Workforce challenges in rural communities subject of public hearing

Workforce challenges faced by employers in rural communities were voiced by PA Chamber Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday this week in a public hearing hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. 

Held at Penn College, the hearing included participants from PA Chamber members, UPMC, University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, Coterra Energy, Shippensburg University, and Penn College. Leaders from Pennsylvania’s energy and healthcare sectors along with agency officials, educators, and nonprofit associations were also on hand. 

Sunday testified on workforce challenges in rural communities, highlighting the importance of improving Pennsylvania’s economic competitiveness through favorable tax and regulatory policies. He said the PA Chamber’s goal is to make Pennsylvania the most economically competitive state in the country. 

“This requires a tax and regulatory environment that encourages investment into the state,” Sunday said in a release. 

Sunday emphasized the need to support economic growth across Pennsylvania through modernized infrastructure. 

“We need modernized infrastructure across the state – from a safe and efficient system of roads and bridges to world-class airports and ports, to reliable gas, electric, and water infrastructure, and, just as important, access to high-speed broadband,” he said.

Sunday restated the chamber’s support for efforts to improve Pennsylvania’s workforce by addressing key issues such as affordable childcare, occupational licensing requirements, re-entry into the workforce following incarceration, and childcare for working families.

Noting Pennsylvania’s population decline, Sunday called for policymakers to focus on creating an environment in the state promotes population growth and attracts investment. Citing IRS data showing that businesses and citizens are leaving Pennsylvania for states with better economic climates, he urged a close look at regional economic needs and population migration trends.

“Reforms to the state’s tax and regulatory structure help everywhere,” said Sunday, “but it is certainly the case that each region of the state has its own key industries.”

Sunday reiterated the PA Chamber’s commitment to working with the Shapiro Administration, state legislature, local communities, and other key stakeholders to deal with Pennsylvania’s workforce challenges.

Liens filed in Berks county by IRS

The following liens were filed in Berks County Courthouse by the U. S. Internal Revenue Service:  


Heat and Cool, 219 Sunride Road, Reading; amount: $1,279. 

Kreibel Culinary Services, 706 Brownsville Road, Reading; amount: $8001. 

Northeast Industrial Services Inc., 507 N. Shamokin St., Shamokin; amount: $27,511. 

Shanesville Tavern Inc., 4 Cleaver Road, Oley; amount: $96. 


The following liens were filed in Berks County Courthouse by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to the use of Unemployment Compensation Fund for unpaid unemployment compensation contribution, interest and penalties: 

Andre’s Towing & Auto Repair, 620 E. James Alley, Kutztown; amount: $1,958.  

Top Shelf Closets & Cabinetry Inc., t/a Casework Technology, 1000 Heritage Dr., Elverson; amount: $28,052. 

Eliset Home Furniture Inc., t/a Online Furniture Retail, 418 Windsor St., Reading; amount: $3,522. 

Franks Trattoria Inc., 440 Lehigh St., Reading; amount: $5,519. 

HD Auto Sales Corp., 498 Muhlenberg St., Reading; amount: $2,301. 

New ODR Enterprise Inc., t/a New Smithville Diner, 2299 Golden Key Road, Kutztown; amount: $3,655. 

Scott Ziegler Electric, 80 Fourth Ave., Birdsboro; amount: $12,118. 

Service Access & Management Inc., 19 N. Sixth St., Reading; amount: $35,468. 


The following liens were filed in Berks County Courthouse by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.  

Biospeciman LLC, 801 Tomahawk Dr., Kutztown; amount: $17,622.  

CMRWG LLC, grantee, POB 7454, Reading; amount: $4,060.  


Compiled by Terry Reed  

(Abbreviations: dba doing business as; fdba formerly doing business as; ta trading as; iata individually and trading as.) 


Note: Due to delays in the reporting of liens by the federal and state governments and the courts, the information above may be dated.   

The Business Journal is not responsible for these information-reporting delays. 

If your business has satisfied a lien that has appeared in this column, please contact us. We will publish any lien satisfaction upon receiving a copy of the satisfaction notice (on letterhead of the government agency involved), which can be sent to 65 E. Elizabeth Ave., Suite 700, Bethlehem, PA 18018, Attn: FYI, or faxed to us at 610-807-9612. Please make sure your business’s name and county of filing are clearly identified in your correspondence and identify the issue in which the notice appeared   


Domani Wealth details pros and cons of intra-family loans

It has been described by some as the “Bank of Mom and Pop,” the “Family Bank” by others.

It’s an intra-family loan, and like the 1966 Clint Eastwood Western, it can be a case of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

“It’s a strategy we’ve used for our clients,” said Joseph Marmorato, CPA, and Manager of Tax Planning for Domani Wealth, which has offices in Lancaster, Hanover, York, and Wyomissing.

The strategy is a response to the recent and rapid rise in interest rates, which Marmorato described as having been “historically low.” Difficult economic times have caused the Federal Reserve to increase rates dramatically in recent months to deal with high inflation.

Previously fixed at 3% for a 30-year mortgage, interest rates are spiking to 7.1% at time of writing. The increases affect not only individuals applying for a mortgage, Marmorato noted, but also those seeking business loans, student loans, and personal loans.

As these increases impact every would-be borrower, some family members are turning away from refinancing – as a quarter of American homeowners did a year ago when interest rates were low – and are turning to each other. Thus the “Bank of Mom and Pop” and the “Family Bank” are, in some cases, replacing traditional financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies.

“Intra-family loans offer benefits over commercial loans and can offer the borrower friendlier terms,” Marmorato said. “You can also avoid lender fees and closing costs.”

Intra-family loans provide capital for investing, paying down high-interest loans, or purchasing power. They can help the borrower through difficult financial times following the loss of a job or covering unforeseen expenses or living costs. They can also assist in buying a home or starting a business.

These personal loans can lock in lower interest rates than a traditional lender. Currently, the rate for an intra-family loan is locked in at 3.4%. At the same time, intra-family loans may not be easy to come by, since the borrower needs to know someone who has the capital to loan.

Intra-family loans work like conventional loans in that there are two parties – a borrower and lender. Money can be lent person-to-person, or through a family business or family trust. As long as the trust has the necessary assets, a person may borrow from it, providing the trust is structured to allow for loans.

The following represent the pros of an intra-family loan:

  • Interest rates are lower and locked in
  • Borrower may benefit from terms and conditions friendlier than those of a lending institution
  • Lack of lending fees.

Such are the Good aspects of an intra-family loan. The Bad can be represented by the following:

  • Finding a family member with the needed capital
  • If the loan is not properly structured, it can lead to tax consequences
  • Borrowing from family also can prevent building a credit history needed to obtain commercial loans or credit cards.

And there’s potential for the Ugly:

  • Family relationships can be strained by intra-family loans. An intra-family loan done for one family member and not another can result in jealousy and relational issues
  • Loans may differ for each child, based on the child’s financial or personal situation
  • Family friction can occur if the borrower is unable to, or chooses not, pay back the loan.

“Intra-family loans,” Marmorato cautioned, “can lead to family problems.”

The benefits of an intra-family loan can be significant, providing both parties adhere to its terms. Proceeding with an intra-family loan means getting professional help from an attorney or wealth advisor to be certain the document is drafted correctly and properly structured. Like a commercial loan, an intra-family loan should be structured to include all conditions and terms, including the length of the loan, the interest rate charged, and repayment schedule.

As is the case with a conventional loan, the borrower must honor the repayment schedule. Any deviation, Marmorato stated, could cause the loan to be disqualified in the view of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), thus leading to unintended tax consequences.

While intra-family loans can offer terms more friendly than a commercial lender, payment rules exist, otherwise the loan could be considered a gift by the IRS.

“The IRS wants to make sure it is a properly structured loan,” said Marmorato. “You have to make sure it is set up as a loan and not as a gift.”

Like conventional loans, there is a limit to the lowest interest rate that can be charged.

“The Applicable Federal Rate (AFR) is the minimum interest rates that can be charged on a loan,” Marmorato said. For loans exceeding $10,000, the interest rate should not be less than the monthly AFR, which currently stands at 4.3% for long-term loans of nine years or more. Lenders cannot charge below the monthly AFR, less they incur tax consequences.

The appropriate AFR is dependent upon the duration of the loan. Loans are categorized by the IRS according to their length:

  • Short-Term – Less than 3 years
  • Mid-Term – 3-9 years
  • Long-Term – 9 years and more.

Along with the length of the loan, there are tax implications to be considered by both borrower and lender. Marmorato said the lender must recognize the interest income received on their tax return, as the IRS states that even if interest is not paid, imputed interest may need to be reported on the tax return of the lender.

The borrower may be able to deduct the same interest on their tax return. Exceptions exist, and deducting the interest means itemizing deductions along with meeting additional requirements. Additional tax implications exist and can be explained at length by a wealth advisor or attorney.

The structure of the intra-family loan, Marmorato emphasized, is essential to its success.

“It’s critical to contact a tax attorney to draw it up,” he stated, “and have all parties agree to the structure of the loan.”

Here’s how to tell if you need a freelancer, or new employee

From withholdings to workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits to paid time off, it’s important to set up your freelance workers as independent contractors.

“Employers want to make sure they are not unknowingly hiring an employee,” said Jeffrey Stewart, an attorney at White and Williams LLP in Upper Saucon Township, who specializes in employment and labor law.

It all comes down to who exercises control, he said.

The IRS has tests to help companies determine if they’re hiring a freelancer or if they’re actually making a direct hire so problems can be avoided for everyone.

Consider these questions and steps when creating employment agreements to hire a freelance or independent contractor.

  • What is the need and what tasks do the contract state?
  • Is the task a distinct project?
  • Are you [the employer] comfortable with the arrangement?
  • Can the person doing the work report both profit and loss?
  • Who provides the equipment for the work to be completed?
  • Is there training involved, and who is responsible for providing it?
  • Who is paying the taxes?

Once those questions are answered:

  • Independent contractors are paid on a tax 1099 form basis.
  • Document payments made to contractors.
  • Get a W9 form completed by the freelancer at the beginning of the relationship.

“Some states are starting to regulate the gig economy,” Stewart said.

Watch California.

In September, 2019, California Law AB-5 Worker Status, [Assembly Bill 5] was passed and restricts the number of stories reporters and journalists may sell to a single publication during a 12 month period. After the limit, they must be considered employees of the publications.

Other professions such as doctors, accountants, travel agents and fishermen are exempt from the California “gig worker” law.

“This tells me that a lot of people have a lot of interest in this topic… what is true today may not be true two years from now,” Stewart said.

Aging and money: Warning signs and how to help

Planning for retirement is stressful, but once someone meets their financial goals and knows they can retire comfortably, a sense of relief sets in. As people map out how they’ll spend their golden years, they don’t often think about the need to have their guard up to protect their assets while they are actually retired. Unfortunately, in addition to age, illness and other life events, fraudsters also can threaten the wellbeing of a retirees’ finances. This is why it’s important to know what to look out for and how to help those who are vulnerable.

Be observant

To help ensure that an older family member or loved one is not taken advantage of financially, monitor their mental acuity. Are they staying sharp when you ask probing questions? If there are any signs of decline, it might be a first warning that they need some help managing their finances. Some behaviors that can reveal this include incurring overdraft fees, misplacing items such as their wallet or forgetting to pay bills.

Additionally, losing a spouse may trigger a need for help. The surviving spouse may not have been involved in the day-to-day finances, and even if that person was already involved in the finances, it can be a lot to handle on one’s own – especially on top of dealing with grief.

Educate on fraud

People who are affluent tend to be targets of financial abuse. Take notice if a new friend comes in at a later stage of the retiree’s life, especially if that person is significantly younger. What are their true intentions? It’s prudent to be a little skeptical to make sure this person is not taking advantage of a loved one.

You can also help inform your older loved ones about the potential for financial abuse. Warn them of potential email and telemarketing scams. Advise them that the Social Security Administration, IRS or other government agencies will not call them and ask for sensitive, personal information or demand money be wired immediately. Warn them of using autopay for bills because linked bank accounts can be targets for fraud. Provide suggestions for how they can easily and routinely monitor their accounts. If they are open to it, offer assistance in keeping a close eye on their finances.

Consider a third-party option

If you’re worried a loved one is not able to manage their finances or is being targeted for financial abuse, the natural inclination could be to completely take over their finances, but that isn’t always the best next step. A family member who works 80 hours a week, travels for business and has children of their own may not have time to take over managing another person’s day-to-day finances. Or, your loved one may not want help and refuse to heed your advice. In this case, it is wise to consider a third-party option.

To alleviate the pressure from a family member, a trust may be an ideal option to help ensure the retiree’s best interests are kept in mind. Trusts remove the personal and emotional elements of managing finances, which can reduce conflicts within the family as well as the potential for financial abuse. Having a corporate trust department act as the trustee ensures financial affairs are handled by a professional who is charged with responsibly managing money in the trust.

When people hear “trust,” they might think it requires millions of dollars, but that’s not the case. Although a trust department must be paid to manage it, significant assets are typically not required to establish one.

No one wants to think negatively about the future, but there is wisdom in the old adage, “Plan for the worst and hope for the best.” We often don’t expect maleficence, and older individuals can be notoriously trusting of people, so it is wise to ensure they are on alert. As the cognition of a retiree declines, their loved ones have to look out for their overall well-being, which includes the finances they worked a lifetime to earn.

Bill Van Sant is senior vice president and managing director at Girard, a Univest Wealth Division, which has $3.6 billion in assets under management and advisement. Based in Souderton, he can be reached at 215-721-8392 or [email protected]

Girard is a marketing name used by Univest Financial Corp. to provide investment and wealth management, fiduciary services and trust services through its subsidiary Univest Bank and Trust Co. Products and services offered are not FDIC insured, are not a deposit of or bank guaranteed, and are subject to risks, including possible loss of any principal amount invested.