Archive for the ‘Business Advice’ Category

Six Things 401k Plan Sponsors Need To Do Now

Friday, January 16th, 2015
Mark your calendars and don't forget these 2015 retirement plan deadlines. Click on the image to easily see what is due and when to file.

Mark your calendars and don’t forget these 2015 retirement plan deadlines. Click on the image to easily see what is due and when to file.

January may be flying by, but the New Year is still fresh. This is still a great time to make sure that the qualified 401k plan you offer your employees helps them effectively save for retirement and remains qualified.

Not sure where to start? Here are six ways to get the most out of your 401k plan:

1. Review Your Match Formula

An employer match can be critical to helping your employees meet their retirement goals and stretching the match formula is a great way to entice employees to save more. Instead of matching 100 percent on the first 2 percent of deferrals, consider changing your contribution formula to 50 percent on the first 4 percent of deferrals, or 25 percent on the first 8 percent of deferrals instead. Each one of these formulas will result in a 2 percent wage cost to you, the employer, but changing the formula may encourage additional employee saving. Instead of saving 4 percent of their income (2 percent employee income plus 2 percent employer match), the employee may be motivated to increase contributions to their retirement plan to 10 percent (8 percent employee income plus 2 percent employer match). Contact your TPA to discuss different strategies.

2. Check Your Contribution Limits

Did you know that the 401(k) and 403(b) plan deferral limits have increased to $18,000? Employees older than 50, now have the option to defer an additional $6,000 of their wages toward retirement. Encourage your employees to review their payroll deduction to ensure that they are on target to meet their personal savings goals.

3. Offer Your 401(k) Plan To All Eligible Employees

If your 401(k) plan has an entry date of Jan. 1, be sure all newly eligible employees were provided the opportunity to participate in the plan. Even if you have an employee who doesn’t want to participate, I recommend that you obtain a signed election form that indicates a 401(k) election of “0 percent.” By doing this, you have documentation that they employee was offered the chance to participate, even though they decided not to.

4. Provide Employee Census To Your TPA

Your third party administrator (TPA) needs yearly plan census information to conduct compliance testing, verify 401(k) and to calculate matching contributions and profit sharing allocations. The deadline for most compliance tests is March 15.

5. Check Your Fidelity Bond

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires a fidelity bond for every plan fiduciary and for those who handle the funds or property of a plan. The bond must be at least 10 percent of the company’s plan assets. It’s a good idea to ensure that your bond is still meeting the 10 percent minimum requirement.

6. Restate Your Plan Document

Prototype documents for 401(k) plans currently are in a restatement window; therefore, if your plan uses a prototype document, it must be updated to meet new IRS standards. This document restatement period is a great time to examine your plan provisions. For example, do you want to change eligibility requirements or add a loan provision that you have contemplated adding in the past? This is a good time to make those changes. The deadline for restating 401(k) prototype documents is April 30, 2016.

Managing your company’s retirement plan can be confusing or overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be. Email Rea & Associates today to learn more.

By Steve Renner, QKA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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Could A Cyber-Attack Cripple Your Business In 2015?

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

As we embark on a new year, many of us will set personal goals for ourselves or renew commitments to objectives that may have eluded us over the last year – and if you are a business owner you probably have a whole other list of initiatives to conquer in 2015. But before you dive into a new campaign, product launch or acquisition, take a moment to reassess your business’s disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Doing so could save you from unforeseen financial hardships that could devastate your bottom line.

From eBay’s server breach early in 2014 to the recent Sony Pictures hack, this year major U.S. companies found out that even the best defenses cannot guard against attacks carried out by a determined hacker (or hackers). And if these large-scale businesses are vulnerable, how is your small to midsize business expected to recover? In addition to building up a solid defense to these types of threats by employing firewalls and antivirus software, businesses with a solid business continuity plan are more likely to recover if (and when) a disaster does strike.

Plan For The Best – Expect The Worse

Could you recover from a cyber-attack or data breach? Do you have a plan in place to not only shield yourself from threats, but to swiftly respond and recover? The ISACA, an organization that engages in the development, adoption and use of globally accepted, industry-leading knowledge and practices for information systems, encourages business owners to take a proactive stance when guarding against disasters – online and offline. If you are unsure whether your business could recover, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Do you have a thorough understanding your business’s activities, including which ones are critical to support your overall operations while satisfying your customer’s expectations?
  2. Do you know what data you need to support your business’s critical operations and do you know where this data is kept?
  3. Do you have a clear understanding of the effects of downtime within your business and, using this information, are you able to identify where you are most vulnerable?
  4. Do you have current infrastructure in place to protect your business and data against hackers and viruses?
  5. Do you consider business continuity to be a priority to your business?
  6. Do you have a documented plan in place to guide all aspects of your business through a major emergency? How about smaller disruptions like organizational, process and technology changes?
  7. If a disaster were to strike today would you be able to recover quickly while protecting the best interests of your customers and business stakeholders?

If you answered no to any of these questions your business may find itself susceptible to risk and unable to recover from a cyber-attack or data breach. Make business continuity a priority in 2015. Email Rea & Associates for more information on how you can protect your business against countless internal and external threats.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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Put Your Property Easement Agreement To Work

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

The shale oil and gas play has spurred a significant amount of pipeline and infrastructure activity throughout certain areas of the United States. As a result, many landowners are now being approached by landmen armed with cash offers and easement agreements in the hopes of acquiring the right to use your property to process and transport oil and gas related products. Before you sign on that dotted line, be sure to seek advice from someone well versed in the complexities of property easements.

Be An Informed Property Owner

You probably want to keep as much money in your bank account as possible. So when it comes to paying your taxes, you probably have no intention of giving the government more than its fair share, right? Did you know that when you enter into certain agreements, such as land easements, you may be able to dictate the type of tax treatment your income receives? The trick is to fully understand the tax consequences of language in the agreement.

The tax treatment of a land easement typically is determined (at least in part) by the easement agreement itself. The easement language will either determine if the agreement is for a permanent (or perpetual) easement period, which is exclusive in nature; or if it’s a temporary easement, which will be effective for a finite period of time.

Understand Your Options

If you enter into a permanent easement agreement, the taxable part of the transaction could qualify for capital gains, which may result in an opportunity to save some money during tax season. If you are able to apply the capital gains tax treatment to the income generated from the land easement contract, as opposed to the ordinary income tax rate, you could stand to see your tax rate that is applied to this income drop by almost half.

  • Capital Gains tax rate = 20 percent
  • Regular Income tax rate = 39.6 percent

On the other hand, if you are looking for another option, which could eliminate current payment of tax all together (defer the tax consequence into the future), you might consider the like-kind exchange tax planning strategy. Like-kind exchange rules require the property that is exchanged and the property that is acquired to be held for productive use or investment purposes.

Agreements that receive like-kind treatment under U.S. Code 1031 may result in the deferral of your taxes being due until well into the future or until you dispose of the property acquired in the like-kind exchange. For this to work, the easement agreement must be considered perpetual or permanent and must also involve real estate that is used as part of your trade or business or that is being held for investment purposes.

Don’t Disqualify Yourself

While the thought of exchanging your land easement for other real estate while deferring your taxes may seem attractive, the process of entering into, and maintaining, a like-kind exchange is very complex and must be strictly adhered to. In other words, you will need to seek out help to navigate the waters. If you would like to see if you qualify for a like-kind exchange, email Rea & Associatesfor more information. And remember to always consult your current financial advisor or another professional well versed in like-kind exchange taxation, before signing any land easement contract. Failure to do so may disqualify you from favorable like-kind exchange treatment.

By Jim Fracker, CPA (Zanesville office)

 

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Should I Make a Big Purchase to Cut Taxes?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

This is a hectic time for business owners who are working to close their books on the previous year while strategically planning for the year ahead. For me, this is the time of year I find myself frequently fielding questions from clients who want to know if buying equipment will help them keep their taxes down.

Unfortunately, without the proper information, any answer I could provide would be about as useless as seeking business advice from a Magic 8-Ball. Fortunately, the answer really isn’t difficult to find, especially if you have a well-maintained balance sheet.

To determine whether purchasing equipment would be beneficial to your business from a tax perspective, I have to know what your profit looks like. And while it may be easy to pull out your profit and loss statement to find the answer, I would encourage you to take a look at your balance sheet as well. It’s capable of painting a detailed picture of your business and is a great tool that can help you make sound financial decisions for your business.

Before you make any decisions that could impact your business’s financial stability, make sure these six items on your balance sheet are accurate.

  • Cash Reconciliation
    • Check to make sure that all cash has been reconciled and make special note of checks that have remained uncashed for an extended period of time.
    • Verify that all checks – incoming and outgoing – have been recorded, and their status tracked.
  • Collectability of accounts receivable
    • Does your business currently have any bad debts? If so, have you taken the necessary actions to determine that the account in question is uncollectable?
    • Once an account is uncollectable, take the steps needed to prove that determination and receive the benefit from it.
  • Accurate Inventory
    • The end of the year is an ideal time to take a physical inventory.
    • An inaccurate inventory can greatly impact your profit – not to mention your ability to properly manage your resources.
  • New/Disposed Fixed Assets
    • Be sure to add all new assets (equipment, fixtures, etc.) to the correct accounts. Don’t let them become buried in your purchases.
    • If you are planning to sell your company in the next 5-10 years, it is extremely important to keep an accurate record of your assets because they can help determine your asking/selling price.
  •  Liabilities
    • Keep a current record of all your liabilities and update it regularly to maintain accuracy.
    • Make sure that all debts are tracked and recorded.
  • Member Draws
    • Check to make sure that your member withdrawal account is accurate. If there are any expenses you expected to see but didn’t, investigate and find out why.
    • If after year end you happen to find personal expenses that were in regular expenses, your profit increases and so do your taxes.

Your company’s profit is not just a number. Your profit is determined by a wide range of factors – and these are just a few. If you are really want to lower your taxes, make sure your bookkeeping is accurate before developing a plan.

Email Rea & Associates to discover more ways to increase your business’s profitability.

By Joel Yoder, CPA (Millersburg office)

 

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Employers Must File Taxes, Make Payments Electronically

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Starting this January, employers filing in the state of Ohio will be required to use the Ohio Business Gateway (OBG) to file and remit payment for state and school district income tax withholding returns, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. The new rule was finalized earlier this month and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. The OBG Electronic Filing system was established to save Ohio time and money by simplifying business’ relationships with government agencies while providing them with an easier means to comply with regulatory requirements.  However, it is understood that some employers may not be able to use the electronic filing system at this time, which prompted the department to allow some preparers to opt out of the requirement if they can establish a valid reason for why they are unable to comply. To opt out of the department’s new rule, employers must provide the department with the following information on form WT OOR, including their:

  • Business name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Employer withholding number and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
  • Withholding type
  • Detailed reason for the request to be excluded from electronic filing and payment provisions.

“Preparers seeking to opt out of electronic filing must present strongly compelling reasons to justify the waiver of the requirement,” the department states in the Frequently Asked Questions page of its website. “Preparers filing tax returns with the state of Ohio should plan to comply with the electronic filing mandate and not assume that their request to opt out will be granted.” Anyone may apply to be excused from the electronic filing requirement and permitted to file their return by non-electronic means. However, if approval is given, it is only valid for one year. Preparers are required to resubmit their requests annually. The opt out request form can be found on the “Forms” portal of the department’s website or by calling 888.405.4039 – option 1. Otherwise, you can register or log in to use the Ohio Business Gateway, click here. Additional assistance with navigation, filing a return and/or remitting payment, can be found by visiting the Self Help eLibrary. Email Rea & Associates to learn how you can stay in compliance with these new filing requirements and lessen the stress of filing and paying your state and school district withholding returns.

By Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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Ready, Set, Download: IRS2Go Mobile App 2014

Monday, October 20th, 2014

In June, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) made the 2014 version of IRS2Go available to mobile users. This free app can help you stay on top of your federal income tax refund. You can also request your tax return or account transcript or receive tips and updates from the IRS via the app.

Benefits of IRS2GO App

Compatible with Apple and Android devices, the IRS2Go mobile app has been redesigned and includes several new and updated features, such as:

  • IRS2Go makes it easier for individuals to check their refunds at a time that’s convenient for them. To get there, just click on “Refund Status,” enter your Social Security Number (which is masked for security purposes), then select your filing status and the amount of your anticipated refund. The new “status tracker” allows users to identify where their return is in the tax return process. NOTE: Returns filed electronically can be viewed 24 hours after the return was received by the IRS. Paper returns take longer to process and can take up to four weeks before their status is available to view.
  • Another helpful feature is your ability to request your tax records or your account transcript. While, for security reasons, the records cannot be viewed immediately on your Smartphone or device, the request will be processed and your records will be delivered promptly to the address on record.
  • If you need help preparing your tax return, IRS2Go helps users find IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs by simply entering a ZIP code and mileage range.
  • Users also have the opportunity to stay connected, view more content and interact directly with IRS on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or by signing up for email updates.

To download the IRS2Go app on your Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch device, visit the iTunes app store. To download IRS2Go on your Android devise, visit the Google Play store.
By Kelly Leslie, CPA (Cambridge office)

 

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‘Ghost Assets’ Haunting Your Business?

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

The IRS recently issued taxpayer-friendly guidance regarding the disposition of a component of real or personal property.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, taxpayers are required to capitalize certain amounts paid to acquire, produce or improve real or tangible personal property during the year and that is used for a trade, business or for the production of income. However, prior to the issuance of new regulations in 2013 taxpayers were unable to write-off the remaining cost of a component of a larger asset or building that was repaired or replaced (e.g. a roof). In fact, under the old rules, it was not uncommon for business owners to be required to depreciate “ghost assets” – assets that were removed or replaced by the taxpayer and are no longer in service.

The good news is that the IRS has changed its mind on these, so-called, “partial dispositions.”

So, What’s Changing?

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, taxpayers were able to deduct the remaining cost of such components in the year they were replaced/repaired by making an election on their tax return.

Additionally, the IRS allowed taxpayers to apply the regulations to dispositions that had already happened in prior years as long as the ghost assets were still being depreciated.

What was unclear until recently was how a taxpayer could effectively make the election on a retroactive basis given that businesses were required to file their 2013 year tax returns before the IRS had issued definitive guidance.

The IRS’ Response

The IRS officially announced a specific revenue procedure that provides a limited opportunity for taxpayers to write-off assets that were disposed of during a prior year. The guidance outlines the procedures necessary for taxpayers to secure the write-off, as well as what documents they should include when filing their request. If you do plan to write off a ghost asset from a previous year, you must make plans do so now as this retroactive election opportunity is time sensitive. Taxpayers who miss this opportunity will be required to continue depreciating these ghost assets. For some, this means that you could be depreciating ghost assets for another 15-20 years.

Are you a business owner who is still paying the IRS for assets that you no longer have or that have been replaced? Do you want to learn more about the IRS’s new rules on ghost assets and how they can impact your business? Email Rea & Associates to find out if you can write off ghost assets that continue to haunt your business.

Author: Chris Axene, CPA (Dublin office)

 

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To Shred Or Not To Shred: That Is The Question … Ask Your Financial Advisor

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Are you wondering what to do with all those tax documents and records you have piling up around your office or in your computer files? Are you thinking about wiping them from your company’s hard drive or sending them to the shredder? Not so fast. The IRS has several rules when it comes to how long your business should keep its records. Make sure you are up to date on the current records retention schedule before you permanently delete something important.

Generally speaking, records that support your income or deduction claims for tax return purposes should be kept until the period of limitations for a particular tax return expires. The “period of limitations” is defined as the period of time the IRS gives you to change information on your return, particularly when the information relates to a refund or credit you have claimed. Also, just because you aren’t planning to make any changes to your tax return doesn’t mean the IRS won’t. Therefore it’s in your best interest to keep your documents until the IRS can no longer assess additional taxes or request additional information from you.

Below is a quick reference guide pertaining to some common records your office has been collecting over the years and how long you should keep them.

Records You Should Keep Permanently:

  • Copyright registration
  • Correspondence (legal and important matters)
  • Deeds, mortgages, bills of sale
  • Depreciation schedules
  • Financial statements (end-of-year)
  • General and private ledgers (and end-of-year trial balances)
  • Insurance records, current accident reports, claims, policies, etc.
  • Minute books for director and stockholder (including bylaws and charter)
  • Property appraisals by outside appraisers
  • Retirement and pension records
  • Tax returns and worksheets, revenue agent’s reports and other documents relating to determination of income tax, sales tax, or payroll tax liability

Records That Should Be Retained For At Least Seven Years:

  • Accident reports and claims (settled cases)
  • Accounts payable/receivable ledgers and schedules
  • Expense analyses and expense distribution schedules
  • Garnishments
  • Inventories of products, materials and supplies
  • Plant cost ledgers
  • Telephone logs/message books
  • Time books/cards
  • Withholding tax statements
  • Employee payroll records (W-2, W-4, annual earnings, etc.)

Records That Can Be Destroyed After Three Years:

  • Bank deposit slips
  • Employment records
  • General correspondence
  • Internal work orders
  • Production and sales reports
  • Sales commission reports

If the records you are looking for aren’t listed above, you can find additional record retention recommendations in our current record retention schedule.

IMPORTANT: The actual amount of time you are required to keep a specific document may be longer depending on your business or what is contained in the document. If you have questions about specific documents or would like some advice on your current record retention practices, email Rea & Associates.

Author: Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)

 

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From Good To Great: 5 Ways You Can Improve Your Manufacturing Business

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Today, millions of hard-working men and women will celebrate Manufacturing Day across our nation. United in their mission to address common misperceptions about the industry, manufacturers will rally together to take charge of the industry’s public image, address the industry’s skilled labor shortage and promote the ongoing prosperity of manufacturing throughout the U.S.

Manufacturing has always been the backbone of Ohio – and Rea has been proud to support many companies throughout the state. In recognition of Manufacturing Day, here are five ways you, as a manufacturer, can overcome challenges facing your industry.

Be The Leader You Want to Be. 

As a seasoned manufacturer, you know your business inside and out – when there is a problem, you provide a solution; when a ball drops, you pick it up. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. If you always find yourself in the middle of daily business operations, you’re unlikely to get out in front of opportunities that could maximize your company’s long-term value. Be the leader your company needs. Stop putting out fires. Instead, make waves.

Tell Your Story, Invest In People. 

The manufacturing industry has had its share of problems when it comes to attracting and retaining a talented workforce, but you can alter how people think about a career in manufacturing by simply sharing your own stories and experiences. Unless you take the time to personally promote the manufacturing industry, your would-be employees may incorrectly associate the industry with unprofessional, dead-end jobs in dirty factories. Get out and connect with local vocational schools and other educational entities and community groups to tell your story.

Embrace A Strategy; Minimize Risk. 

Every company should have a strategic plan. From financial objectives to operational goals, your strategic plan should provide your workforce with an overview of the company’s operational and growth initiatives. Formal plans should also address the company’s budget and financial forecast. Proper utilization of these plans will help you reap optimal results by providing you with the information needed to make better decisions. Below are initiatives you can include in your strategy to gain greater insight into the industry and to learn how you can better manage your current financial and operational objectives.

  • Benchmarking is a proactive way to stay in line with, or ahead of, the competition. It’s important for you to understand how your company stacks up against the competition, as well as gain insight into current trends, future opportunities and potential risks.
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical to the management of your daily operations. In order for you to deliver results, you and your management team must understand the resources you are working with and how you are affected. Key indicators also provide management with insight into production and can alert leaders to potential areas of risk.
  • Get to know your ERP system. Many companies have implemented some type of enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in the hopes of streamlining their accounting, production, benchmarking and KPI efforts. Unfortunately, many are unable to actually use the system in the way they would like. You must take control of your ERP system and insist the vendor meet with your team to set up the ERP system in a way that makes sense to your company. An ERP system that is set up properly will provide your company with the data you need to manage your business more effectively.
  • Understand your cost structure. For example, understanding what it costs to make, distribute and/or sell each unit of each product line, will give you a better grasp of how much you’re spending on material, labor and overhead, which will better equip you to allocate your efforts and resources. Unfortunately, many managers don’t understand the company’s cost structure, which puts the company at risk of losing money in the long run.

Back-Up For Safety. 

Many companies in the manufacturing industry have taken steps to embrace technology and have added hardware and software to help collect data and streamline workflow; however, with the introduction of new programs and equipment comes the introduction of additional risks. Some companies have chosen to back-up their information as a way to avoid losing important data, but if the back-up isn’t tested, there is no guarantee that it will actually work. Unfortunately, some companies lose critical data simply because they fail to test the back-up.

Consider Going Lean. 

The manufacturing industry underwent a significant transformation in the 90s with the wide-spread practice of Lean Six Sigma, which helps companies become more efficient and effective by introducing better processes throughout the organization. Many companies, however, have yet to incorporate Lean Six Sigma into their operations. Much has changed over the course of two decades and new uses for Lean Six Sigma have been discovered and applied to additional departments outside of just the manufacturing floor, the service and transactional functions of businesses have really benefited. You should consider Lean Six Sigma as a way to become more efficient and effective in every aspect of their business. Especially while the industry struggles to attract new talent, Lean Six Sigma may be just your company needs when you need to do more with less.

These are just a few examples of challenges facing the manufacturing industry where a trusted advisor can help you navigate through possible solutions. If you own a company in the manufacturing industry or if you want to explore ways to improve your business’s efficiency, effectiveness, profitability and risk management systems, email Rea & Associates. Our team is passionate about helping manufacturers reach new heights, mitigate risks and attract and retain employees.

Author: Kyle Stemple, CPA, Director of Manufacturing Services (New Philadelphia office)

 

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Ohio Prepares For Year Three Of Its Workforce Training Voucher Program

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The State of Ohio announced that it will launch its third round of the Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program. As in previous years, the state has upped the ante.

This time around businesses will have a chance to claim a piece of $29.4 million, which will allow Ohio’s employers to enhance the skills of their workforce. That’s the good news. The bad news however, is that you have to be quick if your business has a desire to claim any portion of these funds. We expect all of the training dollars to be claimed within hours of the application going live at 10 a.m. on Sept. 30.

According to the state, the funds are to be made available on a first-come, first-served basis. Employers can apply for a credit that will reimburse them up to 50 percent of eligible training costs – which could mean the business could be reimbursed up to $4,000 per employee. Training performed between Aug. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2015, qualifies for the third round of the Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program – meaning that employers have the option to apply vouchers to training that has already taken place.

Similar to round two of the program, a pre-application process is available. The period to complete this process began Sept. 15, and will continue until the application officially goes live on Sept. 30. Pre-application allows employers to enter as much information and specific details as possible. Then, the minute the application goes live; all you need to do is log on to your account and submit it. Because we expect all funds to be accounted for within the first few hours of the application going live, we urge businesses to take time to complete the pre-application process as soon as possible.

What Is Considered Eligible Training?

  • Classes at an accredited education institution
  • Training that leads to an industry recognized certificate
  • Training provided in conjunction with the purchase of a new piece of equipment
  • Upgrading computer skills (e.g. Excel, Access)
  • Training for the ICD-10-CM/PCS diagnostics classification system
  • Training from national, regional or state trade associations that offers certified training
  • Training for improved process efficiency (e.g. ISO-9000, Six Sigma, or Lean Manufacturing)
  • HR Certification – limited to HR staff only

What Companies Can Apply?

For-profit entities located in Ohio and that operate in one of the following industries are eligible to apply for the Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program.

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Aerospace and Aviation
  • Automotive
  • Bio Health
  • Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Food Processing
  • Information Technology and Services
  • Polymers and Chemical
  • Research and Development
  • Companies with a Corporate Headquarters in Ohio (with limited availability of funds)

The Importance Of Pre-Application:

If your business wants to have a chance at claiming any of these dollars, it is imperative that you complete the pre-application. Your objective should be to simply log on to the page on Sept. 30 to formally submit your application. It is so important to carefully and completely fill out the pre-application form with as many specific details about the proposed training as possible. If you will apply, or think you may qualify and would like to apply, do your homework now.

If you would like help determining if your business is eligible for the program or if you want more information, email Rea & Associates.

Author: Josh Carlisle (New Philadelphia office)

 

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

Friday, September 19th, 2014

As a business owner, you have a lot to think about. Your investors, managers, employees and clients depend on you to deliver top notch products and services while keeping overhead costs low in favor of increased revenue. In fact, your business’s success can probably be attributed to your leadership skills and your knack for being able to see the big picture while bringing together all the other elements to reach a profitable conclusion. So why are you still in charge of handling your business’s accounting and bookkeeping needs when you could be so much more effective guiding your business toward further growth? Outsourcing may provide you and your business with the relief you need to get back on track.

Maybe you think your business is just too small to hire an accountant or bookkeeper or that you’re saving money by doing these jobs yourself. Perhaps you just aren’t aware of what options are available to you and your business. When you consider that the most effective solution is the one that effectively addresses your unique needs and budget, it should be no surprise that an outside accounting firm may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Know Your Strengths And Weaknesses

The cost of hiring a full-time accountant or bookkeeper is a huge concern for many small business owners. To avoid a large expense, many owners or managers will purchase a copy of QuickBooks and try to work through their accounts themselves. Unfortunately, even if they have basic accounting skills, they may not have the patience, expertise and experience to handle the work. If done incorrectly, accounting flaws can be very costly, and could result in catastrophic consequences for your business.

Proper accounting and bookkeeping is essential to the short- and long-term success of your business. Outsourcing your accounting and bookkeeping work can help ensure accuracy and will free you up to focus on future growth, higher efficiency and increased sales. Below are a few examples of how outsourcing can solve your small business challenges.

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Issue: Your business is relatively small (with a similar budget), and you can’t justify bringing on a full-time accountant.

Solution: Hiring an in-house accountant could turn out to be a hefty expense, especially if the quantity of work is relatively minimal throughout most of the year. Not only do you have to pay the new employee a living wage and benefits, you must be prepared to invest in the software and/or training a new accountant needs. By filtering work to an outsourced controller, you will have access to affordable, ongoing or as needed reporting. As a result, your management team will become more flexible and will have more data – and thus more authority – when making decisions that directly affect the business.

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Issue: You’ve already invested in QuickBooks to manage your business’s finances. It seems to be working well so far, but you haven’t been formally trained on the software.

Solution: While QuickBooks is easy to use, sufficient supervision by someone who is proficient with accounting skills is essential. Without a QuickBooks expert on hand, you will have no clue as to what is going on “behind the numbers.” A trained and certified accountant can tap into the various capabilities of the software, which include the reconciliation process, accounts receivable tracking and accounts payable, etc. When your bottom line is at stake, you owe it to yourself and to your business to minimize problems that may occur. You can avoid any hiccups with the help of a CPA.

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Issue: You don’t need all the capabilities an accounting firm offers and you don’t want to pay for a service you may never use.

Solution: Your CPA will work with you to make sure all of your accounting needs are met and that the services that are provided only address the needs of your business. Services that can be outsourced include full accounting services, oversight work and everything in between. You also have the option of expanding services if and when you need them. Outsourcing options available to you include:

  • Working with an accountant several times throughout the year to clean up your accounting and ensure a smoother year-end tax process.
  • Tasking an accountant with filing certain commercial activities and taxes on time to insure accuracy and to avoid overpaying.
  • Hiring an accountant to provide periodic financial statements to banks.
  • Utilizing an accountant as an extra set of eyes on all manner of documents. This provides you with a great system of control when ensuring the accuracy of your books.

Speak to a Rea & Associates CPA to find out how an accounting firm can address your unique accounting and bookkeeping challenges while allowing you to make the best use of your time. Learn more about the services our business accounting professionals offers.

Article: Clayton W. Rose III, CPA (Dublin office)

 

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How Prepared Is Your Business For A Potential IT Disaster?

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Natural disasters. Hardware meltdowns. New variants of viruses and malware. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where anything can happen. It’s critical that your business is on its toes, ready to tackle any potential disaster or crisis that may come your way. But is it? If your business’s computer systems crashed tomorrow, how easy (or even possible) would it be for your business to recover? Has your business ever given thought to a disaster recovery (DR) plan? Do you have one of these plans?

It’s National Preparedness Month. A month where government agencies and businesses alike work to educate companies and organizations about the importance of being prepared whatever may come your business’s way. In honor of this month, below are five reasons why your business should create (if you don’t have one) a disaster recovery plan

Top 5 Reasons For A IT Disaster Recovery Plan

A Gartner report estimates that only 35 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) actually have a working and comprehensive DR plan. And from its research, Gartner also found that 40 percent of SMBs that manage their networks and Internet usage in-house will have their networks hacked, and more than 50 percent won’t know they were hacked. Pretty sobering statistics, right? There are many reasons why having a DR plan is a wise business move. In fact, here are the top five reasons why a DR plan is imperative to the success of your business:

  1. You can’t control when a disaster happens – it can happen at any time. Disasters can be natural or man-made – either way, you don’t have control over when it could happen. A DR plan will help you be prepared for anything at any time.
  2. A DR plan can help you save thousands, possibly even millions, of dollars in the event of a disaster. When a disaster strikes, it’s usually not a cheap fix. Depending on its severity, many businesses’ budgets are hit quite hard. And if this is an unexpected expense, it’s that much harder to make a complete recovery.
  3. You can mitigate your losses with a DR plan. Money isn’t the only thing at stake during a disaster. Don’t forget about the trust and confidence of your customers, employees, investors, vendors – the list goes on. A DR plan can help you retain your critical audiences during a disaster.
  4. A DR plan can help you reduce confusion among your staff and audiences. When a disaster hits, imagine the confusion and uncertainty that comes with it. In some cases, it may seem like you have no control over the situation. A DR plan can help you have an organized approach to resolving the disaster.
  5. The government may require businesses within your industry to develop and utilize a DR plan. If your business handles sensitive customer information or other information that could be critical if lost, the government may require you to have a formal DR plan, which should include yearly testing of offsite back-up recovery data.

Does your business have a DR plan? If not, you need to create one. Email Rea & Associates for more information about what to include in your plan. If you already have one in place, first pat yourself on the back, and then review it to ensure that it reflects your business’s current environment. Detailed and tested plans are imperative to the successful recovery and even for the longevity of your business.

Author: Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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Fraud Hotlines Deter Occupational Fraud

Monday, August 25th, 2014

When it comes to your business or organization, you are passionate about making sure your staff embodies your mission and objectives. You take care to select only the best candidates; and when you find them, you conduct thorough interviews, background checks and offer extensive training and timely performance reviews. Months later, now that you have invested significant resources into finding, training and polishing your new employee, you can finally rest easy knowing that you created a team dedicated to common goals and objectives – right?

Fraud Happens

In its most recent version of The Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) analyzed 1,483 cases of occupational fraud, which resulted in losses totaling more than $3 billion. Of those cases, the ACFE found that businesses with 100 employees or less are more susceptible to financial losses as a result of the three categories of occupational fraud – corruption, asset misappropriation and financial statement fraud.

Here’s A Tip

Maybe, like so many other business owners, you have already considered these facts and have taken steps to deter fraud in your own offices by establishing and implementing codes of conduct and external audits. While those measures provide a good foundation, you may be surprised to learn that of the nearly 1,500 cases of fraud that were reviewed, auditing only revealed a few instances of fraud. On the other hand, 42 percent of these cases were detected by tips. These tips were frequently reported on fraud hotlines and resulted in a 50 percent quicker response time when it came to detecting and stopping fraud.

The Value of a Fraud Hotline

Be proactive about fraud prevention, instead of reacting when you’re caught in the middle of it. A fraud reporting hotline service, such as Red Flag Reporting, has helped clients stay informed about what’s going on in their businesses. Services like Red Flag provide businesses with an opportunity to focus on building relationships, increasing revenue and improving community outreach instead of chasing down occupational fraud in the workplace.

Fraud hotlines are utilized by small and large businesses alike and can help identify and deter other types of unethical behavior before it grows out of control. Fraud hotlines can result in:

  • Fewer OSHA violations
  • Lower Workers’ Compensation costs
  • A decreased likelihood of employment practices lawsuits
  • Zero-tolerance of discrimination in the workplace

Not all employees are bad and not everybody is looking for an opportunity to financially ruin their employer. In fact, fraud hotlines are great because they prove that you are have a team made up of responsible, honest, hard-working men and women. These professionals are the eyes and ears of your business or organization and you not only depend on them to help identify instances of fraud, you need them to report issues to you before they explode into situations that severely damage your financial well-being, employee morale and reputations. By providing your team with a hotline, they will be even more inclined to provide you with a tip or two without feeling like they are rocking the boat.

Are you concerned about the potential for fraud in your organization? Email Rea & Associates to learn more about how a fraud hotline could work for you.

Author: Annie Yoder, CPA, CFE, CFF (New Philadelphia office)

 

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New Form of Malware Catching Retailers Off Guard

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Last week, UPS announced that 51 of its stores were infected by point-of-sale (POS) malware that has been affecting other retailers across the U.S. In total, UPS estimates that approximately 105,000 POS transactions were comprised in the data breach, leaving many customers’ financial and contact information exposed, increasing their risk of identity theft and fraud.

POS malware, known as Backoff, was identified last week as having targeted a New Orleans restaurant, a much smaller retailer than UPS. On July 31, several government agencies sent out an alert about Backoff. The alert explained the risks that Backoff posed to U.S. businesses, including smaller merchants, and that this new form of malware was found to infect POS systems via access to a remote-access portal.

And just a few days ago, the U.S. Secret Service announced that an estimated 1,000 businesses have been infected by Backoff. Now the Department of Homeland Security is encouraging all businesses – no matter the size – to scan their POS systems to check for a possible compromise.

While these recent incidents may not affect you or your business directly, the discovery of this new form of malware should cause you to stop and assess your business’s IT security situation. Do you have the right security protocols in place to protect your business – and your customers – from a potential data breach?

How To Protect Your Business From A Data Breach

Your mind may be far from thinking about your business’s IT environment. You’re probably focused more on the day-to-day operations of your business and serving your customers. But think of protecting your business’s IT environment as one way of serving your customers. By protecting your IT systems, you are helping ensure that your customers’ personal and financial data is safe. Here are some ways you can protect your business’s IT environment:

  • Use End Point Protection monitoring to verify that all workstations are current on their virus definition files and OS patches.
  • Make sure all servers are patched with the most current operating system security patches.
  • Employ a vendor to complete penetration testing to find any open avenues to your network.
  • Consider implementing Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) or Security Information & Event Management (SIEM) applications. Many companies utilize IDS/SIEM to monitor their incoming and outgoing network traffic. If the expense is too great or you don’t have qualified personnel, then consider a vendor to provide the service. Many vendors provide these services at a very reasonable price.
  • Review the Mitigation and Prevention Strategies of the Department of Homeland Security July 31, 2014, announcement of the Backoff malware.

The Cost of Protecting Your Customers

What cost is too much to protect my customers’ data? Only you can answer this question. UPS and the restaurant have chosen to pay for identity theft and credit monitoring services for customers who may have been affected from their data breaches (a data breach-related expense many companies don’t consider). But take that one step further. What cost is too much to protect my business’s reputation? In order for your company to survive in today’s digital world, it’s critical for your business to cultivate a culture of trust with your customers. Many businesses find that they’ll do what it takes to prevent security breaches. What will you do?

Want more IT tips? Check out other articles that provide best practices on how to secure your business’s IT environment.

Author: Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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Obtaining Tax-Exempt Status Just Got Easier

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Many individuals want to know how easy it is to obtain tax-exempt status. About a month ago, you would have been told that the application process alone was rather lengthy. In fact, the standard Form 1023, which is the Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, is 26 pages in length. On July 1, the Internal Revenue Service introduced a significantly shorter application form – Form 1023-EZ – which is just three pages long.

What Is Form 1023-EZ?

Form 1023-EZ is a simplified version of Form 1023 and its use is limited to organizations with gross receipts of $50,000 or less and total assets of $250,000 or less. The IRS says that 70 percent of new applicants should be able to use the new form, but to ensure that the right organizations are using the right form; the IRS has outlined factors that may disqualify larger organizations from using the new form. Be sure to read the instructions carefully.

The IRS says it currently has more than 60,000 backlogged 501(c)(3) applications. The new, streamlined application form is anticipated to speed up the approval process for smaller groups, which means the agency will have more resources available to review applications submitted by larger organizations.

What You Need To Know About The 1023-EZ Form

If you are planning to fill out the new EZ form, here are three things you need to know:

  • The new EZ form must be filed online.
  • A $400 user fee is due at the time the form is submitted and must be paid through pay.gov.
  • Users must complete an eligibility checklist, which is included in the instructions for Form 1023-EZ, before filing the form.

Obtaining Tax-Exempt Status and Creating A Tax-Exempt Organization

The new EZ form makes it very easy to create a tax-exempt organization, but applicants should always seek professional assistance to ensure that their organization is operating, and will continue to operate, in accordance with their tax-exempt purpose.

Email Rea & Associates and ask if your organization qualifies to use Form 1023-EZ. Our team of business accounting and consulting professionals can answer your questions and guide you on your path to formally establishing your tax-exempt organization.

Author: Lisa Beamer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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Software Updates Don’t Have To Be Hard

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Your business probably uses a variety of software systems, whether it’s for an accounting function, a manufacturing process or a scheduling process. It has been said that technology doubles in advancement nearly every 12-18 months. New updates, new releases, and new products are brought to market constantly. Yet, when was the last time you or your team evaluated your current software or compared it to other existing options?

Most people dread the idea of switching software or converting to a newer version, but if you and your team do the homework, the transition doesn’t have to be so painful or costly.

Considerations For Your Current Software

Consider the following points when evaluating your existing software:

  • Does your current software do what you want it to? If so, does your staff know how to use it effectively?
  • Does your current software do what you need it to? Have you had to put many workarounds into your systems to make the software work?
  • Are your users complaining?
  • Is your IT department complaining?
  • Are you paying a lot for the service you are receiving?
  • Are you getting the IT support you need from the software company?

Five Tips For Easing Your Software Evaluation Process

When you decide to evaluate your software, here are some tips to ease the process:

  1. Assign a project manager. This person will be responsible for making sure team members are completing assignments and for keeping the group moving forward.
  2. Put together a team of users. Consider who uses the software and include members who vary in experience, IT savviness and tenure. Include a member of your IT team.
  3. Do your research. Call on companies who are in your industry to see what they use and ask them about their experiences. Are they satisfied with their software? How do they effectively use it? Also call on companies who use your existing software also to see what their experiences have been.
  4. Calculate a cost/benefit analysis. With any conversion, there are hard costs and soft costs involved. Calculate the amount of time and resources a change could involve, as well as its impact on your team’s morale. If there is a large conversion cost to incur, how quickly will you earn that back with the efficiencies to be gained from making the change?
  5. Keep the end goal in mind. What are you trying to accomplish by going through this process? For example, are you trying to find something that will help you gain efficiencies? Be sure the testing and research is focused around those kinds of end goals.

Best Practices For Selecting Business Software

Change for the sake of change is never a good thing. You want to be able to show that you adequately vetted out possible solutions and that the conclusion has been reached by the team. Perhaps you will find out that your current system is adequate, but that your team needs additional training on how to use it to its fullest potential. It would be more cost effective to schedule additional training rather than to go through an unnecessary and costly software conversion. Your team, and your budget, will thank you in the end.

If you would like to learn about more best practices, contact Rea & Associates. Our accounting professionals and business advisors can help you determine what steps you should take during your business software selection process.

 

Author: Lesley Mast, CPA, Macc-Taxation (Wooster office)

 

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How Can Super Circular Reforms Work For Your Non-profit Organization?

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

When it comes to maintaining a high level of transparency and accountability, not-for-profit organizations face a lot of challenges. Not only does the community look to your organization to provide high-quality services and resources, the government expects your organization to utilize federal funding responsibly. The ability of not-for-profit organizations to secure federal assistance is critical, which is why industry leaders are seeking more clarity pertaining to a wide range of recent reforms made to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These reforms are scheduled to take effect the Dec. 26, 2014. Here’s some insight into what you can expect moving forward.

Super Circular Reforms

Last December, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) passed sweeping reforms to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, also known as the Super Circular or the Omni Circular. The goal for these reforms is to help the federal government streamline its guidance concerning administrative requirements while strengthening the oversight of federal funds. By ensuring compliance of these reforms, the OMB hopes to reduce financial waste, fraud and abuse.

Whether you’re the director of an organization that seeks federal grants and/or assistance, an accountant who serves such an organization, or a citizen who benefits from the organization’s government funding, the Super Circular is a big deal. The federal government awards more than $500 billion every year, and it is the OMB’s responsibility to ensure that every dollar spent is a good use of taxpayer funds.

What Do Super Circular Reforms Mean For You?

  • This newer guidance effectively consolidates eight federal circulars into one, which makes guidelines, cost principles, and audit requirements easily accessible. Having one “Super Circular” to thumb through – even though it tops 100 pages – is a welcome change to grant seekers, grant recipients and awarding agencies.
  • Now that the grant guidance is easily accessible and transparent, the OMB anticipates increased competition among agencies and organizations that are eligible for monetary assistance.

For example: If you have never applied for aid in the past, but you think your organization or government agency may be eligible for federal assistance, you can now easily find out. More agencies and organizations are expected to take advantage of the fact that these guidelines are easily accessible, which means there will be more people vying for government money.

A comprehensive list of federal assistance programs is available in the programs tab of the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) website. This site not only provides a list of programs and grants available, it provides key information about what is required to apply and qualify for federal assistance.

  • New provisions have established a higher threshold for an A-133 audit. The threshold for an A-133 audit is now $750,000 – which is higher from the previous threshold of $500,000. This means that not-for-profit organizations that bring in less than $750,000 annually are not required to complete an A-133 audit, which will provide some relief to about 5,000 non-federal organizations. This doesn’t mean the OMB will stop monitoring the federal aid that is distributed to these organizations, the OMB says 99.7 percent of aid awarded to organizations and agencies will still be subject to single audit oversight.

Please Note: If your fiscal year ends in December, the $750,000 single audit threshold won’t go into effect until your Dec. 15, 2015 audit. And if your fiscal year ends in June, it won’t go into effect until December 30, 2016.

  • The Super Circular significantly reforms how organizations and agencies will maintain their cost principles. Specifically, in its guidance, the OMB places a greater emphasis on internal controls. The Super Circular effectively defines what organizations and agencies can consider indirect costs, administrative salary direct costs, compensation, and costs associated with materials and supplies.

For example: While the salaries of your administrative and clerical staff may have been treated as indirect costs in the past, the OMB says that it may now be more appropriate to consider them as direct costs if the work performed is specifically outlined within the grant-funded project or initiative.

  • The deadline for organizations and government agencies to comply with the OMB’s reforms is Dec. 26, 2014.

Because the reform-laced Super Circular was written with the goal of helping organizations and agencies apply for aid, manage funds and prepare for audits, it is anticipated that the OMB will succeed in its efforts to increase competition among organizations and agencies that are eligible to receive aid. As a result, more insight and accountability will be demonstrated by recipients of federal assistance.

Super Circular Help

The OMB has repeatedly said that these reforms will make the process of obtaining federal funds easier and more transparent. If you have specific questions as to how the Super Circular will affect your organization or government agency, contact Rea & Associates. Our Ohio not-for-profit team can help you make sense of these revised regulations.

Author: Brent Ardit, CPA (Dublin office)

 

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Were You Overcharged By The Ohio BWC?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Countless small businesses soon may find that they have money coming back to them. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has decided to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that the BWC, over the course of many years, had a system of group rating in place that improperly overcharged many Ohio businesses. A lower trial court originally ruled in favor of the plaintiffs with possible damages exceeding $800 million. While the ruling was upheld on appeal, the appeals court sent the decision back to the initial court to better address the issue of damages.

Now the BWC has agreed to pay out $420 million to those affected by the state agency’s practice of overcharging for workers’ compensation premiums between the years of 2001 and 2008.

To fulfill its obligation under the settlement agreement, the BWC said it will create a fund that will be specifically used to pay: claims made by employers found to be participants in the class action lawsuit, attorney fees, court costs, and costs associated with administering the fund. According to the settlement agreement, any unclaimed money will be returned to the bureau.

Can You Make An Ohio BWC Claim?

In order to make a claim, you must have been a private, non-group rated employer at some point during 2001-2008 who:

  • Subscribed to the state workers’ compensation fund
  • Was not group-rated
  • Reported payroll and paid premiums in a manual classification for which the non-group effective base rate was “inflated” due to application of the group experience rating plan

Employers who were non-group rated for at least one policy year between 2001 and 2008 are eligible to claim a portion of the settlement.  Eligible employers should be receiving a notice that indicated their status as class members and how to make a claim.  A website where claim information can be submitting is currently under development.

Class members are required to submit their claims to Judge Robert McGonagle of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Claims must be postmarked no later than Sept. 22, 2014. More information on this ruling can be found here. More details are coming, so stay tuned!

If you’re entitled to a portion of the BWC settlement, make sure you understand your rights and know how to follow the transaction process. If you’d like more information about how to claim what’s yours, email Rea & Associates and ask for information about this process.

Author: Joseph Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)

 

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Be On Guard For IRS Phone Scams

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

You get a call from a man who said he was from the IRS and was informing you that criminal activity was found after the IRS performed an audit on your past taxes. Then he asks if you had a criminal lawyer to represent you. And as you tried to get a word in edgewise, he told you not to interrupt him because the IRS and local authorities were recording your phone call. Pretty unnerving, right?

Well, unfortunately, this phone call actually took place with a client. And these types of phone calls are happening constantly. Back in April, the IRS issued a warning for consumers about phone scams targeting taxpayers. During the 2013 tax filing season numerous phone scams occurred, but the IRS has seen an increase in these scams since then. Because the IRS believes that these incidents will continue to plague taxpayers, it’s important to be vigilant for these kinds of calls.

The 4-1-1 On These IRS Phone Scams

  • Some taxpayers who received these calls were told they’re entitled to a big tax refund, or that they owe a lot of money to the IRS that needs to be paid immediately. Don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t contact you via phone about these matters. If you ever owe the IRS money, you’ll be sent a written notification via mail.
  • The IRS will never ask you for personal financial information over the phone, such as your credit or debit card information. If you’re asked for this information from someone claiming they’re from the IRS, don’t give it and report the incident immediately to the IRS.
  • Some IRS scammers use fake names/surnames (most of the time these names are common) and IRS badge numbers when they identify themselves.
  • It’s possible that a scammer knows and can tell you the last four digits of your Social Security number.
  • The phone number that a scammer calls you from could look like it’s from the IRS toll-free number.
  • If you take one of these scam calls, you may receive a bogus follow-up email to make it look like it is a legitimate inquiry from the IRS.
  • You may be threatened with jail time or driver’s license suspension from one of these scammers. They may then hang up on you and then call back pretending to be the police or DMV, further trying to prove their claim to you.

What Should You Do If You Get One Of These Calls?

So have you received one of these calls? If so, and you’re not sure the next step, here’s what you should do:

  • If you think you might owe taxes or there may be an issue with your taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. Someone at the line can help you determine if you indeed have a payment due.
  • If you feel you received this call unexpectedly and know you have no IRS issues, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.

In light of these increasing incidents, be on the lookout and don’t fall prey to these scams. Hang up if you’re uncomfortable with the call. And know that the IRS would never ask for personal financial information over the phone or in an email. If you receive any suspicious emails, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

Ohio Tax Help

If you’re ever unsure about anything you received from the IRS, whether it be a letter, a phone call or email, contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio tax professionals can help you determine if the inquiry is legitimate, and assist you with responding.

Author: Maribeth Wright, CPA (Cambridge office)

 

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Is Your Business Running On Microsoft 2003 Servers? It’s Time To Update

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

As a business owner, you have a lot to be concerned about. Ensuring that your business is bringing in revenue. Providing quality customer service. Retaining quality employees. The list goes on and on. Is maintaining and keeping your IT systems anywhere near the top of your list? If not, you might want to think again.

Microsoft To Stop Supporting Microsoft 2003 Servers

Back in April, Microsoft announced it was no longer supporting its Windows XP workstation software … this means that Microsoft is not providing any security patches or upgrades to computers using Windows XP software. Despite this news, many companies are still using the non-supported operating system. This leaves a huge hole in your operating system security. While many entities are planning to replace their XP workstations, we now find that Microsoft has some additional changes coming.

Microsoft recently announced that it has posted end of life for its Microsoft Server 2003 and Server 2003 R2 systems. These two server operating systems will no longer be supported after July 14, 2015. So if your business uses these systems, you have a little under a year to plan and implement a replacement strategy for these servers. The consequence for not replacing? Serious security issues.

In many industries the use of these operating systems on servers could lead to non-compliance issues.  When looking at your upgrade options, consider using virtualization software such as VMWare or Hyper V or server operating systems like Linux, UNIX, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012.

What You Can Do To Prepare For The Microsoft 2003 Server Expiration

It’s important you work with your application vendors to make sure that your current applications will transfer over and operate correctly on the replacement server operating system you decide upon. It is recommended that your entity do an analysis of critical business applications currently being used on Microsoft Windows 2003 and Windows 2003 R2 servers and determine the best replacement option as well as conversion process.

IT Audit Help

Not sure what server(s) your business is running on? Or are you unsure how this Microsoft server expiration will affect your business? Contact Rea & Associates. Our IT audit team can assess your business’s IT systems and help you determine how these changes will affect you moving forward. Don’t delay in updating your servers. It could be the difference between a safe IT environment and an unsecured one.

Author: Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

 

Looking for more information on how you can keep your business environment safe? Check out these blog posts:

8 Tips For Crafting A Strong Password

Do You Know Who Has Access To Your IT Network?

How Can I Protect My Business From A Data Security Breach?

 

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

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

You want the best for your business, so it only makes sense that you surround yourself with like-minded individuals. As a business owner it’s important to get support from business advisors who have expertise in specific areas to help you make your business successful. Your CPA plays a critical role for you, but don’t forget about the others. It’s also important to cultivate relationships with a business attorney and business banker.

Your CPA can make sure that you have systems to capture and report timely, reliable financial information and, if needed, even provide assurance regarding your financial statements. A good attorney can help safeguard your business assets and provide assistance in drafting agreements, contracts and other legal proceedings. A business banker can provide lines of credit or loans to help meet the cash flow needs of your business.

The Importance of Your Banking Relationship

Strong banking relationships are built over time through regular two-way communication. You should be well-versed in upcoming cash needs, such as expanding inventory or the increased needs of personnel cost, and communicate these to your banker. As you keep them informed of business decisions and trends, this helps to build a lender’s confidence in your ability to manage your business. A well-informed and communicative business owner may be given extra consideration when business financial issues arise.

Four Key Indicators That Help Bankers Evaluate Your Ability To Repay

Banking is a low-risk industry and they have one major concern when lending money: your repayment. They evaluate your ability to repay based on these four areas:

  1. Cash Flow – This is a key indicator of your ability to repay the original loan. If you have strong cash flow, the chances are high that you are able to repay your loan.
  2. Collateral – When a loan is originated, it’s never the goal for the loan to be foreclosed on and collateral seized, but it is required as security.
  3. Credit – Another key indicator is your credit history and track record of your past ability and willingness to fulfill prior financial obligations. If you have a good credit score, you’ll be given more favorable treatment in both the receipt of a loan and the amount of interest charged.
  4. Character – Your relationship with your banker allows them to consider your integrity.  It’s critical to let your actions meet or exceed the expectations your words establish on a regular basis.

A good business banker is your advocate – they’re in your corner. Like CPAs, business bankers are exposed to multiple businesses and industries and they can be a great sounding board for ideas and help you strategize on ways to reach your financial objectives.

Business Relationship Help

Need to round out your business advisory team? Contact Rea & Associates. We can provide accounting services and business consulting services to your business, but we can also connect you to other business professionals that can help you complete your business advisory team.

Author: Chris Roush, CPA (Millersburg office)

 

Looking for more information on how to strengthen your business? Check out these blog posts:

Building Bridges: The Power of Networking

How Can You Build And Develop Your Organization?

Do Your Business Metrics Need an Oil Change?

 

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Help Is Available For Small Manufacturers Impacted By Foreign Imports

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

America is the land of the free, and a place where we’re all supposed to have boundless opportunities. So if you’re the business owner of a small manufacturer, and you’re feeling financially and competitively pinched because of foreign imports, know that there is relief.

Trade Adjustment Assistance

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration developed and funds a program to help manufacturing companies become more competitive against foreign imports. The program, “Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms,” provides up to $75,000 in matching funds to qualifying manufacturers to invest in projects identified during the plan development phase. Qualifying projects must be time-limited and performed by third parties who provide knowledge-based help covering the areas of marketing, industrial and systems engineering or financial and general management consulting.

Examples of “qualifying projects” include:

  • New product development marketing
  • Lean manufacturing implementations
  • Quality certifications (ISO, TS)
  • Enterprise resource planning (system selection, training)

“Non-qualifying” projects include:

  • Capital expenditures (e.g. equipment or software)
  • On-going business expenses (e.g. FTE salaries)
  • On-going business processes

Big Benefit Of Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program

An added benefit of the program is a customized diagnostic survey and comprehensive action plan created for the business by the program’s personnel. There is no fee to apply to the program. Once eligibility for the program is confirmed, the plan development phase typically takes one to three months with the implementation phase able to run for up to five years. Any funds not expended after five years are lost.

Funding for this program was recently renewed so now is the time to invest 30 minutes of your time to speak with a program representative to see if you qualify.

Ohio Small Manufacturer Help

If you’re an Ohio Small Manufacturer that’s having trouble keeping up with foreign imports and competition, and needs assistance with strengthening your business’s bottom line, contact Rea & Associates. Our Ohio manufacturing service team can help you evaluate your business’s current financial state and determine what steps you need to take to get back in the game.

Author: Christopher E. Axene, CPA (Dublin office)

 

Looking for more Ohio manufacturing-related articles? Check these blog posts out:

How Can Manufacturers Deal With Competition?

How Can I Solve My Staffing Woes In The Manufacturing Industry?

How Do You Take Your Business to the Next Level?

 

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8 Tips For Crafting A Strong Password

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

eBay Inc. recently recommended its users to change their passwords. Why? If you guessed there was a cyberattack on one of eBay’s databases, you are correct! Cyberattacks have been in the news almost daily, and unfortunately they seem to be increasing in number. While companies are busy trying to stave off any attacks, there are ways you can protect yourself.

Treat Passwords With Care

Like with other items, you should consider your passwords to be sensitive material. Treat them no differently than you treat your credit cards. Make sure your passwords are secure and change them regularly – as often as four times a year, or sooner if you believe it has been compromised.

A standard eight-character password with moderate security can be hacked within two to four hours. In comparison, passwords or passphrases of 12 characters with high complexity would take 17,000 years to breach.

8 Tips To Keep Your Passwords Strong and Safe

Here are eight tips and best practices you can implement to help keep your passwords strong and safe:

  1. Use passphrases instead of passwords or a string of characters and digits. Passphrases can be easier to remember. For example: “Myd0gisSamm@”
  2. Use upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters in passphrases.
  3. Never use complete words within a passphrase.
  4. Change passphrases routinely.
  5. Never share passphrases with others.
  6. Be cautious of shared computers that do not have current virus detection programs installed on them, such as hotel data centers, publicly used computer kiosks.
  7. Change passphrases after using a shared public access computer.
  8. Use two-step verifications when available.

Password and IT Audit Help

Need some additional advice on how to create strong passwords that will protect you and your business? Contact Rea & Associates. Our IT audit professionals can help you determine where you can strengthen your IT security.

Author: Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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How Effective Is Your Nonprofit Organization?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

You’re busy. Your staff is busy. Everyone is busy. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of your organization. Meeting with prospective donors, educating groups on the mission of your organization, and managing volunteers. But let me ask you, when did you last spend time evaluating the effectiveness of your nonprofit organization? Has your donor base increased? Are you seeing an increase in volunteers and people who want to support your organization? Are you truly living out your organization’s mission and vision?

Evaluate Your Not-For-Profit’s Effectiveness

Can’t remember the last time you considered the effectiveness of your organization? Now is probably a good time. If after evaluating you discover that your organization has some areas for improvement, considering asking yourself the five questions below. Addressing these questions and areas may help you create a more effective nonprofit organization.

  1. Are we communicating our organization’s accomplishments?

    Many organizations make a lot of effort to communicate how much money they’ve raised, and how they use their funds. The focus seems to mostly be on the money and percentages. And while it’s important to communicate this information, don’t forget to talk about what your organization is actually doing. How are you carrying out the mission of your organization? What key accomplishments has your organization achieved? Place a greater emphasis on communicating your organization’s accomplishments.

  2. Is our organization’s board of directors actively engaged in the organization?

    When you conduct board meetings, do you sense that your board in engaged in the meeting? Are your board members asking questions and providing insight on how to strengthen the organization? Are they participating in and attending organization activities and fundraisers? If you can’t provide answers to these questions or the answer is “no,” then maybe you need to evaluate how you’re communicating and interacting with your board. A strong, engaged board can help drive the effectiveness of your organization.

  3. Is our organization’s mission and vision statements clearly defined and communicated to our audiences?

    If you were to survey your donor base, prospective donors, volunteers and others throughout the communities you serve, would you find that people understand your organization and its mission? Not sure what kind of responses you would get? One reason that your organization may not be as effective as it could be is because your audiences may not fully understand the mission and vision of your organization. Take a look at your mission and vision statements and see if you need to make some revisions.

  4. Do we clearly and timely communicate to our board of directors?

    This question really ties into whether or not you feel like you have an engaged board. One of the reasons you may not have an engaged board is because you’re not clearly and timely communicating with them. If there are important decisions that need to be made, make sure that you providing them with the necessary information to make the decision within a timely manner.

  5. How strong are our organization’s internal controls?

    Unfortunately, internal fraud is a real concern within nonprofit organizations. Few nonprofits have strong internal controls. As organizations grow, the internal controls need changing. Make sure the controls are operating at a level that will deter and detect fraud. Establish a code of conduct that will create a clear understanding of what is expected of all employees. Even if your organization only has a few employees, it is still possible to implement a system of checks and balances. These controls should help safeguard assets, produce accurate reports and improve administrative effectiveness. 

Ohio Non-For-Profit Help

Effective nonprofit organizations are impacting the communities they serve. If you are questioning the effectiveness of your organization, contact Rea & Associates. Our Ohio non-for-profit team can help you evaluate your organization and where you can increase your efficiency and effectiveness.

Author: Mark Van Benschoten, CPA (Dublin office)

 

Looking for more nonprofit organization tips and best practices? Check these blog posts out:

Which 990 Policies Do Non-Profits Need?

How Do You Build a Strong Not-for-Profit Board?

How Do You Protect Your Non-profit’s Donations from Fraud?

 

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What You Need To Know About Obamacare Employee Dumping

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

You may have heard some buzz lately about the Obama administration and/or the IRS barring employers from “dumping” employees onto the health care exchanges – with some truly severe cash penalties for doing so. But is this really “new” news? What exactly does this mean? It might surprise you to know that employee dumping is not all it seems.

A recent New York Times article explains that “employee dumping” is the practice where an employer drops health insurance coverage to its employees, the employees go to the health care exchange to buy insurance, and then the employer on a pre-tax basis reimburses its employees for their premiums. This “have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too” approach (with various ways to accomplish it) was one of the leading responses to this legislation that Obamacare consultants developed. The administrating agencies (IRS, HHS, DOL) shut this option down when they issues guidance in September 2013. ANY attempt by an employer to pay an employee a pre-tax benefit for health insurance has since then been a very dangerous approach, although some exceptions exist (e.g. retirees only). This current “news” is simply a clarification that these things are indeed busted.

Can You Still Drop Health Care Insurance Coverage?

What if you want to drop your coverage, send employees to the exchange, and then increase their after-tax pay so that they can pay for exchange insurance? That’s OK, it doesn’t conflict with the rules. It’s only pre-tax benefits you should be concerned with.

What if you increase worker pay as I just described, and then the employee sinks that cash into an HSA that they get from a bank (for free)? That gets them a tax deduction (up to certain limits) … is that OK?  Yes! Remember that what the IRS is looking to prevent is employers trying to give pre-tax benefits without offering insurance – that is the “evil” that these regulations are designed to combat. Once the employer pays taxable wages to an employee, the employee is free to use whatever means they have available to be tax efficient.

A Pit Trap For The Unwary

So is “employee dumping” limited to the situation where employers are trying to push tax-free cash to employees? Actually no, and this is why I refer to this as “a pit trap for the unwary.” Dumping also refers to the practice of employers encouraging workers with high medical bills to go to the exchange.

What exactly does this mean? Think of it this way … As an employer, you have an insurance plan that still takes into account the health and claims of your workforce (they still exist). If you can get an employee to the exchange that has $400,000 of medical costs a year, you could potentially save a large sum of money and your employee is not harmed because they can get quality coverage on the exchange for no more than a healthy individual can.

Some companies throw a cash kicker on top for the employee to voluntarily drop coverage (what’s an extra $10,000 in cash if you are saving $100,000+). Everybody wins, right?  Well, not the Exchange. If it’s discovered that you – the employer – are doing this, there are administrative rules in place that can throw that cost back at you. Insurance companies have a duty to report suspected employee dumping, so be careful!

Obamacare Help

Have you considered “dumping” or are you unsure if you’re heading down this path? If so, contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio tax professionals can help you determine what path is best for you to take, as well as help you stay in compliance with Obamacare rules and avoid any pitfalls along the way.

Author: Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)

 

Interested in reading more on how Obamacare will impact you and your business? Check out these posts:

Peeling Back The Onion: Answering 3 Popular Obamacare Questions

Health Insurance Options: SHOP, Drop, Roll, or Self-insure?

How Will ACA Federal Exchange Premiums Affect Ohio Small Businesses and Consumers? 

 

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Building Bridges: The Power of Networking

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Every day we encounter people for a wide variety of reasons. You could be at the supermarket, or perhaps you’re standing in line for your latte. Or maybe you’re at a local Rotary lunch. Do you ever find yourself looking for business opportunities in the mundane routines in life? Good business people are constantly asking themselves the question “where will tomorrow’s business come from?”

Every Encounter Counts

Every contact you make is a potential opportunity to grow your business. And networking is a critical part of that process. But, what many individuals fail to understand is how a network works. Let’s take the engineering of a bridge for example. A bridge is not constructed through a two-point or three-point connection. The strongest bridges are constructed through a complex network of materials with overlapping points of contact. Those bridges span large areas and allow you to get from one place to another.

Professional networks are similar to a bridge’s network. The best networks are an overlapping of personal and professional lives. They interconnect at many points. The person you meet tomorrow at your child’s school play may not be a client for you, but you may introduce them to someone that can help them and that connection you have provided can then be used for another point of contact.

Networking In Motion

In a couple weeks, I’ll be having breakfast with a former colleague who has just returned to my neighborhood from the West coast. Chances are I won’t have an opportunity to provide services to him in the near future, but by reconnecting, I’m someone he’ll remember. Perhaps he may come across someone who needs services that I can provide.

This whole idea of networking and building bridges may seem like common sense, but it can be so easy to get caught up in the daily routine of life that it can quickly be forgotten. Next time you’re at your son’s baseball game, don’t miss any opportunities to connect with other baseball fans who could be your next customer.

Need Help In Growing Your Business?

If networking doesn’t come naturally to you or you’re unsure about how to grow your business, contact Rea & Associates. Our Ohio business consultants can help you evaluate where you’re at currently and help you determine what you need to do moving forward.

Author: Michaela McGinn, CPA (Dublin office)

 

Looking for more blog posts on how to grow your business? Check these out:

How Can You Build And Develop Your Organization?

What Are 6 Things You Can Do To Improve The Health Of Your Business in 2014?

Why Is A Budget Important To The Success Of My Business?

 

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Do Your Business Metrics Need an Oil Change?

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Did you ever notice that little sticker in the upper left-hand corner of your windshield? The one that informs you your next service date for changing the oil and tire rotation. As you fire up the ignition, the fuel gauge is activated and the miles per gallon information is displayed. The on-board computer lets you know that the headlights are in the automatic position and the tires are properly inflated. The navigation system may even provide a weather update or a construction delay on the interstate. Within a matter of seconds of entering your vehicle, you have virtually all of the important metrics for your upcoming road trip.

Your business metrics and performance indicators should be as easy as locating your vehicle’s metrics. The metrics need to be meaningful to you and your team and used as a decision making tool in the day-to-day operations of the business. Many business owners and managers use daily and quarterly metrics more frequently than the monthly financial statements to run the day to day operations.

Business Metrics To Consider

Your business’s on-board computer can churn metric after metric and ratio after ratio. However, the quality of the metrics is far more important than the quantity. One recommendation is to identify four to six ratios that are unique to your business and industry and continue to study the trends on a daily or weekly basis. As a general rule, every business should consider metrics in the following areas:

  • Customer Metrics: How many new customers have you acquired over the last six months? How many customers have you lost? What is the average profit margin for each customer?
  • Cash Flow Metrics: These metrics should be designed to measure the company’s ability to meet obligations as they come due. For example: Is your inventory turning? How old are your accounts receivable?
  • Sales Metrics: A company should have sales metrics to measure sales and whether the sales are satisfactory for the company.
  • Employee Metrics: These metrics could be designed to measure how effectively the company is hiring and managing its employees.
  • Borrowing Metrics: This metric will measure how the company is effectively managing its debt. 

Once the metrics have been determined than a “windshield sticker” or dashboard can be affixed to your technology devices and reviewed by the management team on a regular basis. In addition, an industry scorecard can be developed to measure how the business compares to the industry.

Just like the oil in a car, the business metrics will need to be changed or enhanced on a regular basis to reflect changes in the economy and the business cycle.

Safe travels and be on the look-out for orange construction barrels and detours. Check your metrics!

Business Metrics Help

If you need help determine which business metrics are right for your business, contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio business consultants can help you determine which business metrics are needed for the success and growth of your business.

Author: Dave Cain, CPA (Dublin office)

 

 Related Articles

How Can A Small Business Owner Keep More Money In Their Pocket?

How Can Analytics Help Reduce Fraud Risk At Your Business?

What Are 6 Things You Can Do To Improve The Health Of Your Business in 2014?

 

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What Should You Ask When Reviewing Your Life Insurance Policy?

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Throughout the past several months, I have written a couple of articles that explained the importance about why you should review your life insurance policy. It’s one of those things that we get for the “just in case” moment, and then sometimes forget about it. You’d be surprised how often unexpected slip-ups occur with life insurance policies. That’s why it’s so important to review your policy … to ensure that you’re not paying too much or too little for coverage, and to ensure that your policy is working properly for you.

All that said, here are six important questions you should ask when reviewing your life insurance policy:

Has my life situation or needs changed since I purchased my policy

Back in January, I wrote an article that outlined six common life changes that should cause you to stop and review your life insurance policy. These life changes ranged from the purchase of a new home to the changing of your job to the death of your spouse. If your life situation has changed since you originally purchased your policy, you’ll want to evaluate whether you need to increase or decrease coverage.

Have assumptions, such as interest rates, related to my policy change?

When you first purchased your life insurance policy, your insurer made some assumptions based on the market conditions at the time of your policy purchase. But as market conditions change, so can the assumptions your insurer originally made. By reviewing your policy, you’ll be able to determine if you need to make some policy adjustments that will help you receive the best benefits possible for your policy.

Do I have too much or too little life insurance coverage?

When you first took out a life insurance policy, you may have been making a lot less than you’re making now. If you’re making more now, you may find the need to increase your coverage. If you just said “Adios” to your youngest child who left your nest, you may find that you need less life insurance coverage now. It’s important to align your life insurance coverage with your needs and consider whether you’re paying for too much or too little of coverage.

Are my beneficiaries properly identified?

If you were to pass away while your life insurance policy is in effect, do you know who would receive the money? Many individuals name their spouses, children or parents as the beneficiaries. But if it’s been awhile since you purchased your policy, you might want to review it to ensure that your beneficiaries are properly identified. Make sure that your life insurance money will go to the individuals you really want it to go to.

How reliable is my insurer?

When you first purchased your life insurance policy, how well did you research the life insurance company you did business with? If you can’t recall spending a lot of time figuring out whether the company solid and reliable, you may want to evaluate the reliability of your insurer. The industry is rapidly changing, and with industry changes come concerns over whether certain insurers can continue to provide reliable service. If you question or are concerned about this, you’ll want to consider whether you need to change insurers.

Is my life insurance policy aligned with my estate/business plan?

Believe it or not, the lack of alignment between a person’s life insurance policy and their estate/business plan is seen more often than not. There are tax consequences for your beneficiaries if these two items don’t align, so in order to provide your beneficiaries with the maximum amount of money, ensure that your policy aligns with your estate/business plan.   

Life Insurance Review Help

Not sure where you and your life insurance policy stand? Don’t wait any longer. Get a review of your life insurance policy. Contact Rea & Associates, and we can help connect you to individuals who can help you with a life insurance review. You and your family will be glad you did.

Author: Lee Beall, CPA (Dublin office)

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What You Should Know Before Dipping Into Your 401(k)

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Got a 401(k) plan? Have you ever withdrawn money from your 401(k) account? If so, you’re part of the growing number of Americans using their 401(k) accounts to fund other areas of their lives. A recent Bloomberg article explains that more and more Americans are turning to their 401(k) accounts rather than to other means, such as a loan, to help cover any unexpected financial needs that come up.

Historically, Americans have used their homes as a source of additional money. According to the article, when home values rose, homeowners refinanced or took out second mortgages. But due to the housing collapse back in 2008, many homeowners don’t have these options anymore – so they turned to their 401(k) accounts. What many people don’t realize is that depending on their 401(k) plan, they could be penalized for either taking an early withdrawal and/or not putting that money back into their account in the appropriate amount of time.

Shocking 401(k) Withdrawal Statistics

The Bloomberg article cites an IRS report that states the agency collected $5.7 billion in withdrawal penalties in 2011. In other words, Americans withdrew nearly $57 billion from their retirement accounts. That’s $5.7 billion that the IRS would otherwise not have banked on receiving. And what’s the federal government doing with this “extra” income? Funding federal agencies and projects.

Think Before You Dip

Before you turn to your retirement plan for help, you should be aware of some things. It may seem like an easy option, but the IRS actually has some rules that you have to meet before taking money from your 401(k). One of the following conditions must occur before you can take money out without being penalized:

  • You lose your job
  • You claim disability
  • You or your spouse dies
  • You turn 59 ½ years old

401(k) Withdrawal Based on Financial Hardship

If you don’t meet the criteria listed above, but are facing a financial hardship, you may also be able to take an early withdrawal from your retirement account. The IRS’ hardship rules require you have one of the following needs to qualify for a hardship withdrawal:

  • Medical expenses for you or your immediate family
  • Financial assistance in the purchase of your primary residence (this excludes mortgage payments)
  • Tuition or other educational fees (maximum of 12 months) for you or your immediate family
  • Prevent the eviction of you from your primary place of residence
  • Burial or funeral expenses for deceased parent, spouse or other immediate family member
  • Expenses for the repair of damage to your principal residence

The amount of money you take can’t be more than the amount you actually need to cover your hardship. It’s important to note that your early withdrawal due to a financial hardship is subject to state and federal taxes, and is also subject to a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty if you are under age 59 ½. So keep all of these considerations in mind when deciding whether to dip into your retirement account.

401(k) Withdrawal Help

If you’re not sure if a retirement withdrawal is the best route to go, contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio retirement plan services professionals can help you determine if you’re eligible and what you need to do to minimize your tax liability from a withdrawal.

Author: Steve Renner, QKA (New Philadelphia office)

 

Looking for more information related to 401(k) or retirement plan withdrawals? Check out these blog posts:

Will I Be Penalized for a Hardship 401(k) Withdrawal?

Raiding Your 401(k)? It’ll Cost You

What Are The Rules For Taking A Distribution from My 401(k) Plan?

 

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DOMA’s Effect On Retirement Plans And Beneficiary Forms

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States v. Windsor, ruled that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. As you may recall, DOMA Section 3 states, “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

By holding Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional, qualified retirement plans must now treat the relationship of same‐gender married couples as a marriage in order to maintain the plans’ tax‐qualified status. The term “spouse” includes an individual married to a person of the same-gender if the individuals are lawfully married under state or foreign law.

The IRS recognizes a valid same-gender marriage even if the married couple is living in a state that does not recognize same-gender marriages. The term “spouse” doesn’t include individuals who have entered into a registered domestic partnership, civil union, or other similar relationship that is not defined as marriage.

Important DOMA Information for Plan Sponsors

  • Participants (and their spouses) who are in same-gender marriages generally must be treated as married for all purposes under a retirement plan. This was effective as of June 26, 2013.
  • As of September 16, 2013, your plan must recognize same-gender marriages that were lawfully performed under the laws of the 50 states, D.C., U.S. territory or a foreign jurisdiction.
  • States that currently recognize same-gender marriages include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois (law will take effect on June 1, 2014), Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
  • Depending on whose retirement plan provider plan document you use, you may want to contact the provider to ensure that your retirement plan complies with these new rules. In general, amendments to such plans are due by the end of the plan’s remedial amendment period, or December 31, 2014.
  • As a plan sponsor, you have no obligation to notify current or former participants of the new rules.
  • All qualified plans must recognize same-gender marriages for all plan purposes. This would include provisions applicable to beneficiary designation, death benefits, applicable spousal consent requirements regarding distributions and loans, rollovers, etc.

Retirement Plan Help

Now is the perfect time to update beneficiary forms for all participants in your plan. It’s important you keep a current copy of each participant’s beneficiary form in his or her personnel file. If you need assistance with this, contact Rea & Associates. Our Ohio benefit plan services team can help you determine what you need to do to keep in compliance with IRS and DOL regulations.

Author: Andrea McLane, QKA (Dublin office)

 

Looking for more posts about retirement plan best practices? Check these out:

What Are The Rules For Taking A Distribution from My 401(k) Plan?

What Should Plan Sponsors Ask Their Investment Advisors?

What Are The Responsibilities of a Fiduciary?

 

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How Can A Small Business Owner Keep More Money In Their Pocket?

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Who doesn’t want more money in their pocket? It’s something I think all of us would love to have. And small business owners are in luck! Accountants throughout the state of Ohio advocated for small business owners and worked with Ohio legislators to develop the Ohio Small Business Investor Income Deduction provision. In the 2013 tax year, Rea clients eligible for this tax deduction submitted nearly $80 million in tax deductions, and realized nearly $4 million in tax savings. This provision has truly helped small business owners keep money in their pocket!

How Do You Know If You Eligible For The Ohio Small Business Income Deduction?

If you’re a taxpayer who owns a business, such as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a limited liability corporation, and you bring in $125,000 in Ohio-sourced income (that would be $250,000 if you’re married and file jointly), you’re eligible for this deduction. For the first $125,000 (or $250,000 married, filing jointly) you report, you can take up to a 50 percent tax deduction. For many business owners, that’s real, significant savings. Keep in mind that businesses themselves are not eligible for the deduction, but rather the business owner, as an individual taxpayer, is eligible.

Why This Deduction Matters  

This provision, along with others, provides a tax cut for individual taxpayers. Last year, Ohio Governor John Kasich released a broad tax reform package that was aimed at putting money back into Ohio taxpayers’ pockets. Part of this reform was the Ohio Small Business Investor Income Deduction (SBD). The Ohio SBD, along with a string of other tax cutting provisions, is aimed at cutting taxes for Ohio business owners and individuals by $2.7 billion over the next three years. The end goal: to build and accelerate economic and job growth in Ohio.

If you were eligible for this deduction in 2013, you should have realized tax savings. In looking to the future, have you considered what your 2014 tax savings could be by taking advantage of the Ohio SBD? If not, it’s something you should be looking into so you can keep more money in your business.

Ohio Tax Help

Unsure of your eligibility or need help in understanding how this deduction can apply to you? Contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio tax professionals can review your operating structure and help you maximize your 2014 tax savings.

Author: Lee Beall, CPA (Dublin office)

 

Interested in reading more blog post about tax savings? Check these posts out:

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

So Is It a Tax Credit Or a Tax Deduction?

How Do You Make Your Charitable Contributions Count?

 

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How Can Analytics Help Reduce Fraud Risk At Your Business?

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Whether it’s due to limited resources or staffing, you may find it difficult to find time to closely review the financial activity of various departments within your business. But here’s the thing: not doing detailed reviews can leave your business exposed to increased risk of error or fraud. Incorporating analytics into your review process can be an efficient way to detect errors and fraud and will allow you to identify areas of risk within your business. Analytics are frequently part of audit procedures, and compare the correlation between key statistical data and actual financial activity.

How To Use Analytics In Your Reviews

  1. Identify the information. Identify the department, segment or line item you want to review and determine a time period that will allow the most effective review. Analytics can be used to compare financial activity on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Determine what information will allow for the most effective review. For example, if you’re reviewing the revenues related to food service operations you may want to breakout the revenues by type (i.e. lunches, breakfast, a la carte, adult).
  2. Identify the primary driving factors. The most important step in an analytic is identifying the primary factors that will cause significant changes in the activity you are reviewing. Use the changes in those factors to set expectations for the amount you expect the actual financial activity to change. Continuing with the example above, if you noticed the number of lunches served increased 10 percent in the current month compared to the previous month then you would expect the revenues to correlate with that change.
  3. Review the results. Compare your expectations to what actually happened. Based on the example I’ve been using, if your actual revenues decreased by 2 percent then you will want to investigate this change further. If actual revenues increased by 9 percent then you may determine the variance is acceptable and you don’t need to investigate any further.

The Discovery Of Potential Errors

If after you’ve compared the results of the analytics and identified a few areas that didn’t meet your expectations, what do you do next?

  1. Contact the person responsible for the area you reviewed. Determine if there are additional factors that would have caused the variance from your expectations.
  2. If you have determined there are no additional factors or what was communicated to you was not reasonable, you may want to consider a more detailed review. Theoretically, if you have considered all factors in your expectations, the only plausible explanation at this point for a variance is a misstatement probably due to error or fraud.
  3. If you have identified an error, review the controls and processes in place to determine what caused the error. This is where you can identify steps to improve the control strength to prevent future errors.
  4. Inform your auditors of the results of your analytics and the areas of risk you identified. This will allow your auditors to focus on these areas and provide more value to your audit. Your auditors will more than likely ask these questions and you’ll already know the answers.

Using analytics within your business will allow you to properly allocate more of your time and resources to the areas with the most risk. You will be able to efficiently identify the riskier areas and make the necessary improvements in processes and controls to address the risk.  This can prevent possible audit findings, adjustments and can even help prevent fraud.

Analytics and Financial Review Help

If you are looking to step up your game as it relates to financial reviews within your company, contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio government auditors can help you incorporate analytics into your reviews so you can get a better picture of how funds are being used throughout your organization.

Authors: Chad Gorfido, CPA (Medina office), and Annie Yoder, CPA, CFE, CFF (New Philadelphia office)

 

Looking for more information on how to reduce fraud risk within your business? Check these articles out:

Does Your Audit Process Protect You From Fraud?

Have You Assessed Your Fraud Risk?

Do You Subscribe to a Fraud Hotline?

 

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How Can You Build And Develop Your Organization?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

If you run a manufacturing business, then you know it’s no easy task. You may often find that the day-to-day activities become your focus. It can be hectic, time-consuming and physically and emotionally draining. These issues can take away from your ability to focus on actually growing your business. It can be a “Catch 22″ because if you aren’t building the right organizational structure, then the day-to-day activities continue to consume your time and before you know it, you’ll become like a cat chasing your tail.

Going From ‘Good to Great’

In the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, he touches on this very issue. He says, “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. 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.”

Many closely-held business owners struggle to grasp this concept. In my experience, if you want to grow a successful company and have a reasonable quality of life, you must get your arms around your organizational structure. For individuals who don’t, your company probably won’t reach its potential and you may spend most of your time working in your business and not on it.

Building Your Organization May Require Tough Choices

In my career I have worked with many companies that have had a difficult time building their organization.  It’s not easy and you won’t always get it right. When you get it wrong you must move swiftly to make the necessary changes. Most of us know when we have the wrong person in the wrong position, but we just procrastinate in making a change. Making the right move is critical for building an organization, even when it’s a tough choice.

Maximize your time and talents – and the time and talents of your employees. But know that it can’t be done without the right people around you. Make sure you have a solid management team surrounding you that can help you move your business in the direction you want it to go.

Author: Mike Taylor, CPA (Millersburg office)

Are you interested in reading more blog posts about managing your business? Check these ones out:

What Are 6 Things You Can Do To Improve The Health Of Your Business in 2014?

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

What Are The Top 5 Challenges Business Owners Face in Today’s Economy?

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What Should You Do After Tax Season?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Now that most of you have either filed your 2013 tax return or at least gathered your tax information and sent it off to your CPA, I know what you’re thinking. Phew! I’m done with my taxes for yet another year! But guess what? No, you aren’t!

Now is the time to start planning for next year. The sooner you plan ahead and strategize for next year’s tax season, the better off you may be. Not happy with the amount of taxes that you had to pay this past year? Not happy that you seem to work harder and harder only to pay more in taxes and get further behind? Start planning now for future tax seasons!

Tax Planning For the Future

Here are a few things you can start working on now to help create a better tax experience for yourself next year:

  • Develop an investment strategy. Most people don’t understand the affect this can have on your tax return. You can control when and how to take gains from your investments. You should work on developing a long-term investment strategy with your investment advisor.
  • Create a plan to sell property. Are you considering selling property sometime in the future? Did you know that there are ways to minimize taxes that need to be paid on the sale of property? This isn’t done by calling your financial advisor and letting them know you just sold some property. Get them involved now and discuss that you plan to sell some property in three to five years. Your financial advisor can help you structure the property sale and ultimately help you control the tax effect.
  • Establish a business plan. If you’re thinking about starting a new business, work with your financial advisor now to determine what tax savings you may be able to realize. Depending on the type of entity there could be significant tax savings down the road. 

Tax Planning Help

While there’s no single quick fix to solving all of your business and tax woes, planning now will certainly help you when tax season rolls around next year – and the year after that and so on. If you need help with your tax planning, contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio tax planning professionals can help you develop a tax strategy that best suits you for years to come.

Author: Dave McCarthy, CPA, CSEP (Medina office)

 

Want to read some more articles related to tax planning? Check these posts out?

What Is The Difference Between Fixed Asset Expensing And Capitalization?

So Is It a Tax Credit Or a Tax Deduction?

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

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How Can Heartbleed Affect You and Your Business’s Online Identity?

Friday, April 11th, 2014

The Internet is a powerful tool – something that can make our lives (and businesses) easier. But it also can be our worst nightmare at times. If you keep up on the news, you may recall within the past few days hearing something about “Heartbleed.” No, this isn’t the name of a new rock-n-roll band. It’s the latest threat to your security on the Internet. News sites started reporting on this newest Internet threat earlier this week. But as more and more has become known about this Internet defect, it’s becoming clear that everyone with an online identity needs to be concerned about it.

Heartbleed is an exploit that basically allows malicious users to run a tool that will gain them access to a Web server and provide them with usernames and password from that server. What can this defect potentially affect? Every website on the Internet. Bank websites, social media sites, online merchant sites … the list goes on.

Within the past couple days, a Heartbleed defect was discovered that allows hackers to access chunks of a server’s memory that could contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Sites that integrate a Secure-Socket Layer (SSL) encryption certificate are now at risk of this new defect.

Steps For Protecting Your Online Identity

So what should you do to protect you and your business from this risk? Follow these steps:

  1. Take inventory of all of your online accounts and make a list of your accounts.
  2. Before changing your online passwords, contact the businesses of any accounts that may have SSL certificates to ensure that the company has issued new certificates. To check the “grade” of an SSL-secured site, you can visit Qualys SSL Labs website and input the URL of the site you’re checking. Sites are graded (A through F) on how secure they actual are.
  3. Change your passwords for each of your online accounts.
  4. Clear your Web browsers’ cache, cookies and history. Check out this ZDNet article for step-by-step instructions on how to do this.
  5. Closely monitor your bank and credit card statements to make sure there’s no unusual or suspect activity.
  6. If you receive emails or other online communication that promises a solution to your Heartbleed woes, don’t buy it. These communications are more than likely spam connected to dangerous malware or pointing you to malware. Heartbleed is a very complex online security threat, and there’s not a simple, quick fix for it.

Need Advice On Protecting Your Online Identity?

Following the steps outlined above will hopefully help lessen your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud. If you have questions or need additional guidance on how to protect your business, contact our IT audit professionals at Rea & Associates.

Author: Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

 

Looking for other blog posts about protecting your business’s online identity? Check these posts out:

Do You Know Who Has Access To Your IT Network?

How Can I Protect My Business From A Data Security Breach?

How Can You Prepare For The Retirement of Microsoft Windows XP?

 

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Do You Know Who Has Access To Your IT Network?

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

You may find that your business relies heavily on the technical support provided by third-party hardware and software providers. But have you ever considered whether your vendors have direct access to your business’s internal IT network without having to gain permission from someone within your business? If you’re not positive about how to answer, then it’s probably time to do some digging to see if that’s the case or not. It’s possible that your vendor(s) has access to your business’s sensitive data and devices.  (more…)

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Which Life Insurance Policy Is Right For You?

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Back in January, I shared some insight about six common stages of life where you should review your life insurance policy. Today I want to provide some insight about how you can know what the right life insurance plan is for you.  (more…)

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Why Should You Review Your Retirement Plan Documents Now?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” A lot of people adhere to this philosophy, but in some cases, a review of how something works is not only helpful, it is required. If a business’s retirement plan seems to be working fine, and there doesn’t appear to be anything out of place, many employers believe there is no reason to review the provisions of the plan. This may be the case for a plan that was recently established, but it is always a good idea to review provisions every few years to ensure the plan is still meeting the goals of both the employer and its’ employees.  (more…)

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How Can My Statement of Cash Flows Transform My Business?

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Do you realize that your business’s financial statements are a valuable management tool for decision making? You may be thinking, “Well, I just get them done because the bank needs them for my loan file,” or, “I think I have a copy in a drawer somewhere.” But if you take the time to understand your financial statements, you’ll be surprised to find that they can give you information on the condition of your company and allow you to make better business decisions.  (more…)

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What Could Ohio’s Small Business Investor Income Tax Deduction Do For Me?

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

In an effort to become more taxpayer-friendly and reduce the effective tax rate, Ohio enacted the Small Business Investor Income Tax Deduction effective for tax year 2013. This tax deduction benefits many of Ohio’s individual income taxpayers. So how exactly does this deduction work?  (more…)

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How Do I Apply For Ohio’s Honor Project Trust?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Could your nonprofit use some “extra cash”? I’m sure most of you answered “yes” to that question. And the timing couldn’t be better. A few months back I wrote a blog post about Ohio’s Honor Project Trust. The Honor Project Trust was created as a result of a lawsuit settlement. Excess settlement proceeds from the lawsuit totaling approximately $9 million were earmarked for Ohio nonprofits. The trust’s mission is to identify and providing funding to not-for-profit charitable organizations that have a societal impact in the State of Ohio.  (more…)

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What Should Plan Sponsors Ask Their Investment Advisors?

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Like many business owners, running your business every day is a top priority for you. But as a sponsor of a 401(k) plan, you have an obligation to your employees to make your plan a priority as well. The truth is, most business owners are not 401(k) experts. Therefore, working with a quality 401(k) investment advisor should also be a priority. As a plan sponsor, there are questions you should be asking your advisor to ensure they are helping your meet your fiduciary obligations as the plan sponsor.  (more…)

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What Do The Recent IRS Final Regulations for Obamacare Entail?

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

You’ve probably never received a Valentine’s Day gift from the IRS, but this year you did! On Monday, the IRS issued final regulations on Obamacare’s employer shared responsibility payment provision, otherwise known as the “pay or play” provision. Like many things the IRS announces, there’s quite a bit a fine print. This time is no exception. Check out some of the highlights of the final regulations and learn what you need to know moving forward.  (more…)

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When Should You Start Thinking About Succession Planning?

Monday, February 10th, 2014

You’re busy serving customers. Managing employees. Overseeing the day-to-day operations of your business. Stepping down as the head of your company may not be on your radar, but sooner or later you’ll need to think about what will happen to your business once you’re out of the picture. We recommend that business owners start thinking about their business succession plan at least five years before planning to implement it.  (more…)

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What’s The Relationship Between Side-Businesses And Tax Deductions?

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Do you or someone you know enjoy knitting or jewelry-making? Or perhaps you do résumé writing or other professional consulting work? If you do any of these as a side business and make a profit, did you know that you can deduct expenses that are ordinary and necessary to your business? If your side business expenses exceed the income for your business, then the loss can be deducted against other income. However, if your loss is from a business that’s not making a profit, then you’re not allowed to deduct your loss against other income.  (more…)

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When Is The Best Time To Review My Life Insurance Policy?

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Cartoon characters and celebrities all tell you to get it – life insurance that is. Now that you have it (or are at least considering purchasing it), is that it? Do you just sit back and pay your monthly life insurance fee until your policy expires? No way!  (more…)

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Will You Be Paying With Cash, Credit Or Bitcoins?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Bitcoin has been all over the news lately, and you may be asking – what exactly is it? Bitcoin is a virtual currency. Only existing online, it’s powered by its users and not backed by any government agency. This new currency offers anonymity, convenience, helps facilitate international commerce and can fluctuate in value. Check out www.bitcoin.org for more information and frequently asked questions.  (more…)

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How Can You Prepare For The Retirement of Microsoft Windows XP?

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

You’ve probably heard by now about the Target data breach, but just this week other retailer data breaches during the 2013 holiday season have become known. In light of these broad, major data breaches, this is a great time to ask yourself: When was the last time you evaluated your business’s IT network? If this has been an area of your business that you’ve let slide, then let it slide no more!  (more…)

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What Should You Know About 2014 Standard Mileage Rates?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Do you use your personal vehicle for business purposes when you’re on the clock? Or do you use your vehicle medical, moving or charitable purposes? If so, did you know that you can claim a tax deduction on the mileage you rack up?  (more…)

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What Are 5 Things You Should Do Financially Now?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

As a small business owner, you probably find the end of the year a busy time. Before you know it, you find yourself into January trying to determine what the New Year will bring. One of the keys to being a successful business owner is taking a break from the day-to-day routine and spending some time doing valuable planning. This is sometimes referred to as working on your business, not just working in your business. To help you with this process, here are five things you should consider doing as a small business owner as you start the New Year.  (more…)

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What Are 6 Things You Can Do To Improve The Health Of Your Business in 2014?

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Are you out of breath from the impact the economy had on your business during the last several years? Is it time to develop some New Year’s resolutions that will make a difference in your business? Adopting a new diet, jumping on the treadmill or committing to run a half marathon are common items on the “personal” resolution menu. However, is it time to add energy and resources to your resolutions in order to improve the health of your business?  (more…)

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Obamacare Exchange Enrollment Deadline Extended One Day

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Things are continually changing on the Obamacare front. I wanted to provide you with a brief update since my blog post from last Friday. In last Friday’s post, I explained that today (Dec. 23, 2013) was the last day for individuals to sign-up for insurance through the federal government (“the Exchange”) that would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. However, the Obama administration announced today that it is extending the deadline by one day. If you’re interested in obtaining health insurance through the Exchange, you can now enroll through tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 24. For more information on the deadline extension, view this recent CNNMoney article(more…)

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Do I Need To Have Health Care Coverage Before Jan. 1, 2014?

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Christmas is upon us, but you know what else is? The federal deadline to pay for exchange insurance that’s effective Jan. 1, 2014. Yes, that’s right. If you want health insurance through the federal government, you’ve got until Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, to apply and pay for it. Some insurance companies have delayed this deadline to Jan. 10, 2014 – but not all. So don’t wait – make sure you’re covered today.  (more…)

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How Can Manufacturers Deal With Competition?

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Contrary to popular belief, the manufacturing industry is alive and well. For years, we’ve heard that it’s a “dying” industry. But that’s just not so. In fact, many manufacturers are enjoying higher profitability than 2008 pre-recession levels. However, if your manufacturing business is still young or you’ve hit a rough patch and are starting to see a downward shift in your sales and employment, there’s assistance that you may qualify for to help you get out the rut you’re in.

(more…)

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How Can I Protect My Business From A Data Security Breach?

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

We live in an ever-increasing digital world. And with that comes risk – and lots of it. The number of stolen debit/credit card numbers continues to grow every day. Today’s news story about how nearly 40 million Target customers had debit or credit card information stolen is the most recent example of the kind of risky, digital world we live in.  (more…)

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What Are Some IT Audit Tips That Can Keep You off Santa’s Naughty List?

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

The end of the year is near, and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays. But don’t let that be an excuse to forget about your entity’s security and information technology (IT) operations. As you close out your year, here are seven areas and tips that can help you strengthen and further secure your entity’s IT environment – and keep you off Santa’s naughty list!  (more…)

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Where Can I Find Easy-To-Use Tools For Calculating Complex Data?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

The holidays are upon us, and right now you’re probably looking forward to celebrating with family and friends. Your finances may be one of the furthest things from your mind, but once Jan. 1 hits, the holidays are over and we all go back to our “regular” lives. If you’re an individual who sets goals or resolutions for the New Year, you may find yourself hoping to get into better physical shape or get better organized. But in the craze of the holidays and in the midst of your New Year’s resolutions, have you considered your finances?  (more…)

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Peeling Back The Onion: Answering 3 Popular Obamacare Questions

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

As Obamacare becomes more and more of a reality to individuals, I’m being asked lots of questions. In the past few weeks, I received three questions that I’m finding are common concerns among the people I’ve talked with. I wanted to share these questions and provide some insight into each. So let me peel back the Obamacare “onion” and help you better understand how you may be impacted or what options you have available to you.  (more…)

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Will There Be Changes To The Small Business Health Care Credit?

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Has your business enjoyed the small business health care credit for the last few years? Well, get ready because changes are coming in 2014.  (more…)

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How Can You Best Prepare For The Upcoming Tax Season?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

It’s the holiday season, and you know what that means. I’m not talking about shopping or decorating or eating until your heart’s content. I’m talking about cleaning out those filing cabinets and getting ready for tax time! The more prepared and organized you can be as you approach tax season, the smoother a process you can create for yourself or your business.  (more…)

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How Can Franchising Work For You?

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Purchasing a franchise might seem like a very daunting process, enough so that you might not even consider it a possibility for you. However, have you ever considered what advantages buying a franchise might bring to you? Before jumping ahead to the benefits, let’s first look at what exactly franchising is.  (more…)

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Health Insurance Options: SHOP, Drop, Roll, or Self-insure?

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

You may recall the popular saying, “Stop, Drop and Roll.” This is what we were taught in case a piece of our clothing or hair caught on fire. This same clever saying can (in a roundabout way) be applied to the list of options that businesses now have because of Obamacare. SHOP, Drop, Roll or Self-insure.  (more…)

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

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Internal controls are procedures that companies develop to safeguard their assets and to produce accurate, reliable financial statements. When a company doesn’t have strong internal control procedures, fraud can occur much easier. Other issues that can arise include inaccurate financial statements, the inability to find certain documents such as invoices or purchase orders, or a higher than usual number of customer complaints.  (more…)

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Does Your Company Have Solid Internal Controls?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Let’s admit it… we all want to be able to trust other people. And we generally do…until we’re proven wrong. Owners of small, family-owned businesses are no different, and must put their trust in someone to handle their revenue, disbursements, payroll and inventory, among other financial functions.  (more…)

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Why Is A Budget Important To The Success Of My Business?

Friday, October 18th, 2013

The end of the year is fast approaching. Before you know it, Jan. 1, 2014, will be here and another business year is at hand. So… have you started planning and budgeting for your 2014 business year? If you haven’t, don’t wait any longer. The sooner you get your budget in place, the better idea you’ll have of what you can do in the year ahead.  (more…)

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How Can My Nonprofit Organization Benefit From Ohio’s Honor Project Trust?

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Nonprofit organizations in Ohio may soon have “free money” coming to them. Who’s giving out the money? The State of Ohio. The Honor Project Trust was created as a result of a recent lawsuit settlement. Excess settlement proceeds from the lawsuit totaling approximately $9 million were earmarked for Ohio nonprofits. The trust’s mission is to identify and providing funding to not-for-profit charitable organizations that have a societal impact in the State of Ohio. So how do you know if you qualify for this grant and get a piece of the pie? (more…)

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Should I Be Worried About the New 3.8 Percent Medicare Surtax?

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Obamacare is a complex piece of legislation. And in a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 62 percent of Americans said they lack information they need to understand Obamacare and how it will impact them.  (more…)

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How Can I Solve My Staffing Woes In The Manufacturing Industry?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Being a manufacturer in today’s economy has it opportunities and challenges, and right now you may be flying high on business and running low on people to actually do the work. You may scratch your head daily over this issue and wonder how you can attract the right individuals to do the jobs. Let’s start with the root of the problem—perception. And then I’ll share how some manufacturers are combating this perception.  (more…)

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What’s The IRS Up To During The Government Shutdown?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

We’ve read for weeks that a government shutdown was possible, but at 12 a.m. this morning, it happened. It has been 17 years since the last government shutdown, and you, along with the rest of the American people, are probably wondering how the shutdown will impact their lives. Fortunately, last week the Internal Revenue Service published “FY 2014 Shutdown Contingency Plan (During Lapsed Appropriations) Non-Filing Season,” a set of guidelines that explains what will go on at the IRS during a shutdown.  (more…)

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What Are The Top 5 Challenges Business Owners Face in Today’s Economy?

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

You may find that being your own boss is extremely rewarding. Starting a business from the ground up takes a lot of hard work, and you’ve been seeing the fruits of your labor. But your success doesn’t come without challenges. Business owners are facing some tough challenges these days, and you yourself may be experiencing some of these growing pains. Here’s a list of the top 5 challenges I’m seeing business owners like yourself facing in today’s economy. Do any of these resonate with you?

(more…)

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What Should I Expect From My CPA?

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

As a small business owner, you may have started your business because you have a passion for your particular business/industry or you may have had the desire to “take the plunge” and be your own boss. Income taxes, payroll or financial reporting were probably not anywhere on your list of top reasons to own your own business. However, these three items along with many others fall under the umbrella of accounting services, and require the training and expertise of a CPA. So, since your business needs these services, what should you expect from a CPA?  (more…)

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How Can A Focus on Inventory Management Help My Business?

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Is the recession over? Reports show that we are continuing the slow climb out. While the hill may be tall, chances are the recession has given you new tools to manage the effectiveness of your business and business capital – a renewed focus on cash flow and collections. But is that enough to get you into smooth waters?  (more…)

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

Monday, September 16th, 2013

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.  (more…)

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How Does Worker Classification Impact Companies In The Oil & Gas Industry?

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

As an employer in the oil and gas industry, historically you may have found it better for your company to hire independent contractors rather than employees. You probably paid your contractors flat day rates rather than an hourly wage. But now these practices are being challenged and companies of all sizes — including oil and gas companies — are being audited by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).  (more…)

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Are You Prepared For The Obamacare Deadline On Insurance Marketplace Availability?

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

The next Obamacare requirement deadline is right around the corner— are you ready? If you’re an employer, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires you to provide copies of one of the following insurance notices to all of your employees:

You must provide these insurance marketplace availability notices to your employees by Oct. 1, 2013.   (more…)

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Why Should You Upgrade Your Business’s Windows XP Software?

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

If you missed it… you should know that Microsoft recently announced that effective April 8, 2014, it will no longer release any security patches or extend support for its Windows XP operating system. You may be thinking, “So what?” Well, if your organization is running its IT systems on Windows XP, your organization could open itself up to security issues. Furthermore, if your organization is in the healthcare industry and using Windows XP, it could be held liable and found non-compliant with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) laws.  (more…)

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How Can You Make Vacant Commercial Space Work for You?

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

How could vacant facilities be so lucrative? You can thank the state of Ohio for making that possible. In an effort to encourage the revitalization of vacant business property, Ohio enacted a bill that created the Ohio Vacant Facilities Fund, a program that essentially pays businesses to purchase or lease vacant property. So by now you’re probably wondering how your business can get a piece of this action.  (more…)

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Do You Have An Exit Strategy?

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

This month marks my 38th year in public accounting, 32 of which have been as a principal interacting with business owners and executives of closely held entities. I have been able to observe the good, the bad and the ugly as it relates to exiting a business. Throughout the years, I’ve had the privilege to serve some outstanding captains of industry who exemplified the ideal way of exiting a closely held business.  (more…)

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What are the Consequences of Having Misclassified Workers?

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

My co-worker, Maribeth Wright, recently wrote a blog post titled, “Are You Properly Classifying Your Workers?”. The post explained how to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The article mentioned that this is a hot button issue with the IRS, as well as other government agencies.  In fact, according to The Kiplinger Tax Letter, the IRS is currently in the process of conducting 6,000 random audits, which are focusing on several payroll and fringe benefit issues – one of which is worker misclassification. (more…)

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How Will ACA Federal Exchange Premiums Affect Ohio Small Businesses and Consumers?

Friday, August 16th, 2013

By now, you’ve been hearing a ton about the Affordable Care Act (yes, even from us), and you may be getting tired of all this news. However, it’s critical for you and your business to stay up-to-date on what is changing and what is being decided as it relates to the ACA. The Ohio Department of Insurance (DOI) recently announced in a press release that if you’re an individual consumer who chooses to buy health insurance through the federal government’s insurance exchange, you’ll be paying approximately 41 percent more than what you paid in 2013. And if you’re a business owner, you’ll see somewhere in the ballpark of an 18 percent increase.  (more…)

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What Are The Rules For Taking A Distribution from My 401(k) Plan?

Monday, August 12th, 2013

So maybe you’ve been storing up money in your 401(k) plan for years, possibly even decades. Or maybe you’ve just started paying into your 401(k), and have a little bit of money in your account. You suddenly find yourself in a situation where you need money… and you need it now. What do you do? (more…)

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Are You Properly Classifying Your Workers?

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

You may employ hundreds, if not thousands of employees. Or maybe you only employ three to five. Regardless of the number of employees you have, the way you classify your workers is important to the federal government. Worker status is a hot button issue at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Ohio Job and Family Services, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the U.S. Department of Labor are also challenging the way businesses report their payments to “independent contractors.”  (more…)

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Why Is A Relationship With Your Banker Important To Your Business?

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

You have a bank. But do you have a relationship with your bank? A relationship with your bank is important to the success of your business. A banker can be a great source of information and a valuable part of your team. Too often it seems that the banker is only contacted when money is tight or there is an immediate need for cash flow. A business then spends several weeks obtaining information for the banker and attempting to communicate the importance of the current need. If the business had an on-going relationship with the bank, then this process is much easier to handle for the banker and the business.  (more…)

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

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

What if someone told you that you had an opportunity to claim thousands of dollars? You’d jump on it, right? Well, guess what? If you’re a business owner, you do have this opportunity!

Did you know there are an estimated 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 credits and incentives to which they are entitled.
(more…)

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Some PCORI Fees Due This Wednesday – Do You Owe?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

And so it continues… the next deadline in a long list of fee deadlines for the Affordable Healthcare Act is fast approaching. If you are a business that is self-insured for health care (this includes Health Reimbursement Arrangements/Accounts), and if you had a plan year end on or between Oct. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2012, then you have a new fee to pay by this Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Calendar year plans are included in this because their end date would have been Dec. 31, 2012.
(more…)

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How Can A Business Plan Prepare You for Your Future In the Oil & Gas Industry?

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

As a business owner in the oil and gas industry, you may have a substantial and noble strategic vision for your company. You may even be thinking that the list of possibilities for what your company can become is endless. But wait… how do you reach your business goals and get to where you want to be?  (more…)

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Is it time to review your choice of entity?

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

When is the last time you talked to your accountant about your business’s entity type? If you’re like most business owners, it’s probably not something you regularly think about. Whether you are taxed at the corporate level as a C-corporation, or have a pass-through entity such as an S-corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), there have been plenty of changes in the tax laws recently to warrant at least considering your entity type. (more…)

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How Does the Ohio Budget Bill Impact Oil and Gas Producers?

Friday, July 12th, 2013

By now you’ve heard that Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Ohio’s new budget bill into law. Luckily, the severance tax on oil and gas production was removed from the bill a while back. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other components that you need to be aware of.  (more…)

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What Should You Be Prepared For Now With the ACA?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

By now you have probably heard about the one-year delay to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  But beware!  The other elements of the law are going into effect soon and there is one that may have sneaked past you – a new filing and fee due July 31, 2013.  (more…)

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With the Affordable Care Act “pay or play” provision delayed, I don’t have to do anything before 2015, right? Wrong!

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

If you had more time to prepare for something that could have a huge impact on your business, would you take advantage of that extra time? If you answered no, then you might want to think again.  (more…)

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Why might the delay in the Affordable Care Act be better news than you think?

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

This week, President Obama and the Department of the Treasury announced that several key elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be delayed until 2015.  Specifically, the “pay or play” provision, or employer mandate to provide essential minimum coverage that is both affordable and minimum value. In addition, the employer informational reporting requirement has also been delayed until 2015. The administration cited stakeholder concerns and difficulties in implementing smoothly as reasons for the delay.  (more…)

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Do You Understand Your Company’s Financial Statements?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Big GAAP vs. Little GAAP has been a hot topic in recent years. (Okay, “hot” topic may be a stretch…) The question of the hour is: Why should a privately held company with close relationships to owners, bankers, insurers and other financial statement users need to comply with the same complex rules and extensive disclosure requirements that a publicly traded company is held to? (more…)

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Did You Know the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Will Be Distributing Rebates To Employers?

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Guess what? If you’re one of the 210,000 customers of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, then you could be getting a nice-size check. Thanks to Ohio Governor John Kasich and the BWC’s board, $1 billion will be returned to 210,000 Ohio employers in the form of a rebate. The board of the BWC unanimously approved the governor’s proposal two weeks ago.  (more…)

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Looking To Stay Up-To-Date On Ohio Oil & Gas News?

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The oil and gas industry in Ohio is constantly changing. So if you’re involved in the industry or are looking to break into the industry, it’s important for you to stay up-to-date on what’s happening. If you haven’t checked out, Ohio Gas & Oil Magazine, then I highly recommend you do. This monthly publication covers an array of topics from government regulations to industry best practices.  (more…)

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Did You Know that the FASB Wants to Hear From You?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Let’s face it—opinions matter. We all like to be asked for our opinion. And more often than not, opinions help shape decisions and the direction that a group of people may take. (more…)

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When Can I Apply for the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program?

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

When will the application process begin for the next round of the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program? This is a burning question for many Ohio companies these days. While the Ohio Development Services Agency has not yet communicated what date the application process will begin, you can keep an eye on its website for an official announcement.  They are hoping to have the application process open sometime in June, though it’s possible that date may get pushed back.  (more…)

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How Can the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program Work for Your Business?

Friday, May 17th, 2013

It’s almost half way through the year. When thinking about your employees, how have you helped them develop professionally during the past few months?  Investing in your people pays off. It helps them, helps you, and helps your customers. But, it’s expensive and time consuming – training is one of those things that always seem to get pushed until tomorrow. But now the state of Ohio is taking away one of your excuses – it’s picking up part of the tab. (more…)

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Does Your Business Have Cracks in its Foundation?

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

During the recession, the fiscal cliff and the so-called recovery, did your business develop cracks in its foundation? If you answered “yes,” you are not alone. Many businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries are still trying to rebuild cash flow strategies and bottom line results. (more…)

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Cash Flow is King: Where Do You Need to Focus?

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Do you know the current balance of your business checking account? If you don’t, keep reading. Cash flow is the key to business survival. A healthy business generates money for the operations of the business.  (more…)

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What Legacy Do You Want to Leave?

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Last year, I was consulting with a client who owned a business that was worth over $20.0 million. He said that one of his advisers told him “Why waste your time and money developing an exit and succession plan? You will be dead and won’t care and let others take care of it after you die.”

I guess that’s a good plan – if you don’t mind the chaos it creates for your family members and if your legacy is not important to you. (more…)

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How Will Health Care Reform Impact Small Employers & the Labor Market?

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

As you have probably heard by now, starting Jan. 1, 2014, you will have to comply with the “pay or play” guidelines of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if you have more than 50 employees. If you have anywhere near 50 or more employees, hopefully you are looking at the requirements and considering your options. If you have less than 50 employees, you may jump to the conclusion that the ACA will not impact you. Not so fast… (more…)

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Does Vendor Verification Really Matter?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

As a business owner you likely have heard more than once that you should treat your vendor listing like Fort Knox – keep it secure and prevent access to all but authorized personnel. Typically this conversation is geared toward access to the vendor master, which lists all the important information for approved vendors. The Fort Knox comparison is apt; vendor master security is extremely important. Access should be limited and only granted to appropriate individuals. (more…)

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How Does the Proposed Ohio Budget Impact Your Business?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Governor Kasich’s proposed budget, Ohio H.B. 59, shifts around Ohio’s tax burden. Limiting commercial activity tax and eliminating the estate tax, the bill initially seems like a boon to business owners. But, the truth is a little more complicated. (more…)

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How Much Will Health Care Reform Cost Your Business?

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

If you’re like most business owners, health care reform has you running scared. You’re worried about how much it will cost you – and if your business can survive the burden.

You’ve heard about the employer mandate and the potential fines for not complying with it. But, that’s all in the abstract. No one has told you what it will cost your business – and what you can do to mitigate that cost. (more…)

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How Do You Motivate Your Employees in 2013?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Many analysts say that 2013 is the year for jobs – meaning that hiring businesses are going to be going after your employees. Are you sure that you’re doing everything you can to hang onto your talent? How do you plan to motivate your team?

Money is a motivator and you should offer competitive compensation, yes, but compensation is consistently not in the top three when employees list what’s most important to them in their job. Instead, focus on these items to help take care of and hold on to your employees this year. (more…)

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How Do You Prepare to Sell Your Business?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Do you plan to sell your business someday? Although you may not think of your business as a traditional retirement plan, it may be the largest asset you have to “cash in” upon retirement. There are many issues to consider when thinking about selling your business.

Timing of Business Sales

One of the first things a potential buyer is going to ask for is historical financial statements. If your most recent financial statements show healthy profits, you are more likely to be able to justify a larger selling price than trying to sell your business after several less profitable years.

Current developments in your industry may also impact the timing of when you want to sell your business. Do you anticipate new government regulations that could impact your business? Or is there a trend of consolidations in your industry? If so, this may increase the value of your business.

(more…)

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How Do You Take Your Business to the Next Level?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

When was the last time you talked about taking your business to the next level? If you’ve had this discussion recently, what changes or improvements did you decide on? Were you only thinking about growing your sales? Or did you think about improving your systems and processes? How about your people – do you need to take them to the next level, too?

Making It to the Next Level

In my 31-plus years with this firm, I watched many clients grow from small mom & pop businesses to major employers in their communities. Until the past few years, I really didn’t think much about why some grew and others, well, didn’t.

Many of us learned two fundamentals in college – or in the classroom of life: In order to grow, a business needs solid leadership. And business owners needed to surround themselves with good people.

As I build our firm’s manufacturing client services team I have spent a lot of time reading, listening and asking questions about this idea of the next level. What I have found in my research is that not only do businesses need good people to grow, but you need great systems and you need to stay focused. (more…)

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Did Your Company Miss Out on the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program?

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Don’t Give Up Yet!

Applications for Ohio’s Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program were accepted on Monday, January 7, 2013. By the end of the day, Ohio officials said they received applications with requests exceeding the $20 million allotted for fiscal 2013. Funds were awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you weren’t one of the first, you might have missed out on this opportunity for your company. But don’t give up yet…

There will be another opportunity for you to secure your piece of the pie as a second round of applications, for fiscal 2014, will be accepted after June 30 for an additional $30 million. While the exact date that applications will be accepted are not yet known, we do know what the applications will look like, how the application process will work and what information you will need to have ready to submit your application.

Why wait? Begin pulling your information together now so that you will be ready the second time around. (more…)

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How Do You Choose a Business Exit Strategy?

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Exit strategies are the options that you have to leave your business.  There are only a few exit strategies that Ohio business owners can choose from and each will provide you with a different level of proceeds when you leave. All strategies will require planning and time to implement.

It’s never too soon to start planning your exit. You will eventually leave your business, and it’s better to do so before a life-changing event forces you out. The sooner you plan, the more options you will have. (more…)

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Is Safety Key to Working with Big Oil?

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Do you operate a safe business? Of course you do. But is your safety to the level it needs to be to work with the “Big Oil” companies?

The Utica shale boom has presented tremendous opportunities for businesses, like yours, that can somehow assist in the production of oil and gas. However, dealing with Big Oil is unlike dealing with your typical customer. If you’ve yet to discover this yourself, you need to know how to play by their rules. And the first one you’ll need to comply with is safety. (more…)

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Can I Get a Rebate for Training Through the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program?

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

You may have thought that you’ve opened all your gifts, but the state of Ohio has one more for you – and it’s a good one.  Launching next week, the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program [http://development.ohio.gov/bs/bs_wtvp.htm] will provide $20 million in cash to businesses that provide certain training for their employees.  If your business is in one of the program’s targeted industries, you could qualify for up to $4,000 per employee.  (more…)

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What Are 5 Things You Should Do Financially At the Beginning of the Year?

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
As a small business owner, the beginning of the year is a busy time. It’s January and you’re trying to determine what the New Year will bring. One of the keys to being a successful business owner is taking a break from the day-to-day routine and spending some time doing valuable planning. This is sometimes referred to as working on your business, not just working in your business. To help you with this process, here are five things you should consider doing as a small business owner as you start the New Year.  (more…)
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How Can Your Ohio Business Benefit from the Utica Shale Play?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Ohio is in the early stages of what may be a large oil & gas boom. The state overlays a large shale play called the Utica Shale. However in recent months, news from the oil patch has slowed as oil & gas companies have cut back on efforts to lease additional mineral interests, and are instead focused on exploration. But while news of the play has been quiet, that doesn’t mean the business opportunity is any less. (more…)

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How Do You Get a Handle on Your Inventory?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Inventory management can have a very direct impact not only on your profit but also the cash flow of your business. Inaccurate inventory will directly affect your business profit. If the inventory is too high, you may be paying tax on higher profits than you actually have. If it is too low, you run the risk of understating taxable income and, if audited, the IRS can hit you with back taxes and penalties. (more…)

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How Can Lease Holders Benefit from the Utica Shale Play?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Much has been written about the Utica shale development phenomena since it first arrived on the scene in eastern Ohio. The topics of discussion are numerous and include tax planning and environmental impact, just to name a few.  But, for the most part, discussion of the Utica shale involves two main parties of interest:

  • Acquisition/exploration/production companies and supporting casts
  • Landowner/mineral interest entities (“lease holders”) (more…)
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Do You Understand the New ERISA Fee Disclosures?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

408(b)(2) Regulations Help Meet Fiduciary Responsibilities

Are you wondering why there is so much buzz these days about ERISA Section 408(b)(2) fee disclosures? After all, your service provider tells you what you pay for the services provided, right? Maybe.

Service provider pricing and compensation can be structured many different ways, so it may prove difficult for you, a responsible plan fiduciary (RPF), to evaluate plan fees. The Department of Labor (DOL) recognizes this and, in  408(b)(2) regulations, is mandating what information is to be disclosed to help you assess the reasonableness of fees paid for by the plan. The regulations also aim to help identify conflicts of interest that may impact a service provider’s performance. (more…)

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Can Benchmarking Uncover Money Hiding in Your Retirement Plan?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Benchmarking may result in potential savings

Could you use an extra $26,000 a year? A plumbing company realized that savings after discovering it was overpaying recordkeeping and investment fees in its retirement plan.

By benchmarking the plan, this company saw how the fees compared to plans of a similar size across the country. This provided the plan sponsor with solid data to discuss fees with current providers.

While there are plans out there where reasonable fees are being paid, that’s not the case in every situation. From a law firm that saved $46,000 in investment fees to an administrative services firm that reduced its annual recordkeeping fees by $50,000, some plan sponsors have found that their plan fees are not in-line with similar plans. (more…)

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Where does Fraud Happen?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

When we speak to clients about fraud prevention, they’re often overwhelmed. They often think they can’t possibly be watching every part of their operations all the time. Fraud doesn’t occur equally in all parts of an organization’s operation and is often committed in the same ways: false invoicing, fake vendors and inappropriate employee expense reimbursements. By watching for easy-to-spot signs in each of these areas, organizations can go a long way towards preventing fraud. (more…)

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How do you identify potential fraudsters?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

As auditors, we often hear about fraud after the fact. We’re asked to investigate what went wrong and how it happened. Organizations should not wait until after the fact to identify fraud. Through risk assessment and management processes, organizations can identify potential fraud and act to prevent it. (more…)

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What are the 12 qualities you want from your accountant?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

When you’re looking to hire an accountant, what qualities should you consider? Sure there’s technical acumen, but that’s a given. What other qualities are important in developing a long-term business relationship? (more…)

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How do you create a succession plan?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

One measure of great business leaders is that their businesses continue to thrive once they leave their positions.  Visionary leaders captain the ship today while making plans for someone else to take the helm tomorrow.  Proactive succession planning allows businesses to continue their smooth sailing long after the captain abandons ship. (more…)

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What does the new ERISA regulation mean for plan sponsors?

Friday, March 30th, 2012

If your company sponsors a 401k plan, a new ERISA regulation could mean extra paperwork… and potentially extra liability. (more…)

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How do you increase cash flow?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Contrary to popular opinion, profits are not the pulse of business. You can’t spend profits. Most companies go out of business because they lack quality cash flow — not because they lack profits or assets. (more…)

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How can your accountant help your business get the necessary financing?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Your accountant can help your business get financing in a number of ways.

Preparing documents. Lenders want to receive financial information in a specific format, and also want year-end and interim financial statements on a timely basis. Your accountant can help. (more…)

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Is the Price Right?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Could you be charging more for your products or services? Every smart business owner is continually analyzing people costs and product and market profitability.  (more…)

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Is Your Buy-Sell Agreement Up-to-Date?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

When two or more people want to co-own a business, the buy-sell agreement should be one of the first documents that is created. The buy-sell agreement determines what will happen if a co-owner wants to leave the business, retire, sell shares to someone else, dies or goes through a divorce. (more…)

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Do You Have a Business Pre-nup?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

No one enters a relationship wanting to get jilted. It’s true whether you’re entering a business together or a marriage together – and the consequences can be even more painful if you’re doing both at the same time. (more…)

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Does New 1099 Reporting Affect You?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

If your business has paid at least $600 in professional services or other payments in 2011, you may be subject to a new 1099 reporting requirement as you begin to file your 2011 taxes. (more…)

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Thinking of Doing InvestOhio? Additional Guidance Released

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Approximately 70 percent of the $100 million in tax credits remain available for Ohio’s InvestOhio nonrefundable tax credit program. Through InvestOhio, Ohio you can invest in qualifying Ohio small businesses as an individual taxpayer. Then, you can receive a credit for 10 percent of the amount invested against their personal Ohio income tax if they meet certain requirements. (more…)

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Is Your Business Ready for a Year-End Check-Up?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

2012 will be here before we know it. Now is the perfect time to bring all of your business advisors together for a year-end financial check up. (more…)

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Got GAAP? Private Companies Asked to Comment on National Financial Reporting Standards

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Private companies have a once in a lifetime opportunity to express their concerns to standards setters that private company financial reporting is far different from publicly traded ones – and as a result financial reporting standards should be created and governed by an independent private company board. (more…)

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Are You Ready for the Next Phase of InvestOhio?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Recently we’ve been telling you about Ohio’s new nonrefundable tax credit program called InvestOhio. Through it, Ohio taxpayers who invest in qualifying Ohio small businesses can qualify for a 10 percent credit against their personal Ohio income tax if they meet certain requirements. In less than two weeks, taxpayers can begin the second step in the application process for this tax credit. (more…)

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Ready for a Walk Through Ohio’s Use Tax Amnesty Process?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

If you owe use tax, you currently have an opportunity to save thousands of dollars in use tax, interest and penalties thanks to Ohio’s use tax amnesty program. The program is one of the most taxpayer-friendly programs ever enacted by the State of Ohio. (more…)

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Need Help Understanding Employee Healthcare Benefit Reporting on W-2s?

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

The IRS recently held a webinar to explain its reporting requirements for healthcare coverage on employees’ W2’s for the 2011 tax year. We’ve provided a summary of the webinar below for those of you who missed it. (more…)

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Guarantor Requirementsfor Ohio Use Tax Payment Plan Changed

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

The requirements for participating in the State of Ohio’s use tax amnesty program’s payment program just got a little easier. (more…)

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Are You Ready for the InvestOhio Tax Credit? Register for Tax Credit This Week

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Ohio taxpayers who invest in a qualifying Ohio small business can qualify for a 10 percent credit against their Ohio income tax if they meet certain requirements  – and they can now apply for the credit. (more…)

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Are You Secure? Cyber Security Targets Employee Benefit Accounts

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

In July 2011, federal solutions group RSA’s Anti-Fraud Command Center detected more than 25,000 phishing attacks, the most recorded in a one-month period.  A part of the reason: Employees are increasingly being deceived into providing personal information through their employee benefit accounts. (more…)

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Going, Gone? Tax Provisions that Could End in 2012

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Late in the year last year, Congress extended several tax law provisions but only for a short period of time. Below are items that may expire at the end of this year if no action is taken by Congress. (more…)

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Do You Understand Michigan’s Business Tax Changes?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

We recently reported that Michigan is changing their tax structure effective January 1, 2012. In a nutshell, Michigan is replacing the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) with a Corporate Income Tax (CIT). Changes coming with the new CIT include a 6 percent tax imposed on C corporations only, making Michigan’s corporate income tax rate the lowest in the Midwest. (more…)

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Are You Taking Advantage of This Year’s Federal and State Hiring Tax Credits and Incentives?

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

State and federal governments have made a number of tax incentives and credits available to employers in 2011 to help stimulate the stagnating economy. In many cases, your company may not see the tax benefit until it files its 2011 taxes, but this delayed benefit should not stop you from considering them. (more…)

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Wrong Worker Classification? IRS Offers Voluntary Settlement

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Employers who have erroneously treated workers as nonemployees or independent contractors now have an opportunity to get into compliance with the IRS through a low-cost, voluntary reclassification program. (more…)

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Have You Received an IRS Notice? Nine Things to Know

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

The Internal Revenue Service sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers for a variety of reasons each year. Here are some things to know if you receive one. (more…)

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Want to Lessen Chances of a DOL Inquiry? Ten Tips

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

The Department of Labor (DOL) enforces fiduciary, reporting and disclosure requirements for employee benefit plans. The agency is recruiting more investigators, so DOL investigations will be on the rise. (more…)

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President Obama’s Jobs Bill: How Would It Impact Your Business?

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Last week, President Obama outlined the American Jobs Act, his jobs creation bill, which he will soon send to Congress. The bill includes a number of tax components which could impact your business, if the legislation passes Congress. Among them: (more…)

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How Can I Apply for Ohio’s Use Tax Amnesty Program?

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

By now you may have heard that the Ohio Department of Taxation has changed the process for businesses and individuals to voluntarily come forward to declare use tax they owe. A voluntary disclosure program that started earlier this year was suspended when the Ohio legislature approved a new Use Tax Amnesty Program as part of the biennial budget bill. (more…)

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Understand Ohio’s New Use Tax Amnesty Program?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

A new use tax amnesty program in Ohio will provide businesses with a one-time opportunity to save thousands of dollars in use tax, interest and penalties. This program was established by the Ohio legislature as part of Ohio’s biennial budget bill that passed in early July 2011.  Ohio’s amnesty program is one of the most taxpayer-friendly programs ever enacted by the State of Ohio. (more…)

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Have Offshore Income? Time is Running Out for Voluntary Disclosure

Friday, August 26th, 2011

If you have undisclosed income through offshore accounts, time is running out to voluntarily disclose it and bring your taxes current. The IRS is winding down a voluntary disclosure program that began February 8 and will end on August 31. (more…)

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Heard about Ohio’s Use Tax Amnesty Program? Learn More at Our Webinar

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Rea & Associates, Inc. will host a webinar detailing Ohio’s use tax amnesty program on Thursday, September 8. The webinar will provide details on what the amnesty program does, how it will work and what steps businesses should take to participate.

What is the Ohio Use Tax Amnesty Program?

The Ohio legislature established Ohio’s use tax amnesty program as part of Ohio’s biennial budget bill that passed in early July 2011. It is an improved version of the voluntary disclosure agreement program (VDA) that has existed for some time. Among other things, the new law eliminates several years of unpaid use tax liabilities for over 300,000 Ohio businesses, by:

  • Shortening the statute of limitations
  • Shortening the look-back period for amnesty participants
  • Abating all penalties and interest for amnesty participants
  • Providing a payment plan for those who cannot pay the entire use tax due

We will provide details about what to do if your business enrolled in the use tax voluntary disclosure program earlier this year. The VDA program is still open for taxpayers who don’t qualify for amnesty. However, guidance from Ohio indicates that all taxpayers qualifying for the amnesty program will need to use this new amnesty program, even if they have a VDA in process.

Ohio’s use tax amnesty program will operate October 1, 2011 through May 1, 2013, and applies to businesses that have not been issued a formal assessment as of early July 2011. We’ll walk webinar participants through Ohio’s use tax amnesty enrollment process step-by-step.

The new amnesty program will provide Ohio businesses with a one-time opportunity to save thousands of dollars in use tax, interest and penalties. It is one of the most taxpayer-friendly programs ever enacted by the State of Ohio. As our government looks for additional revenue, it’s certainly possible that this program could change or be eliminated at a later date – so be sure to take advantage of it now while it is in effect.

To learn more or register for the webinar, click here.

Contact Our Ohio Use Tax Professionals

If you are unsure what to do regarding the Ohio Use Tax Amnesty Program, then contact us now! For additional information please contact Chad Bice, CPA at  740.454.3198, or click here to contact Chad. In a brief consultation he can assess your situation and determine the best way to proceed.
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Less Ohio Tax Centers, No Tax Booklets, But Still Many Resources

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

With more Ohio taxpayers now filing state returns electronically, the Ohio Department of Taxation has closed seven regional taxpayer centers and will no longer mail its income tax booklets to taxpayers. (more…)

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Investing in a Small Business? Get InvestOhio Tax Credit

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Ohio taxpayers and pass-through entities can now receive a non-refundable income tax credit for qualifying investments to acquire an equity interest in a small business through a program called InvestOhio. Investors may claim up to $1 million ($2 million for married taxpayers filing jointly) through the new tax credit every two years. Any unused portion of the credit can be carried forward seven years. (more…)

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What Kind of Fiduciary Are You?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Over the years, I’ve worked with many clients who served as fiduciaries for their company’s retirement plan. It’s a serious position. When you serve as a fiduciary, the position comes with responsibility outlined by ERISA, including keeping track of reasonable fees, completing and following an investment policy and providing guidance to participants. Unfortunately, plan fiduciaries who do not fulfill their duties can be found liable by the Department of Labor, and participants have also successfully sued fiduciaries in civil actions. (more…)

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Want Some Good Business News? BWC Base Rates Reduced 4 Percent

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

The Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation’s board of directors recently approved a four percent reduction in workers’ compensation base rates for private employers. The new rate became effective July 1, and will result in a collective cut in premiums of around $65 million for Ohio businesses. The new rates will be reflected in the next BWC payroll report. (more…)

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Confused About Ohio’s New Use Tax Amnesty?

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

As we’ve mentioned over the past several weeks, Ohio businesses have a one-time opportunity to save thousands of dollars in use tax, interest and penalties thanks to a new use tax amnesty program. This program was recently established by the Ohio legislature as part of Ohio’s biennial budget bill that passed in early July 2011.  Ohio’s amnesty program is one of the most taxpayer-friendly programs ever enacted by the State of Ohio. (more…)

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Want some good news? Ohio tops in manufacturing, logistics

Friday, July 15th, 2011

According to a report by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, Ohio is one of only two states in the country to earn an A in manufacturing and logistics. And the Center predicts manufacturing to hit all-time highs in 2011 and 2012. (more…)

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Want a More Efficient 401K Audit? Here’s How

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Employee benefit plan audits are deadline-driven, and can require plenty of documentation and interaction with your auditor. Delays could mean fees and/or penalties –as well as higher audit fees than originally estimated. (more…)

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Ohio’s Use Tax Amnesty Program

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
Your Ohio business has a one-time opportunity to lessen your use tax liability due to a use tax amnesty measure recently passed as part of Ohio’s budget bill. It’s one of the most taxpayer-friendly laws the State of Ohio has ever enacted. (more…)
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A One-Time Opportunity? Proposed Ohio Use Tax Amnesty Program Explained

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Ohio businesses may have a one-time opportunity to lessen their use tax liability due to a use tax amnesty measure in Ohio’s current budget bill. If passed, the law could be one of the most taxpayer-friendly laws ever enacted by the State of Ohio.

Note: Ohio has established its tax amnesty program since this post was originally created. Please click here for the most recent information. (more…)

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Higher Gas Prices Mean Higher Business Mileage Deduction

Friday, June 24th, 2011

In a nod to higher gas prices, the IRS has increased the business mileage rate deduction to 55.5 cents per mile.   The new rate becomes effective July 1 and raises the rate 4.5 cents.   The deduction for medical and moving expenses also increases 4.5 cents to 23.5 cents per mile.  (more…)

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Determining a Retirement Beneficiary? It Isn’t Always Simple

Monday, June 20th, 2011

A single dad wanted to designate his two children as beneficiaries of his retirement benefits. He mailed his beneficiary designation form to his employer with a cover letter explaining his wishes. When he later died, the benefits administrator noticed the designation form wasn’t signed. Should the plan assets pass to the estate or the children? (more…)

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Balloon Mortgage Payment Coming Due for Your Business? Consider SBA Commercial Mortgage Refi

Friday, June 17th, 2011

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is accepting currently accepting applications for a commercial mortgage refinancing program that was created as part of the Small Business Jobs Act. (more…)

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Live or Do Business in Michigan? Tax Amnesty Ends Soon

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The Michigan Department of Treasury is providing an opportunity for delinquent taxpayers to pay their taxes while avoiding penalty charges and criminal prosecution, but time is running out to participate in the program. (more…)

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Ohio Use Tax Audits Find Big Liabilities from Small Items

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Note: Ohio has established a tax amnesty program since this post was originally created. Please click here for the most recent information.

Keeping meticulous records has never been more important than it is today. With today’s governmental agencies looking for additional dollars, they’re not going to give you the benefit of the doubt should your business be audited for use tax. Consider these two recent cases: (more…)

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Employees on the Fence? Ten Reasons to Join Your Ohio 401(k)

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

In spite of recent history in the stock market, when you compare 401(k) plans to other savings plans available to employees, the 401(k) plan has many positive points. Here are ten reasons your employees should participate. (more…)

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Live or Do Business in Michigan? Your Tax Laws Are Changing!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

In late May, the Michigan legislature voted to make dramatic changes to Michigan’s corporate and individual income tax laws. The measure repeals the Michigan Business Tax and eliminates numerous individual income tax credits, deductions and exemptions as well as changes future income tax rates. (more…)

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Do You Owe Use Tax? See These Commonly Taxed Items

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Use tax is one of those taxes that can sneak up on your business. And unfortunately, the State of Ohio has begun efforts to increase its education and enforcement of use tax. The Ohio Department of Taxation has already identified 380,000 businesses that do not have use tax accounts, and will soon be sending notices to bring them into compliance.

Note: Ohio has established a tax amnesty program since this post was originally created. Please click here for the most recent information.

(more…)

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Are You Celebrating National Small Business Week?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

May 16-20 is National Small Business Week, and several organizations are providing materials, events and other tools to help small businesses. (more…)

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Are You a Manufacturer? Purchase Now For More Tax Benefit

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

If you purchase equipment in 2011, you can take advantage of greater depreciation bonus expensing, but you have to plan ahead. Here are some considerations. (more…)

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What If Will and Kate Married in the US? Financial Advice for Newlyweds

Friday, May 13th, 2011

As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge settle into married life, they may manage many of the same financial issues that any other newlyweds face with a new union. So, what if William and Kate got married in the United States instead? What financial advice might they receive that soon-to-be brides and grooms might also heed? (more…)

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Overwithheld FICA taxes in 2011? Here’s how to fix it

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

What is the proper procedure for those who over-withheld Social Security taxes early on in 2011, but failed to make the proper adjustment prior to the March 31 filing deadline? How should the first quarter 2011 Form 941 be filed?  Should adjustments be made as soon as possible?  I am unable to find any help on the government sites. (more…)

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Are you following fiduciary best practices?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

If you operate a retirement plan, you’re probably well aware that your position as a fiduciary is facing increasing scrutiny – and increasing liability and risk. In addition to increasing rules from the Department of Labor, recent lawsuits and settlements have highlighted the “significant potential liability for breach of fiduciary duty.” (more…)

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Have Questions About Ohio Use Tax? See Our Resource Center

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

As we’ve been telling you over the past few weeks, the state of Ohio is about to step up its efforts to enforce its use tax law. To help businesses better understand and comply with Ohio’s use tax law, Rea & Associates recently created the Ohio Use Tax Resource Center, an online resource center. As far as we know, it’s the only resource center of its kind available to Ohio businesses.

Note: Ohio has established a tax amnesty program since this post was originally created. Please click here for the most recent information.

(more…)

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Looking at Target Date Retirement Funds? Here Are Some Considerations

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Does your company provide target date funds as an option in its 401(k) plan?  Many 401(k) plans use them as the default investment for plan participants who do not select their investments under the plan. Target date funds do make investing much easier for participants by automating the asset allocation process, but they still require careful consideration both before and after the investment decision is made. (more…)

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What’s the Latest on 1099 Reporting?

Friday, April 15th, 2011

When it comes to 1099 reporting rules, it’s out with the new and in with the old. (more…)

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Is This Really A Message From The IRS?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

It’s that time of year when unsuspecting taxpayers receive suspicious emails, phone calls, faxes or notices claiming to be from the IRS. Many of the scams use the IRS name or logo to appear more authentic. (more…)

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What’s The Impact If I Don’t Comply With Ohio Use Tax?

Monday, April 4th, 2011

For the past few weeks. we’ve been talking about the state of Ohio’s stepped up enforcement of its use tax law. So what happens if you don’t comply?

Note: Ohio has established a tax amnesty program since this post was originally created. Please click here for the most recent information.

(more…)

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Why Should I Enter An Ohio Use Tax VDA Now?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

If your company doesn’t currently pay Ohio use tax, you will soon.

The Ohio Department of Taxation is stepping up its use tax enforcement. The department is conducting a use tax education program (UTEP) and will begin notifying businesses about their use tax liability this summer.

Note: Ohio has established a tax amnesty program since this post was originally created. Please click here for the most recent information.

(more…)

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Doing Your Own Payroll? Deadline to Reimburse Social Security Overwithholding Nears

Friday, March 25th, 2011

If your company does its own payroll, make sure you have reimbursed any 2011 Social Security taxes that may have been overwithheld to your employees by March 31. (more…)

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What Does Ohio Use Tax Mean to You? Learn More in this Webinar

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Ohio’s Department of Taxation is getting serious about its enforcement of the state’s use tax law – and the longer you wait to comply, the more it will cost you.

Note: Ohio has established a tax amnesty program since this post was originally created. Please click here for the most recent information.

(more…)

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Worried about Ohio Use Tax? If Not, You Should Be

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Ohio’s Department of Taxation is getting serious about its enforcement of the state’s use tax law. Use tax is a tax that wasn’t paid, but should have been, on taxable property or servicesyour business purchased. It most often occurs when a business purchases goods in-state, out-of-state or over the Internet, and the retailer does not collect Ohio sales tax.

Note: Ohio has established a tax amnesty program since this post was originally created. Please click here for the most recent information.

(more…)

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Does Ohio’s tax code match the federal code?

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Governor Kasich recently signed into law House Bill 58.  This new law updates the version of the Internal Revenue Code that Ohio uses to include the end-of-the-year changes that the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 made to federal law.  (more…)

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Not Communicating Health Benefits? ERISA Could Fine Your Company

Friday, March 11th, 2011

An Illinois healthcare company was fined $5,880 by a judge in U.S. District Court for not complying with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s provision by delaying to provide a summary plan description (SPD) to a plan participant beneficiary. (more…)

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Do You Export? Lower Your Taxes with IC-DISC

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

If your manufacturing company has $1 million or more in export sales each year, or if you sell products that are ultimately destined for use overseas, you may benefit from a tax tool that was extended along with the Bush tax cuts in December. (more…)

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Are You Paying Ohio Use Tax?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Ohio’s Department of Taxation is stepping up efforts to enforce its use tax law in 2011. If your company does not have a use tax account, it’s no longer a question of if, but when, the department will contact you. (more…)

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What delights your customers?

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Ask any kid where he or she wants to go on vacation. Most, without hesitation, would say Disney World. (The same goes for a number of adults, too.) Disney World isn’t just an amusement park – it’s a place to escape and enter into a different world. A magical world full of fun and experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime.  (more…)

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If my Michigan company sells goods in North Carolina, do I file a NC return?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

A business owner asks: If I have an LLC in Michigan but sell my product in North Carolina, do I have to file a tax return in North Carolina? If so, what type?

That’s a great question, in fact it touches on one of the questions in state and local taxation today – do I have nexus with a state and if so, what kind of return do I need to file there. (more…)

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Can you make better use of your business cash?

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Can you make better use of the cash you have on hand for your business? Develop a strategy to get the highest rate of return: 1) calculate a 12 month rolling cash projection to forecast cash deficits and surpluses, and 2) update your daily or weekly cash position to determine the extra cash your business has available. (more…)

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Doing business in Michigan? You may have to file a tax return

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Single member limited liability companies and qualified subsidiaries may have a new filing requirement in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Treasury recently issued a notice to taxpayers stating that entities and persons disregarded for federal tax purposes are required to file a Michigan business tax return if they meeting the filing threshold. (more…)

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How do I keep my succession plan on course?

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

The future of your family business might not be in the front of your mind as you go about your day-to-day routine. But if you have a defined plan that everyone is aware of, you can more effectively prepare for a successful transition when the time comes to put it into place. (more…)

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Do Red Flag Rules apply to Physicians, Attorneys or Accountants?

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

The identity theft protection measures known as the “Red Flag Rules” will not apply to physicians, attorneys and accountants, thanks to legislation passed by the US Congress and signed by President Obama in late December 2010. (more…)

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What do the tax extensions mean to my business?

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (HR 4853), signed by President Obama on Friday, December 17, 2010, contains several provisions that will impact businesses. Below is a quick roundup of the provisions for businesses. Most of the provisions below are scheduled to sunset on 12/31/20112, unless otherwise noted. (more…)

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Isn’t Extending the Bush Tax Cuts A Temporary Fix?

Friday, December 17th, 2010

While some may be breathing a sigh of relief now that the brokered tax package has passed through Congress and is being signed by President Obama, others among us are becoming increasingly alarmed at the “temporary” nature of our tax laws – and the impact these temporary fixes will have on our long-term planning. (more…)

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How Does Communication, Timing Impact My Business Succession Plan?

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Over the past few weeks, we have discussed steps to follow when you develop a succession plan for your business. First, we made the decision to do a succession plan. We looked at the value of the business. We explored all of the options for transition. And we determined your personal and professional goals and those of your family and key personnel. Now it’s time to set a course of action. (more…)

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Should I respond to that DOL Employee Benefit Notice?

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

If your company is required to file the employee benefit plan form 5500 or 5500-EZ, and receives a notice of a proposed penalty, be sure to respond to the notice within 30 days. (more…)

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Will some professionals be exempt from red flag rules?

Monday, December 6th, 2010

For several months we’ve been telling you about “Red Flag” rules, which require businesses to implement anti-identity theft policies. Originally scheduled to become effective January 1, 2008, the rules have been granted a series of extensions to the deadline for compliance by the FTC.   (more…)

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Where does everyone stand in your business succession plan?

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

When you own a family business, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities. And it can be easy to put off having those important, strategic discussions with your family about the future of your business. However, communication between you and your family becomes an essential ingredient of a successful business transition. (more…)

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How can you help your employees save for retirement?

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Although a higher percent of American workers are participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans, retirees may still not be saving enough for their retirement and may risk outliving their retirement assets. More individuals are also withdrawing retirement savings before they actually retire. Those are the findings in a report recently released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). (more…)

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Are you ready for a year-end financial check-up for your business?

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

As the year comes to an end, now is the perfect time to bring all of your business advisors together for a year-end financial check up. Make it a point to set up a meeting with your accounting, legal, estate planning, investment and retirement planning advisors at the end of each year to get a check up of your business and personal financial health. If you have partners in the business, they should also be included in this meeting. (more…)

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Fraud: Could It Happen To You?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

The 12-year employee at a city school managing adult education programs had her colleagues’ respect. But she made lavish purchases to redecorate her home and constantly gave gifts to others, and some wondered where the money was coming from. (more…)

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Succession Planning: Do You Know Your Options?

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Are you actively planning a transition for the business you worked so hard to build? The majority of North American businesses are family-owned, yet just about 30 percent make it to the second generation. Even fewer reach the third generation. As more and more business owners prepare to retire, more and more businesses will face the issue of succession – whether they are prepared or not. This article discusses the third in a series of tips to help family-owned businesses begin the succession planning process. (more…)

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Can the IRS now audit my QuickBooks files?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

In your next IRS audit, don’t be surprised if the agent requests a copy of your QuickBooks files instead of your printed general ledger. The agency has purchased 1,100 user license agreements for the software program and recently completed training its agents on the software. The IRS can also accept Peachtree accounting software files. (more…)

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Have you included a business valuation in your succession plan?

Friday, November 5th, 2010

In an earlier post we discussed the important step of making the decision to begin the succession planning process. Once you have made the decision to begin the process, knowing the value of your business is the second crucial step in the transition plan. (more…)

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Why can’t federal agencies communicate with us more clearly?

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Actually, federal agencies will soon be required to communicate more clearly with us. Earlier this month, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act, which will require federal government agencies, including the IRS, to write public documents in easy-to-understand language. This means items such as tax forms, federal student aid applications, Veteran’s Administration forms and even form letters from the IRS will receive a makeover. (more…)

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PKV

Monday, November 1st, 2010

the useful ideas u provided do help the investigation for my company, thanks.

- Lucas

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how do you evaluate and price a product line for sale?

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The price paid for a product line (or a business) is typically determined by a return on investment (ROI) calculation. The buyer estimates the future benefit stream from the product line and then determines the required rate of return that is needed to entice them to purchase it. The required rate of return is a function of how risky the future benefit stream is.  If the future benefit is in doubt or risky, the required rate of return will be higher. There is an inverse relationship between the required rate of return and the value of a product line. Our job as business valuators is to determine what the future benefit stream will be and what is the proper rate of return required for that benefit stream.

Whenever you are considering selling a business or a product line it’s important to get a true value by using a professional business evaluation. Usually the seller does not have any experience selling a product line or a business, and not knowing all the facts could cost tens of thousands of dollars. The buyer may be very sophisticated. There are many complex issues in addition to negotiating a price in a transaction that should be considered, such as the terms of a deal and the purchase price allocation. 

The terms include whether the price will be paid in cash or by a note or stock. If there is a note, the question becomes “Will this note be secured?” “Are there conditions required to be met by the seller to be paid?” and “How long will it take to pay back?” Purchase price allocation is critical to any deal. It can be the difference between paying a 15 percent tax rate on your gain or 40 percent tax rate.  

As you can see, there are many considerations to selling a product line or business. Don’t attempt to navigate the complex area of business transactions alone.

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What are the long-term changes in the healthcare legislation?

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Looking into the Future: A Summary of Healthcare Law Changes for 2013 and Beyond

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the related Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (which are collectively referred to as the healthcare legislation) were signed into law in March. The new laws contain a large number of tax changes. Some have nothing to do with healthcare, some won’t kick in for several years, some are effective right now, and some are even retroactively effective. (more…)

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What are the Healthcare Law Changes by Year?

Monday, October 18th, 2010

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the related Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (which are collectively referred to as the healthcare legislation) were signed into law in March, and they include lots of tax changes. Some have nothing to do with healthcare, some won’t kick in for several years, some are effective right now and some are even effective retroactively.

(more…)

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What lending programs will result from Small Business Lending Funding Act?

Friday, October 15th, 2010

When President Obama signed into law last week the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010, the new law created a $30 billion lending fund that will allow the U.S. Department of Treasury to invest in small to medium-sized financial institutions that will be encouraged to increase small business lending. Here is a breakdown of the four lending initiatives established by the law. (more…)

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How ready are you to transition your business?

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Step 1 – Making the Decision

How will you transition your business to the next generation when it’s time to leave? If you are like more than 70 percent of family business owners, you’ve put off making this important decision. And without preparation, most family-owned businesses are not successful in making the ownership change when the time comes. This post is the first of six tips we will provide to help family-owned businesses begin the succession planning process. (more…)

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How will you manage nevertirees?

Friday, October 8th, 2010

The economy impacted a lot of Americans, and many of them are staying on the job longer as a result. Some love what they do too much to walk away, others want to stay mentally active and the rest simply can’t afford to stop working. (more…)

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How will the Small Business Lending Act impact my business?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Small Business Lending Funding Act Establishes Four Lending Programs

When President Obama signed into law last week the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010, the new law created a $30 billion lending fund that will allow the U.S. Department of Treasury to invest in small to medium-sized financial institutions that will in turn be encouraged to increase small business lending. Here is a breakdown of the four lending initiatives established by the law.

Small Business Lending Fund. Administered by the U.S. Treasury, the Small Business Lending Fund will award a capital investment to eligible banks with assets under $10 billion. The banks can receive up to a small percentage of their risk-weighted assets, and receive essentially an incentive loan that must be repaid within 10 years. The banks must lend additional funds to small businesses as well as appropriate advertising. The fund also includes a pilot program that will allow non-profit intermediaries to make loans to small businesses at 1 percent interest over a 20-year term. The non-profit intermediaries can loan up to $200,000 per small business through the pilot program.

State Small Business Credit Initiative. A seven-year State Small Business Credit Initiative will be administered by the U.S. Treasury. Treasury will allocate federal funds to participating states with capital access programs. States can qualify for the funds by demonstrating that their capital access programs meet performance and eligibility requirements, including access to capital for businesses with less than 500 employees, minority-owned businesses and those in underserved communities. New programs can also qualify for the federal funds.

Small Business Early Stage Investment Program. The new law amends the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to establish an early-stage investment program to provide equity investment financing for early-stage small businesses. The program will be managed by the administrator of the Small Business Administration.

Small Business Borrower Assistance Program. Also as part of the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010, the Small Business Administration is directed to implement an assistance program that provides payments to lenders of principle and interest on qualifying guaranteed business loans of up to $300,000. Every borrower receiving a qualifying small business loan will be automatically enrolled in the program unless the borrower opts out. The SBA’s administrator is required to commit an amount to each borrower equal to 6 percent of the principle disbursed amount of the borrower’s qualifying loan.

The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 also contains roughly $12 million in tax breaks and incentives. We will be reporting on the various tax implications of the new law in the weeks to come.

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Are Federal Payroll Tax Deposits Going Paperless?

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Regulations recently proposed by the IRS will eliminate the ability to make payroll tax deposits using paper coupons. The proposed rule changes are meant to coincide with the Treasury’s move to no longer maintain the paper coupon system after December 31, 2010. (more…)

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Do you have trouble remembering people’s names?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

We’ve all been in a networking situation where we’ve forgotten the name of the person we just met. The contact ends, the potential connection is lost and with it, any hope of a business or social relationship. How you deal with people’s names in a social situation can have a profound impact on their impression of you. So what can you do to improve your ability to remember people’s names? (more…)

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Is October 1 the Deadline for Establishing Simple IRA?

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Small businesses have until October 1 to set up a Simple IRA for 2010. Failure to set up the plan by this date will mean that contributions cannot be made for 2010.   (more…)

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How can accounting standards be improved for privately held businesses?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

At Rea & Associates, we believe some elements of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, create an excessive burden for closely held businesses and the accounting firms that serve them. Although GAAP principles work well for publicly-traded businesses, financial reporting requirements as a result of some of the principles take a great deal of time to prepare and result in additional accounting expenses for our clients – without providing any benefit to the businesses or those who use the financial information. (more…)

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How can technology help your non-profit?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Can technology help you solve some of your nonprofit’s biggest challenges? In a word, yes, in many cases. Every organization is looking for ways to do more with less, and technology can serve as the additional person on your staff to help make things happen. (more…)

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How is SOX Impacting Construction Relationships?

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, (or SOX), set new or enhanced federal accounting standards for public companies as a reaction to a number of corporate and accounting scandals that cost investors billions of dollars. Passed into law in 2002, SOX appears to be having a trickle-down effect on construction companies and their publicly-held company clients. (more…)

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Are Research and Development Tax Credits Dead?

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Although R & D tax credits expired at the end of last year, Congress has made a few attempts to continue them by passing an extenders bill. So far, those attempts have not been successful, but most tax experts believe R&D credit will be passed and that Congress will make the tax breaks available for 2010.

Click here to learn more about R&D credits and how they can help your business.

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Could Your Company Benefit by Hiring Unemployed Workers?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

The U.S. Department of the Treasury estimates that, between February and May, businesses hired 4.5 million workers who had previously been unemployed for eight weeks or longer. As a result, those businesses are eligible to receive part of up to $8.5 billion in tax exemptions and credits through the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, known as the HIRE Act. (more…)

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Can medical residents and their employers get FICA refunds?

Friday, August 20th, 2010

If you were a medical resident between the late 1990s and 2005, the IRS may owe you a FICA tax refund. The same is true for medical colleges and teaching hospitals that employed residents during this time.

(more…)

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How Does the Wall Street Reform Act Impact Me and My Business?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

When President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law last month, the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government enacted the most sweeping changes in financial reform legislation since the 1930s. The new law will impact both businesses and individuals. Below are a few of the highlights. (more…)

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Guess Who’s a Top 100 Accounting Firm?

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Rea & Associates was recently named to the Top 100 Accounting Firms in the Nation by INSIDE Public Accounting, an accounting industry publication. We are pleased to be recognized once again by our peers. Rea doesn’t strive to be one of the largest firms in the county, but we do strive to provide small-town attention with a high level of expertise to our clients. We’re grateful to our clients for allowing us to continue to share in their success, and humbled by the word-of-mouth advertising they share with our prospects. (more…)

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Could your business benefit from location-based sales?

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Consumers are depending more and more on mobile devices – so it may make sense to use this technology in your promotional strategy. (more…)

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How will new 1099 reporting impact my business?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Businesses could see significant changes in how they report transactions on 1099 forms, thanks to a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (more…)

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Is it time for your six month financial check-up?

Friday, August 6th, 2010

It’s hard to believe, but 2010 is already half-way over.  How are you doing at hitting your financial goals for the year, and are you taking advantage of the tax benefits this year is bringing? It’s time to consider a six-month financial check-up. Here are some items to consider for the remainder of the year. (more…)

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Can a business life insurance policy provide revenue?

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

 

Does your business own a life insurance policy on a key employee? If the policy is no longer needed, it may be tempting to let the policy lapse, but that could be a costly mistake. Instead, convert the policy into revenue through a life settlement. (more…)

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Have Red Flag Rules been delayed again?

Friday, July 30th, 2010

At the request of several members of Congress. the Federal Trade Commission has delayed the compliance deadline for “Red Flag” rules, which require businesses to implement anti-identity theft policies. Originally scheduled to become effective January 1, 2008, the rules have been granted a series of extension by the FTC. The latest moves the deadline from June 1, 2010, to December 31, 2010. (more…)

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Do You Auto-Enroll Employees in Your 401k?

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Large employers are hesitant to institute automatic enrollment for their retirement savings plans, according to a recent survey conducted by AARP. Nearly 60 percent of the employers surveyed noted that they did not have automatic enrollment in the 401(k) plans. (more…)

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Is it time to start planning the sale of your business?

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Every business strategy should include an exit plan for leaving the business. This can hinge on the owner’s personal financial and estate planning efforts, and a successful transition depends on many factors. (more…)

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Can Changing My Business Entity Improve Tax Treatment?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

The expected increase in individual income tax rates next year has some small business owners wondering if now is the time to change their entity structures. Which structure is best for your business is a complex question – and the answer is different for everyone. The following are issues to consider if you are facing this question. (more…)

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Can You Explain the Concept of Waste in Lean Six Sigma?

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The management philosophy of Lean Six Sigma is centered on improving efficiency and effectiveness in your business.  We use the acronym Downtime +A to describe to nine categories of waste that is commonly found in processes: (more…)

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What does the recently-passed Medicare rate bill mean to healthcare providers?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

 

It’s a mixed scenario for healthcare providers who accept Medicare patients. In late June, Congress passed a bill to once again extend Medicare payment rates to physicians, hospitals and other healthcare service providers until November 30, 2010. (more…)

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Is there a tax credit for therapeutic products and technology?

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Yes, there is. If your small company develops products or technology that diagnose, treat or prevent diseases, you may be eligible to apply for tax credits or grants. (more…)

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What changes are in store for flexible spending accounts?

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

As part of the recently passed healthcare reform legislation, flexible spending accounts face two changes that will require employers’ attention. (more…)

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Is your 401K Okay? Tips for managing your company retirement plan

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

The past several months have certainly been rocky for 401k investors. And while the rollercoaster ride may not be over, the stock market appears to be showing signs of improvement. So what can your business do now that the comeback is underway? (more…)

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Does the new DB(k) retirement plan make sense for my business?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Beginning January 1, 2010, businesses with 500 or fewer employees could offer a new plan called a DB(k). The DB(k) was authorized by Congress as part of the 2006 Pension Protection Act. The DB(k) melds a 401(k) savings plan with a small guaranteed income stream.  The key elements of the plan: (more…)

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Can making your building green save on taxes?

Friday, June 18th, 2010

When you upgrade your building for energy efficiency, you can save some cold, hard cash. A major incentive has been in place for several years for building owners who upgrade their systems – whether the building is new or used. (more…)

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Can a vacation improve your health?

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

The vacation season is officially upon us. And while you might be thinking that you can’t afford the time off, consider this: taking a vacation is important for your health. (more…)

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Are Vendors and Customers Checking Up On You?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

In better economic times, banks were the only ones concerned with the financial statements of manufacturers. Today, however, a manufacturer’s customers may also make access to financial information a condition of doing business with them. (more…)

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Which is better, and LLC or S-Corp?

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

When you start a small business, the most popular organizational forms are the limited liability company (LLC) and the S corporation. There are advantages to both, and you can even combine their features. Here’s what to consider: (more…)

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How will Flexible Spending Accounts Change Due to Healthcare Reform?

Monday, June 7th, 2010

As part of the recently passed healthcare reform legislation, flexible spending accounts face two changes that will require employers’ attention. (more…)

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Can My Organization Earn A Tax Credit For Paying Employee Health Insurance Premiums?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

If your small business or not-for-profit pays at least half the cost of single coverage for employees, it could be eligible for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of the premiums it pays in 2010. (more…)

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Can Efficiency Help You Make Better Hiring Decisions in an Uncertain Economy?

Friday, May 28th, 2010

The recent economic downturn forced many companies to reduce their workforce to a level more commensurate to revenue. And now that a few “green shoots” of recovery are beginning to sprout, some of them are considering hiring more workers. However, they’re cautious, and not sure the current uptick will last beyond a few months. Is there another way to address your increasing work load? (more…)

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Should I worry about Red Flag Rules?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

On June 1, the Federal Trade Commission begins enforcing “Red Flag” rules, which require businesses to implement anti-identity theft policies. Created through Fair and Accurate Credit Act of 2003, the regulations require businesses that extend credit to consumers to develop a written policy that identifies warning signs and suspicious activities (i.e., red flags) of possible identity theft, and tactics to address and prevent it. If your business defers payment for goods or services, you must follow the Red Flag rules. (more…)

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Is There A Rural Loan Program for Businesses?

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Actually, yes, there is. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering guaranteed loans of up to 90 percent to businesses in communities with populations of less than 50,000 people. The loan program was created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but has not attracted as many takers as officials had hoped. (more…)

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How can the HIRE Act help my business?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

In March, President Barack Obama signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act. The HIRE Act contains several tax items, the biggest of which is a payroll tax holiday for employers who hire qualifying workers – someone who has not worked more than 40 hours during the last 60 days. This employer benefit is for qualifying new employees hired after Feb. 3, 2010, and before Jan. 1, 2011, however, only wages paid after March 18, 2010 qualify for the payroll tax holiday. (more…)

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Is Now a Good Time to Gift Interest in My Business?

Monday, May 10th, 2010

If you’ve been considering gifting interest in your family-owned business or real estate holdings, you’ll certainly get the most “bang for your buck” right now.

The Great Recession wreaked havoc on business values, making your business worth considerably less than it once was. In our recent business valuations, we’re finding business values far below what they were two or three years ago. This means you can pass more stock in your company now than you could in a healthier economy. (more…)

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Are Your Employees Stakeholders in Your Business?

Friday, April 30th, 2010

As you work to improve efficiency and effectiveness in your business, are you fully engaging your employees in helping you? If you follow the management concept of Lean Six Sigma, your employees become a key ingredient to achieving world-class results.

Lean is about harnessing the knowledge of your employees to better serve your customers – both internal and external. There is an important human element to Lean enterprises. Your company’s management, as well as your employees, must be fully commit­ted and understand what Lean is all about – because without their buy-in and true leadership, your Lean efforts will fail. You can pick and choose certain “Lean projects,” but without fully embracing Lean, you will not achieve your company’s full potential. (more…)

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Are you serving brown lettuce?

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

I was just eating a grilled chicken salad and it made me think of how each of our organizations strives to provide superior customer service. It made me wonder how many of us do, in fact, meet those expectations.

Here’s the story.  We order a lot of lunches from this particular business and usually everything is fine. Today, the salad left a lot to be desired. The lettuce for the most part was almost all a day or two past its prime. The tips were all brown and some if it was slightly slimy (sound appetizing?).

I wonder how many times you inadvertently serve up brown lettuce to your customers?  You don’t do it intentionally, but you probably do it. Do you sometimes give advice that’s past its prime? Are you truly on the fresh side of providing new ideas? (more…)

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Why should I treat my business as an investment?

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

To answer this question, think about the stocks and bonds you may have invested in. Everyone wants to maximize the value and annual return on their investments. But many owners of closely-held businesses don’t place the same attention and care to determine the value of their businesses or work to improve their return on their largest investment.

Just like your stock portfolio, your business requires tending to help it create greater wealth. And just as you pay a fee of about one percent of your portfolio to an investment advisor to track and value your assets, you should plan the same to invest in the valuation and management of your business value. Typically 50-70 percent of your net work is tied up in your business. If you could double its value, wouldn’t you do it? Other businesses have seen this type of return and you can too. (more…)

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What are the Ingredients for Business Success?

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Have you ever wondered why some business people are more successful than others? It doesn’t seem to make a difference what product or service they are selling either – certain individuals just have a natural ability to make a business progresses. Our founder, Richard Rea, identified 11 common ingredients found in all successful business people. If these ingredients are included in a business, it’s hard to see how it could fail. See how you rate against them! (more…)

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