Archive for the ‘Business Advice’ Category

Did You Unplug This Summer?

Friday, 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

What Are The Top 5 Challenges Business Owners Face?

What Are The Ingredients For Business Success?

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It’s Lonely At The Top …

Tuesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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)

Did you miss part one of the Columbus Cybersecurity Series? Check out the video below.

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Business Podcast Heats Up In July

Thursday, 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?

Wednesday, 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?

Tuesday, 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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Brush Up On These New Tax Form Due Dates

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

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Building Bridges

Monday, 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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Escape The Summertime Lull Will Expert Business Advice

Tuesday, 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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Looking to Start a Business? Do It the Right Way

Monday, 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?

Wednesday, 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?

Thursday, 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

Wednesday, 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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Would You Know If Someone Was Stealing From Your Business?

Friday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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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Who’s Driving Your Business’s Results?

Monday, 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 …

Monday, 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

Thursday, 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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How Flexible Is Your Company’s Management Style?

Monday, 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

Thursday, 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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Environmentally Friendly Tax Savings

Thursday, 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.

Environmentally Friendly Tax Cuts For Business Owners from Rea & Associates

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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Can A Cybercriminal Crack Your Company’s Network?

Tuesday, 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

Friday, 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

Monday, 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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How To Trigger An IRS Audit

Friday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Thursday, 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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Payroll, HR Departments Targeted By Cyber Criminals

Friday, 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

Friday, 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?

Friday, 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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The ACA: Small Businesses Are Also At Risk

Friday, 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

Thursday, 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?

Tuesday, 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

Thursday, 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

Friday, 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.


5 reasons to fall in love with your financial advisor from Rea & Associates

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

Wednesday, 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

Friday, 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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Are Your Employees Skimming From The Top?

Friday, 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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Go Green for the Planet and Pocket the Savings

Monday, 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

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

Tuesday, 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

Monday, 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

Monday, 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?!

Monday, 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

Saturday, 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

Monday, 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

Friday, 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

Thursday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Monday, 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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Dos and Don’ts of Gifting & Donations

Thursday, 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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How to develop a forward-looking financial forecast for your business

Friday, 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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Move Over Santa, This List Is What Business Leaders are Checking

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Top 5 Dear Drebit Post for the Month of November

November is over and the Holiday season is in full swing. But even though we are busy practicing our caroling and searching for the best online bargains, we still have time to share the latest in business and financial news.

From filling you in about some of the topics we have covered in our weekly podcast to providing you with information and updates about unclaimed funds in Ohio and the Affordable Care Act – we were providing you with posts designed to help protect your finances, your identity and so much more.

Take a look to find out what our top 5 blog posts were in November and read up on anything you may have missed.

  1. How Do I Avoid Obamacare Penalties? 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. There are three points all business owners should know to avoid penalties, read on to find out what they are.
  2. 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. KnowBe4 recently published a blog about the top five scams shoppers should be on the lookout for, and we wanted to pass these on to our readers. Consider the following information to be an early gift from us to you, and hopefully your bank account can welcome the New Year unscathed.
  3. File and Suspend Strategy Suspended 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.
  4. Do You Need to Send an Annual Notice to Your 401k Participants?As we begin the last quarter of the year, if your company sponsors a calendar year 401k plan, don’t forget about participant notice requirements.  They must be furnished by December 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. New Payment Option Available To Ohio Pass Through Entities 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.

We hope you enjoy the top five posts from November. We are always updating this page, so be sure to subscribe to Dear Drebit – or you can subscribe to our bi-weekly electronic newsletter – and never miss the critical information we provide to readers. You are also welcome to ask us a specific question about, well … just about anything finance or business related and one of our subject matter experts will provide you with a response. Just scroll up to the top of the page and fill out the form on the top, right corner.

Finally, don’t forget, you that you can always email Rea & Associates to have an in depth conversation about your existing personal or professional challenges. Our CPAs and business advisors are always happy to speak with you.

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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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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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Can’t Collect Payments? New Chip Technology Could Be Hurting Business’s Bottom Lines

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

EMV Technology Impacts Netflix’s Q3 Earnings

EMV Technology - Ohio CPA Firm

Netflix, 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.

Since the United States made the switch to EMV (EuroPay, Mastercard and Visa) chip technology in October, some companies are beginning to report unexpected side effects – sluggish growth in the third quarter. A recent story from Patrick Kulp on Mashable, a global media company, reported that Netflix’s lack-luster third quarter earnings may be directly linked to the new technology.

Read Also: Will EMV Technology Change The Online Payment Option?

Why? Because, according to Kulp, “[many] Netflix users may not want to go through the hassle of updating their payment records, and some may even use the switch as an excuse to bail on the service. As a result, the company can’t collect their fees.” Now, as third quarter earnings continue to roll in, business analysts are beginning to speculate as to what this means for businesses hoping to finish the year on a high note.

Why Was EMV Implemented?

In September, I provided insight into the reasoning behind the new chip-based technology, which pointed to the increasing number of credit card breaches as the reasoning behind the change. Over the years millions of credit card numbers and associated data have been stolen, leaving the credit card industry on the hook for the fraudulent transactions. In an effort to transfer liability from payment card companies to individual businesses, while providing greater protection to users against credit card fraud, the PCI Security Council supported the addition of EMV chip technology to the existing PCI (Payment Card Industry) Security Requirements.

The ultimate goal of EMV is to stop and prevent further fraudulent activity. Success has already been noted in countries outside the U.S. “Currently, almost half of the world’s credit card fraud happens in the U.S. where magnetic stripe technology is the standard,” stated David Navetta and Susan Ross in a blog on Data Protection Report. “Outside the U.S., an estimated 40 percent of the world’s cards and 70 percent of the terminals already use the EMV technology. These countries are reporting significantly lower counterfeit fraud levels with EMV cards than with the magnetic stripe cards.”

Click here to read the full article

Unintended Outcomes

Businesses have rushed to accommodate the transition to avoid liability for any losses that result from fraudulent transactions. From installing devices that read the new chips, to training employees to address any questions and concerns that may come up during the payment process. Unfortunately, in order to bring the American public up to speed, payment card insurers are issuing new chip-enabled cards to card holders and, in many cases, users are being issued new card numbers as well.

Companies such as Netflix are beginning to feel the pinch as they are realizing that their customers are in no hurry to update their card numbers in their accounts, which means the company can’t collect subscription payments.

“Our over-forecast in the US for Q3 was due to slightly higher-than-expected involuntary churn (inability to collect), which we believe was driven in part by the ongoing transition to chip-based credit and debit cards,” the company said in its earnings release.

Is Your Business Witnessing Unexpected Consequences?

Third-quarter earnings are just beginning to be reported, which means we are unable to adequately identify how widespread this particular issue is.

So, we want to hear from you. Since the EMV chip technology went into effect on Oct. 1, what has your experience been? Have you had trouble collecting renewal payments from your customers? Comment below or send us a quick email.

If you have a specific question about EMV technology or another business challenge, you can always let us know by filling out the brief form at the top, right side of this page. And don’t forget to subscribe to Dear Drebit to get great business tips and advice delivered directly to your inbox!

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)  

Are you looking for more ways to prevent fraud from taking control of your business? Check out these articles:

Who Is That Email Really From?

Malware Threat Spreads To Smart Phones

Businesses Beware: Sloppy Data Security Could Cost You

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Stop The Family Drama With A Buy-Sell Agreement

Thursday, October 8th, 2015
Take control of your future with a buy-sell agreement - Unsuitable on Rea Radio

You don’t know what the future holds, but if you don’t take steps to prepare for the unknown you are leaving your business and your family vulnerable. Click here to listen to How To Ruin Thanksgiving Dinner on Unsuitable on Rea Radio, a new finance and business management podcast.

It seems like when the holiday season comes around everybody does their best to put their best foot forward and to portray the image of “the flawless family.” From the turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, to the Christmas cards featuring happy, loving families – we do all we can just to make sure everything is … perfect.

Listen to the podcast: How To Ruin Thanksgiving Dinner

The holiday season is also notorious for other less-than-perfect qualities, such as family fights, holiday shopping stress and, ultimately, increased depression and anxiety.

Now imagine you are battling the normal holiday stressors while trying to manage a family business. And what if your business is in crisis mode and your life, the future of your family members and the sustainability of your company hangs in the balance?

When you own a business with family or friends you already run the risk of business matters spilling over into your personal affairs. But when you haven’t invested the time and resources needed to plan ahead, you are leaving your business and your family vulnerable. Take control of the future of your business and the general well-being of your family all year long by knowing the true value of your business and investing in a proper buy-sell agreement.

Click here to read the full article.

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

Business Valuations - Ohio CPA firmLearn more about the importance of securing a custom business valuation and buy-sell agreement. Listen to the How To Ruin Thanksgiving Dinner” podcast on Unsuitable on Rea Radio at www.reacpa.com/podcast or on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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Why would I want to listen to a podcast from an accounting firm?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
Unsuitable Podcast - Ohio CPA Firm

Mark Van Benschoten (left) talks with Doug Feller, a principal and financial advisor with Investment Partners, talks about wealth enhancement and investment tactics for an upcoming episode of Unsuitable on Rea Radio, a new financial and business advisory podcast from Rea & Associates. Click here to learn more about Unsuitable on Rea Radio.

I know what you’re thinking – listening to a podcast from an accounting firm is probably about as entertaining and insightful as watching paint dry. But Unsuitable on Rea Radio isn’t your typical accounting podcast, and here’s why.

Real, Simple Solutions

Who doesn’t like a good story? What about one that leaves you with greater insight into the financial wellness of your own company? And if you had a better idea of how other successful entrepreneurs manage their wealth, wouldn’t you try to follow their lead?

The professionals at Rea have seen a lot over the last several decades and they are willing to open the curtain just enough to provide you with the information to forge your own success. And on Unsuitable, they do just that.

An Effective Kick In The Pants

Unsuitable offers a little something for everybody and I am confident that this is a show that will not only help provide you with more clarity, but will motivate you to take the next step as a professional and as a business leader.

Look at what has already been discussed in the first four episodes:

And this is just the beginning. Look for episodes highlighting investment strategies, Affordable Care Act compliance and retirement preparedness – just to name a few.

Accountants Like To Laugh Too

This may come as a surprise to many since those in the accounting profession tend to be thought of as dry, stuffy, number-crunching fanatics, but that’s just not true – well, most of the time. The Rea team consists of some pretty humorous, outgoing folks and I think that the diverse sense of humor of our team shines through. Mark Van Benschoten, the host of the show, helps a lot, of course. He does an excellent job addressing each guest and makes them feel comfortable … then the show gets really good.

Just The Right Length

Our firm has 11 offices throughout Ohio, which means I do a lot of driving. When I’m on the road I like to listen to podcasts – and there are a lot of them out there! What I really like about Unsuitable, is that it’s long enough to be really informative and wraps up nicely before it reaches the point where I am wishing it would end. In fact, when it does end I find myself wanting to start the next one. Mark and his guests get right to the point of the show, provide examples and offer hard-hitting advice in a concise, enjoyable format – all while having a great time and avoiding stuffy accounting jargon.

Go to www.reacpa.com/podcast now and start listening or subscribe to Unsuitable on Rea Radio on iTunes or SoundCloud. I also want to encourage you to use #ReaRadio to join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

By Lee Beall, CPA (Dublin office)

Click here and start listening to Unsuitable on Rea Radio now!

 

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What companies can do now to get ready for the 2016 tax season

Monday, October 5th, 2015

It’s time to do your business tax planning and, just like a doctor’s check-up, if you decide to skip it, you may regret it.

You could face a larger tax bill because you weren’t in close enough contact with your advisers when you did a transaction, changed a policy or practice, or amended what you are doing with insurance. You may encounter wide swings in income and tax due from one year to the next if you don’t check in with your advisers.

Smart Business recently interviewed Tracy Kaufman and Joe Popp about tax strategies business can implement now to prepare for the upcoming 2016 tax season. Want to learn more and see what you can start doing now? Check out the interview on Smart Business’s website.

What to read more posts about tax planning strategies? Check these out:

The Truth About Tax Extensions

Is Simplicity Worth The Cost Of Peace Of Mind?

5 Tax Deductions To Ease Your Business’s Tax Burden

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5 Financial Secrets Of Successful Business Owners

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
Financial Secrets Of Successful Business Owners - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

After following through with a 13-week cash flow for almost a year, you will have better insight into how to spend your profits to help your business generate additional cash and sales. Visit www.reacpa.com/podcast to learn more and listen to Rea’s podcast — Unsuitable on Rea Radio.

Many business owners find difficulty coming to terms with their financial obligations. They will dedicate long hours combing through their company’s expenses, invoices and payroll to arrive at an annual budget, only to let the report sit until it’s time to repeat the exercise again a year later. A 13-week rolling cash flow helps take the stress off business owners when it comes time to make important strategic decisions throughout the year. But in order to get your company back on the right track, you must be ready to change the way you look at your company’s finances. These five financial secrets of successful business owners will get you on the right track.

Listen To Unsuitable On Rea Radio – Why $1 Million Doesn’t Matter

1)     Know how much cash you have on hand.

We’re talking about tangible cash here; and to know how much you actually have on hand you will have to look beyond the ending balance on your business’s bank statement while not letting yourself get caught up in a sea of technical information, graphs and presentations. The three most important questions you should be asking every week are:

  • How much money do we have in the bank?
  • What is our accounts receivable balance?
  • Who do we owe and how much we owe them?

The other information and reports are still important, they just aren’t as critical when you have to make big decisions without a lot of time to ponder your company’s short- and long-term financial state.

2)     Understand your billing practices.

To get an accurate picture of your company’s cash flow, you will need to take a closer look at your current billing practices to find out if you are getting your bills out on a timely basis. Don’t be tempted to gloss over this step. It may surprise you to learn that a lot of decision-makers and business owners think they are on top of their billing activity, only to learn that they’re not. A 13-week cash flow budget will expose this weakness and will get you back on track.

3)     Delegate ownership of your cash flow. 

We are all busy and it’s easy to be enthusiastic about implementing a 13-week cash flow strategy — in theory. But when it’s time to actually put your strategy into action it’s easy to blame “lack of time” for why you put it off. The good news is that you can delegate the work to someone who has the time. You really can’t afford to ignore your cash flow. When you understand where your money is coming in from and where it’s going, you will begin to see positive results.

4)     Review your cash flow projection often.

While it’s great to write out an annual budget or a three-year-projection, most owners will push the document to the side … where it will begin to gather dust. Then, when the day comes when you need to know the financial state of your company for decision-making purposes, you are left with inaccurate, outdated information. When this happens, your effectiveness and accuracy as a leader is challenged. It doesn’t have to be though. When you review your cash flow regularly, you arm yourself with the tools need to make financially strategic decisions. For example, after following through with a 13-week cash flow for nearly a year, you will gain greater insight into how to spend your business profits to help generate the additional cash and sales needed to facilitate sustained growth.

5)     Put your accrual basis profit in its place.

While you may still need to have an accrual statement or generally accepted accounting principle statement to appease regulatory agencies, you would do well to remember that when it comes to the lifeblood of your business, cash flow is king. In all likelihood, businesses of all sizes should consider keeping two sets of records — an accrual and a cash basis statement — to maintain your company’s compliance among all stakeholders.

You can’t spend accrual basis profit. You can, however, spend cash basis profit. Which is why, at the end of the day, you’ll find that your banker, your lender, your shareholders, etc. … will take more interest in your cash flow strategy and your cash flow budget than your other reports.

Want to learn more? Click here to listen to Unsuitable on Rea Radio and find out “Why $1 Million Doesn’t Matter.”

By Dave Cain, CPA (Dublin office)

Visit www.reacpa.com/podcast for more episodes of Unsuitable on Rea Radio or click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or click here to listen to the show on SoundCloud.

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Will EMV Technology Change The Online Payment Option?

Monday, September 21st, 2015
Online Payment Option -Ohio CPA Firm

Does a company that doesn’t physically swipe credit cards have to worry about increased liability when the new EMV rules are implemented in October?

Dear Drebit: Does a company that doesn’t physically swipe credit cards have to worry about increased liability when the new EMV rules are implemented in October? Sincerely, Online Payments Only

Dear Online Payments: As you may already know, I recently wrote an article to inform merchants about the Oct. 1 deadline to implement Credit Card EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa) technology. When this change takes effect, the liability for fraudulent transactions will no longer be assumed by the credit card issuing institution. Instead, if you continue to use the credit card’s magnetic stripe to process payments, your business will assume liability for any resulting fraud. For most businesses – especially smaller businesses – a single instance of fraud could be crippling.

EMV technology essentially swaps out the magnetic stripe used on credit cards today for an embedded chip. The chip scrambles sensitive cardholder data at the point of sale, which makes it increasingly difficult to fraudulently access and replicate consumer data.

Click here to read the full article.

But what changes lie ahead for businesses that utilize online payment methods and don’t require customers to physically swipe their credit card to pay for a product or service? Do they need to be concerned about this liability switch on Oct. 1 too?

EMV Concerns For Online Merchants

Your third-party processor (such as PayPal), is responsible for ensuring that the payment is authentic. These companies validate payments using a variety of methods.

Natalie Gagliordi, a blogger with Small Business Matters, writes that “for most online merchants, whatever payment processing technology they are using will likely contain out-of-the-box security and authentication protocols.” PayPal, for example, “has developed complex end-to-end encryption to help protect consumers and merchants with their payment information.”

But just because your business doesn’t bare the sole responsibility for keeping your customers’ credit card data safe, doesn’t mean you have nothing to worry about – quite the contrary. Some experts expect credit card fraudsters to pay more attention on hacking online consumer data. This means, for your customers’ sake, you must continue to be informed of online security best practices and should not only be knowledgeable about what your third-party payment processor is doing to keep credit card data safe, but what your third-party payment processor requires of you to maintain your compliance. This could include maintaining current antivirus protection, a secure firewall and other online safety protocols.

The EMV Migration Forum’s Card-Not-Present Working Committee recently published an informative whitepaper to address the growing threat of Card-Not-Present Fraud. This resource will give online merchants a little more insight into the numerous options currently available to help authenticate online payments.

In the meantime, if you have additional questions or concerns, contact your third-party payment processor immediately. Requirement 12.9 of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard v3.0 states that they must provide you with – in writing – the details of its role in providing PCI compliancy, as well as any requirements of your organization. Click here to learn more.

How Can Drebit Help You?

Readers, do you have questions about data security, fraud, accounting, succession planning and other general business topics, but don’t really know who to ask? Let Drebit help find the answer! Simply fill out the brief form at the top, right side of this page. You can also click here to reach out to one of fraud experts directly. If you like the advice we offer, why not click here to subscribe to Dear Drebit and get notified of new articles and updates the minute they are posted?

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)  

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Will An Audit Find Fraud In My Business?

Thursday, September 10th, 2015
Fraud in My Business - Ohio CPA Firm

Your annual audit isn’t designed to detect fraudulent activity, but if across suspicious transactions are discovered a fraud detection expert should be called in.

For the same reason you wouldn’t expect your eye doctor to repair your tooth, you shouldn’t depend on your annual audit to detect occupational fraud in your business. A financial statement audit validates your financial records and provides reasonable assurance that they are materially accurate. It does not look for fraudulent activity.

Of course, if your auditor comes across suspicious transactions or questionable information, they will certainly share their findings with you. In addition, a good auditor will be able to recommend a fraud detection expert to help you dig deeper into the questionable activity.

So, if your audit won’t detect fraud, how will you know if it’s happening in your organization? 

According to the Association of Certified Fraud ExaminersReport to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, only 3 percent of the nearly 1,500 reported cases of occupational fraud were detected by an external audit. According to the study, employee tips continue to be the most common way in which fraudulent activity is reported – usually through a fraud reporting hotline.

Your employees are likely honest, hard-working individuals who would never do anything to jeopardize your business. But until you empower them with a secure, anonymous outlet to tip off this behavior, you will never truly know for sure.

Are you serious about protecting your business from fraud? Learn more at www.reacpa.com/red-flags or contact me directly.

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

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Fraudulent Credit Card Transactions Will Become Merchant’s Problem On Oct. 1

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
Credit Card Fraud Prevention - Ohio CPA Firm.

As of Oct. 1, 2015, the liability for fraudulent transactions will no longer be assumed by the credit card issuing institution. Instead, if you (the merchant) fail to adopt EMV technology, your business will be responsible for any loss that results from a fraudulent transaction.

PCI to EMV – Protecting Credit Card Data

Your customers want their payment experience to be as easy and painless as possible, which is why you have come to depend on the ability to process credit card payments – especially if your average transaction is more than $20. But providing your consumers with the ability to pay with plastic has also been helpful to fraudsters looking to steal the information hidden within their card’s magnetic stripe. In an effort to crack down on fraudulent transactions, protect consumers and transfer liability from the credit card company to your business, the United States will begin to implement Credit Card EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa) technology.

Read Also: Businesses Beware: Sloppy Data Security Could Cost You

Change Is Necessary

Due to the increasing number of credit card breaches where millions of credit card numbers and associated data have been stolen, the industry has forced retailers and merchants to adhere to PCI (Payment Card Industry) Security Requirements. Supported by the PCI Security Council, the ultimate goal of EMV is to stop and prevent further fraudulent activity. Success has already been noted in countries outside the U.S. “Currently, almost half of the world’s credit card fraud happens in the U.S. where magnetic stripe technology is the standard,” states David Navetta and Susan Ross in a blog on Data Protection Report. “Outside the U.S., an estimated 40 percent of the world’s cards and 70 percent of the terminals already use the EMV technology. These countries are reporting significantly lower counterfeit fraud levels with EMV cards than with the magnetic stripe cards.”

Understanding EMV Technology

Credit Card EMV technology, which has been used in Europe since the early 1990s, replaces the magnetic stripe we have grown accustomed to with an embedded chip that, scrambles sensitive cardholder data at the point of sale terminal. This technology ultimately makes it more difficult to access and replicate consumer data in an attempt to commit fraud.

Businesses Can’t Afford Not To Comply

Why should you be concerned about the credit card industry’s switch-over to EMV technology? As of Oct. 1, 2015, the liability for fraudulent transactions will no longer be assumed by the credit card issuing institution. Instead, if you (the merchant) fail to adopt EMV technology, your business will be responsible for any loss that results from a fraudulent transaction. If your business currently accepts credit cards as a form of payment (and you would like to continue this practice), unless you want to be hit with potentially devastating losses, you must make sure to install and activate the new technology before the Oct. 1 deadline. That being said, some types of businesses will have a little more time to comply. If you aren’t quite sure whether or not your business is exempt, visit the website of each payment brand you accept to learn more.

Next Steps

  1. If you have not investigated or planned for EMV Technology, contact your card processor immediately to determine your business’s specific needs.
  2. Implementing EMV technology can be a cumbersome and time consuming project, but the best way to protect yourself from fraud and liability is to implement the new technology as soon as possible.
  3. If EMV technology has been implemented be sure to confirm that the chip reading capability has been enabled. In addition, confirm with issuers that cryptographic values are being associated with the card number to ensure that the EMV technology has been setup and configured properly.  Verifying that cryptographic values are being assigned will eliminate the chance of misconfiguration and possible fraudulent activity.
  4. Train your staff on the new procedures. When a customer tries to pay for a product or service using their card, they will notice some changes, such as their credit card being held in the EMV reading slot throughout the entire transaction process. This is normal, however your staff should be prepared to answer the questions that will certainly arise.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

Want to learn more ways you can protect your business and your customers from a fraudster? Check out these articles:

Could Your Company Be Ransomware’s Next Victim? Don’t Turn A Blind Eye To PCI Compliance How Much Is Your Data Worth To Criminals?

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Businesses Beware: Sloppy Data Security Could Cost You

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Defend Against A Data Breach - Ohio CPA FirmAs if you didn’t have enough keeping you up at night, the topic of data security continues to send collective shivers up the spines of business owners worldwide. Unfortunately, the Aug. 24, ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit didn’t make matters any better (or less expensive) for businesses guilty of failing to protect their customers’ data. In fact, companies that utilize poor security practices that ultimately lead to a breach of consumer data are at risk of facing further disciplinary action and penalties.

Read Also: How Prepared Is Your Business For A Potential IT Disaster?

What does the FTC’s Courtroom Win Mean To Business Owners?

If you haven’t taken data security seriously in the past, it’s time to get real serious about it real quick.

Prior to the ruling, companies at the center of a data breach had to battle with lawsuits while working to rebuild their reputations. Now, in addition to litigation and negative headlines, your organization must also risk being fined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Businesses can no longer operate with a subpar data security infrastructure. Those that do are at risk of losing everything.

The court upheld the FTC’s 2012 lawsuit against Wyndham Worldwide, a company known for operating hotels and time-shares. Records show that the FTC filed complaints against Wyndham for three data breaches occurring in 2008 and 2009, which resulted in more than $10.6 million in fraudulent charges. In its decision, the appeals court reaffirmed previous rulings that found Wyndham to be responsible for implementing better security practices, which would have helped prevent such breaches from occurring in the first place.

According to the FTC’s argument, software used at Wyndham-owned hotels stored credit card information as readable text, hotel computers lacked a system for monitoring malware, there was no requirement for user identification and or to make password difficult for hackers to guess, the company failed to use firewalls and, ultimately, failed to employ reasonable measures to detect and prevent unauthorized access to the computer network or to conduct security investigations.

“Today’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision reaffirms the FTC’s authority to hold companies accountable for failing to safeguard consumer data,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “It is not only appropriate, but critical, that the FTC has the ability to take action on behalf of consumers when companies fail to take reasonable steps to secure sensitive consumer information.”

Next Steps For Businesses

With regard to the case between the FTC and Wyndham, the next chapter of the story is uncertain. While the win in the courtroom has helped put some wind in the FTC’s sails, the commission has yet to levy any penalties or assertions against the defendant. What is clear, however, is that a data security breach is a very real threat – one that is felt by nearly every business in the world. Furthermore, as technology continues to advance and hackers adapt, the security procedures businesses deploy must be top-notch to avoid further complications and costs associated with a sloppy security infrastructure.

Will you be ready when disaster strikes? Email Rea & Associates today to learn what you can do to protect your business from unforeseen threats.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

Want to learn more about how to protect your business from a data security crisis? Check out these articles:

Could Your Company Be Ransomware’s Next Victim?
Don’t Turn A Blind Eye To PCI Compliance
How Much Is Your Data Worth To Criminals?

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How to ensure your plans aren’t bigger than your finances in times of growth

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Growth is the goal for many companies — whether you get that growth from adding another location, forming an alliance, adding services, diversifying into other areas or merging with/acquiring another business. But not all growth is good. So, it’s critical that you properly manage it. Smart Business recently talked with Kent Beachy about monitoring and managing your business’s growth.

For example, when growth is on the horizon, construction companies will go out and take on more work than they can handle. They have to pay their labor weekly, but they may not get paid for 60 or 90 days. A big part of growth is being able to finance it; you must have the right financing sources, such as built-up profits and/or a line of credit.

To learn more about how to set up the right systems to monitor your financial accounting and cash flow in times of growth, read the full article on Smart Business’ website. 

Want to read more articles about business growth, check these out:

Don’t Shy Away From Business Debt

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

Do Your Business Metrics Need an Oil Change?

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

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
Unclaimed Funds - OUF-8 - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Unclaimed funds may include savings, checking, certificates of deposit accounts, payroll (wages, underlying shares principal), insurance proceeds, credit balances, customer deposits, traveler’s checks, money orders and other intangible interests or benefits that have had no activity over a specific period.

Dear Drebit: Is there a more customer-friendly OUF-8 notice businesses can provide to account holders? Sincerely, Unclaimed Funds In New Albany

Dear Unclaimed Funds:

You know that feeling you get when you pull a forgotten $20 dollar bill out from deep inside your jeans’ pocket; faded and pressed from being through a wash cycle or two. It always kind of seems like the cash just materialized out of thin air. In fact, maybe you even “remember” spending it … But alas, there it is, as plain as the gills between my toes.

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

Unclaimed funds are kind of like that too, but instead of finding a bit of cash in your pocket, you will likely find a notification in your mailbox.

Unclaimed funds may include savings, checking, certificates of deposit accounts, payroll (wages, underlying shares principal), insurance proceeds, credit balances, customer deposits, traveler’s checks, money orders and other intangible interests or benefits that have had no activity over a specific period.

Businesses are responsible for notifying account holders of their unclaimed funds by using the official Notice of Unclaimed Funds Form (also known as OUF-8), which will be sent to the account owner’s last known address. The purpose of this form is to notify you that the funds will be remitted to the state as unclaimed funds if you do not claim them over the next 30 days. NOTE: Your unclaimed funds cannot be remitted to the state until the 30-day period has expired.

Therefore, because the OUF-8 is the official form used throughout the State of Ohio, the answer to your question is no, there is not a more customer-friendly OUF-8 notice available. That being said, you are not necessarily required to complete the form in its entirety. The only information you must include is the:

  • Recipient/account owner’s name
  • Recipient/account owner’s address
  • The dollar amount in question.

From there, it is up to you to decide if you want to provide the recipient with more customer-friendly information.

For example, you may like the idea of including a cover letter with your OUF-8 forms as a way to provide helpful, more personalized and branded information to the account holder. The letter might include information about your business as well as instructions for claiming the funds. It may also be a good idea to inform them of what will happen if the account owner does not claim the funds within the next 30 days. Just remember that a cover letter is only meant as a supplement to the official OUF-8 form. The OUF-8 may either be sent on its own or with your customized cover letter – the cover letter cannot be sent in lieu of the OUF-8 form.

Unclaimed Fund Clarity

I certainly hope I could clear things up for you about the unclaimed funds/OUF-8 form; but if you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask the financial experts at Rea & Associates.

How Can Drebit Help You?

Readers, do you have questions about taxes, accounting, succession planning, fraud detection and other general business topics but don’t know who to ask? Drebit has answers. You are more than welcome to fill out the form at the top, right side of this page. You can also click here to reach out to one of our expert financial advisors directly. If you like the Dear Drebit blog, why not click here to subscribe to get news, advice and general insight delivered directly to your mailbox?

Want to learn more about unclaimed funds? Check out these articles for more great information. 

Free Money May Be Waiting for You!

Is Your Business in the Crosshairs? Ohio Commerce Div. Examines Taxpayers for Unclaimed Funds

Don’t Forget to File State and Local Taxes

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Like Losing Your Wallet – Only Worse

Friday, July 31st, 2015
Retirement Plan Returns- Ohio CPA Firm

Typically, owners of businesses and their spouses who fail to file their annual retirement plan returns are in full-scale crisis mode – and rightfully so, since missing this deadline results in a penalty that’s about the size of a small fortune.

For most of us, misplacing our keys, losing sight of our shoes and occasionally forgetting to pay the phone bill on time is not a catastrophic phenomenon. It happens; and most likely we will freak out for a minute, find what we were looking for and move on – only to repeat our dysfunctional routine countless times over the course of a lifetime. Forgetting to file your retirement plan returns on the other hand … well, let’s just say that’s typically not a stress-free event.

Read Also: Do You Know What Your Retirement Plan Is Costing You?

Typically, owners of businesses and their spouses who fail to file their annual retirement plan returns (Form 5500-EZ) are in full-scale crisis mode – and rightfully so, since missing this deadline results in a penalty that’s about the size of a small fortune. To be more precise, in years past, those who failed to meet their filing obligation could face a penalty totaling up to $15,000 per return. Fortunately, the IRS recently announced that instead of facing such an extreme late fee, eligible business owners can take advantage of a “low-cost penalty relief program.”

How Much Would You Pay?

The relief initiative, which started as a one-year pilot program in 2014, was tremendously successful, resulting in the collection of about 12,000 late returns. Because of this success, the program secured it’s permanency in May of this year. According to the news release, the program allows eligible business owners and their spouses to file late returns and only pay a $500 penalty for each return submitted with a maximum of $1,500 per plan. Because the IRS caps the maximum penalty at $1,500, applicants are encouraged to include multiple late returns in a single submission.

Eligibility

The IRS says that businesses with plans that cover the owner or the business’s partners (depending on how the business is set up) and their spouses are eligible to take advantage of this low-cost plan. Complete information about the program can be found by clicking here.

Learn More

Remember, your return must be filed annually no later than the end of the seventh month following the close of your plan year. So, for example, if your plan is governed by the calendar-year, as most are, your 2014 return was due today (Friday, July 31, 2015). Did you fail to file your small business’s annual retirement plan returns? Would you like to find out if you qualify for this program? Email a retirement plan expert at Rea & Associates and take control of your IRS debt now.

By Andrea McLane, QKA (Dublin office)

Want to read more about the importance of Retirement Plan Compliance?
Check out these articles:

401(k) Loans and Keeping Your Plan In Compliance
Retirement Roulette
The ‘Van Halen Philosophy’ of Retirement Plan Compliance

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How to set up internal controls on limited resources

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Setting up internal controls in your small or midsized business is no easy task. It can be very time confusing, plus running the day-to-day operations always takes priority. I recently spoke with Smart Business to discuss what businesses and organizations with limited resources can do to implement internal controls.

If I handed you a briefcase of $100,000 and said, ‘Here hold this for me,’ would you be OK with that? … [What] if it was $500,000 or $1 million? That’s what you’re doing when you give full access to information and resources with no one monitoring it.”

To find out what your organization can do now and read the full article, visit Smart Business’s website or check out some of the articles below.

By Michaela McGinn, CPA (Dublin office)

Want to learn more about internal controls for your business? Check out these articles:

10 Ways To Implement Internal Controls With Limited Resources

What Are The Top 10 Signs Your Business’s Internal Controls Aren’t Strong?

Does Your Company Have Solid Internal Controls?

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Could Your Company Be Ransomware’s Next Victim?

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
Preempt A Crisis - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

While there is no surefire way to prevent a Ransomware attack on your data, it’s wise to implement the following best practices to reduce the possibility of infection or reinfection.

The malware known as CryptoLocker or CryptoWall continues to be a major concern for individuals and companies alike. So much so, that the FBI saw fit to issue a warning just last month and help raise further awareness about the threat.

According to the FBI, this Ransomware continues to evolve, which helps it avoid user’s virus detection software applications – even if they are current. Since April 2014, reported the FBI, there have been 992 incidents of CryptoLocker reported. These occurrences have resulted in the loss of around $18 million.

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

The Threat Is Real

Ransomware is a computer infection that’s been programmed to encrypt all files of known file types on your local computer and your server’s shared drives. Once it takes hold, it’s all but impossible for you to regain access to the data that’s been infected. Once this happens, you have one of two choices. You can:

  1. Restore their machine by using backup media, or
  2. Accommodate the hacker’s demands and pay up.

As a direct result of my experience as an IT audit manager, I have been made aware of several situations in which businesses were left with no choice but to succumb to the demands of malicious cybercriminals carrying out Ransomware attacks. And while the companies I have worked with were finally able to obtain their assailant’s encryption key code to unencrypt and regain access to their data after the ransom was paid, others are not as lucky – after all, the FBI has reported $18 million worth of losses in just over a year. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that you won’t be targeted again in the future.

Preempt A Crisis

While there is no surefire way to prevent a Ransomware attack on your data, it’s wise to implement the following best practices to reduce the possibility of infection or reinfection.

  • Implement mandatory computer safety training for all employees and implement and test an IT Disaster Recovery Plan in place.
  • Always use reputable antivirus software and a firewall and be sure to keep both up to date.
  • Put your popup blockers to good use. Doing so will help remove the temptation to click on an ad that could infect your computer.
  • Limit access to company’s data by ensuring that only a few employees have access to certain folders and data. You can facilitate this type of action by conducting annual reviews of your company’s employee access rights.
  • Backup all company-owned content. Then if you do become infected, instead of paying the ransom, you can simply have the Ransomware wiped from your system and then reinstall your files once it’s safe again to do so.
  • Never click on suspicious emails or attachments, especially if they come from an email address you don’t recognize. And actively avoid websites that raise suspicion.

Shut Down The Attack

If you are surfing the Web and a popup ad or message appears to alert you that a Ransomware attack is in progress, disconnect from the Internet immediately. Breaking the connection between the hacker and your data could help stop the spread of additional infections or data losses. In addition to informing your company’s IT department about the threat or occurrence, be sure to file a complaint with your local law enforcement agency.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about the importance of your company’s online security.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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10 Ways To Implement Internal Controls With Limited Resources

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
How To Implement Internal Controls With Limited Resources - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Putting internal controls to work in your business doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task and you don’t necessarily need to beef up your workforce to get started. Start by simply picking a few key controls that can be easily woven into your daily or monthly processes and begin implementing a few changes at a time.

You’ve probably heard about how critical it is to establish internal controls throughout your business. But if you happen to own a small or midsize company, you may have dismissed this best practice in favor of maintaining your daily operations, optimizing customer service and streamlining your growth initiative. While running a successful business greatly depends on your ability to manage a variety of responsibilities, don’t let yourself become complacent when it comes to protecting your lifework from fraudulent activity. The mistake of ignoring the importance of internal controls in your business could end up costing you greatly.

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

Who’s Watching Your Money?

Would you be comfortable asking someone to watch a briefcase full of your cash, say $100,000? What if it held $500,000 or $1 million? Are you confident that your money would be there when you returned? Believe it or not, that’s essentially what you are doing every day when you run your business without internal controls – you are willingly handing over full access to your most valuable asset.

How To Address Your Internal Control Needs

Even if you don’t have the resources to implement a comprehensive internal control structure, there are still options available that can effectively provide your business with a level of oversight. Before you get started, be sure to consider the difference between preventative controls and detective controls.

As the owner of a small- to midsize-business, you may want to consider implementing a strategy that takes advantage of detective controls, which are typically put in place for the purpose of reviewing data for human error while ensuring that your assets remain secure. One example of this type of control is when, after your accounts have been reconciled, a reconciliation review is conducted to ensure accuracy.

Because of their size, smaller companies are more likely to give a few individuals full access to their business’s funds. These employees are often in charge of making deposits, issuing checks, managing payroll and performing monthly bank reconciliations. Enacting detective controls will not only provide you with the peace of mind you need, it may help take weight off of the shoulders of a trustworthy employee who would rather not have their trust questioned.

Preventative controls, on the other hand, are established by companies seeking to ensure that something doesn’t happen in advance. An example of a preventative control is when transaction limits and segregation of duties are established. This type of control can be very effective, but are oftentimes more difficult for smaller companies to establish due to the lack of resources they can commit to such a strategy.

10 Ways To Implement Internal Controls In Your Business

  1. Document and re-evaluate your operational processes (at least) annually.
  2. Make sure that more than one employee is familiar with your company’s operational processes to protect your business against unforeseeable circumstances, such as sickness, job loss or death.
  3. Conduct monthly reconciliations of key accounts (i.e. receivables, cash, inventory, payables, payroll costs, etc.) Then have these monthly reconciliations independently reviewed.
  4. Implement an approval process for employee spending.
  5. Establish transaction limits.
  6. Restrict access to your company’s general ledger to only a few key individuals.
  7. Review your vendor lists to ensure that they are current and accurate.
  8. Assign someone to review standard and nonstandard journal entries.
  9. Form a policy for creating credit limits for customers – and review it regularly.
  10. Review whether there are other areas unique to your business where employees may be able to manipulate information and identify how to monitor them.

Putting internal controls to work in your business doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task and you don’t necessarily need to beef up your workforce to get started. Start by simply picking a few key controls that can be easily woven into your daily or monthly processes and begin implementing a few changes at a time. Before you know it, aspects of your internal control strategy will become so commonplace that you may begin to wonder how you ever got by without them.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about the benefits of an internal control strategy.

By Michaela McGinn, CPA (Dublin office)

 

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Don’t Turn A Blind Eye To PCI Compliance

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015
PCI Compliance and Data Security - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Although you may employ a vendor to process credit card payments, it is still your client’s data and the ultimate need to protect that data is assumed by you.

You probably don’t have a lot of spare time on your hands. Between managing your business and employees, to ensuring your clients’ needs are being met. The last thing you might be concerned about is adhering to Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security compliance standards. But hold up. If your business (or any of your vendors) deals with client cardholder data or stores this information anywhere in your business’s IT systems, PCI standards are not something to ignore. It could be the difference between your business surviving and thriving or going down the drain.

PCI Data Security Best Practices

In November 2013, the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard version 3 was released. There were five requirements defined as “best practices.” And as of June 30, 2015, these requirements are mandatory and may affect your organization.

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard v3.0 data sheet describes the need for compliance as: “All applications that store, process, or transmit cardholder data are in scope for an entity’s PCI DSS assessment, including applications that have been validated to PA-DSS.”

The two requirements that could most affect your organization are Requirements 12.9 and 9.9.

  • Requirement 12.9 – Additional requirements for service providers: Service providers acknowledge in writing to customers that they are responsible for the security of cardholder data the service provider possesses or otherwise stores, processes, or transmits on behalf of the customer, or to the extent that they could impact the security of the customer’s cardholder data environment.
  • Requirement: 9.9 – Protect devices that capture payment card data via direct physical interaction with the card from tampering and substitution.

So what exactly do these requirements mean for you (and your vendor)? In essence, Requirement 12.9 requires third parties to provide in writing the details of its role in providing PCI compliancy, as well as any requirements of your organization. Requirement 12.9 is relevant to Requirement 9.9 as it relates to devices used to scan or input credit card information. The vendor’s compliancy requirements could require the entity to adhere to Requirement 9.9 by protecting and monitoring devices used by the entity to scan or input credit card information. And because it’s ultimately the responsibility of your organization to protect client credit card information, it is important that your business obtain the PCI requirements of any vendors you work with and adhere to the requirements of their PCI Compliancy Standards.  It is always best practice to document in detail when testing for PCI or communicating with your vendor.

Remaining Three Best Practice PCI Compliance Requirements

The other three PCI compliance “best practice” requirements are listed below. These may or may not be items to be addressed by your organization depending on your current PCI classification. It’s best to review and determine if your entity needs to add to your current PCI testing procedures.

  • Requirement: 6.5.10 – Broken authentication and session management. Secure authentication and session management prevents unauthorized individuals from compromising legitimate account credentials, keys, or session tokens that would otherwise enable the intruder to assume the identity of an authorized user.
  • Requirement: 8.5.1 – Service providers with remote access to customer premises (for example,  for support of POS systems or servers) must use a unique authentication credential (such as a password/phrase) for each customer.
  • Requirement: P. 93 11.3 P. 55 6.5 – Implement a methodology for Penetration testing.  See P. 93 of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard v3.0 data sheet for details.

The End of Outdated Secure Sockets Layer Encryption Protocol

Finally, in April 2015 the PCI Security Standards Council published a new version of the Payment Card Data Security Standard that calls for ending the use of the outdated Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption protocol. The new standard requires that the use of SSL be discontinued and replaced by the use of the more secure Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. The deadline for this change has been set at June 2016.

Remember, although you may employ a vendor to process credit card payments, it is still your client’s data and the ultimate need to protect that data is assumed by you.

We hear of new breaches daily, so it’s in the best interest of your organization to know the responsibilities of your organization for PCI Compliancy.  Don’t assume that all the responsibility is on a third party vendor because it is all of our responsibility to maintain security and keep the integrity of our data secure.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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The Billy Beane Approach To Business Success

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Big Data, Business and Baseball - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

While most baseball teams attempt to excel in all aspects of the game, The Oakland A’s ushered in a different type of strategy – one rooted in the power of optimizing a single data point – getting hits to get the team’s players on base.

It’s summer and that means that baseball season is in full swing. I don’t know about you, but nothing truly beats the feeling of spending a few hours in a stadium cheering for your favorite team – mine just happens to be the Cleveland Indians.

While I am a devoted fan and will support my team at nearly every opportunity (Go Tribe!), I must confess that there are days when, rather than have my heart broken by another loss, I opt to spend my time watching something a little more … encouraging. So, the other night I turned to the movie Moneyball for some baseball-themed comfort.

Read Also: Is Your Business Batting A Thousand?

Based on a true story, Moneyball follows Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane as he attempts to overcome multiple challenges in the hopes of taking his baseball team to the next level by leveraging cost effective measures to transform his team. I was particularly struck by the part when Billy, played by Brad Pitt, made a point to zero in on a single characteristic in the hopes of taking his team to the top – hitting. Moving forward with this strategy, Billy turned to data for answers.

Big Data, Business and Baseball

I’m willing to bet that almost everybody reading this post right now is at least somewhat familiar with the term “Big Data.” Some of us are generally aware of its role in business while others help facilitate the collection of data and are ultimately responsible for its collection and interpretation. Then there are others who are acutely aware of Big Data’s magnitude. These are the people who readily acknowledge how data is being used to track our buying behavior, monitor our interests and influence our interactions with others. Today, it is common practice to zero in on the details, which may have cost us our ability to see the forest through the trees – but at least we know that our trees look fabulous.

The Big Data concept is articulated in Moneyball. While most baseball teams devote countless hours to offensive and defensive strategies in an attempt to excel in all aspects of the game, The Oakland A’s ushered in a different type of strategy – one rooted in the power of optimizing a single data point – getting hits to get the team’s players on base.

Billy’s strategy can apply to your business success as well. For example, if you are able to focus on your business’s key driver while cutting out the aspects of your business that are holding you back (such as a poorly selling product, costly production or a minimal return on a particular investment) you can take the steps to increase your efficiency, company-wide value and ability to meet a growing demand. And consider watching Moneyball for inspiration – it sure beats tuning in to another lackluster performance by the Indians.

By Katie Snyder (Wooster Office)

 

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Can Your Business Survive An Employee Exodus?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Do Your Employees Love Their Jobs - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

It’s easy to blame the pay scale when an employee leaves or when it becomes a struggle to recruit new talent and it’s common for top performers to leave for bigger and brighter opportunities that promise a larger pay check. But sometimes, the reason a top performer leaves has nothing to do with dollar signs. Sometimes their departure has everything to do with whether they believe their work is appreciated. When an employee does a good job, do you let them know?

As the economy continues to improve, it’s more important than ever to remain focused on the well-being of your team – because if you don’t, somebody else will.

Just because your employees aren’t actively looking for another job opportunity, doesn’t mean that other companies aren’t looking for them. And that makes it your responsibility to keep them happy in their current position or company more important than ever. Maybe your closest competitors have begun to regularly communicate with members of your team as part of a strategy to siphon your top talent or maybe an appealing job posting on LinkedIn has prompted one of your best employees to take a critical look at their current situation. While widespread mutiny among your rank-and-file may not top your list of business threats, it’s a real possibility that must be given proper consideration. If key members of your team determine that the grass is, indeed, greener on the other side, you could be left shorthanded, unable to fulfill your business obligations and ultimately branded with a bad reputation.

Read: Are Your Employees Stakeholders In Your Business?

Could your business recover after taking this kind of hit?

If you’re not sure how your company would be able to handle the exit of your star employee or a mass exodus of talent, try implementing these tips into your team-building strategy to help secure your overall business structure – and ultimately your success. As an added bonus, you might be able to earn the “workplace of choice” status in your community in the process, which can have an extraordinary impact on all aspects of your organization.

Be A Better Leader

How effective you are as a leader hinges on your ability to provide support, motivation and direction to your team on a regular basis while utilizing fair and constructive methods of communication. Leadership is not just about barking orders, it’s about listening to your team and providing solutions that address challenges and promote higher levels of proactivity and efficiency. Want to be a better leader? Get involved. Listen. Be hands-on. And actively demonstrate the qualities you expect to see from your team.

Encourage Ownership

When team members are able to take ownership of their work and accomplishments, they will take more pride in their work and in the company. Oftentimes, the quality of your team’s work will increase and they will be more likely to offer valuable insight into the effectiveness and shortfalls of certain aspects of their area in the organization. You can’t be everywhere and they can serve as your eyes. Your team’s intuition can be incredibly valuable and can help improve your business’s processes and procedures. One way to encourage your team to take ownership is to give them the chance to walk away with a bonus for their efforts. Individual and company performance bonus plans have been successfully implemented in many businesses.

Environment Matters

Want to know the best way to drive your employees away? Make them work in cramped space with poor lighting, uncomfortable working conditions and outdated facilities. On the other hand, if attracting great hires and retaining top talent is your goal, be sure to provide your team with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively while ensuring that your facilities are up-to-date and the working conditions are manageable. Just like you, your employees are working harder than ever to earn a living. Another great way to satisfy your team is to understand that many of the men and women working for you are part of a household that depends on both parents working full-time jobs. Therefore, respecting the need for greater work/life balance might also give your business the edge when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

Be Generous With Feedback

It’s easy to blame the pay scale when an employee leaves or when it becomes a struggle to recruit new talent and it’s common for top performers to leave for bigger and brighter opportunities that promise a larger pay check. But sometimes, the reason a top performer leaves has nothing to do with dollar signs. Sometimes their departure has everything to do with whether they believe their work is appreciated. When an employee does a good job, do you let them know? When your team works together to fulfill an especially difficult quota, do you speak up? When you notice that one, two, 10 or more members of your team are struggling, do you take the time to work with them and help them overcome their challenges? When you take the time to give employees feedback with regard to how well they are performing their specific job duties, you help provide them with a roadmap for their own success. Some companies have begun to implement longevity awards to help acknowledge their team for the great work they do. These rewards are not only great incentives, they become points of pride.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about the benefits a great team can have on your company’s bottom line.

By Tom Jeffries, CPA (Millersburg office)

 

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Is Your Business Batting A Thousand?

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Why You Need A Banker On Your Team

A lot has changed since the first time I sat behind my desk at Rea & Associates in 1979. Technology has advanced in ways that no one could have imagined or predicted. Our nation endured – and survived – The Great Recession. And someone somewhere decided that Pluto isn’t a planet anymore (and I just became a grandpa!).

But with all these changes going on, one thing has remained the same: to be successful in business, you can’t go it alone.

Read Also: Why Is A Relationship With Your Banker Important To Your Business? 

You never know when you will need a sounding board, some insightful guidance or even someone to go to bat for you, but if you are looking to hit a home run, you need to make sure your team is stacked with advisors you trust – and be sure to make room on your roster for a banker.

As a business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily responsibilities of managing operations, customer needs and stakeholder interests. If your banker is just watching from the bleachers, you are missing out on a great opportunity to improve your business. Get a banker on your team, and if it’s the right one, you’ll see results.


Is Your Business Batting A Thousand? – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

A Key Player

Maybe you’re already making payments on a business loan, or perhaps you’re in the market to refinance or secure a new loan. Either way, you’ll have better results if you see your banker as a teammate.

When your banker is a key player in your business, you will find:

  • The bank is more willing to give you a loan.

    Banks don’t loan money to business owners they can’t trust. When you develop a relationship with your banker, not only do they get the chance to know you better, they get broader insight into your company and the objectives that drive your business. Yes, your cash flow, collateral and financial statements are important, but so is your character. If your banker knows you, likes you and trusts you – and knows, understands and believes in your business – you could be more likely to secure the financing you need when you need it.
  • You and your business are often top-of mind. When you have a strategic banking relationship, you’re more likely to get a call when a great opportunity arises. Your banker has greater insight into your short- and long-term strategies and will be able to alert you when a low interest loan program lands on their desk. Additionally, they are in a great position to recommend your business to other clients and professional acquaintances.

If you talk to your cousin’s neighbor’s dog-walker more often than you talk to your banker, it’s time to make a change. Try setting a recurring reminder on your calendar to meet for coffee, visit the batting cages or hit a few golf balls. Before long, you’ll start to see a return on your efforts.

By Dave Cain, CPA (Dublin office)

 

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Want A Better Business? Structure Matters

Friday, June 5th, 2015
Minimal Tax Liability - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Perhaps the biggest argument for establishing your business as an S-Corp is the minimal tax liability it provides to shareholders and to the business as a whole. Only the wages paid to owners and employees are considered earned income and subject to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax for Social Security and Medicare. Other net earnings passing through to shareholders are considered “passive income,” protecting them from the taxes that would otherwise be assessed per the Self Employed Contributions Act (SECA) tax.

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. Both options offer several distinct advantages depending on the size and scope of your business and it’s even possible to combine the two – potentially providing you with the best options of both worlds.

Read: Is It Time To Review Your Choice Of Entity?

Keep in mind that in some circumstances, making the change to an LLC may simply be impractical. Given your particular situation, the switch may have unfavorable consequences. Consider working with a knowledgeable financial advisor and/or business consultant who can assist you with proper planning and who can articulate the advantages and disadvantages of each option. If you are ready for a structure change, be sure to look closely at your short and long term goals and objectives – and be sure to build in some flexibility so that your business can adapt as it matures.

While it may be nearly impossible to find a perfect fit with regard to your specific needs, you may find one option to be better than another when working toward accomplishing your unique financial and tax goals. Read on to learn more about a few organizational structures that might make sense for you.


Want A Better Business? Structure Matters – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Just Passing Through

Regardless of whether you establish an LLC or an S-corp, you will receive the benefits associated with owning a pass through entity, meaning that your company’s income will pass directly through to the business owners – potentially receiving better tax treatment. Furthermore, both options grant owners with some form of limited liability protection.

What To Expect From Your LLC

If you decide to structure your business as an LLC you will likely enjoy the tax efficiencies and operation flexibility this traditional sole proprietorship or general partnership will provide. If you plan to enter into a partnership, each owner will be considered members and will report their portion of the profits and losses to the internal revenue service (IRS) on their personal federal income tax return. Another great benefit LLC members report is the ease of their operation and administration responsibilities. Members also enjoy fewer restrictions when the time comes to distribute earnings through profit-sharing.

Be aware, however, that the liability protection provided by an LLC is typically limited to each member’s personal investment in the company.

What To Expect From Your S-Corp

Corporate income, losses, deductions and credits are passed directly through to owners (or shareholders) of S-corporations. Shareholders of the company are then expected to report the business’s income and losses on their federal tax returns – similar to an LLC. Keep in mind that S-Corps may have no more than 100 shareholders. Furthermore, partnerships, corporations and non-resident aliens are not eligible to own S-corps. Shareholders only consist of individuals and certain trusts and estates.

Perhaps the biggest argument for establishing your business as an S-Corp is the minimal tax liability it provides to shareholders and to the business as a whole. Only the wages paid to owners and employees are considered earned income and subject to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax for Social Security and Medicare. Other net earnings passing through to shareholders are considered “passive income,” protecting them from the taxes that would otherwise be assessed per the Self Employed Contributions Act (SECA) tax.

But be forewarned, even though S-Corps have some great tax benefits, they also have complex administrative and recordkeeping obligations. All S-Corps are required to maintain formal minutes, bylaws, forms and filings. Additionally, because shareholders earnings are limited to a proportional percentage of capital contributions, profit sharing is difficult to establish. In other words, if you are looking for a relatively low-maintenance option – you may not want to choose to establish an S-Corp.

The Best Of Both Worlds

Wouldn’t it be great if you could structure your business in a way that allows you to enjoy the benefits of minimal tax liability, profit sharing, and fewer administrative and operational responsibilities while curtailing the restrictions posed by establishing the company solely as an LLC or S-Corp? Good news – that option exists!

There are steps you can take to establish your business as an LLC while allowing it to receive the tax treatment of an S-Corp – it just requires you to seek insight from a professional in business and financial matters and a special election with the IRS via Form 2583.

The decisions you make today will impact the future of your business for years to come. Email Rea & Associates to learn more about the pros and cons of LLCs and S-Corps, as well as other options that may be available to address your specific challenges.

By Gene Spittle, CPA, PFS, CGMA (Wooster office)

 

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Managing Wealth In A Volatile Industry

Thursday, June 4th, 2015
Navigate The Busts and Booms of Business - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Owning a business in a volatile industry can be a big gamble, but if you strategically manage your assets, your odds of success become much greater. Be prepared for outside factors that may force your business to go lean by preparing early and creating a solid, sustainable financial management strategy.

The oil & gas industry has long been known to experience regular cycles of booms and busts. One of the most recent examples occurred only a few months ago, when Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) made the decision to maintain its current level of production levels in an attempt to capture greater market share. This decision caused the price of oil to tank. By the time the dust settled, oil prices dipped 60 percent and the ripple effect had already begun to take a toll on companies throughout the industry.

Read: This Is An Intervention – Step Away From Your Business

This is just one example of how the market can change overnight, but this type of volatility is not exclusive to the oil & gas industry, which is why 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.

3 Tips To Help You Navigate Your Industry’s Busts – And The Booms

  1. Take Good Care Of Your Assets – Successful navigation of a finicky industry depends on how well you manage your assets. For example, when times are good, take the necessary steps to manage your cash flow and consult with an advisor who can help you make wise, sustainable financial decisions. When it comes to investments made outside the volatility of your business, consider giving your blood pressure a break and make it a priority to first seek the preservation of your capital over your rate of return. Emphasizing capital preservation can better prepare you for those unexpected downturns.
  2. Live Frugally (Even When You Don’t Have To) – Don’t buy that new car unless you are absolutely sure that you will have the funds needed to cover the payments, and any other unexpected expenses, later on. Setting goals for your spending and saving habits, for example, can help keep your finances in line – helping you to keep your head above water when your business, or the industry, takes unexpected downturn. Instead of driving off the lot in that brand-new car, start by putting some money aside to make a nice down payment. Even though you may have to postpone the purchase for a few months or so, when you are finally able to put the money down you will also be able to significantly reduce your monthly payments – putting you in an even better long-term financial position.
  3. Choose To Play The Long Game – It may seem hard to diversify your business when so many others appear to be doing pretty good for themselves by chasing the quick rewards. But by operating your business and managing your personal finances more conservatively, you stand a better chance of securing long-term wealth – not to mention a comfortable retirement. In other words, when you diversify your assets, you are able to protect yourself and your business from a sudden and complete collapse.

Owning a business in a volatile industry can be a big gamble, but if you strategically manage your assets, your odds of success become much greater. Be prepared for outside factors that may force your business to go lean by preparing early and creating a solid, sustainable financial management strategy. Take a look at your current operations and consider what changes you can make today to help protect your business from a possible financial catastrophe tomorrow.

Email Rea & Associates to discover more ways to protect your business.

By David Shallenberger, CPA (Wooster office)

 

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Hackers Target IRS – 100,000 Taxpayer Accounts Breached

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015
Hackers Target IRS – 100,000 Taxpayer Accounts Breached  - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Reports state that cyber-criminals were able to gain access to taxpayer accounts by obtaining specific, personal information, which allowed them to navigate the Get Transcript authentication process. The IRS said, since February, there have been about 200,000 attempts to access taxpayer’s Get Transcript accounts from “questionable email domains – of which, about 100,000 were successful.

Just when you thought it was safe to let your guard down, cyber-criminals have blindsided us again. This time they’ve used the Internal Revenue Service’s “Get Transcript” application to gain access to approximately 100,000 taxpayer accounts.

Read: Could A Cyber-Attack Cripple Your Business In 2015?

The IRS released a statement Tuesday stating the government agency is “working aggressively to protect affected taxpayers and strengthen [their] protocols even further going forward,” after learning that hackers used “non-IRS sources” to access data, including Social Security information, dates of birth and street addresses associated with the accounts of nearly 100,000 taxpayers. The IRS said the security breach occurred when criminals gained access to its online Get Transcript application, which has since been shut down pending a full investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

According to the IRS, “the online application will remain disabled until the IRS makes modifications and further strengthens security for it.”

The data breach was limited to the Get Transcript application, said an IRS representative. The main IRS computer system that manages tax filing submissions was not affected and remains secure.

Reports state that the criminals were able to gain access to the accounts by obtaining information specific to the certain taxpayers, which allowed them to navigate the Get Transcript authentication process, which includes asking the user to answer several personal questions to confirm their identity. The IRS said, since February, there have been about 200,000 attempts to access taxpayer’s Get Transcript accounts from “questionable email domains – of which, about 100,000 were successful.

Expect to receive a letter in the mail if your account was one of the 200,000 accounts targeted. And if your account was one of those that were compromised, your letter will provide additional information, including specific instructions to access free credit monitoring services that will be provided by the IRS to ensure your data is not being used in other financially damaging ways. According to the IRS, the letters started going out this week.

Concerned about identity theft as a result of this breach? Click here to learn what to do if your identity is stolen or if your personal information is compromised.

If you are a business owner, do you have protocols in place to protect your business from a cybercriminal?Email Rea & Associates to learn how you can protect your business from a cyberattack. You can also get some useful tips and information in the related articles below.

By Lesley Mast, CPA (Wooster office)

 

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Don’t Shy Away From Business Debt

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
Leverage Your Debt - Leverage Your Cash Flow - Ohio CPA Firm

Traditionally, companies with strong, positive cash flows are those with proper pricing models in place, a healthy labor force, controlled spending and active collections. When it’s time to grow, they are ready to make a move.

You know the satisfaction you feel when all of your debts have been settled and any extra cash flowing into your bank account is purely disposable income. Neither do I. But, contrary to popular belief, if you are a business owner, carrying a little extra debt could be a good thing – and here’s why …

Read: How Can My Statement of Cash Flows Transform My Business?

One of the most important jobs a business owner has is to prepare, monitor and analyze their company’s cash flow. As the single most important tool you have in your business’s arsenal, your company’s cash flow (business income minus its cash payments) provides you with an accurate way to measure its overall financial wellness.

Do You Know What You Need To Grow?

One of the most powerful ways to measure how well your company is doing is to monitor its projected/forecasted cash flow while analyzing the business’s past financial information.

  • Your company’s projected/forecasted cash flow should provide you an educated prediction of your future cash income and expenses. You can use this information to develop the initiatives needed to ensure the long-term growth and sustainability of your business.
  • When you monitor your company’s past cash flow you will tap into the data needed to zero in on the business’s strengths and weaknesses – effectively shining a light on processes, products, services and strategies that are hindering your company’s growth. Then you can act quickly to build upon the objectives that work and eliminate those that hinder ongoing success.

Traditionally, companies with strong, positive cash flows are those with proper pricing models in place, a healthy labor force, controlled spending and active collections. (Notice that I didn’t say that these companies were debt free!)

Leverage Cash Flow, Leverage Your Debt

The word “debt” has a bad reputation. Yes, for many reasons living your life and managing your business “debt free” can be a great thing. But, especially in business, working exclusively for the purpose of eliminating all debt can actually hinder you from experiencing healthy, sustainable growth. For example, in the quest to settle your company’s debts, you may be left with an anemic savings account and little-to-no cash to jump on opportunities that arise and could potentially propel your company to new heights. As a savvy business owner, you should always anticipate changes that could positively and negatively impact your business. The key is to leverage your company’s cash flow. Here are two ways you can get started.

  1. Take advantage of financing opportunities with favorable interest rates.  

Oftentimes, especially if you have taken the time to develop a strong relationship with a local financial institution, you can secure financing at a very low interest rate. This will allow you to take the cash that was not used to finance your project and reinvest it in the market, which can provide you with a better return. For example, in the current market, if you are able to finance new equipment for your company with an interest rate of 4 percent, you are free to invest your own cash in the market, which could yield a return rate greater than the interest charges you owe to the bank per your financing agreement.

  1. Utilize a line of credit

One of the best ways to invest in your business is to make sure you have the cash on hand that will allow you to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities. It’s hard to predict when a strategic partnership or change in the marketplace can open up a door that had previously remained shut. But when it does, an open line of credit makes seizing the opportunity possible while ensuring that your business’s current operations remain unaffected.

If you practice strategic control over your business, make sure you are giving your cash flow the same attention. To properly leverage your company’s debt you must constantly monitor your cash flow to ensure that these strategies make sense for you. Email Rea & Associates to learn more about leveraging your cash flow and whether it is the best move for your company.

By Dustin Raber, CPA (Millersburg office)

 

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Investing In Your Business’s Immortality

Monday, May 11th, 2015
Business Teamwork - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Ensuring that you have the right team in place – from the ground floor to upper management – is a solid, common sense strategy for business owners who are looking to add short-term and long-term value to their business. Not only are customers and clients more likely to equate your team’s passion with quality, which helps secure new business and develop long-term relationships, but the strength and self-sufficiency of your team is a major incentive to investors.

Go ahead. Take pride in all that you’ve accomplished. Relive the moment you decided to go into business and reflect on your trials and triumphs. And as you reminisce, identify everyone who helped you achieve your vision – because chances are you didn’t get where you are by yourself.

Make no mistake. In business, the strength of your team directly impacts your company’s success and overall val­ue. Therefore, it’s never been more im­portant to ensure that your exit from the company doesn’t lead to a “going out of business” sale.

Read: This Is An Intervention – Step Away From Your Business

Your Company’s Longevity

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to continually evaluate your busi­ness. Part of the evaluation process is ensuring that the right people are in the right place to help guide and grow your company – even when you’re not around.

Whether they move on or retire, eventually every person on your leadership team will leave, including you. You must decide what kind of impact this will have on your company when it happens.

One of the best strategies you can em­brace is to become obsolete. That’s not to say that your work is not important, it just means that your team, your business, does not depend on you for its survival.

Every time you recruit an employee, you have an opportunity to reinforce your company’s mission. Do your due diligence to make sure the people you hire are on board with the company’s vision. They will continue to set the tone after you leave, which is why the qualities you consider when hiring a candidate should go beyond their education and experi­ence. Anyone you hire must have the passion to succeed, the capacity to learn and a personality that helps them easily overcome complicated situations. From entry-level to leadership positions, your ability to maintain a strong team ensures the longevity of your business.

Is Your Team Valuable?

Ensuring that you have the right team in place – from the ground floor to up­per management – is a solid, common sense strategy for business owners who are looking to add short- and long-term value to their business. Not only are customers and clients more likely to equate your team’s passion with quality, which helps secure new business and develop long-term relationships, but the strength and self-sufficiency of your team is a major incentive to investors.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Don McIntosh, CPA, CGFM, CFE (New Philadelphia office) and Tim McDaniel, CPA/ABV, ASA, CBA (Dublin office)

 

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Retirement Plan Design: One Size Does Not Fit All

Monday, May 11th, 2015
Planning Ahead for Retirement Makes All The Difference - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

When it comes to your retirement plan, planning ahead can mean the difference between sipping tropical drinks on a beach to taking on a part-time job at 75 to make ends meet. Is your retirement plan advisor working in your best interest?

Do your employees dream of spending their golden years on a sun-drenched beach, sipping tropical drinks from a coconut shell? Or do you think they’re looking forward to taking on a part-time job at age 70 to pay medical bills and their mortgage? Like you, they’re probably expecting an R&R-fueled retirement – but they need your help getting there.

Read Retirement Roulette

An employer-sponsored retirement plan is a great tool for business owners. Not only do retirement plans provide businesses with leverage when it comes to attracting and retaining a skilled workforce, employers that make contributions to their employee’s accounts are entitled to tax incentives – which gives you more control over your company’s cash flow.

From Business Strategy To Retirement Planning

Whether your company presently offers a retirement plan or is planning to beef up its benefits package, work with a retirement plan advisor who can review your options and identify the plan that best addresses your company’s unique challenges. You’ll need to:

  1. Identify The Primary Purpose Of Your Retirement Plan
    Will your retirement plan be used as a recruitment tool or as a tax shelter? While all plans accomplish a little of both, make sure your plan design meets your needs. For example, when a closely held business offers a retirement plan, its primary goal is to provide maximum retirement benefits and income tax deferral to the owners, while minimizing the cost of benefits to the employees. Incorporating a retirement plan into your existing benefit package is also an opportunity to diversify your assets away from the reach of creditors – making you less dependent on the value of your company to provide an income stream in retirement.
  2. Get To Know Your Team
    Does your company hire younger workers? Do you have an established workforce that will retire from your company? Do you have high turnover? What does your projected workforce growth look like? Your plan design should consider your demographic information – and promote the short- and long-term financial wellness of your employees and your business.
  3. Put Your Own Retirement Goals In Perspective
    Your employees aren’t the only ones looking at your employer-sponsored retirement plan as a dependable source of retirement income. You and other key employees will likely use the plan as well. That’s why, during the design phase, your advisor will take a look at the current and projected profitability of your company alongside the ratio of key employees and the company’s other employees.

When all is said and done, your plan design could be the thing that stands between your employees and a comfortable retirement – or it could be what lets them reap the benefits of all their years of hard work.

This is a great time of year to explore your options. Email Rea & Associates to learn more.

By Paul McEwan, CPA, MT, AIFA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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Charter Schools Can Thrive In An Era Of Reform?

Friday, May 8th, 2015

It’s hard to avoid the topic of charter school reform these days. From news reports to proposed policy changes, everybody seems to have an opinion when it comes to the proper way to manage these public educational institutions. While it’s still too early to rewrite policy, it doesn’t hurt to monitor the ever-changing pulse of the legislature, especially when it has the potential to drastically impact the way our state’s charter schools are managed.

As students continue to flock to charter schools within their communities, the increased demand has effectively changed the landscape of Ohio’s education facilities. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reports that during the 2013-14 school year a record 119,533 students opted to attend one of Ohio’s 400 charter schools. Such a shift in our educational system has spurred increased scrutiny of the charter school industry and has prompted state leaders to call for increased organizational and financial transparency and accountability.

Slideshow: Top 5 Tips For Charter Schools


Top 5 Tips For Charter Schools – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Charter Schools Continue To Grow In Popularity

Charter schools have proven their worth and show no signs of going away, which has fueled efforts to secure greater regulation and oversight over the institutions. So far this year there has been no shortage of charter school reform proposals – with the most recent one being introduced by State Sen. Peggy Lehner mid-April.

The charter school reforms that are being debated in Ohio’s legislature call for companies and organizations responsible for operating the schools to do so under “higher standards” of quality education. Proponents of reform cite a trend of lower test scores and point to the government funding charter schools currently receive to back a position of greater accountability and transparency.

“Charter schools can be examples of exceptional education,” Lehner told The Cleveland Plain Dealer in April. “But Ohio has been ‘extremely loose’ in its rules about who can run (manage) schools … and (has) ‘failed to put up the sort of guardrails’ that force the schools to be of high quality.”

According to the Cleveland publication, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) points to the success of many national charter schools as examples how communities and students can continue to benefit from properly managed privately-held institutions and point to the importance of outside agencies, namely school districts, state or city panels, colleges and non-profits, “to do a better job of making sure schools provide solid educations to children.”

The three proposals introduced so far this year all call for stricter oversight with regard to which entities are authorized to set up charter schools across the state.

How Are These Proposals Different?

 

Charter School Changes - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

The more charter schools grow in popularity, the more attention they get in the legislature – especially in Ohio where during the 2013-14 school year a record 119,533 students attended one of the state’s public charter schools.

Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal called for Ohio’s charter schools to receive two new potential funding sources while holding school sponsors to a higher standard of accountability. His proposal sought to generate a $25 million facilities fund, which would be available only to the highest-rated sponsors. Those highly-rated sponsors would also be allowed to seek local tax levies while advocating for the closure of poorly performing schools. Furthermore, he would:

  • Require all sponsors to be approved by the Ohio Department of Education and go through the state review and rating process.
  • Prevent sponsors from selling goods and/or services to the schools they sponsor in an effort to avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Mandate that all charter schools only employ treasurers, auditors and lawyers who are not affiliated with the school’s sponsor or management company.
  • Advocate for stronger rules for schools and operators that apply directly to the state for sponsorship.

The next charter school reform that was proposed, House Bill 2, was touted as a solution that would promote accountability, transparency and responsibility by:

  • Requiring all charter schools – including district-created dropout recovery schools – to be included in the Ohio Department of Education’s report card.
  • Mandating that all contracts between schools and sponsors include more detail about expected academic performance of the schools as well as details about the school’s facilities and rental or loan costs.
  • Preventing charter schools from frequently changing sponsors in order to appear as though they are in good standing.
  • Requiring the full disclosure of all conflicts of interest.
  • Calling for the annual disclosure of financial reports that allow sponsors to better monitor the school while advising it.
  • Instructing all management companies or organizations to begin reporting their performance.
  • Prevent sponsors from selling goods and/or services to the schools they sponsor in an effort to avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Prohibiting school district employees and vendors from sitting on the school’s governing board.
  • Ensuring that school treasurers will no longer be hired by the school’s sponsor.

State Sen. Lehner’s most current proposal reportedly “takes many pieces of [the other proposals] and adds additional controls – and benefits.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer states “the bill does not have the state directly close poor-performing charters quickly … instead [it] takes the more indirect path that the charter school community prefers nationally. The bill pressures the ‘sponsors’ … to raise standards.” Her bill aims to:

  • Strengthen language that will prohibit “sponsor hopping.”
  • Increase the transparency associated with expenditures generated by operators.
  • Require all sponsors to have a contract with the Ohio Department of Education [ODE].
  • Incorporate Gov. Kasich’s charter school sponsor oversight proposal.
  • Limit the direct authorizing by the ODE and allows it to decline applicants.
  • Prohibit sponsors from spending charter funds outside of their statutory responsibly.
  • Encourage high performing schools with facilities by encouraging co-location and facility funding.

I am sure we will hear much more about this issue before it comes to a vote. But in the meantime, keep following these events and consider how changes might affect you. Email Rea & Associates to find out how we can help you overcome current challenges while preparing for the future.

By: Zac Morris, CPA (Millersburg office)

 

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This Is An Intervention – Step Away From Your Business

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
Be The Leader You Want To Be - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Join organizations, attend events, and talk to other leaders about your business, your industry and your role in the world. It’s time to be the business leader you’ve always wanted to be.

As the driving force behind your company’s growth and success you have undoubtedly spent countless hours and dollars strategizing, networking and juggling a laundry list of managerial responsibilities. But your effort has paid off – today, you are praised for your work and are regarded as a leading entrepreneur within your industry. But maybe it feels like you have only begun to scratch the surface and that your business is long overdue for a growth spurt. While these are great challenges to have in the business world, if you are spending all your time in the office instead of hitting the pavement, it could seem like your ability to expand further is simply unattainable.

If only there were more hours in the day!

Read: Did You Know That Treating Your Business Like An Investment Can Lead To Wealth?

Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of working with many successful business owners. And while these men and women possess the skills, expertise and leadership traits essential for success in their respective industries, they have all learned that they are not immune to getting caught up in day-to-day managerial distractions. It can happen to anybody and before you know it you are caught up in a fruitless, energy-sapping, time-consuming headache that hurts your effectiveness as a business leader and prevents your company from achieving the growth and revenue you know it is capable of.

When that happens, it’s time to stop what you are doing, take a step back and reassess your organizational development strategy.


Step Away From Your Business – An Intervention – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Work On Your Business, Not In It

“[The] executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there,” says Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t. “No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.”

In other words, if you want to continue to grow a successful company, you can’t do it alone. While this advice may sound cliché, your ability to develop a strong organizational structure is directly responsible for your company’s long-term success. But it’s not easy and getting “the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off)” has been the single hardest objective for some of the most talented business owners. But once you are able to achieve this step, you will finally be able to maximize your time and talent by working on your business, instead of in your business.

How To Lead Your Business By Developing Your Organization

  1. First you must understand that organizational development is a never-ending process. To get started, develop a formal organizational chart and take time to identify “the right people” to effectively fill the top positions on your chart. To aid in the flexibility and evolution of your business’s organizational development, consider forming an advisory board to bring outside objectivity to the process.
  2. Next, step away from the daily grind of running your business. It’s time to be the business leader you’ve always wanted to be. Join organizations, attend events, and talk to other leaders about your business, your industry and your role in the world. Doing so will help you earn respect and influence throughout your community.
  3. Once you put some distance between yourself and the day-to-day grind of your company, you will be able to lead your company more objectively. This is an ideal time to observe your current organizational structure and brainstorm strategies to help you achieve your future success with your inner circle. Just make sure that those who make up your inner circle are not like you, will tell you the truth, will add value to you and your organization and are willing to have crucial conversations.
  4. Now that you have solidified your role as a business leader, it’s time to empower those in your organization to take ownership of the company and their place in it. This includes giving them the ability to make decisions while supporting and encouraging them and demonstrating your willingness to follow their lead.
  5. One of the most critical responsibilities of a business leader is planning for the future of your company. How will you transition your business once it is time to retire? What should you do now to ensure your company’s longevity? Do you know how much your business is actually worth? In order to protect your most important investment, your business, it is important to thoroughly understand the value of your business and develop a plan for its continued growth.

Starting your business is hard; growing your business is even harder. You will make mistakes. When you do get it wrong,act swiftly to make the necessary changes.

Maximize your time and talent. Email Rea & Associates today to learn more growth and development tips for your business. I won’t say that we have seen it all, but we have certainly seen a lot.

By Mike Taylor, CPA (Millersburg office)

 

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