Archive for November, 2015

Found: Your Unclaimed Funds

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Ohio Reports $2.8B In Unclaimed Funds

Unclaimed Funds - Ohio CPA firmBusinesses are required to report unclaimed funds to the state of Ohio every year. Oftentimes, these unclaimed funds could be in the form of uncashed checks, rent or utility deposits that were never deposited or savings accounts that may have been forgotten, for example.

Read Also: Is There A More Customer-Friendly OUF-8 Notice?

Businesses are responsible for notifying account holders of their unclaimed funds by using the official Notice of Unclaimed Funds form (also known as the OUF-8), though it’s not uncommon for these notices to fall through the cracks.

In 2015, Ohio is reporting that there is $2.3 billion in unclaimed funds to be collected in 2015. So far this year, Ohioans have received $34.4 million with an average claim of $2,100. In 2015, Ohio citizens claimed about $76 million in unclaimed funds.

Not sure if you have a forgotten checking account? Or was there a deposit that never made it to the bank? Check to see if you can make a claim for some of these unclaimed dollars, visit the Department of Commerce website or call the state agency.

By Joseph Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)

Want to learn more about unclaimed funds? Check out these posts:

Free Money May Be Waiting For You!

What Do I Need To Know About Unclaimed Property in Ohio?

Dear Drebit: Is There A More Customer-Friendly OUF-8 Notice?

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It’s OK To ‘Think Small’

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Revenue Growth Isn’t Always The Solution

Revenue Growth - Ohio CPA Firm

Your revenue is like the water level. When it’s high, it hides a lot; but when it’s low, problems begin to reveal themselves. Unfortunately, some business owners believe that the best way to fix their business is by adding revenue. What they don’t realize is that this tactic is simply masking the real problem.

Have you ever been white water rafting? When the water is high, you glide effortlessly through the river, expertly navigating the bends and slicing through the current – it’s exhilarating. Flash forward a few months later, after the water level has dropped, and it’s a completely different story. Where it was once smooth sailing, you are now confronted with a scattering of rocks, boulders, logs and branches. Your ability to progress through the course takes a hit.

Your revenue is like the water level in this example. When it’s high, it hides a lot; but when it’s low, problems begin to reveal themselves. Unfortunately, some business owners believe that the best way to fix their business is by adding revenue. What they don’t realize is that this tactic is simply masking the real problem.

Sometimes, More Is Less

If you want your business to be healthier, you can’t rely on revenue growth to solve your problems. In fact, you may find greater success if you start thinking small.

Businesses that are healthy tend to be able to generate healthy cash flow. This means that you need to pay attention to more than just your ability to generate revenue. For example, you could find great success if you were to tighten up your billing strategy. Oftentimes, business owners will only focus on their monthly revenue and forget to consider how long it actually takes for the money to roll in. Even though your company’s revenue looks great for the month of July, it could be September (or later) before you actually get paid. In the meantime, you are stuck playing the waiting game.

Instead of looking for more customers to cover the difference, start thinking small. Get rid of the extra baggage that’s holding you down. Revenue doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you have the cash to back it up. To that point, it may be time to stop doing business with clients who aren’t prompt when it’s time to pay their bills on time. Instead, be more selective when choosing who you will do business with.

What’s Holding You Back?

It can be a lot of work to identify what’s holding you back and sometimes you need to look at your business from a different perspective, some business owners find great success simply asking for help from an outsider. There is no one-size-fits all solution. The best way to take control of your business is to work with a trusted advisor.

A great place to start is by listening to our podcast, Unsuitable on Rea RadioEpisode 10: The Revenue Sin covers business health and what you can do to strengthen your cash flow. When you are done, click here for additional resources.

Do you have a business question you need help solving? Send it to podcast@reacpa.com and let us know what issues are challenging your business. We could feature your question on an upcoming episode of Unsuitable or in a blog post.

By Brad Martyn, Founder & CEO, FocusCFO

Looking for more ways to improve your business? Check out these articles:

Not All Growth Is Good Growth

5 Reasons Why Managing A Solid Cash Flow Is Just Good Business Sense

Drive Internal Cash Flow And Improve Profitability

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New Payment Option Available To Ohio Pass Through Entities

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Tax Payment Process - Ohio CPA Firm

What is your business made of? If it’s a pass through entity, you now have an easier way to pay your tax bills. Read on to learn more.

Do you currently enjoy the benefits associated with owning a pass through entity (PTE) in Ohio, including better tax treatment and limited liability protection? Well, earlier this month the Department of Taxation announced another little perk – online payments! According to the release, the Treasurer of Ohio is now accepting tax payments per its Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) program on its website. This announcement impacts:

EFT, according to the Treasurer’s Office, is a secure, online payment option for those seeking a convenient way to pay recurring commercial activity, corporate franchise, sales, streamlined, use, withholding and now pass through entity taxes. To utilize this online payment system, you must have a federal employer identification number.

Even though the online payment process is in full swing, pass through entities are still unable to register electronically. Once completed, you can submit the form to the Electronic Payments Unit of the Treasurer’s Office.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

What Does Having The Right Business Structure Mean To You?

Did you know that business structure plays a huge role when determining what your business can and cannot do? It also helps determine your tax liability. Take a look at the slideshow below to learn more or click here to learn even more about the business structures that are available to you. You can also email Rea & Associates if you have additional questions.

Want A Better Business? Structure Matters from Rea & Associates
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File and Suspend Strategy Suspended

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015
File Suspend Strategy - Ohio CPA Firm

President Barack Obama signed legislation on Nov. 2 to put an end to the file and suspend strategy. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s too late to act. There is a six-month window of opportunity, as long as both spouses were born on or before April 30, 1950. Keep in mind that you are up against a May 1, 2016, deadline.

Deciding when to claim your Social Security benefits is often one of the most significant financial decisions older Americans must make today because, for many, Social Security benefits make up a substantial portion of their retirement income. Unfortunately, Congress recently passed legislation that will put an end to two popular strategies being used to maximize benefits married couples receive in their golden years.

Read Also: Retirement Is Knocking … Are You Ready To Answer The Door?

The strategies that are scheduled to be phased out are commonly known as “File and Suspend” and the Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits. These strategies have made it possible for couples to delay laying claim to their individual benefits based on their earnings while still claiming a spousal benefit based on the other’s earnings – as long as both are 66 or older.

How Does File And Suspend Work?

To receive the spousal benefit, one individual would file for their Social Security benefits – then immediately suspend them. The other spouse would then file a restricted application to collect only the spousal benefit rather than the benefit they earned as an individual, even if their individual would have been higher. By employing this strategy, both could increase their earned benefits by taking advantage of the option to delay retirement credits, which would increase their earned benefit by up to 8 percent for each year the benefit is delayed until the individual reaches 70 years of age.

Is It Too Late To Take Advantage Of This Strategy?

President Barack Obama signed legislation on Nov. 2 to put an end to the file and suspend strategy. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s too late to act. There is a six-month window of opportunity, as long as both spouses were born on or before April 30, 1950. Keep in mind that you are up against a May 1, 2016, deadline.

What About The Couples Who Are Already Receiving Benefits?

Fortunately, the couples already using these strategies will be grandfathered in under the new law and will not be asked to pay back any of the benefits they have received to date. Furthermore, they will continue to receive the benefits they have already been granted. The new law will not impact their current Social Security income, which is why it’s so important for eligible couples to take advantage of this 6-month window.

What Happens After The 6-Month Window Closes?

Moving forward, under the new law, individuals will still have the ability to suspend their benefits, but the Social Security Administration will not allow spousal or dependent child benefits based on the earnings of someone who has suspended their own benefits. In other words, to claim a spousal benefit, the earned benefits have to be paid out as well.

When filing for retirement benefits (other than with a restricted application), spouses will effectively claim their earned benefit and their spousal benefit. They will then receive the greater amount.

Fortunately, there are still opportunities to maximize your Social Security benefits. A financial advisor can you help navigate the terrain. There are also free tools available to help you find out how much you can expect to collect from Social Security when you finally decide to claim the benefit. The Social Security calculator is located here. You can also visit the Social Security website to view your Social Security Account Statement. To discover more retirement strategies, check out one of the articles below or email Rea & Associates and ask to speak with a retirement planning expert.

By David Shallenberger, CPA (Wooster office)

Check out these articles to learn more about the importance of planning for your retirement:

Planning For Uncertainty In Retirement

Five Financial Considerations For Every Age Group

How Can I Make The Most Of My Retirement?

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WARNING: Tis The Season To Practice Safe Online Shopping Habits

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
Cyber Security - Ohio CPA Firm

Keep your online Holiday shopping secure with these five tips from KnowBe4.

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. KnowBe4 recently published a blog about the top five scams shoppers should be on the lookout for, and I wanted to pass these on to our readers. Consider the following information to be an early gift from me to you, and hopefully your bank account can welcome the New Year unscathed.

Read Also: Malware Threat Spreads To Smart Phones

1. Post-Thanksgiving Madness (otherwise known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday)

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means shoppers are already planning their early-morning shopping strategies. Sure there are great deals up for grabs, but there are also scammers looking forward to feeding on the hype in the hopes that you will let your guard down. Believe it or not, it can be pretty easy to mistakenly fall for those offers that appear to be too good to be true simply because we have become conditioned to believe that these deals are part of the overall allure. Tip: Before completing the transaction, visit the retailer’s actual website to make sure the deal is valid. 

2. Don’t Miss This Deal – Your Facebook Friend Didn’t

Just because one of your friends shared a coupon or voucher on Facebook or another social media site, doesn’t mean it’s legit. In fact, hacked social media accounts are pretty common. Scammers like this approach because they know that you are more willing to take the bait if the scam comes from somebody you trust. If one of your friends is guilty of passing along some of these not-so-helpful posts, give them a call or send them a text to find out more. Chances are, you will be the one helping them out by letting them know that their account has been compromised. 

3. What Do You Mean ‘There’s A Problem’?! 

You’ve shopped, dropped and paid for two-day shipping and it looks like you will have your gifts in time for the next family gathering. But then your inbox gets hit with an urgent message from UPS or FedEx notifying you that there may be a problem with the delivery of your package. Fortunately, the email includes a link for you to click on to get the issue resolved. STOP! This is a common phishing scam. Scammers will often use this tactic in the hopes that you will click on the link. Before you know it, your computer has been infected with a virus … or worse – ransomware.

4. Click Here For A Refund 

Similar to the UPS/FedEx scam identified above, this tactic is another attempt to get the unsuspecting consumer to click on an infected link. In this scenario, you might receive an email from a major online retailer – Amazon, eBay, etc. – with the message that there’s a “wrong transaction,” which requires you to click on a link to secure your refund. Instead of a refund, when you click on the link you will receive the gift of a security breech instead. Clicking on these links simply opens the door for scammers to access to your personal information, which will then be sold to the highest bidder and used against you later.  

5. Use The Force Against Phishing Scams 

Wouldn’t it be nice to win tickets to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens when it is released on Dec. 18? Sure, but given what you know now, would you be willing to take the risk and click on the link in your email to find out if the offer is real? Scammers use a variety of tactics to get you to make a mistake. This scam, for example, is another way popular culture is being used against unsuspecting victims. 

Remember, whether it’s a deal, contest, sale, or any other type of offer, if it looks unbelievable or questionable (even if it appears to have been sent from a trusted source), don’t click on the link or open an attachment. If you have doubt, delete! KnowBe4 also offers readers two other great tips to keep your private information and your bank account safe 365 days a year:

  1. Never use a debit card online. Cyber criminals can (and will) wipe out your bank account in seconds once they gain access. You can protect yourself by using a credit card.
  2. Never use your credit card to shop when your computer is connected to an insecure public Wi-Fi. All online shopping should always be done on over a secure, private internet connection.

By Steve Roth, IT Director (New Philadelphia office)

Want to learn more ways to keep your computer and personal information safe? Check out these articles:

Who Is That Email Really From?

Who’s Phishing Your Data Today?

How Much Is Your Data Worth To Criminals?

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Drebit Readers Prefer Business Solutions To Ghost Stories

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Top 5 Blog Posts For Business Leaders in October

Can you believe it is already November? October seemed to fly by – and sharing top financial advice and business news certainly keeps a frog busy! Last month, we featured stories about trends occurring in the manufacturing industry, advised readers to start preparing for the upcoming 2016 tax season, shared news of Rea & Associate’s new podcast and so much more. I didn’t want you to miss out! Take a look at some of our most popular posts. 

Top 5 Posts In October

Below are the five most read posts from October. Which one was your favorite?

  1. Debt vs. Taxes: Should You Pay Off Your Loan Without the tax deduction, you will pay a little more in income taxes but you will be left with more money in your bank account at the end of the day.
  1. You Can Still Have The Final Say After Death It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of assets to pass on or very few, estate planning is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for those you love.
  1. Can’t Collect Payments? New Chip Technology Could Be Hurting Business’s Bottom LinesNetflix, known for offering award-winning shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black to users online recently reported a lack-luster third quarter performance. The company points to its inability to collect payments from users who have not yet updated their Netflix account information to reflect new payment card information they may have been issued as a result of the new EMV technology.
  1. Don’t Get Blown Away By A Cash WindfallBefore you make a move with your money, take a little time to think about you want to do with your cash and consider getting some advice from a financial professional and review these four tips for managing sudden wealth.
  1. What Do I Need To Know About Unclaimed Property in Ohio? We have all lost things from time to time. Our keys, our phones, and sometimes it seems our minds. But did you know that more than 200,000 Ohioans have lost financial assets worth more than $1 billion? As a result and in an effort to protect property rights and reunite the owners with their rightful funds, Ohio enacted unclaimed property laws.

You guys keep me busy and I am thankful for that! Enjoy October’s top 5 posts and don’t forget that I am always available to answer your questions as well. Use the form at the top, right of this page and submit your question today. The answer to your question will be featured in an upcoming blog post. You can also email Rea & Associates to discuss your financial and business concerns one-on-one with an industry expert.

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Your Business Could Be Doing Better

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

 

Lean Six Sigma - Manufacturing CPA Firm

Kyle Stemple discusses Lean with Mark Van Benschoten on Episode 8 of Unsuitable on Rea Radio. You can find all our podcasts at www.reacpa.com/podcast.

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?

Listen to Episode 8 of Unsuitable on Rea Radio: Don’t settle for a plate of spaghetti

Consider the five key principles identified in Jim Womack’s book, The Machine that Changed the World and think about how they relate to your company.

  1. The customer defines value.
  2. The company must focus on eliminating waste. (Waste is defined as any activity that doesn’t add value to the company.)
  3. The customer establishes pull.
  4. The company must involve and empower people who add value.
  5. Total cost is the ultimate performance metric.

Now, reflecting on these principles, how can you optimize performance of your people while optimizing the customer experience?

Focus On The Big Picture

Once you've decided to embrace Lean in your business, you need to step back and map out your existing processes. If, at the end of this mapping exercise, the lines that guide you through your processes begin to look like a plate of spaghetti, you've got a problem.

Once you’ve decided to embrace Lean in your business, you need to step back and map out your existing processes. If, at the end of this mapping exercise, the lines that guide you through your processes begin to look like a plate of spaghetti, you’ve got a problem.

You want to be successful. To do that, you must have a clear understanding of what “success” looks like to you. A good way to do this is to identify challenges (present and future) that may hinder you from realizing your maximum potential. Once you know what you are looking for, you can generate proactive solutions – ultimately increasing your efficiency.

Think Lean

Everything we do, whether it's in our personal life, in our business life, nonprofit, for-profit ... everything we do - is all determined by processes.

Everything we do, whether it’s in our personal life, in our business life, nonprofit, for-profit … everything we do – is all determined by processes.

You may consider Lean Six Sigma to be a tactic solely for manufacturing companies. But Lean can actually be very valuable to all types of companies. But first, you have to understand the Lean concept.  First, Lean is not “headcount reduction” and thinking of it as such could result in greater long-term problems. When you decide to embrace a Lean approach to business, you should actually be committed to:

  1. Understanding your customers better and making sure the processes your business adopts meets (and exceeds) their expectations.
  2. Harnessing your employees’ knowledge to better serve your customers.
  3. Continuous improvement while building greater business capacity.

Things Are not Always What They Seem

When it looks like you've solved your efficiency problems, step back and reassess. Never forget, Lean is about embracing continuous improvement. If you really start digging and asking the right questions, you are going to get answers - and your businesses processes will continue to improve.

When it looks like you’ve solved your efficiency problems, step back and reassess. Never forget, Lean is about embracing continuous improvement. If you really start digging and asking the right questions, you are going to get answers – and your business’s processes will continue to improve.

When you embark on your Lean journey, financial struggles early on are normal. It can be scary at first, but if you are persistent, you will ultimately realize positive results. Think about it this way, traditional absorption accounting allocates overhead to inventory. As inventories are reduced in the interest of becoming lean, prior period costs are expensed in the current period. When your finance experts and executive leadership team aren’t aware of this transitional lag, they may mistakenly associate Lean with declining profits. Instead, keep going – pretty soon you should be able to notice improvements to your company’s cash flow.

Take The Plunge

Your Lean initiative will only be successful if management commits to its success. Therefore, they must fully commit to the concept while taking the time to become familiar with the benefits of Lean. Sure, dipping your toe in and testing the waters may seem like a safe bet, but unless you take the full plunge, you will never realize your company’s full potential and world-class results.

Lean continues to evolve from a manufacturing concept to one likened to secret weapon used to boost the effectiveness of office and administrative processes (and so much more). In this era when continued improvement is idealized, Lean has emerged as the answer. Could your company benefit by becoming Lean? Listen to this 17-minute podcast to find out.

By Kyle Stemple, CPA, CGMA, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (New Philadelphia office)

Kyle Stemple on Rea Radio - Lean for BusinessLearn more about Lean and how it can transform your business. Listen to Don’t Settle For A Plate Of Spaghetti on Unsuitable on Rea Radio at www.rea.com/podcast or on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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How to weigh the pros and cons of auditor rotation

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Some organizations switch auditors regularly — that can mean going to a new firm or just getting a new lead auditor —  but there can be both advantages and disadvantages to this practice.

Although the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates how often public companies need to switch lead auditors, there’s no requirement for anyone else to do so. It’s individually determined by the organization.

Mark Van Benschoten recently sat down with Smart Business to discuss the pros and cons of an auditor rotation and also best practices. To read the full article, check it out on Smart Business’s website.

By Mark Van Benschoten, CPA (Dublin office)

Want to read more articles about best practices for business audits? Check these out:

Will An Audit Find Fraud In My Business?

10 Ways To Implement Internal Controls With Limited Resources

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

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How Do I Avoid Obamacare Penalties?

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has put a lot of stress on business owners over the last couple years, and 2016 will be no exception. However, if you look closely, you might be able to uncover areas of opportunity. Here are three points all business owners should know to avoid penalties:

Obamacare Penalties - Ohio CPA Firm

Learn more about ways to avoid Affordable Care Act penalties by listening to our podcast, “Unsuitable on Rea Radio.” Episode 5, “Don’t Get Burned By Obamacare.”

  1. Large employers (50+ full time employees) have to worry about large employer reporting and potential pay or play penalties (roughly $2,000 per employee annually).
  2. All employers need to avoid excise taxes for discrimination and violating the ACA’s “all or nothing” mandate. These are business busters – $100 per employee, per day for noncompliance – meaning you could owe the government as much as $36,500 per employee, per year! Excise taxes can be triggered by continuing to do things you’ve always done, such as offering reimbursement arrangements to your employees.
  3. Employers also have the opportunity to review their insurance options and compensation structure. SHOP, drop, roll (“traditional” insurance), self-insure, private exchange and models like reference-based pricing are all options to explore. Dropping insurance can often actually result in less expenses and improved benefits for the employers and employees alike. In some industries this can also be a deterrent to competing businesses that are trying to recruit your workforce.

Don’t wait any longer. Work with an ACA expert who can help you determine the best option for your business while helping you identify areas of opportunity and risk. To learn more, listen to our podcast, “Unsuitable on Rea Radio.” Episode 5, “Don’t Get Burned By Obamacare,” covers this topic in more detail. Check it out at www.reacpa.com/podcast.

This article was published in the November 6, 2015 issue of Columbus Business First – Ask The Expert.

By Joseph Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)

 

Want more articles about Obamacare? Check these out:

Obamacare Lives Another Day

Obamacare: Some Taxpayers Get Second Chance To Purchase Health Insurance

Obamacare: Discrimination Is Not An Option

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