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Josh MacDonald

How American Credit Acceptance Legally Scammed Me

I recently purchased a vehicle from American Credit Acceptance. They sold the vehicle to me as-is at an auto auction, which is pretty standard for cars older than 5 years. At an auction, the use history of the vehicle is often unknown but it’s likely it’s off-lease or repossessed. The vehicle had a few things wrong with it in the condition report, but overall, ran and drove fine. There was no check engine light or anything. It had an issue with the hood, headrest and tailgate but it was all repairable.

After winning the auction and paying for the car, I drove it to my local shop for a state inspection. While driving, the check engine light came on. After further diagnosis, the mechanic found multiple error codes and it was explained to me that it was likely the seller cleared engine codes to misrepresent the vehicle.

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NameCheap vs SiteGround Shared Hosting Speed Test Results

I have a bunch of VPSs – too many really. So I try to have some shared web hosting accounts to spin up websites on quickly, especially when my expectations of traffic are low. However, cPanel is notorious for hacks, so I moved to SiteGround for security reasons.

Before and after the migration, I ran a speed test. The purpose of the move wasn’t for speed but I thought the data would be worth sharing, especially since the website, resources and it’s configuration are all constant. I didn’t change anything. I think NameCheap gets pelted in the forums for having slow hosting, but it’s actually not a huge difference.

NameCheap speed test:

SiteGround speed test:

Upwork Banned From TrustPilot

Today, after 5 days of pulling my hair out with Upwork (locked out), I decided to search them up on TrustPilot to see how others are feeling about the platform lately with all the changes. Surely enough, it’s banned. Kind of crazy for a company of that size.

It’s not uncommon for shady companies to be banned from TrustPilot for manipulating reviews. We know Upwork is going down a tough path in many facets. Their stock has fallen 86% in 19 months.

Investors are pressuring for revenue, but the only solution they have seem to bring is more fees for loyal customers and freelancers. Scams are elevated (see my story below about losing $30,000 with Upwork).

Let’s not forget customer service is out the window and nearly impossible to reach even for clients who have hired 400+ contractors and used the platform for many years. I’ve been a customer since Sept of 2010 – that’s 14 years ago.

So what does the future hold for Upwork? I really don’t know.

NeuronWriter vs SurferSEO: Is Surfer worth the extra money?

SurferSEO has been the standard in SEO when it comes to optimizing articles for SEO. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars with them in the last year alone.

NeuronWriter on the other hand has been popular in SEO groups lately. It has gotten a lot of favoritism from the bootstrapped/solopreneur folks. I recently bought like 10 lifetime licenses when they had the sale with AppSumo.

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I Tested The Best Sites To Buy Instagram Likes For A Brand

Growing an e-commerce brand can be tricky. Paid ads are a common channel, but they don’t convert without some level of social proof. That social proof starts with an active organic profile. Today I wanted to share reviews of a handful of popular services, because many of these services are selling fake engagement, which isn’t helpful.

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The degradation of tax knowledge in Western society

Would you like to round up to the next dollar? Would you like to give us money so we can make a charitable donation to pay down our corporate tax liability without using our own money?
A popular misleading meme circling the web with over 19,000 likes

I came across this post recently, and like any other post on social media, it broke out in the comments as an argument. Some correctly pointed out that these pass-through donations do not qualify as the company’s own charitable contributions for tax purposes, thus not providing direct tax benefits. Those folks were met with arguments from others who don’t understand tax law as well, but think they do.

Lyle Lingenfelter (@seve0992) stating he believes companies can eliminate their tax burden via donations
Joe Frederick (@bigjoe_24) and Ryan Matsumoto (@ryan_mats) in disagreement

According to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), specifically sections 170(c) and 162(a), while corporations are permitted to claim deductions for charitable contributions, this privilege extends only to donations made directly by the corporation from its own assets. In the context of pass-through donations, where the company merely acts as a conduit for transferring customer donations to charities, these transactions do not qualify as direct contributions from the company’s assets.

The IRC and accompanying Treasury Regulations (e.g., Treas. Reg. § 1.170A-1(h)(1)) establish that for a donation to be deductible, it must be an outright gift without the donor (in this case, the company) receiving substantial benefits in return. This regulatory framework underlines that the tax benefits for a business making a charitable contribution are contingent upon the contribution being both voluntary and made without expectation of direct financial return, as interpreted in case law such as United States v. American Bar Endowment, 477 U.S. 105 (1986).

Here’s an example transaction:

Line ItemAmount ($)Tax Treatment for Business
Purchase of Clothing (Excl. Tax)47.50Taxed as income (subject to normal business income tax rules)
Sales Tax3.80Collected on behalf of the government, not income
Subtotal (Clothing + Tax)51.30Overall subtotal partially taxable (only the clothing and tax portion)
Charitable Donation (Rounded Up)0.70Not taxed as income (passed through to charity, not deductible as a business expense)
Total Charged to Customer52.00Overall transaction partially taxable (only the subtotal portion)
  • The Purchase of Clothing and Sales Tax are regular business transactions, taxed accordingly.
  • The Charitable Donation represents the amount to round up the total to the nearest whole dollar. This amount is not considered business income and is not a deductible business expense.
  • The Total Charged to Customer includes the donation, but only the subtotal (clothing price plus sales tax) is taxable for the business.

In summary, the tax system, as codified in the IRC and interpreted by relevant case law, does not support the idea that companies can reap significant tax advantages from pass-through charitable donations. It is concerning that individuals think there are loopholes, without understanding what they are talking about.

I prefer to not round up and instead make lump sum donations so it’s easier to track come tax season.

Black Friday Fail: How Hulu is burning advertising money and they don’t even realize it

I see landing page errors all the time, but you usually don’t see it scaled. You might see it on a brand that spend $5,000/month, but not on a brand that spends that much a day.

I came across an excellent offer today from Hulu on Facebook today. You can get Hulu for $0.99 a month. As an ad buyer, I love a good offer, so I tapped to check it out to see what the catch was.

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brightonSEO conference’s underwhelming speaker list

If you know me, you know I hate fake gurus. If you have the audacity to stand on the stage in front of a paying audience and suggest you are an expert, I hope you are. That’s why I don’t do it. I’ve been in SEO for 14 years at the time of writing, and I still have so much to learn.

brightonSEO is currently holding a conference in San Diego. They describe themselves as “the ultimate event for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in talks from the leaders in both Search, Content and Influencer Marketing” and boast over 50 speakers at the event. I was surprised to recognize few names in the SEO space. No Brian Dean, Neil Patel, or Cyrus Shepard. The only name I recognized was Danny Sullivan. I think of myself as a nobody in the SEO space, but I was shocked to see how many speakers had an even smaller audience than myself.

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How To Rank Your Small Business On Google

This blog is mainly dedicated to more advanced techniques, however here is an introductory rundown for those new to the space.

So you’re a small business, and you have a website, but you want to rank higher on Google. This process is called search engine optimization, or SEO. Since 2009, I’ve been studying the hundreds of factors that affect the rankings. I’m now going to summarize a few points that I have for small businesses who are just starting to get interested in SEO.

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I Tried 7 SurferSEO Alternatives And Here’s The Best

How things change. Surfer was once known as the affordable alternative to superior enterprise-level solution ClearScope. However, Surfer has been getting expensive. It still makes sense for deep-pocket clients who want maximum efficiency. I continue to recommend it as an excellent tool. However, for my own projects and for small businesses, it’s not a cost-effective recommendation so I wanted to dive into some alternatives.

Oh, and no one pays me to write these, so unlike every other article on this topic, I’m not biased. If I think a tool is garbage, I’m going to say it. As I checked out some of the others who wrote blog posts on the topic, I was shocked at some of the trash they were recommending. So let’s dive in.

Tool NameStarting Monthly CostArticles Per Month$ Per ArticleOverall Score
SurferSEO$8915$5.9310/10
ClearScope$17010$17.0010/10
Reword$4840$1.203/10
Frase.io$154$3.759/10
SEOScout$4910$4.904/10
NeuronWriter$2325$0.9210/10
ContentHarmony$505$10.006/10
SERanking$8415$5.605/10

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