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Is That Deductible? It Depends: "Good Bye AW"

Sep 04, 2023

Bittersweet Good-Bye

My dear friend, Dr. A.W., dropped by my house this week after I had invited him over for a meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to bid farewell to a great young doctor who had worked with me for the past 4 years. I wanted to give him a special gift that he could take with him to his next job.

We had the chance to talk and reflect on the joy of working together. Over the years, I have been fortunate to work with many excellent family doctors, but AW is truly special because of his passion for rural family medicine and everything that it entails. He will be deeply missed in our clinic and within our community!


Our relationship began serendipitously during his rural family medicine rotation in his residency. I have always had a passion for medical education and have collaborated with our local family medicine residency to create and host a month-long rotation where young doctors can experience and learn about the “real family medicine.” I absolutely adore the co-learning that takes place during those months, as it always keeps me sharp and up-to-date on things. At the same time, I have the opportunity to showcase the art of medicine in a rural context to my fellow learners.

AW was instantly captivated from the moment he arrived for his first rotation with me. He finally found a brand of family medicine that deeply resonated with his vision for his future self. Recognizing his perfect fit, I agreed to have him join my hospital-operated clinic after his training. By the way, I work as a contractor in this clinic through an employment lite agreement.

After witnessing the constant turnover of doctors in my clinic, I finally found a kindred spirit who I knew would be a long-term presence. It was reassuring to know that I had found a wonderful doctor for my clinic, which was an important part of my succession planning.

I had the privilege of serving as AW's teacher during his residency, where he spent a full two months under my guidance. Throughout this time, I imparted upon him all the essential aspects of running a rural primary care clinic, including hospital care and maternity care. It was a wonderful experience spending time together, as I shared my knowledge with him and assisted in developing his skills as a doctor.


As AW started working at the clinic, our relationship transformed into a peer-to-peer mentoring dynamic. He was enthusiastic about finding ways to offer comprehensive care within the clinic, thus minimizing the need for our patients to travel to see specialists. During his time with me, he and his wife welcomed their first two children, and I had the privilege of delivering both of them by C-section. These were truly special events for numerous reasons! During this time, I had the opportunity to be a part of many conversations about life, personal decisions, and professional choices. I was able to guide him and support him through it all.

AW and I both share a deep passion for running, and he happens to be an ultra-marathoner. A few years ago, he managed to convince me to join him for a 31-mile run on the Michigan ski slopes. It was truly a bucket list accomplishment for me, but I must admit, it was a one-and-done event.

His passion for running has led him to become the leader of our local festival's running race, known as the "Blueberry Stomp," which will take place on Labor Day. As our charitable foundation sponsors the race, it was great to discuss it. Additionally, I am excited to participate in the 5K run.

But there came a time when our hospital employer started to break the trust he had in them during his residency and first job. Through a series of broken promises, he became frustrated and disillusioned. The two final straws were their unwillingness to provide him with adequate nursing support, despite years of assurance that it would happen, and their tragic decision to close our local hospital's OB unit. This decision forces women to travel 45 minutes away for their deliveries.

Like any mentor, I shared my positive experience with him about my PC-employment lite structure and encouraged him to consider doing the same. He saw how much I loved it, including the special professional autonomy of operating my micro-corporation. He wanted the same, and quite frankly, once you see it in action, the insanity of traditional employment becomes clearer.

At this point, his hospital employer rejected the employment lite contract to save money and cut out contracted labor. However, it's worth noting that, as I have previously mentioned in my blogs, employment lite is actually the least expensive form of physician labor for any employer. We both recognized that it was time to move on.

We discussed the idea of finding an employer who would be open to a PC-employment lite contract, and guess what? He actually found one!


Now, our relationship has shifted once again as we started providing business consulting and coaching services for him through SimpliMD. He made the decision that he wanted to achieve what I had, and just a few months ago, we helped him successfully launch his own PC. During this time, I have been coaching him on how to own and operate his own micro-corporation. It has been a special experience for me to share my professional knowledge and experience in micro-business with him, and to help him live his best life as a doctor.

In a nutshell, that is exactly why I started SimpliMD. I am passionate about helping doctors live their best lives through their own professional micro-corporations!

That is why I have created a membership community where we can all support and empower each other in the journey of becoming micro-business competent. I enthusiastically extend my invitation to you and others to join me on this thrilling journey! Together, we can help each other live our best lives as doctors.

Not Good Bye

The great news is that AW is part of our SimpliMD coaching program, which means I will have the opportunity to connect with him and continue supporting him on the next leg of his journey. He is going to soar!

By the way, I think this is a good time to mention that I believe every doctor benefits from having teachers, mentors, and coaches in their life. You can download my free e-book here explaining why.

The Rest of the Day

After our meeting at my home that day, I proceeded to have a meeting with my wife to oversee several of our micro-corporations.

I then met another SimpliMD client from North Carolina who had read my book and was inspired to start his own PC. Like many doctors, his initial structure will include a combination of W-2 work and 1099 work. Having a PC for this type of job stacking is a great idea.

I had to rush to the bank to deposit a land rental check for one of my businesses, as well as some 529 plan reimbursement checks to our personal account.

I then worked on some seemingly never-ending changes to the new SimpliMD website, which is being transformed into a membership-based online knowledge business. This process is exciting, but it can be painfully slow. However, I managed to successfully build the entire funnel for my first live webinar on September 29th!

I completed some remote charting for my clinic, and then my wife and I headed downtown to enjoy the last open-air concert of the season in our city park. It was a perfect night to savor a delicious meal from a food truck and mingle with a thousand local citizens. I had the pleasure of sitting next to our local surgeon and engaging in a lively "shop talk" conversation throughout the evening, discussing all the changes happening at the hospital. Additionally, I had the opportunity to run into another long-time community family doctor who, like me, will be retiring next June. It was wonderful to connect and exchange notes with him.

Is That Deductible? It Depends

Now we come to the fun part - figuring out what is deductible and what is not.

Dr. Witt's goodbye gift—yes, this was a deductible business expense.

Meeting with Dr Witt in my home— Yes, this qualifies us for the Dwelling Unit Reimbursement Program, also known as the Augusta Rule. This program allows us to rent out our home to my micro-business for 14 days per year, tax-free. By utilizing this program, we do not deduct office space expenses from our home.

Blueberry Stomp Sponsorship—This project was funded through our Fidelity Donor Advised Fund (DAF), specifically the Tod & Ellen Stillson Foundation. However, we encountered some bank transfer issues. As a result, my PC paid for the sponsorship as an advertising expense. It is noteworthy that our micro-businesses also make charitable contributions to our Tod & Ellen Stillson Foundation, so the funds would have come out of the PC either way.

Micro-Businesses (we own 9) Meeting with my wife and I—no expenses incurred and nothing deductible.

Meeting with SimpliMD client via Zoom—Some deductible household expenses include internet, office equipment, computers, cell phones, and various computer-based vendors that support SimpliMD, such as Zoom, Calendly, Kajabi, and Microsoft, just to name a few.

Trip to Bank—Nothing is deductible, but I certainly enjoy depositing money into my bank accounts! The mileage on my vehicle was a deductible business expense, albeit quite small..

SimpliMD Website Work—While my time is not expensible, the cost of the Kajabi website, Canva, Dropbox, my computer, and other web-based expenses are deductible for SimpliMD.

Remote Clinic work-Just like the SimpliMD client, deductible household expenses include various items. However, computer-based vendors are excluded from this category since the hospital supplies all the necessary resources.

Food Truck Dinner and Free Live Concert—The business meeting unexpectedly turned into a deductible event due to the in-depth and lengthy conversation with the local surgeon about various topics related to their profession.

Tod Stillson MD