Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Do A Business Valuation When You’re Ready To Sell Your Company


Well before you’re ready to sell your company, you’ll want to determine its fair market value as a starting point for negotiations. Of course, obtaining a reasonably precise value for your business is often a complicated and time-consuming task. Accurate appraisals must weigh a variety of factors and incorporate numerous assumptions. The more precise the underlying numbers and suppositions, the more likely the appraiser’s determination of fair market value will reflect what a willing buyer would actually pay. Here are two questions an appraisal should address.
  • How does your business compare? If you’re operating a service business, your valuation will differ – often substantially – from a company involved in light manufacturing or retail. Buyers will expect a reasonable return on their investment, a return that is often represented as some form of earnings multiplier. For example, your business may be valued at three times projected earnings. Once determined, that number can be compared to businesses of similar size in your market. Of course, accurate valuations must compare apples to apples. “Earnings” must be defined. Should “earnings” include or exclude the owner’s pay, interest expense, depreciation, or taxes? A careful appraisal will also scrutinize the balance sheet. The basis for valuing tangible and intangible assets (including non-compete agreements) and liabilities (such as mortgages, installment loans, and accounts payable) should be clearly laid out – before the business is put on the block.
  • Will present trends continue? The future may be difficult to predict, but a careful analysis should be based on conservative projections, assumptions, and common sense. If, for example, the business is expected to retain skilled management and employees, buyers may be willing to pay a premium. If, on the other hand, the company is overly dependent on a few products or customers, potential buyers may be scared off. Or they may require concessions to mitigate perceived risk. Again, a careful appraisal will consider many such factors and value the business accordingly.
Remember: an appraisal is merely a starting point for negotiations. The more accurate the appraisal, the more likely the business will be priced correctly and potential buyers will be attracted. Unfortunately, determining the fair market value of a business may be fraught with missteps and faulty assumptions. For that reason, hiring a trained and objective professional is often a worthwhile investment.

For more information, Visit: Accountants in New Jersey | Bookkeeping services NJ | Small business accounting

Monday, August 7, 2017

Four Tips For Building An Emergency Fund

Planning for business emergencies is like buying insurance: you pay into an account and hope you’ll never have to use it. But life happens. Equipment breaks down. Electrical problems occur. Employees leave. Having money in the bank to cover those unexpected expenses can reduce stress and keep you from relying on credit cards and loans to keep your business afloat.
Here are four easy and effective ways to establish and maintain an emergency fund for your business.
1. Start small. Many financial planners advise setting aside enough money to cover at least six months of expenses. That’s a worthy goal. But for many businesses, it’s also a daunting task, an objective that will take years – not months – to achieve. So, set a realistic and achievable amount for your emergency fund, and then get in the habit of contributing regularly. Then don’t touch the account except for real emergencies. Leave it alone and it will grow.
2. Pump it up. When you get a surplus of revenue, tax refund, or windfall, consider using a portion of that money to bolster your emergency account. Fight the temptation to increase spending with every new dollar that comes along.
3. Make it automatic. With online banking, it’s easy to set up routine transfers from your businesses’ primary account to a separate savings account. Consider allocating a portion of each quarter’s earnings to an emergency fund. Consider establishing the account at a financial institution other than your regular bank. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” If the money never shows up in your regular checking account, you’ll be less likely to use it for everyday business expenses.
4. Slash expenses. Take a hard look at your budget and consider everything fair game: expensive client dinners, extravagant business parties or trips, and so on. You may find that a surprising number of dollars can be freed up and stashed away in savings. The key, of course, is to direct those savings – immediately, if possible – away from regular spending and into your emergency account.
If you’d like more ideas for setting financial goals or building up an emergency fund for your business, give us a call.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Don’t Assume It’s Correct, Just Because It’s The IRS

Quotes from actual IRS correspondence received by clients:
“Our records show we received a 1040Xfor the tax year listed above. We’re sorry but we cannot find it.”
“Our records show you owe a balance due of $0.00. If we do not receive it within 30 days, appropriate collection steps will be taken.”
“Payment is due on your account. Please submit payments on or before June 31 to avoid late payment penalties and interest.”
It’s pretty tough to pay a balance due of $0.00 or submit a payment on June 31 when June has only 30 days. The message should be clear. If you receive a notice from the IRS, don’t automatically assume it is correct and then submit a payment to make it go away. The same is true for errors in any state tax agency notices. They are often in error. So what should you do?
Stay calm. Try not to overreact to the correspondence. This is easier said than done, but remember, the IRS sends out millions of notices each year. The vast majority of these notices attempt to correct simple oversights or common filing errors.
Open the envelope. You’d be surprised how often clients are so stressed by receiving a letter from the IRS that they cannot bear to open the envelope. If you fall into this category, try to remember that the first step in making the problem go away is to open the correspondence.
Review the letter. Make sure you understand exactly what the IRS thinks needs to be changed and determine whether or not you agree with their findings. Unfortunately, the IRS rarely sends correspondence to correct an oversight in your favor, but it sometimes happens.
Respond in a timely manner. The correspondence received should be very clear about what action the IRS believes you should take and within what timeframe. Ignore this information at your own risk. Delays in responses could generate penalties and additional interest payments.
Get help. You are not alone. Getting assistance from someone who deals with this all the time makes going through the process much smoother.
Correct the IRS error. Once the problem is understood, a clearly written response with copies of documentation will cure most IRS correspondence errors. Often the error is due to the inability of the IRS computers to conduct a simple reporting match. Pointing the information out on your tax return might be all it takes to solve the problem.
Certified mail is your friend. Send any response to the IRS via certified mail. This will provide proof of your timely correspondence. Lost mail can lead to delays, penalties, and additional interest on your tax bill.
Don’t assume it will go away. Until you receive definitive confirmation that the problem has been resolved, assume the IRS still thinks you owe the money. If you don’t receive correspondence confirming the correction, send a written follow-up.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Five Home Office Deduction Mistakes

If you operate a business out of your home, you may be able to deduct a wide variety of expenses. These may include part of your rent or mortgage costs, insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance, and cleaning costs related to the space you use.
It can be a tricky area of the tax code that’s full of pitfalls for the unwary. Here are some of the top mistakes people make:
Not taking it. This is probably the biggest mistake those with home offices make. Some believe the deduction is too complicated, while others believe taking a home office deduction increases your chance of being audited. While the rules can be complicated, there are now simple home office deduction methods available to every business.
Not exclusive or regular. The space you use must be used exclusively and regularly for your business.
Exclusively: If you use a spare bedroom as a business office, it can’t double as a guest room, a playroom for the kids, or a place to store your hockey gear. Any kind of non-business use can invalidate you for the deduction.
Regularly: It should be the primary place you conduct your regular business activities. That doesn’t mean that you have to use it every day nor does it stop you from doing work outside the office, but it should be the primary place for business activities such as record keeping, billing, making appointments, ordering equipment, or storing supplies.
Mixing up your other work. If you are an employee for someone else in addition to running your own business, be careful in using your home office to do work for your employer. Generally, IRS rules state you can use a home office deduction as an employee only if your employer doesn’t provide you with a local office to work at.
Unfortunately, this means if you run a side business out of your home office, you cannot also bring work home from your employer’s office and do it in your home office. That would invalidate your use of the home office deduction.
The recapture problem. If you have been using your home office deduction, including depreciating part of your home, you could be in for a future tax surprise. When you later sell your home, you will need to account for this depreciation. This depreciation recapture rule creates a possible tax liability for many unsuspecting home office users.
Not getting help. There are special rules that apply to your use of the home office deduction if:
– You are an employee of someone else.
– You are running a daycare or assisted living facility out of your home.
– You have a business renting out your primary residence or a vacation home.
The home office deduction can be tricky, so be sure to ask for help, especially if you fall under one of these cases.
Things to remember
Recognizing the home office deduction complexity, the IRS created a simplified “safe harbor” home office deduction. You simply take the square footage of your office, up to 300 square feet, and multiply it by $5. This gives you a potential $1,500 maximum deduction. However, your savings could be much greater than $1,500, so it’s often worth getting help to calculate your full deduction.
Finally, if you are concerned about a potential future audit, take a photo or two of your home office. This is especially important if you move. That way if you are ever challenged, you can visually attempt to show your compliance to the rules.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reap The Benefits Of Hiring Your Child For The Summer


Hiring your children to work in your business can be a win-win situation for everyone. Your kids will earn money, gain real-life experience in the workplace, and learn what you do every day. And, you will reap a few tax benefits in the process. Before you decide if hiring your child is the right thing for your business, learn if it can work for you.
Generally, if your child is doing a legitimate job and the pay is reasonable for the work, his or her salary can be a tax-deductible business expense. Your child’s income can be tax-free to them up to the standard deduction amount for a single tax payer ($6,350 in 2017). Wages earned in excess of this amount are typically taxed at your child’s rate, which is likely lower than your rate.
The following guidelines will help you determine if the arrangement will work in your situation:
  • Make sure your child works a real job that he or she can reasonably handle, no matter how basic or simple. Consider tasks like office filing, packing orders, or customer service.
  • Treat your child like any other employee. Expect regular hours and appropriate behavior. If you are lenient with your child, you risk upsetting regular employees.
  • To avoid questions from the IRS, make sure the pay is reasonable for the duties performed. It’s not a bad idea to prepare a written job description for your files. Include a W-2 at year-end.
  • Record hours worked just as you would for any employee. Pay your child using the normal payroll system and procedures your other employees use.
  • Hiring your children works best if you are a sole proprietor. It has additional tax benefits not available if your business is organized as a C corporation or an S corporation.
If you have questions, give us a call. Together we can determine if hiring your child is the right course of action for your business and your family.
See more at : http://www.bas-pc.com/

Monday, July 17, 2017

Get to Know These Tax-Saving Terms


As you begin to think about scheduling your midyear tax planning appointment, refresh your memory on the meanings of terms that can save you money. Here are three.
  • Exclusion. Exclusions are items that would generally be included on your return, but are specifically excluded by a tax law provision. For example, gifts and inheritances you receive are excluded from your income – you simply don’t report them on your federal tax return.
  • Deduction. By definition, a deduction means an amount is subtracted from your income. Tax deductions fit into four general categories.
Above the line deductions, such as alimony paid, can be claimed even if you don’t itemize.
Itemized deductions are a specific group of expenses, including amounts you pay for certain taxes, medical costs, charitable donations, mortgage interest, and disaster losses.
The standard deduction is a simplified substitute for itemized deductions. It’s a flat amount you can use to reduce your gross income instead of itemizing each allowable expense.
Business deductions are the ordinary and necessary expenses required for carrying on your trade or business.
  • Credit. Income tax credits are subtracted from the tax you owe. Note the difference from the definition of deductions, which reduce your income and indirectly reduce your final tax bill.
Tax credits can be refundable, meaning you’ll get money back if the credit exceeds the amount of tax you owe. Nonrefundable credits can only reduce your tax to zero.
These terms can be confusing. Call if you have questions about these tax-savers and how including them in your midyear planning can benefit you.

See more at : http://www.bas-pc.com/

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Five Reasons to Incorporate Your Business



Most new businesses start with no thought about legal structure. In the eyes of the IRS, the default structure is a “sole proprietor,” in which your business profits are taxed on your personal tax return. This can serve you well to start, but there are several reasons you may want to consider incorporating as your business grows.


  • To protect your personal assets from creditors. When you operate your business within a corporation, creditors are often limited to corporate assets to satisfy a debt. Your home, savings, and retirement accounts are no longer fair game.
  • To provide a personal liability firewall. The corporate form can help protect you against claims made by others for injuries or losses arising from actions of your business.
  • To issue shares of stock. You can help build your business by issuing shares to new investors, or by offering stock options to key employees as a form of compensation.
  • To gain tax flexibility. A corporation can provide you with more tax flexibility. Deliberate planning can help optimize the taxable division between corporate income, dividends, and your personal wages.
  • To enhance your business presence. Being incorporated sends a signal that your business is a serious enterprise, and it could open doors to opportunities not offered to sole proprietors. Consumers, vendors, and other businesses often prefer to do business with incorporated companies.

If you are still going over the pros and cons of incorporating your business, give our office a call. Together, we can complete a thorough tax review that will help shed light on the impact such a move will have on your business situation.

See more at : http://www.bas-pc.com/

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Curb Appeal




Curb appeal is often talked about when selling a residential home, however, it applies just as frequently to the commercial building or space. If you want to improve the market value, curb appeal matters. Locations with great curb appeal usually command higher prices and spend less time on the market.

Luckily there are simple, inexpensive ways to help your building impress buyers.

1) Make it sparkle. Walk around the outside and take note of what looks dirty: windows, downspouts, gutters, siding, and doors. These can usually be tackled with soapy water and a scrub brush. For a bigger job, consider using a pressure washer.

2) Coat of paint. Updating the color of your door, trim, or shutters may help your building look newer and more modern.

3) Replace hardware. Don’t overlook your building address numbers, entry door locksets, doorbells, mailboxes, or light fixtures. These elements add visual interest, but can detract from the appeal if they show years of wear. Replace, clean, or paint pieces that have become dingy or out of date.

4) Update landscaping. Planting a tree is a great way to add long-lasting dimension and appeal. Consider flanking the front entry with trees or shrubs. Add a pop of color by placing flower planters or adding window boxes to front-facing windows. Or simply make sure the lawns are being mowed before showings.

5) Incorporate outdoor art. For an outside the box idea, bring some art into the space leading up to your entry door. It could be as simple as a birdbath, bird feeder, or hanging windchimes; or as unique as a one-of-a-kind sculpture from a local artist.

See more at : http://www.bas-pc.com/

How to Build Your Business Credit



Whether your firm has been operating for years, or you decided over last night’s coffee to start a new venture, you’re sure to face the need for business credit. Entrepreneurs often ask friends and family to invest in their start-up businesses, and many draw on personal funds to launch new firms. But to address ongoing business needs – such as requirements for inventory, equipment, and real estate – most firms seek additional help from credit card companies and banks.

Unfortunately, today financial institutions are more wary than they used to be about extending credit to small companies. And with many business revenues faltering because of market pressures, even well-established companies have found it difficult to obtain loans.

As a result, establishing good business credit has become more important than ever. To convince a lender that your company represents a good risk, you should first prepare a well-written business plan. It need not be as long as a Tolstoy novel, but should lay out in some detail your products, pricing, estimates, competition, and basis for cash flow projections. A clearly defined business plan will convince potential lenders that you’ve addressed the greatest obstacles to your firm’s success. Before approaching lenders, consider your business structure as well. For example, a limited liability company or corporation may be seen as less risky than a sole proprietorship. The goal is to present a professional image to convince the lender that your company will prosper in good times and bad.

To establish good business credit, you’ll also want to make sure all required licenses are current and your firm is registered with the major business credit reporting bureaus such as Experian and Equifax. Work with vendors who report to these bureaus so that your on-time payments are tracked.

Of course, the key to building good business credit is making all your payments on time. As with personal credit, your business credit score will climb as managers prove their skill at monitoring the firm’s cash flow and their commitment to honoring the firm’s obligations.

Also consider having our office review your financial statements before you send them to the bank. If you need assistance with this or other business concerns, give us a call.

See more at : http://www.bas-pc.com/

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Disability Insurance – What You Need to Know


Say “insurance” to most people and auto, health, home, and life are the variants that spring to mind. But what if an illness or accident were to deprive you of your income? Even a temporary setback could create havoc with your financial affairs. Statistics show your chances of being disabled for three months or longer between ages 35 and 65 are almost twice those of dying during the same period.
Yet people with financial savvy often overlook disability insurance. Perhaps they feel adequately covered through their job benefits. However, such coverage can be woefully inadequate. The fact is, most individuals should consider disability insurance in their financial planning. When considering disability insurance, think in terms of long term and short term. Many employers provide long-term disability coverage for all employees. Find out if your employer does. If you have long-term disability insurance, you need to consider short-term coverage to supplement during the period of disability before your long-term coverage begins. To get the right coverage for you, take the following steps:
Scrutinize key policy terms. First, ask how “disability” is defined. Some policies use “any occupation” to determine if you are fit for work following an illness or accident. A better definition is “own occupation,” whereby you receive benefits when you cannot perform the job you held at the time you became disabled.
Check the benefit period. Ideally, your policy should cover disabilities until you’ll be eligible for Medicare and Social Security.
Determine how much coverage you need. Tally the after-tax income you would have from all sources during a period of disability and subtract this sum from your minimum needs.
Decide what you can afford. Disability insurance is not inexpensive. Plan to forgo riders and options that boost premiums significantly. If your budget won’t support the ideal benefit payment, consider lengthening the elimination period (but be sure that accumulated sick leave, savings, etc., will carry you until the benefits kick in).
See mpre at : http://www.bas-pc.com/

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How to Build Your Business Credit


Whether your firm has been operating for years, or you decided over last night’s coffee to start a new venture, you’re sure to face the need for business credit. Entrepreneurs often ask friends and family to invest in their start-up businesses, and many draw on personal funds to launch new firms. But to address ongoing business needs – such as requirements for inventory, equipment, and real estate – most firms seek additional help from credit card companies and banks.
Unfortunately, today financial institutions are more wary than they used to be about extending credit to small companies. And with many business revenues faltering because of market pressures, even well-established companies have found it difficult to obtain loans.
As a result, establishing good business credit has become more important than ever. To convince a lender that your company represents a good risk, you should first prepare a well-written business plan. It need not be as long as a Tolstoy novel, but should lay out in some detail your products, pricing, estimates, competition, and basis for cash flow projections. A clearly defined business plan will convince potential lenders that you’ve addressed the greatest obstacles to your firm’s success. Before approaching lenders, consider your business structure as well. For example, a limited liability company or corporation may be seen as less risky than a sole proprietorship. The goal is to present a professional image to convince the lender that your company will prosper in good times and bad.
To establish good business credit, you’ll also want to make sure all required licenses are current and your firm is registered with the major business credit reporting bureaus such as Experian and Equifax. Work with vendors who report to these bureaus so that your on-time payments are tracked.
Of course, the key to building good business credit is making all your payments on time. As with personal credit, your business credit score will climb as managers prove their skill at monitoring the firm’s cash flow and their commitment to honoring the firm’s obligations.
Also consider having our office review your financial statements before you send them to the bank. If you need assistance with this or other business concerns, give us a call.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Could the Coverdell ESA be the right fund for you?


As we approach graduation season, we have education costs on the brain!

You’re probably familiar with 529 college savings plans. Named for Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, they’re also known as qualified tuition programs, and they offer tax benefits when you save for college expenses.

But are you aware of a lesser-known cousin, established under Section 530 of the code? It’s called a Coverdell Education Savings Account and it’s been available since 1998.

The general idea of Coverdell accounts is similar to 529 plans – to provide tax incentives to encourage you to set money aside for education. However, one big difference between the two is this: Amounts you contribute to a Coverdell can be used to pay for educational costs from kindergarten through college.
Generally, you can establish a Coverdell for a child under the age of 18 – yours or someone else’s. Once the Coverdell is set up, you can make contributions of as much as $2,000 each year. That contribution limit begins to phase out when your income reaches $190,000 for joint filers and $95,000 for single filers.
Anyone, including trusts and corporations, can contribute to the account until the child turns 18. There are no age restrictions when the Coverdell is established for someone with special needs.

While your contribution is not tax-deductible, earnings within the account are tax-free as long as you use them for educational expenses or qualify for an exception. In addition, you can make a tax-free transfer of the account balance to another eligible beneficiary.

Qualified distributions from a Coverdell are tax-free when you use the money to pay for costs such as tuition, room and board, books, and computers.

Please call for information about other rules that apply to Coverdell accounts. We’ll be happy to help you decide whether establishing one makes sense for you.

And best of luck to you and your loved ones who are knee-deep in education costs, whether it’s kindergarten, college or anything in between.

Happy [Future] Graduation!

More Info : Business Accounting Systems, PC

Friday, April 21, 2017

What you should do when the IRS contacts you


After you file your tax return, the last thing you want to see is a notice from the IRS questioning your return. Some IRS notices involve very minor changes, like a correction to a Social Security number. Some are for serious changes that could involve a lot of money, such as a billing for more taxes, interest, or penalties due for an adjustment to your total tax liability.

So, what should you do if you get a letter from the IRS?

Here is a list of do’s and don’ts concerning contact from the IRS.
  • Don’t ignore the notice; the problem will not go away.
  • Act promptly. A quick response to the IRS may eliminate further, more complicated correspondence.
  • If you agree with the IRS adjustment, you do not need to do anything unless a payment is due.
  • If the IRS is requesting more money or a significant amount of new information, be sure to contact your tax preparer immediately.
  • Always provide your tax preparer with a copy of any IRS notice, regardless of how minor it appears to be.
  • Keep a copy of all the IRS correspondence with your tax return copy for the year in question.
Often taxpayers experience anxiety when they receive correspondence from the IRS. Don’t worry. The most important thing to remember is not to ignore the IRS. Bring any notice you receive to our office and let us assist you in resolving the problem quickly.

See more at : http://www.bas-pc.com

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Find the best employees to contribute to your company

Turnover is an often overlooked cost of doing business. Sometimes it can run as high as 25% of salary and benefits. One way to reduce this cost is to hire wisely. It’s an oft-quoted cliché that employees are a company’s most valuable assets. Try generating revenue with unmotivated or unskilled employees, and you’ll soon discover that the cliché rings true.

How do you locate the best employees?

Know what you’re looking for. Before you publish a job announcement or talk to potential candidates, consider the type of skills that would fit best with your company. This may involve clarifying the types of skills that are essential to your company, as well as skills that are specific to the position being filled. For example, if the business prides itself on written communications, you don’t want to hire a candidate who struggles with grammar or balks at the prospect of writing a report.

Look in the right places. Once you’re clear about the type of employee you’re hoping to hire, focus on discovering the best candidates and drawing them to your company. You might post the position on job boards of specific trade organizations, network with local colleges and technical schools, or ask for recommendations from your current employees. In general, the more specific skills you hope to find, the wider net you’ll have to cast.

Make the interview count. Potential candidates are often counseled to conduct mock interviews, and wise employers will hone their interviewing skills too. You want to identify candidates who will be eager to contribute to your company. Asking focused questions and listening with a purpose are key to the interview process. A good interviewer will also attempt to identify “red flags” that indicate potential problems. For example, the candidate may provide vague or rambling answers to simple questions. This could indicate normal interview anxiety, or he or she might be hiding key facts from you – information that could directly affect your hiring decision.

Finding quality employees that will mesh well with your company culture is not an exact science. But, thoughtful preparation and careful interviewing can pay dividends for years to come.

More Info: BusinessAccounting Systems, PC

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

2 Smart Tax Ideas for Your Refund


Are you looking forward to your tax refund? By now you know how much you’ll be getting and approximately when the cash will land in your bank account. The only question is, what’s the best way to put the money to work for you?
Here are two tax-smart ideas

Tax Refund Tip #1

Fund your IRA. Depending on your income, making a contribution to a Traditional IRA could result in a deduction on next year’s tax return – and possibly a credit of as much as $2,000. For 2016, you can contribute a maximum of $5,500 to your IRA. Add another $1,000 for a total of $6,500 if you’re age 50 or older.

Tax Refund Tip #2

Invest in knowledge. Establish a qualified tuition plan, commonly called a Section 529 plan, or a Coverdell Education Savings Account. While contributions are not tax-deductible, the account earnings grow tax-free, and distributions used for educational expenses are also generally tax-free.
Do you need work-related training? Education required by your employer or courses that improve or maintain skills necessary for your present job, can qualify for a deduction.

Give us a call if you would like to talk about how these options apply to your tax situation.

For more information on Business Accounting Systems, PC  , please click here.

Monday, April 3, 2017

That’s Taxable?!?!

Have you ever wondered about the taxability of funds or services you receive? There are many areas in the tax code that cause confusion regarding what’s taxable. These are some of the most common.
 
Alimony. Alimony is taxable to the person who receives it and deductible to the person who pays it. Special rules apply. Make sure you have proper documentation as part of a divorce decree to ensure you can support your tax position.

Child support. Child support is not taxable to the person who receives it on behalf of their dependent. It is also not deductible for the person who pays it.

Free services. Free service is almost always taxable as ordinary income under IRS barter regulations. You should report the fair market value of services received as income on your tax return. If you exchange services, you can deduct allowable business expenses against the value of services received.

Illegal activities. Even income received from illegal activities is taxable income and must be reported. Incredibly, the IRS even states that stolen items should be reported at the fair market value on the date the thief stole the item.

Jury duty pay. This is taxable as ordinary income. Yes, even doing your civic duty can be a taxable event.
Legal settlements. A general rule of thumb with legal settlements is to consider what the settlement replaces. If the settlement revenue replaces a taxable item, like lost wages, the settlement often creates taxable income. This area is complex and often requires a detailed review.

Life insurance proceeds. Generally life insurance proceeds paid to you because of the death of an insured are not taxable. However, there are a number of exceptions to this general rule. For example, if you receive benefits in installments above the value of the life insurance policy at time of death, or if you receive a cash payout of a policy, you could have taxable income.

Prizes. Most prizes received should be reported as ordinary income using the fair market value of the item received. This area has been a major surprise to contestants on game shows and celebrities who have received large gifts at celebrations like the Academy Awards.

Unemployment compensation. Typically unemployment compensation is to be reported as taxable income. Many are confused by this because of a temporary federal tax law that made unemployment compensation non-taxable during the recent economic recession. This is no longer the case.
Some of these areas can be complicated. What is most important is to realize when to discuss your situation. Call us if you need help.

More Info: Business Accounting Systems, PC 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Building Customer Loyalty – A Few Basics

Studies have shown that businesses often spend five to six times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Over the long term, those dollars add up. In fact, a company’s ability to care for its customers often determines its survivability in the marketplace. Make customers happy and they’ll stick with you; disappoint them and they’ll tell their friends.
Building customer loyalty is a matter of focusing on the basics. Does your company need to refocus on any of them?

Hire friendly people. You have probably visited a business where you encountered a grumpy salesperson or a bashful receptionist. Unlikeable staff will not generate repeat business. The staff you employ should enjoy interacting with people. If your employees regularly hide out in the back room instead of greeting clients, it’s time to take a hard look at your hiring practices.

Request customer feedback. This can be as simple as spending a few minutes with a customer to inquire about his or her experience with your company. Be specific. Instead of asking “How was our customer service today?”, ask a more specific question like, “Did our salesperson answer all your questions about XYZ product?” You might also establish a focus group of customers to solicit ideas for improving your products and services.

Follow up. If customers spend valuable time providing their opinions via surveys, suggestion boxes, or focus groups, don’t ignore what they have to say. Let them know that you take their ideas seriously and are looking for ways to implement at least some of their suggestions.

Never stop training. Often employees treat customers rudely or disrespectfully because they simply lack training in proper etiquette. Show them the proper way to answer phone calls, how to make eye contact and smile, how to help without being pushy. With a little focused training, most people can learn good customer service skills. Take time upfront to develop these skills in your employees and you’ll reap dividends in customer loyalty.

Model proper behavior. Simply put, the boss should exemplify top-notch customer service. If your employees see you treating clients poorly, don’t be surprised if they assume that such behavior is acceptable.
Remember: it’s easier to keep an existing client than to beat the bushes for a new one. It’s cheaper, too.

More Info: Business Accounting Systems, PC 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Tax Planning 2017: Inflation-Adjusted Tax Numbers


Each year, certain tax figures are adjusted for inflation. While most figures are unchanged versus 2016, there is more than a 7% increase to the maximum earnings subject to social security tax. Take note of these numbers for use in your 2017 planning.
  • The maximum earnings subject to social security tax in 2017 is $127,200. The earnings limit for those under full retirement age increases to $16,920 for 2017.
  • The “nanny tax” threshold remains $2,000 in 2017. If you pay household employees $2,000 or more during the year, you’re generally responsible for payroll taxes.
  • The “kiddie tax” threshold remains $2,100 for 2017. If you have a child under the age of 19 (under age 24 for full-time students) who has more than $2,100 of unearned income, such as dividends and interest income, the excess could be taxed at your highest tax rate.
  • The maximum individual retirement account (IRA) contribution you can make in 2017 remains unchanged at $5,500 if you are under age 50 and $6,500 if you are 50 or older.
  • The maximum amount of wages employees can contribute to a 401(k) plan remains at $18,000, with an additional $6,000 if you are 50 or older. The 2017 maximum contribution for SIMPLE plans is $12,500 and and an additional $3,000 if you are 50 or older.
  • The maximum you can contribute to a health savings account in 2017 is $3,400 for individuals and $6,750 for families. The catch-up contributaion if you’re age 55 or older is $1,000.

More Info: Business Accounting Systems, PC 

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Tax Refund for You or an Interest-Free Loan for the IRS?

Millions of taxpayers receive refunds each year. Will you be among them? Most of us will happily accept our tax refund checks, because we can usually use the money. However, it’s important to understand that refunds actually cost you money.

Here’s why:

* The government pays no interest on refunds. Kept in your hands, those dollars could have been productive. For example, you could have invested the money or used it to pay off your debt during the year. If the money had been added to a 401(k) plan, tax could have been deferred on both the investment and its earnings. Even better, your employer might have matched all or part of your investment, adding to your retirement savings.

* Refunded cash is not available for use until actually received. Even though most taxpayers get their refund checks promptly, circumstances or errors can delay (or stop) a refund.

To manage potential tax refunds, consider reducing your withholding or estimated tax payments. For most taxpayers, withholding must equal either the prior-year’s tax or 90% of the current year’s liability. If your annual income changes little, it’s relatively easy to avoid overwithholding. You should consider filing a revised Form W-4 withholding statement with your employer if you’re having too much withheld.

For taxpayers with fluctuating income or multiple sources of income, the problem is more complex. The IRS provides a worksheet with Form W-4, but many people find the form complicated. If you’d like assistance adjusting your withholding, contact our office.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tax Tips for Newlyweds

It’s the start of wedding season! If you are approaching your wedding date (congratulations!), the tax implications of marriage are probably not the first thing on your mind. But paying a little attention to it now can save time and even money later.

Here are a few tips to help those who are about to embark on a new life together.



Tip 1: Notify the Social Security Administration with any name change(s). The IRS has a name match program with the SSA and will potentially reject deductions and joint filing if the name change is not made timely. Do this by filing Form SS-5 with the SSA.

Tip 2: Use Form 8822 to update your address with the IRS if either of you is moving.

Tip 3: Change your name and addresses with your employer and the Postal Service to ensure your W-2s are correctly stated and delivered to the proper address.

Tip 4: If selling one or two residences, make sure you review how capital gains tax laws apply to your situation. This is especially important if one of you has been in your home for only a short time or if either home has appreciated in value.

Tip 5: Review legal documents to ensure legal titles are as you wish them to be. This includes bank accounts, titles on property, credit cards, insurance policies, and living wills.

Tip 6: Recalculate your payroll withholdings and file a new W-4. If both newlyweds work, your combined income could put you into a higher tax bracket. This phenomenon is referred to as “the marriage penalty.” By changing withholdings now, you can avoid a big surprise at tax time.

Tip 7: Review your employee benefits and make necessary changes in health care, insurance, retirement account beneficiaries, and tax-preferred spending accounts. Marriage is a qualified event to make mid-year changes by most employees.

If you or someone close to you has questions about marriage and taxes, give us a call. We’d love to help.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Real Definition of “Dependent” May Surprise You



Many people think of a “dependent” as a minor child who lives with you. This is true, but it’s important to remember dependents can include parents, other relatives and nonrelatives, and even children who don’t live with you.

Exemptions and your taxable income. Each dependent deduction is worth $4,050 on your 2016 and 2017 federal income tax returns. This exemption reduces your taxable income by this amount. You’ll lose part of the benefit when your adjusted gross income reaches a certain level. For 2016, the phase-out begins at $311,300 when you’re married filing jointly and $259,400 when you’re single.

Definition of a dependent. A dependent is a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. While there are specific rules, generally, a dependent is someone who lives with you and who meets several tests, including a support test. For qualifying children, the support test means the child cannot have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year. For qualifying relatives, the support test means you generally must provide more than half of that person’s total support during the year. There are many exceptions. For example, parents don’t have to live with you if they otherwise qualify, but certain other relatives do. If you’re divorced and a noncustodial parent, your child doesn’t necessarily have to live with you for the dependent deduction to apply.

Who can’t be claimed? Your spouse is never your dependent. In addition, you generally may not claim a married person as a dependent if that person files a joint return with a spouse. Also, a dependent must be a U.S. citizen, resident alien, national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico for part of the year.
For a seemingly simple deduction, claiming an exemption for a dependent can be quite complex. You’ll want to get it right, because being able to claim someone as a dependent can lead to other tax benefits, including the child tax credit, education credits, and the dependent care credit.

Contact our office to learn who qualifies as your dependent. We’ll help you make the most of your federal income tax exemptions.

More Info: Business Accounting Systems, PC

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How to Prevent Identity Theft From Affecting You

   
The IRS has made great strides in protecting taxpayers from identity thieves, but you must still be diligent to protect your information.
Identity thieves can steal a taxpayer’s personal information and use it to file a tax return claiming a refund under the taxpayer’s name. Then when the taxpayer actually files a return, the IRS won’t accept it and notifies the taxpayer that a return under his or her name and ID number has already been filed.
The IRS recommends that taxpayers should do the following in order to avoid becoming an identity theft victim:
  • Guard your personal information. Identity thieves can get your information by stealing your wallet or purse, going through your trash, or posing as someone who needs your information for a legitimate reason.
  • Watch out for IRS impersonators. Don’t fall for phone calls, faxes, e-mails, or other contacts made by people claiming to be from the IRS. Do not respond to the message, open any attachments in an e-mail or click on any links.
  • The IRS recommends that you enter “phishing” in the search box at the top of its website (www.irs.gov) to get more information on avoiding tax scams. E-mail suspected scams to phishing@irs.gov.
  • Protect information on your computer. Protect your tax information with a password, and once you’re finished with your tax data, take it off your hard drive.

More Info: www.bas-pc.com

Why you should consider using HRAs to help employees with medical costs

A health reimbursement arrangement, or HRA, is a benefit plan you can offer to your employees to reimburse them for medical expenses that are not covered by an insurance plan. HRAs offer tax benefits, including the deductibility of contributions you make to your employees’ accounts. Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect, if you employed 50 or fewer workers, your ability to provide HRAs to your employees may have been limited. However, a law passed in December 2016 created a new type of HRA that you can offer if you do not provide group health insurance.


The 21st Century Cures Act allows “stand-alone” HRAs if the accounts meet funding and other requirements. These new HRAs allow you to help your employees pay for medical costs, such as the reimbursement of premiums for policies purchased on the healthcare exchange. In addition, the Act extends relief from the $100 per day penalty for prior arrangements that did not meet Affordable Care Act rules.


Please contact us for more information about this new employee benefit option. This discussion could be crucial given the uncertainty of future ACA rules.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

You don’t have to itemize to claim these deductions on your 2016 return



Can’t itemize? You can still claim some expenses on your 2016 federal income tax return. Here’s how you can benefit.

* IRA and HSA contributions


If you made a contribution to your traditional IRA for 2016, or if you plan to make a 2016 contribution by April 18, 2017, you may qualify to deduct up to the maximum contribution amount of $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re age 50 or older). Income limitations apply in some cases, and you can’t deduct contributions to Roth IRAs.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are IRA-like accounts set up in conjunction with a high-deductible health insurance policy. The annual contributions you make to your HSA are deductible. Contributions are invested and grow on a tax-deferred basis, and you’re allowed to withdraw money in the account tax-free to pay for your unreimbursed medical expenses. For 2016, you can deduct up to the contribution limit of $3,350 if you’re filing single and $6,750 when you’re married filing jointly. You may also be able to deduct an additional $1,000 if you were age 55 or older and made a catch-up contribution to your HSA.

* Student loan interest and tuition fees
Deduct up to $2,500 of interest on student loans for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents on your 2016 return. For 2016 returns, you can also deduct up to $4,000 of tuition and fees for qualified higher education courses. Income limitations apply, and you must coordinate these deductions with other education tax breaks.

* Self-employment deductions

If you’re self-employed, you can generally deduct the cost of health insurance premiums, retirement plan contributions, and one-half of self-employment taxes.

* Other deductions

Alimony you pay, certain moving expenses, and early savings withdrawal penalties are also deductible on your 2016 return, even if you don’t itemize. Teachers can deduct up to $250 for classroom supplies purchased out-of-pocket in 2016.

Contact our office for more information on these and other costs you may be able to deduct on your 2016 tax return.