As 2014 draws to a close, charitable donations appear to have gently risen from past years. Donors and charitable beneficiaries should be aware of IRS guidance on charitable giving and tax deductions so that good intentions don't become a problem later down the line.

Individuals who routinely foster animals on behalf of tax-exempt charitable organizations may wish to (carefully!) consider whether or not their activities qualify as charitable contributions.

Sadly, no tax deductions are available to me for accidentally feeding the squirrel who lives next door by having my bird feeder in his tree. I hope he enjoyed his suet.

Small businesses manage risk constantly . . . including the risk of outlandish behavior from bad customers. The story of a Harvard Business School professor who threatened to sue Sichuan Garden Restaurant for an alleged 4-dollar discrepancy in his take-out order has gone viral. Funny as might be, I give kudos to the restaurant owner for how he tried to manage the situation: with courtesy and professionalism, but without surrendering to "legal" threats and extortionate behavior.
Dogs . . . and cats and horses and the occasional goat . . . have pride of place in my heart. And the small businesswomen and men who serve them have my deep respect and loyalty. People such as Melissa McCue-McGrath, of MuttStuff in Somerville, Massachusetts, an extraordinary trainer and entrepreneur.