a job for the first time.

4. Student Loan Interest Paid by Parents
Typically, a taxpayer is only able to deduct interest on mortgage and student loans if he or she is liable for the debt; however, if a parent pays back their child’s student loans that money is treated by the IRS as if the child paid it. As long as the child is not claimed as a dependent, he or she can deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest paid by the parent. The deduction can be claimed even if the child does not itemize.

5. Medical Expenses
Most people know that medical expenses are deductible as long as they are more than 10 percent of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for tax year 2015. What they often don’t realize is which medical expenses can be deducted, such as medical miles (23 cents per mile) driven to and from appointments and travel (airline fares or hotel rooms) for out of town medical treatment.

Other deductible medical expenses that taxpayers might not be aware of include health insurance premiums, prescription drugs, co-pays, and dental premiums and treatment. Long-term care insurance (deductible dollar amounts vary depending on age) is also deductible, as are prescription glasses and contacts, counseling, therapy, hearing aids and batteries, dentures, oxygen, walkers, and wheelchairs.
If you’re self-employed, you may be able to deduct medical, dental, or long-term care insurance. Even better, you can deduct 100 percent of the premium. In addition, if you pay health insurance premiums for an adult child under age 27, you may be able to deduct those premiums as well.

6. Bad Debt
If you’ve ever loaned money to a friend, but were never repaid, you may qualify for a non-business bad debt tax deduction of up to $3,000 per year. To qualify, however, the debt must be totally worthless in that there is no reasonable expectation of payment.

Non-business bad debt is deducted as a short-term capital loss, subject to the capital loss limitations. You may take the deduction only in the year the debt becomes worthless. You do not have to wait until a debt is due to determine whether it is worthless. Any amount you are not able to deduct can be carried forward to reduce future tax liability.

Are you getting all of the tax credits and deductions that you are entitled to?
Maybe you are…but maybe you’re not. Why take a chance? Call the office today and make sure you get all of the tax breaks you deserve. 

David C Tipton

    Certified Public Accountant
    Certified Valuation Analyst
850-233-1941 FAX

Startup Weekend Begins Friday, April 15


Startup Weekend is a great place to meet your next employee, boss, team or best bud.

This event is happening again, the third year in Panama City. The community has embraced the concept, and the event continues to get better and better. The details for this year’s event are almost complete. Participants are considering their options for pitching, watching and cheering their friends on or maybe they are considering becoming part of a team.

Have you registered? We have scholarships available for students and military veterans. For details on the event, click here.

The fun begins Friday, April 15th in the Advanced Technology Center at Gulf Coast State College. Attendees begin arriving at 5:45. First: networking. Second: find out the latest from Corey, the facilitator. Third: more networking and dinner, while listening to a local entrepreneur sharing his perspective on his experiences as an entrepreneur. And fourth: the pitches begin.

This 54-hour event where all types come together to pitch an idea and launch a business, is a great opportunity to test ideas, meet potential co-founders, build the community in Northwest Florida and launch your next startup!

Details for this year’s event:

  • What:              Startup Weekend Panama City
  • When:             April 15-17, 2016
  • Where:            Advanced Technology Center (ATC) at Gulf Coast State                                   College
  • Time:               6:00 p.m. Friday check-in

Claim your seat – Register Now!
For full details and agenda visit: and stay current on Facebook at

Startup Weekend Sponsors: