Archive for the ‘Business Advice’ Category

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. The IC3, formerly known as the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, also encourages you to file a report at www.IC3.gov.

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

Does Your Audit Process Protect You From Fraud?

Does Your Company Have Solid Internal Controls?

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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

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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