by Christopher Piehler

Christopher Piehler

I am not breaking any news when I say that press coverage of our economic meltdown has been dominated by numbers. In this three-screen era, televisions, computers, and smart phones constantly barrage us with digits that, according to those who dispense them, define our lives and shape the world around us. More than 4 million jobs have been lost in the recession. The stimulus plan will cost $787 billion! Trillions of dollars have disappeared from our collective 401(k)s, with more trillions lurking in budget deficits!!

What comes after trillion? Madness! No, actually, it’s quadrillions. I looked it up. And here’s what it looks like: 1,000,000,000,000,000. Yeah, it lost about me at about the third zero, too. There is a point at which numbers cease to have meaning, and I think we are well past it.

So here are some numbers that actually apply to orthodontists in a practical way. According to AAO Assistant General Counsel Kevin Dillard, the stimulus package contains a number of provisions that might prove helpful to orthodontists.

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  • First, through the end of this year, small business owners can deduct up to $250,000 in capital expenditures (with a maximum of $800,000 total expenditures). Next year, $125,000 of capital expenditures will be tax deductible, with a total expenditure limit of $500,000.
  • Then there is the extension through the end of this year of “bonus depreciation,” which means that 50% of large equipment purchases are tax deductible.
  • And for those looking for loans, Small Business Administration fees have been reduced to 0 (there’s a number we can all relate to), and the amount of the loan that is guaranteed has gone from 85% to 90%.

These are numbers with clear, concrete meanings. Spend something, deduct something. Simple. Whether these savings will be the difference between success and failure for orthodontic practices across the country, I could never say—not in an octodecillion years. (That’s 1 followed by 57 zeros, in case you were scoring at home.)

Christopher Piehler