Is Your Business A Family Affair?

Ted Klimczak | November 16th, 2016

Top Tax Savings Strategies For The Family-Run Business

Family Business- Ohio Tax Planning

Instead of chores, how about give your children a job to do in your family-run business. The money they earn can go to their college savings account and the savings you accumulate can be reinvested to help your company find future growth. Read on to learn more.

There’s a certain freedom associated with being self-employed, but there’s also a lot of responsibility … and expenses. Fortunately, the family that’s invested in the success of the business, and is willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work, may be able to secure some significant tax savings.

Marriage Has It’s Benefits

If you’re married, chances are good that your spouse is already doing helping out in some aspect of your business. So why not extend a formal job offer? While you may be hesitant to bring them aboard (officially), there are several key reasons why it pays to add your spouse to the payroll.

  • Retirement benefits – Once hired, federal taxes will begin to be withheld from your spouse’s paycheck. That means that they will start receiving Social Security credits toward retirement. This alone is a pretty great (when it comes to retirement – every little bit helps), but the retirement benefits of hiring your spouse don’t stop there. If your business already offers employees a retirement plan, those benefits can be extended to your spouse when they opt in to the plan as well. Furthermore, contributions your company makes to the plan are tax deductible – up to 25 percent of compensation or $49,000, whichever is less.
  • Health Insurance – Business owners everywhere continue to struggle with the affordability of health care. But those who do offer this benefit to their employees, might be able to secure some additional savings by opting to cover their spouse as an employee rather than as a dependent. Especially if you consider the fact that your company can deduct the premiums it pays for employee health coverage. Then you may want to ask your tax advisor if you are also eligible to receive the health care tax credit.
  • Life Insurance – Because they are employees of your business, your spouse is eligible for the same benefits as all your other employees. That includes life insurance. And those costs are deductible as business expenses as well.

All Hands On Deck

Raise your hand if you had to do chores as a kid. We all did. It taught us work ethic and the value of a dollar. These days, families that own their own businesses can go a step further. Instead of paying your son or daughter a few dollars to mow the lawn, how about hiring them as a grounds keeper for your business? These days giving your kids a job in your business isn’t just a huge help when it comes to managing the day-to-day responsibilities of the company, it can be advantageous from a tax perspective. Business owners who welcome their kids to the family workforce, may be able to:

  • Deduct their children’s salary from the business’s income as a business expense.
  • Avoid paying FICA tax on their children’s salary.
  • Shift a portion of business income from your tax bracket to your child’s to significantly reduce your taxable income.

But, in order to make this strategy work, you must be able to prove that your children are legitimate employees and that their work is necessary. And don’t forget to fill out all the proper forms that go along with hiring any new employee (W-4, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, etc.). It’s also wise to keep track of their work and the time they put in by maintaining a time sheet. Also, while it may be tempting to pay your kids top-dollar for answering phones or cleaning the office, the IRS is on the lookout for unreasonable compensation practices. Don’t pay your son or daughter more than what you would pay a stranger for doing the same job and pay them regularly, as you would with any other employee. Your child’s paycheck can then be directly deposited into an account in your child’s name.

TIP: Get more out of your child’s earnings by opening a Roth IRA or 529 College Savings Plan in your child’s name and direct deposit their wages into the account and watch it grow.

Start taking advantage of the various strategies available for family-run businesses. Email rea.news@reacpa.com or ted.klimczak@reacpa.com to find out how.

By Ted Klimczak (Medina office)

Check out these articles for more tax tips and insight:

5 Tax Deductions To Ease Your Business’s Tax Burden

How To Drive For Business And Save On Your Tax Bill

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What Would You Do If The Internet Went Dark?

Joe Welker | October 25th, 2016
Data Security Planning - Ohio CPA Firm

Once again, weak usernames and passwords were to blame although, unlike in the past, individual users weren’t the primary culprits. According to United States security researchers, hackers utilized common electronic devices, such as DVRs, webcams and digital recorders, to execute a complex internet-wide attack. Read on to find out what you can do to protect your devices, your cloud-based data and yourself.

These days it’s not uncommon for our lives and our businesses to be managed almost entirely online. From our communications and calendars to our thermostats and security systems, while the internet may have made us more efficient, it has also made us more vulnerable. And these days, the safety of our networks and databases are never guaranteed – a lesson that was made abundantly clear after last week’s massive cyberattack.

Weak Usernames, Passwords Are (Once Again) To Blame

As most of you already know, some of your favorite websites took a hit last week. And as much as you may have wanted to take to Twitter to vent your frustration – you couldn’t. So, what happened? Once again, weak usernames and passwords were to blame although, unlike in the past, individual users weren’t the primary culprits. According to United States security researchers, hackers utilized common electronic devices, such as DVRs, webcams and digital recorders, to execute a complex internet-wide attack. The massive distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack was made possible thanks to weak default usernames and passwords found in the internet-connected hardware. This attack was the result of a Mirai botnet attack, which is specifically designed to scan the internet for poorly secured products and then access them through easily guessable passwords like “admin” or “12345.” Earlier this month, after security experts gained access to the botnet’s source code, which was released to the hacker community, it was discovered that the botnet was designed to try a list of more than 60 combinations of user names and passwords. Officials with Level 3 Communications, a provider of internet backbone services, estimates this recent attack was also the result of a Mirai malware attack that infected more than 500,000 devices.

Read Also: Cloud-Based Data Storage Solutions Aren’t Risk-Free

Unlike botnets that typically rely on PCs, Mirai malware targets internet-connected devices that have weak default passwords, making them easy to infect, said Michel Kan a correspondent for PCWorld. More botnets like Mirai will appear unless the hardware industry can move away from default passwords. Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology Co Ltd, a Chinese electronics component manufacturer, said because its products inadvertently played a role in last week’s cyberattack the manufacturer will recall some of the products it sold in the U.S. The Chinese company said the security flaws associated with its products were patched in September 2015 and that its devices now ask customers to change the default password when used for the first time. However, products running older versions of the firmware are still vulnerable. Users with older versions of the company’s products can still protect themselves by updating their product’s firmware and change the default username and passwords or simply take their products offline by disconnecting them from the internet.

Protect Your Devices

Do you own a device that connects to the internet? Take the following precautions to prevent a hacker from infiltrating your system:

  • Check for updates regularly.
  • The first time you pull your device out of the package, change the password.
  • Disable features and services that you don’t need or won’t use.
  • Turn off your devices when they aren’t in use.
  • Pay close attention to your privacy settings.

Protect Your Cloud-Based Data

A lot of times, individuals and businesses will consider cloud-based data storage solutions to be more secure, but the way I see it, if it’s online, it can be hacked – regardless of how many safety protocols you may have in place. Criminals continue to look for new ways to infiltrate our online devices therefore, it is reasonable to assume, that they are looking for cracks in the cloud-based security solutions as well. This article will give you more insight into the risks you may be taking on if you were to move all your data to the cloud.

Protect Yourself

For more information and insight about protecting yourself online, read my comprehensive whitepaper: Cybercrime: The Invisible Threat That Haunts Your Business. By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these articles for more helpful cybersecurity insight:

Top 5 Reasons Why Every Business Should Have A Business Continuity & IT Disaster Recovery Plan

How To React To A Data Breach

Can A Cybercriminal Crack Your Company’s Network?

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Big Financial News Grabs Reader Attention In September

Dear Drebit | October 4th, 2016

lady on computerThere was certainly a lot to think about in September. From tax prep to QuickBooks tips, it looked like you were using this month to brush up on some critical business issues and important financial news. Here were our top five posts for the month of September.

  1. Fall Into Tax Prep … According to the calendar, summer 2016 has officially come to an end. But, fortunately for you, there are a lot of reasons to smile in autumn! All it takes is a little tax prep on your part.
  2. Help The FBI Find A Defense Against Ransomware The FBI recently released a public service announcement urging victims of Ransomware attacks to come forward and report these cyber infections to federal law enforcement. Keep reading to learn more about what the FBI is doing to reduce ransomware attacks.
  3. What Happens if My 401(k) Plan is Out of Compliance with an IRS or DOL Rule? Learn more about the statute of limitations and how you can work to rectify any issues you may have with your business’s retirement plan.
  4. How Can You Track Use Tax in QuickBooks? If you owe use tax for a few separate counties or states, you can set up and use multiple Use Tax Payable accounts in your chart of accounts in QuickBooks. Learn how.
  5.  Late Rollovers May Benefit From New IRS Guidance Did you miss the deadline to rollover your retirement plan or traditional IRA funds due to circumstances beyond your control? In the past, such an issue would have resulted in issues on your tax return and/or an expensive private letter ruling request, culminating in a full-fledged assault on your retirement nest egg. Fortunately, the IRS released new guidance that may eliminate this costly headache by simplifying the way retirement rollovers are managed when they are made outside of the 60-day rollover deadline.

As we make our way into autumn and inch closer to the end of the year, what business and financial questions would you like our experts at Rea & Associates to answer? We’d love to hear from you.

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Yahoo Confirms Data Breach, 500 Million Users Vulnerable

Steve Roth | September 26th, 2016
Yahoo Data Breach - Ohio CPA Firm

Yahoo recently confirmed it was the victim of a large-scale data breach, which left more than 500 million users vulnerable two years ago. Read on to learn more.

Just when you think you can breathe a sigh of relief, we’re told to suck that air back in and brace for the inevitable fallout of what is now being considered the largest confirmed data breach of a single company’s computer network to date. According to officials at Yahoo, hackers gained access to more than 500 million user accounts registered with the technology company two years ago. And because so many people use Yahoo for their email, finances, fantasy sports and so on, everybody is being urged to take action immediately – before the cybercriminals have a chance to exploit the stolen data.

Read Also: Cloud-Based Data Storage Solutions Aren’t Risk-Free

Why Worry?

Depending on the type of information you have stored on your user account, there are all kinds of dangers associated with this type of data breach. Yahoo officials confirmed that hackers successfully gained access to user names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, encrypted passwords and, in some cases, security questions.

If you are one of those people who use the same password across all your online accounts, the recovery process will be difficult. Changing your Yahoo password is only the first step in the recovery process. Because cybercriminals can use the information collected to attempt to log in to other websites, you will also need to comb through your other online accounts to make sure they remain secure.

In the meantime, consider utilizing the following password best practices.

  • Change your passwords quarterly – especially those that protect your email accounts, domain logins and online banking accounts.
  • Use passphrases with at least 12 characters consisting of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Never share your passphrases with others and, if you enter your passphrase on a public computer, change it once you are able to log on to your account from a secure location.
  • Use two-step verifications whenever they are available.

Think Before You Click

In addition to maintaining your passwords by taking advantage of the best practices listed above, stay vigilant when it comes to email safety. In particular, consider every unsolicited email and communication you receive as untrustworthy. A single click of the mouse can open up the flood gates and can leave your company’s network vulnerable to a myriad of cyber threats.

By Steve Roth, IT Director (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these article for even more password tips:

8 Tips For Crafting A Strong Password

Passwords Are Like Underwear …

Then And Now: Data Security In America Since The Target Breach

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Fall Into Tax Prep …

Dear Drebit | September 22nd, 2016
tax planning

Today is the first day of Fall, how are you getting your taxes ready for the end of the year?

According to the calendar, summer 2016 has officially come to an end. But, fortunately for you, there are a lot of reasons to smile in autumn! From sipping on a pumpkin spice latte while snuggling deeper into your favorite hoodie to enjoying a great college football game with friends and family; these months certainly seem to bring with them a certain type of comfort and tranquility. Did you know that you can extend this calmness and well-being into the tax season as well? All it takes is a little tax prep on your part. Then, when January rolls around, you can rest easy knowing that you are prepared and poised to take advantage of more tax savings than ever before.

Take a look at these helpful articles to get you started on the right foot.

Organization Is The Key To Your Tax Prep Success

  • File Faster With This Tax Prep Checklist It’s that time of year again – time to gather your information and prepare to file your tax return. If you want the process to go smoothly, make sure to gather and organize your information before sitting down with your tax preparer. You may be surprised how fast the entire filing process goes if you spend a little time preparing!
  • If You Can’t Avoid It, Organize It: Organization Is Critical To Financial Planning and Tax Preparation Tax planning is one of the essentials to personal financial planning and wealth creation. And taxes are one of those things you need to think about all year long, not just during filing season. Having recently filed (or extended) your return, it’s time to take a look back and a look forward and determine how you can be better prepared for next year’s tax season.
  • Stay Organized Year-Round To Make Tax Prep EasierThe best advice to get ready to prepare your taxes is “don’t wait!” Stay organized year-round in accumulating information that will be needed for tax filing.

Wondering what more can do to better prepare the upcoming tax season? Reach out to the team at Rea & Associates for some tips. And while you have a professional tax advisor on the phone, schedule a day and time to meet with them to discuss your unique tax situation. The best way to optimize your tax savings is to work one-on-one with the experts and meeting times fill up fast once tax season begins!

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Late Rollovers May Benefit From New IRS Guidance

Wendy Shick | September 20th, 2016
IRS Lifts Restrictions | Retirement Savings | Ohio CPA Firm

American taxpayers can celebrate now that a range of restrictions known to hinder taxpayers’ efforts to save for their golden years due to circumstances beyond their control have been lifted by the IRS. This is a big win that will save thousands of IRAs from the harsh bite of needless and accelerated taxation. Keep reading to learn more.

Did you miss the deadline to rollover your retirement plan or traditional IRA funds due to circumstances beyond your control? In the past, such an issue would have resulted in issues on your tax return and/or an expensive private letter ruling request, culminating in a full-fledged assault on your retirement nest egg. Fortunately, the IRS released new guidance that may eliminate this costly headache by simplifying the way retirement rollovers are managed when they are made outside of the 60-day rollover deadline.

Effective Aug. 24, 2016, according to the IRS, taxpayers who miss the 60-day deadline for at least one of the 11 specific reasons outlined in Rev. Proc. 2016-47, may avoid immediate taxation if a self-certification letter is submitted to the IRA trustee or plan administrator.  Under the new rule, as long as the reason for their tardiness meets one or more of the 11 conditions outlined in the provision and the late rollover contribution is completed “as soon as practicable after the applicable reason (s) no longer prevents the taxpayer from making the contribution. The practicable timeframe is noted as 30 days in the guidance.

Read Also: Brush Up On These New Tax Form Due Dates

With regard to the validity of the taxpayer’s claim, the revenue procedure indicates that self-certification is all that’s required to be completed and submitted to the trustee or plan administrator. Please note, however, that the self-certification is not to be considered a waiver of the 60-day requirement as the IRS reserves the right to deny the request if an audit finds that the taxpayer failed to meet the requirements of Rev. Proc. 2016-47.

11 Reasons To File Your Late Rollover Contribution Self-Certification Letter

As long as the IRS has not previously denied the taxpayer’s waiver request made with respect to a rollover contribution of all or part of a related distribution, the 11 conditions considered to be acceptable for missing the 60-day deadline are:

  1. An error was committed by the financial institution receiving the contribution or making the distribution to which the contribution relates;
  2. The distribution having been made in the form of a check, was misplaced and never cashed;
  3. The distribution was deposited into and remained in an account that the taxpayer mistakenly thought was an eligible retirement plan;
  4. The taxpayer’s principal residence was severely damaged;
  5. A member of the taxpayer’s family died;
  6. The taxpayer or a member of the taxpayer’s family was seriously ill;
  7. The taxpayer was incarcerated;
  8. Restrictions were imposed by a foreign country;
  9. A postal error occurred;
  10. The distribution was made on account of a levy under § 6331 and the proceeds of the levy have been returned to the taxpayer; or
  11. The party making the distribution to which the rollover relates delayed providing information that the receiving plan or IRA required to complete the rollover despite the taxpayer’s reasonable efforts to obtain the information.

This is a big win for the American taxpayer, as it effectively lifts a range of restrictions known to hinder taxpayers’ efforts to save for their golden years due to circumstances beyond their control – saving “thousands of IRAs from the harsh bite of needless and accelerated taxation.” To make a certified late rollover contribution, your letter must also adhere to certain specifications. I recommend customizing the letter provided by the IRS in Rev. Proc. 2016-47. It can be accessed here. Once you have completed the letter, remember to retain a copy of it in your files to ensure it is available if the IRS requests this information during an audit.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about how this new provision will be beneficial to you.

By Wendy Shick, CPA, CFP (Mentor office)

Check out these articles for more great helpful information to review as you prepare to file your taxes:

Can My Summer Daycare Expenses Earn A Tax Credit?

How Will A Tax Credits And Incentives Plan Benefit Your Business?

Environmentally Friendly Tax Savings

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Help The FBI Find A Defense Against Ransomware

Joe Welker | September 19th, 2016
Help Fight Ransomware - Ohio CPA Firm

The FBI recommends users consider implementing prevention and continuity measures to lessen the risk of a successful Ransomware attack. Keep reading to find out how you can help the FBI combat the threat of Ransomware.

The FBI recently released a public service announcement urging victims of Ransomware attacks to come forward and report these cyber infections to federal law enforcement. Doing so, the FBI said in a statement, will “help us gain a more comprehensive view of the current threat and its impact on U.S. victims.

Read Also: Could Your Company Be Ransomware’s Next Victim?

A Closer Look At Ransomware

A computer infection that has been programmed to encrypt all files of known file types on your computer and your server’s shared drive and making them inaccessible until a specified ransom is paid; Ransomware is a very real threat to all businesses nationwide. Once a computer is infected, which usually happens once a user clicks on a malicious link, opens a fraudulent email attachment or unknowingly picks up a high-risk automatic download while surfing the web, it’s all but impossible to regain access to the data that has been infected. Upon discovering that your computer has been infected, you have two choices. You can either:

1)     Restore the machine by using backup media, or

2)     Accommodate the hacker’s demands and pay their ransom.

And both options are less than ideal.

What To Do If Your Company’s Network Becomes Infected

Ransomware infections were at an all-time high in the first several months of 2016, according to various cybersecurity companies, and because new Ransomware variants are emerging regularly, the FBI needs your help to determine the true number of Ransomware victims.

“It has been challenging for the FBI to ascertain the true number of Ransomware victims as many infections go unreported to law enforcement,” the agency stated in its recent announcement. “Victims may not report to law enforcement for a number of reasons, including concerns over not knowing where and to whom to report; not feeling their loss warrants law enforcement attention; concerns over privacy, business reputation, or regulatory data breach reporting requirements; or embarrassment. Additionally, those who resolve the issue internally either by paying the ransom or by restoring their files from back-ups may not feel a need to contact law enforcement.”

Read Also: How Much Is Your Data Worth To Criminals?

Reporting a Ransomware attack on your company’s network is not only beneficial for you, the information you provide will help the FBI as it works to identify ways to prevent future attacks. Your reports will:

  • Provide law enforcement with a greater understanding of the threat
  • Help justify Ransomware investigations
  • Contribute relevant information to ongoing Ransomware cases

Help Arm The FBI With Information

The recent PSA released by the agency requests that all Ransomware victims reach out to their local FBI office and/or file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Be sure to have the following details available and ready to provide to the respondent when prompted (if applicable).

  1. Date of Infection
  2. Ransomware Variant (identified on the ransom page or by the encrypted file extension)
  3. Victim Company Information (industry type, business size, etc.)
  4. How the Infection Occurred (link in e-mail, browsing the Internet, etc.)
  5. Requested Ransom Amount
  6. Actor’s Bitcoin Wallet Address (may be listed on the ransom page)
  7. Ransom Amount Paid (if any)
  8. Overall Losses Associated with a Ransomware Infection (including the ransom amount)
  9. Victim Impact Statement

The FBI recommends users consider implementing prevention and continuity measures to lessen the risk of a successful Ransomware attack. Click here to read the FBI’s complete announcement.

To learn more about protecting your business from cybercrime, download the free whitepaper, “Cybercrime: The Invisible Threat That Haunts Your Business.”

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It’s National Payroll Week – So What Does That Mean?

Heather McNichols | September 5th, 2016

Launched as an initiative to recognize those who work in the payroll industry while helping to educate all American workers about the make-up of their paychecks, National Payroll Week takes place every year during the week of Labor Day. Presented by the American Payroll Association, this year (2016), National Payroll Week is slated for Sept. 5-9.

National Payroll Week 2016 - Ohio CPA Firm

Image credit: National Payroll Week’s website

Here at Rea, we love a good celebration! So, here are four great articles that provide some insight payroll professionals might find useful.

  1. Don’t Get Tripped Up By Payroll – Managing your entity’s payroll isn’t always as easy as simply rewarding your employee an agreed upon compensation for a hard day’s work. And because salaries and related benefits are usually the largest expenditures of most governmental entities, it’s absolutely imperative that your payroll amounts are calculated correctly. Avoid making costly mistakes and make sure you have the proper checks and balances in place to ensure that you are properly calculating payroll every time.
  2. New DOL Rule Shakes Up Exemption Threshold –The Department of Labor (DOL) announced its publication of a final rule to update the regulations governing the exemption of certain classes of employees from minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The final rule, which goes into effect Dec. 1, provides for an updated salary and compensation threshold for executive, administrative and professional (EAP) employees to be considered exempt as well as provides an amendment to the salary basis test to allow employers to utilize nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.
  3. Payroll, HR Departments Targeted By Cyber Criminals Over the last few years, the threat of refund fraud and identity theft has become a very real concern, and criminals have proven that they will go to great lengths to get the information they need to complete their scams. This recent phishing scam is no exception.
  4. Dangers of Paying Under the Table – It’s not a surprise to many people that some workers are paid “under the table.” It’s a common practice in industries using temporary workers, such as construction, repair and other trades. Keep reading to learn more why paying under the table is a no-no.

Do you need a hand in managing your company’s payroll responsibilities? Email Rea & Associates, to find out how working with a team of expert payroll professionals can enhance your business.

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Summer May Be Over But Top Blog Posts Are Always In Season

Dear Drebit | September 2nd, 2016

I don’t know about you, but September seemed to come out of nowhere! But fear not. Even though summer is officially over, we still have a lot to celebrate – like all those great blog posts we featured on Dear Drebit last month?! So, before we officially make the leap into fall, join me as I take a look back at some of the top posts business owners were reading in August.

  1. Get Ready, Get Set, Get Shopping! Were you one of the many shoppers flooding stores the first weekend in August in search of some great back-to-school bargains? If so, then you were able to take advantage of this year’s Sales Tax Holiday. Missed it? That is ok, read on to learn more about it and how you can take advantage of these savings next year.
  2. How To React To A Data Breach It was 2013 when a medium-sized library in Ohio found itself in the midst of a data breach that would later serve as a powerful case study warning against the very real threat of electronic fraud. While originally developed by the Ohio Auditor of State’s office as a tool for government entities throughout the state, Cash Management 240: Financial Fraud – A Case Study, has found usefulness beyond just the government sphere. Read more about it now!
  3. Did Fraudsters Counterfeit Your Organization’s Checks?The internet can be a valuable tool for so many honest, well-meaning people. Unfortunately, it can also be a playground for fraudsters. Keep reading to find out how fraudsters are counterfeiting checks.
  4. How Can You Track Use Tax in QuickBooks?Do you filed for use tax amnesty with QuickBooks? How are you going to track it daily going forward? The answer is as simple as 1-2-3.
  5. Could An FSA Bring Value To Your Business’s Benefit Plan? Does your company’s benefit package feature access to a Flexible Spending Account? Have you considered adding one in the past but still have questions? As health costs continue to rise, we continue to learn more and more about how this pre-tax health benefit can help level the playing field for employees. But in order to get maximum benefit from this incentive, your team needs to know what it’s capable of doing. Read on to learn more.

Did we leave you wanting more? Great! We love to hear from you about what information or updates you are looking forward to seeing this month. Just reach out to us with your question or topic and one of our accounting and business consulting experts may pick it up for a future post!

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Cloud-Based Data Storage Solutions Aren’t Risk-Free

Joe Welker | September 1st, 2016
Cloud-Based Storage Solution | Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

If you do decide to store your company’s data on the cloud, be sure to thoroughly investigate the cloud environment you intend on using. Then pay close attention to whether their security controls and processes, including rollover sites or backup and testing procedures, adhere to industry standards. It’s also best practice to request a SOC (Service Organization Controls) SOC Report from your cloud provider. Read on to learn more.

I am regularly asked by clients, friends and family whether they should be concerned with storing their data in a cloud-based environment. My answer: Absolutely.

Even though cloud-based data storage solutions are managed by storage and security professionals (at least hopefully), there’s really no way to determine whether their authentication policies and data security procedures are always in line with industry standards. Because I’m acutely aware of these standards and best practices, I would have a hard time entrusting a cloud-based data storage enterprise with copious amounts of my company’s sensitive information.

Download The Free Whitepaper: Cybercrime: The Invisible Threat That Haunts Your Business

At the end of the day, your company’s data and the data you collect is your responsibility. Therefore, your IT team is ultimately responsible for verifying whether it’s properly secured and whether a proper authentication protocol is in place to ensure that those accessing data are approved to do so. When you work with a cloud-based data storage solutions business, your control over data security procedures is significantly limited.

And just because we haven’t heard much about these types of breaches in the past, doesn’t mean they don’t happen. Consider, for example, the latest “mega-breach,” that has affected millions of Dropbox users.

The Dropbox Breach

According to reports, more than 68 million Dropbox user accounts and associated information, including user names and passwords, were discovered online. The company said Dropbox user information stolen by hackers and distributed via the Internet was the result of a previously disclosed data breach from 2012. Unfortunately, the company and the company’s users are still being hurt by this attack. In response, Dropbox said in a statement that it was forcing password resets.

“We’ve confirmed that the proactive password reset we completed last week covered all potentially impacted users,” said Patrick Heim, head of trust and security for Dropbox. “We initiated this reset as a precautionary measure, so that the old passwords from prior to mid-2012 can’t be used to improperly access Dropbox accounts. We still encourage users to reset passwords on other services if they suspect they may have reused their Dropbox password.”

Protect Your Data To Protect Your Company

Most professionals in the data security field – including myself – believe that any and every site can be hacked. Therefore, in an effort to protect our companies and the businesses and individuals we serve, our goal is to provide comprehensive cybersecurity education to all employees while striving to be aware of all data security issues that may have occurred. Hopefully we will know about any data breach long before cybercriminals have a chance to post information on the Internet or before our businesses are notified of an issue by the FBI or Secret Service.


Want to know why data security professionals say that your company’s employees are your weakest link? This video highlights a common security breach method used by hackers to gain access to your company.


You can take a proactive stance against cybercriminals with the following data security protocols.

  • Don’t just install a firewall, constantly monitor your firewall. Your IT team can constantly monitor your company’s firewall through the use of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) or Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) programs. You can also work with an external service provider to provide this essential service.
  • Passwords are powerful, protect them. Require your employees to use complex passwords to log onto your company’s network and change those passwords regularly. Secondary authentication is also important to use wherever possible.
  • Don’t wait for disaster to strike – actively defend your company. Routinely test the access controls of your employees. Not all employees require access to all company data. Instead, only grant access to the data your employees need to do their jobs.
  • Educate, educate, educate. It seems like there are new phishing attempts, ransomware attacks and malware issues every day. But just because you hear that they are happening doesn’t mean your employees are aware. Make sure you keep your employees up to speed. Doing so may just stop them from clicking on a potentially dangerous email.

If, for whatever reason, you do decide to store your company’s data on the cloud, be sure to thoroughly investigate the cloud environment you intend on using. Then, pay close attention to whether their security controls and processes, including rollover sites or backup and testing procedures, adhere to industry standards. It’s also best practice to request a SOC (Service Organization Controls) SOC Report from your cloud provider.

At the end of the day, all you can do is take ownership of your data and be proactive when it comes to verifying the safety and security of your organization’s data. Email Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia)

For more tips and insight to help keep your company safe from cybercriminals, listen to episode 41: “the hacked & the hacked nots” on unsuitable on Rea Radio.

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Did You Unplug This Summer?

Nathan Esselburn, CPA | August 26th, 2016
Vacation Time | Unplug From Work | Ohio CPA Firm

Employees shouldn’t be afraid of the off switch. Those who are overworked are oftentimes less productive and generally less happy, but time off can provide renewed energy to return refreshed and ready to take on whatever may come your way. For example, this season, find some time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Keep reading to learn more.

As the summer is winding down, you are probably finding yourself preparing for fantasy and college football, bracing for pumpkin spice everything, and seeing the school buses out and about. Before you transition to your fall routine, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the summer months.

The months of June, July, and August are synonymous with family vacations. School’s out. The weather is warm. The beach seems to be calling your name. Did you take advantage of the vacation time this year or was your work laptop nestled in with your luggage? You know, just in case…

If you are like a lot of business professionals, you have probably found yourself suffering from an inability to unplug from work. In the age of smartphones and laptops, we are finding ourselves more connected than ever before. And this increased connectivity has made it harder than ever to unplug from our professional selves.

It’s important to remember that your vacation is part of your compensation package. Not only do you work hard to earn a paycheck, you work hard to earn time away from the office – which means you’ve also earned the luxury of completely stepping away from technology – but it’s not going to be easy.

I recently read an article from CGMA Magazine that outlined five tips to help professionals getting more out of their time away from the office. In fact, the tips were so good that I wanted to pass them along!

  1. Embrace a pro-vacation culture
    If your employee handbook and company culture call out the importance of vacations, embrace the mantra and take the time allotted to you to recharge. Vacations aren’t just great for you, they can be very good for business as well! Well-rested employees are happier and more productive. So go ahead…book your next trip guilt free!
  2. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
    If you are planning a two-week family vacation, you probably have a good idea when you will want to take it. Your employer should be kept in the loop too. Oftentimes, managers have no problem with long vacations – as long as they have enough time to plan for your absence. Once you have settled on which dates you need to take off, share that information with your manager and colleagues. It’s also good practice to set aside some time to meet with you manager on your first day back. This will help you catch up on important projects or issues you may have missed.
  3. Delegate work
    Work with your team to determine who is best suited to take the lead on key projects while you are out. This will help mitigate interruptions in productivity while you are away. Your vacation can also serve as a very important gauge for managers, as they will have an opportunity to evaluate whether the second-in-command might be ready to assume more responsibility in the future.
  4. Turn off the light…and the phone…and the laptop
    If you want to make the most of your vacation, set up your out of office email message and step away from the tech. If you don’t, you will be drawn into its bright, electronic glow. Managers have to be ready to play a huge part in changing the company’s culture. If checking in with work is necessary, establish one short window each day when you’ll be reachable and stick to it.
  5. Relax!
    While you are on vacation – regardless of how long or short it may be – you are allowed (and expected) to put your work worries aside. Once you do, you will return to your job feeling more energized and ready to tackle tough projects.

In other words, employees shouldn’t be afraid of the off switch. Those who are overworked are oftentimes less productive and generally less happy, but time off can provide renewed energy to return refreshed and ready to take on whatever may come your way.

If you are planning on taking some time off work this fall, take advantage of these tips. But if you are holding out for next year’s summer vacation with the family, save this article and make it a point to refer to it again later. That way, the next time you leave work for pleasure you will be able to unplug from technology and vacation like a pro!

By Nathan Esselburn, CPA (Dublin office)

Check out these articles for additional insight into some of the best habits of business owners.

 This Is An Intervention – Step Away From Your Business

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What Are The Ingredients For Business Success?

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It’s Lonely At The Top …

Chris Roush | August 23rd, 2016

A Business Advisory Board Can Help

Small Business Advisory Board | Ohio CPA Firm

Excellent leaders seek out excellent advisors and the best advisors for your business are those who fill knowledge gaps within your company. They will also not be afraid to share their opinions and offer differing perspectives. You may not always like what they have to say, but you will be a better leader for hearing it.

It’s not uncommon for small business owners or CEO’s to feel like there is no one they can turn for help, advice or validation.

Fortunately, a business advisory board can help. Business leaders who consult an advisory board not only gain camaraderie, they gain ready access to experts in a variety of fields, such as marketing, sales, financing, and others. Not to mention a valuable multi-perspective approach to your day-to-day managerial duties.

Read Also: 5 Best Practices For Taking Your Business To The Next Level

Business Success Is A Team Effort

Not ready to commit to utilizing a business advisory board in all aspects of your business? That’s fine. Start small instead. Many successful boards are originally formed with a very specific goal in mind – such as the implementation of a new strategic plan.

And you don’t always have to look exclusively outside of your business for help. Consider tapping members of your management team for specific organizational reports. Each advisory board meeting could begin with members of your management team providing updates on assigned areas, such as finances, operations/production, human resources, IT, and sales & marketing. This portion of the meeting will ensure that everybody is on the same page and will encourage your management team to buy into the advisory process. Later in your meeting, set aside time to speak confidentially with your advisory team. Doing so will provide everyone with the opportunity to speak candidly.

Say ‘No’ To ‘Yes-Men’

If you don’t trust the members of your advisory board, the initiative will not be effective. You need to go into advisory board meetings ready and willing to share sensitive information about the business, as well as personal information about yourself. If you don’t trust your board, you are unlikely to tell them everything they need to know to provide you with the best advice possible. Your board should consist of the following experts:

  • An attorney
  • An accountant
  • A banker
  • Experts in Marketing, HR and/or IT
  • Other successful entrepreneurs from other industries
  • Potential customers

Optimally, you should try to keep the group small and close-knit. More than six advisors on your board are not recommended as the productivity of the team is likely to take a hit.

Know Your Limitations

Excellent leaders seek out excellent advisors and the best advisors for your business are those who fill knowledge gaps within your company. They will also not be afraid to share their opinions and offer differing perspectives. You may not always like what they have to say, but you will be a better leader for hearing it. You can’t do everything and you can’t be an expert on every topic or every issue that comes across your desk. But an advisory team will help you get there.

Set Expectations

Even though advisory boards are more informal than boards of directors, it’s important to set expectations and ground rules on any time expectations, responsibilities and duration of service. Consider a written document outlining your board’s responsibilities and logistics, such as meeting frequency, expected time commitment and compensation, if any. Quarterly meetings as a group with individual meetings as needs arise is a good framework.

Remember, your business advisory board does not have authority to make business decisions; it will offer advice that you can either take or dismiss. Speak frankly about your business goals are and explain that you don’t expect them to take on an active management role or assume any liability for your company or for the advice they offer. Providing written indemnification for each participant is appropriate.

The advisory board experience should be interesting and beneficial for all involved. Being on your board will expose members to new ideas and perspectives, and also offers mentoring, networking and social opportunities that make the experience worthwhile. At the very least, you should cover any expenses members incur to attend meetings, and provide meals when you get together. You could also consider a per-meeting fee that might range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on commitment.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more ways a business advisory board can help you become a better business leader.

By Chris Roush, CPA (Millersburg office)

Are you looking for more insight into the effectiveness of a business advisory board? Check out these articles.

Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends

Why It’s Important To Have A Good Banker As Part Of Your Business Advisory Team

This Is An Intervention – Step Away From Your Business

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Business Leaders Sought Out Essential Financial Information In July

Dear Drebit | August 3rd, 2016

New due dates, new rules, new opportunities to save on your upcoming bill to the IRS. When you think about it, it’s really no big surprise why we would start pushing summertime tax prep tips to all the savvy business owners out there. And, from the look of it, many of you have taken advantage of the great tidbits of information we’ve left for you on our blog.

Are you wondering which posts were getting the most clicks in July? Well, wonder no more! Research revealed that our readers found the following top blog posts to be particularly tasty!

July’s Top 5 Blog Posts

  1. Brush Up On These New Tax Form Due Dates Did you know that the IRS has changed the due dates for many of your tax return forms? Stay out of trouble with the IRS. Start studying up on the new tax form due dates by clicking here.
  2. Work or Pleasure? Make Traveling for Charity Part Of Your Summertime Tax Savings Strategy In addition to planning a fun family get-away this summer, you might want to carve out some time to donate your services to a noble cause as well. For all of you summertime volunteers, listen up and make plans to use some of your travel expenses to help lower your tax bill. Here’s how.
  3. Would You Know If Someone Was Stealing From Your Business? A 20-year employee at a city school charged with managing adult education programs was known as a hard worker who had secured her colleagues’ respect. But when external auditors came into the district to review the school’s financial records, it didn’t take long to realize that something just wasn’t adding up.
  4. How Will A Tax Credits and Incentives Plan Benefit Your Business? If you had a chance to claim thousands of dollars, would you? Well, if you are a business owner, the opportunity is staring you right in the face. But you have to seize the opportunity sooner rather than later.
  5. What Happens if My 401(k) Plan is Out of Compliance with an IRS or DOL Rule? If the IRS retroactively disqualifies your plan, the disqualification (and the IRS’s ability to impose taxation) is effective only for taxable years for which the statute of limitations has not expired.

Did you miss these posts when they went to print? Want to get our top tips delivered directly to your inbox? Subscribe to our blog and never miss a blog post again!

And for those of you who are looking for advice to help move the needle in your business? Contact the experts behind the article. The team at Rea & Associates is always ready to help you find a brighter way!

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How To React To A Data Breach

Joe Welker | August 2nd, 2016
Data Breach | Columbus Cybersecurity Series | Ohio CPA Firm

Would you be able to effectively manage the fallout of a data breach? If you aren’t sure, keep reading.

It was 2013 when a medium-sized library in Ohio found itself in the midst of a data breach that would later serve as a powerful case study warning against the very real threat of electronic fraud. While originally developed by the Ohio Auditor of State’s office as a tool for government entities throughout the state, Cash Management 240: Financial Fraud – A Case Study, has found usefulness beyond just the government sphere.

Leaders of not-for-profit organizations and for-profit business owners would also find value in this resource, which outlines:

  • the events that resulted in the occurrence of the data breach,
  • the reaction of entity officials during and after the breach was detected, and
  • the short- and long-term outcomes that resulted from the breach.

While I strongly recommend that you read the entire case study, I provide a brief overview of the story below.

How would you respond to a data breach?

Library officials were notified of the occurrence of fraudulent activity impacting the entity’s checking account in March of 2013. According to the bank, the fraudulent activity appeared to be limited to three transactions, totaling $144,743. Fortunately, bank officials were proactive in their efforts to recall the transactions.

In an effort to avoid further fraudulent activity, library officials decided to disconnect the accounting workstations from the entity’s network and proceeded to contact their technology vendor, who advised the library proceed with reformatting both accounting workstations immediately. Soon thereafter, library officials contacted the local police station to report the incident, closed the entity’s existing bank accounts and opened new ones, and notified employees of the data breach as well as the board of directors.

Due to the nature of the breach, it didn’t take long before the Ohio Auditor of State’s office and the FBI were notified of the incident as well. And, in an effort to try and reclaim some of the money that was stolen, a claim was filed with the entity’s insurance carrier. Finally, the library’s bank was able to successfully recover $54,910 of the amount that was stolen. In 2014, when the case study was released, the library was still in the process of negotiating with the bank regarding $89,833 that was still missing.

So, what do you think? Would you say that the library officials were effective in their management of the data breach? What would you do if your company or nonprofit found itself in a similar situation?

Well, according to the FBI, the library could have handled the situation better. For example, the library should have not reformatted the workstations. The FBI and local police force should have been contacted immediately. And finally, the entity should have followed all instructions mandated by the bank to eliminate the possibility of such fraudulent activity.

Since it’s 2013 data breach, the library:

  • Is now required by the bank to follow the ACH Originator Agreement.
  • Has designated one stand-alone PC to be used for online banking.
  • Has requested online access from only one IP address
  • Has purchased a cybercrime policy.
  • Revisited its banking RFP to include a section regarding online banking security minimums.

Do you have a plan to help deter cybercrime?

The above scenario is just one of the countless cybercrimes that occur every day and every type of businesses, entity and organizations are being impacted. If you don’t have a plan in place to help prevent cybercriminals from infiltrating your network and stealing your data for financial gain, or a strategy to recover once a breach has been identified, you are in a very vulnerable position.

I believe that in order to protect against a cybercrime attack, it’s important to be armed with as much knowledge as possible. On Sept. 7, 2016, FBI Agent David Fine will be the featured presenter of part two of the Columbus Cybersecurity Series. During this portion of the presentation, attendees will hear real-life examples of attacks on businesses, including what schemes are prevalent today. Audience members will also discover the very real impact these attacks have on companies and what they can do to deter an attack from occurring in their own business or organization.

The Columbus Cybersecurity Series is free to attend, but registration is required. You can RSVP here.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

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Get Ready, Get Set, Get Shopping!

Lisa Beamer | August 1st, 2016

2016 Tax Free Holiday Is Aug. 5-Aug. 7

2016 Sales Tax Holiday | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

This weekend when you are out back-to-school shopping, don’t be afraid to fill the cart with a little bit more! Friday, Aug. 5-Sunday, Aug. 7 is Ohio’s sales tax holiday! Read on to find out which items will be exempt from sales and use tax.  Don’t forget to share this post and/or this photo to remind friends and family of this event!

Will you be one of the many shoppers flooding stores this weekend in search of some great back-to-school bargains? If so, then your shopping trip got a whole lot better! This year’s Sales Tax Holiday will take place Friday, Aug. 5-Sunday, Aug. 7.

Read Also: Five Things You Didn’t Know About Ohio’s Tax Holiday

Without the burden of paying sales tax on a variety of items, shoppers will be able to make their dollars go a little further, which is especially great for those looking to fill their closets with the latest back-to-school fashions and their desks with school-time necessities.

This year during the sales-tax holiday, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation, the following items will be exempt from sales and use tax:

  • Clothing priced at $75 per item or less;
  • School supplies priced at $20 per item or less; and
  • School instructional material priced at $20 per item or less.

If you have Sales Tax Holiday questions, including how the tax free holiday works, how coupons and discounts are handled, and what products are eligible for the exemption, check out this helpful FAQ page, or you can call 800-304-3211.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

Looking for more ways to save money, check out these articles!

Three College Savings Account Tips You Can’t Afford To Ignore

From Toddler To Teen And Beyond: Tax Breaks For Families

Make Traveling For Charity Part Of Your Summertime Tax Savings Strategy

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Business Podcast Heats Up In July

Dear Drebit | July 28th, 2016

Regular listeners of unsuitable on Rea Radio already know that the summertime lull had no effect on the show’s quality. July has been an entertaining and informative the month for the Rea & Associates’ podcast. From discussing the many reasons American consumers should support locally-owned businesses (Self-Reliance: Made in America) to this week’s episode about cybersecurity concerns, (The Hacked & The Hacked Nots) featuring Rea’s own Joe Welker, CISA. Listeners also got a spoonful of crisis communication advice and insight from Denny Lynch, Wendy’s former senior vice president of communications (The Infamous “Finger In The Chili” Incident) and then learned that LLC’s, C-Corps and S-Corps were not created to be equal in the world of entity structure (Maximize Your Equity: Maintain The Right Business Entity) form Gene Spittle, CPA, PFS, CGMA. In short, there was literally something for everybody to listen to and enjoy.

Want to hear what you’ve been missing? Check out this month’s episodes below.

Happy listening!

Episode 38: Self-Reliance: Made In America

Long days, vacations, barbecues, baseball … what’s not to enjoy about summer?! It’s also the time of year when we celebrate what it means to pursue the American dream. And, for many, this dream materializes in entrepreneurship and, going a step further, buying American-made products as a way to support a strong domestic economy. Kyle Stemple, CPA, CGMA, principal and director of manufacturing services at Rea & Associates, talks about the value of “buying American,” and the direct impact consumers have on America’s marketplace and the quality, customer service and product support we receive from domestically-run businesses.

Episode 39: The Infamous ‘Finger In The Chili’ Incident

Remember the time America began checking their Wendy’s chili for rogue fingers? Denny Lynch does. As the senior vice president of communications at the time of the crisis, Denny and his team was not only responsible for helping disprove the claim, but to maintain the brand’s image and reputation as one of the nation’s premier fast food restaurant brands. On episode 39, “the infamous ‘finger in the chili’ incident,” Denny and Mark discuss crisis communications and why clear, consistent internal and external communication strategies are critical when businesses have to protect their brands from unforeseen crisis situations.

Episode 40: Maximize Your Equity: Maintain The Right Business Entity

How much thought did you put into how your business would be structured. Did you consider whether economic conditions would be more favorable if your company operated as a LLC (Limited Liability Company), C Corp or S Corp? Were the tax implications weighing heavily on your mind as you wrestled with this important decision? Your business’s structure is not a decision to be taken lightly and Gene Spittle, CPA, PFS, CGMA, a principal at Rea & Associates, will tell you why on this episode of unsuitable on Rea Radio.

Episode 41: The Hacked & The Hacked Nots

Lack of cybersecurity training has left companies nationwide vulnerable to the ever-growing and constantly changing threat of cybercrime. On episode 41 “The Hacked & Hacked Nots,” we learn why many companies are incorporating third-party software to monitor and protect their firewalls to determine which sites are safe and which ones should be avoided at all costs to help protect you from cybercriminals. Joe “Captain Data” Welker, CISA, Rea & Associates’ IT Audit Manager, joins us once again to give listeners some valuable insight into current cyber hacking and internet threats and what we can do to keep ourselves, and our businesses, safe. You are not gonna want to miss this episode!

If you like what you hear, subscribe to unsuitable on Rea Radio on SoundCloud or iTunes or sign up to receive weekly email alerts when new episodes drop.

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Did Fraudsters Counterfeit Your Organization’s Checks?

Annie Yoder | July 20th, 2016

Scam Hurts Professional Caregivers, Businesses

Check Fraud  - Ohio CPA Firm

Professional caregivers are being targeted by fraudsters after marketing their services via popular online websites. Unfortunately, these professionals aren’t the only victims of this fraudulent check scheme. Read on to learn more.

The internet can be a valuable tool for so many honest, well-meaning people. Unfortunately, it can also be a playground for fraudsters.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues to warn consumers about the dangers associated with a fraudulent check scheme designed to take advantage of those offering professional caregiving services on sites such as care.com or sittercity.com. But these individuals aren’t the only targets. Fraudsters are using the existing account and routing numbers from real businesses to counterfeit checks. Oftentimes, the scammers will go so far as to reconstruct the business’s logo in an effort to appear even more authentic. Once the check is made and the target is identified, the con artist will send a large check to the service provider and ask them to send a portion of the funds to a third party for other goods and services allegedly related to the job.

Read Also: 10 Ways To Implement Internal Controls With Limited Resources

Recently, a local entity found itself in the middle of an active scam that followed a chain of events in line with the FTC’s original warning. It was only a matter of time before officials discovered that the check and the third party were fake.

“It takes only a day or two for your bank to make the money available to you, but it can take weeks for your bank to determine a check is phony. If you already withdrew that money, you’re on the hook to pay back the bank. If you’ve already transferred the money to the third party, it’s gone – like sending cash. – read the entire FTC warning.

It turns out that the local entity’s accounting vigilance and banking relationships really paid off. Rather than releasing the requested funds identified on the check, which would then be sent off to the fake third-party, the transaction was halted when the discrepancy with the numbers was identified. Because the check number and dollar amount didn’t match any payment previously authorized and issued by the entity, the bank denied payment.

Fortunately, in this scenario, the fraudster was thwarted, the entity’s funds remained secure and the service provider’s bank account remained in the black. Others won’t be as lucky. Regardless of how confident you are that this scheme would never happen to you and your business, the following are three general best practices designed to maintain your safety against a wide variety of threats.

1)      Double Check Your Checks With Positive Pay

An anti-fraud service offered by most banks, Positive Pay will match the account number, check number and dollar amount of each check presented for payment against a list of checks previously authorized and issued by the company. This will help the bank determine which checks are legit and which ones should be questioned. This service helps prevent your organization’s funds from being drawn from your bank account.

2)     Regularly Review Your Bank Activity

Sure the World Wide Web can be a scary place, but it’s also incredibly useful particularly when it comes to keeping tabs on your entity’s financial activity. Optimally, you should take a bit of time once a day to review your bank activity online. If you can’t monitor it that frequently, it should be a weekly goal – at least. Never, under any circumstances, wait until the end of the month to review your account. By then, it will be too late to take any meaningful action against a scam that’s already active.

3)     Maintain A Positive Relationship With Your Banker

Your banker should have a seat at your advisory team’s table. Not only are they providing you with essential service, they have top-notch advice at the ready. If you don’t already, get to know your primary point of contact. Then, make it a point to build a solid relationship with them and their team. Yeah – it’s just that important. This slideshow further illustrates the importance of business/banker relationships.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about protecting your business, entity or organization from fraud.

By Annie Yoder, CPA, CFE, CFF (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these articles for more fraud prevention articles:

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: 5 Internal Control Tips That Can Save Your Business From Fraud

Can A Cybercriminal Crack Your Company’s Network?

Could Your Company Be Ransomware’s Next Victim?

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How Will A Tax Credits and Incentives Plan Benefit Your Business?

Chad Bice | July 19th, 2016
Tax Credits & Incentives Plan | Ohio CPA Firm

Right now, there is an estimated 3,000 federal, state and local credits and incentives valued at more than $50 billion available to your business. Find out what you can do to capture a piece of the billion-dollar-pie.

If you had a chance to claim thousands of dollars, would you? Well, if you are a business owner, the opportunity is staring you right in the face. But you have to seize the opportunity sooner rather than later.

Right now, there are around 3,000 federal, state and local credits and incentives valued at more than $50 billion available to your business. These opportunities are both statutory and negotiated and include hiring credits, investment credits, real and personal property incentives, utility rate reductions and infrastructure grants – just to name a few. Unfortunately, only a relatively small number of companies are taking advantage of these opportunities. 

Read Also: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Summertime Tax Prep

So why aren’t businesses seizing these opportunities for cash flow enhancement and return on investment? Sometimes companies don’t know they exist, or they think that they are too complex to understand and the opportunities are not worth the effort. Wrong!

If you take the time to develop a credits and incentives plan, your company can capture a piece of the $50 billion pie. Here’s how!

Key Elements of a Tax Credits and Incentives Plan

  1. Outline your key opportunity indicators. Key opportunity indicators are events that your team should come to know and understand that trigger the potential for credits and incentives. They typically revolve around your people and your investment in fixed assets. On the people side, opportunity indicators often involve increases or decreases in employment, turnover, relocations and employee training or retraining. On the fixed asset side, opportunity indicators include site selection and start-up, capital investment, leases and renewals, building acquisitions, facility upgrades and so on. Make a list of these indicators and train your team to spot them. Once an opportunity is spotted, investigate further and contact your CPA to see if it might benefit your business.
  2. Understand that timing is everything. To give your business the best chance of securing a credit or incentive, you must understand that timing is everything. To secure many credits and incentives, the process of securing the opportunity happens well in advance of hiring, training or purchasing fixed assets. In many instances, if your business has hired the employee, spent money on the training or purchased the fixed asset — it is too late. Once you’ve spent the money or announced your plans to the public, you’ve lost most if not all of your ability to negotiate. Understanding this and putting a plan in place to uncover the opportunity well in advance of the investment will put you in a position for maximum success. And outlining your key opportunity indicators is the first step to realizing the potential credits and incentives available to you.
  3. Get your entire team on board. Securing maximum credit and incentive opportunities isn’t just the job of your owner, CFO or CPA. It should also be the job of your HR department, training coordinator and safety director. The more your entire team is able to understand the key opportunity indicators and that timing is everything, the greater chance of success you will have.

Tax Credit Help

If you’re looking to capitalize on these credits and incentives opportunities and would like to learn more, email Rea & Associates. The sooner you move on this, the faster you’ll be able to realize the benefits.

By Chad Bice, CPA (Zanesville office)

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Building Bridges

Lesley Mast | July 18th, 2016

Closing The Gender Gap In The Workplace

Closing Gender Gap - Ohio CPA Firm

The percentage of women in the workforce increases every year, but that’s not necessarily reflected by the percentage of women in leadership positions. Additionally, women are often being paid less to do the same job as men, despite having equal qualifications and experience. Regardless of your gender or position within the company, we all have a responsibility to help close this gap.

We’ve certainly come a long way from the old days, when women in the workforce were expected to be seen and not heard. As anyone who has ever watched an episode of “Mad Men” (or worked during that era and lived to tell about it!) can attest, the workplace was exclusively a man’s world.

But despite our progress, the gender gap in the business community continues to be a hot topic these days. Shouldn’t men and women be paid the same to do the same job? Haven’t women proven that they are just as skilled, intelligent and driven as their male counterparts? Why does a gender gap still exist, anyway?

I’d like to think that no one intentionally denies their employees equal opportunities and fair pay for any reason, including gender. But, unfortunately, it does happen – even if it’s just on a subconscious level.

An organization is only as strong as its employees. Men and women are equal and integral parts of the equation. Successful companies recognize that diverse opinions and skill sets are invaluable assets to the modern business, and they have begun to hire and promote accordingly.

The percentage of women in the workforce increases every year, but that’s not necessarily reflected by the percentage of women in leadership positions. Additionally, women are often being paid less to do the same job as men, despite having equal qualifications and experience. Regardless of your gender or position within the company, we all have a responsibility to help close this gap.

LEADERSHIP: You Hold the Keys to Change

Even if your intentions are pure, your actions may fall short. Remember, your employees are following your lead, so be sure you’re setting the proper tone at the top. For help, survey your employees to find out how you’re doing in this area. You can also take the following steps to help close the gender gap in your business:

  • Ensure that women are represented at all levels of the company, and keep them involved in management decisions.
  • Pay women equally as their male counterparts.
  • Don’t assume that a woman with family obligations isn’t up for the challenge of a promotion or increased responsibility.
  • Take time to listen to the concerns of women within your organization and foster an environment of open communication.

MEN: You Play an Important Role, Too

It’s the job of every man in the company to respect and treat their female colleagues as equals. You can do this by:

  • Becoming aware of communication differences between genders and encouraging women to participate and offer their ideas.
  • Actively working to include your female colleagues in the same way you do other men.

LADIES: Support One Another

Women in leadership positions have a unique opportunity to support other females in the organization, both by serving as mentors and acting as “spokeswomen” for gender issues with upper management. Additionally,
women can:

  • Organize and participate in groups that address common issues women face in the workplace.
  • Be visible. Make sure company leadership sees your work ethic and initiative, and ensure your opinions are heard.
  • Find ways to connect with your male colleagues.

Men and women bring different yet equally valuable perspectives to the workplace, and all contributions should be respected. We’re on the same team, working toward the same goal — let’s ensure we always act accordingly.

By Lesley Mast, CPA, MAcc-Taxation (Wooster office)

Want more insight into this topic?

Check out Lesley’s podcast episode, “girls & glass ceilings: the gender gap,” on unsuitable on Rea Radio. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and at www.reacpa.com/episode-20.

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What’s Hotter Than Summertime Tax Prep?!

Dear Drebit | July 12th, 2016

You don’t have to answer that. And also don’t be fooled into believing the the famous Porgy and Bess lyric: “Summertime and the living is easy.”  In fact, can we all just agree that summer can be just as hectic (if not more so) as the other three seasons. But in your hurry to balance kids, vacation planning and your other daily responsibilities, try to make time get your finances in order and prepare for the upcoming tax season.

No, we are not delirious from too much sun. Summertime tax prep can actually save you a ton of work later on while effectively easing your tax burden. Don’t believe me? Here are four posts that might make summertime living a little less stressful!

  1. The Do’s and Don’ts of Summertime Tax Prep: Frankly, who has time to think about itemized deductions and tax-free distributions when you would rather be grilling out, soaking in the sun, or enjoying your family vacation? But now is a great time to look at your taxes and make necessary adjustments to effectively sidestep any potential problems that might cause problems when tax season does arrive.
  2. School’s Out For Summer, But Tax Credits Are Still In: Summer is an exciting time for families. It’s a time to get outside and have fun hanging out by the pool or to catch fireflies in a jar at the end of a long day. For many parents though, the summer holiday is overshadowed by the need to find affordable childcare during your work hours. The good news is that your opportunity to claim the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit doesn’t end at the last day of school.
  3. Does Your Vacation Home Provide Tax Relief? Oftentimes, successful business owners choose to acquire real estate, which serves as a tangible representation of their success. For many, the prospect of buying a second home is a desirable investment, not just because it’s useful, but because it can bring added tax benefits.
  4. Business Travel or Personal Vacation? So you decided to attend that business convention in California over the summer and are rounding up your expenses to turn in to your tax preparer. Oh, you decided to take the entire family along? Here’s a quick guide to help you determine what is a tax deduction and what is not.

Contact the tax team at Rea & Associates for even more tips to help you ease your tax burden all year long.

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Escape The Summertime Lull Will Expert Business Advice

Dear Drebit | July 5th, 2016

Top 5 Blog Posts In June

Just because the temperatures are higher and the days are longer doesn’t mean the team at Rea & Associates is taking a break from providing you with the latest financial and business advice.

In June we brought you tips about tax savings, advice on starting your own business, standing out against your competition and so much more. But which blog posts tickled your fancy? The following posts had more clicks than there were fireflies flitting across an open meadow during the summer solstice. Which post was your favorite?

  1. How To Become A Millionaire: The odds of winning Powerball are 1 in 292 million. The odds of winning Mega Millions are 1 in 259 million. The odds of winning Ohio’s Classic Lotto are 1 in 14 million. But if you were to invest the money you would normally spend the lottery into a 401(k) plan, your chances of winning big are all but guaranteed! Keep reading to learn how.
  2. How Are You Different From The Competition?: You have the opportunity to go above and beyond the call of duty every time you engage with a client. And don’t think that your superior work and insight will go unnoticed! Click here to find out why.
  3. Looking to Start a Business? Do It the Right Way: Starting a new business is a brave and exciting endeavor. Avoid common slip-ups by following the advice found in this post and you’ll be well on your way to a successful start.
  4. How Can You Track Use Tax in QuickBooks?:  Now that you have filed for use tax amnesty and are all set up with an account, how are you going to track it daily going forward? If you use QuickBooks, the answer is as simple as 1-2-3.
  5. Do You Know The Best Way To Buy A Business?:  Generally speaking, relationships are easier to develop and maintain when you work with the other person. The same is true in business, especially when you’re considering the relationship between a business owner and an advisor.

Do you have a question for our team of business experts? Is there a topic you are just dying to learn more about? Send me a message and put the Rea team to work helping you take control of your success this summer!

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Work or Pleasure?

Maribeth Wright | June 30th, 2016

Make Traveling for Charity Part Of Your Summertime Tax Savings Strategy

Travelling for Charity - Ohio CPA Firm

Transportation to and from the job site via plane, train or automobile are deductible on your next tax return if you will be volunteering your time and talents this summer. This includes any transportation costs accrued for travel between the airport or train station and your hotel. Read on to learn more!

In addition to planning a fun family get-away this summer, you might want to carve out some time to donate your services to a noble cause as well. For all of you summertime volunteers, listen up and make plans to use some of your travel expenses to help lower your tax bill. Here’s how.

Read Also: Can My Summer Daycare Expenses Earn A Tax Credit?

  • Make sure you are volunteering your services to qualified charities. If you want to deduct your expenses, the IRS needs to know that the charity you are working with is legit. There are several great online resources that can help you determine if the organization you are helping out is qualified. The IRS’s EO Select Check tool and Guidestar are two of my favorites.
  • Track all out-of-pocket expenses. If you are making necessary purchases that are not directly connected with the services you are performing and are not considered personal living or family expenses; and these expenses were directly result of the volunteerism opportunity, then you may be able take a deduction on your tax return. Keep in mind that you also can’t receive reimbursement by any other means. The ability to deduct out-of-pocket expenses, particularly travel expenses, has huge savings implications. Some of the types of expenses you can deduct include:
    • Lodging
    • Meals
    • Transportation to and from the job site via plane, train or automobile. This includes any transportation costs accrued for travel between the airport or train station and your hotel.
  • Roll up your sleeves and make a big impact. If you are only tagging along or if your duties are minimal, you are not going to be able to make a claim on your tax return. According to the IRS, your charity work must be “real and substantial throughout the trip.” In other words, don’t dillydally!

Now that you know what to do to, let’s take a look at what not to do – or rather, what is not tax deductible.

  • Travel expenses for tagalongs are not deductible. Meaning, only the expenses for the individual(s) volunteering their services can be written off at tax time. For example, if you decided to take your children along on the trip but they will not be logging volunteer hours, you cannot deduct their portion of the travel expenses.
  • Your time and services are valuable, but you can’t deduct the value of your time and services. This is particularly true for those who are donating professional services, including medical, financial and legal. You also can’t deduct the income you may have lost while you were working as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified charity.
  • You cannot package work and play into a single deductible expense. That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy yourself or go out to the beach after a long day of building schools in a third-world country; but if a significant part of your trip is reserved solely for recreational purposes or a vacation, your claim will be denied.

For more information about potential summertime tax savings, email Rea & Associates. You may be surprised by how much you can save when you’re on a mission to do work for those in need!

By Maribeth Wright, CPA (Cambridge office)

Check out these articles for more summertime tax strategies:

School’s Out For Summer, But Tax Credits Are Still In

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Summertime Tax Prep

How To Become A Millionaire

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Brush Up On These New Tax Form Due Dates

Lisa Beamer | June 29th, 2016
Tax Form Due Dates - Ohio CPA Firm

Want a tip to help you stay out of trouble with the IRS? Start studying up on the new tax form due dates.

Did you know that the IRS has changed the due dates for many of your tax return forms? These changes will be effective for taxable years starting after Dec. 31, 2015, meaning your 2016 tax returns filed next year (2017) will be impacted. Since some due dates have been altered quite a bit and others have not even been touched, it’s incredibly important to pay attention to the changes.

Read Also: Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

Stay out of trouble with the IRS. Start studying up on the new tax form due dates, below.

  • Form 1065 pertaining to partnerships operating on a calendar year are now due March 15. A six-month extension from that date is allowable. Previously, the due date was April 15. According to the new law, partnership returns are now due on the 15th day of the third month after the year end.
  • Form 1041, which refers to trust and estate taxes, gained a 5½-month extension from the original filing date of April 15. This was an increase of half a month.
  • Your 2016 C Corp tax returns for returns that impact businesses with traditional Dec. 31 and June 30 year-end deadlines will be due on the 15th of the fourth month after the year end. A six-month extension from that date will be allowed.

o   If your year-end is before Jan. 1, 2016, your due date is April 15, with a Sept. 15, extension.

o   If your year-end is after Dec. 31, 2015, your new due date is April 15 with an Oct. 15, extension.

  • For C Corps operating outside a traditional fiscal year end (with fiscal years other than Dec. 31 and June 30), the new due date for your tax return forms is the 15th day of the 4th month after year end and the 15th day of the 10th month after year end.
  • A special rule for C Corps with a June 30 fiscal year end was established and will impact the due date for Form 1120. The new due date will go into effect for returns with taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015 for the 2017 filing season.

o   Before Jan. 1, 2016, Form 1120 is due Sept. 15 with an April 15 extension.

o   After Dec. 31, 2015, the due date for this form is Oct. 15. The April 15 extension date will not change.

  • For exempt organizations required to file Form 990, the new extension date becomes a single, automatic 6-month extension. This eliminates the need to process the current first 90-day extension.
  • Those filing the Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report (FBAR) will have to adhere to a new April 15 due date. An Oct. 15 extension date was also established. This report was previously due on June 30.
  • All W-2 and certain 1099-MISC forms are now due to the IRS/SSA no later than Jan. 31, which is the same day they are due to the taxpayer. All other Forms 1099 are due Feb. 28 or, if filed electronically, March 31. This is a change from the Feb. 28 due date (and March 31 date if filed electronically) for all W-2 and 1099 forms that was previously enforced.

For all the changes outlined above, there are a few rules that will remain unchanged. Below are four due dates that will not change in 2017.

  • Form 1120S – These forms are due on March 15 with a six-month extension from the due date.
  • Form 1040 – The individual tax form will continue to be due on April 15 with an Oct. 15 extension date.
  • The due date for Form 5500, concerning employee benefit plans, will not change as a federal law that was enacted in December 2015 effectively repealed a previously enacted extension. These forms are due on July 31 with an Oct. 15 extension due date.
  • Form 3520-A for foreign trusts with a U.S. owner will not be changing. These forms will continue to be due on March 15 with a Sept. 15 extension due date.

Check with your tax advisor to find out if you will be ready to comply with these changes and to ask any tax planning questions you might have. Believe it or not, tax season is closer than you think. Be a proactive business owner. With enough lead time, you can implement a tax savings strategy capable of delivering amazing results. Email Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

Are you looking for more tax insight? Check out these articles?

Can The IRS Collect Back Taxes 10-Years After The Organization?

Environmentally Friendly Tax Savings

Don’t Miss Out! Claim The Work Opportunity Tax Credit

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Looking to Start a Business? Do It the Right Way

Lesley Mast | June 20th, 2016
Starting new Ohio Business - Ohio CPA Firm

Starting a new business is a brave and exciting endeavor. Avoid common slip-ups by following the advice found in this post and you’ll be well on your way to a successful start.

Starting your own business and becoming a small business owner is part of many Americans’ dreams. For some though, it can become a nightmare. There are definitely some right ways and wrong ways to approach starting your own business. Over my tenure as an experienced business advisor, I have seen plenty of heartache and additional expense along the way. Here are some of Do’s and Don’ts to consider if you want to start your own business:

Read Also: Dream Big: Considerations For The Aspiring Business Owner

  • Do: Go simple – Unless someone besides your spouse will own the business with you, you don’t need anything other than a simple limited liability company. It offers you liability protection while minimizing your tax filing requirements. Being the sole owner and having this sort of entity allows you to file you business’s activity on a Schedule C on your Form 1040. Until the business grows and is successful, this entity type will likely be sufficient for your small start-up.
  • Don’t: Go cheap – Small business owners tend to think they can or should do everything themselves. A lot of sweat equity goes into starting a new business, but be smart and humble enough to know the difference between what you can do and what you should do. It’s OK to ask for help!
  • Do: Involve professionals – This is an area where new business owners tend to want to go cheap. No one likes paying attorneys and folks don’t know they need a tax professional sometimes until it’s too late. Getting set up with the proper legal documents is a critical first step, and it’s one that new business owners like to try to tackle on their own. I know from experience that a good attorney is worth the expense. Don’t know who to ask? Start asking other established business owners who they use.
  • Don’t: Do payroll yourself (unless you have experience) – Some of the heftiest penalties the IRS assesses involves payroll taxes. They don’t mess around when it comes to properly assessing and remitting payroll taxes and paying your employees. Even one slip up can set a business back several thousand dollars. The issues continue to compound if they are not properly taken care of, so don’t ignore this extremely important aspect of your business. Unless you have prior experience with payroll or you hire someone with experience, this is an area where you should seek professional help.
  • Do: Consult your local Chamber of Commerce – Chambers of Commerce exist to assist businesses in a multitude of ways. Our local Chamber offers Small Business Counseling classes that are meant for new business owners who are just starting up a business. These classes include counseling, training and assistance for start-up businesses. This local resource can be invaluable if you choose to utilize it.

Starting a new business is a brave and exciting endeavor. Avoid common slip-ups by following the advice above and you’ll be well on your way to a successful start.

Around the same time you start your business, you’ll also want to consider your business’s growth strategy. Lee Beall, CPA, CEO at Rea & Associates, covered this topic in a podcast episode on unsuitable on Rea Radio. Check it out to learn what you need to do to establish or strengthen your business’s strategic plan.

By Lesley Mast, CPA, MAcc – Taxation (Wooster office)

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How Are You Different From The Competition?

Katie Snyder | June 8th, 2016
Competitive Advantage - Ohio CPA Firm

Every time I climb into my stylist’s chair my hair is trimmed – regardless of its condition. This helps maintain a fresh look while preventing additional breakage. It also gives her an opportunity to assess the state of my hair and make recommendations to help keep it looking its best! From helping a client monitor their cash flow to updating a buy-sell agreement, a lot of preventive maintenance can be done at a regular meeting with your financial advisor, too. You never know when a simple lunch meeting could reveal an underlying problem that, if left to fester, could be damaging to your business.

Superior Service Doesn’t Have To Be Hairy Business

You have the opportunity to go above and beyond the call of duty every time you engage with a client. And don’t think that your superior work and insight will go unnoticed! Before long, you will find that they will go out of their way in search of your insight and advice. Regardless of your profession, the potential is there for you to become a trusted advisor. We strive to reach this standard here at Rea, but I know of others who I would consider to be trusted advisors in a variety of other professions.

My Hair Stylist Is A Trusted Advisor

After attending my last meeting of the day, I gathered my things, left the conference room, walked to my car and sat down in the driver’s seat ready to depart for my regularly scheduled hair appointment. As I turned the engine, I started thinking the meeting I just left, during which we spent a lot of time discussing the succession plan of an existing client and what we could do to deliver the best experience (and outcome) possible. Then my thoughts drifted to the task at hand – my hair appointment and how I truly consider Aaren, my stylist, to be a trusted advisor in my life. Here’s why:

Superior Efficiency

Before busy season starts (January-April in our industry) Aaren will style my hair in a way that helps facilitate a faster dry time each morning. Being the numbers addict I am I have estimated that I can save about 6.5 hours if I opt for a shorter hairstyle. This is similar to how Rea is dedicated to delivering superior efficiency. For example, we have integrated Lean Six Sigma into our culture as a means to deliver efficient, cost effective service. We use it. We know it works. And we have helped other businesses implement their own Lean initiatives as well.

The Best Ideas You Weren’t Expecting

Not only does Aaren understand how to encourage her clients how to care for their hair during the best of times, she’s mindful of changes that could occur as a result of environmental factors and makes recommendations accordingly. This is what happened when I told her I was going on vacation to the ocean. This seemingly casual conversation revealed an opportunity to warn me about the dangers of saltwater on hair; she recommended a product to help prevent damage while I was on vacation. The great thing about developing a relationship with a trusted advisor is that they genuinely care! Are your children gearing up for graduation? Are you eyeballing retirement? Are you looking to invest in a summer home? A trusted advisor might be able to help you seize an opportunity that you would otherwise miss.

Sound Advice In Advance

I have found that Aaren is most effective when I keep her in the loop. I let her know when I have a vacation or a wedding many months in advance. This way she can help me get the results I want without unpleasant side effects. For example, rather than dye my hair right before a major wedding that was taking place in our family, Aaren encouraged me to change the color over a six-month period. By making the changes gradually and planned out we were to prevent my hair becoming damaged due to the chemicals.

Your advisors are also most effective when they are able to get in front of an issue. For example, if a client wanted to pass their business on to the next generation, an advisor could help you identify your succession plan, help you prepare for the changeover, identify financing solutions for your own retirement and help establish a cash flow strategy for the incoming management.

Preventive Maintenance

Every time I climb into Aaren’s chair my hair is trimmed – regardless of its condition. This helps maintain a fresh look while preventing additional breakage. It also gives her an opportunity to assess the state of my hair and make recommendations to help keep it looking its best! From helping a client monitor their cash flow to updating a buy-sell agreement, a lot of preventive maintenance can be done at a regular meeting with your financial advisor, too. You never know when a simple lunch meeting could reveal an underlying problem that, if left to fester, could be damaging to your business.

When it comes to the management of my hair, Aaren is a trusted advisor. She continues to demonstrate her expertise and always goes above and beyond my expectations, which is why I will drive two hours to keep my hair appointments!

What do you do to set yourself apart from the competition? Why would a client drive two hours to buy your products or services? How can you be a trusted advisor to the clients you serve? Mike Taylor, a CPA and executive principal here at Rea, did a great job talking about the advisory role on an episode of unsuitable on Rea Radio. You can listen to the podcast below or click here to learn more about this particular episode. You can also email Rea & Associates to speak with one of our industry professionals to find out how you can take your business to the next level.

By Katie Snyder, CPA (Wooster office)

Check out these articles for additional insight into the benefits of working with a trusted advisor:

Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends

5 Financial Secrets Of Successful Business Owners

This Is An Intervention – Step Away From Your Business

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Do You Know The Best Way To Buy A Business?

Ryan Dumermuth | June 2nd, 2016
Business Acquistions - Ohio CPA Firm

Ryan Dumermuth, principal at Rea & Associates, and Kirk Spillman, president and CEO of Eagle Machinery in Sugarcreek, Ohio, join Mark Van Benschoten on episode 34 of unsuitable on Rea Radio.

Generally speaking, relationships are easier to develop and maintain when you work with the other person. The same is true in business, especially when you’re considering the relationship between a business owner and an advisor. I had a chance to be a guest on an episode of unsuitable on Rea Radio with Kirk Spillman, president and CEO of Eagle Machinery, a manufacturing company located in Sugarcreek, Ohio, to talk about what goes into developing a strong business advisory relationship – particularly when buying a business. Bottom line, a successful relationship with your advisor goes far beyond any monetary transaction; it’s rooted in mutual trust and respect. And, if nurtured, a relationship with your advisor can last a lifetime and can help drive long-term business success.


Listen to episode 34: the best way to buy a business, build a relationship that matters, on unsuitable on Rea Radio, Rea & Associates’ financial services and business advisory podcast.


How Well Do They Know Business & Can You Trust Them?

Before you decide who you should work with from an advisory perspective, you need to consider what kind of assistance you’re looking for. Remember that while it’s not always necessary for your advisor to have expertise specific to your industry (although that is undoubtedly helpful), it is critical for your advisor to be a business expert who can effortlessly apply general business tactics, strategies and best practices to address your specific needs and drive results. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to work with the best advisor in the market simply because they don’t market themselves as an expert in construction or healthcare. Call them up and get to know them before making a decision. Your choice should ultimately hinge on the advisor’s business prowess and out-of-the-box thinking.

When You Don’t Know, Ask An Advisor

We hear a lot about the importance of bringing an advisor on to assist with succession, but there are important considerations an advisor should be privy to when buying a business as well. Over the course of my career, I’ve learned that a person looking to buy a business needs just as much help, if not more, than the tenured business owner seeking to embark on retirement.

Those who are new to business ownership are trying to overcome a variety of obstacles, not to mention the difficulty associated with managing a smaller budget. And while it may not seem to make much sense to “splurge” on advice from a professional business consultant when there are other bills to be paid, the best way to navigate this unknown territory is to turn to a trusted advisor who has seen the situation you are facing.

“I learned very quickly how much I did not know about business,” said Kirk, during the podcast. “I thought I knew enough about operations and customer service and marketing all of those things that I could just step into this business and be very successful. [Before long] I recognized that there were going to be things that I would need that I didn’t have experience or resources for … [like] the entity itself. How do we set this entity up? I knew nothing about that.”

Your business advisor will be able to shine light on the areas you know nothing about, such as how to structure your business entity, how to determine the true value of the business, setting up payroll, managing inventory, etc. There’s a lot of risk involved in buying a business because, particularly for owners who are new to entrepreneurship, there are so many unknowns. Your team of advisors will help take the guess work out of business ownership.

I invite you to learn a little bit more about Kirk’s experience and to learn how a business advisor can help you establish, manage and grow your business until you decide it’s time for you to move on. Click on the media player below or visit www.reacpa.com/podcast to learn more about the best way to buy a business.

By Ryan Dumermuth, CPA, CFP (Mentor office)

Want to learn more tips to help you succeed in business, check out the following articles for additional insight.

Dream Big: Considerations For The Aspiring Business Owner

So You Want To Buy A Business: Now What

Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends

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Celebrate the ‘Frog Days of Summer’ with Top Blog Posts for the Month of May

Dear Drebit | June 1st, 2016

Ah, June! One of my favorite months of the year! Nothing I enjoy more than sitting back on my lily pad catching up on the latest business and financial news. But before I start sharing insight to help you guide your business through the dog days of summer, let’s take a look at what topics were hot in May!

  1. New DOL Rule Shakes Up Exemption Threshold – The Department of Labor announced its publication of a final rule to update the regulations governing the exemption of certain classes of employees from minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which provides for an updated salary and compensation threshold for executive, administrative and professional employees to be considered exempt as well as provides an amendment to the salary basis test to allow employers to utilize nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level. Yikes! That’s a mouthful! Keep reading to learn more about this rule change.
  2. Would You Know If Someone Was Stealing From Your Business? – According to the 2016 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud & Abuse by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the typical organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue to fraud. What are you doing to prevent fraud from occurring in your organization?
  3. Did Prince Forfeit Control Over His Multimillion Dollar Estate? – Many of us were sad to hear of Prince’s untimely death. But perhaps just as shocking was the news that the music legend neglected to draw up a will, reinforcing the importance of estate planning – regardless of how large (or how small) your fortune is. Keep reading to find out why a will is one of the most important documents you will ever have drawn up.
  4. How Can You Track Use Tax in QuickBooks? – Now that you have filed for use tax amnesty and are all set up with an account, how are you going to track it daily going forward? If you use QuickBooks, the answer is as simple as 1-2-3.
  5. Who’s Driving Your Business’s Results? – Businesses that drive consistent revenue growth are able to do so because they have honed in on the importance of working with their teams to drive measurable results. And, believe it or not, it’s not rocket science! Take a look at these three tactics for tips to help you achieve the growth goals you’ve been working toward.

Is there something you want more information about? Got a question for me? I would love to answer it, just contact me and I will get you the answer.

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How To Become A Millionaire

Steve Renner | May 26th, 2016

Kick Your Lottery Ticket Habit

Your Money Multiplied - Ohio CPA Firm

PHOTO CREDIT: Akron Beacon Journal
The odds of winning Powerball are 1 in 292 million. The odds of winning Mega Millions are 1 in 259 million. The odds of winning Ohio’s Classic Lotto are 1 in 14 million. But if you were to invest the money you would normally spend the lottery into a 401(k) plan, your chances of winning big are all but guaranteed!

I recently found myself standing in line at a local convenience store behind a guy who was in the process of redeeming his winning $2 scratch-off lottery ticket for another chance to uncover his fortune. My mind started to wander and it wasn’t long before I starting wondering how much the Ohio lottery takes in every year and how a person’s lottery habit could be transformed into a pretty substantial retirement plan.

According to the annual report from the Ohio Lottery Commission, about $2.8 billion was collected by the Ohio Lottery between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. Perhaps even more shocking is that more than half of these funds, or $1.55 billion, was a direct result of instant ticket sales – the scratch-offs! Since we know that Ohio has about 9 million residents who are 18-years-old and legally permitted to play the lottery, we can conclude that the average Ohioan is spending $323 annually on the lottery. (And since I know that I spend $0, I can only assume that there are men and women out there spending $600 or more on lottery tickets every year!)

Read Also: Don’t Get Blown Away By A Cash Windfall

For Fun or For Money?

Whether you view the lottery as a form of inexpensive entertainment or “a convenient and accessible tool for radically altering [your] standard of living,” if your objective is to obtain financial security … there’s a better way.

Countless studies have been conducted in order to explain why those with lower incomes tend to spend more of their income on the lottery. Some of the reports are simply astounding. Just a decade ago 21 percent of those who played believed that the lottery was the most practical path to wealth. It’s this skewed thought process that continues to drive lower income residents in particular to spend a significant portion of their income on these tactics rather than invest in more effective wealth enhancement solutions.

  • The odds of winning Powerball are 1 in 292 million.
  • The odds of winning Mega Millions are 1 in 259 million.
  • The odds of winning Ohio’s Classic Lotto are 1 in 14 million.
  • The odds of winning Ohio Rolling Cash 5 are 1 in 575,757.
  • And if you want to know how many prizes are left for the popular scratch-off games in Ohio on any given day you can find that out here.
  • But if you were to invest the money you would normally spend the lottery into a 401(k) plan, your chances of winning big are all but guaranteed!

Your Money Multiplied

Let’s assume a 30-year-old who normally spends $25 a week on the lottery (or $100 a month) decides to invest these funds into a 401(k). What would happen to the investment if we were to assume the following conditions?

  • The employer matches 50 cents on each dollar, bringing the total monthly investment to $150.
  • We assume an 8% average annual return on the investment.

In 35 years, the $100 he previously spent on the lottery plus the $50 his employer is kicking in would come to around $344,000 when you factor in the 8% average annual return. What’s incredible to consider is that over the course of 35 years, this individual will have only invested $1,200 per year of personal income (or $42,000 total).

Now, what if the employee decided to kick their monthly $100 lottery habit earlier at the age of 21?  If we were to apply the same conditions outlined above, in 44 years (when the employee reaches age 65), the same investment and company match would result in a 401(k) plan worth $1,457,677. Over the course of this 44-year career only $52,800 in personal funds would be contributed to the plan, but with the company match and 8% average annual return, the funds would continue to multiply – 27 times to be exact!

Don’t pass up on an opportunity to facilitate a discussion about retirement savings and the big impact even a few dollars can make over time. If you have questions about how you can make the most of your retirement saving strategy, email Rea’s retirement plan services team for more information.

By Steve Renner, QKA (New Philadelphia office)

For more insight into our retirement plan services, check out these articles:

Don’t Let These Common Retirement Plan Mistakes Hurt Your Business

How Your Plan Design Can Help Improve Your Retirement Plan Participation

Retirement Plan Participants Are Content To Watch Their Savings Simmer

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Would You Know If Someone Was Stealing From Your Business?

Annie Yoder | May 20th, 2016
Employee Fraud- Ohio CPA Firm

According to the 2016 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud & Abuse by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the typical organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue to fraud. What are you doing to prevent fraud from occurring in your organization?

A 20-year employee at a city school charged with managing adult education programs was known as a hard worker who had secured her colleagues’ respect. But when external auditors came into the district to review the school’s financial records, it didn’t take long to realize that something just wasn’t adding up. Questions began to circulate and people starting comparing notes. It wasn’t until her co-workers started questioning how she could afford the costly gifts during the holidays and lavish purchases made to redecorate her home that all the pieces began to fit together. After all, that type of money was certainly not in line with her position’s established pay scale.

Read Also: Are Your Employees Skimming From The Top?

Warning Signs

The funds this woman used to redecorate her home were not acquired honestly. They were obtained as part of an embezzlement scheme that lasted for at least two years. Because she attempted to cover her tracks by destroying the financial records, forensic accounting professionals were called in to reconstruct the activity using the school’s enrollment records.

The fraudster was thwarted in this instance … but this is certainly not an isolated incident. In fact, it happens more than you might think.

According to the 2016 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud & Abuse by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the typical organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue to fraud. The group estimates that the potential financial loss to organizations worldwide due to fraud is at least $3.7 trillion dollars. The median loss in this particular study, which compiled data from 2,410 cases of occupational fraud in 114 different countries, was $150,000. Nearly one-quarter of all frauds in this worldwide study topped $1 million or more.

What Are You Doing To Prevent Fraud In Your Organization?

If you are looking to significantly decrease the fraud threat in your organization you must have a strategy in place to prevent and detect it. And if a fraudster is in your midst, implementation of anti-fraud controls are effective are an effective way to shut fraud down faster. The Report to the Nations states that the presence of anti-fraud controls correlated to fewer losses and quicker detection.

Which Control Is The Right Control?

According to the report, the top five anti-fraud controls utilized by organizations today are:

  1. External Audit of Financial Statements
  2. Code of Conduct
  3. Internal Audit Departments
  4. Management Certification of Financial Statements
  5. And External Audit Internal Control over Financial Reporting

But are they the most effective?

Over the course of this study, researchers found that the five most effective controls when it comes to preventing and stopping fraud are:

  1. Tips
  2. Internal Audits
  3. Management Review
  4. By Accident
  5. Account Reconciliation

A key opportunity to guard against fraudulent behavior is still being missed. For example, while tips were the most common detection method regardless of whether a hotline was in place, fraud schemes were detected by tip in 47.3 percent of cases at organizations that had fraud hotlines. In contrast, only 28.2 percent of cases were detected by tips at organizations without hotlines. It’s clear that businesses and organizations should invest in a fraud prevention strategy that encourages anonymous tips if they aren’t doing so already.

Is your business or organization at risk? Do you want to learn more about which controls are most effective at preventing and detecting fraud? To learn more on this topic, email Rea & Associates.

By Annie Yoder, CPA, CFE, CFF (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these articles for more fraud-prevention strategies:

Let’s Talk About The F-Word

Cost-Effective Ways To Deter Fraud

How Much Money Could You Be Losing From Fraud?

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New DOL Rule Shakes Up Exemption Threshold

Ashley Matthews | May 18th, 2016

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced its publication of a final rule to update the regulations governing the exemption of certain classes of employees from minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The final rule, which goes into effect Dec. 1, provides for an updated salary and compensation threshold for executive, administrative and professional (EAP) employees to be considered exempt as well as provides an amendment to the salary basis test to allow employers to utilize nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.

The new rule sets the salary level at $913 per week or $47,476 annually. The total annual compensation for highly compensated employees (HCE) was also adjusted to $134,004. Additionally, the rule provides for an automatic update to the salary and compensation levels every three years to ensure they continue to provide effective tests for exemption.

The new salary and compensation level is an increase of 100 percent over the previous salary level, set at $455 per week or $23,660 annually in 2004. The DOL anticipates the rule to automatically extend overtime pay eligibility to 4.2 million workers and says the American worker will see more money in their pockets or more free time to improve work-life balance as a result of the measure. Furthermore, the DOL sees this change as an effort to improve workers’ health and increase productivity through improved morale and reduced turnover.

The change is not well received by many.

“We are disappointed by the Labor Department’s 100% increase to the salary threshold for overtime eligibility,” said Scott Wiley, CAE, president and CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs, in an article on the society’s website. “This rule will impose serious hardships on public and private sector employers and employees, which will have damaging consequences for the communities they serve. We urge Congress to support legislation to rethink overtime changes that strain employers.”

Employers have time to complete internal analysis of how the final rule will impact their business prior to the Dec. 1 effective date. Staffing and budgeting decisions will need to be re-examined, and employers will need to have discussions with their employees regarding their employment classification and any impact the final rule may have. The anticipated increase in cost to employers is $1.2 billion per year in increased wages.

There are planning opportunities surrounding pay and bonus structure to mitigate the impact the final rule may have on employers. You can find an informative whitepaper report on the issue on the DOL website. You can also email Rea & Associates if you have questions about the new rule and how it will affect your business or if you need help navigating the change and implementing a plan that works for your business and employees.

By Ashley Matthews, CPA (Dublin office)

Take a look at these articles for more business insight:

Phishing Scam Is A Threat To Ohio Businesses

Protect Your Business With These 6 Tips

Can Your Business Survive An Employee Exodus?

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Business Improvement Begins Internally

Chris Liebtag | May 18th, 2016
Lean Six Sigma - Ohio CPA Firm

Chris Liebtag recently appeared on an episode of unsuitable on Rea Radio, a weekly podcast produced by Rea & Associates. Chris, and host Mark Van Benschoten, discuss Lean Six Sigma and why all businesses can benefit by implementing the discipline. Click here to listen to the show!

When you think about the utility of Lean Six Sigma, you are likely thinking about its usage in the manufacturing industry. But did you know that business owners across a wide range of industries can find value in Lean Six Sigma as well? The usefulness of this practice spans far beyond a manager’s ability to improve efficiency on the production room floor. In fact, this discipline has yielded significant results in a variety of businesses spanning all types industries with varying product and service offerings.

Start listening and Discover The Hidden Factory of Lean Business Building on unsuitable on Rea Radio

Why You Should Run A Lean Office

Like most businesses (if not all businesses), one of the basic tenants of Lean Six Sigma is to understand and drive client value. Using this fact as a starting point, the Lean Six Sigma discipline is then used to identify areas of improvement in your organization while implementing effective, more efficient, solutions.

Even though a manufacturing company and a doctor’s office appear to be fundamentally different, both organizations can find significant value through the implementation of Lean Six Sigma because they share the same basic tenant – to understand and drive client value. From a healthcare perspective we know that patients value shorter wait times and improved professional interaction. Using Lean Six Sigma, we would review the office’s processes and determine how to make them more effective in the interest of driving client value. One solution might be to improve the general organization of the office. Doing so could feasibly result in greater efficiency among the staff, shorter wait times and longer, more meaningful interactions with patients.

This same scenario can play out in all offices where client value is considered a priority.

Better Quality Begins At The Beginning

When you have two people doing the same job without any formal processes, they’re bound to produce different results. Unfortunately, lack of consistency negatively impacts the company’s overall ability to produce quality products and/or services.

Companies and organizations that implement Lean Six Sigma, go through the exercise of deconstructing organizational processes to determine best practices, implement changes and establish quality control measures throughout every step of the process – not just at the end. Making quality a priority early in the process will consistently produce higher quality products and services.

Just Getting Started

Obviously we are just scratching the service of what Lean Six Sigma can do. I recently had the opportunity to talk about the effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma on an episode of unsuitable on Rea Radio with Mark Van Benschoten where I was able to talk a little more about the practice. You can go to www.reacpa.com/podcast or click the play button on the media player below to listen to our conversation. You can also email Rea & Associates if you have questions this topic.

By Chris Liebtag, LSSBB, PMP (Dublin office)

Check out these articles for even more tips to help you move the needle:

Your Business Could Be Doing Better

Turning The Tables On Ourselves: How We Used Lean Six Sigma

Gaining Efficiencies In Service With Lean Six Sigma

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Can The IRS Collect Back Taxes 10-Years After The Original Date Of Assessment?

Christopher Axene | May 11th, 2016

Greetings Drebit! Please excuse my ignorance when it comes to IRS matters. I read your article about finding the date of assessment on my IRS Transcript. My transcript code is 150-5/29/2006. When can I exercise my right under the 10-year Statutes of Limitations? Thank you. – Wendy


Click here to read the original article


Dear Wendy,

Thank you for taking the time to send in your question. You correctly identified the date of assessment on your account transcript by zeroing in on the “150” Transaction Code. Based on this date, I can determine that your tax return was assessed on “5/29/2006.” Because the statute of limitations almost always begins the day after the taxpayer files their income tax return, the simple answer to your question is that the 10-year statute is set to expire on May 30, 2016.

However, there may be other factors to consider. For example, if you entered into an installment agreement with the IRS to pay any amount that was owed, as identified on your 2005 tax return, it’s highly likely that the 10-year statute of limitations date would have been extended to a date ending after May 29, 2016. While we have no way to know for certain if your assessment date was adjusted, I can tell you that, in this scenario, it is common practice for the IRS to extend the timeline to accommodate their ability to collect taxes owed – particularly if the installment payment period extends beyond the original expiration date.

I recommend that you speak with your financial advisor about this matter or email Rea & Associates to speak with a member of our team’s tax experts. You also might find value in the following articles.

Good luck!

By Christopher Axene, CPA (Dublin office)

Check out these articles for more helpful tax advice:

IRS Says You Owe More? Don’t Write That Check Yet!

How Far Back Can The IRS Go For Tax Auditing

When You Make A Mistake On Your Tax Return

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Who’s Driving Your Business’s Results?

Jeremy Senften | May 9th, 2016
Jeremy Senften | unsuitable on Rea Radio | Ohio Accounting Podcast

Jeremy Senften, CPA, CGMA, Rea’s chief operating officer, joins Mark Van Benschoten on an episode of unsuitable on Rea Radio to talk about the benefit of tracking your business’s success. Listen to episode 31, “Bet On Your Business By Scoring Your Success,” now!

Businesses that drive consistent revenue growth are able to do so because they have honed in on the importance of working with their teams to drive measurable results. And, believe it or not, it’s not rocket science! Take a look at these three tactics for tips to help you achieve the growth goals you’ve been working toward.

Listen To Bet On Your Business By Scoring Your Success on unsuitable on Rea Radio

Place Your Bet

If you had to bet that one particular action would drive the results you are looking for, what would that bet look like? For example, if your goal was to increase your company’s sales, I would be willing to bet that increasing the number of calls your team makes to customers would bring you closer to reaching your goal. Placing your bet on a particular initiative will help you identify where you need to focus your efforts and work you do to reinforce the bet will help you achieve the goal.

Keep Score

Just because you are not keeping score in the traditional sense, doesn’t mean somebody else isn’t tallying up points. Generally speaking, we like to keep score because we like to know if who is winning. As competitive beings, people like to see what the others are doing. That way we have an idea of what we need to do to one-up them. Companies can harness this drive and put it to good use when it comes to driving desired results in your business. Tracking your success is so important and communicating these results is just as critical. Your team wants to know how what they are doing has an effect on what is going to happen and how those results impact the big picture. It’s your job to show them.

Communicate

If you aren’t constantly communicating news, results and other critical information, your efforts are doomed to be chalked as just another “flavor of the month.” You’ve likely make a significant investment in this particular initiative, so it’s critical that you talk it up – and often. Some people say that a person has to hear something seven times before it actually “clicks.” I like to joke that you should talk about it until you are tired of talking about it … then mention it 10 times more. You shouldn’t be the only one delivering the message either. Try to establish a team to champion your message to encourage others to take ownership of the initiative as well.

Are you looking for more insight into the goal-setting (and achieving) process or would you like some additional clarity on the points above? Listen to my interview with Mark Van Benschoten on unsuitable on Rea Radio and “Bet On Your Business By Scoring Your Success.”

By Jeremy Senften, CPA, CGMA (New Philadelphia office)

For more insight into achieving business growth, check out these articles:

From Good To Great: How To Create A Strategic Plan That Propel Your Business Forward

If It’s Going To Be, Then It’s Up To Me

Measure Your Operations With Key Financial Information

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Last Minute Tax Tips, Financial Stress and Cybercriminals …

Dear Drebit | May 2nd, 2016

April’s Top Posts Had Readers On Edge

So our month was pretty intense … how was yours? The good news is that we made it through another tax season, the bad news is that business owners are clearly still on high alert due to continuous influx of hacker activity. Take a look at our top five blog posts in April for some useful tips and insight you can use all year long.

Top 5 Blog Posts For Business Owners In April

  1. Can A Cybercriminal Crack Your Company’s Network? Small and midsize businesses are not immune to becoming the target of a crippling cyberattack and without the proper procedures in place business owners risk the very real threat of a large-scale assault on their company’s data. Would you be able to recover if your organization was attacked?
  2. How Flexible Is Your Company’s Management Style? Never before has the American business owner had to manage a workforce consisting of employees whose ages span five generations. And because each generation is unique, your company’s leadership team is left with the impossible task of adopting a management style to accommodate an incredibly diverse workforce. Keeping reading to learn more.
  3. What Tax Liabilities Accompany Inherited Real Estate? So you just inherited some real estate. You’re probably now wondering – is this a blessing or a curse? From the tax perspective, of course. And that’s a good question to ask. Just because you inherit something doesn’t mean that you’re free and clear of any potential tax liabilities. Depending on how you use the property and if you sell it will determine if you have a taxable situation. So here’s what you should know about taxes and inherited real estate. Read on to learn more.
  4. Increased Financial Stress Hurts Your Company’s Bottom Line Earlier this month, in a proclamation that reiterated the importance of equipping everybody with the “knowledge and protections necessary to secure a stable financial future for themselves and their families,” President Obama declared April to be National Financial Capability Month. While the timing of the proclamation makes this a great time to raise general awareness about the importance of financial fitness, businesses have a great opportunity to educate their employees about the importance of financial wellness all year long.
  5. How Can You Track Use Tax in QuickBooks? Now that you have filed for use tax amnesty and are all set up with an account, how are you going to track it daily going forward? If you use QuickBooks, the answer is as simple as 1-2-3.

April was great, but we are excited to see what May brings. More tips for business success? More financial news and updates? Personal finance advice? Of course! Stay tuned.

Don’t want to miss a post? Make sure you have subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss a single post.

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Celebrate Six Years’ Worth Of Business Tips With Drebit

Dear Drebit | April 28th, 2016
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Today Drebit is turning six! Check out his top posts from over the years.

Drebit turns six today and we couldn’t be more excited. Over the years the Rea team has helped this intuitive frog provide readers with a wide variety of helpful business tips designed to help drive results in your organization as well as current business and financial news and we have certainly enjoyed the journey! This birthday isn’t about Drebit, it’s about you, our readers, for spending a few minutes with us each week or for checking in for answers that will help you confront a challenge facing your business. You are the reason Drebit continues today!

To celebrate, we are going to list Dear Drebit’s top six blog posts. Which one did you find to be the most useful? Let us know in the comment section!

Drebit’s Top 6 Blog Posts

  1. How Far Back Can The IRS Go For Tax Auditing? Taxes can be scary word and accountants are often asked, “How far back can the IRS audit tax returns?” Before you start to panic, rest assured that the IRS has a statute of limitations in place that generally puts a limit on the time allowed to audit you and assess additional tax. Keep reading to learn what those limitations are.
  2. How will selling a house from an estate impact my taxes? My mother passed away Oct. 30, 2009. She left my brother and me her house, which has just been released from probate court. We have someone wanting to buy it and we would split around $140,000. What kind of taxes do we face? Find out the answer in this blog post.
  3. Theft Safeguards To Cause Tax Return Delays In Ohio If time is money then the new security measures to protect Ohio taxpayer’s returns and prevent identity theft comes at a price. The Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) said that in an effort to boost security and prevent tax-fraud in the state, Ohio will implement an “up-front filter to all tax-refund requests to analyze the demographic information reported on the return.”
  4. Do You Need to Send an Annual Notice to Your 401k Participants? If your company sponsors a calendar year 401k plan, don’t forget about participant notice requirements. They must be furnished by Dec.1, and may impact the operation or qualification of your plan. Here is a checklist that may be helpful, but check with us if you are not certain which of these requirements apply to your plan.
  5. What Happens if My 401(k) Plan is Out of Compliance with an IRS or DOL Rule? In this article we will explain the statute of limitations if your 401(k) plan is out of compliance with an IRS or DOL rule and how you can work to rectify any issues you may have with your business’s retirement plan.
  6. How Can You Track Use Tax in QuickBooks? Now that you have filed for use tax amnesty and are all set up with an account, how are you going to track it daily going forward? If you use QuickBooks, the answer is as simple as 1-2-3.

Is there a financial or business question you need the answer to? Let us know by contacting the Rea team today! We would love to answer it!

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Did Prince Forfeit Control Over His Multimillion Dollar Estate?

Inez Bowie | April 27th, 2016

Learn How A Will Protects Your Fortune After Death

Did Prince Have A Will | Why A Will Matters | Ohio CPA Firm

PHOTO CREDIT: www.Billboard.com
According to Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, the music legend neglected to draw up a will before he died. Regardless of how large (or how small) your fortune is, estate planning is essential and drawing up a will is a critical component of the plan – one you literally can’t afford to ignore. Keep reading to find out why a will is one of the most important documents you will ever have drawn up.

While driving my sons to school this morning, we heard on the radio that, according to his sister, Tyka Nelson, music legend Prince died without having a will in place. This means, if the reports are true, Prince’s estate will be managed by a Minnesota probate court and will likely come with a large tax bill.

Naturally, this story has already generated national attention concerning the future of Prince’s multimillion dollar estate. What is certain, however, is that if Prince did die without having a will, his sister and five other half-siblings would stand to acquire a significant inheritance – after taxes, of course.

Read Also: You Can Still Have The Final Say After Death

Who Will Inherit Your Fortune?

I know that my sons truly love each other but, like most siblings, they fight like cats and dogs. So I decided to use the drive to school as a teachable moment.

Because both of my sons dream of becoming professional sports stars (let them dream), I advised them to heed the warning tucked within the morning’s news report. If you don’t want your brother to inherit your fortune when you pass away, you need to have a will in place that will determine where your millions go. Otherwise, the state will give everything to your next of kin.

Still Not Sure If A Will Is Necessary?

Regardless of how large (or how small) your fortune is, estate planning is essential and drawing up a will is a critical component of the plan – one you literally can’t afford to ignore. Among the many benefits of establishing a will, this document will:

  • Give you the final say over how your finances will be distributed.
  • Establish who will be legally responsible for caring for your minor children.
  • Help you avoid a drawn-out probate process.
  • Provide you with an opportunity to minimize your tax burden.
  • Let you determine who will be responsible for managing the affairs of your estate.

Lesson Learned?

You don’t have to be a teacher to pass along a few solid words of wisdom to your children. You just need seize teachable moments when they present themselves – even if all you can do is begin laying the groundwork for an even bigger lesson. Here’s what we accomplished on this morning’s drive:

  • I’m certain my boys now agree on one thing – that when they become professional sports stars (or whatever profession they choose), a will is a must have.
  • They now know who Prince is and that he acquired a lot of money over the course of his career.
  • Hopefully, they now have a basic understanding of the importance of a will. (I’m probably going to have to have a follow-up conversation about this one.)

Eh, I tried.

Would you like to learn more about estate planning and how to ensure your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes after you die? Listen to episode 6 of unsuitable on Rea Radio with Dave McCarthy – The Grim Reaper Is Coming And He Wants Your Money. You can also email Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Inez Bowie, CPA, CSEP (Marietta office)

The following articles offer some more great advice about the importance of drawing up a will.

How Do You Value Property For An Estate In Ohio?

Why Should Your Digital Assets Be Part Of Your Estate Plan?

What Tax Liabilities Accompany Inherited Real Estate?

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How Flexible Is Your Company’s Management Style?

Renee West | April 25th, 2016
Multi-Generational Workforce | Management Style | Ohio CPA Firm

Are you able to successfully manage a multi-generational workforce? Read on to find out why you may need to adjust your management style to achieve optimal productivity and general sustainability of your business.

Never before has the American business owner had to manage a workforce consisting of employees whose ages span five generations. And because each generation is unique, your company’s leadership team is left with the impossible task of adopting a management style to accommodate an incredibly diverse workforce.

Listen To: Mastering The Un-Manageable Magic Of Millennials

Today, an effective management team is required to be fluent in a traditional management style to accommodate the Baby Boomers while adopting an effective hands-off approach to appease the up-and-coming Millennials and a variety of other techniques to motivate and inspire the workers who fall somewhere in the generational middle ground. AND all of this has to be done effortlessly. …

You’re probably wondering if all this extra work to understand the generational differences of today’s workforce even really matters. If so, worry no longer – it does matter, a lot. Here’s why:

Marketplace Competition

The marketplace is changing and in order for your business to stay competitive, you have to be fast and agile. Who knows how to do this better than the Millennials? When I was growing up, if I wanted to make a purchase, I had to drive to the store and browse the aisles before making a purchase. Today, all the consumer has to do is pull out the smartphone, browse the products, read reviews and buy the product – and this whole transaction happens very, very quickly.

Employee Retention

A lot of businesses are having a real problem when it comes to employee retention. Companies that are not willing to adjust to their employee’s needs are going to have a difficult time retaining them for a significant period of time. Rather than try to fit a square peg into a round hole, your business might have more luck keeping that star employee around if you were to adopt a different management style. Otherwise, be prepared for the company rock star to look for employment elsewhere.

Improved Productivity

Millennials have already changed the way business is conducted in America, and we’re only getting started. One of the most extreme changes we have seen centers around the productivity of the younger generation. A lot of times we will hear that they are unwilling to get to work at 8 a.m. or that, when they do get to work, they are rarely focused on just one task. To the older generations, this can be frustrating because it flies in the face of the traditional workstyle. However, when the business can harness the unique skills and dedication of the younger generations, business owners are bound to see the productivity of these employees significantly improve.

Pat Porter talks a lot about how businesses can make since of an increasingly diverse workforce on episode 29 of unsuitable on Rea Radio. You can listen to the episode, Mastering the Un-Manageable Magic of Millennials” by clicking play on the media player below, or you can visit the episode’s webpage to listen and tap into some other great resources to help you along. And, of course, you can always email Rea & Associates for even more, specific tips and insight.

By Renee West, SHRM-CD, PHR (New Philadelphia office)

Are you looking for some more HR insight to help your business? Check out these articles for some helpful advice:

No People, No Growth

Fully Staffed & Operational: How To Master Your Employee Recruitment Strategy

Can You Afford To Lose Them?

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Increased Financial Stress Hurts Your Company’s Bottom Line

Kimberly Veal | April 21st, 2016
Financial Stress | Business Problem | Ohio CPA Firm

There is a clear correlation between an employee’s stress rate due to financial hardship and reduced productivity, higher healthcare costs, increased risk of occupational fraud and lower retirement readiness. Read on to find out what you can do to help promote financial wellness in your business.

Earlier this month, in a proclamation that reiterated the importance of equipping everybody with the “knowledge and protections necessary to secure a stable financial future for themselves and their families,” President Obama declared April to be National Financial Capability Month. While the timing of the proclamation makes this a great time to raise general awareness about the importance of financial fitness, businesses have a great opportunity to educate their employees about the importance of financial wellness all year long.

Read Also: Why Do They Turn Down Free Money?!

According to PwC US’s 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 52 percent of respondents said they are stressed about their finances, while 45 percent noted an increase in their stress rate over the last 12 months. After further analysis, researchers determined that the primary cause of the stress is rooted in their inability to deal with unforeseen expenses, such as automobile or home repairs. Combined with the pressure to navigate the growing cost of higher education and the responsibility to saving for retirement, you have the makings for a perfect stress storm.

It’s pretty clear that it’s never been more important to understand the implications positive spending habits have on the wellbeing of our employees. Particularly among millennials, as the PwC study noted that the stress level of this generational group was dramatically worse than the others due to the increased level of student debt felt by this age group.

Furthermore, there is a clear correlation between an employee’s stress rate due to financial hardship and reduced productivity, higher healthcare costs, increased risk of occupational fraud and lower retirement readiness. Even in this recent study, as reported by Accounting Today, 79 percent of millennials in the workforce say “their student loans have a moderate or significant impact on their ability to meet their other financial goals.”

Employers are in a position to make financial wellness a priority before the stress workers are feeling has a chance to boil over and impact the company’s bottom line. Similar to the information and incentives your company provides with regard to wellness programs aimed at improving employee health, financial wellness programs are available to employers who are willing to step in and help their employees achieve greater financial success. Some methods are free and some have costs associated with them, but regardless of what you choose, the most effective programs are those that take a more holistic approach.

Darlene Finzer, CPA, QKA, CSA, a principal and director of benefit plan audit services at Rea & Associates spoke about financial wellness on episode 19 of unsuitable on Rea Radio. The episode, called “It Starts with a Penny,” does a great job explaining the importance of financial wellness, the risks employers should be aware of that could result from high levels of financial stress and solutions to help get your workforce on the right track. You can listen to the episode in the media player below or click here to access the episode, financial calculators and additional resources.

By Kimberly Veal, CPA (Lima office)

Check out these articles for more insight into the issues of financial wellness and retirement readiness.

Americans Falling Short On Retirement Savings

Debt vs. Taxes: Should You Pay Off Your Loan?

Don’t Miss Your Chance To Secure Tax-Free Wealth

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Protect Yourself From Fake Charity Scams

Maribeth Wright | April 20th, 2016

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making A Donation

Charity Scams - Ohio CP A Firm

Would you be able to spot the charity scam? Even if you are 99 percent certain the check you are about to write will go to a well-respected nonprofit organization, it makes since to ask yourself a few questions. Read on to find out which ones.

From identity theft and tax fraud to criminals finding ways to hack into your company’s network, we are learning every day that it’s simply not safe to let your guard down – for anyone or anything. Unfortunately, that mindset should apply when you are considering gifting a charitable donation as well.

Some fraudsters, in an attempt to prey on the generosity of strangers, have begun to solicit funds for fake charities particularly during and immediately after tax season. But you can shut down these scams by asking yourself these critical questions.

Read also: Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

Is this the charity I know and love or is it a spin off?

We are a sucker for the brands we know and love, and criminals will invoke similar names, attributes, branding to trip you up and get you to write that check. Even if you are 99 percent certain the check you are about to write will go to a well-respected nonprofit organization, it makes since to conduct a quick search online to remove all doubt. Two resources to consider are:

  • The Exempt Organization Select Check Tool – this search tool is designed to help you determine the legitimacy of the not-for-profit in question by providing users with information about the organization’s federal tax status and filings.
  • Guidestar – this online resource is great for users who want to find out about the validity of tax-exempt organizations as well as other faith-based nonprofits, community foundations and other groups that are typically not required to register with the IRS.

Do nonprofit organizations ask for personal information?

Don’t make it easy for a fraudster to steal your identity by willingly providing them with your Social Security Number. Legitimate nonprofit organizations will never need your SSN to complete a transaction and they should never need to retain any of your personal information for their records – this includes passwords.

Should my donation be in the form of a check or is it OK to give cash?

Yes! For your own security, and tax purposes, be sure to establish a paper trail. The best way to do this is to avoid making any type of cash donations. Instead, every time you give money to a charity, consider using a check or credit card to establish proof of the transaction. Not only is it important to establish a paper trail as a safety measure, it will help you when to go to claim the contribution on next year’s tax return.

I’m still not sure if it’s a valid nonprofit organization?

If the questions above don’t provide you with the reassurance you need, reach out to a trusted advisor who can help you identify whether a particular charitable organization is reputable or not while giving you pointers to help you protect your hard-earned dollars as well as your identity.

 By Maribeth Wright, CPA (Cambridge office)

Check out these articles to learn to learn about other fraud scenarios taxpayers should know about.

Stop Criminals From Hijacking Your Identity With These Top 5 ID Theft Prevention Posts

Then & Now: Data Security In America Since The Target Breach

Malware Threat Spreads To Smart Phones

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Environmentally Friendly Tax Savings

Brian Kempf | April 14th, 2016

For the last 46 years the global population has come together to channel “human energy toward environmental issues.” On April 22, 2016, the world will once again celebrate Earth Day. You can find a wealth of information on the official Earth Day website, including information about this year’s theme, Trees for the Earth. You can also find some great tips to help you become more energy efficient or help you spread the word about climate change and other topics.

Businesses Can Go Green And Save Green

For business owners, going green can result in significant tax savings as well, which can make environmental responsibility that much more desirable. Take a look at this slide show and find out how green certain eco-friendly initiatives can help strengthen your company’s bottom line.

Do you want to start saving on your 2016 tax bill? Email Rea & Associates to find out how you can use environmentally friendly tax planning initiatives to ease the tax burden on your business.

By Brian Kempf, CPA (Millersburg office)

Are you looking for more tax tips? Check out these articles:

Go Green For The Planet And Pocket The Savings

Can Making Your Building Green Save On Taxes?

5 Tax Deductions To Ease Your Business’s Tax Burden

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There’s Nothing Wrong With 3-Year-Old Money

Lesley Mast | April 8th, 2016

Time’s Running Out To Claim 2012 Refund Checks

Unclaimed Tax Refunds  - Ohio CPA Firm

Grab your unclaimed cash before it’s too late! The IRS owes taxpayers about $950 million of unclaimed tax refunds from 2012. But the deadline to file your late return is April 18, 2016. Read on to learn more.

If you are one of the nearly one million taxpayers who didn’t file a tax return in 2012, you may be eligible to receive an additional refund check from Uncle Sam. But if you don’t act fast you will miss your chance to claim your portion of the $950 million.

Funds that are not claimed by April 18, 2016 will become the property of the U.S. Treasury.

Were you a student in 2012 or was your income such that you weren’t legally required to file a 2012 tax return? It’s possible that, at that time, you had too much withheld from your wages (or paid higher quarterly estimated payments) than was actually necessary. And now the government owes you a refund. Additionally, depending on your particular circumstances, you could have also been eligible to claim certain tax credits, which are also just sitting there … waiting for somebody to claim them.

Read Also: From Toddler To Teen And Beyond: Tax Breaks For Families

According to IRS estimates, half the potential refunds are for more than $715. Unfortunately, if you don’t claim this money now, you never will. Taxpayers have three years to file a claim for a tax refund. Funds not claimed in time will become government property.

Here are a few other points to remember if you plan on claiming your share of unclaimed funds.

  • You must file a 2012 federal income tax return to claim your refund. The IRS needs to make sure you don’t owe any federal or state taxes for 2013 or 2014 as well, so if you haven’t filed those returns yet, the IRS may hold your refund to satisfy any tax debts that are owed as well as any past due child support or federal debts, such as student loans.
  • To claim your refund, you must properly address, mail and postmark your tax return no later than this year’s tax deadline (April 18, 2016).
  • Be sure to collect any and all necessary forms and include them with your return, including Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498. If you are missing a form or two, you can request copies from your employer (current and/or previous), your bank or another payer.

If you didn’t file a 2012 tax return and think the government owes you money, you have no time to waste. The IRS provides taxpayers with current and prior year tax forms and instructions on its website or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). You can find additional help, such as tax calculators, refund tracker, record retention schedule and more in the financial resources section of the Rea & Associates website. Check it out!

By Lesley Mast, CPA, MAcc-Taxation (Wooster office)

Check out these articles for more last-minute tax help?

How To Trigger An IRS Audit

How To Make Dealing With The IRS Less Stressful

Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

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What Are You Waiting For?!

Lesley Mast | April 7th, 2016

3 Tips For Taxpayers Who Haven’t Filed Yet

Did you know that according to the IRS 20-25 percent of Americans wait till the last two weeks to file their taxes?! The thought alone is enough to make even the most experienced accountant nervous.

If you’re a last-minute filer, here are some tips to help you (and your accountant) get through the 2016 tax deadline unscathed.

  1. The Truth About Tax Extensions Unfortunately, there are some pretty nasty rumors going around about tax extensions. Hopefully, I will be able to debunk some common tax extension myths while helping those who opted to extend their deadline sleep a little better tonight. Check out the slideshow and get the facts about tax extensions!
  1. How To Pay Your Tax Bill In 6 Easy Steps Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Direct Pay has proven to be a popular choice among Americans who are looking for a quick and easy option for settling their tax balances. Want to learn more about the benefits of Direct Pay, just click here.
  1. Breaking The Tax Bracket Myth Myths and misconceptions about the tax code are rampant and clients frequently express their concerns about a variety of tax-related issues. One topic that comes up frequently is our federal government’s graduated tax bracket system. Oftentimes, people worry that if they make “too much” money, their entire income will be taxed at a higher rate – a worry that has kept countless hard-working taxpayers up at night. But are these concerns valid? Find out.

Don’t wait much longer to file your taxes or request an extension, April 18 will be here before you know it.

Treat Yourself

Don’t want to go through the mad rush again next year? We like to encourage our clients to think about taxes all year long – not just the first four months of the year. Sign up for our bi-weekly digital newsletter to for tax tips and business advice guaranteed to keep you motivated and tax-time ready all year long. And, of course, you can always email Rea & Associates for help along the way.

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Can A Cybercriminal Crack Your Company’s Network?

Joe Welker | April 5th, 2016
Ransomware Attack | Cybercriminals Target Businesses | Ohio CPA Firm

Ransomware has become a formidable threat to businesses of all sizes, yet I have worked with quite a few business owners who are unfamiliar with the term. This is particularly unnerving as a Ransomware attack can be catastrophic to the financial stability of your business. Read on for tips to help you prevent a Ransomware attack from taking down your business.

Small and midsize businesses are not immune to becoming the target of a crippling cyberattack and without the proper procedures in place business owners risk the very real threat of a large-scale assault on their company’s data. Would you be able to recover if your organization was attacked?

Instances of cybercrime have reached an all-time high and ensuring that your company has the procedures in place to guard against an army of determined fraudsters is more important than ever. But before you can implement effective controls, you must have a clear understanding of what it is that threatens your business.

Know Your Enemy

Ransomware has become a formidable threat to businesses of all sizes, yet I have worked with quite a few business owners who are unfamiliar with the term. This is particularly unnerving as a Ransomware attack can be catastrophic to the financial stability of your business.

Read Also: Could Your Company Be Ransomware’s Next Victim?

Ransomware is the infection of a computer which immediately encrypts all recognizable file types. Once your network is infected, a screen appears on your monitor demanding that the company pay a ransom in exchange for the data to be “decrypted” and released. A timeframe is established by the hackers and it is made clear that if the ransom is not paid before the deadline, the organization’s data will be destroyed.

4 Tips To Help Prevent A Ransomware Attack

To protect your business against Ransomware and other similar threats:

  1.  Train your employees to identify phishing emails.
    Numerous vendors can provide your company phishing tests and video training to help educate your employees about phishing emails and ways to identify possible scams. Specifically, work to change the mindset of those within your organization when it comes to opening attachments and clicking on hyperlinks.
  2. Set employee Microsoft Active Directory rights.
    It’s unlikely that all your employees will need full-access to your company’s entire database to do their jobs. One way to protect your data is to only grant access to the data needed for employees to complete their job responsibilities. This way, if an attack does occur, the damage can be isolated.
  3. Consider implementing programs such as Microsoft “AppLocker.”
    When you implement programs like AppLocker, you require users to be assigned access to the programs they need to utilize. Again, this helps to isolate the threat which can help minimize the impact of an attack.
  4. Implement a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan.
    Some research indicates that only about 35 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses have a working and comprehensive disaster recovery plan. We are learning time and time again just how important it is to have a plan in place to protect your business when crisis strikes. A DR plan, complete with regular plan testing and offsite backup data, will help prepare you for unforeseen events which, under current circumstances, could prove to be catastrophic. Click here to learn more about the benefits of a DR plan and how they can keep your organization and its data safe.

Guard Your Data With These Best Practices

Monitor for irregularities

If your network is infected, you can eliminate or decrease the threat of Personally Identifiable Information (such as financial records, medical information or intellectual property) from being infiltrated by utilizing an Intrusion Detection System or Security Information & Event Management application or service. These applications are designed to monitor for invalid access attempts, outgoing traffic identification and other significant alerts.

Require two-factor authentication

Many breaches are the result of access that has been granted to a third-party vendor. Oftentimes the vendor’s network will become infected and can lead to the breach of your own organization. While the data breach may not have originated within your organization, you are responsible for the inroads that were ultimately exploited by hackers to gain access into your network. A best practice is to require all vendors to utilize two-factor authentication or direct contact with your IT staff in order to gain access to your company’s network. Your networks should never be directly accessible to any outside vendor.

These tips can help you protect your organization from cybercriminals, but they only provide an initial layer of security. New threats are being developed every day and existing threats are evolving rapidly. The best thing you can do is arm yourself with knowledge and regularly test for weaknesses in your company’s armor. One day, your business will be the focus of a cyberattack. Will you be ready?

Email Rea & Associates for more information about protecting your business from cybercrime.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these articles to learn more about Ransomware and other cyberattacks on businesses:

How Much Is Your Data Worth To Criminals?

Businesses Beware: Sloppy Data Security Could Cost You

Then & Now: Data Security In America Since The Target Breach

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Business Leaders Turned To Drebit For Fool-Proof Tax Tips

Dear Drebit | April 1st, 2016

When it comes to providing readers with top-notch tips and expert financial advice, we take our job very seriously. That’s why our top blog posts in March were related to tax, compliance and general financial wellness topics. Take a look this month’s top five blog posts for business owners.

1. Does The IRS Care About Your Fantasy Football Team?

Fantasy Football | Tax Guidance | Ohio CPA Firm

When you sit down with your CPA to go over last year’s taxable income and they ask you how your fantasy football team did this year, they aren’t just looking to engage you in casual conversation. In fact, how well (or how poorly) you did over the last year might make a difference in the size of your tax bill. Read on to learn more.

 

 

2. Payroll, HR Departments Targeted By Cyber Criminals

paper dollsOver the last few years, the threat of refund fraud and identity theft has become a very real concern, and criminals have proven that they will go to great lengths to get the information they need to complete their scams. This recent phishing scam is no exception.

 

 

 

 

3. The ACA: Small Businesses Are Also At Risk

Small Business Penalties | ACA | Ohio CPA Firm

Thinking the provisions outlined in the Affordable Care Act doesn’t apply to your business because you are “under the threshold of 50 employees” is a very dangerous assumption to make. Keep reading to find out why.

 

 

 

4. Don’t Miss Out! Claim The Work Opportunity Tax Credit

2016 individual mandate penaltiesThe IRS has finally issued guidance on how to deal with the retroactive extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for 2015. In short, it’s an opportunity you don’t want to pass up.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Can You Afford To Lose Them?

Recruitment & Staffing Strategy | Ohio CPA Firm

When you lose a member of your team, regardless of their position, you can expect their departure to impact your organization’s bottom line. That’s why it’s so important to take a proactive stance with regard to staffing and minimizing your financial burden.

 

 

 

 

 

April brings an end to the 2016 tax season. Don’t forget that the tax deadline is April 18 this year. Looking ahead, you can expect to see some great tips from our business experts as well as some fantastic spring cleaning advice that can be used to prepare for tax season 2017. And, as always, if you have a question for one of our financial experts or business consultants fill out the Ask Drebit a Question form. We are always happy to provide you with responses to your specific questions.

Happy Spring!

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Don’t Let These Common Retirement Plan Mistakes Hurt Your Business

Steve Renner | March 28th, 2016
Administrative Mistakes | Retirement Plan Sponsors | Ohio CPA Firm

Even data entry gurus aren’t immune to making mistakes and, as many of us are already aware, it only takes a minor slip up to cause major havoc – especially where your plan contribution records are concerned. Read on to discover some common administrative mistakes retirement plan sponsors should know about and how to avoid them moving forward.

When it comes to saving for retirement, your employees trust you to help them get their finances in order. Don’t undermine their trust by making mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Instead, take a proactive approach to the administrative responsibilities you are expected to manage. Keep reading to discover three areas retirement plan auditors are checking for mistakes and what you can do to avoid future issues.

Enrollment

Pay close attention to your plan’s eligibility requirements. The enrollment dates for some employees can get confusing. Consider the following example.

According to your plan document, in order for an employee to enroll in your company’s retirement plan, they must be at least 21-years-old and have had worked for you for at least six consecutive months. Once they have met these requirements, they can enroll during the plan’s entry dates, which fall on the first day of each quarter.

Considering this scenario, on what day will you be able to enroll “John” into your company’s retirement plan if:

  • He was hired March 17, 2016
  • His birthday is Oct. 25, 1995

While it’s true that John will meet the 6-month employment requirement on Sept. 17, he’s unable to meet the age requirement. When he turns 21 on Oct. 25, he will still have to wait until the first day of the next quarter – Jan. 1, 2017.

If an employee misses the opportunity to participate as a result of an error made by the plan sponsor, the employer is required to correct the mistake by making a corrective contribution.

This common mistake can easily be avoided as long as your business has solid processes in place to determine the appropriate for all new employees who are choosing to enter into the plan.

Contributions

Even data entry gurus aren’t immune to making mistakes and, as many of us are already aware, it only takes a minor slipup to cause major havoc – especially where your plan contribution records are concerned.

When you manually enter your employee’s retirement plan contributions, you become vulnerable to data entry errors. It’s not uncommon for a wrong keystroke to lead to deposits being made into the wrong employee’s account, for example.

Fortunately, this mistake is easily avoidable if you take steps toward automation. Ask your payroll company if they can create a file that can be easily uploaded to your retirement plan’s record keeper in an automated format and save yourself any future data entry headaches.

Compensation

It’s very important to be clear about what your plan document considers to be compensation. For example, if your plan document makes a point to reference “W-2 compensation,” you are required to withhold retirement plan funds from all regular wages, bonuses, commission, overtime, etc. This means, that if you pass out performance bonuses and neglect to withhold their 401(k) contribution, your document has failed and your business is opened to unpleasant consequences.

Fortunately, it’s not too late. Your plan document most likely offers the flexibility to make a separate plan election on bonuses. If your employee does decide to elect a portion of their bonus to the plan, ask them to document the election request for your records as well as their own.

Mistakes happen, but you can minimize the chance of making some pretty major mistakes simply by adopting a more proactive management style. The tips above will certainly help you get started. But for even more, email Rea & Associates today.

By Steve Renner, QKA (New Philadelphia office)

Get more retirement plan advice for your business. Check out these articles:

How Your Plan Design Can Help Improve Your Retirement Plan Participation

13 Fees That Can Kill Your Retirement Plans

Retirement Plan Participants Are Content To Watch Their Savings Simmer

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Phishing Scam Is A Threat To Ohio Businesses

Lisa Beamer | March 28th, 2016
IRS Phishing Scam - Ohio CPA Firm

You can take a proactive stance when it comes to protecting your company from these scams by encouraging your employees to pay close attention to emails that request sensitive information, such as the names of employees, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and/or salary information or copies of employee’s W-2 information.

The Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) is echoing phishing scam alerts made by the IRS earlier this month in an effort to protect businesses and employees state-wide from identity theft and tax fraud.

Read Also: Payroll, HR Departments Targeted By Cyber Criminals

According to ODT, payroll and human resources offices at companies nationwide – including some in Ohio – reportedly received emailed requests that appear to be sent from a high ranking member of the company’s management team requesting confidential payroll data. While the emails appear to be legitimate, they are actually being sent by cybercriminals who are looking to fool employees into sending them detailed payroll and W-2 information. The imposters then use the information to file fraudulent tax returns.

“The scam has worked on more than 30 companies resulting in the theft of W-2 tax information for thousands of current and former employees,” ODT’s news release states. “The W-2 form contains an employee’s Social Security number, salary and other confidential data. This information enables thieves to create a realistic looking, but fraudulent tax return requesting a tax refund that is then filed with Ohio or other states, and the IRS.”

The frequency of tax fraud and identity theft continues to increase at an alarming rate. This tax season alone, the IRS reported an approximate 400 percent increase in phishing and malware incidents – a surge that was addressed back in February.

“If your CEO appears to be emailing you for a list of company employees, check it out before you respond,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Everybody has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees.”

You can take a proactive stance when it comes to protecting your company from these scams by encouraging your employees to pay close attention to emails that request sensitive information, such as the names of employees, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and/or salary information or copies of employee’s W-2 information. You can also let them know that they should never send sensitive information until a conversation takes place, either in-person or over the phone, with the member of management seeking the information. You can also check out the information provided here for general insight from ODT that could be used to help your employees identify phishing attempts and email scams.

If your Ohio business has been the victim of or experienced this or any other type of email phishing scheme, contact ODT immediately at 800.282.1780 to protect against potential tax fraud and safeguard Ohio taxpayer dollars.

Those who are interested in learning more about the increasing threat of cybercrime should check out The Columbus Cybersecurity Series. Presentations are scheduled to take place throughout the year and will focus on ways to help business owners learn more about cyber threats. The first installment is scheduled for Wednesday, April 6. The event is free but registration is required to attend. Attendees will walk away with new insight into these attacks as well as tips and advice that will help you protect your business.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

Want to protect your employees from identity theft and tax fraud or need help recovering? Check out these articles:

How Can You Protect Yourself From Tax Fraud

Identity Theft Prevention: Tips To Reduce Your Risk of Becoming a Victim

How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

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How To Trigger An IRS Audit

Chad Bice | March 25th, 2016
How To Trigger An IRS Audit - Ohio CPA

When was the last time you were happy – jubilant even – after receiving a letter from the IRS ? Exactly … Keep reading to learn how to keep the tax man out of your mailbox.

Only .84 percent of the 146.9 million individual tax returns filed in 2015 were audited by the IRS. The last time the audit rate was that low it was 2004 and most of us were walking around in Uggs. And even though the IRS says it expects to see even fewer audits in 2016, your chance of being audited tends to increase when:

You fail to report all taxable income

You will be notified if the IRS notices any inconsistencies between the taxable income reported on your tax return and the combined amount reported on your 1099s and W2s. Be sure to make the issuer of your 1099 aware of any mistakes, including incorrect income reported or receiving a form that is not yours.

You own a cash-intensive business

If you operate a taxi, car wash, bar, hair salon, restaurant or any other cash-intensive business, the IRS will be watching your tax return closely. Historically, cash-intensive businesses have been less accurate in reporting all taxable income. In response, agents are using special techniques to interview business owners and audit for unreported income.

Read Also: What’s Worse: An IRS Audit Or A Root Canal?

You claim large charitable deductions

IRS agents don’t have a problem with you philanthropic behavior, it’s the people abuse this tax deduction they have a problem with. This is another area the agency has had problems with in the past, which is why agents pay special attention to these types of deductions – especially if the deduction is disproportionately large in relation to your taxable income. So, if you are going to make a gift to a nonprofit organization, make sure to do it the right way. Keep your receipts, document everything and obtain an appraisal if the donation is for property worth more than $500 (and be sure to file Form 8283 with your return). It’s also important to note that donated cars, boats and planes continue to draw special attention.

You claim home office deductions

If you can claim the home office deduction – great! However, many are often unsuccessful because they ultimately realize that they don’t meet the strict requirements. Or, if they do successfully claim it, they overstate the deduction. For this reason, this is another area the IRS tends to scrutinize. Remember, if home office space must be used exclusively and on a regular basis as your primary place of business in order to claim a percentage of the rent, real estate taxes, utilities, phone bills, insurance and other costs.

Your claim for meals, travel and entertainment is disproportionately high

This is another area where taxpayers have made excessive claims in the past, causing the IRS to look closely at meal, travel and entertainment deductions for self-employed taxpayers. When the deduction appears too large for the business, agents look for detailed documentation including the amount, place, persons attending, business purpose and nature of the discussion or meeting.

You claimed 100% business use of a vehicle

It’s very rare that a taxpayer actually uses vehicle exclusively for business, especially if no other vehicle is available for personal use. If an IRS agent sees this type of claim, they won’t just see red flags, they will hear sirens. If you are planning to claim a percentage of your vehicle usage on your tax return, be sure to keep detailed mileage logs and precise calendar entries for the purpose of every road trip.

The best way to guard against an IRS audit is to have your business and personal tax returns prepared correctly every year by a team of tax specialists. Email Rea & Associates to learn what other red flags the IRS is looking for.

By Chad Bice, CPA (Zanesville office)

Check out these articles for even more popular tax tips:

How To Make Dealing With The IRS Less Stressful

How Far Back Can The IRS Go For Tax Auditing?

A Use Tax Audit Could Cost You

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Your Secret Weapon: The Business Advisory Team

Dave Cain | March 22nd, 2016
Business Advisory Podcast - Ohio CPA

On episode 25: the advisory advantage: a left-handed fireball pitcher for your business, Dave Cain, CPA, a principal at Rea & Associates, advises business owners about the benefit of having an advisory team. Start listening now.

If you have the opportunity to get great advice from a team of established business professionals and industry veterans, people who have lived, breathed, touched, and experienced the journey you are about to embark on – wouldn’t you? When you have a business advisory team to challenge and motivate you, you hold the secret weapon to long-term business value and personal and professional success.

But first you have to establish your team. Here are some tips that should help point you in the right direction.

Establishing A Core Group of Advisors

Although the makeup of the group could change or adapt depending on the needs of your business, usually the business advisory group will consist of a CPA, an attorney, a banker and a financial planner. Your advisory team has to be able and willing to have the crucial conversations necessary to facilitate real growth and change – and you need to be willing to hear all their opinions. Even if you don’t agree with some of the opinions that may be expressed, be an active participant in the conversation. Sometimes these dissenting opinions will become the catalyst for achieving some major milestones.

Trust that you’ve put together a strong group of advisors with a wide range of skills and experiences needed to take your business to the next level. The journey may, at times, be a little bumpy, but if you all stick together, the destination will be worth it.

Your Business Advisory Meeting

Meeting with your business advisory team should be more than a scheduled play date. You should have a plan for how the meeting is going to flow.

Remember that this meeting is a strategic session that will focus on the tactics necessary to fulfill the goals you’ve established for your business. This is not a time to look back at your prior year’s financial statements or tax returns. This is your chance to look at the stuff that you don’t get to touch every day because you have been too busy working in your business – rather than on your business.

To ensure that your advisory team leaves the meeting with a concrete action plan, make sure to come to the meeting prepared with an agenda. To maximize your success, everybody should have a clear picture of what their next steps are and what should be ready to the group at the next meeting.

It’s not always easy to stick to an agenda. Everybody has an opinion and new ideas will sprout from seemingly nowhere. Consider appointing an advisory team quarterback who can ensure that the meeting topics and decisions that materialize are consistent with the company’s mission statement, vision statement and core values. Your quarterback can also reel in the team when talks begin to become a little one-sided.

unsuitable on Rea Radio | Ohio Accounting Podcast | Rea & AssociatesWant more? Listen to episode 25: the advisory advantage: a left-handed fireball pitcher for your business on unsuitable on Rea Radio and find out if a business advisory team is right for you and your business.

By Dave Cain, CPA (Dublin office)

Still not sure if it makes sense to establish a formal business advisory team for your company? Check out these articles for further insight.

Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends

Is Your Business Batting A Thousand?

5 Best Practices For Taking Your Business To The Next Level

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Your Pot o’ Gold Awaits

Dear Drebit | March 17th, 2016

Seven Tips For Business Success – Now That’s Lucky!

Savvy business owners know that you don’t have to follow a rainbow or chase down a leprechaun to find the riches they’re after. Rather than counting on the luck o’ the Irish, these seven tips are all you need to find the pot-of-gold you seek.

7 Business TIps

Leprechaun Clay is searching for his pot o’gold, use these tips to find yours.

  1. From Good To Great: A great plan is only, well, great, if it’s backed by a great strategy – the more you plan and forecast for the future, especially when it comes to business endeavors, the more likely you are to succeed.
  2. Pay more attention to your company’s cash flow for a prosperous 2016: A 13-week rolling cash flow budget lets you harness the past, present and future of your company to arrive at a comprehensive analysis of its overall financial well-being – making you a more effective leader and decision-maker. Keep reading to learn how to get started.
  3. Your Business Could Be Doing Better: Those in the manufacturing industry are familiar with the significance of implementing tactics to increase efficiency and effectiveness throughout the organization. But did you know that these same concepts can benefit businesses outside of the manufacturing realm?
  4. 5 Financial Secrets Of Successful Business Owners: Here are five financial secrets of successful business owners will get you on the right track.
  5. Want A Better Business? Structure Matters: Are you an entrepreneur who wants to take advantage of the benefits often awarded to small-to-midsize business owners? If so, you may want to consider establishing a limited liability company or an S-corporation. Read on to learn why.
  6. Managing Wealth In A Volatile Industry: All business owners throughout all industries should consider taking the steps necessary to guard against a bust – even if you are still riding high on a boom. Why you ask? Keep reading to find out.
  7. Tax-Free Stock Option Exists For Some Small Businesses: Back in the early 90s, Congress passed a tax provision designed to increase investment in America’s small businesses. And while the provision’s name, IRC Sec. 1202, may not roll off your tongue very easily, it’s one that some small business owners need to know.

Some of us have to depend on more than just luck to help us manage a successful business, which is why we think you will agree that these time-tested pro tips to be more helpful than any four-leaf clover you could ever find. And if you still need some guidance, email the professionals at Rea & Associates for assistance. This team of CPAs and business professionals has helped others find their pots o’ gold, and they can help you too!

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Protect Yourself From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

Ashley Matthews | March 16th, 2016

It’s unfortunate that identity theft and refund fraud have become commonplace in our society, especially during tax season. On the other hand, it’s reassuring to see our government agencies stepping up to protect taxpayers from this threat.

In Ohio, the Identification Confirmation Quiz has been especially successful. Last year, the quiz helped prevent an estimated $259.1 million from going to fraudsters. At a federal level, during the 2013 filing season, the IRS launched a number of counter attacks to prevent around $24.2 billion from being claimed as the result of bogus income tax returns.

Read Also: How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

Even though identity theft and refund fraud show no signs of slowing down, in addition to the state-wide and federal efforts to protect taxpayers, there are ways you can help protect yourself. During tax season, take care when choosing your tax preparer. It’s important to be sure that they take their responsibility to safeguard your information very seriously. And, all year long, take common-sense precautionary measures that include:

  • Keeping your computer secure
  • Avoiding phishing emails and malware
  • Protecting your personal information on and offline

Few things are worse than suspecting, and then confirming, that you have had your identity stolen. Recovering from such a violation can be overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to go through it alone. Your tax preparer can help you along the way. Email Rea & Associates to learn more.

This article was originally published in the March 2016 edition of Consult The Expert column published in Columbus Business First.

By Ashley Matthews, CPA (Dublin office)

Want to learn more about the refund fraud epidemic? These articles will help.

Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

Should I still Be Concerned About Identity Theft And Tax Fraud?

Quiz Results Are In – And The News Is Good

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Don’t Miss Out! Claim The Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Christopher Axene | March 11th, 2016

The IRS has finally issued guidance on how to deal with the retroactive extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for 2015. In short, it’s an opportunity you don’t want to pass up.

How The WOTC Works For Business Owners

To claim this valuable tax credit, employers have 28 days from the date an employee was hired to certify that they fall into one of the qualifying categories. To do this, the new employee is typically asked to complete Form 8850 by the employer. The form is then filed with the IRS, while another form is filed with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. Once the new employee’s qualification is confirmed, the business may claim a credit against the income tax of a percentage of first-year wages.

Even though the credit was left to expire in 2015, some businesses continued to collect qualifying information from new hires – just in case. This turned out to be a good strategy because late last year, Congress finally voted to pass the PATH Act of 2015, which, among other things, extended the WOTC through 2019.

While some business owners may have phased out the practice of passing out Form 8850 to new employees, those who continued to qualify their new hires now have a chance to retroactively claim the WOTC credit. Employers have until June 29, 2016, to complete and file paperwork for qualifying employees to successfully claim the tax credit.

Tax Credit Available When You Hire Unemployment Recipient

The retroactive WOTC extension is not the only thing business owners should be aware of. In 2016 and until 2019, hiring long-term unemployment recipients (or an individual who has been unemployed for at least 27 consecutive weeks and who has, at some point, received unemployment benefits) will also qualify your business for the tax credit. To qualify for the WOTC under this new category, your employee(s) must have been hired between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2016.

Don’t miss out on your chance to claim the WOTC. Email Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Christopher Axene, CPA (Dublin office)

Are you looking for more tax help? These articles could help guide you along:

‘Ghost Assets’ Haunting Your Business?

What’s The Difference Between Fixed Asset Expensing And Capitalization?

How Does The IRS Treat Property Repair Expenses?

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Payroll, HR Departments Targeted By Cyber Criminals

Ashley Matthews | March 4th, 2016
Identity Theft | Refund Fraud | Ohio CPA Firm

The best thing to remember when it comes to protecting your business, and yourself, from becoming a victim of fraud is that if something seems a little out of the ordinary, it’s worth checking out before you act. Read on to learn about the newest threat to your identity.

Over the last few years, the threat of refund fraud and identity theft has become a very real concern, and criminals have proven that they will go to great lengths to get the information they need to complete their scams. This recent phishing scam is no exception.

Read Also: Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

Criminals Phish HR, Payroll Departments

The IRS recently alerted payroll and human resources professionals of an “emerging phishing email scheme that purports to be from company executives and requests personal information on employees.” The scam has already claimed several victims.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that this particular tactic appears to be “a new twist on an old scheme.” These cyber criminals are using the cover of tax season to trick people into sharing confidential data.

“If your CEO appears to be emailing you for a list of company employees, check it out before you respond,” said Koskinen. “Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees.”

According to the IRS, a criminal investigation is already in place and several cases in which people have been tricked into sharing social security numbers and other sensitive information with criminals are being reviewed. Officials report that criminals regularly use the stolen personal information to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

Remind Employees To Remain Alert

To avoid becoming a victim of this particular scam, encourage your employees to pay close attention to emails that contain the following information:

  • The actual name, title and contact information of somebody in the company

o   Oftentimes, criminals will use the name of the company’s CEO to enhance the message’s legitimacy.

  • A request to provide sensitive information, including:

o   The names of employees along with their Social Security Numbers, date of birth, address, and/or salary

o   A PDF of an individual’s 2015 W-2 or an earnings summary of all the company’s W-2s.

Other Scams Abound For Businesses, Individuals

Unfortunately, businesses appear to have seen an increase of cyber attacks – especially over the last year. Last June, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the FBI and the United States Secret Service issued a fraud alert in response to a scam dubbed the “Business Email Compromise,” in which fraudsters compromise “legitimate business email accounts for the purpose of conducting an unauthorized wire transfer.”

Also, in response to a nearly 400 percent increase in phishing and malware incidents so far during this tax season, the IRS also renewed its wider consumer alert for email schemes. These emails are designed by scammers to trick taxpayers into believing they are being sent directly from the IRS, other tax industry professionals and/or software companies.

The best thing to remember when it comes to protecting your business, and yourself, from becoming a victim of fraud is that if something seems a little out of the ordinary, it’s worth checking it out before you act.

By Ashley Matthews, CPA (Dublin office)

Want to take steps to ensure that you won’t be a fraud victim this year? These articles feature information that can help.

How can you protect yourself from tax fraud

Identity Theft Prevention: Tips To Reduce Your Risk of Becoming a Victim

How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

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Readers Were Happy To Leap Into Tax Season This February

Dear Drebit | March 4th, 2016

Upon reviewing our most popular blog posts for the month of February we are left to conclude that it is once again that time of year – tax season.

February’s most read blog posts were mostly tax related. From additional insight into the Affordable Care Act, to recommendations about how to report your fantasy football winnings and updates about Ohio’s identity theft quiz; one thing is certain – this is shaping up to be another busy year in the world of taxes.

Read on to find out what others were reading in February.

  1. Are Your Employees Skimming From The Top? A question from one of our readers: As a new business without a cash register, what is the best way (accounting method-wise or other) to protect cash receipts from sales against employee theft or dishonest activity? Want the answer? Keep reading to find out how to prevent fraud in your small business.
  2. Five Reasons To Fall In Love With Your Financial Advisor While your financial advisor is probably the last person you are thinking about during those romantic holidays, you may want to reconsider and here’s why
  3. Don’t Miss Your Chance To Secure Tax-Free Wealth We already know that making contributions to tax deferred retirement accounts (i.e. deductible IRAs, SEPs, SIMPLEs and 401(k) plans) is the most obvious way to reduce your current year taxes, but with a little planning, you could develop a strategy to avoid paying future taxes as well. Take a look at these five tax advantage savings ideas and discover how easy it can be to hold on to more of your money.
  4. How Far Back Can The IRS Go For Tax Auditing? As usual, this is a pretty critical topic for our readers, which is why it’s a top blog post again this month! Read on to learn how far back the IRS can audit your tax return.
  5. Theft Safeguards To Cause Tax Return Delays In Ohio Get ready to watch your mailbox – at least if you want to make sure you get your state tax refund. The Ohio Department of Taxation will once again ask some Ohioans to confirm their identity before their refunds are issued. Why? Keep reading to find out.

We have a lot more tips and tidbits coming up in March, so make sure you have subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss a single post.

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Can You Afford To Lose Them?

Renee West | March 4th, 2016

Know The Costs Associated With Replacing Team Members

Costs Associated With Replacing Team Members | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Did you know that it takes about 12 months before your new hire will reach their maximum potential? That’s a lot of time and, as you know, time is money. Read on to discover some other costs associated with losing a member of your team.

When you lose a member of your team, regardless of their position, you can expect their departure to impact your organization’s bottom line. That’s why it’s so important to take a proactive stance with regard to staffing and minimizing your financial burden.

Start by becoming knowledgeable about the costs associated with losing, and ultimately replacing, staff. Then, develop a plan to address staffing concerns in a way that promotes a strong retention strategy and positive recruiting tactics.

Read also: Fully Staffed & Operational: How To Master Your Employee Recruitment Strategy

Read on to discover some of the more prominent monetary and emotional costs associated with losing a member of your team.

Monetary Costs

  • Productivity

o   The obvious productivity cost accrues from work missed due to the position being left vacant. A secondary productivity cost results when others have to take time out of their days to conduct interviews, onboard new hires and oversee the training process.

  • Cash Flow

o   Negative impact on the organization’s cash flow could occur, for example, when you are required to pay benefits in a lump sum rather than over a period of months as originally projected.

  • Sourcing

o   While referrals often result in higher quality hires, if you have implemented a referral program, there’s likely a cost associated with it. When looking for external sourcing assistance, prices vary depending on the company and the services provided.

  • Market value

o   Market costs relate to the “negotiation” period spent making offers to the desired candidate that are comparable to offers they may be receiving elsewhere.

  • Onboarding

o   It takes about 12 months before your new team member will reach their maximum potential. Over the course of that time, a lot of time and resources will be spent getting that person up to speed.

  • Bad hire

o   Of course, if it doesn’t work out you may need to try again. And that means ongoing costs. Therefore, while it may be tempting to rush through the recruiting process, making a good hire will cost a lot less than having to relive the bad hire experience any day.

Emotional Costs

While the emotional costs associated with the loss of a team member are hard to quantify, they should not be ignored as they greatly impact others throughout your organization. You may never fully realize the scope of one’s relationships with their co-workers until they are gone, so you will never really be able to predict the impact their departure will have throughout the organization. Here are some emotional costs to consider:

  • When a member of your team leaves, especially if they spent a lot of time with your clients, their departure may impact your organization’s external relationships.
  • The urge to say goodbye may be stronger than the urge to maintain productivity. This behavior could have a ripple effect throughout the entire organization.
  • When one person leaves, depending on their personality, the entire team dynamic may change. Getting back to normal could take some time.

Are you looking for advice to help you grow your business and improve your company culture? Check out unsuitable on Rea Radio, a unique financial services and business advisory podcast that challenges old-school business practices and the traditional business suit culture.

By Renee West, CHRM-CD, PHR (New Philadelphia office)

Are you looking for more ways to master your employee recruitment and retention strategy? Check out these articles.

No People, No Growth

Can Your Business Survive An Employee Exodus?

Are Your Employees Stakeholders In Your Business?

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Does The IRS Care About Your Fantasy Football Team?

Wendy Shick | February 29th, 2016

What to know when reporting your fantasy football winnings – or losses

Fantasy Football Tax Guidance - Ohio CPA Firm

How your fantasy sports activity is classified will affect how your income – or lack thereof – is reported. Specifically, taxpayers need to know whether or not the IRS considers their fantasy football activity to be gambling and whether “the activity is not engaged in for profit (i.e., a hobby activity, if it is not gambling, or casual gambling, if it is gambling) or if the activity rises to the level of being a trade or business.” Read on to learn more.

When you sit down with your CPA to go over last year’s taxable income and they ask you how your fantasy football team did this year, they aren’t just looking to engage you in casual conversation. In fact, how well (or how poorly) you did over the last year might make a difference in the size of your tax bill.

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), about 56.8 million people spent their time and money on fantasy sports in 2015 – 73 percent of them were fantasy football players.  And, on average, over a 12-month period, players spent about $465 on league-related costs, single-player challenge games and league-related material. In short – fantasy sports has become a serious business and, as with most business matters, you should be prepared to report your fantasy sports winnings (or losses) to the IRS on Form 1040.

Read Also: Are You Missing Out On Tax Incentives?

Fantasy Money Spends The Same As Real Money

Just because your football team is fantasy doesn’t mean your money is, and when real money is being exchanged, you have an obligation to report it on your tax forms. However, because the IRS has yet to identify proper treatment of fantasy sport income and losses, the jury is still out on the “proper” way to report these fantasy winnings/losses on tax returns. And, from a state perspective, while most departments of taxation are struggling to identify the proper treatment of these funds, a few have issued guidance focused on fantasy sports operators.

Not Just A Hobby?

How your fantasy sports activity is classified will affect how your income – or lack thereof – is reported. Specifically, taxpayers need to know whether or not the IRS considers their fantasy football activity to be gambling and whether “the activity is not engaged in for profit (i.e., a hobby activity, if it is not gambling, or casual gambling, if it is gambling) or if the activity rises to the level of being a trade or business.”

In the article, “How to report clients’ fantasy football winnings,” that appeared in the February edition of the Journal of Accountancy, David Baldwin, CPA/PFS and Donald J. Zidik, CPA, provided some excellent insight into the 4 primary types of activity your fantasy football pastime could be classified as. Below is a brief synopsis.

Ultimately, at this time, how your CPA will classify your fantasy football activity depends on your own facts and circumstances. While you may consider fantasy football to be a hobby, someone else may be using it has a significant source of income.

  • A hobby activity

For most people, fantasy football would be classified as a hobby – meaning that it does not receive the level of activity required to qualify as a trade or business. In this case, your reporting would be guided by hobby loss rules and reported on line 21 of your IRS Form 1040. Deductions are generally allowed only up to the amount of income you secured as a result of the activity and only if you itemize your deductions. Your expenses, which are reported as miscellaneous itemized deductions, are subject to the 2 percent-of-adjusted-gross-income (AGI) floor and disallowed for alternative minimum tax (AMT) purposes. Your expenses would include your entrance fees for losing contests and other expenses you incurred as a result of the activity.

  • A nongambling activity – trade or business

Do you keep accurate books and records and conduct your fantasy football activity in a businesslike manner? Then it may qualify as a trade or business. Final judgment, however, is left to the IRS, which will determine if the activity contains elements of personal pleasure or recreation. If you do qualify for this classification though, your ordinary and necessary expenses could be deductible and your net income would be subject to self-employment tax. Your activity will be reported to the IRS on Schedule C.

  • Casual gambling activity

Would you consider your fantasy football gambling? If so, then you will need to refer to the usual rules governing gambling activities, which means that your entrance fees for losing contests should be reported as gambling losses and allowable only if you itemize your deductions. Different from hobby activity, your losses (to the extent of your winnings) are considered miscellaneous itemized deductions and are not subject to the 2 percent-of-AGI floor and, therefore, are not disallowed for AMT purposes and excess losses cannot be carried over to another year. Your winnings, on the other hand, will need to be reported as income – even if your losses exceed your winnings.

  • Professional gambling activity – trade or business

If you consider your fantasy football activity to be gambling, and you consider you level of involvement to be “full-time,” and as a means for producing income to sustain a livelihood, you could be considered a professional gambler in the grade or business of gambling. This means that your gambling losses can only be deducted to the extent of your gains and your losses in excess of your gains cannot be carried over to another year. That being said, ordinary and necessary business expenses you incur to engage in the gambling activity are deductible. You will need to report your winnings and losses on Form Schedule C.

For more tax tips, listen to episode 9: taxes are like fishing, of unsuitable on Rea Radio to learn more about strategic tax preparation with Melane Howell, CPA, a tax manager with Rea.

By Wendy Shick, CPA, CFP (Mentor office)

Are you looking for more helpful articles to help you with your tax preparation? These should help:

10 Reasons Why You Could Be Audited

Hobby Losses Versus Business Expenses

What Are The Tax Rules For Gamblers?

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The ACA: Small Businesses Are Also At Risk

Joe Popp | February 26th, 2016
ACA Small Business Penalities - Ohio CPA Firm

The “any’ employer changes impacting small businesses are potentially even more costly than the penalties faced by the “larger” employers. Read on to find out what to expect.

Thinking the provisions outlined in the Affordable Care Act doesn’t apply to your business because you are “under the threshold of 50 employees” is a very dangerous assumption to make.

It’s likely that you’ve heard much ado about the significant changes (and the penalties associated with these changes) large employers – those with more than 50 full-time-employees – are expected to make, but small employers are not immune to the ACA. In fact, the legislation also outlines changes that are mandatory of “any” employer.

The “any” employer changes I have found typically aren’t considered a problem for larger employers because they aren’t likely to have the conditions that result in issues with these specific changes. Companies with fewer than 50 full-time employees, on the other hand, are at great risk.

Why small business owners should be aware of “any” employer changes

It’s typical for small business owners to think they don’t have to worry about the changes that resulted from the ACA. Oftentimes, they will point to their smaller size as justification. The only thing that does is leave them vulnerable to the penalties associated with noncompliance.

Listen to episode 5 of unsuitable on Rea Radio to learn more
about ACA changes small business owners should be aware of.

The “any’ employer changes impacting small businesses are potentially even more costly than the penalties faced by the “larger” employers. In fact, you could be looking at a max penalty of $36,500 per employee, per year. In contrast, the max penalty on the “large” employer is only $2,000 per full-time employee, per year.

If you own a business with around 30-50 staff members and you are thinking about dealing with the new health insurance mandates on your own, take a minute to consider whether it’s really worth the risk. I recommend seeking another opinion.  So many people, including you and your family, depend on the general well-being of your business. You can protect this valuable asset by being sure about whether or not you comply with these costly ACA provisions.

Email Rea & Associates to connect with an ACA expert today.

By Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)

Need to learn more about the ACA? These articles will point you in the right direction:

Make BIG Changes Or Face BIG Fines

The Cost Of Reimbursing Employees For Health Care

Secure Form 1095-C Help Now And Avoid Penalties

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Fully Staffed & Operational

Renee West | February 25th, 2016
Recruitment & Staffing Strategy - Ohio CPA Firm

It’s very rare to be able to fill a vacant position after interviewing a single prospect, which is why you should identify the average number you typically have to interview before you find The One. Then, work to keep your prospect sourcing funnel full. Read on to find out how.

How To Master Your Employee Recruitment Strategy

Don’t make the mistake of thinking about your employee recruitment and retention efforts as a line item on your to-do list. You should always be thinking about ways to keep your company fully staffed and operational. While there is no way to predict how many employees you will need to hire over the next year, or even the next five years, you can create a solid recruitment plan by paying close attention to your company’s historical data. Here’s how.

Know your company’s average turnover rate.

For example, say you are responsible for keeping your company of 300 employees fully staffed. Now, for the sake of simplicity, imagine that your average annual turnover rate over the last few years has held steady at 10 percent. If this year is consistent with historic trends, you should be actively looking to hire 30 people.

Read Also: No People, No Growth

Of course you are going to need these 30 potential employees to have a range of different skills and levels of experience. To develop your strategy, simply take an even closer look at the data to determine, on average, how many managerial vacancies you should expect to fill versus hourly employees. Once you have narrowed down your search criteria, you can start sourcing candidates and filling your recruitment funnel.

Plan for business growth.

When we talk about recruitment, we need to take a closer look at the talent pool that currently exists within your company; meaning you should always be aware of your existing employee’s knowledge, skills, abilities and experiences and make it a point to invest in their ongoing success. This strategy is particularly important in times of growth. Consider, for example, prospects with specialized skills, advanced degrees and adequate experience can be a lot harder to find than an entry level prospect. Therefore, if a management position opens up in your company, an existing employee can readily fill the vacancy while ensuring that the transition is as seamless as possible.

Think about recruiting every day.

It’s very rare to be able to fill a vacant position after interviewing a single prospect, which is why you should identify the average number you typically have to interview before you find The One. Then, work to keep your prospect sourcing funnel full by:

  • Maintaining positive relationships with prospects and employee referral sources.
  • Conducting ongoing interviews and continuing to accept resumes from qualified prospects.
  • Targeting prospects where they hang out. This could be done by strategically targeting your marketing to ensure you are reaching the most qualified prospects at the source. If you are looking for entry level prospects, pay more attention to social media, college job fairs and open houses. If you are looking for professionals to fill managerial positions, consider focusing on employee referrals, LinkedIn and targeted digital and traditional ad campaigns.

Are you looking for more advice to help you grow your business and improve your company culture? Check out unsuitable on Rea Radio, a unique financial services and business advisory podcast that challenges old-school business practices and the traditional business suit culture.

By Renee West, SHRM-CD, PHR (New Philadelphia office)

For more tips to help you establish your employee retention strategy, check out these articles:

Are Your Employees Stakeholders In Your Business?

No People, No Growth

Can Your Business Survive An Employee Exodus?

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Is An Office Relocation In Your Company’s Future?

Ryan Dumermuth | February 23rd, 2016
Office Relocation - Ohio CPA Firm

A common mistake some business owners make is to believe they can coordinate the office relocation themselves. And while it may be possible to manage your daily responsibilities, make decisions about the future of your business and property real estate negotiations, you may wind up doing more harm than good because you aren’t giving any of your responsibilities the proper attention needed to succeed. Read on to find out how your business advisory team can help.

There are many reasons why you may want to move your business to a new location, but if you want to be sure the location you choose is not only equipped to meet your needs, that the price is reasonable and that the location is ideal, consider bringing in your business advisory team for guidance.

When it comes to determining your business’s overall financial wellness, look no further than your financial advisor. These professionals are experts when it comes to helping you determine an accurate cash flow projection, make sense of any tax implications associated with the move and will help you determine if, based on your current size and projected growth, that space you are eyeing makes since. But your financial advisor can really only help you see a part of the picture. I recommend bringing adding a real estate expert to your business advisory team when major relocation decisions are the topic of conversation.

Read Also: Is A Sale-Leaseback Transaction Right For Your Business?

A common mistake some business owners make is to believe they can coordinate the office relocation themselves. And while it may be possible to manage your daily responsibilities, make decisions about the future of your business and property real estate negotiations, you may wind up doing more harm than good because you aren’t giving any of your responsibilities the proper attention needed to succeed. A real estate broker will not only manage the legwork associated with choosing your business’s new location, they will make sure you get exactly what you are paying for while negotiating a deal that builds out time for you to establish yourself at your new address.

I recently spoke with Justin Fodor, a real estate broker with Carr Healthcare Realty, a brokerage firm that works exclusively with professionals in the healthcare industry, about other reasons why a business owner – regardless of industry – should consider working with a real estate expert.

Get Your Money’s Worth

When it comes to understanding the art of negotiation, a real estate broker has the knowledge and experience needed to help you lock in a great deal at favorable terms – regardless of whether you are planning to buy or rent your new property. Oftentimes during this process, the business owner may be a apprehensive about being too forceful during the negotiation process. Justin says this is a great scenario of when a real estate broker would come in handy because they have the knowledge needed to go into the meeting with the confidence of knowing that the “sticker price” is only the starting price.

And if you are worried about sending in a broker to negotiate on your behalf, don’t be.

“Landlords work with brokers all the time,” explained Justin. “In fact, they hire their own brokers. They expect you to bring one to the table as well.”

Location, Location, Location

According to Justin, if a real estate brokerage firm doesn’t specialize in demographics itself, they will work with professionals who do to make sure their clients are getting the ideal location for their business. Whether you want to find out how many similar businesses are in a certain area or whether the local business climate is right for your business to be successful, demographic information helps optimize your office’s geography.

“We can help [our clients] decide the type of environment that’s right for them by taking into consideration foot traffic, visibility, population, and other demographics,” said Justin.

Take The Time You Need

Perhaps one of the best reasons to work with a real estate broker – especially one who specializes in your specific industry, is because they know how to negotiate for terms that matter most to you.

Justin explained that when he works with dental professionals, for example, he always asks for the time needed to move into the space, install equipment, remodel the office and reestablish their client business.

A broker, especially if they specialize in serving businesses like yours, can help you negotiate the time you need to stabilize your business’s cash flow. In fact, Justin said it’s not uncommon to secure a 5-month build-out period and 3-4 months of rent-free office space, which gives you enough time to get your business up and running again.

Are you  considering an office relocation or a major warehouse move, email Rea & Associates to learn more about establishing a strong business advisory team.

By Ryan Dumermuth, CPA, CFP (Mentor office)

Are you looking for more ways to facilitate business growth? These articles should help:

How To Ensure Your Plans Aren’t Bigger Than Your Finances In Times Of Growth

Protect Your Business With These 6 Tips

It’s OK To ‘Think Small’ – Revenue Growth Isn’t Always The Solution

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No People, No Growth

Renee West | February 18th, 2016

Keep Your Prospective Employee Funnel Full With These Recruiting Best Practices

Maximizing your company’s recruitment and retention strategy is essential for securing business growth – not to mention sustaining that growth once you’ve achieved your goals. Here are seven quick tips to help you help you boost your existing human resources efforts and take your search for talent to the next level.

Read Also: Fully Staffed & Operational: How To Master Your Employee Recruitment Strategy

Get the team involved.

Traditionally, the best hires are those that have been referred to your company by an existing employee, which is why it’s so important to get your entire team involved in your recruitment strategy. This means that your 100 employees are the equivalent to 100 brand ambassadors – armed with experience and ready to help you spread the word about your company.

That being said, encouraging your existing employees to get involved isn’t always easy. Start thinking of ways you could show your appreciation for their recruiting efforts. One effective tactic is to implement an employee referral program that gives them a monetary reward for their efforts.

Make sure management engages.

Not only is engagement and transparency in management an important part of a strong retention strategy, if you want to encourage your team to actually get involved you need them to believe in your company and genuinely enjoy their jobs. If they are just there for a paycheck, they will be more likely to leave if another, better opportunity comes along and they will be less likely to “sell” the company to prospective employees.

Listen to the chatter.

What differentiates your company from the competition? Is there a reason why your employees would rather work for you than somewhere else? What does your reputation look like in the community and to the men and women you are targeting as potential employees? Your business is a representation of stories told by your employees, customers, vendors, neighbors, competitors and many others. You won’t always be able to control what is being said about you and your company, but you can listen and make an effort to be an active participant in the conversation. Not only does a strong listening strategy put you in a great position to address issues as they occur, it helps you identify potential concerns the public (particularly prospective) employees may have about your company. You can then make an effort to promptly fix any issues that may arise.

Get strategic.

Not only should you be strategic in your sourcing strategy, you should be anticipating your company’s future staffing issues. Pay attention to your turnover rate and identify which positions will likely need to be filled over the next 12 months. It’s also a very good idea to maintain positive relationships internally and externally. You should also formalize a plan to focus your efforts strategies that have proved to be fruitful in the past. For example, what is the best way to target managerial prospects? Which methods proved to be the most successful when recruiting long-term entry-level positions?

Are you looking for advice to help you grow your business and improve your company culture? Check out unsuitable on Rea Radio, a unique financial services and business advisory podcast that challenges old-school business practices and the traditional business suit culture.

By Renee West, SHRM-CD, PHR (New Philadelphia office)

Want to keep your business fully operational with high-quality employees? These articles could help:

Can Your Business Survive An Employee Exodus? 

Are Your Employees Stakeholders In Your Business?

Retirement Plan Design: One Size Does Not Fit All

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Five Reasons To Fall In Love With Your Financial Advisor

Denell Skelton | February 12th, 2016

While your financial advisor is probably the last person you are thinking about during those romantic holidays, you may want to reconsider and here’s why …

You share the same financial goals.

Whether the topic of conversation is on your personal finances or your business’s financial wellbeing, your financial advisor genuinely cares about your current and future economic security. That’s why they are always looking for ways to save you money – not just during tax season, all year long. Read “Don’t Miss Your Chance to Secure Tax-Free Wealth” to learn about five tax savings strategies you may have missed.



They are not afraid to ask for help.

Because they want your future to be financially sound, your financial advisor is not only happy to call in outside reinforcements and other industry experts to weigh in on key financial decisions, they insist on it. It’s just not realistic for one person to have all the answers, especially in business matters, which is why your financial advisor likely has a contact list full of bankers, lawyers, real estate brokers, city officials and many other industry leaders and business experts. Read “Getting by with A Little Help from Your Friends” for tips to help you identify the right advisors to help you overcome your unique challenges.

They have your back.

From helping you identify ways to protect your business against fraud to helping you avoid spending more money than is necessary during large negotiations, your financial advisor is always looking out for your best interest. Are you looking for ways to prevent occupational fraud in your business or do you need to know the true value of a property you are interested in purchasing? Either way, your financial advisor has the expertise and experience needed to keep you from being taken advantage of. Check out the article “Are Your Employees Skimming from the Top?” and “How to Make Your Building Work for You with a Cost Segregation Study” for more insight into these topics.

They always have good advice.

It should go without saying that your financial advisor has worked with their fair share of business owners. So, when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of running a business, they have a lot of good advice and can give you some great insight into techniques that have worked as well as warning you about others that may have fallen short of meeting expectations. Your financial advisor may not always provide you with the answer you were looking for, but if you bring them into the conversation they will always be there to give you the sound advice you need. Listen to episode 18 of unsuitable on Rea Radio to hear a veteran financial advisor talk about the positive psychology of having hard conversations.”

Help is always right around the corner.

If you have a personal finance question or are in need of expert business advice, email Rea & Associates to speak with one of our expert financial advisors today.

By Denell Skelton, CPA (Coshocton office)

Are you looking for more business tips and insight? Subscribe to unsuitable on Rea Radio on SoundCloud or iTunes and listen to new podcast episodes every week. Listen to these episodes to learn more:

Stuck on $5 million

Outsourcing: Quite Possibly Your Most Powerful Resource

The Revenue Sin

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Protect Your Business With These 6 Tips

Tim McDaniel | February 10th, 2016
Protect Your Business - Ohio CPA Firm

Do you know that most of your net worth is tied up in your business. That means, if you don’t adequately protect it, you could stand to lose nearly everything you’ve spent your life working for. Read on for some great tips to help you protect your business.

It’s human nature to do everything we can to protect the people we love and the property we value. From drawing up legal documents to purchasing the newest safety products on the market – we are always looking for ways to protect what’s ours. Hopefully, this same mindset governs your business’s risk-management strategy as well.

Do you know that most of your net worth is tied up in your business. That means, if you don’t adequately protect it, you could stand to lose nearly everything you’ve spent your life working for.

Columbus Business First recently published my six tips to help business owners protect their most valuable asset. I encourage you to check them out here as well.

  • Draw up a buy-sell agreement.
    Why: As the last will and testament of your business, your buy-sell agreement dictates will happen if a shareholder dies, becomes incapacitated, retires or is fired from the business.
  • Secure contracts for all key employees.
    Why: What would you do if one of your key employees left and took your customers and other employees with them? Before your worse-case-scenario has a chance to materialize, address your concerns in the form of a contract.
  • Have a succession plan.
    Why: Your company’s value could take a hit if you were to unexpectedly be absent from the business. Select and train your replacement sooner rather than later.
  • Comply with government regulations.
    Why: Some violations could cost your business hundreds of thousands of dollars – or more.
  • Protect your intellectual property.
    Why: Your ideas are valuable, especially if your ideas form the foundation of your business. When you protect your intellectual property with patents, copyrights and other legal agreements, you are protecting your business’s value.
  • Secure proper insurance coverage.
    Why: Without the right coverage, a single lawsuit, accident or natural disaster could take your business’s value to zero.

Want to learn more about how a business valuation can help you grow and protect your business? Check out my website at www.knowandgrow.com. You can also follow me on Twitter for helpful business tips throughout the day.

By Tim McDaniel, CPA/ABV, ASA, CBA (Dublin office)

Are you looking for more ways to protect your business? These articles could help!

Are Your Employees Skimming From The Top?

Businesses Beware: Sloppy Data Security Could Cost You

Can Your Business Survive An Employee Exodus?

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Readers Sought Last-Minute Tax Tips In January

Dear Drebit | February 5th, 2016

Top 5 Business Blog Posts Revealed

Not a lot happens in January, unless you are a business owner who is scrambling to meet the IRS deadlines in preparation for the upcoming tax season – 2016 is no different. This is why I am glad to be able to provide you with some great tax and IRS articles from the financial experts at Rea & Associates!

If you haven’t read our top five blog posts from January, now’s your chance. You’re sure to find useful tidbit or two to use help you stay on top of your annual responsibilities while continuing to enhance your business over the next year.

  1. IRS Gives Business Owners The Gift Of More Time – While some taxpayers may be rejoicing after learning that the IRS has delayed 1095-C reporting deadline, it’s important to remember that this late Christmas gift may not be as great as it seems – especially when it comes to meeting the deadline to file your individual tax return. Read on to learn what this deadline delay means to you.
  2. National ID Theft Awareness Month: Get In The Know – December was National ID Theft Awareness Month and the fraud prevention team at Rea is a wealth of information when it comes to sharing great tips to help taxpayers protect their identities from fraudsters. Instead of scrolling past posts in our expansive article library or award-winning blog, we’ve compiled this Top 5 list to make your search for information easier. Read on to discover how you can prevent cyber criminals from hijacking your identity all year long.
  3. Anything Can Happen In Cleveland – Since 1999 that phrase has been uttered so many times in reference to the Cleveland Browns it should have been declared Ohio’s state motto. Well, it’s now 2016 and it looks as though next year might finally be THE year. Why am I so optimistic? Because the day after the Browns cleaned house, the franchise announced who would step in as the new Chief Strategy Officer to help rebuild the team – Paul DePodesta! Read on to learn how this move in Cleveland could mean positive things for your business.
  4. How Far Back Can The IRS Go For Tax Auditing – This is a hot topic every month, especially during tax season. Read on to learn how far back the IRS can go when auditing your taxes.
  5. 16 Resolutions For Business Growth In 2016 – New Year’s resolutions aren’t just great ways to set personal goals; they can help keep us on track professionally as well. This year, instead of worrying about which goal you are going to pick from the New Year’s Resolution menu, why not consider committing your energy and resources into ways that will improve the overall health of your business? Keep reading to find out how.

With tax season in full swing, this month we are busy sharing tips of getting ready for meeting with your accountant, preventing tax fraud and so much more. Don’t want to miss a post? Just subscribe to our blog and have them delivered directly to your inbox.

And don’t forget, if you have a question that pops up this tax season, email the team at Rea & Associates!

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Ohio’s Identity Theft Quiz Returns – With Modifications

Lisa Beamer | February 2nd, 2016

Last year, Ohio’s Department of Taxation rolled out the Identification Confirmation Quiz, which required many Ohioans to prove their identities before receiving a refund. Needless to say, there were more than a few unhappy campers. However, despite its shortcomings, the quiz did what it was supposed to do – helped thwart tax fraud, which is why the Ohio tax quiz will make another appearance in 2016.

Read Also: How To Recover From Identity Theft & Tax Fraud

So, how successful was the quiz at stopping fraudsters from stealing refunds? Very. One Ohio news source reported that the quiz helped identify an estimated 234,336 fraudulent refund requests worth $259.1 million in 2015. The year prior, only 64,693 requests were reportedly stopped.

“We are committed to combating tax fraud and ensuring that tax refunds are paid only to legitimate filers,” said Joe Testa, Ohio tax commissioner, in an op-ed piece on the Ohio Bar Association’s website on Jan. 6. “We believe we’re among the leaders in the country in aggressively combating these fraud schemes. Last year, the Identity Confirmation Quiz was instrumental in that fight.”

Testa did go on to say that, after reviewing feedback from last year’s tax season, changes were made to the types of questions asked in an attempt to improve the entire process while facilitating a better experience overall. He said that further improvements were made to the department’s tax return analysis, which should result in fewer taxpayers from being required to take the quiz in order to receive a refund.

Tax fraud and identity theft continues to be a major problem throughout the nation, but you don’t have to stand by and do nothing. This article will provide you with some tips to help reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

Want more safety tips to help get you through tax season unscathed? Check out these articles:

Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

When Scammers Demand That You Pay Up, IRS Says You Should Hang Up

Let’s Talk About The F-Word

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Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

Ashley Matthews | January 29th, 2016

Income tax identity theft and refund fraud has become a huge problem over the last few years; and while billions of dollars are finding their way into the pockets of fraudsters, the IRS is working hard to shut down these schemes.

The IRS paid roughly $5.8 billion dollars in fraudulent refunds to identity thieves over the course of the 2013 filing season. While that is a huge number, it could have been a lot worse. During the same time period, the amount the IRS successfully prevented or recovered totaled around $24.2 billion. But these statistics only take into consideration the fraud we know about.

Identity theft isn’t just a threat during tax season, scammers are exploiting a lot of cracks in your armor. Listen to episode 12: the great data saver on unsuitable on Rea Radio for insight from Joe Welker, CISA, Rea’s IT Audit Manager

The Unknown Number

While it is nice to know that the IRS is working hard to prevent identity theft and refund fraud, the truth is that we don’t yet have all the information to determine how bad the income tax fraud epidemic really is. This means that we continue to be at risk of becoming a fraud victim again this tax season. Perhaps if we knew how many fraudulent tax returns went on to be processed and how many billions of dollars were paid out to scammers looking to make a quick buck we could finally make some educated assumptions about the likelihood of being defrauded out of your refund check.

I don’t like not having all the necessary information.

Read Also: Ohio Department of Taxation Stops Thieves From Stealing Millions

This year, income tax fraud is expected to be higher than ever. This video, produced by abc6 out of Columbus, Ohio, shines more light on the topic of identity theft in Ohio.

Calling In Reinforcements

The IRS has realized that identity theft and refund fraud are threats that are showing no signs of going away. So the agency has requested help. The Internal Revenue Service, in cooperation with state tax administrators and tax industry leaders, has formed a public-private sector partnership to identify and test more than 20 new data elements on tax return submissions that will be shared with the IRS to detect and prevent fraudulent filings. The software industry is doing its part by putting enhanced identity validation requirements in place to protect customers and their personal information from identity thieves.

As of October 2015, 34 state departments of revenue and 20 tax industry members have signed memorandums of understanding regarding coalition’s roles, responsibilities and information sharing measures. More states are expected to sign on later.

Taxpayers Are Encouraged To Fight Back Against Fraud

Over the last 3 years, the IRS has initiated more than 3,000 fraud investigations. Those investigations have gone forward to convict and sentence close to 2,000 thieves to around 40 months in prison apiece. But there is still much to be done. They are doing their part.  We as taxpayers have to do ours.

In January, the IRS launched the “Taxes. Security. Together.” initiative to educate taxpayers on income tax identity theft and ways they can safeguard their information and protect themselves. According to the agency, there are several ways you can protect yourself from identity theft – especially during tax season:

  • Keep your computer secure
  • Avoid phishing email and malware
  • Protect your personal information

Above all, choose your tax preparer wisely and make sure they take their responsibility to safeguard your information very seriously. A tax preparer can also help if you do encounter a situation in which your information could be compromised.

By Ashley Matthews, CPA (Dublin office)

Want to take steps to ensure that you won’t be a fraud victim this year? These articles feature information that can help.

Should I still be concerned about identity theft and tax fraud?

How can you protect yourself from tax fraud

Identity Theft Prevention: Tips To Reduce Your Risk of Becoming a Victim

How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

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Are Your Employees Skimming From The Top?

Annie Yoder | January 29th, 2016

Fraud Triangle- Ohio CPA Firm Dear Drebit: As a new business without a cash register, what is the best way (accounting method-wise or other) to protect cash receipts from sales against employee theft or dishonest activity? Thanks, “Ernest”

Dear Ernest: Great question! Segregation of duties is essential when it comes to protecting your business against fraud. Here are some tips to help you protect your business from employee theft or dishonest activity.

5 Ways To Prevent Fraud In Your Small Business

  • Your bank activity and all copies of your cancelled checks should be reviewed by someone other than the individual who collected the cash. Similarly, the person who collected the cash should not be the same person responsible for taking the deposit to the bank.
  • Inventory records should be reviewed by the business owner, who should then compare them with the company’s sales totals/collections. While your number probably won’t be exact, it will help you identify large variances. Start by reviewing how much inventory was sold and identify the sales price. Then review that total with the business’s sales totals.
  • Never use the cash in the register to pay vendors for business expenses. All payables should be processed in such a way to provide you with a paper trail. A check or card payment is ideal.
  • Lead by example. Your employees are watching your behavior, which means if they see you removing cash from the till, they will have an easier time rationalizing their behavior to do the same. It’s up to you to set a good tone at the top.
  • If the person responsible for collecting payment from your customers throughout the day is also responsible for preparing a “daily reconciliation” of monies, their work should be double-checked by another employee as well. Again, because it’s just that important, someone other than the employee who collected the money in the first place should be the one to take the funds to the bank. After the deposit has been made, the employee should return with the validated deposit slip to compare with the day’s sales activity.

While you can never reduce the risk of fraud from occurring to zero, any control you put in place – even the perception of oversight – will help deter fraud.

I recently spoke about this topic on our podcast, unsuitable on Rea Radio. If you get a chance, check out episode 3: trust is not an internal control for more insight, tips and general fraud prevention advice.

If you would like more information on internal controls, email Rea & Associates. You may also find the information provided in this video to be helpful.

By Annie Yoder, CPA, CFE, CFF (New Philadelphia office)

Learn more about the impact of occupational fraud, check out these articles:

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: 5 Internal Control Tips That Can Save Your Business From Fraud

Fraud Hotlines Deter Occupational Fraud

Cost-Effective Ways To Deter Fraud

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Don’t Forget Your Health Coverage

Joe Popp | January 27th, 2016

2016 individual mandate penaltiesIt’s getting expensive to not have health insurance and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people out there who are not prepared to pay the  $700 flat fee for 2016 (or 2.5 percent of your income if greater). The break even is $28,000 income for single, so a great majority of people will likely pay the higher fee based on percentage of income.

If you don’t have insurance, or if you know somebody who has neglected to purchase insurance, time’s running out. The deadline to enroll on healthcare.gov is Jan. 31.

Just look at how much penalties have increased over the years!

2014, 2015 and 2016 Annual Payment Amounts

Year 2014 Year 2015 Year 2016
Percentage amount

1% of income
above filing threshold*

2% of income
above filing threshold*
2.5% of income
above filing threshold*

Flat dollar amount**

$95 per adult
$47.50 per child
$325 per adult
$162.50 per child

$695 per adult
$347.50 per child

Employees: Do you know how the new IRS Form 1095-C filing requirements impact you? Click here to find out.

By Joseph Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)

Want to learn more about your healthcare options? Check out these articles:

The Cost Of Reimbursing Employees For Health Care
Obamacare Is Here … Now What?
Know Your Health Insurance Options

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The 2016 Tax Season Is In Full Swing, Are You Ready?

Lesley Mast | January 22nd, 2016
Tax Planning - Ohio CPA Firm

Tax season doesn’t have to be the stuff nightmares are made of. Believe it or not, it can be a smooth, uneventful process. Just remember, preparation is the key to tax season success.

Your holiday decorations have been tucked away, subzero temperatures have found their way to your neighborhood and your W-2’s are in the mail … tax season is upon us once again!

This year, don’t let the hunt for tax forms, pay stubs and receipts stress you out. Instead, take a few minutes to brush up on some of our best tax season tips and avoid becoming a victim of the last-minute filing chaos that ultimately ensues in April.

Top 5 Tax Season Planning Tools

  1. File Faster With This Tax Prep ChecklistIt’s that time of year again – time to gather your information and prepare to file your tax return. You may be surprised how fast the entire filing process goes if you spend a little time preparing before you make your appointment with the tax preparer. Get your tax prep checklist here to avoid missing the filing deadline.
  1. From Toddler To Teen And Beyond: Tax Breaks For Families: With parenthood comes many rewarding experiences – and expenses. You hear about how expensive it is to raise a child, but you never really know what to expect until that little bundle of joy enters your life. From diapers, pre-school, extracurricular activities and saving for college, the costs of raising kids adds up fast. Read on to discover what tax breaks are available to families?
  1. How To Win Tax SeasonBy mid-January, statistically, most Americans have already abandoned their New Year’s resolutions – those promises you make to yourself to hit the gym, get more sleep or become more organized. But hopefully, you’re not like most Americans – especially if better organization is the goal. Today I want to urge you not to give up at least not until April 15. Keep reading to find out how you can win tax season with these four tax prep tips.
  1. Taxes Are Like FishingAre you wondering where I’m going with this, wonder no more. You are sure to find a lot of valuable insight in this episode of unsuitable on Rea Radio. Episode 9, Taxes Are Like Fishing, features Melane Howell, CPA, a tax manager at Rea, talking about the importance of strategic preparation, just in time for tax season. Listen now for great insight and sound tax tips that are sure to make this tax season the easiest one yet!
  1. The Truth About Tax ExtensionsWhile the first four months of the year is a busy time for accountants, we know that things don’t always go according to plan. But instead of enduring penalties for filing a late return, you may find that filing a tax extension is a better option. Contrary to popular belief, tax extensions aren’t as bad as you may have heard. Read on to learn the truth about tax extensions, and don’t forget to check out the slideshow.

Tax season doesn’t have to be the stuff nightmares are made of. Believe it or not, it can be a smooth, uneventful process. Just remember, preparation is the key to tax season success.

Need help filing your individual or business tax return? Email Rea & Associates for help. Our team of tax advisors can help you change your perspective of tax season into one that is more positive for everyone.

By Lesley Mast, CPA (Wooster office)

Check out these articles for more helpful tips for individuals:

Cyber Crime: It Can Happen To You

You Can Still Have The Final Say After Death

Debt vs. Taxes: Should You Pay Off Your Loan

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Dude, You’re Getting … Hacked

Steve Roth | January 20th, 2016

Could Your Computer Make You A Target For Fraudsters?

Dell Computer Hack | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Learn how to keep your computer safe from this new scam.

There is a new scam making the rounds and if you have a Dell computer you could be at risk.

KnowBe4 recently published a blog informing users of the newest security issue, which has apparently left owners of Dell computers vulnerable to scammers who have been able to capture their computer’s unique tag ID (the unique sticker on your desktop or laptop) from Dell’s database.

Read Also: WARNING: Tis The Season To Practice Safe Online Shopping Habits

Fraudsters proceed to call potential victims and attempt to gain access to their personal computer by claiming that there is a problem with their computer – the stolen information is then used to establish credibility. Once the fraudster convinces their victim to grant them remote access to their desktop or laptop to “fix” the problem, the scam is complete and the security of your personal information has been compromised. In other words, your personal information (such as credit card numbers, banking information, Social Security number, contact information, etc.) is no longer personal.

Dell has said that the company is investigating the issue but, at this time, offers little to no explanation for the alleged breach. Rather, the company is quick to point customers to this October 2, 2015 post advising of tech support phone scams.

According to the KnowBe4 blog post, this scam is similar to a Microsoft tech support scam where fraudsters call PC users with a similar request – to be allowed to gain remote access to a computer to fix an alleged problem.

“End-users gullible enough to give access to their workstations (usually via remote software), are billed hundreds of dollars on their credit card but the scammers, of course, don’t fix anything – in some cases their PC’s are infected with ransomware until they pay up.”

Protect Yourself

This is a great time to educate yourself and your employees about ways to keep your company’s data, computers and other devices safe. For example, if you do get a suspicious call, refrain from providing any information to the caller. Instead, insist that you will call them back. When you do return the call, use a phone number you know to be accurate or visit the company’s website for the phone number. Never call back the number that shows up on your caller ID. Another way to determine if the number is legit is to search the number in Google. This is a fairly accurate way to determine the validity of the call.

Have you been a victim of identity theft? Read on to start recovering today.

It seems that a new scam pops up every week. Fortunately, education and a little common sense is the key to your ensuring your safety.

Would you like help putting controls in place to protect your business from becoming victimized by a opportunistic hacker? Email Rea & Associates and request to speak with a member of our IT audit team. For more tips and insight, take a look at the related articles below,

By Steve Roth, IT Director (New Philadelphia office)

Want more security tips for your business, check out these posts:

Stop Criminals From Hijacking Your Identity With These Top 5 ID Theft Prevention Posts

Then And Now: Data Security In America Since The Target Breach

Who Is That Email Really From?

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Go Green for the Planet and Pocket the Savings

Brian Kempf | January 11th, 2016
Think Green To Save Money | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Bright Idea:
Start saving in 2016. If you haven’t already, replace discontinued incandescent light bulbs with LED and other energy-efficient bulb options and save on your electric bill. Read on for more great tips!

It’s always a good time to talk about ways to realize some significant savings, and sometimes all you have to do is go green to save some green. Even though some green initiatives may seem to have a higher upfront cost, the IRS continues to offer a variety of tax saving incentives to help balance the burden as well as to reward you for making a few pro-planet upgrades to your home and/or business property.

Since it’s the beginning of the year and we are already open to the idea of making a few changes, we have another one for you to consider. Because Jan. 10 was national cut your engine cost day, we wanted to give you some ideas to help you celebrate the occasion while investing in the long-term sustainability of both your planet and finances.

For Individuals:

Planning to install a residential fuel cell and micro turbine system in the near future? Through the end of 2016 you may qualify for a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of the project, up to $500 per 0.5 kilowatt of power capacity.

Looking to purchase a new car soon? Tax credits are available for all electrical cars. You can visit the DOE’s Fuel Economy website to search what cars are eligible. Based on the vehicle’s battery capacity the credit can be between $2,500 to $7,500.

For Business Owners:

If your business has installed solar panels at company properties, then you may be eligible for up to a 30 percent tax credit for installation and project costs. This credit is available until Dec. 31, 2016.

An energy-efficient commercial building tax deduction allows businesses to deduct certain costs related to making a building energy-efficient rather than capitalize those costs over 39 years. Some improvements that might apply include:

  • interior lighting systems
  • HVAC systems
  • hot water systems
  • insulation and exterior windows and doors

But there’s a catch – you have to get a certified licensed engineer to review the project and verify that it meets the IRS’s requirements for a tax deduction. The maximum deduction that can be taken is calculated at $1.80 times the building square footage for property placed into service in 2016.

Finally, if you plan to install a geothermal system, your business may qualify for a 10 percent tax credit.

With rising electric costs, implementing some of these green initiatives can garner you tax savings now and energy cost savings in the future.

Looking to more ways to go green and cut expenses? Email Rea & Associates and ask for more tips.

By Brian Kempf, CPA (Millersburg)

Looking for more ways to improve your business in the new year? Check out these posts:

16 Resolutions For Business Growth In 2016

Easy Year-End Tax Tips For Business Owners

It’s OK To ‘Think Small’

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Anything Can Happen In Cleveland

Katie Snyder | January 8th, 2016

“There’s always next year …”

Value of Big Data - Ohio CPA Firm

Paul DePodesta has just been announced as the Cleveland Browns Chief Strategy Officer to assist in rebuilding the team. Can big data help the Browns like it helped the Oakland A’s?

Since 1999 that phrase has been uttered so many times in reference to the Cleveland Browns it should have been declared Ohio’s state motto. Well, it’s now 2016 and it looks as though next year might finally be THE year. Why am I so optimistic? Because the day after the Browns cleaned house, the franchise announced who would step in as the new Chief Strategy Officer to help rebuild the team – Paul DePodesta!

Some of you may have no idea who this guy is. But stay with me here while I explain why the news of the Browns hiring DePodesta may have changed the way I look at a team that has done nothing but bring me heartache and disappointment for more than literally half my life.

Six months back I wrote the post “The Billy Beane Approach To Business Success,” which was inspired by another lackluster sports team. One night, rather than watch the Cleveland Indians withstand another defeat, I chose to watch a baseball story with a much happier ending.

If you’ve seen Moneyball then you know that Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, is famous for abandoning “business as usual” and embracing a data driven approach to team building. In doing so, Beane transformed his team and began delivering results simply by recruiting players based on a single data point – their ability to get on base.

So, what does Beane’s story have to do with the Cleveland Browns and Paul DePodesta? Everything. DePodesta, also known as Beane’s right-hand-man, is the guy who first identified the data that went on to drive the Oakland A’s success!

It looks like the Dawg Pound is scheduled for a renovation after all and that “next year” may finally be here!

Now the question is: what data driver will be the key to turning the Browns into a winning team?

What Drives Your Business’s Success?

Take a play from the Browns’ new strategy, your priority should always be defined by what is driving your business’s success and you can’t afford to let yourself become bogged down by business as usual. If you are finding that you are becoming more and more distracted, it may be time to take a fresh look at your organization and refocus on what’s important. Let go of everything else.

This is something the management team at Rea can speak a lot about. The firm recently rolled out its new strategic plan, which calls for all 200+ employees throughout 11 offices across the state of Ohio to focus on a singular driver. Today, all employees are able to clearly identify how their position impacts the firm’s ability to be successful and, together, we can work to deliver real, measurable results.

Listen to Rea’s CEO talk about the firm’s new strategic plan in episode 4 of unsuitable on Rea Radio: “How To Run With The Big Dogs.”

Are you ready to make a change and develop a winning strategy? We can help. Email Rea & Associates to speak to someone who can help you identify and assess your company’s drivers.

In the meantime, I don’t know about you, but I will be eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Browns’ new GM (general manager.) Maybe it will be Kevin Costner –  he did a great job for the Browns in Draft Day. The Browns do have the number two draft pick of 2016. Anything can happen.

By Katie Snyder (Wooster office)

 

Want more tips to help you improve your business? These posts will help:

How Can A Focus On Inventory Management Help My Business?

Cash Flow Is King: Where Do You Need To Focus?

Getting Back To Business: How Outsourcing May Provide Relief To Your Business

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Egg Nog & Tax Tips: Top 5 Posts In December

Dear Drebit | January 6th, 2016

December is such an exciting time. Shopping, baking, decorating and spending time with family and friends celebrating keeps a frog busy. But, in-between the office parties and family gatherings, the team and I were still able to address some of your end-of-the-year questions and concerns.

From the updates we received from our pals over on Capital Hill to year-end tax tips, there was certainly a lot to write about this month. These were the top-read posts in December

  1. Easy Year-End Tax Tips For Business Owners: There’s no doubt about it, this time of year is busy! I’m willing to be that sitting down at the computer to research tax deductions is the last thing on your mind. You’re in luck! We’ve done the work for you. Click here for some great tips, deductions and insight that will help you keep more of your hard-earned money in your bank account.
  2. Employers: Are You Ready To Change The Way You Withhold Municipal Tax Payments?:  Ready or not, all Ohio municipalities will be welcoming a slew of new provisions designed to bring about a unified system of income tax reporting. House Bill 5 was signed into law by Gov. Kasich on Dec. 19, 2014. The bill, which was championed by the Ohio Society of CPAs and supporters, helped streamline several key measures that help establish meaningful municipal tax reform. Per the legislation, many key provisions are scheduled went into effect Jan. 1 of this year. Read on for Four facts about the changes you need to know.
  3. Congress Gives Taxpayers An Early Christmas Present: Year after year, Congress promises to address the future of many expired tax provisions, and year after year they fail to make a definitive decision – opting only to pass legislation that extends the provisions for another year. In the meantime, taxpayers are expected to take on the impossible task of navigating the terrain amidst legislative uncertainty. Happily, things are about to change. Read on to learn why.
  4. How Far Back Can The IRS Go For Tax Auditing? – As a CPA I’m frequently asked, “How far back can the IRS look to audit my tax return?” That’s a great question. Can the IRS go back and audit your tax return from five years ago? 10 years ago? 25 years ago? Before you start to panic, rest assured that the IRS has a statute of limitations in place that generally puts a limit on the time allowed to audit you and assess additional tax. Keep reading to find out how far back they can go.
  5. Cyber Crime: It Can Happen To You: Fraudsters don’t take holidays. In fact, they tend to be more active this time of year because they believe we are more likely to let our guards down. I don’t intend on falling for any of their traps, and I encourage you to do the same. Check out what you can do to protect yourself.

Now that December is history, let’s look forward to a great 2016. Stay tuned as we provide you with the latest and greatest news in the business and financial world. While you’re at it, don’t forget subscribe to our blog to receive email reminders when new stories are posted.

You can also ask your own question by filling out the simple form at the top, right side of this page.

Finally, remember that the team at Rea is always available to discuss your specific business issues in more depth. All you have to do is email Rea & Associates and we would be happy to set up a time to talk more.

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Pay more attention to your company’s cash flow for a prosperous 2016

Dave Cain | January 5th, 2016

A 13-week rolling cash flow budget lets you harness the past, present and future of your company to arrive at a comprehensive analysis of its overall financial well-being – making you a more effective leader and decision-maker.

An effective cash flow is rooted in your company’s historical trends and considers current initiatives and any internal and external factors that may impact the financial security of your business – including past, present and future billing and payment patterns. In order to dig a little further to gain a little more insight into your company, I recommend:

  • Analyzing your accounts receivable to determine ways to quickly turn them in to cash.
  • Reviewing your current inventory levels to determine what is old or obsolete and what can be used to generate more revenue.
  • Going over your accounts payable to optimize your own financial obligations.
  • Looking at your non-core assets to determine how much money is being spent and whether or not a more lucrative avenue is available.

Finally, don’t forget to update your cash flow regularly. Setting up a cash flow dashboard will take a little extra effort at first, but maintaining it is simple. Then, if done correctly, you will have the ability to accurately estimate your business’s variable costs and expected sales at a moment’s notice – and that is a very powerful tool to have.

To learn more, visit www.reacpa.com/cashflow and listen to my podcast about why $1 million doesn’t matter or, if you have questions, send me an email.

This article was published in the January 2016 issue of Columbus Business First – Ask The Expert.

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16 Resolutions For Business Growth In 2016

Dear Drebit | January 4th, 2016
Be Accountable In 2016 | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Might we suggest 16 resolutions to help your company prosper in 2016?

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just great ways to set personal goals; they can help keep us on track professionally as well. This year, instead of worrying about which goal you are going to pick from the New Year’s Resolution menu, why not consider committing your energy and resources into ways that will improve the overall health of your business?

Might we suggest 16 resolutions to help your company prosper in 2016?

1. Celebrate your amazing team.

If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you wouldn’t be where you are today without your team. Just remember that if you don’t work to retain your top performers, you run the risk of losing them. Start celebrating your human capital.

2. Make a gift, but make sure it’s effective.

When we give a monetary gift to a not-for-profit organization, we want to know that it’s going to be used in the best, most effective way possible. Make sure your money is well spent.

3. Design a better retirement plan.

The way your company’s retirement plan is designed can be a huge motivator for your employees. If your plan has a good plan design, participants will be more willing to invest in it. Work with a retirement plan expert to find a retirement plan design that works for you.

4. Review your will, estate plan and buy-sell agreement.

Legal changes over the last few years may have made updating these documents necessary, not to mention any personal changes that may have taken place. It’s just good practice to make sure this important paperwork gets updated regularly. It could get messy if you forget.

5. Develop a line item in your budget for continuing education.

Investing in yourself and your employees is a good way to engage your workforce. One way is to add dollars to the budget for training and continuing education. Find out what else you can do to promote employee retention.

6. Improve your company’s cash flow.

Easier said than done, right? Just remember that you can’t spend the bottom line profit, but you can use the cash flow to reinvest in your business and community. A sustainable cash flow model will ultimately increase the value of your business.

7. Know what your business is really worth.

Your business is easily your most valuable asset. So, how can you nurture its growth if you don’t know how much it’s worth? Discover why it’s so important to know the value of your business.

8. Develop a wellness program.

Healthcare costs are high and one way companies are taking control is by introducing a wellness program. As with any new plan, several factors will greatly increase your company’s success.  Start planning your wellness program implementation and soon you will be saving money.

9. Upgrades for the business.

It seems like there are always better ways to get things done. Perhaps 2016 is a good time to make a few upgrades. In the process, your purchase could be good for a deduction at tax time.

10. Schedule a family vacation.

A successful business has the understanding and support of your family. Long hours … late suppers … numerous emails and a 24/7 mentality have become just another part of the routine. Reward yourself and your family with a family vacation. A vacation isn’t just good for your peace of mind, it’s good for your business.

11. Save more for retirement.

It’s always a good idea to keep your retirement goals top-of-mind, which is why you should evaluate your current retirement plan situation and determine if you need to make any changes to get further ahead in 2016. Ask your advisor if you are setting aside as much as you could (and should) be.

12. Defend your cyber space.

Hackers and fraudsters are stopping at nothing to get to your data. Whether they have plans to steal your system’s information to sell to other criminals or are trying to make a quick buck by holding your data for ransom, if you don’t have a disaster recovery plan you and your business could be in serious trouble. Make 2016 the year you get your data security plan in place.

13. Meet with all your advisors at least once a year.

You work with a lot of people over the course of your career and it’s important to maintain those relationships – regardless of whether you will need their services or not. Set aside some time to meet with your accounting, legal, estate planning, investment, banking, retirement and other advisors, even if it’s just to chat. An impromptu meeting could reveal opportunities you didn’t know were there.

14. Establish a fraud hotline.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has found fraud hotlines to be the most effective way for detecting and preventing fraud. Don’t let occupational fraud destroy your businesses.

15. Stay organized … for real, this time.

Every year it happens. You promised yourself that this year would be different. Now, once again, you are rushing to your gather receipts, remember how much money you spent at last year’s company retreat, and backtrack through balance sheets. Wouldn’t it be nice not to have this year-end stress anymore? By implementing a few simple procedures, you can avoid another crunch-time crisis.

16. Trim the fat.

If you are really looking for a way to make a significant reduction this year, take a look at your inventory. If you are carrying around some extra weight, chances are your business is feeling the pinch. This simple 3-step program will get you back on track.


Be Accountable In 2016

Have you identified a few resolutions to begin implementing over the course of 2016? Great! Need help holding yourself accountable? Send your list of 2016 New Year’s Resolutions to Rea & Associates and one of our business consultants will work with you to make this your best year in business yet!

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IRS Gives Business Owners The Gift Of More Time

Joe Popp | January 4th, 2016
Form 1095 Deadline Extended - Ohio CPA Firm

Failure to comply with provisions set forth in the ACA can lead to catastrophic penalties, which is why we have actively sought to inform business owners of their responsibility to file Form 1095-C. Unfortunately, we knew that while we could successfully inform many businesses in advance of the original deadline – some were going to be left behind. Time, it seemed, just wasn’t on our side. But the IRS saw this threat and, as 2015 came to a close, took action to delay the 1095-C reporting deadline - (hopefully) keeping many small businesses intact.

While some taxpayers may be rejoicing after learning that the IRS has delayed 1095-C reporting deadline, it’s important to remember that this late Christmas gift may not be as great as it seems - especially when it comes to meeting the deadline to file your individual tax return.

Read Also: Make BIG Changes Or Face BIG Fines

1095-C Reporting Deadline Postponed

As you may already know, failure to comply with provisions set forth in the Affordable Care Act can lead to catastrophic penalties, which is why we have actively sought to inform business owners of their responsibility to file Form 1095-C. Unfortunately, we knew that while we could successfully inform many businesses in advance of the original Jan. 31 deadline – some were going to be left behind. Time, it seemed, just wasn’t on our side. But the IRS saw this threat and, as 2015 came to a close, took action to delay the 1095-C reporting deadline - (hopefully) keeping many small businesses in tact.

Employers now have until March 31 to provide employees with Form 1095-C and the deadline to file the form electronically with the IRS was moved to June 30. The IRS also extended the deadlines for 1095-Bs to these new dates as well.

Remember, all 2014 large employers are required to file these forms, based on 2015 data. Per employee penalties will accrue for those who file late or fail to file. Some businesses may be considered large employers under the ACA, and not even know it; but there are ways to determine your employer status before it’s too late.

That Sounds Great, Except …

Now for the bad news – there will be some individual tax payers who may not get these forms to us until the first week of April. For most taxpayers, this will simply require some additional due diligence with no delay to filing their tax return. However, there will be some individuals who will likely have to file an extension if they do not get their forms in time. Don’t be afraid of tax extensions. As long as you work proactively with your tax advisor, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, filing a tax extension could be very helpful. Click here to get “The Truth About Tax Extensions”

You Do Not Have Permission To Do Nothing

You’ve been given extra time. Now let’s make the most of it. Rea & Associates is still accepting new clients for 1095-C Form preparation projects, And, as we have previously stated, the top payroll companies are already booked to capacity with wait lists growing by the day. If you haven’t started on this project yet and know that you should, take advantage of this delay and email me for help. My team here at Rea can also help you determine if your business is considered a large employer – which can keep you from being blindsided when the IRS determines that you do, indeed meet the large employer qualifications.

By Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)

Want to learn more about your responsibilities under the ACA? These articles will provide you with more insight:

The Cost Of Reimbursing Employees For Health Care

Obamacare: Discrimination Is Not An Option

Secure Form 1095-C Help Now And Avoid Penalties

 

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Business Leaders Were Reading What?!

Dear Drebit | December 28th, 2015

2015′s Most Popular Blog Posts

Best Business Blog Posts 2015- Ohio CPA FirmIf you take a moment to scroll through the list of categories, authors and archives on the right-hand side of this page, it’s pretty clear to see just how active Rea’s team of experts are when it comes to providing leaders in the business community with accurate, timely and easy to digest content. We are fortunate to have so much experience and expertise on our staff, and their eagerness to serve you better has allowed us to maintain a bi-weekly electronic newsletter, a quarterly print newsletter, three blogs and a handful of electronic segment specific newsletters. That’s a lot of content – but we are not even thinking about slowing down! I hope you hang around my lily pad for awhile. I’m pretty sure you’ll find a lot of great little tidbits to read about in 2016 too. Until then, I want to invite you to take a look at some of our most popular blog posts and articles. And, if you haven’t already, take a moment to look through the newsletters we offer and sign up to have news, tips and valuable information delivered to your inbox all year long!

Top 5 Dear Drebit Posts In 2015

Dear Drebit is updated every few days with timely information and advice. In addition to covering current trends and issues, readers are also invited to ask financial and business questions on the page, which will be answered by one of Rea’s industry experts. Here are last year’s top posts:

  1. How Far Back Can The IRS Go For Auditing?
  2. Theft Safeguards To Cause Tax Return Delays In Ohio
  3. Six Things 401K Plan Sponsors Need To Do Now
  4. New Adjustments Will Affect Your 2015 Tax Return
  5. File Faster With This Tax Prep Checklist

5 Most Popular Posts On Brushing Up Blog

Brushing Up: The Dental Accounting Blog features a variety of finance and business advice specifically tailored to dental professionals. From purchasing a practice, knowing what to expect from a career in dentistry and hiring the best staff for your practice to general accounting advice, tips for cashing out at retirement and tax tips, this blog is a valuable tool for dental professionals who are looking for ways to secure long-term success in their career. The year’s most-read blog posts are:

  1. How Sales & Use Taxes Apply To Ohio Dental Practices
  2. 6 QuickBooks Tips Every Dentist Should Know
  3. Could A Crown Be A Tax Deduction?
  4. 10 Year-End Tax Planning Strategies For Dentists
  5. Buying An Established Dental Practice? Master The Changeover 

Cultivating Your Business Readers Choose Top 5 2015 Posts

The Cultivating Your Business blog is a resource provided to clients and visitors on the firm’s Know & Grow website. Updated a few times per month, business owners have access to advice, tips and general insight into how to grow their businesses and realize an optimal return on their investment upon retirement. Here are the top blog posts from last year:

  1. Bad Buy-Sell Agreement Claims Another Family Dinner
  2. Will Your Summer Reading List Make You A Better Business Owner?
  3. WARNING: Free Business Valuation Offer Is Unbelievable
  4. Uncover The Secrets To Cashing In On Your Business
  5. How To Communicate To Your Employees That You’re Selling Your Business

Top 10 Articles In Rea’s Library In 2015

In addition to our blogs, the Rea team publishes a lot of other valuable content in print and electronic newsletters. We make sure that all these articles are easily accessible in our article library. This is where you will find many of our niche pieces as well as a lot of general accounting tips and insights. Take a look at some of our most popular posts over the last year.

  1. What Is The Mid-Quarter Convention?
  2. Dangers Of Paying Under The Table
  3. Revenue Recognition Changes Are Coming
  4. Football Ticket Deductions
  5. 401K Loans And Keeping Your Plan In Compliance
  6. Take Control Of Your Vendor Master In Nine Steps
  7. Why Your Traditional Employee Management Method Is Failing
  8. The Birth Of The Taxpayer’s Estate
  9. Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow: But What About Your 401K?
  10. Purchasing Cards Compromise Business Security
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National ID Theft Awareness Month: Get in the Know

Joe Welker | December 26th, 2015

Stop Criminals From Hijacking Your Identity With These Top 5 ID Theft Prevention Posts

ID Theft Awareness | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Identity theft is a scary thing and you don’t want to become a victim. Take some steps now to protect yourself in the future.

December is National ID Theft Awareness Month and the fraud prevention team at Rea is a wealth of information when it comes to sharing great tips to help taxpayers protect their identities from fraudsters. Instead of scrolling past posts in our expansive article library or award-winning blog, we’ve compiled this Top 5 list to make your search for information easier. Read on to discover how you can prevent cyber criminals from hijacking your identity all year long.

Read Also: Let’s Talk About The F-Word

  1. WARNING: Tis The Season To Practice Safe Online Shopping Habits: While it may be the most wonderful time of the year, cyber criminals are looking for ways to stuff their own stockings – at your expense. The holiday season is also a busy time of the year for scammers because, in general, more money is being spent and more people are clicking through cyberspace for the best deals and tracking their purchases. Find out what you can do to keep your identity safe this Holiday season.
  2. Cyber Crime: It Can Happen To You: Fraudsters don’t take holidays. In fact, they tend to be more active this time of year because they believe we are more likely to let our guards down. I don’t intend on falling for any of their traps, and I encourage you to do the same.
  3. Malware Threat Spreads To Smart Phones: Researchers and IT security experts from ESET, a global IT security company, recently announced that they had discovered a malware application that is designed to encrypt files and change PINs on Android devices in the United States. In return, victims are demanded to pay up to the tune of $500. Only then will hackers provide users with the recover key. Keep reading to learn how you can protect yourself.
  4. Should I Still Be Concerned About Identity Theft And Tax Fraud?: Identity theft and tax fraud are problems that show no signs of stopping. In 2015, in an attempt to provide an added layer of protection, taxpayers in Ohio had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Ohio Department of Taxation’s (ODT) newest fraud safety measure – the Identification Confirmation Quiz. Read on to see how this quiz has helped reduce fraud in Ohio.
  5. How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud: Suspecting, and then confirming, that you’ve had your identity stolen is a nightmarish scenario. It combines one of your worst fears, losing your wallet or purse, with all of the work of replacing the things that were lost. It can be so overwhelming you might be wondering: “Where do I even start?” We can help you answer that question.

Identity theft is a scary thing and you don’t want to become a victim. Take some steps now to protect yourself in the future.

Want to learn more about keeping your identity safe? Email the team at Rea & Associates, our fraud prevention specialists can be an important of keeping your information protected.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

Looking for tips to secure your business from fraudsters? Check out these posts:

Fraudulent Credit Card Transactions Will Become Merchant’s Problem On Oct. 1

Who Is That Email Really From?

Businesses Beware: Sloppy Data Security Could Cost You

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Congress Gives Taxpayers An Early Christmas Present

Ashley Matthews | December 21st, 2015

PATH Act Makes Several Key Tax Provisions Permanent

PATH Act Makes Several Key Tax Provisions Permanent | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Congress finally made good on its promise to make take a more definitive stance on the future of many popular tax provisions last week when members voted in favor of making many of them permanent. Other tax provisions received a temporary extension. Read on to learn more.

There is nothing like waiting until the last minute to complete a task. We’ve all been there and we all promise we’ll never do it again. Unfortunately (especially when it comes to determining the future of several valuable tax provisions) our government has fallen victim to the same bad habit.

Year after year, Congress promises to address the future of many expired tax provisions, and year after year they fail to make a definitive decision – opting only to pass legislation that extends the provisions for another year. In the meantime, taxpayers are expected to take on the impossible task of navigating the terrain amidst legislative uncertainty. Happily, things are about to change.

Listen To Our Podcast Taxes Are Like Fishing To Learn More About Tax Strategy

Congress finally made good on its promise to make take a more definitive stance on the future of many popular tax provisions last week when members voted in favor of making many of them permanent. Other tax provisions received a temporary extension. The legislation, Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, and provides taxpayers a level of certainty that they have been without for quite some time.

This legislation offers a lot of relief to individuals and businesses, alike. Here’s an overview of what you can expect moving forward.

Key Tax Provisions Made Permanent By The PATH Act:

  • 15-year recovery period for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant buildings and improvements, and qualified retail improvements
  • Extension and modification of the research & development credit, including allowing certain small businesses to claim the credit against AMT liability and employer’s payroll (ie: FICA) liability
  • 179 expensing limitations and phase out increased to $500,000 and $2 million respectively
  • Exclusion of 100 percent of gain on certain small business stock
  • Extension of tax-free distributions from IRAs for charitable purposes
  • Earned income tax credit
  • Child tax credit

Key Provisions Extended Through 2019

  • Extension of the new markets tax credit in which Congress authorized $3.5 billion allocation of credits each year from 2015 until 2019
  • Extension and expansion of the work opportunity tax credit
  • Bonus depreciation is extended at 50 percent for 2015 through 2017, 40 percent for 2018, and 30 percent for 2019

Key Provisions Extended Through 2016

  • Extension and expansion of empowerment zone tax incentives
  • Two-year moratorium on the 2.3 percent medical excise tax imposed on the sale of medical devices
  • Extension of energy efficient commercial buildings deduction

In addition to the extension of key tax provisions, the PATH act also puts more scrutiny on the operations of the IRS. IRS agents will be held accountable for knowing and acting in accordance with the taxpayer bill of rights and prohibits the use of IRS business for political gain.

The passage of the PATH act is a huge victory for American taxpayers, and will allow them to partner more efficiently and effectively with their tax advisors on key issues in years to come without the uncertainty that has plagued them for many years.

Be sure to set up an appointment to speak with your tax advisor or financial planner to talk about how the PATH act will impact your ability to take advantage of tax planning strategies. Do you have questions about specific aspects of the PATH act? Fill out the form on the top, right side of this page to submit your question to Dear Drebit.

By Ashley Matthews (Dublin office)

Are you looking for more ways to save on your tax bill? These articles can help:

Year-End Tax Tips For Business Owners

Dos & Don’ts of Gifting Donations

Should I Make A Big Purchase To Cut Taxes?

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Mileage Rates Will Be Reduced In 2016

Lesley Mast | December 18th, 2015
2016 Mileage Rates | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Based on a study of the fixed and variable costs associated with operating an automobile, the standard mileage rates take into consideration vehicle depreciation, insurance, repairs, maintenance, gas, etc. However, if you don’t intend on tracking your mileage, you also have the option of claiming deductions based on the actual costs of using your own vehicle rather than the standard mileage rates. Read on to find out the 2016 mileage rates.

Drivers were able to get a little more money back for every mile driven in 2015, but next year’s road map tells a different story.

The IRS announced that most of the 2016 optimal standard mileage rates would either remain the same or would be lowered going in to 2016. Among the rates seeing a decrease, were the standard mileage rates for business use of a vehicle, which were reduced to 54 cents per mile – a decrease of 3.5 cents over 2015’s rate of 57.5 cents per mile.

Read Also: 5 Tax Deductions To Ease Your Business’s Tax Burden

How Are Optimal Standard Mileage Rates Determined?

Based on a study of the fixed and variable costs associated with operating an automobile, the standard mileage rates take into consideration vehicle depreciation, insurance, repairs, maintenance, gas, etc. However, if you don’t intend on tracking your mileage, you also have the option of claiming deductions based on the actual costs of using your own vehicle rather than the standard mileage rates. Just be aware that you will not be allowed to claim both.

For example, if you have plans of claiming an accelerated depreciation on your vehicle, then you will not be able to claim the business standard mileage rate as well. If you are a business owner, you should also note that the standard rate is not available to fleet owners, or those who use more than four vehicles simultaneously. Additional details and rules can be found in Revenue Procedure 2010-51.

Different Rules For Different Road Trips

Here are some of the other common rates drivers should be aware of:

  • The miles you drive for medical or moving purposes will be calculated at 19 cents per mile driven.
  • Those driving their vehicles as a service to charitable organizations may calculate their deductions at 14 cents per mile driven.
  • The portion of your business standard mileage rate that will receive depreciation treatment in 2016 will continue to be 24 cents.

Also in its announcement, the IRS noted an adjustment to the standard automobile cost allowable under the fixed and variable rate (FAVR) plan, which considers the costs taxpayers incur by driving their own vehicles for work-related purposes. In 2015, standard automobile costs may not exceed $28,000 (not including trucks and vans), which is a decrease of $200 from 2015. The maximum standard automobile cost for trucks and vans, however, is $31,000 – an increase of $200 over the 2015 rates).

Travel For Tax Savings

If you use your vehicle for business don’t forget to track your mileage. Every mile you travel is an opportunity to realize real tax savings. A financial advisor can help you find these opportunities as well as many others.

By Lesley Mast, CPA (Wooster office)

Are you looking for ways to help you plan for the upcoming tax season? Check out these articles for some great tips:

Easy Year-End Tax Tips For Business Owners

How Long Should You Keep Financial Documents?

What Could Ohio’s Small Business Investor Income Tax Deduction Do For Me?

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When the ACA Tops The Charts, Joe Popp Provides The Play-By-Play

Joe Popp | December 17th, 2015

What do you know about the new Affordable Care Act’s filing requirements?

Well, if you are a large employer (an employer with 50 or more full-time employees or full time equivalent (FTE) employees), for example, you should be in the process of preparing your 1095-C forms to distribute to employees before the Jan. 31, 2016 deadline. But that’s not all …

I recently spoke with Gary Hunt, senior content editor for the Ohio Society of CPAs, about the “ACA’s latest hits” for an episode of OSCPA Spotlight video series. During this interview, I went into some more detail about the forms large employers are required to file per the ACA, specifically Form 1095-C.

So, if you want to know a little more, including who’s responsible for completing the forms and when they’re due, among other things, click on the video below or check it out on the OSCPA website.

You can also learn more about the services our team at Rea & Associates is offering large employers who are scrambling to meet the deadline – I mentioned this at the end of the segment – when you visit www.reacpa.com/affordable-care-act-consulting.

Don’t say we didn’t warn ya! Here are some more resources that shine light on the upcoming ACA filing requirements:

Secure Form 1095-C Help Now And Avoid Penalties

Make BIG Changes Or Face BIG Fines

The Cost Of Reimbursing Employees For Health Care

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Then And Now: Data Security In America Since The Target Breach

Joe Welker | December 16th, 2015
Data Breach - Ohio CPA Firm

The Target breach symbolizes the moment when the threat of personal data security violations became mainstream in America; and today, we don’t think about fraud in terms of if it will happen – it’s when it will happen.

It’s hard to remember a time when reports of data breaches, ransomware attacks and business email compromises (BEC) weren’t part of our daily lives. In fact, not so long ago we were pretty content to believe that the controls companies had in place were enough to protect us from the invisible threat of hackers and cyber criminals. But that was just a dream – and it wasn’t long before that dream manifested into a nightmarish scenario for one of the nation’s largest retailers.

Read Also: Businesses Beware: Sloppy Data Security Could Cost You

Two years ago, cyber criminals gained access to the point-of-sale systems belonging to Target. Authorities later learned that the hacker(s) gained access to about 11 GB worth of data (including highly-sensitive personal and credit card information). When the dust settled, about 70 million consumers nationwide were left vulnerable to identity theft and credit card fraud. This magnitude of this breach was huge and, as a result, companies everywhere made an effort to buckle down and implement a slew of “best practices.” But what has really changed since December 2013?

What Have We Learned From Target?

The Target breach symbolizes the moment when the threat of personal data security violations became mainstream in America; and today, we don’t think about fraud in terms of if it will happen – it’s when it will happen. But instead of becoming more vigilant about data security practices, it appears as though consumers have chosen a more desensitized reaction. These days we are content with trusting the credit card companies to notify us of any suspicious activity occurring on our account rather than implementing safer payment practices in our daily lives.

Retailers and credit card companies, on the other hand, have worked hard to make it more difficult for hackers to access their customer data. Since the breach, Target has:

  • Installed EMV compliant point-of-sale (POS) terminals in all stores to allow for transactions to be processed using a token instead of actual credit card numbers.
  • Joined two cybersecurity threat-sharing organizations in order to share and retrieve valuable information concerning data breaches and the source of those breaches.
  • Implemented more stringent firewall rules and governance procedures.
  • Constantly monitors and logs system activity.
  • Applied whitelisting technology, an administrative process that allows only preapproved applications to execute in a system, on the store’s POS systems.
  • Disabled or placed limited access on vendor accounts.
  • Deployed 2-factor authentication.
  • Established password vaults and required the use of more complex passwords.
  • Thoroughly reviewed and revised its process on how to determine which employees and contractors would have access to consumer data.

With the exception of the first two points, the measures Target has taken since its 2013 data breach are considered best practices, which means that if your business doesn’t have these security measures in place, you shouldn’t wait any longer. And, with regard to EMV technology, most businesses were expected to install and activate the new technology before Oct. 1, 2015 to avoid liability for losses resulting from fraudulent transactions.

A Moving Target

As long as there are fraudsters willing to pay for stolen names, addresses, credit card numbers and expiration dates, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, etc., there will be cyber criminals looking for a way to hack into your company’s system to gain access to your consumer data or intellectual property. But if you are really serious about keeping your data safe, there are additional measures you can take.

1. Reinforce Your Firewall

Firewalls should be securely configured and continuously monitored. There are many providers that perform 24-7 firewall monitoring services to protect your company from attacks and or to alert you to signs of a possible breach. Moreover, providers are also coupling these services with the use of whitelists or blacklists, which triggers an immediate response if a potential threat is identified. Another great reinforcement for companies with experienced IT staff, would be the implementation of SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) or IDS (Intrusion Detection System) software.

2. Take Your VIP List Seriously

Not everybody should have access to your company’s domain – especially outside groups, and you should take care to review your employee and vendor access accounts routinely. The 2013 Target breach was a result of a breach that was intended for one of Target’s vendors. But, once in, the hacker was able to work his way into the Target Vendor Portal and infiltrate the Target POS systems.

3. Don’t Take Your Passwords For Granted

While doing so, be sure to verify that these credentials, in particular, require complex passwords, a limit on the number of attempts allowed before automatically disabling the account, and that they are required to be changed regularly. (Believe it or not, the most common password continues to be “123456” – proving that we are still not learning from past mistakes.)

By: Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these articles for more data security best practices

Malware Threat Spreads To Smart Phones

Who Is That Email Really From?

Could Your Company Be Ransomware’s Next Victim?

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Secure Form 1095-C Help Now And Avoid Penalties

Joe Popp | December 14th, 2015
Form 1095-C Preparation Service | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Finding out you are an Applicable Large Employer is a hard pill to swallow. Finding out you are an Applicable Large Employer after the IRS penalizes you for not filing Form 1095-C is even harder. It’s not too late to get help – yet. Read on to learn more.

If you haven’t made arrangements to complete your company’s Form 1095-C yet, you can’t afford to put it off any longer.

What is Form 1095-C?

Think of the 1095-C like a W-2, but for health insurance instead of wages. It’s a mandatory form applicable large employers (ALEs) must complete. There are non-filing penalties that start small but could lead to larger penalties, such as the pay or play penalty ($2,000 per employee, per year).

Read Also: Make BIG Changes Or Face BIG Fines

Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to tell if your company is an Applicable Large Employer – other times, it’s not as clear. For example, you might have only a few full time employees but lots of part time employees. Every hour a part time worker works counts toward your large employer status. So, if you aren’t quite sure whether your business is actually required to file Form 1095-C, you need to work with an ACA expert immediately.

What Happens If I Don’t File?

The 1095-C is the form that tells the IRS if the employer should be penalized or not, whether the employee should be penalized or not, and if the employee or members of the employee’s family is eligible for premium subsidies. If you don’t file the form, how do you think the IRS will answer these questions? “Yes,” “Yes,” and “No” would be a good guess.

Both the employer and the employees have to do something to avoid being penalized – employer has to offer coverage and employee has to have coverage. If you don’t file, it is likely to cause trouble to both the employer and the employees – and you’ll end up having to file the forms anyway, in addition to the employer paying the late penalties and everyone having to deal with cleaning up all the notices from the IRS.

Am I Too Late?

Unfortunately, business owners nationwide are having problems finding a service provider who can help them locate the information needed to complete the form. Some payroll providers will offer their assistance, but they will likely require you to buy more services than you want or need to do it. Fortunately, you do have another option – Rea & Associates.

Ours is one of only a few firms offering stand-alone 1095-C service. Not only will our experts generate the 1095-C Forms you need, they will help you retrieve the data you already track and have access to or that you would have to retrieve from your service provider anyway.

But time is still of the essence. Don’t wait! Learn more about our Form 1095-C Preparation Services and then call me at 614.923.6577 to talk about your specific needs.

By Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)

Want to learn more about your responsibility under the Affordable Care Act? Check out these articles:

The Cost Of Reimbursing Employees For Health Care

Obamacare: Discrimination Is Not An Option

What You Need To Know About Obamacare Employee Dumping

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Easy Year-End Tax Tips For Business Owners

Lesley Mast | December 11th, 2015
Tax Savings - Ohio CPA Firm

Put some extra cash in your piggy bank this tax season with these deductions.

In just a few days … this year will be history. And while you may have run out of time to wrap up (or start, let’s face it …) last year’s resolutions, it’s not too late to tap in to some last-minute tax saving strategies to help reduce your tax bill. Actually, there are quite a few things you can do to before the ball drops to secure some valuable savings.

Read: How Can You Best Prepare For The Upcoming Tax Season?

We’ve Done The Research For You

There’s no doubt about it, this time of year is busy! Family gatherings, shopping, decorating, cooking … sitting down at the computer to research tax deductions are probably isn’t ranking too high on your priority list. Happily, we’ve done the work for you. Check out the four articles below for some great tips, deductions and insight that will help you keep more of your hard-earned money in your bank account.

  1. What companies can do now to get ready for tax season: Are you willing to accept a larger-than-expected tax bill simply because you didn’t make time to touch base with your financial advisor before the end of the year? Well, if you failed to let your CPA know about any significant changes that occurred over the last year, you could miss a valuable opportunity. Read on to learn more.
  2. 5 Tax Deductions To Ease Your Business’s Tax Burden: From claiming the Ohio small business deduction to taking a personal vehicle deduction, these frequently overlooked deductions can result in real savings. Read on to learn more.
  3. Should I Make a Big Purchase to Cut Taxes?: Maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of buying a big piece of machinery for your business for a while now, but you haven’t really been sure if it’s the right move. A call to your tax advisor could help point the right direction. Oftentimes, business owners can realize some really great savings opportunities just by spending a little bit more. That’s right, you get the upgrade you’ve been wanting AND the tax deduction. Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too?!
  4. Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late! Year-End Tax Planning Tips: Business owners aren’t the only ones who are able to tap into last-minute tax savings. There are ways individuals can make the most of the month of December too. From paying state & local tax estimates by the end of the year to prepaying your real estate taxes, taking a little time to plan ahead can help put more money in your pocket.

Do you think you can benefit from any of these tips? Email a tax expert at Rea & Associates to discuss what you should do before year-end to take advantage of major tax savings opportunities you may have missed in the past.

By Lesley Mast, CPA (Wooster Office)

Want more? Here are more tips to help you start the year off on the right foot.

Employers: Are You Ready To Change The Way You Withhold Municipal Tax Payments?

How to develop a forward-looking financial forecast for your business

Don’t Start The New Year Without Updating Your Business Plan

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Dos and Don’ts of Gifting & Donations

Lesley Mast | December 10th, 2015

Is it just me, or can you feel the magic in the air this time of year? Even though the days are colder and the nights are longer, the holidays seem to bring out the best of humanity; and, having worked with many not-for-profit organizations over the course of my career, I have the pleasure of seeing some of the best of humanity first hand.

Listen now: The Warm Glowing of Giving

People choose to make donations to organizations and initiatives for many reasons. We learned in episode 11 of our podcast: “The Warm Glow of Giving,” that charitable donations are primarily guided by the heart and that 87 percent of all donations are made by individuals. That being the case, I still believe individuals – as well as businesses – should embrace strategy (the head) when it comes to writing checks to a worthy cause.  Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when writing your check to charity.

Gifting Donations - Ohio Accounting Firm

Looking to make a donation this holiday season to your favorite charity? Keep these dos and don’ts in mind before making that donation.

Do

  1. Do your research. Make sure you learn all you can about the organization you are donating to. You want to make sure you are donating to a worthy cause and not a fake charity.
  2. Know where your money is going. Find out how the organization will use your donation. It is OK to ask prior to your donation.
  3. Understand how this will affect your taxes. Most people know that making a donation can lead to a tax deduction, but do you know how much you can claim? If not, this is something your Rea advisor can help you understand.
  4. Get documentation. Any donation of $250 or more requires documentation if you are going to use it as a tax deduction. A cancelled check, receipt, etc. all work as documentation to include with your tax return.
  5. Give away appreciated assets, such as stocks. When doing this you get a deduction for the full value in most cases and you escape  the capital gains on the appreciation.

Don’t

  1. Expect a gift in return for your donation. That’s not the true meaning of a donation. Also, to be deductible, a gift cannot be received when making the donation, including a meal. If the donation was made at a dinner event, the cost of the meal must be subtracted from the donation amount.
  2. Pay with cash. For tracking and to prevent fraudulent activity, paying by check or credit card is usually the best option.
  3. Give randomly. Do your homework when donating, you won’t regret it. Make sure your money is going to a good cause and being used properly.
  4. Give more than you can afford. We all want to help, but donating more money than you can afford just creates more problems for you. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are giving away more money than you can afford.
  5. Give away assets that have declined in value. Doing this will waster the capital loss opportunity for you.

Around 358 billion dollars are donated to not-for-profit organizations every year and these organizations turn around and do amazing things with your gift. From feeding the hungry, providing support to veterans and ensuring that others get the health, monetary or education assistance they need, nonprofits are an critical component of our society and you can be sure that the money you donate to any one of these types of organizations is appreciated. But you should still make sure you are using your head when making a donation to ensure that your money is being used in the best way possible. Want to learn more about how to choose the right not-for-profit organization for your tax-deductible donation? Listen to episode 11 of our podcast, Unsuitable on Rea Radio. You can also email Rea & Associates to get answers to your specific questions..

By Lesley Mast, CPA (Wooster office)

Learn more about the benefits of donating to charity. Check out these blogs posts:

Is It A Charity Or A Scam?

Tis The Season: Charitable Giving Through A Donor-Advised Fund

Charitable Giving Is Good For The Heart, The Soul And The Tax Return

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Quiz Results Are In – And The News Is Good

Lisa Beamer | December 9th, 2015

Ohio Department of Taxation Stops Thieves From Stealing Millions

Identity Theft & Income Tax Refund Fraud Resource | Ohio CPA Firm

The implementation of an identification verification quiz by the Ohio Department of Taxation has helped stopped identity theft and income tax fraud since it was implemented last year for the 2015 income tax season.
Rea & Associates recently compiled a variety of information to help victims of identity theft and refund fraud recover from this nightmarish scenario. Click the image above to access this resource.

Tax fraud has been on a steady upswing for quite a while – a frightening trend that has led the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) to take innovative measures during the 2015 tax season. Nearly one year after announcing plans to implement the state-wide quiz designed to filter tax-refund requests by analyzing demographic information reported on the taxpayer’s return, officials boasted incredible results.

While ODT reported a 400 percent increase in fraudulent refund requests in 2015 from the year prior, the quiz helped the department prevent 232,898 suspicious returns from being filed – which saved the state about $256.5 million in illegitimate funds.

Read Also: Should I still be concerned about identity theft and tax fraud?

The implementation of this verification method was deemed necessary after ODT noticed a monumental increase in fraud cases during the 2014 tax season – $250 million in attempted tax fraud – compared to previous years when the average was around $10 million.

“We appreciate the taxpayer’s time in taking this extra step before receiving their refund,” said Joe Testa, tax commissioner, in a release. “The quiz has been and will continue to be instrumental in stopping fraud.”

According to the ODT, the tax quiz has been effective because of its effectiveness when analyzing tax returns for inconsistent data points against public and commercial data sources. For example, a return may be flagged if your name and/or Social Security number show up in a different parts of the state (or in another state altogether) when you have been primarily located in another area of Ohio over the last few years. To claim your refund, you will be required to take the identity quiz, which would either indicate that you’ve moved in the last year or that a fraudster is trying to claim your refund. For your return to be processed, you must either take the quiz or provide documentation to verify your identity.

Testa also said that the department has gathered feedback and have “made some changes to improve the process and provide a better experience for taxpayers who take the quiz.”

Looking ahead, taxpayers should expect to see more of the identification quiz in 2016 and beyond. Here are three things you should know about the identification quiz:

  1. Allow more time

Traditionally, it takes up to 15 days to process refunds that have been distributed to the taxpayer via electronic deposit. Those who opt to receive their refunds in check form could have to wait up to 30 days. The quiz, however, could prolong the process.

  1. Know, don’t guess

Those who are selected to take the quiz, will receive a letter that will explain your next steps. If you do not receive this letter, you will not be able to complete the quiz.

  1. Be prepared

If your return is flags, you will have 60 days to complete the multiple choice quiz. Furthermore, the quiz is timed and must be completed online.

To learn more about the effectiveness of this measure or for more great information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions available on the DOT website.

Are you wondering if you are going to need help filing your 2015 tax return this spring? Email Rea & Associates for assistance.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

Want to discover more ways to prevent or recover from identify theft? Check out these articles.

How Do You Protect Yourself from Identity Theft?

How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

Cyber Crime: It Can Happen To You

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Employers: Are You Ready To Change The Way You Withhold Municipal Tax Payments?

Heather McNichols | December 7th, 2015
Municipal Payments - Ohio CPA Firm

The new year also marks new changes to the way many employers withhold their municipal taxes. Read on to learn more.

Ready or not, all Ohio municipalities will be welcoming a slew of new provisions designed to bring about a unified system of income tax reporting. House Bill 5 was signed into law by Gov. Kasich on Dec. 19, 2014. The bill, which was championed by the Ohio Society of CPAs and supporters, helped streamline several key measures that help establish meaningful municipal tax reform. Per the legislation, many key provisions are scheduled to take effect at the first of the year. Here are four facts about the changes that you need to become familiar with:

For more insight into why these changes were necessary, read: Tackling Ohio’s Tough Municipal Tax Issues

1. Due dates have changed. 

Municipalities will have to adhere to new withholding due dates with regard to their monthly filing and payment requirements. They are due on the 15th following the month they were withheld. Due dates for quarterly filing and payments will be on the 15th day of the month following the end of the quarter.

2. New withholding thresholds.

If you withheld more than $2,399 in municipal taxes during the last calendar year or more than $200 during one or more months during the recent quarter, you will now be required to file your withholdings monthly.

3. A defining moment for temporary work sites.

An employer is not required to withhold municipal income tax on qualifying wages for the performance of personal services in a municipal corporation that imposes such a tax if the employee performed such services in the municipality on 20 or fewer days in a calendar year, unless one of the following conditions apply:

  • The employee’s principal place of work is located in the municipal corporation.
  • The individual is a professional entertainer or professional athlete, the promoter of a professional entertainment or sports event, or an employee of such a promoter.
  • The employee performed services at one or more “Presumed Worksite Locations.”
  • The employee is a resident of the municipal corporation and has requested that the employer withhold tax from the employee’s qualifying wages.

If an employer does not withhold for those first 20 days, they have to withhold the principal place of work’s municipal income tax. Because it’s impossible to be in two places at once (a rule that is just as true in accounting as it is in the metaphysical world) special guidelines are needed for those employees who work in more than municipality on a given calendar day. If an employee works in multiple municipalities in a single workday, for example, the municipality that they worked in the most number of hours would be the one that would be counted for that day. The rules that govern this provision are very detailed. Click here to read more. Once the employee exceeds the 20 day threshold, taxes must be withheld for that municipality. Retroactive withholding, however, is NOT required.

4. New rules for small businesses.

If your business earned less than $500 thousand over the preceding taxable year, the government considers your establishment to be a small employer, which means that the withholding process is just a little different. Small businesses must withhold municipal income tax on all employees’ qualifying wages and remit that that tax only to the municipal corporation in which the employer’s fixed location is located – regardless of the number of calendar days worked throughout the year. Further clarification can be found here. Federal government, state government, state agency or municipalities, political subdivision or any entity treated as a government for financial accounting and reporting are excluded from the small business rule.

Additional information can be found here. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the upcoming changes and how you can remain compliant with these new provisions; email Rea & Associates and ask to speak with one of our tax experts.

By Heather McNichols, (New Philadelphia office)

Are you looking for some more tax tips to help you prepare for the 2016 filing season? Check out these articles:

Breaking The Tax Bracket Myth

Does Your Vacation Home Provide Tax Relief?

New Payment Option Available To Ohio Pass Through Entities

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How to develop a forward-looking financial forecast for your business

Dave Cain | December 4th, 2015

Financial statements and tax returns are a rearview glance in the mirror at what has already happened at your organization. Instead of always looking back at your financial data, it’s important to develop a forward-looking forecast.

Smart Business recently interviewed Dave Cain about ways to develop a forecast for your business and the benefits of it.

“It might sound simple, but it can be difficult for business owners because they are working at 100 miles an hour to run and grow their business. They feel like they don’t have an opportunity to step back and do some forward thinking,” says Dave.

To read online, check out the article on Smart Business’s website.

Want to read more articles about forecasting advice for your business? Check these out: 

How Can A Focus on Inventory Management Help My Business?

Do You Need a CFO?

What Are 6 Things You Can Do To Improve The Health Of Your Business?

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