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Companies that 'go green' may qualify for tax and utility rebates

Employees rate which benefits are most important; owner of 300 domain names ready for them to pay off.

December 08, 2009|By Karen Klein

Dear Karen: I have heard that companies that "go green" are eligible for tax credits. How do I qualify?

Answer: Installing solar energy systems, new lighting, insulation and energy efficient upgrades at your company can help you qualify for rebates, tax credits and property tax exclusions. Participating in California's Million Solar Roofs Initiative may qualify your company for a 30% federal tax credit and various utility rebates.

Los Angeles County and California in general have been at the forefront of green initiatives since the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, said Dan Fuller, a partner who specializes in green energy at accounting firm BDO Seidman.

State and local incentive programs often provide rebates on top of federal tax credits, he said, so check with your city and utility providers.

For more information, go to .

"If you're currently installing energy efficient systems, make sure you finish before the end of the year," Fuller said. "Otherwise you won't be eligible for the deduction until tax year 2010, as it must be taken the year the system was put into use."

Medical benefits are most valued

Dear Karen: I'm looking at an employee benefits package for next year. Which ones do employees value the most?

Answer: With the economy and employment uncertain, workers appreciate their employer-provided benefits more than ever, said Georgette Piligian, senior vice president of MetLife's small business division. More than 40% of employees in a MetLife survey said they were taking greater interest in their benefits, she said.

"There's a high correlation between employee engagement, loyalty and benefits," she said. Obviously, medical benefits are most important in terms of competing for the best employees, Piligian said, but nonmedical benefits such as life, disability and dental insurance were also highly valued by employees in the survey.

When asked how much they valued these nonmedical benefits, two-thirds of workers said they were very important. That's far more than their bosses realized -- just 37% of employers said such benefits were very important.

"There are many benefit programs that don't have to add significant overall costs" to employers but are appreciated by employees, Piligian said, including wellness programs such as discounted gym memberships and financial counseling for retirement planning.

Making a buck off domain names

Dear Karen: I own more than 300 domain names. Do I have to set up websites in order to make money from them?

Answer: It all depends on what domain names you own and what kind of demand there is for them. Certainly if your domains consist of sought-after Internet keywords, you might sell them for a profit.

Check out popular domain sales sites, such as Afternic.com or Sedo.com, to see what is selling and at what price.

If your domains are unlikely to bring in the prices you hope, your best bet is to develop websites for the best among them and put advertising on them. A website that attracts even moderate click-through revenue is likely to be profitable, since the cost of maintaining a website is typically very low.

Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to inbox.business @latimes.com or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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